Monday, May 25, 2015

2015 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K

As you may recall, in 2014 I did my first Shamrock Shuffle 8K downtown.  And I loved it!  At the time, that was the longest distance I had run in a race and it was an almost ideal day in Chicago for late March--a little brisk, but not too terrible, and sunny with only a few clouds overhead.  The race was fun, the post-race party was fun, and I knew that I would definitely have to sign up again in 2015.

I crossed my fingers hoping for similar weather as race day got closer and at first it seemed like it was going to be a possibility... but then the forecast got worse, and worse, until it was high 30s/early 40s, overcast, chance of rain.  And windy.  Not necessarily the best conditions.  I am totally capable of running in cold weather (I went out a few times when it was less than 20 degrees out over the winter) but it was the wind that really intensified the experience.  I had to make a last minute wardrobe change after realizing that my wind breaker was not going to be warm enough and I was glad that I brought gloves--it was good to have them in the beginning when my hands were frozen, but I put them on a newspaper box once I finally warmed up.

(More after the jump--thanks for reading!)

This was also my first race since we moved to the city and it was so very nice to just take the train down into the Loop!  We got off at Jackson, where we had planned on meeting my parents, and took a picture at an iconic Chicago sculpture.  It was so cold, and we were the only ones there.  We ended up going to a nearby Dunkin Donuts to keep warm and wait for my parents, but it got closer to when I needed to be in my corral and we still hadn't seen them.  Finally, I told T. that I had to go, and that I'd call him afterward.  We hadn't been able to get a hold of my parents but I hoped we'd all meet up eventually, even if it was at the end.

At that moment, as I was hurrying across the street to make it to my corral in time, the crowds parted--and there was my mom!  And then my dad!  I hugged them both quickly (it had been quite an adventure filled morning for them), told them where they could find T., and then continued on to the start of the race.  I felt like I was cutting it a little close to 9:00, when the corrals would be closing.  Runners not in their corral by closing time have to start at the back of the pack... which wouldn't have been the worst thing, except that it was cold, and windy.  Very windy.  Not the conditions I was hoping for, to say the least.  I queued up my music and got in the zone for the start of the race, doing a little bit of stretching and soaking up the pre-race adrenaline and energy from the crowd.

Not even my fleece lined tech shirt and leggings could save me from that chill, unfortunately.  It was pretty damn brutal, but I remembered the familiarity of the course with a smile.  I feel truly blessed to live in one of the most beautiful cities of the world and it is so very freeing to be able to run up and down those city streets, taking in those gorgeous sights.  And I was glad to have the opportunity again, although, I really wished it was warmer.  During the first half of the 8K course, the wind was at our back and it was mostly just cold.

Somewhere around halfway, I saw T. and my parents for the first time, which provided a much needed burst of energy and helped me make up for time I'd lost during a quick stop.  It was actually the first of a few times that I ended up seeing them, and I loved seeing those familiar faces cheering me on.  It was so cold that day (miserably so!) but they were there and it meant the world to me.

During the second part of the race, I ran into the wind for most of the time.  And by wind, I mean 50+ mile an hour wind gusts.  I was running as hard as I could, and still, the wind gusts pushed me diagonally--it was impossible to keep a straight line heading into the wind.  Needless to say, I had some not nice thoughts...  and exclaimed some not nice words into the wind.  Meanwhile, my cheering squad moved throughout the course and I saw them once or twice more before the finish line.  T. even came out into the course and ran a little bit with me (imagine me yelling "What are you doing?" completely bewildered and laughing).  It was definitely a memorable race!

Once I got out of the direct path of the wind, I was able to finish the race with a burst of energy.  My official time was 01:01:23, and I was content with that given the wind and the stop I had to make halfway through.  I felt like it was a really strong race and I was really happy with my performance.  It was certainly another race for the books and I was glad that I had signed up and ran it, even if I didn't really feel like I had prepared adequately enough--I still had a good race!  

I got my medal and picked up some bottled water once I'd crossed the finish line.  The after party for the Shamrock Shuffle is generally a fun time, and I really enjoyed it last year.  However, this year, the weather was just so cold and so miserable that I really just wanted to head home.  And of course, my parents and T. were more than happy to oblige.  We took the Red Line back up to our apartment and enjoyed some beverages before heading to lunch at Giordano's... nothing better than a spinach deep dish and a nice glass of beer to refuel after a race!

Looking forward to running this one again next year!  At the time I ran this, the only other race that I had signed up for was the Chicago Half Marathon in September.  However, I ended up having a Sunday off and I ran a 10K in the suburbs--my first race of that distance, and one of the most unique racing experiences I have had!  More to come on that soon.  My days off at work are changing, and I hope that I will have the opportunity to participate in many more races this summer!  I have missed running, and it's nice to get back to it.

(Some photos from me, some photos from the husband.)

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