Shamrock’n Half Marathon Race Report Aka The Bitch is Back

This race report is going to be full of sparkle and sunshine since I PR’d (Boo-ya!).

This is my second time doing the Shamrockn’ half marathon. I did it in 2008 with a finish time of 2:17. Not great--but ok.

I should preface the race report by saying that my goal for the race was to get under 2:15. I thought I would be able to get under 2:10 but because I had been sick for almost two weeks I didn’t want to psych myself up only to be disappointed. I figured a 2:15, even with the time lost due to illness—would be doable.

I checked my email the night before the race and found a notice from the race director reminding everyone about the parking shortages, “please carpool” yada yada. I clicked on the “FAQs” link and read through some of the info. I discovered that USATAF amended their “NO IPOD” rule and that as long as I wasn’t competing for prize money, or in a championship, I COULD WEAR MY IPOD!!

I was stoked. The friend who I was slated to run with, bailed due to a pulled hamstring. Before reading the email, I was convinced I was about to embark on 13 long lonely miles without a soul to talk to… The IPOD change made things a lot easier. Quickly, I loaded a couple of new playlists that included Lada Gaga, Rob Base, Depeche Mode, Jay Sean, Genesis, Maria Carey, Aqua and some other weird stuff. Hey don't judge me by my music. The 80s and 90s were good to me. I was set for the morning.

I awoke at the butt crack of dawn. Really. The “spring forward’ happened that same night so I essentially lost an hour of sleep. Because of the parking issues the race director recommended arriving at Raley Field NO LATER THAN 6:30. Past experience showed me that the freeway offramp was jammed by 6:15. I resolved to beat the traffic by waking at 4:30 and leaving by 5:15.

I drank my coffee, had some water, did the “business”, had some PB & J on a bagel. I went to the garage and opened the garage door. The dogs, who sleep in the garage BOLTED out (presumably after a cat). Than not only ran out of our yard, but they ran down to the end of the court and then turned left towards a busy street. I obviously couldn’t yell or whistle at 5:15 in the morning without upsetting the neighbors, so I ran after them and hissed, “SHASTA AND RAINIER GET OVER HER NOW. BAD DOG BAD DOGGGG!!!” They finally turned around and I grabbed their collars and yanked them back home and into the garage. Naturally I then had to go back in the house and re-wash the dog hair/smell off my hands. By the time I pulled out of my driveway it was 5:25.

Driving on the freeway so early was a welcome relief. No one was on the road. I finished my PB & J, continued sipping on my coffee and took a few swigs of water.

The exit came quickly. There was no traffic. I entered the parking lot—as the 10th person there!!

Parked right in front, turned off the ignition and sat back. Relaxed. Ahhhh…It was 5:40.

I watched other cars come into the parking 6 I decided, it was time to take a little potty break. I headed into Raley field and found the bathrooms and did the business. After leaving I saw my friend Tiff setting up the STC booth. She was putting on pink racing flats. She is so fast as a runner! It was freezing out (35 or so I think) so I told her good luck and ran back to the car.

I sat in the car and half rested until 7. The parking lot was full by now and people were streaming in and out of Raley field. I thought since it was an hour until the start, I should try to head for the bathroom again.. just in case.

Inside Raley field was what I can only describe as pandemonium. The lines for the bathrooms—at least 100 women deep. The line snaked around the food concourse and the booths and headed outside. Ridiculous. I walked around thinking, “I really don’t need to go that bad.” I walked back to the car and slipped off my sweats, changed from Uggs to running shoes, and strapped on my Garmin. I went back into Raley field at 7:20. By then the bathroom lines had swelled even further. Crap. With an 8 a.m. start and the announcements for the race starting, I knew I wouldn’t get through the line before the start. I half considered peeing in front of my car, but people kept walking on the concourse right above where my car was parked and they could easily look down on me. So that idea was scrapped. There were no porta-potties around Raley field that I could see, so I resolved to just wait until I was on the course and use one of the porta-potties during the race. Not ideal, but hell what could I do?

At about 7:40, I started a slow warm up of approx 1 mile. I retied my shoes. I checked my Garmin. 7:55.

I got in the corral for wave 2. It was freezing. Seemed to get colder between 6 and 8 a.m.

At 8 a.m the first wave went. We were up. I looked around for awhile and discovered I was standing next to someone I knew from triathlon. We hugged and talked and then put on our game faces.

The horn blew for our wave. It took me 40 seconds to cross the start line. I wanted to start out a little slow since it was so freakin cold outside.
I ran into (literally) a lady I used to run with during my CIM training. We chatted for about ¾ mile laughing and catching up. Then I realized, that a speed walker just passed us. It occurred to me that I was supposed to be racing, not talking, so I bid adieu to Anita and moved my feet a little faster.

Mile 1—10:21 split. The somewhat slower time was due to talking with Anita and not concentrating on the race. I started to warm up a bit but was happy to realize that I had dressed appropriately.. Short sleeve shirt, arm warmers, mittens, capris.

Mile 2 –8:49. Stopped at the first porta-potty I saw. I stood in line for about 20 seconds before one of them opened up for me. I got in, shut the door and realized that I had mittens on and had to peel those off before I could drop trough. Did the business and got out of there. My garmin stopped in the porta potty (auto pause) and then started again once I got outside. (this is significant later).

Mile 3 – 9:03. After cowtown, I discovered that I need to eat every few miles. I ate a Gu, chocolate flavored. Because there was no garbage can readily available and I couldn’t just throw it on the ground, I sort of tucked it into the band of my waist pack so that I could grab it to throw easily when I did find a garbage can. Later I found that it left this really gross brown, smeared mark on my white shirt. Really gross.

Mile 4 – 9:09. I started to pass a few people as they stopped to get water from aid stations. That was cool. I passed the 2:10 pacer. That was cool.

Mile 5 – 8:54. continued to pass people. High fived one of my old CIM coaches who was cheering on the side of the road. Dropped into Old Sacramento and ran next to horse poop dropped by an ol’ horse. Ran on some cobblestones/bricks. Felt pretty good.

Mile 6 – 9:06. Crossed the Tower Bridge again. It was lined with people cheering. Saw a co-worker and yelled “hi”. High fived another old coach who was screaming at us, “RUN LIKE THE WIND”. Sun was just starting to really shine.

Mile 7 – 9:01. I ate another gu (vanilla) and noticed I was half done with my water. Perfect timing. Total time running on the Garmin said 1:03. Maria Carey’s Fantasy was on the IPOD, along with Jay Sean’s Down.

Mile 8 – 9:14 started to feel a bit fatigued. In the past, I would have stopped to walk right now. But somehow, I didn’t. I kept running (albeit, slightly slower). Aqua’s Barbie Girl was playing on my IPOD, I hit repeat twice so I could listen to it again.

Mile 9 – 9:09. started to see all the runners heading back to Raley field. They were about 2-3 miles ahead of me. I saw the 2:00 pacer who was probably 5 minutes ahead of me (the course loops around a lot) and realized I wouldn’t catch her.

Mile 10 – 9:20. this mile is kind of a blur. I was on the levee running. I saw some people pass me including a girl who was completely sleeved. She scared me. I think I decided not to eat any more Gus since my stomach was a little wobbly.

Mile 11 – 9:22. Now that I was on the second part of the loop back I started to see all the people still heading out. Wow. I was ahead of people. I walked through an aid station and drank two itty bitty cups of water. Looked at my Garmin and it said 1:39. I realized that I might be able to make a sub 2 half marathon if I hustled; therefore, I started to hustle.

Mile 12 – 9:14. almost done. Continued to pass people, but people also started passing me. The pace picked up considerably at this point. My water bottle was empty.

Mile 13 – 9:09. I started to sprint at this point, rounded the corner and burst through the gate into Raley Field. Red gravel crunched under my feet. I sprinted to the end and through the shoot. It was awesome. Garmin said 1:59:58.

Volunteer handed me a medal and some water. Walked up the stairs and chatted with some friends at the STC tent. Decided to forgo the LONG LINE for free food and headed for the car delighted that I beat my old course time of 2:17 by 18 mintues!!!

Called hubby and told him the good news. Started the car and drove home. On the freeway, there was a nagging idea…something not quite right. Then I realized that my garmin had stopped in the porta potty. I was a little disappointed to confirm this later—my official time 2:01.

However, taking 16 minutes off my previous course time is AWESOME! I also PR’d on the distance by 10 minutes!

If you want to see pics.. go here. Like my striped mittens?

Whoohoo! My new goal is sub-2 at my next half marathon the Parkway half on May 1.


  1. Congrats on your PR! That is really impressive to take that much time off.

  2. Woohoo!! Way to go on smashing your goal and setting an awesome PR, Karen! And cute mittens too.

  3. Hooray! Congrats on your PR! That is just awesome to beat your old time by 16 minutes...woohoo! :)

  4. Belated congrats on the kick-ass PR!!!

  5. Wow great job PRing despite that you chatted with a friend the first mile, AND stopped to pee at the portapotty. Congrats!

  6. So yes I am over a month late but CONGRATS on an awesome PR!! I know you will get under 2:00 at Parkway.

    This race holds my 1/2 PR from 2009.

    I love the 80s and 90s too! :) Lots on my running mix.

  7. Thanks everyone! I've been working on my exercises to get my knee healed up for next weeks Parkway Half.


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