Sometimes I find it hard to do races in the middle of training because it often means rearranging my half marathon training schedule especially if the race is on Sunday, but racing often pushes me to go fast as I can. I decided to do 3 more miles before the Shamrock Shuffle as a warmup run to make up my half marathon mileage since I needed to do 8 miler as my long run this week. To be honest, I was hesitant to sign up especially since I have done the Shuffle twice already (hey, I get bored sometimes doing the same race over and over again) and I decided to sign up last minute since this was going to be last Chicago race (at least for awhile).
Anyways, my boyfriend and I went to the expo on Friday afternoon and it was crazy. We tried to take the shuttle from State/Lake L station but after 20 minutes, we gave up and decided to take a taxi. That’s when we realized the hold up was all the traffic on to the Navy Pier construction. Luckily our taxi driver let us out, so we can walk the rest of the way instead of running up the meter. We easily got my packet and shirt and took a picture together at the photo booth.
We walked around the expo at least once to browse through everything. On Saturday, I went to the yoga community class at Zen Yoga Garage as a way to stretch and relax before the race.
On Sunday, we woke up around 5:30 am to get ready. Despite the 30 degree weather, I decided to go with shorts, calf sleeves, dri-fit shirt, and removeable arm sleeves. I had a feeling that I was going to get hot around the 4 mile mark (I did!), so I was dressed for it. We parked around the River North area and I headed out for my 3 mile run down Michigan Ave. It actually was really nice – sidewalks were clear and it was quiet. Once I reached Grant Park, it started to get more crowded which was fine. Once my warm up run was finished, I met up with my fellow crewbies for a pre-race photo and then we were off to our corrals.
This year I was in Wave 2- Corral E. The past 2 Shuffles, I was in Wave 1 because of my previous Shuffle times but I was in Wave 2 most likely due to my late signup and they already assigned the corrals. Oh my, the corrals were crazy. We were literally minutes in Corral E before it closed, but I saw some people jump the fence to make it in though.
Then we were off! The beginning of the shuffle was somewhat slow because we were jammed packed, I ended up weaving a lot more than I wanted but I picked up steam and made sure I was running at comfortable speed and also pushing myself. I did grab some Gatorade at the aid stations and just took one gulp and threw the rest of it away. Also this year I decided to run without music, so I can focus on my breathing and running, which helped a lot to maintain my speed. I noticed that I tend to get a side stitch if I don’t breathe deeply when I run and I end up slowing down which is something I didn’t want to do. A good part of the course was under the shade which I loved, but once we hit the 3.5 mile mark, it was pretty much open to the sun and at one point, I had to push down my arm sleeves because I was getting a bit hot. I swear when I hit the 4 mile mark, it felt like it took forever to get to the finish line. I think I slowed down a little when I hit the “hill” on Roosevelt, but I tried to finish strong. I looked down on my time on my watch and I PR’d! I finished in 45 min and 25 seconds, which was a 1 min and 26 second improvement from my previous shuffle time two years ago. My Nike watch had a different pace time (8:45 min/mile) than the official race pace (9:09 min/mile), but I will take it.
I was pretty stoked about the way I felt throughout the race and how I didn’t feel winded at all. All that extra yoga and cross training has been working and paying off! I’m feeling good leading to Cleveland in May.
Once I was done, I headed to the post-party area and met up with my CRW crewbies and my boyfriend near the fountain.
We hung there for awhile until we went to the Nike NTC Crew Celebration Party at Rockit Bar & Grill where they served us a breakfast buffet and gave away prizes to MVPs of each crew. It was a lot of fun and inspiring to see how all of us transformed during our 5 week training program. I didn’t get to do a lot of the workouts with my crew because of school but I managed to do some on my own using the NTC app.
Overall I had a great time at the Shuffle and seeing everyone!