Race Report: 2014 Shamrock’n Sacramento 1/2 Marathon

So, oddly enough, I’ve never run a road 1/2 before. I ran my first marathon before I managed a road 1/2. And I ran the Lost Trail 1/2 first. This had a rather unfortunately effect.

That effect was that I did not take this run seriously. Outside of my regular, someone scattered runs, I did not train. I’ve been eating not so well lately. But, you know, it is only 13.1 miles.

Yes, so basically the bottom line is that I ended up running the first 13.1 miles of CIM faster than I ran this entire race. Not optimal, and it has lit a bit of a fire under me. So there’s that.

The race! So let’s talk about the course. What an awesome route this race runs. You start in West Sacramento’s River Cat Stadium and immediately cross the iconic Tower Bridge. What a start! Wending your way through Sacramento’s streets on a Sunday morning unconcerned about traffic is truly something to behold. And then, after passing by the almond factory (where I swear the ENTIRE staff was outside cheering… on a Sunday morning!) you head into the lovely park area.

Now, normally, I would perhaps not call it so lovely. That area has some… issues. But that’s normally. With 8500 runners and a serious police presence, there were very few issues with transients, etc. In fact, the only issue I saw were bikers who decided that the trail closure apparently didn’t apply to then and then shouted their way up past runners. Stay classy guys.

Once through the park area, we ran next to the river and passed a number of iconic Sacramento landmarks. Running past Front Street animal shelter was neat, as it was a “free vaccination” day and the front of the shelter was chock full of happy people with their pups waiting to get services.

I’ve lived in Sacramento for a long time, but I’ve never had the chance to experience it this way. Had my hips and quads not been screaming halfway through, I would have REALLY enjoyed it.

As far as services along route, well done. TONS of hydration stations with just an absolute mass of volunteers. It was also nice to be able to get Nuun as my hydration product, instead of the usual sugar water crap variants. That said, I did hear some runners (who in my opinion looked like they don’t usually run much) complaining about the taste. I wanted to explain how Nuun isn’t stuffed to the gills with sugar and other junk but I held off. Which was good, because next the same people started wondering aloud why the race couldn’t just serve ice cold sodas out of a can at the stations instead. Oy.

So what could be improved? Well, I’m not sure if there was just way more runners this year or what, but the start of my wave was an absolute clusterfuck (this is a technical term). Once they yelled “GO!” it became LA traffic. Shuffle, stop, shuffle stop. We shuffled about 100 yards forward and the next thing I hear is “OK! The next wave starts in 10 minutes!”. Um… what? I’ll be honest, I was pissed. This was just a massive fail, and I hope they rethink this next year (when, they bragged, they would have more than 10,000 people!). Yeah, maybe hold off on 10k and figure out how to start 8500 properly, eh?

One of the draws was the after party, and I was looking forward to my free glass of beer or cider… until I showed up. The line was fairly horrid. The entire area was packed shoulder to shoulder. Now, I have a thing about huge crowds like that, so a big part of this is just a personal hang up. Not to mention that I was starving, tired and had stiff legs. I skipped it. There was no way I was going to stand in line for an hour waiting for my drink. I stood around long enough at the start, thanks.

But, outside of those two issues (which, honestly, I don’t really care about) the race was fun, scenic and well run. And here’s the reality. I ran this race slow. Slow as a turtle. Had I run at a pace that I should be capable of, I could have 1) Been in an earlier wave 2) Finished before the tons of people and gotten my drink. So obviously the answer is that I need to train harder. Or, in this case, I just need to actually train.

As far as gear went I tried to go pretty simple. No vest. I ran in the delightful (though not really designed for this sort of thing) Skechers GoUltra. Look for a full review soon, but suffice it to say, that shoe rocks. Water holding duties fell to my Camelbak Arc Quickgrip, which continues the crusade to convince me that I actually like handbottles. Toesox kept the little piggies from going to market, and of course the incredibly awesome Fat Panther Running T took care of keeping me from being half naked.

Oh yes, special shout-out to Fleetfeet Sacramento for handling the packet-pickup duties in style once again. Always fun to swing by.

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