The Portland Shamrock Run is famous for two things: Beer and clam chowder. That’s right. Everyone gets both after finishing the race. No bananas, no Powerbars, no sports drinks. Just beer and chowder.
I’m smack in the middle of my Boston Marathon training program and this weekend I opted out of my long run and decided to compete in my first 15k race. What a challenging distance! The Shamrock Run was not easy. The course was hilly. My legs were fatigued and my body just didn’t seem ready to race at 8:40 on a Sunday. Despite all of that, it was a great race. I even had a one-person cheering section at the finish line.
The day went like this:
4:45 AM: Alarm clock buzzed. “It’s RaceDay,” I proclaimed with excitement. Does anyone else have a weird habit of waking up extremely early the day of competition with the giddiness that falls somewhere between Christmas morning and going out on a third date?
5:15-6:45 AM: Drank two cups of coffee, one cup of tea, ate one bowl of butternut squash with pumpkin seeds. Read the Parade section of the newspaper.
7:30 AM: Got dressed. Lubed feet with BodyGlide, triple-checked I had everything I needed for the race.
8:00 AM: I arrived at the starting area of the race with plenty of time to warm up. I was really happy to see how many runners there were. The announcer said that there were over 16,000 participants. Of course that was split up between the 5K, 8K and 15K races, but it was cool to see how many people were out early on an overcast and cold Sunday morning.
8:40: The 15K began. We’re off! With over two thousand runners it was a messy start with lots of shuffling and trying to get around runners. I hate that part. About 1/4 mile into the race I paired up with a guy sporting Ironman tattoos on his calves and an Ironman hat. Together we worked through the crowds and passed the first mile marker. My legs felt cold and sleepy.
Mile 2: The Ironman passed me and was off on his race. I was OK with that. Running with an Ironman for even a few minutes felt great.
Mile 2.5: I had heard rumors that the 15k was hilly. I was not prepared for just how hilly it was. My legs still felt tired and I just couldn’t get into race mode. It didn’t feel hard, but I didn’t feel fast.
Mile 3: More hills. It leveled off for a bit, only to keep climbing. This was not turning out to be a easy run.
Mile 4: Still on the hills! At the half way point we passed a bagpipe band and my legs finally started to wake up. I passed a woman going up a hill and she said “wow, it’s like you’re not even working.” If she only knew.
Mile 5-6: Downhill at last. I felt good. My pace felt right and I was discouraged that it took so long to find a good rhythm.
Mile 7: I felt strong. I passed some runners.
Mile 8: I start calculating how many more minutes until I would reach the finish line. I chugged along. I was tired but happy to be racing on such a great morning with such great runners.
Mile 9: Why did the finish line look so far away? I finished determined, fatigued and somewhat fast.
Overall impressions: I felt like I should have been faster, but that somehow it just wasn’t in me today. My legs were not very fresh feeling. I also felt like today’s race was absolute proof that I need to do more hill and speed work if I want to be ready for Boston. I’ve been stuck in a rut of doing what I do best: long mileage at a very consistent pace.
Great race atmosphere.
Tons of impressive, fast amazing runners.
Amazing post-race breakfast
Division Place: 22/263
59th out of 1221 female runners!