Thursday, April 3, 2014

2014 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K

As I wrote about previously, this last weekend, I headed into the city with my husband and one of my dearest friends to participate in the Shamrock Shuffle.  It was an absolutely fantastic few days, but Sunday morning was definitely one of the highlights.

We got up early, got some breakfast, and made our way to Solidarity Drive for one of the most beautiful sunrises I've ever seen.  Seriously!  T. and J. wandered about and shot some photos and I took it all in, enjoying the light and the shadows and the reflection of the sun off the lake.  It was still a bit chilly, but nothing that we couldn't handle!  When we were getting ready to leave Solidarity Drive and head over to our parking garage of choice near Washington and Wells, we saw a guy playing with a tiny little drone plane (who also happened to drive a Tesla).  It was pretty neat to watch!  We later saw him again, taking a detour due to roads already closed for the race, getting ready to fly his tiny plane along the Chicago River.

After T. navigated us to the parking garage and we gathered all of our things, we headed for the streets below.  The starting point for the race was Grant Park, and so we headed off in that general direction via Millennium Park.  The three of us wandered around and explored, getting our bearings.  I, personally, was most concerned with finding where my corral started, and where all of the amenities were located.  Stretching and drinking water, I prepared myself for the start of the race.

There were three different waves; the first one left at 8:30.  Mine, the third one, was set to leave at 9:15.  I decided to part ways with T. and J. to get to my corral early.  Much like the Hot Chocolate 5K back in November, the race started off on Columbus, right near Grant Park.  We said a quick goodbye, made plans to get in contact after the race, and parted ways.

While I waited in the corral, I did a little more stretching to keep myself limber and browsed the music choices on my phone.  I ended up making a last minute change to Girl Talk's All Day and it proved to be a fantastic choice, the perfect upbeat album to run to.  During that time in the corral, before the start of the race, I took a few moments to focus and psych myself up.  I was feeling good and really excited for another chance to run the streets of one the most beautiful cities in the world.

My trusty running shoes.

The three remaining corrals moved up to the starting line and, just a few minutes later, the race began.  I started off at a steady pace, hoping to keep it through the entirety of the 8K, 4.97 miles.  I was energized by the crowds that had gathered on the sidewalks along the route and found a rhythm with the music (turned down low), my breathing, and my footfalls.  It was a positively beautiful morning for a run and I was dressed almost perfectly.  I was slightly distracted during the first mile by the fact that my running capris were slipping off of my hips, but I tucked in my shirt and was able to enjoy the remainder of the run.

You guys, my goal was to complete the course in under an hour and I crossed the finish line in 58:26.  My 5K time was 35:59--right around my Hot Chocolate 5K time of 35:54--and had an average pace of 11:46, which isn't too bad for me!  More importantly than all that, though, is the fact that I was able to consistently run the entire time.  I did walk for less than a minute around each of the two water/aid stations throughout the course, and I walked for a few moments on Franklin Street to stretch my knee out a bit, but otherwise I was able to keep it going through the whole race.  This is a huge accomplishment for me, and makes me feel confident for half marathon training.  This race, at practically 5 miles, was also the furthest distance I have run so far, and it wasn't really that bad at all!

The end was a little tough but I kept going, kept pushing myself, until I came around the corner, from Michigan back onto Columbus and saw the finish line.  At that point, nothing could keep the smile off my face.  I held my speed and ran on until I passed through that inflatable bright red gate, and only then did I slow down to a walk and catch my breath.

From there, all of the runner's passed through a "runner refreshment" area, where there was water and bananas and other healthy snacks.  I thought it was really neat!  At that point, I started getting in touch with T., trying to figure out where I was going to meet up with them.  The race post party was located in Grant Park, right near Buckingham Fountain, and I greeted them enthusiastically when I finally found them.  After that?  It was time to drink some beer!

(T. took the first photo and the last photo--love it!)

Studies suggest that drinking beer after a run can be beneficial for your health, and what can I say, it was nice to have a reward of sorts waiting for me at the end!  It was a beautiful morning in Chicago and we spent the rest of the morning hanging out, drinking beer, and celebrating.  All in all, I am so very pleased with my very first Shamrock Shuffle adventure.  The entire experience was incredibly well organized, and a ton of fun!  It was a great physical and mental challenge, and I am happy that I was able to achieve the goals I set for myself.  Can't wait to sign up again next year!

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