Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K Race Recap

Another year, another Shuffle.

I went into this year hoping to PR my half marathon in April. After realizing that circumstances would make that somewhere between difficult and impossible, I decided to shift my goal for the half marathon to negative splitting the race. I talked publicly about that, but I did not talk about the fact that I also decided to make the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K my goal race for the spring.


I didn’t adjust my training to accommodate my new goal to PR at Shamrock, but I figured the training I was doing to negative split my half marathon in April would be sufficient for an 8K PR. Roughly half of my miles since the end of February have been fast: not 8K PR fast, but much faster than usual. Fast finishing my runs has helped me grow familiar with the discomfort and burning of giving it your all at when you feel you don’t have much more to give, so I thought I’d be in a decent place to PR.

I picked up my packet at packet pick-up on Friday–note that this year, the expo was downgraded to a packet pick-up–and spent most of Saturday unsuccessfully trying to relax. I felt anxious and stressed all day. I knew it was supposed to be “breezy,” on Sunday, which concerned me. I tackled two “breezy” runs the week before, and they were so hard. I knew windy conditions would make my already ambitious goal for the 8K (an 8:15ish overall pace, with 8:45, 8:30, 8:15, 8:00, and 7:45 mile splits) that much more challenging. I was also concerned about the temperature. I’ll sing the praises of running in 20-30 degree temperatures all day, unless that day is a race day with no indoor accommodations. I dread standing around in the cold waiting for a race to start while my hands and feet become progressively number. I know how to dress for a run when it’s 29 degrees with a Real Feel of 17: I do not know how to dress for a race in those conditions, where I know I’ll have to be outside for a decent amount of time before and after the run. On top of all of that, it was also important to me that I get to church for the 11 a.m. service after the race. I knew I’d have time to do it–I expected to be done running certainly by 9:30–but the logistics of getting to church, changing, and not freezing to death in the process stressed me out. The combination of all of those things had me feeling so overwhelmed that I truly wanted nothing more than to hide under my covers, forget the whole thing, and just take a DNS.

I’d rather save my first DNS for a time I actually need it, though, so off I went to Grant Park. It was every bit as windy and cold downtown as I feared (though it felt a little less intense in the park itself, with fewer buildings to whip the wind in every direction). I wore my warmest running jacket, which I LOVE but is way bulkier than I’d like to use for a PR-attempt race, and had throwaway sweatpants on over my tights to keep me warmish in the corral. Just a little before 8:40, my corral was off.


In an effort to hit my mile splits (knowing my watch wouldn’t provide accurate readings downtown) I attempted to reconfigure my Garmin so I could manually lap it instead of automatically lapping it, but I didn’t really remember how to do that and ended up with no splits at all (WHY you have to choose between one or the other on this stupid, useless, worthless, waste-of-$200 piece of junk I will never understand. My Polar M400 was MORE than happy to automatically lap my miles while allowing me to manually lap the watch at the same time, and it would report both to me on the online portal after I synced my watch.) This obviously did not help the pacing situation one bit. I know I came through the first mile in 8:3x, which was a bit faster than I hoped to start. I figured I’d do my best to hold onto that pace for the next mile anyway to give myself a little cushion in the 8:15ish overall pace department, but who knows whether or not I did. My watch face wasn’t what I expected when I got to the mile two marker (in attempting to lap it, I had somehow changed the display mode *eyeroll emoji*), so I had no clue how fast I had run the second mile. I eventually got my watch face back to what I wanted sometime after the mile two sign, and it read 17:xx then, but I don’t remember how far I was past the mile two sign when I changed that, never mind if it was 17:00 vs. 17:59, so my second mile split is anyone’s guess.

I felt ok going up LaSalle, and got to mile three in 26:xx. I knew I ran a 26:xx 5K during the Shuffle in 2016 (my PR), so I figured I was probably more or less on track to get close to that time again. The wind picked up and I got tired after that point, though, and when I got to the mile four sign and my watch read 34:xx, I knew nothing short of a miracle would get me to the finish line in sevenish minutes.

In the cruelest twist of fate, the wind felt the worst on Mt. Roosevelt, which really felt like kicking me when I was already down. I checked my watch on Columbus and saw that a PR would be impossible. I hoped to at least not have a terrible race, so I kept up my level of effort and crossed the finish line in 42:33.

That turned out to be my second-worst Shuffle time out of the six I’ve run and a full 1:02 off my PR. (For the record: I ran a 26:26 5K split in 2016; I ran a 26:30 5K split this year. To go from being four seconds off PR pace to 1:02 off PR pace shows how badly that last 3K kicked my butt this year.) I’m pretty disappointed in how everything played out, and even though the race itself was fine from an organizational standpoint and all of that, I don’t know how many Shuffles are in my future. I don’t know if I’m jaded or bored or both, but something about these Bank of America events has started to rub me the wrong way–I have very little love lost for the marathon, too–and I’m sure that has an impact on my performance. The weather didn’t help, but I had a bad attitude about the race to begin with, and that probably didn’t set me up for much success. It’s something I’ll certainly need to work on before the marathon, because I would prefer to not have another race at least partially impacted by my lack of patience for my perception of a race’s sense of self-importance.


10 thoughts on “Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K Race Recap

  1. Aww I’m sorry you had a bad race :-(. Sometimes it is just not our day and the wind certainly doesn’t help.

    As someone who has also struggled with extreme race boredom over the past year or so, I can relate. Honestly this is part of the reason I avoid doing the same races year after year. I think you’re right that it might be worth reevaluating the races you’re doing and see if you can’t venture out to find different ones that will offer fresh scenery and a change of pace, so to speak.

    • I’ve almost always defaulted to doing the same races over and over again, mostly just because it’s convenient, but especially with ones like this, where I could run the course in my sleep, it kind of stops feeling worth it after awhile. You can only get so much variety with races in Chicago (since most of them are some version of an out-and-back on the Lakefront Trail), but it’s not like the city is the ONLY place that has races – I could go to the suburbs, or take a racecation, and then at least experience something new, even if I don’t have the race of my life. Things to keep in mind for 2019!

      • Have you ever done the hilly March Madness Half in Cary? I did it in 2016 while training for PGH and set a short-lived PR there (I beat it 2 weeks later when I set my current PR). Since then I have really wanted to go back and see if I can set a new course PR there. It’s a little early but I’m seriously thinking of signing up for 2019.

  2. I don’t know if I am understanding your watch woes correctly or not, but I think Strava might fill in the gap? I use the workout feature a lot so there are a lot of steps (or laps, if you will) of all different distances, so Garmin shows me my run broken up into those laps (both during activity and afterwaed online), but Strava only reports each one-mile split (which I don’t think I’m able to get anywhere from Garmin, as you have also discovered). It has never bothered me since I usually only want to see the lap data and don’t necessarily care about my one-mile splits, but I realized recently when I was looking through my RnR DC data, when I used my watch on workout mode, that my mile-by-mile splits had been recorded in Strava, which was nice because otherwise I’d have no idea what my race splits were. Anyway. Sorry for that tangent if that wasn’t at all what you were asking.
    Even if you didn’t PR or do quite as well as you were expecting, it sounds like you still ran a pretty good race! Don’t beat yourself up over slipping from your PR pace during th second half, I know you’ve been practicing fast finishing but it’s so different to do that on a longer run than it is on these shorter distances.

    • No need to apologize for the tangent at all! You’re right – it sounds like Strava could definitely fill the gap I’m experiencing. It’s not necessarily always what I’m looking for–I don’t care if I don’t have my mile splits on workouts–but in situations like Sunday’s, that would’ve been perfect. I’ll have to look into it! Thanks for the suggetsion!

  3. Ugh, sorry the race didn’t turn out how you wanted, and that you were so anxious leading up to it. Gah, I hate rushing through one thing to go to another. HATE that feeling (but put myself in that situation a lot). I hope everything worked out on Sunday and you got to church on time.
    The wind was a total b*tch last week (and on both my runs so far this week). Major eyeroll at that. We need a little break 😉
    What do you think would help with your attitude about racing?

    • I did get to church on time! (Though I had to skip the breakfast I had planned on having to do so 😦 ). This is hardly the first time I’ve ever done this to myself, but I’m totally with you – having to rush from one thing to the next is really stressful and not fun (even though I seem to always forget that!). Things to remember in the future.

      That’s a really good question! I don’t know! Hahaha. Honestly, I think with these Bank of America races in particular, they just feel like such a hassle and such an unnecessary production (especially for the Shuffle. I get all the pomp and circumstance for the marathon, but having it for a race that’s one-fifth the distance with a field less than half the size feels SO ridiculous). Having to get to McCormick Place for packet pickup (which is always the same thing every year), dealing with all the people and the you-must-be-in-your-corral-by-this-time stuff – it just feels like a lot for a race that isn’t all that exciting the sixth time around. I don’t really know how to fix that, other than by sticking to smaller, less pretentious races – which is certainly an option, and probably something I should consider more seriously if this kind of thing is going to bother me so much!

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