This past week has been an interesting weather week in Alaska. A full week of no snow and temps in the high 30’s-low 40’s made me think we were going to have awesome conditions for the Shamrock Shuffle on Saturday.
Let’s just say, we learned why it is called the Shamrock Shuffle and not the Shamrock Run.
Friday night it started to snow while I was at the gym. I didn’t think much of it, because we have been getting these occasional flurries where it doesn’t stick at all and it just makes my car look nasty. By the time I left the gym, there were about 2″ of snow on the ground. They were only calling for 4″, so I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
We had some friends come over Friday night for pizza, beer, & movies (obviously, I did a terrible job of prepping for this race.) and when they went to leave around 1am, there was so much snow they got stuck in our driveway!
We forced them to stay the night (luckily, they had their puppies at our house for a puppy playdate, so they didn’t have to worry about their dogs being alone), and the next morning we woke up at 7:30 to 16 inches of snow.
That’s a whole lot of snow!
I taped my shin, got ready and finally at 8:15am Skinny Raven sent an e-mail saying the race was still on, and keeping it’s start time of 9:30.
This is one complaint that I have: it is a 20 minute drive on a clear day to where the race was located. That early in the morning, our neighborhood wasn’t plowed, and the major highway outside of our neighborhood wasn’t plowed.
While Matt got dressed, I started shoveling the truck out of the driveway. Man, it would have been awesome if our snow thrower machine had worked, but it has sadly been on the fritz and Matt & I haven’t had it high on our list to get repaired. (You can bet we’re taking it in Monday!)
We finally got everything dug out at 9am, but our friends experienced some issues getting off our unplowed street, so we helped pull them to a driveable part of the road. Matt was super excited to use his 4-wheel drive and chains.
We finally got to the race at 9:40am – 10 minutes after it started and two hours after we got up. We jumped past the start line and off we went!
One nice thing was that the city of Anchorage plowed the road part of the race. This made it a lot easier to gain some ground. Only downfall of starting late: dodging walkers, strollers, and people with their pets. I think we ran more of an S line then a straight line the whole route!
Once the route hit the Coastal Trail around Westchester Lagoon, it got really tough.
Have you ever tried running on 10″ of semi-packed snow while trying to go around lots of people walking? If not, I’ll tell you. It Sucks. Running on snow like that feels like running on sand, but with cold muscles. Whenever people were walking 4 wide on the route, we had to step in fresh, untouched powder to go around, resulting in snow going all in my shoes and making my feet freeze. It also made my calves, shins, and hamstring so tight. I had to walk a lot of the Coastal Trail part of the route, which was annoying because it was around 2 miles of the 3.1 mile race.
One good thing was that there were porta-john’s along the route so I was able to pop in and pee, which was awesome. Any one who remembers me on the cross-country team from high school will understand the importance to me. I apparently can’t hold my bladder for a 3-mile run and would constantly stop at porta-john’s during races in high school – much to the coach and principal’s disdain.
When we finally made it back to the road, we were able to run to the finish and get our sweet finisher pint glasses!
Another really cool thing about this race is they randomly select one bib number to win their weight in beer. It’s so cool, they call your number ‘The Price Is Right’ style, and the person goes up on stage and sits on a giant teeter-totter while they stack beer on it until it’s equal.
Had it been be winning, I feel like I would have been screaming, jumping up and down, Instagramming every moment. The lady that did win was more like “yay me, this is neat!” But I guess not everyone is as outwardly emotional as I am.
She ended up taking home over 8 cases of beer. A lot of people were trying to be her friend as she walked out, so I hope she doesn’t let the fame go to her head.
Overall, it was a good time. The weather conditions threw a random kink into what could have been a great race, but that’s the chances you take living in Alaska.
I actually take a lot of pride that we made it to the race and ran, along with almost 1,400 other people. I don’t think there are many other cities where that much snow wouldn’t cancel a race. Alaskans just shrug it off and go. The winning guy’s time was 19 minutes, 29 seconds and the winning girl’s time was 22 minutes, 32 seconds. I can’t imagine going that fast in perfect conditions, especially in the ones we were given. (FYI, my time was 47 minutes, 45 seconds. I want to point out that walkers randomly stopping didn’t help me catch up on our 10 minute late start.)
Will we run it again next year? Definitely. I’ll just be more prepared for an early start and have our snow thrower in working order first.
What all did you do this weekend? Any fun outdoor activities?