Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shamrockin' Run 8K: The 2013 Recap

What can I say? I’m an adventurer. A trendsetter. Someone who’s bold enough to go somewhere no man has gone before. Ok, so running an inaugural event may not say any or all of the above things about me, but it still gets me stoked to be part of the first running of a new race. This was the case with the first annual Shamrockin’ Run 8K this past Sunday in New Orleans.

The Saturday prior to St. Patrick’s Day always plays host to the Uptown Irish Channel Parade on Magazine Street, and I routinely attend it with coworkers and friends. This year was no exception, but I knew the amount of fun to be had was limited. Waking up bright and early Sunday morning was not going to be fun if the green beer flowed too liberally. Fortunately I’m not a beer drinker, and the evening ended at 8:00 p.m. with a Turducken sausage at DatDog on Ferret. I was in bed before 10:00 p.m., and fortunately feeling ready to do the race.

Sunday morning I awoke with little issue, donned one of the several green tech-fabric racing shirts I own, and headed out the door with lemon-lime Gatorade in hand (are we seeing a color-coded theme?). Once I arrived in downtown New Orleans an hour before start time and parked fairly easily a block away from the corrals, I texted my friend Katherine to see if she had arrived. Finding out she was still getting ready, I insisted on picking her up to arrive at the start line together. After making a loop back around to scoop up my fellow runner, we arrived in our corral with half an hour to spare and plenty of time to make it through a quick pre-race potty break (the port-o-lets had no line) and get in place for an easy start.

I have been out of training for several months thanks to work and other outside factors, and have just started routinely running again. As a result, I went in to this race with a modest goal. I wanted to finish in the top 500 to get a coveted Shamrockin’ Run beer mug. I didn’t have any time goal, didn’t have a pace I wanted to maintain, I just wanted to make sure that 499 people didn’t pass me. More unsure of my ability to count to 499 than the possibility of finishing the race, I decided to leave everything on the course and run how I felt. Fortunately, moments after the gun fired promptly at 8:30am, I felt good. I knew I was going to run all out.

The course for this new race actually followed a classic course of years past. Starting behind the National WWII Museum on Camp Street, it’s a straight shot up Prytania through uptown New Orleans to Audubon Park and around two-thirds of the park’s asphalt running track. This is the final 8K of the original Crescent City Classic 10K route (prior to changing the finish to City Park). Because of the fast and flat nature of the course, many a world record has been broken by professionals from around the world that have come to run on it.  As I ran the course, which is varied from where I normally run during training, I looked around to see historic homes and businesses that I had never seen or acknowledged. It was a beautiful scenic route in an urban location that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Looking back at my splits, the energy of the start allowed me to run my first mile in under 8 minutes, with the subsequent two miles being close to the same. Around the midway point of the third mile, with just a mile and a half to go in the 8K, a headache struck me and I slowed. I wasn’t going to let this deter me, and I pushed forward at a decent pace. I knew this headache was nothing compared to what the people running the simultaneous Guinness Challenge (chugging a 4-oz cup of Guinness at each mile marker) were going to feel post-race. A light sprinkle started to fall as I entered Audubon Park, but it didn’t last and was adequate cooling to get me to the finish.

The finish line for the inaugural Shamrockin’ Run 8K was… a spectacle. The barricades were lined with Ireland’s flag, the 610 Stompers were forming a dancing “train” to welcome runners across the line, and the MC was announcing each finisher’s name as they crossed. It was at this point that I realized I had performed much better than I ever could have expected, and was handed one of those beer mugs that I wanted.

I waited for Katherine to arrive shortly after me (she rocked the race as well), and we wandered over to the finish line festival to get food and claim our race t-shirts. The volunteers at the post-race festival (I believe I saw numerous Louisiana Team-In-Training t-shirts) were constantly replenishing trays of cookies and fresh fruit for the runners, there were plenty of canned soft drinks and water, and lines had already formed for Guinness beer. There was “Irish Gumbo” from Matt Murphy’s Irish House available as well. While it smelled delicious, I didn’t think hot stew was a good idea for me at the time. The cookies and Coke Zero hit the spot. Green cotton t-shirts were also very easily picked up, and goodie bags were being handed out to all runners. The goodie bag was simple, but contained one of the greatest race swag items I have ever received… Chunky Biscoff Cookie Spread. A full jar of buttery cookie goodness. I don’t know its affiliation with the race, but I literally haven’t been that excited for a pre-packaged food item in a while. 

I registered for the Shamrockin’ Run 8K over a year ago when the race was first announced. I paid $17 as a registration fee, and know that I received a GREAT value on race day. That same fee is available now for the 2014 race, and I’m going to take advantage of it to run the race again. I can’t wait to see what future years bring to this Shamrockin’ event!


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