Shamrock is the largest 8K in the world and is unofficially considered the kickoff to Chicago's racing season. The Shamrock Shuffle and the Chicago Marathon are both organized by Bank of America, and both courses start and finish the same way.
Before I talk about the race itself, here are some pictures from the race expo the day before:
|Entering the premises at McCormick Place|
|L: Me (having trouble seeing behind my Shamrock glasses)|
R: Xaarlin and me
|Upper L: Visiting the Bears 5K booth|
Lower L: Zenaida and me wearing leis from the Chicago Tiki Run booth
R: Deejay playing up the Irish theme
I have a growing affinity for shorter races that take place in downtown Chicago. I am much more relaxed about my pre-race nutrition, hydration, and sleep. I also love being able to just hop onto a Divvy bike and be at the start village in 15 minutes.
My biggest concern going into the race was the weather. The meteorologists were forecasting winds of 20 MPH and more, with temperatures in the low 30s. There was also some rain in the forecast, but thankfully it wasn't supposed to start until around 11 AM (whew!). The weather made for some last-minute wardrobe debates. I do prefer to be too warm as opposed to too cold, so I elected to err on the side of what I thought would be overdressing. (I ended up still being very cold.)
Pre-race, I met up with my beloved Chicago Running Bloggers posse for a photo:
|Included in this photo: Xaarlin, Luis, Eric, Lauren, Maggie, Pete, Maureen, Kelly, and Zenaida, plus some other folks that I didn't get a chance to formally meet. I'm on the far right in the white jacket.|
Afterwards, I dropped off my bag at gear check, used the portapotty, and headed to my starting corral.
The corrals for my wave closed at 8:20 AM. I had been warned that the corrals were strictly enforced, and that the gates got very crowded in the final minutes. With this in mind, I checked into my corral at 8:05 and began the uncomfortably cold wait until the race got underway.
I took this photo from my corral. Check out the gorgeous blue-sky backdrop of the Chicago skyline. It masks the fact that all the runners were standing there shivering in the freezing air.
|Note all the folks festively wearing green!|
I didn't see many folks wearing costumes, but I did see this guy's impressive 'do:
|I hope this guy's hair didn't get messed up by the extreme winds!|
Unfortunately, as I was waiting in the corrals, I started feeling the need to use the portapotty again. By then, announcements were blaring that the corrals were closing in a few minutes. I definitely didn't have time to exit and re-enter my corral, so I opted to stay put. And pray. =D
After a stirring rendition of the national anthem, the race was finally underway. I crossed the starting line approximately 17 minutes later.
The first few miles were rough. I hadn't been able to do any pre-race warm-up, and I couldn't feel my fingers or my toes. The course almost immediately went underneath the Wacker Street bridge. I quickly lost signal on my Garmin.
|The Shufflers in mass!|
I finally started to warm up during Mile 3. I knew that I would be seeing Adam close to the Mile 3 marker. This gave me something to look forward to. It ended up being easy to find him because he was the only one standing there! Adam ran alongside me momentarily. He joked that it was easy to keep up with me when he was only running one block and I was running 8 kilometers. =)
Shortly afterwards, the runners hit an enormous wall of wind. That same stretch included an aid station, too, which must have made things tough for the volunteers. Some were shouting that we were almost through the wind tunnel, but we weren't. It was brutal. It took so much effort to keep running that I considered dropping down to a walk, but didn't.
|Running underneath the famed "L" tracks in downtown|
My final finishing time was 45:01. I was a little disappointed with myself because it was nowhere near my PR of 44:12. But, given the weather, no warm-up, needing to use the restroom the whole time, and being so early in the training season, it could have been much worse. And as Adam reminded me, I do these races first and foremost to have fun!
|I hear that this year was the first year the organizers gave out finisher's medals!|
For me, the biggest highlights of the day were getting to see so many friends, plus seeing Adam along the course! It is moments like those that remind me how much I love the cameraderie of running races. I get the hype behind the Shamrock Shuffle.
I look forward to Shuffling again in the future when the weather is more pleasant!
My next race: The CARA Live Grit Lakefront 10-Miler on April 18