I've read several race reports from Shamrock, and thought I'd do my own because it seems I have a different perspective on races than most. Maybe it's because it's not like I'm going to place or anything, or because of the number of races I've done (getting close to 30 now).
I don't get nervous the night before a race. So long as I confirm the start time, know what time I need to get up and leave the house and where I need to be, I'm good. I sleep just fine after that, and here's why: Ambien.
Before I went to bed, I confirmed the start time for the 15K and so I knew when I needed to get up, etc. Before I fell asleep, I realized I didn't remember where the race's start was. All I remembered from last year's Shamrock was pouring rain and a million people and somewhere on the waterfront. I couldn't get up to go check where the start was at that point, lest the Ambien kick in while I'm, say, on the stairs. That stuff is, I'm awake, I'm awake, I'm awake, hey it's morning. You don't get up once you take it. I knew it would only take a second to check the race start online so I didn't sweat it.
Soon the alarm is going off. For some reason, I decide I'm not in a hurry. I mean, my pre-race routine is basically just get dressed, eat and drink a little in the car on the way there, and then go race, but still. I don't lay out my stuff the night before. I have an idea of what I'll wear depending on how the weather is when I get up, but that is the extent of it. I don't get my fuel belt together. In fact, I usually don't decide if I will be taking a fuel belt. So I have no idea why I don't think I need to get up right away. Consequently, I was already running late when I got up.
In keeping with the "race on the fly" attitude, I also don't pin my bib on before I get out of the car at the race. I didn't even have safety pins set out; I figured I had enough in the car by now. I had to mix up some powerade that morning, fill my Nathan bottles. I pulled some cash and my ID, stuff that and my phone and some shot bloks and Gu into my fuel belt and called it good. My inhaler and chapstick went into my pocket. A granola bar (100 calorie) completed the ensemble. Late late late.
However, I wouldn't have been quite so late if it wasn't for all of the blocked streets downtown. Thankfully I hadn't tried to take Barbur all the way in, but I did get caught in the Naito re-routing, such that I had to go over the Hawthorne and loop back over to the Morrison to get west of Naito. I finally found a parking garage that was open, and dashed out of my car.
The 5Kers were well into their race by now, and I couldn't cross through them. I ended up on the west side of Naito, dodging through all the spectators, trying to figure out how to get to the other side. I was not alone; there were a lot of 15Kers with me, also trying to get through. Eventually we made it past the start and finish lines and climbed over a barrier to finally get close enough to the corrals. I realized at some point in there that I had forgotten to leave my glasses in the car; I never run with them on.
The lost 15Kers and I had ended up at the very beginning of the race pack. It wasn't too tightly smooshed with bodies, however, and I would have started in the first wave (staying way to the side since they'd all pass me right off the bat) but my iPod wouldn't connect. So I scrunched out of the way of the runners until I could reset Chip. I got him going in time to go with the second wave, and again since it wasn't all packed up I decided just to go. Reading the other race reports, it sounds like it was packed up in the back of the corral; I would have tried to move farther back out of the way of the speedy people but there were just too many people.
I felt well rested and had a good start. Then we started to climb towards Terwilliger. I had to stop and walk a few paces here and there just to catch my breath; if I try to pace people early on, I start out too fast and pay for it later. I was doing well with pace but I just hadn't warmed up enough yet for my breathing to have settled. People were passing me the entire time but we were still spaced out fairly well and I stay to the side as it. (It doesn't bother me to be passed, except at the very end of a race.)
In short order, I got used to the eternal uphill climb and mostly didn't notice it anymore. I walked very little in this race after the first 1.5 miles. It was warmer away from the waterfront, so once I ditched my jacket sleeves I was very comfortable. The new shoes were fantastic; much better shock absorption on the downhill in particular.
They ran out of cups at the second and third water stops. Being as I am usually at the very end of any race, I hate when they run out of supplies by the time I get there. They also were out of finishers' medallions, although it sounds like they just ran out. But sheesh, they know how many racers are registered. They're supposed to know I didn't get a medallion (based on finishing times and when they ran out, I was told) and mail me one. At least they still had chowder and beer; I skipped the beer since I didn't want to fall on my lips shortly thereafter. I did the rounds of the park but never did spot anyone I know. Next time, we need a plan. I also never found any food other than chowder; I was dying for a bagel.
Since it was freezing on the waterfront, I decided to head home. Somewhere around mile 7, I'd gotten so into the groove I had forgotten that I was running. I was still running on autopilot, but was thinking about this and that and admiring the view -- both St. Helens and Hood were out and beautiful as we came down Barbur. Anyhow, as part of that I suddenly realized that.... I wasn't entirely certain I remembered where I'd parked my car. I had an idea of where I thought I'd parked so I headed that way, and came across another woman who was also looking for her car. We chatted about the race as we walked and then she headed more west than where I was going. Turns out I did remember where I parked, but only because I had intentionally parked in a garage with which I was familiar, the one I usually park in for the ballet. That's the only way I found it. Then I had to actually find my car in the garage, trying to remember if I had gone up the stairs or down the stairs on my way out. I had stumbled upon Chipotle while looking for the car and picked up lunch so I headed home to eat and then stretch out for several hours.
All in all, a great race. My official time was 2:08:19, which was faster than double my 5-miler from last weekend so I'm happy with what I did yesterday. It also is a good indicator, I think, of how the marathon will go. Next up I'll be running a 5K race the day before the Race for the Roses half marathon. Here's hoping the half goes just as well!