(True life: I’m so used to saying “Bank of America Chicago Marathon” that to hear “Shamrock Shuffle” after “Bank of America” throws me off every time.)
Because I apparently live by the motto, “Go big or go home,” I put four races on my calendar between March 30 and April 27. Up first: the Shuffle.
I took care of my expo-ing on Friday, where I must say I was a bit disappointed with my haul compared to last year’s. I walked away with a lot of flyers, but very little free food. I think we can all agree that the success of an expo hinges upon the availability of free food and t-shirts, so in that sense the expo was a bust. But I got my packet with ease, lamented the lameness of this year’s shirt to anyone who will listen (SERIOUSLY, B of A? You threw the LOGO on a WHITE shirt and called it a day? Come on, now. If you’re going to market yourself as the premier 8K in the world, at least pretend to put a little effort into your t-shirt.), and called it a day.
For funzies, this is what I deemed actually worth keeping from my participant bag:
Haha. So. Much. Junk. The best find of the day: the BTN Big 10K booth, where they handed out cards with $10 off discount codes. Heyo! Guess who’s running the BTN Big 10K again this year? $38 for a 10K? I can’t say no to that, even if it is on a 12 mile week for marathon training.
Anyway. Onto the race itself. I woke up nice and early on Sunday morning, had some toast and almond butter, and arrived at Grant Park around 7:30 a.m. Like last year, a twist of fate handed me the opportunity to run in Corral A, even though I distinctly do not belong in Corral A. Never one to pass up the chance to feel like I’m actually a competitive runner, though, I placed myself in the very very back of Corral A and waited for the race to start.
My plan for the Shuffle this year was to survive. I had no intentions of PRing, no intentions of running particularly fast, and no intentions of being at all competitive. I am much more concerned about my race next week than I was about this race, and as such I wanted to not be an idiot at the Shuffle and just enjoy myself. Plus my breakfast wasn’t sitting quite as well as I would have liked, though that’s hardly abnormal for me on race day (or, you know, in life in general).
I lost my Garmin signal as we headed underneath Randolph, which I expected. Last year I tried to manually keep my splits, but this year I didn’t bother beyond looking at my watch at each mile marker. I hit the first mile in 9:0x, which had me running slower than PR pace, but that was fine by me. Again, this wasn’t a goal race for me, so I wasn’t wildly concerned about time.
I felt pretty solid as we headed down State Street but was still quite surprised to see a 17:xx on my watch at the two mile mark (I think it was 17:2x or 17:3x). I don’t know my exact splits, but obviously with a time in the 17s, I ran the second mile in under nine minutes. I didn’t feel like I had sped up, so that came as a bit of a shock.
The course for the Shuffle was different this year from that of year’s past (I believe there’s currently construction on the bridge on Harrison? Not sure on this, but that would explain the changed course), and personally, I really liked this year’s course. Though I had no intention of PR-ing, I wanted to run a tactically intelligent race, mostly because I’ve never actually set out to run an intelligent race before, so hey! Why not? Basically this meant I did my best to run the tangents of the course, and I think I was fairly successful in this venture. Woo!
I hit the three mile mark at 26:00, which put me just slightly over my 5K pace and gave me roughly an 8:30ish mile. A-ok with me. I was starting to feel a little more tired at this point, but kept trucking along. I didn’t necessarily feel like I was *losing* steam, but I certainly didn’t feel like I was picking the pace up at all. You can imagine my complete shock, then, when I hit the four mile mark, looked down at my watch, and saw 34:00 exactly. I may or may not have said, out loud, right then and there, “Holy sh*t! I just ran an eight-minute mile!” My 5K pace, mind you, is about 8:15, so to run an 8:00, especially at that point in the race, was completely unexpected.
I held back as I ran down Michigan until a few blocks before Roosevelt, at which point I figured I might as well go for it. I kept my eyes off my watch in order to not psyche myself out, tried to run smart up the hill on Roosevelt, and then kicked it in once we got back on Columbus. I told myself I wouldn’t see that finish line again until October 12 and wanted to make it count. I had to really, really dig deep, but I pushed as hard as I could and crossed the finish line in 41:38.
That’s a 48-second PR, baby! I couldn’t believe it. I figured there might be a chance I’d PR after I saw my split at the four mile mark, but going into this race with zero expectations and zero goals and then PRing–PRing by a lot–was beyond my wildest dreams. According to my results, I splitted 7:54 between the 5K mark and finish line which is just insane. I never run 7:xx. EVER.
After the race, I retrieved my gear and made my way to the hospitality tent, where I rewarded my efforts with carbs.
Overall, I could not possibly be happier with how everything went at the Shuffle. I ran smarter than I think I’ve ever run before. I negative splitted most of the race. I PRed. Yeah, can’t ask for much more than that. This gave me all the confidence I need for my race next week, and, assuming all out-of-my-control elements line up well (the weather in particular), I think I just might get that half marathon PR I’ve wanted for so long. Fingers crossed!