Monday, March 16, 2009

Shamrock Run 2009!

Once again, many weeks have passed since my last post. Every day just SCREAMS by. Winter is having a hard time letting go of Portland this year. That’s my excuse for not running outside three days a week. Really. But the past few weeks, I’ve been outside a little more often, preparing for the Shamrock Run, held yesterday, March 15th. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to run, since I twisted my ankle the last week of my preparation. Funny thing, walking hurts more than running, bowling hurts even more. Who knew that running would be easier for my ankle than walking…never would’ve guessed that.

I joggled the 5K with a whole mess of my new friends. 20,000 participants in the Shamrock run this year. They have 5, 8, and 15k runs as well as a leprechaun run for the kids. I’ve been looking forward to this run since the Resolution Run on New Year’s Eve. I tell you what, it was COLD and rained during the Resolution Run, but it had NOTHING on the Shamrock Run. Did I mention that the reward at the end of the race is BEER?

The rain was coming down in buckets, sideways. Some of the puddles were ankle deep and the wind was so strong that hats were no match. I wore a hat to keep the rain off my glasses, but the glasses didn’t have a chance and they came off even before the race started. Actually ended up carrying the hat most of the time, since I just could not keep it on my head. Holy Cow, it was COLD. I wonder what it’s like to run one of these things in decent weather? So far, I don’t think they actually have runs in Portland when it’s not nasty. I’ve seen pictures, but I truly think they were PhotoShopped. Seriously.

The run was great, in spite of the hurricane. Before the race we lined up in groups by our mile pace. It’s a good idea, so people like me don’t get trompled by the real runners . I did have a few minutes of worry that my pace was so pokey that I would be alone, but they had a section called “10 and over”, so didn’t have to tell anyone that I was planning on a nice steady 12 minute pace if I had a tailwind, more like 14 if I didn’t have that luxury. I could tell I was with a bunch of newbies, because they all started to get excited when the race was about to start, just like I do. I think my heart rate was already in the running zone before we even started, but I’m sure I wasn’t alone. It took awhile to actually get to the start and we had to walk a little bit even after the start because there were so many people. Not so bad, though, since it was pretty darned festive. We followed some giant Guinness glasses so you really didn’t want to take it all too seriously. Speaking of beer, did you know they serve BEER as a reward for finishing this race?

I was worried, in the days leading up to the run, that I would be surrounded by those serious runners and I was a bit intimidated, especially since I had that little injury. What if I had to walk, or even worse, what if I couldn’t finish? Lesson learned: No one judges you. You do the best you can do and everyone around you cheers you on and watches out for you. So don’t let THAT fear stop you from trying this. When I saw the mass of runners going up (yes, I said UP) Broadway, I had a momentary panic that I would not make it up that hill. But just kept going one step at a time and huffin’ and puffin along with my fellow huffers and puffers and next thing you know, we had crested that hill. Don’t think about that next hill at this point, just catch your breath and realize that your feet are still moving and your arms are still pumping. The cool thing about this run is the huge payoff after that long trek up Broadway: What goes up, must come down. You turn left off Broadway and it’s smooth sailing all the way to the finish. At that point, I was passed by a man in a kilt. I’ve been passed by a lot of people when I run, just never by a man in a skirt. First time for everything.

So I did it. I finished this run with 20,000 of my new friends. I didn’t set any records for speed, but kept pretty close to my 12 minute pace. Think I would’ve nailed it except for that little bottleneck near the finish line and the slow start. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Ended up at 38 minutes for this windy rainy 5k, not bad for an old chubby gal. Second lesson learned: Pee before the race. I think I would’ve had a lot more fun joggling with an empty bladder. Especially once I added a glass of beer.

It was too windy and wet for the husband, who is my official photographer, to get any pictures, so I’m hoping the event photographers found me somewhere along the way. Maybe they saw me as the guy in the skirt blew past me. A girl can hope.