Race Report: Shamrock’n Half Marathon

It was one of those races, that happened to fall perfectly in my calendar. A local race that allowed me to get out and run with friends, and the perfect mileage that was already planned under my marathon training plan. The Shamrock’n Half Marathon would also be a race that some of my friends would attempt to run their first half marathon after I created a training plan for them.

some sweet green swag

The “race” weekend started for me on Friday afternoon when I visited Fleet Feet Sports in Downtown Sacramento to pick-up my race swag. You know the typical bib, safety pins, and shirt along with the handful of race fliers that end up in my recycling bin when I get home. This race also included a voucher for a future River Cats baseball game, which is pretty awesome.

Once Sunday morning rolled around, it was an early go with a 5:30AM departure time from my house to pick-up my buddy Kevin as we headed out to Raley Field. Raley Field plays home to the Sacramento River Cats (AAA baseball team). Even with the 7:45AM start, it is key to get to the ball park early to avoid lines of traffic getting in, get a decent parking spot near the start, and provide enough time to do all those pre-race things.

early arrival to the park
After getting to the ball park, which was already open when we got there, we kicked it in the seating area killing some time before we would head back out, just yards away, to the start. The field was just getting set-up for the awesome finish, which would take runners into the park from center field, bring us along the dirt warning track to left field, and along the home dugout line to the finish.
pre-race setup on the field at Raley Field
Just after 7:15AM, my friend Kevin and I made our way outside of the stadium where I started my warm-up. Warming up before a race that is more than a 10k is rare unless it is really cold out. However, on this day I opted to run just over 1 mile to get warmed up before the start. During this time, I was able to run into some of my Buffalo Chips Running Club mates and some of my other friends preparing for the 7:45AM Wave 1 start.

Since we were able to get a parking spot near the start, rather than using the gear check, I opted to throw my layers into my trunk, rather than using the service provided by the race.

Between the moment where I dumped my layers and I made my way to the start line this was going through my head … I am going to get out and hammer, what’s the worse? I have to pull back. Yesterday, I ran a 10-miler training run and felt great. It’s all part of a bigger picture, so let’s see where my legs are. It’s just running! … Don’t be a little b@#$@, get out and run this MOTHERF@#@#R!
As I toed the line, I looked around and saw some familiar faces around me. I also saw the pace group leaders, at this point, I approached the 1:30 leader and asked if there was a 1:25 pacer. His response, “No I am the lowest time, looks like you have to stay in front of me”. 
Running sub 1:25:00 was going to be a lofty CRAZY ASS goal for a couple of reasons. 1:25 would be nearly 90 seconds faster than my current personal best and I have not really trained to PR in the half, since all of my training has me focused on May 25th when I am scheduled to run Mountains2Beach Marathon
With the count down underway, it was go time! The race would be chunked out like my training runs, this is how I opted to break the race up. The first half of the race would be one “lap” (where I would literally hit the lap button). As some of you may know I turned off the auto-lap function on my Garmin 310XT and will always prefer to go with the race course markings, track distance or time for workouts. I knew there was a timing mat at the half way point so I would use that to see how my second half of the race would be approached.
This first half was crossed at 42:14. This is where I wanted to be at for the race, I was actually a tad bit fast, but I was feeling good. With the all paved route, I knew I would be able to stay fairly consistent. At this point on the course, we had gone from the West Sacrament start, crossed the iconic Tower Bridge, made our way through Downtown Sacramento, passed the Blue Diamond (official race sponsor) building and cheer section, entered the bike path, and were now headed through Discovery Park. Outside of the bridge crossing the course was pretty flat at this point. 
Entering the second half of the race, the flat route would change a little bit as we would run back into Old Sacramento where there were a couple little climbs awaiting us and a few bridges before heading back into West Sacramento before finishing inside of Raley Field.
Lap 2 for me would be from the half mark to marker at mile 10. These miles took use along the Riverfront staying on the Sacramento side of the river. I was able to run from the half way point to the mile 10 marker in a time of 22:18. For your math folks that is 64:32 at the 10-mile mark. This would also be my fastest 10-mile time effort by nearly a minute.
With 5k left in the race I knew 2 things: 1) I was feeling good and 2) had around 20:28 to finish this race under 1:25:00. The final 5k would be broken up into 2 “laps”, the first being the first 2 miles of the final 5k (mile markers 11 and 12). These miles would bring me back towards Downtown Sacramento. During this stretch I saw some familiar faces supporting runners on the course. I saw Jenny Hitchings (local masters female badass runner) around mile 10.5 and John Blue (Jed Smith Ultras Race Director and masters male badass runner) at mile 11. From the 10 marker to the 12 marker, I ran a 13:06. This was a bit slower than I needed to be at but I knew I could kick it into a higher gear as I crossed the 12 mile marker leaving me 1.1 miles to go. At this point in the race I was 12 miles in and a time of 1:17:38.
mile 11 photo by John Blue
Knowing that the last “leg” of 1.1 miles would include a slight climb over the Tower Bridge to bring me back in West Sacramento for the stadium finish, it was time to see what I had left in the legs. With a strong final kick, I was able to cover the final 1.1 miles in a time of 7:02 giving me a finishing time of 1:24:40 (official). This would be my fastest half-marathon time to date, bettering my previous best of 1:26:29.
watching the finish line from the stands
After crossing the finish, I got my bling and headed up to the stands and waited for friends to finish. I had a clear look at the finish line and saw my friend Kevin crossing under the 1:30:00 mark, which was a big personal best for him. Bettering his time by nearly 6 minutes from his last half marathon. As runners started to cross and finish, I was fortunate enough to see one of my best friends Will cross the line, finishing his first half marathon ever! 
post race with Kevin and Will.
Fast fields create for fast finishes! Good luck to everyone racing this weekend.

3 thoughts on “Race Report: Shamrock’n Half Marathon

  1. Killed it! That pic must have been right after I saw you three 🙂


  2. awesome. well done, man. very cool. good things are afoot… you might need to revisit these alleged crazy-ass goals of yours, since they probably aren't sufficiently crazy-ass. just sayin.


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