My first 15k: The Shamrock Run in Portland

Human Interest
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The whiny kid who always walked the one-mile fitness test every year in PE class just ran a 15k race! 

I only made peace with running as the perfect form of exercise in college when I tried a “Couch to 5k” training app one spring. I managed to make running part of my routine until I found out I had a stress fracture in my foot. 

So after six weeks in a cast and then surgery, I slowly dipped my toe back into running in March 2018. I worked my way up to longer runs and now I love it and aim for 3-6 miles several days a week. I made it a personal goal to run at least one race in 2019! 

I didn’t even decide to do the Shamrock Run until March 5, leaving me less than two weeks to prepare. I considered the 8k but decided to really challenge myself and run the 15k. That’s 9.3 miles! 

I knew I could finish but I didn’t really have any goals otherwise. I expected it to take at least 90 minutes. 

Before the race, I was careful not to overstrain my body. I just did some low-intensity cardio every day instead of running. I always drink a ton of water but I made sure to be extra hydrated for this weekend! 

Runners line up to start the Shamrock Run 15k in Portland on March 17, 2019. (KOIN) 

Portland couldn’t have asked for better weather for this race. Heading into the weekend, I was so happy the KOIN 6 weather team was forecasting sun!

It was chilly waiting to start before 9 a.m. but once we got going it was perfect. I had to remember to stop staring at the ground in front of me and look at the view from the Terwilliger hills. Mount St. Helens was particularly beautiful and on any other day, I would have stopped to take a mediocre iPhone photo.

There were so many people along the way cheering us on — volunteers and spectators. It was nice to get a little encouragement in those moments when I felt like I couldn’t keep going.

I also picked a few people around me to “race” along the way. There was a man with pink socks and a silly shamrock headband that I trailed most of the way. People dress up for this and I saw a lot of funky costumes but the craziest thing I saw was a man running in jorts. 

The hardest section of the 15k for me was the turn from Barbur Boulevard onto Capital Highway. It was just before the 4-mile mark so we’re getting tired. That was probably the steepest incline and it’s uphill for just long enough that you feel like you want to die. According to my Fitbit, that was also my longest mile at 9’08” — my only mile clocking in at more than 9 minutes!  

I was surprised the Terwilliger Boulevard section wasn’t insanely hard. I expected it to be a huge challenge but it wasn’t horrible and my Fitbit tracked my miles in that section at 8’32” and 8’36” so not bad at all! 

I ended up finishing at 1:21:58, which is definitely a personal record whether I have the stats to prove it or not. I can say with confidence that I’ve never run that far, that fast in my life. I’m very proud that I didn’t stop to walk at all. 

My favorite part was the announcer giving each runner a shoutout as we crossed the finish line. “That’s me!!” 

After crossing the finish line, I collected my medal (I was really excited to get this medal!) and much-appreciated water. Then I was bombarded by people giving me free things — electrolyte tablets, power bars, energy drinks. Then came fresh fruit from Moda Health, soup from Bob’s Red Mill and a piece of grilled cheese from a food cart I sadly didn’t catch the name of.

The Shamrock Run was so much fun. I looked forward to it, I had a great time and I’m so proud of myself for doing it. Next year maybe I’ll go for the half marathon! 

Chelsea Wicks is a digital content producer for KOIN 6 News 

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