March 22, 2012

Shamrock'n Half Marathon (Race Report)

Well folks it seems I'm a little late on this one, aren't I! I meant to write it up last week but then I got sick and all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and watch Friends reruns. Since it was a PR race for me, however, it's deserving of a few words. And so, on to the recap!

Leading up to the race I didn't have a whole lot of time to dwell on it or think about any kind of race strategy. The week of Shamrock'n happens to be the busiest week of the year at my store so it was a bit of a whirlwind then before I knew it, it was Sunday and time to race! Back when I signed up months ago I thought I'd want to race it and go for a PR, but then more recently I'd considered just running it for fun since I hadn't really been training for it (i.e. low running mileage and no speedwork). But then I checked out my schedule for the week and my coach had me running 1:50. That would be a 5 minute PR and required a very intimidating pace! A couple people I knew were also shooting for around the same time so I figured I'd start with them in the 1:50 group and just try and hang on; if I had to slow I'd be ok with that. After all, if you don't try, you'll never know!

My wonderful mom dropped myself and a couple coworkers off near the start at Raley Field. It was overcast and cool, perfect as long as the rain held off! We dropped our stuff off and hit the bathroom, and then headed back outside the stadium to warm-up. Thanks to daylight savings it was dark when we arrived but that meant we got to watch the sunrise : ) My coworker, Courtney, was aiming for the same time as me so we decided to stick together as long as we could and push each other. My nerves had kicked in that morning so it was nice to have someone to talk to and keep me distracted. I felt that I could physically run a 1:50, but I was worried about the mind games I play with myself. Part of my problem with "racing" is that I'll start at a certain pace and immediately my head tells me "woah there, this is super fast, if it's hard for one mile how on earth do you plan on keeping it up for x miles??" So going into this I knew what to expect and I had my response ready to shut me up.
 Raley Field
 Sacramento skyline
Courtney & I

Shamrock'n starts in waves (which is brilliant) and we were in wave 1. After a little warm-up jog Courtney and I weaved our way through the crowd to find the 1:50 pacer. We stationed ourselves by her side until the gun went off and then it was time to go! Surprisingly, the pace didn't feel all that fast right out the gate. I just stuck close to the pacer and focused on taking short, quick steps. We had to do some weaving but eventually the crowd thinned out and we fell into a rhythm. We crossed over Tower Bridge and within a couple miles we hit our first big landmark and cheering crowds at the Capitol. I was also pleasantly surprised to see my dad so early on in the race! Our first few miles were fast - low 8s - but it felt comfortable.
 Tower Bridge
 here come the runners!
Courtney & I at Capitol Park

mile 2 ish
live music

We continued through downtown and midtown before hopping on the bike trail. I saw a few more familiar faces - one of the perks of running a race in your hometown - and was feeling pretty good. This was the stretch I was least looking forward to. I ride this part of the bike path all the time so I figured it would be familiar and boring. Courtney and I had put some distance between the pace group and ourselves but around mile 6 I noticed them creeping up on us. This was also when I had to start focusing so I wouldn't slow. At some point I looked to my side and noticed that Courtney had disappeared. I looked behind me and saw the 1:50 group stampeding toward me but no Courtney. I was bummed she fell back but I knew she hadn't been feeling well so I pushed on.
trying to hang on!

Out of the blue I found another familiar face next to me, my triathlon training buddy, Julie! She was shooting for 1:50 as well and gave me just the boost I needed at that point. I focused on staying with her for the next mile or so until we hit Discovery Park (mile 7.25). As we crossed over the green Jiboom bridge the 1:50 group finally overtook us. Julie was running really strong, but I was starting to fade. The next mile was along the levy overlooking the Sacramento River and was when I finally fell behind the pace group. I kept them in my sights and focused on my own pace and overall time and knew I was still close to my goal.
 Julie & I
showing some leg!
At mile 9 we hit Old Sacramento and more cheering crowds but I was struggling at this point and barely registered any of it. Honestly, the next couple miles were a blur as well. I remember noticing that we were running on a section of the Urban Cow Half Marathon course, but other than that I just kept my eye on the pace group and tried not to let the gap between us get bigger. I knew I was going to be close and I kept trying to do math to predict my time, but as you may know this is not such a good idea at this point in a race - all the blood is in the legs, not the brain! With about a mile to go I saw my parents again and then I spotted my friends and coworkers Chris & Erin who had both just won the race. Yes, they won the entire race. I have fast friends : ) They gave me the final boost to push it for the last half mile. I crossed over Tower Bridge and circled around the stadium before entering onto Raley Field. I saw the time clock and kicked it into a final sprint, and crossed the line in 1:51:13 - a 4 minute PR!
 the final mile!

I waited past the finish line for Courtney who finished with a solid sub-2 time and chatted with some folks from my triathlon group. Everyone seemed to have had a pretty good time out there and several people finished with PRs. It felt great to be done, but also to have left it all out there. I've run a lot of races for fun, but racing one is different and offers a whole different type of satisfaction. Did I hit my goal? No, I came up a minute short (hmmm is this a trend??) but I am proud of myself nonetheless. If you would've told me even just 6 months ago that I'd be running 13 miles at 8:28 pace I would've laughed in your face. But perhaps the biggest victory of this race was that I was able to silence that little voice.
shiny new PR : )
thanks to my awesome running partner!

Lucky for me I had the rest of the day off so we went to breakfast and then I came home and took a pretty glorious nap before meeting up with the race winners and a couple other friends for dinner. It was a pretty great day : )


  1. I know exactly what you mean about the "this pace is too fast" voice. I've been doing a lot of battling with it myself recently. Congrats on silencing it and getting that big PR!

  2. Hi! Stumbled upon your site while trying to find more info on the Shamrock'n race in Sacramento. So glad to find your site as I have not run it before and wanted to see what others had to say about it.
    Looks like I will (most likely) be signing up for the 2013 event....if so, maybe I'll see you there!