2017 Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K Race Review

2017 Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K Race Review

My husband, who is going to hate this blog post, used to—and quite honestly still does—make fun of my running. So, you can probably imagine my surprise when he, himself, began running this winter…and then told me he wanted to sign up for a 5K. Remember how you felt when you found out Donald Trump was really, truly running for president and it was like a serious no-joke thing? That’s how I felt when the hubs asked me to sign us up.

A Little Background

As you may know, I have been immersed in the world of crazy runners since I started this blog in 2009. And by crazy, I mean obsessed people. My interests have bounced between 5Ks and marathons, and weightlifting and yoga. I even once considered an ultra. Once. Considered. So, I will say that I was sort of wondering how long it would take my husband to get on board the fitness train with me. Judging from his attitude about my running endeavors, I guessed the answer to that would be never. But then it happened. It was last year around this time, actually. Just 7 short years after I first began my health journey, he fully committed to his.

My husband started small—which is how everyone says to do it—something I, myself, completely ignored by jumping straight into training for half and full marathons before my body was ready (thus getting injured). He began walking on his lunch hour. He had a step goal. Not 10,000, but instead a number he thought was more achievable for his current fitness level. Then he started buying salads from the work café for lunch. Then he started bringing salads from home for lunch. (Full disclosure: I make these salads.)  Next, he increased his step goal to 10,000. Just by making those small changes, he lost nearly 60 pounds in about 9 months.

Next thing I knew, he began training for a 5K before Christmas, and he asked me to sign us up for a race so he could have a goal to motivate him. As it turned out, the 2107 Kirkland Shamrock Run was the exact right timing for his training, so I signed us up. (Full disclosure: As an ambassador for Orca Running, I had free entries. As always, I promise to be honest in my review of the race.)

The hubs confessed he was nervous the night before the race because he’d never run 3.1 miles consecutively. I reassured him since I knew he’d been running consistently—which, by the way, was much more than I could say about my own training. Beyond the Metabolic Effect weights workouts I like to do, I’d only been sprinting once or twice a week, and occasionally going for a longer, slow run on the weekend—and only if it was sunny out! He’d been running in the dark after work, in sleet and rain. He’d become a crazy runner.

The Day of the Race

The morning of the race was way calmer than it normally is when it’s just me, which is super surprising, since it was Jamey’s first time getting ready for one, and we also had to get our son up and ready to go over to a friend’s house. Probably because the race didn’t start till 9, which is in my opinion, about the perfect time for a race to start. And also, the hubs picked up our bibs ahead of time.

Another nice thing was that it wasn’t raining, and it had been (and has been) raining a lot here—even more than normal in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, after we arrived in Kirkland and found covered, free nearby parking in the metro transit parking garage, it started to rain. Luckily, it was just a light rain for our short walk to the start line at Kirkland Marina. (You may remember Kirkland Marina from me and my friend Chelsea’s stand-up paddleboard adventure…in a summertime downpour.)

The best thing about starting a race at Kirkland Marina is the public bathrooms. You KNOW us runners are port-o-potty connoisseurs, and when we luck out with public bathrooms at a race, it’s like we’re living a life of luxury. Oh, and the line was extremely short—and the bathroom had toilet paper and soap! I might as well have been carrying around a four-leaf clover.

Afterward, we wandered to the start line. We were excited to see bagpipers on stage, but they weren’t playing. (Fun fact: My husband is also a bagpiper.) I wanted a start-line photo, so I asked a random man to take our picture.

2017 Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K Race Review
The hubs wasn’t thrilled. Also, this is what you get when you ask a dude to take your photo. Next time, I’ll ask a woman. Sorry, dudes, but c’mon! The ladies behind us look cute, though.

Thanks…I guess. Dudes, you guys need to step up your photography game. In the age of Instagram, this is unacceptable! Then it was time to line up for the start of the race. I love small races, everything is so relaxed, and everyone is so nice. We found a spot in the back of the first wave since it was 11:15 pace and under. There were just two waves.

The Actual Race

Then it was time to count down and the bagpipers played us across the start. We set off like a typical race—slower since everyone is just trying not to trip, and even before we hit a quarter-mile, we were all spread out. There was plenty of room on the road to find your own pace. But we were about to hit the first hill. Being in Kirkland, we knew there’d be a couple hills—I think there were three in all. They were steep, but not super long. We took our time and we were smart about the hills, walking when we needed to. By now it was raining in earnest.

One thing I noticed, or did not notice, was mile markers…or rather, the absence of them. Now, that may have just been me not being very observant, but I didn’t see any, and I was looking. I did not wear my Garmin and it would have been helpful to know about how much of the race we had left. It is also useful for writing race reviews. So…I think it was after the first mile that we turned onto a flat dirt path.

The path was thinner than the road. I thought there may be some dodging and weaving, but it wasn’t bad. The only trouble we had was with people with dogs a couple of times. The race allows dogs, which I appreciate, but runners need to keep their doggies a little closer when they run so they don’t trip anyone—we had a couple of close calls.

The course wasn’t spectacularly scenic, but I enjoyed the cute neighborhoods we ran through. I also appreciated the police and volunteers who were standing in the rain and taking care of traffic along the course. We saw one driver who was not happy (and throwing a bit of a tantrum), but an officer calmly told her that there had been signs up about the race for a week. So, yeah. Calm down, lady.

There were a couple of short, steep uphills somewhere in the second mile…I think. Also, it might’ve been around the end of Mile 2 when my husband said to me, “You talk a lot.” Why he thought I would be different running than I am any other time, I don’t know.

2017 Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K Race Review
TBH I never thought I’d see a photo of us like this.

Mile 3 was great. It started (again, I think it was the beginning of Mile 3 because there were no mile markers), on a steep downhill. My shoe came untied, so I told the hubs to go ahead and I would catch up. This was great because I got to fly down the hill, which I love to do. I even got to sprint a little at the bottom. I am such a nerd.

Anyway, most of this mile was near the water, so we had a nice view of Lake Washington. It was really raining pretty hard now, but we were almost done.

2017 Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K Race Review

Soon enough, we were rounding a corner into the finish-line chute. Is it just me or do you love corners right before the finish chute? It feels awesome, right?

I told the hubs to go ahead and I would follow his lead because it was slightly crowded. And then, what does he do? Like father like son because he totally takes off in a sprint and cuts around a group of people, so I could not catch him. No cute finish line photo for us.

This might be a good time to talk abut the photos. As you can see in the hand-holding photo, the quality isn’t too great. I will cut them some slack on that because it was raining pretty hard. My biggest complaint is that there were only like four total photos of us (I am only in two of them), and we passed at least four photographers. There were no photos of us at the finish line. Not one—I even scanned through all of them in case our bibs weren’t visible. The nice thing, however, is that the photos are free. So, how can I complain? I’m just being nit-picky now, really.

One thing that I thought was really cool was that Orca Running had a PR bell set up near the finish line! I wish all races had that. Hubby got to ring it as it was his firt race and, hey, automatic PR!

2017 Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K Race Review
The hubs got to ring Orca Running’s PR bell! Yeah, I was jealous.

As you can see from the photo, it was very wet by the end, so we did not stick around for any festivities. We really only stayed long enough to get a quick picture in front of the backdrop, which I appreciated. (Again, age of Instagram, people.)

2017 Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K Race Review
The Shamrock Run medals were huge and awesome. The shamrock spins, too. Well done.

The medals also were really well done and very big, especially for a 5K. They have a cute shamrock in the middle that spins around. Very nice bling indeed! In addition, the race shirts came in both male and female cuts, so that’s a major plus because I hate unisex shirts, and I think most women would agree with me.

Overall, the race was very well organized. There were good snacks afterward, too (I had Red Vines!), and I also think there was an after-party in the pub nearby, but we had to get home to pick up our kid.

Thank you Kirkland Shamrock Run and Orca Running for a great first race for my hubs!

Our times:

  • Jamey: 33:13
  • Me: 33:16

Seahawks 12K Run at the Landing 2016 Race Report

Seahawks 12K 2016 Race Report | Mom vs. Marathon
Mel’s friend, me, Mel and Zoë pre-race.

I was all prepared to not do this race this year. I’d accepted that I would most likely suffer from FOMO and embraced sleeping in and drinking all the coffee and maybe even making some pancakes. (Protein pancakes, of course, let’s not get crazy.) But then I ran the race anyway.

I suck at not doing races!

My neighbor is awesome and agreed to an 8 a.m. play date for our kiddos so that I could go to the race. (The hubs was out of town.)

For me, this race is all about the outfit. And I couldn’t decide on a shirt, so I got a pair of scissors and altered the race shirt, which is not a gender-specific cut. It says short sleeves, but they’re practically 3/4-length on women.

I really should have taken pictures of my process. Why do I never think of that? Here’s the video I used for guidance:

I ended up just making a tank. NBD. It was easy, but I did practice on a couple of T-shirts that I don’t wear anymore to get the hang of it.

The same day I picked up the shirt and race packet, I went to the Seahawks Pro Shop and purchased a few things. They gave me free Seahawks shoe laces and wings. Dude. I had to use them.

Seahawks 12K 2016 Race Report | Mom vs. Marathon

You guys, there’s really no racing this race unless you plan to start at the front of the pack with the dudes in singlets and short shorts. I’d rather run in my Sparkle Athletic skirt with my friends and enjoy the atmosphere of the 12s.

In case you aren’t familiar with Seahawks football, the fans are called 12s, as in the 12th Man, aka 12th Fan, etc. I can’t afford tickets to Seahawks games so this race is the closest I’ll probably ever get to the players…and, oh boy, did I take advantage of that this year!

The Seahawks 12K Course

But first, the course:

Like the title of the race indicates, it starts at The Landing in Renton. The actual start/finish is in front of the LA Fitness. Seahawk KJ Wright kicked off the event. Runners turn out of the parking lot and head north onto Logan Avenue N. (toward the Red Robin). Then you turn south onto Park Avenue N., the road that threads Target and Dicks Sporting Goods. Turn left (east) onto N. 8th Street and go around the back of Frys, then go left (north) onto Houser Way N. and now you just keep heading north onto Lake Washington Blvd. N. paralleling I-405 on your right and Lake Washington on your left.

The view of the lake is gorgeous, especially on a clear day like Sunday was. The Olympic Mountain range was in the background and there were bald eagles soaring above the trees.

At about 3.5 miles, you get to a split where you stay to the left on Seahawks Way and then into the parking lot of the Virginia Mason Athletic Center or VMAC (which here we pronounce Vee-Mack).

Seathawks 12K 2016 Race Report | Mom vs. Marathon
Zoë and I at the VMAC during the race.

This is the Seahawks practice facility. The water stop is lakeside between the VMAC and the water. One side always features Nuun and the other side is water. Seahawks players and coaches, as well as volunteers pass out hydration.

Loop around the VMAC and next to the practice field, and then up and out of the parking lot to head back to Lake Washington Blvd. N., this time going south. I like an out-and-back course because you get to look for friends and at costumes going both ways. Continue south on Lake Washington Blvd. N. until you get back to The Landing. This time, though, you turn right onto Park Avenue N.—no need to loop around the business like before. Stay on Park Avenue N.—it becomes Logan Avenue N. as you continue south toward the start/finish line. Next thing you know, you’re turning left into The Landing parking lot in front of the LA Fitness!

I rocked the course this year. In fact, as I was running, I sort of wished I could race it. It’s not a flat course—it has rolling hills. Last year (which you can read here), it felt as if I was running uphill both ways, but this year, I enjoyed the ups and downs. That probably has something to do with the thousands of squat jumps and switch jumps and new jacks I’ve done over the past couple of months.

Click here to see a map of the 12K and 5K course.

New Things at the Seahawks 12K This Year

They had a couple new things this year:

They did away with shoe timing chips, which caused a huge backup at the finish line last year. This year, throw-away chips were attached to race bibs. This was a huge improvement. Good job, guys!

Seahawks 12K 2016 Race Report | Mom vs. Marathon
Mel, Mel’s friend, and me post-race.

They integrated timing chips with finish line video, which is super cool. Click here to see Zoë and me finish—she’s in the blue sparkle skirt and I’m right behind her in the silver one.

I also did something new this year. I decided I was going to hug the Seahawks players. I’ve never even high-fived them in the 3 other years I’ve run this race, so it was kind of a big deal.

I never recognize who the guys are without their jerseys and helmets on, as they are usually not the most famous guys from the team. I don’t really care about that. These guys have worked hard to play at the highest level, and the athlete in me respects that. Also they are huge dudes with big muscles. The two I knew of are Drew Nowak and Tharold Simon. (At least, I think these were two of the guys.)

“Should we hug them?” I asked Zoë when we got to the Nuun stop at the VMAC, and because Zoë has a bit of a crazy streak in her, of course she thought we both should.

We apologize for the disruption we caused at the water stop. But, dang, it was worth it.

Professional football players are not squishy. These guys are solid muscle, which quite frankly, would not make them very good cuddle partners.

My 7-year-old son describes the best hug as a light squeeze. Want to know what it’s like to hug a professional football player? Find a tree with a trunk a little wider than you, place your arms around it and give it a light squeeze.

What I Learned

You guys, running less works for me. I guess I didn’t so much learn this as be reminded. I know this, but I get caught up in reading about mileage, mileage, mileage. I can’t do that. I get injured and fat. Running less might not be for everyone, but for me, it works for…better running. I know that seems weird.

What have I been doing? Focusing on HIIT/strength 3 times per week doing Metabolic Prime workouts, then sprinting/tempo/fast intervals 2 times per week, and one rest day and one long run at an easy pace.

Seahawks 12K 2016 Race Report | Mom vs. Marathon
My signature pose these days.

I didn’t have to push myself much at all during the race on Sunday. We ran at an easy sub-10:30/mile pace and finished the 7.6-mile course in 1:19:51. We even stopped for pictures a couple times, and of course, hugs. We walked through water stops, too.

Glad I got to run this race again this year. I guess I’ll keep the tradition going next year.

Now…I don’t have another race till June, but I think I’d like to do a 5K race in the next few weeks, if I can. Any suggestions?

My Better Half Marathon Race Report

Lately I run half marathons like a boss.

I give someone else my bib and they run it for me.

Sunday, however, I ran a half like what I really am: a lowly desk jockey.

But everyone knows the truth: Underlings have more fun.

Okay, I don’t actually think that’s true. I feel like we’re going to have to let this analogy go. We’re phasing it out. It’s a matter of copy editing cuts.

Okay, I’ll stop. I should’ve quit while I was ahead.

Okay, okay. Seriously now. I’m done with that analogy, but just know it will be all I’m thinking about for the rest of the day, and by not writing my thoughts down, my brain won’t be well-suited for anything else.

Why am I here again?

OH yeah. To give a race report for the My Better Half Marathon, which took place on Valentine’s Day 2016. See? I’m really getting down to business now.

The plan was to wear Tina Fey and Amy Pohler shirts with Mel in honor of Galentines Day.

My Better Half Marathon 2016 Race Report
Mel and me in our sweet shirts at Sisters.

But you know what they say: The best-laid plans of mice and men often have to go ask for directions.

The problem was A) we didn’t know how our non-running shirts would hold up in the rain, and B) where the hell would we pin our bibs so that you could still read the big text on the shirt? We couldn’t answer these questions, so we had to go to our back-up plan, which was there wasn’t one.

This is why in the picture below (Exhibit A) Mel is wearing a green jacket and I am wearing the race shirt. We ran with our friends Tiffany and Alyssa, who as you can see, are obviously  better at matching outfit back-up plans than us.

My Better Half Marathon Race Report
Exhibit A.

The rain did stop about the same time as the race started. Of course, it got windy because we hate being warm in the Pacific Northwest. Luckily, there was a nice big tent that was warm inside. We huddled in there till it was time to start.

The race was a matter of loops. Each loop was about 2.5 miles or so, except for the first one that took us up a hill and off the main trail for an extra half-mile or so, presumably to get us out of the way for the 5K and 10K racers or so. If you’re a list-maker, you might like the loops as I did. Also if you you have three fun friends to chat with.

The trail ran along the shore of Lake Washington, and it turns out, it was only windy on the park side where the start was, so we were all rather comfortable for most of the race. The paved trail was also plenty wide for the number of racers, so it never felt congested, except for the start.

At the end of the loop, there was a steamy “Tunnel of Love” (don’t worry it was a fog machine, what were you thinking?) stocked with running-themed candy hearts and chocolates. Right after was the water stop, which we took literally.

On our 5th loop, we were done and excited to get back to that warm tent where smell of soup had been taunting us each time we ran by. Obviously, it was lentil, which as you know, is the tauntiest of the soups. Seriously, lentil, get over yourself. (It was really good, though.)

Other good stuff:

-The candy hearts were actually pretty freaking good while running. Plus, I helped come up with some of the sayings so I felt special and also that I should just try to eat all of them.

-Free Clif-Shot Gels for us dum-dums that forgot to bring our own.

-Running along the water.

-Lots to look at even on a loop, like the gatrillion-dollar homes across the lake.

-Flat, except for the first loop, so if you’re into that sort of thing.

-Cute shirts that work well, too. I wasn’t wet, too cold or hot. Oh, who am I kidding, I was totally hawt!

My Better Half 2016 Race Report
Start-of-race hawtness.

Oh, and FREE photos. So you know we were posing for all the shots.

My Better Half Marathon Race Report
Blowing a kiss to…whomever.

Thank you Orca Running for putting on a great race. You can check out upcoming Orca Running races here.

I decided I won’t be quitting half marathons quite yet. And I won’t be running them like a boss.

I’m gonna OWN them like a muthafuckin CEO.


2015 Santa Runs Tacoma Frosty 5K Race Report


Santa Runs Tacoma Frosty 5K Race Report | Mom vs. Marathon
Me, Alyssa, Mel, Goober and Giblet, and Zoë at the Frosty 5K last Saturday.

It was weird not to feel nervous about a race.

Normally, I put a stupid amount of pressure on myself to run fast in races—especially at Santa Runs Tacoma’s Frosty 5K because (usually) you get a cool mug if you finish in the top 100 runners.

I knew that wasn’t going to happen this year. I haven’t run much more than a mile here or there since the marathon in September. And I’ve put on 5+ (okay fine, it’s closer to 10 pounds) by eating cookies and drinking eggnog every day since Thanksgiving.

Yes, I’ve been working out, but I have not been eating well, and so I’m putting on muscle…and fat. Good times.

Luckily for me, most of my friends have been on a running break, too, so we all planned to run together. Zoë even brought her kiddos (Goober, 5, and Giblet, 1) to ride in the double-jogger!

We didn’t have a specific theme this year for the race. Two years ago, we all dressed as snowmen.

Santa Runs Tacoma Frosty 5K Race Report | Mom vs. Marathon
Alyssa, Chelsea, Tiff and Me. Mel took the photo.

We have been running this race since 2010…

Santa Runs Tacoma Frosty 5K Race Report | Mom vs. Marathon
Total Santa race noobs.

…which was my son’s first race…

Santa Runs Tacoma Frosty 5K Race Report | Mom vs. Marathon
Little runner guy.

…in 2011, we matched and Kim was here…

Santa Runs Tacoma Frosty 5K Race Report | Mom vs. Marathon

…then I missed 2012…and Zoe missed last year…

Santa Runs Tacoma Frosty 5K Race Report | Mom vs. Marathon
Will and Tiff, Mel and Me. Where’s Alyssa? She was there, I promise!

…and, sadly, Tiffany missed this year. It happens.

Santa Runs Tacoma Frosty 5K Race Report | Mom vs. Marathon
Selfie credit: Mel’s amazing arm! 🙂

This year, we just Christmassed out. Nobody could’ve topped the ladies that dressed as nutcrackers. They had awesome costumes. It was raining a little, so I didn’t get to wear my Christmas tree glasses.

I ran with Zoë, Mel and Alyssa (and Goober and Giblet), and it was so much awesome. We took it pretty easy and chatted and joked for 30 minutes and 45 seconds, letting Zoë and her stroller set the pace.

The Frosty 5K is flat, except for one small overpass hill, which we had to walk about half of because of the heavy stroller, even though Goob let us know that we better get running again. Little coach in training!

I wasn’t pushing anything, but I definitely felt the extra weight I am carrying. Despite that, the pace was perfect and we even passed a lot of people, including some other strollers at the end of the race, and we finished four-wide across the finish line. (Hopefully there will be a cute picture.)

Afterward, we went to breakfast, of course, where I had about ¼ of my mimosa before getting buzzed, listened to Goober tell me hilarious nonsensical jokes, and then losing my Debit card (which I found in my wallet after Zoe paid for me—I swear I didn’t plan that!).

Pretty great morning. Running with friends it the absolute best—even better than PRs and mugs*.


*Our fasty friend told us no mugs this year. Hopefully, they’ll be back next year.