Hello! I am still alive, despite my total absence in Blogland last week. It’s been a really busy past several days, but hopefully I’ll start to get into the swing of things at my new job soon and things will get back to normal around here.
In the mean time, I ran the Shamrock Shuffle for the fourth (what?!) time on Sunday! Though I’ve run the race before, this was a totally different experience for me compared to past years. Leaving my old job meant losing most of the perks I usually experienced at the Shuffle, so this time I had to run it like a normal person (aka no hospitality tent 😦 ).
My involvement with the race actually began two Saturdays ago, when I helped with packet prep. I signed up to volunteer because I plan to do CARA’s Marathon Incentive Program again this year, but honestly, I really enjoy being part of the inner workings of the local running world, so I would’ve been happy to help even if it didn’t fulfill a requirement for earning a guaranteed entry to next year’s Chicago Marathon.
I went to the expo on Saturday, and it was your standard race expo. I feel like expos lose their luster once you start going to them multiple times every year. However, I did spend some more time volunteering at the expo, handing out participant packets just like I did last year. I really think it’s a lot of fun and would recommend it to anyone looking for an easy volunteering opportunity. I love being able to interact with other runners, and when I did this both last year and this year, the time absolutely flew by.
The weather in Chicago this spring has been particularly spring-like, by which I mean totally unpredictable and bipolar. I was in McCormick Place for almost all of Saturday, so I didn’t witness any of the blizzard-while-sunny conditions I heard about, but I did see the snow when I headed down to McCormick Place, and was pretty sure it’d be cold Sunday morning. I was right! I woke up to a balmy 25 degrees, and enjoyed spending most of my getting-ready time stressing about whether or not I was making the right clothing choices.
I ran in Wave One, so I had to be in my corral by 8:20. I didn’t want to get to the race too early, because standing around waiting in the cold to run a race is not my favorite pastime, but I also worried about getting there too late and having to deal with gear check lines, etc. When all was said and done, I ended up in my corral around 8:00, giving me plenty of time to bounce around and try to not freeze to death.
I had no expectations for Shamrock whatsoever. I took nearly all of February off of running, and used March to base build for the 10K training cycle I started last Monday. I did a mix of easy running, long running, and occasional (though not as frequent as I had hoped) strength training, and figured whatever happened at Shamrock, happened. This did make pacing a little tricky, however, because I didn’t know what I should even aim for as reasonable. Though I couldn’t have really relied on my GPS watch to know my pace, however, because, as always, it FREAKED THE EFF OUT downtown, which for the Shuffle is the entirety of the race.
I manually lapped my watch when I passed each mile sign, and came through the first mile in 8:53. I was a little disappointed by that, to be honest, as I worried that I’d slow down as the race went on, and I really didn’t want to run 9:00 or slower miles. But when I hit mile two in 8:12, I felt a little better.
You could still see remnants of the blue line from the Chicago Marathon on the road at most points, so I tried very hard to stay close to that line, as I can only imagine that the tangents are the same for the Shuffle as they are for the Marathon, at least until the Shuffle course turns on Randolph. Running past the Sears Tower was terrible, as the wind was really strong at that point, but other than that I didn’t think the conditions were too adverse, especially compared to last year’s high winds.
I never really know when to drop the hammer/if I’ll have the ability to drop the hammer during the Shuffle, but I tried, if nothing else, to keep a steady pace heading up Roosevelt. I was feeling that usual end-of-a-short-race exhaustion and didn’t know how much more I had to give as I came down Columbus towards the finish line. I didn’t remember my PR going into the race, though I knew as long as I broke 42:00, I’d be faster than last year. I ended up finishing in 41:32. I was pretty pleased with that time in the moment, but was absolutely thrilled by it later in the day when I looked up my past results and realized I PRed! I truly had no expectations going into the race on Sunday, so to walk out with a surprise PR was so exciting.
Retrieving my gear took for.ev.er., but I finally got my bag and bundled back up to head home. I get to do this all again next weekend, and I’m curious to see what my 5K performance will look like in light of what happened on Sunday. I ran a 26:26 5K during the Shuffle, and haven’t even come close to touching my 5K PR (24:17) in nearly two years, so I don’t know if a PR is necessarily in the cards, but I’d be really happy if I could run a 24:xx. We shall see!