Happy Monday! I'm back from a fun running weekend in Portland with my parents.
St. Patrick's Day is not a super significant holiday to me--I can't really get into a holiday that revolves around drinking and where the highlight is often a parade--but on the other hand, I love to wear green (all the time), and the Portland Shamrock Run is one of my favorite running events each year. So I do observe St. Patrick's Day, just not in the "traditional" fashion.
Portland is one of my favorite race travel destinations. I've gone there for the Shamrock Run six times (including this year), the Portland Marathon and Half Marathon twice, and Portland R 'n' R once (with another upcoming in May). I like to stay at the Benson, a grand old hotel in downtown Portland. Last year I wasn't able to get a room there (waiting to long to register), but I made early reservations for this year's Shamrock Run and R 'n' R!
I picked up my parents in the early afternoon on Friday to drive south. We couldn't leave until after 2:00 because my mother had a lunch, and we paid for our delay with horrible traffic all the way through Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia. I think it took three hours to get past Olympia (usually two hours is reasonable). After Olympia the traffic congestion disappeared, though, and the remaining drive to Portland was smooth. We got to the hotel just before 7:00.
Since it was sort of late already (and because we like room service), we ordered dinner from the room service menu. The Benson has always had tasty food on the menu, but they've really expanded the room service offerings and there were a ton of things to choose from. My dad had a brie and ham sandwich with fries, my mom had a grilled chicken sandwich with salad, and I decided to start carbing up and ordered pasta from their mix and match pasta menu (penne with tomato and basil, plus grilled chicken breast). I also got a spinach salad with dried cranberries and goat cheese (which don't show much in the photo, but there was a ton).
On Saturday morning I skipped my typical trip to Starbucks and drank free coffee from the hotel lobby. We had brought a couple of big mugs along, which was a much better option than their paper to-go cups!
We also skipped the usual modest Starbucks breakfast (which would have been a wrap for me, obviously), and ate at the Benson breakfast buffet. Oh, it was fabulous! I narrowed my focus and had waffles with maple syrup, bacon (amazing thick cut deliciousness), a scoop of their special potato casserole, and lots of blackberries, blueberries, and pineapple....twice. Other items on the buffet that I bypassed--sausage, roasted potatoes, oatmeal with tons of topping choices, a variety of cereals and cereal add-ins, muffins, and an omelet bar. There were also some other pastries that may or may not have left with me in a ziploc bag for an afternoon treat.
With full stomachs, we headed over to the Convention Center for the race expo. The MAX train was easy transportation, although it was cold in the wind waiting for our train to arrive! We spent about an hour at the expo. I got my bib and chip, and race shirt, then wandered through the vendor displays. I didn't buy anything, but did leave with a few Larabar samples, chips, and cereal.
The weather was cloudy and felt cold because of the wind, so we didn't really have any desire to get out and about. Back at the hotel we sat in the lobby and read for a while. The Benson has a beautiful lobby.
We got so full from breakfast that we didn't really need lunch. But later in the afternoon I went over to Starbucks and bought some snack boxes (cheese and fruit, protein box) that we divided up for a heavy snack to sustain us until dinner. Afterwards there may have been naps....
We ate dinner at a restaurant just about a block away from the hotel, Pazzo in the Hotel Vintage Plaza. It's a pretty sophisticated Italian restaurant with very good food. I really wanted to order the butternut squash ravioli with truffle butter and hazelnuts, but I was afraid that might be too rich for a pre-race meal and went with pappardelle and bolognese sauce, and a Caesar-type salad. I also ate most of the brussels sprouts that my mother ordered as a side...living dangerously.
I really wanted to rest my legs on Saturday so it was a complete rest day except for walking to and from our various locations. I very rarely take a full rest day without cross-training, but I think it really helped. My legs had felt a little worked over during the week. Last Sunday I did a 20-mile run (which went really well), then about 7.5 miles on Monday (which also went really well). But both Wednesday and Friday my legs felt tired, and also I had that mini-wall-bonk thing going on. On Wednesday I did so-so speed work, six half mile intervals on the road. I didn't hit goal pace on any of them, but I don't know if I might have been a little faster on the track. I felt okay about it. Friday I kept it pretty easy with just 6.5 miles, the first two as warm-up, a couple sub-nine, and the rest easy (approximately marathon pace). I figured Friday's tempo run could be incorporated into Sunday's race.
The 15K started at 7:40 Sunday morning. I got up a little before 6:00 and got coffee from the lobby, then laid in bed and had coffee and my pre-race breakfast, a whole wheat English muffin with almond butter and chia seeds, until about 6:40. I put on my festive green running gear (which was subdued compared to some of the outfits out there!) and headed out around 7:10 to warm up and go to the start. I was a little late leaving the hotel so I didn't have time for a two mile warm-up as I had hoped. Instead I did about 1.35 miles then found my place in the start area. I squeezed myself into the 8-9 minute mile section.
I had multiple goals for this race. Not one involved a PR, as I know I'm not in PR-speed shape. My goals sound modest but keep in mind this is a pretty hard, hilly course! Goal A - sub-9 pace. Goal B - 9-9:09 pace (which would be the pace I'd need for a 2-hour half). Goal C - 9:14 pace (which I was supposed to do four miles at for my tempo run). Goal D - sub-9:30 pace. Goal E - sub-90 minutes for the 15K or DIE! (Spoiler alert--just so you don't think too highly of me in advance--I didn't manage goals A or B.)
I've done this Shamrock Run 15K about five times (this year makes six), and although they've changed the beginning of the course a few times due to road work, the basic course remains the same. The first two miles are relatively flat. Then on S.W. Broadway you start to go up, up, up to about five miles, where you hit some rolling hills (but are still climbing) through mile six. Then you go down, down, down for three miles and flatten out for the final .3 to the finish.
I cruised past my parents at the hotel just before we began our uphill stint.
The long downhill finish is, of course, what makes this race great. If I was disappointed in myself for anything, it was that I didn't take as much advantage of the downhills as I would have liked. I definitely ran faster...miles 7 and 8 were around 8:45. (But they should have been under 8:30, at least!) I did manage to pick it up in mile 9, for 8:24, and then the final .35 mile (on the flat!) was an 8:07 pace.
Total time 1:26:46, average Garmin pace 9:17, official average pace 9:19. Sooo...not quite goal C. But close. Although maybe not close, because I didn't have four single miles at 9:14...most were either significantly slower or significantly faster! Well, in any case, I rocked goals D and E.
Afterwards, I walked up to the area where the 5K was starting and worked my way to the back of the pack. It was supposed to start at 9:20. For some reason, though, it didn't start until at least 9:35 (with a staggered start, so more delays). I got pretty chilly in my sweaty clothes standing around...if I'd known it was going to take so long, I would have worked my way forward a little more, so I wasn't quite so surrounded by people who thought it was okay to walk in the middle of the road in the middle of a 5K (the 5K "walk" was supposed to have a separate start).
I know this was a huge crowd of people, and a "fun run," and I was just a hanger-on for this, so I'm not complaining (much) about having to weave around people for two miles. I only wanted to do a 10-minute pace, and it wasn't even really possible. My first mile was about 10:30, the second around 10, and I thought I could really pick it up in the third mile and finish in 30 minutes, or at least 31 for 5K. BUT by now the roads were more open to traffic, and we had to stop and wait for the MAX train to go by twice, and that ate up all my speed efforts. My third mile turned out around 10:15. but the final .15 was downhill, and I must have really booked, because my watch gives a pace of 6:24 for that segment! I frankly don't believe it. Maybe the satellites were really messed up and mile 3 was faster than the Garmin said, because I'm sure mile 3.15 was slower. However...every once in a while I say to myself...6:24.
Because of all the delays time was running out so I ran back to the hotel to get dressed (also to add a little additional mileage to the day). Before I changed my mom took a picture to really show my race outfit.
Then we checked out and drove home. The end.