I registered for the Shamrock 15k because it seemed like good timing. The 9.3 mile distance matched my training goals pretty closely and I really wanted the great finisher medal that doubles as a bottle opener. It was also on my event "bucket list" and I figured I would do it once and that would be plenty. It's a huge event - 35,000 runners and walkers total - and it's in Portland so that means it's a weekend trip for me. A friend of mine was also interested so we registered together and made plans for a road trip.
We arrived in Portland late on Saturday afternoon, stretched out and got in a brisk walk after the 3 hour drive from Bend, and picked up our packets at the Convention Center. We spent the evening relaxing and enjoying a good dinner.
We were up on Sunday before dawn. The 15k is the longest of the three distance options (the others are 8k and 5k). It starts early in the morning - really, really early. After a quick pre-race breakfast we headed into town. The street lights were still lit around waterfront park in downtown Portland when we arrived. It was dawn and getting lighter when the race officially started at 7:45am. We were lucky and the weather was perfect - a little chilly when we started but no rain and little wind. The streets were a sea of green - almost everyone was dressed for the holiday with fun shirts, socks, tutus, hats, and other goofy costumes. I'm not really a dresser-upper but a couple of my "regular running clothes" are green, so I just wore those.
The beginning of the 15k route is pretty much the same as the other races - out Naito Parkway and then through downtown. It's not really scenic in the traditional sense but it's interesting. After making our way past Portland State University the scenery gets much better - but the terrain gets challenging. It's a couple of long, uphill miles on Marquam Drive and along the base of the OHSU Campus. I actually really enjoyed myself during this part of the run. After turning onto Barbur Blvd and back into town it's all a gentle downhill which is nice too.
At the mile 8 aid station there was a nice surprise - bacon! Everyone who knows me also knows that I think bacon is a great mid-race treat. It's salty and there's some protein in there. This bacon was tasty and hot - I think I burned my fingers a little but it was totally worth it and totally Portland. Thank you, bacon angel!
After finishing I received the coveted bottle-opener-medal, found the Bend crew, and headed for the beer garden. Mmmm... beer for second breakfast at about 9:45am! Then we hooked up with some Portland friends who ran the 5k and headed over to the J&M Cafe for brunch. Overall it was a great race day experience.
Turns out that despite the crowds and the hassle of traveling, I'm hooked. I want to do it again next year. It's (mostly) well-organized, and the course is beautiful. This year we really lucked out with weather too, which might have had a little to do with my post-race excitement.