Monday, March 11, 2013

Race Report: Junior League Atlanta Shamrock 'n Roll 10K

Shamrock 'n Roll Road Race | March 10 | Atlanta

My Athens running friend Jennifer found this race a few weeks back and I signed up for it about a week and a half ago, just because... well, I could. I was looking forward to having two excuses to buy fun St. Patrick's Day items and a plethora of green things: this race and for Publix the following week. Who doesn't love dressing up? The JLA sponsors this 5 and 10K every year, now headed into it's 9th year!
Race outfit preview on Instagram yesterday morning!
Sunday morning Jennifer and I met in town at 6:45 to get down to Atlanta by 7:45 so we could get our packets and bibs, get our stuff back to the car, and warm up before the 10K started at 8:30. First off, super glad I know where Atlantic Station is because the directions on their website are rather incorrect and take you to the wrong side of the highway. That made me kind of grumpy from the start - not a great way to start race morning. We got parked and up to the race packet pick up and headed straight back to the car to throw our stuff in and get finally ready for the race. I felt kind of discombobulated this morning, as I hadn't had anything to drink (oops?), didn't have my shoes on when we got there (flip flops), and was still wearing my compression socks that I had worn to bed the night before. I looked a mess, probably. 
At least now an all-green mess! Top 'o the morning to ya!
 By the time we had gotten back upstairs, the 5Kers had just taken off and our turn would be in a bit. I certainly appreciated how many folks took the green-theme to heart: folks in kilts, lots of folks in St. Patty's knee-high socks (Target's got a ton if you're looking for some cute ones!), and folks in green racing shirts of all kinds. Love! The morning turned out spectacularly beautiful - cool, but clear skies and was forecasted to be over 60 by this afternoon (hello, spring!). And soon enough, the 10Kers were off.

I hadn't quite decided if I wanted to run or race this 10K. I think my lungs were still slightly recovering from that nasty infection post-marathon, but I also knew I'd been feeling great lately and (especially) after this past week's track workout, I feel like I had the potential in me to make good things happen. I figured I'd just go and really, see what happened. Remember that a sub-1 hour 10K is one of my major running/fitness goals for 2013.

Jennifer and I started in almost the back of the 10K pack (they had signage to split up the runners, walkers, strollers, etc., which I appreciated, though no one followed alone), and ended up bobbing and weaving the entire first half mile just trying to get around the walkers. Frustrating, but whatever, it happens, especially on a course with 2000+ runners (for both 5K and 10K combined) on a course in downtown Atlanta. 

Regardless of all that weaving, I ran my first mile in 8:55 - um, oops. That's definitely not 10K race pace for me and barely slower than 5K race pace even! But again, I thought I'd just go out and see what I could do, right? Right. Heading up into mile 2 was the first of the course's hills (only two, according to previous year's course maps from Map My Run), which I handled pretty easily. The race flattens out again near the IKEA, around the back of the store, up another slight hill (where I walked for the first time) and back around the neighborhood into the back side of Atlantic Station again, where I hit mile 3 at 28. I knew that if I kept it up, I'd have a sub-1 hour 10K in my pocket for sure!
Before I go further, I will note that this race's website indicate that the course was USATF certified - no clarification as to which course, so I think most folks (safely) assumed both. They did mention that they were moving the start and finish lines compared to last year, but they were still in the same general vicinity as before. Because the Peachtree lottery system opens this week, a ton of folks were using this as their qualifying 10K to try and better their Wave placement for Peachtree. That being said... 

The 10K route is just two loops of the 5K route. I still don't like repeating courses, but especially when trying to qualify or PR, it's nice to know what lies ahead. The second time around, I ran all the way up the first hill again, and walked the tail-end of the second one so I/ could gun it back into the last mile and a half of the race. The course turned back into Atlantic Station and despite seeing a mile marker for mile 6, my watch was barely at 5.4. I thought there was no way this was right, but maybe we did an extra loop through Atlantic Station to make up for it? Wrong. We turned in, went a "block" past the 5K finish line, and we were done. Before I even crossed the line I knew my watch was significantly short, but was sincerely disappointed to see that my watch was only 5.57 miles - are you kidding? This course is certified and .63 miles short? That's a tenth of the race that's missing! Jennifer and a few other folks around us confirmed that their watches, iPhones and apps all said the 10K was quite short too. Something wasn't right here.
Confused about this course, but smiling anyway.
I let myself get distracted by food and snacks for awhile, and they started 5K age group awards, which were super cute medals with the race logo. Between the 5K and 10K awards, they had some students from a local Irish Dance Studio come perform. Have to say that was pretty cool - such talent and a really neat tradition to keep running in a family. They were beautiful to watch. It was then that I hopped on Instagram for the first time since 7 that morning and saw that my IG friend Amanda was at the race too - mind you, it we've literally only 'met' on Instagram, but found out that we both work in student affairs (she down at Emory) and are major run-aholics, so really, it was destined we'd meet eventually. Through a series of messages on Instagram, we got to meet up! Woot! Hooray for new connections and for stalking each other based on descriptions of our outfits, we finally connected. So great meeting you Amanda!

We decided it was time to head home finally and made our way to the car and back to Athens. Not long after I got home that I hopped on the Shamrock Facebook page and saw a woman had posted that her Garmin marked the course at 5.67 miles, and was curious if anyone else's had as well - there were about 8 or 9 of us that responded, all with varying distances, but all well under 6 miles! Someone from the race page commented that it appeared that the 10Kers had been mis-directed and "missed a loop" in the course. The original woman posted again saying that she took her Garmin map and the course map from the website... and they matched exactly. That was really frustrating to hear, and you can see that mine match too (mine's the bottom, of course):
Several hours later, a few posts from the page had been deleted (including the original chain I mentioned above), and the JLA was posting this to many people's comments about the race being short:
So apparently the 10K is not certified, contrary to website verbiage) and there were some snafus. According to the course map, I still don't see any loop that could have been missed. I, thankfully, am not using this as a Peachtree qualifier, but I am royally disappointed because this could have my been my first legit sub-1 hour 10K. Had I kept on pace (and then some) for the last .7 miles, I would have finished just around the 58' mark, which would have been that sub-1 and a 2+ minute PR. Frustration.

Damn good morning!
I am not sure how I feel, now some time  removed from the race, but I sure hope JLA figures out what happened and corrects the issue. I hope for the sake of the folks who were intending on using this as their Peachtree qualifier that they still can and that the ATC will recognize their race as a qualifying one again. Disappointing, overall, but hopefully there will be measures to correct such things. I'm happy with my performance, which is all you can ask for at the end of a day like this, but still disappointed that I can't count this as my glorious goal 10K time.

If a race is short, do you  count your PR as a PR? Or do you just count it as-is, noting that the course was short?


  1. Cathryn and I ran a string of races last year--a 5k and 10k in June, two 5ks and a 10k in December--that were all short. Didn't count any of them as PRs.

    If my Garmin is recording a distance that's less than or even equal to the correct distance, I know the course is short. Garmins will always slightly overestimate distances, so unless it's reporting 6.25 after running a 10k, the course was short and I don't count it.

    1. I don't count 'em either, unless they're less than, I'd say, .15 short... but .63 on a 10K is ridiculous. I'm just so disappointed because I KILLED that race and I know even with the last missing mileage, it would have been an unbelievable time for me. Womp, womp!

  2. That happened to me on a 5k. I was doing great until the course ended a quarter mile early. I didn't count it bc it would take me forever to break that PR. I was frustrated for 2-3 days after the race.

    1. A quarter mile is a LOT for a 5K too! So frustrating - I hope you were able to get an equally as smashing PR that counted. :)

  3. This has never happened to me before but knowing myself I would not it since the course was short.In the back of my mind I would be wondering what my time would have really been if the course was correct. In any case, you ran a great race! Congratulations!

    1. Thanks Sandy! I'm definitely not counting it - I'd feel different if it were hovering at least just over 6 miles but this is wayyyy too short to feel it to count. I'm proud of my race though, and excited because I know I can do it now! Looking for that next 10K soon! ;)

  4. I once ran a very short 10k (barely over 6 miles). I did not count it because I did not cover the distance. Looks like a fun race though!