2013 Shamrock’n Half Marathon Race Recap

The Shamrock’n Half Marathon is another one of my hometown races in Sacramento.  For whatever reason I’ve only run this race once in the 5 years that I’ve lived here.  However it holds a special place in my heart because it is where I have my PR in the half marathon distance.

As usual, the packet pickup was at the midtown Sacramento Fleet Feet store.

The start and finish line was at Raley Field.  Sacramento doesn’t have a MLB team though we do have a Triple-A affiliate team called the Sacramento River Cats.  Their home field is Raley Field in West Sacramento.  The first time I went to Raley Field was actually to see Incubus in a rock concert.  I like Raley Field because of its quaintness.  Compared to some of the other baseball fields I’ve visited (Dodger Stadium, Anaheim Stadium, Wrigley Field), Raley Field just seems more approachable and you feel like you can explore the entire area in a relatively short amount of time.  It has that small town feel.

Race morning I woke up at the usual super early time to do my business, eat, have coffee and then drive on over towards the baseball field.  Parking was at various places (baseball field parking, structures, street, etc.).  I chose to park in a structure about 1/4 mile from the stadium figuring it’d make an easier exit after the race.  After parking I walked over to Raley Field.  It was still dark out and I had a fair amount of time to just walk around the outside of the field along with the stands.

Raley Field
Raley Field

As the start time came closer, we all lined up on the outside of the stadium.  One cool thing about the race is that you actually finish on the baseball field itself.  The other perk of the race is that you get to run across the famous Sacramento Tower Bridge – twice.  Right at the start of the race you run across the bridge towards the State Capitol building.  To be honest I do not remember a good chunk of this race.  Looking at the map did remind me somewhat of the course.  The first ~4 miles consisted of running around the Capitol building the streets of downtown Sacramento.  We then headed north to a bike trail that took us across the American River and into the very large Discovery Park.  We continued along the bike trail and then crossed over the American river again and this time ran on the east side of the Sacramento river.

We passed by the Tower Bridge because we needed to add in an extra 3 miles before making our way back to Raley Field.  As mentioned before, the finish line was on the actual field so it was fun to run into the stadium and onto the warning track of the baseball field.  The one cruel thing is that they made you walk up the stairs of the Field right after finishing the race.  Overall the course is very flat.

I hadn’t been particularly training to run a fast race, however about 3-5 miles into the race I realized that I was on pace to run a sub-2:00 half marathon.  I had been flirting with running a sub 2:00 half marathon for all of 2012.  The Urban Cow half that I ran 5 months before the Shamrock’n half was a 2:01:14.  Since I could tell that I was running a sub-2:00 pace, I decided to try to keep pushing it and see if I could run a PR.  At the time of this race, I had my phone in my waist belt and didn’t run with a GPS watch.  I had to rely on the on-course split timing mats.  This was a little difficult to do but I just kept telling myself to “push it.”  As I made it to the 10 mile mark, my legs definitely started to whine and I knew I’d be hurting the few days after the race, but I didn’t care.  I crossed the line and was a bit surprised how far under 2 hours I actually was.

Final chip time: 1:55:26 (Current PR)

Blue Diamonds Almonds are headquartered here in Sacramento

I celebrated with a free Killian’s.

Killian's medal



Avoiding the SPLAT!

On today’s 6 miler I almost ate it…big time.  I was about halfway through the run when I found upper body flying forward much faster than my lower body.

A majority of my runs start and finish in my neighborhoods.  This means I typically am running on asphalt and sidewalks.  The sidewalks are typically well maintained but as with any neighborhood there are some uneven areas of the sidewalks.

I had run on this particular area of sidewalk multiple times prior to this.  Of course there happened to be someone in their yard across the street when it happened.  I kicked the raised area on the sidewalk with my right leg and immediately felt like I was falling forward.  I reached out with my right arm to brace myself but somehow managed to stumble forward with my right leg and prevent me from going all the way down.

Of course I just kept right on running since I was embarrassed and didn’t need the person across the street from asking if I was all right.  Luckily I don’t think any major damage was done.


Sourdough pizza dough

Sourdough pizza dough

This is a bit out-of-order.  After returning back from Portland a few weekends ago, I had July 4th off from work and decided to make some pizza for the holiday.  I also had to feed my sourdough starter so figured I’d make sourdough pizza dough with the discard.  I used the below recipe:

  • Sourdough starter – 80 g (~50% hydration)
  • AP flour – 350 g
  • Water – 230 g
  • Salt – 8 g
  • Yeast – 2 g

I mixed all the ingredients (above), let it sit for 40 minutes to auto-lyse and then kneaded it for about 15 minutes (slap and fold).  I put it in a large mixing bowl and let it bulk ferment for about 50 minutes.  It was fairly warm in the kitchen/house so I didn’t have to let it rise as long.  I then did 3 stretch and folds separated by 30 minutes.  After this I divided the dough into 2 (these ended up being larger balls than I typically work with in the past) and put them individual bowls to proof.


As can be seen above, the dough rose greatly.  Since I was making pizza, I wasn’t as concerned if it went slightly over since I was flattening the dough out anyway to make the pizza.  I topped the dough with some homemade tomato sauce (I just use canned San Marzano Whole tomatoes that I crush and heat with some basil and garlic), mozzarella, and mushrooms/prosciutto.

Overall I got some good rise in the crust and it did have a slight sourdough taste to it.

Good rise

I may have to try incorporating more sourdough starter to see if I can’t get more of the sourdough taste to it.


Run Addendum

I forgot to mention a few things in my last post.

  • That free hat that I received for the 2013 race?  It served me very well.  It was one of two hats that I used on a regular basis for training races.  Over the last 3 years I used the hat on hundreds of runs.  However, as with most good things, my time with the hat came to an end when I was washing it one day and ripped through it.  Much of the previous sweat absorbing material had already come out so I knew it was on its way out.  But this was the last straw.
😥  R.I.P hat – you treated me well
  • On my run on Friday morning I was stung by a bee.  About a mile into my run I felt something land on the back of my hat.  I used my left hand to swipe at it thinking it was a fly.  I felt a sharp pain on the inside of my left ring finger.  When I looked at the finger, I didn’t see a stinger as I expected.  The pain continued though seemed to subside to a little bit of a throb.  I’ve been stung about 3 times prior to this so hoped that I wouldn’t have a severe anaphylactic reaction as I know can happen when you’re stung for a second time.  Usually the first sting is a freebie but sensitizes your immune system.  That 2nd sting is when the body mounts an overwhelming allergic reaction causing people’s throats to swell and people to not be able to breathe.  Since I was only at mile 1 and planned to do at least 5-7, I figured I’d keep running and see what happened (I don’t recommend this to others).  I could see a small round white area on my finger, probably where I was stung.  Overall aside from some pain in my finger, I felt overall fine so finished my 5 miler.  To be safe, I took an anti-histamine after I arrived home.  The pain dissipated but then the itchiness began.  The entire inside part of my left ring finger was itchy.  There was also some mild redness.  This continued for the next 48 hours.  My wife looked up some things and suggested I take my wedding ring off because it was tight on that finger and actually trapping the histamines I think.  Once I moved the ring to my other hand, the itchiness subsided almost instantaneously.  Lesson from this run is that if something lands on you during a run, let it be as it will almost 100% leave on its own without causing any problems.  I feel bad though if it was a bee because bees die after they sting something.
  • We’ve been having some great weather for Sacramento.  It’s been in the 80s here and so has allowed me to get some good runs in.  This morning I did either my last run or second to last run with my good friend KP.  She’s moving to Portland in August for work.  She will be missed.  We were just in Portland and I still need to post an update on that trip – it was a blast.
  • There’s a new race coming to Sacramento.  This one will be a 20 miler, half marathon, 5K, and untimed 3K.  The host organization is the Sacramento Running Association (SRA).  This is the same group that puts on the California International Marathon, which I ran in 2013 (race recap yet to be published).  I think I may sign up for the half marathon and consider switching over to the 20 miler if I’m at that stage of training.  Check it out here: http://runtheparkway.org/


2012 & 2013 American River Parkway Half Marathon Race Recap

Race summary: Easy packet pickup at the local Fleet Feet.  Flat course running on the paved/graveled river trail along the American River.  The two possible downsides include the narrow river trail and levy as well as the possible heat when the race is run.

One of the huge perks of where we live is that there is the American River bike trail.  The trail runs for 32 miles from Discovery Park in Old Sacramento to Beal’s Point on the southwestern side of Folsom Lake.  Along the river there exists a network of paved bike paths along with graveled raised levies as well as single track  that runs between the paved bike path and the river.  Since moving to Sacramento in 2011, I’ve been using and running along the American River Parkway.  When I saw an advertisement for this race and saw it benefited the Parkway, I thought it’d be a great way to do a race and support the river trail.

Packet pickup as per most Sacramento area races was at the local Fleet Feet in midtown Sacramento.  For the 2013 race, I had signed up early enough that I qualified for a nice little perk – a race emblemed running hat.

One interesting aspect of this race is that there is a runner’s course as well as a walker’s course.  Having two separate courses for runners vs walkers is good because of the course and its width.  Since the race course runs along the American River bike trail levy, it is rather narrow.  If both runners and walkers were to run on one course, it would be so congested that runners would be quite irritated being stuck behind walkers.  Even with the two courses, there were definitely a few spots that seemed congested with just runners.

The races from 2012 to 2013 were vastly different.  The latter race date was moved back a week due to some problem that is evading my memory at this time.  However, this put the race into the first weekend of May.  The temperature in Sacramento in May can be nice or extremely hot.  The 2013 race for me was marred by heat.  The start (and finish) line area provided a large grassy area for porta-potties, various tents (run clubs, other races, refreshments) and plenty of room to spread out and stretch/warm up prior to race start.  One tradition of the race involves a bagpipe group playing just prior to the start.  The runner’s course heads west along the river toward Sacramento State University and Fair Oaks Blvd, while the walkers head east.  As mentioned before, the race start and initial few miles of the course are very crowded and you’re either following someone closely and/or someone is right behind you.  As I wasn’t aiming for a specific time goal either year this didn’t bother me as much.  If you’re thinking of a PR though you may want to line up in the early expected race times (they organize the start line based on your expected pace (6 min/mi, 7 min/mi, etc)).

The overall course is relatively flat save for the few areas where you move from the bike trail up onto the levy, or when you have to take the Guy West Bridge across the river.  The race is an out and back and one change from 2012 to 2013 is that the first year we remained on the north side of the river, while the second year we crossed over on the Guy West Bridge to the south side of the river trail and then came back over on the Watt Ave bridge.  The 2012 race went relatively smoothly and with the end of April weather, the temperatures rose up into the 70s.  The 2013 race was a slog and I really had to just keep telling myself to keep going as the temperatures rose into the 80s and then I think hit 90 by the time I finished the race.  Course support was okay with water and sports drink.  The supporters were scattered throughout and weren’t overwhelming.

Finish line perks at this race include a bag lunch (sandwich, apple, chips) as well as the usual bananas, water, chocolate milk.

2012 Finish line

My times below are deceptive.  The 2013 race in terms of effort was much more than the 2012 race.  For the 2013 hot race I definitely found my mouth parched and there wasn’t enough water on the course that year for me to stay hydrated.  At one point with about 3 miles to go I felt like passing out.  The other downside was the fact they didn’t come up with a new medal from 2012 to 2013.


2012 chip time: 2:12:50

2013 chip time: 2:13:00