Sunday, April 3, 2016

2016 Shamrock Shuffle race recap

I completed my second edition of the Shamrock Shuffle this morning (read last year's recap here).
I'll cut to the chase. Despite thinking out a strategy, I did not achieve a new PR today. I didn't miss by much. My 44:24 time was only 12 seconds slower than my current PR.

I am disappointed to have come so close but not get there. Of course I am thinking now about all the little things I did, like walking through one of the aid stations, that could have made the difference. But you live and you learn, right?
On the positive side...
  • The weather conditions weren't perfect, but they were reasonable. Yesterday, the weather was horrific - at times it was snowing sideways with 50 MPH+ winds. I was nervous about what might be in store for us today. But this morning, we had clear blue skies and NO PRECIPITATION. Temps were in the upper 20s/lower 30s with some gusts. 
  • Race organization was outstanding. Ample signage, no waits at gear check, and minimal waits at the portapotties. Fantastic volunteers and good corral enforcement. My corral was the first in Wave 2, and we started at 9:00 AM on the dot.
  • It's such a privilege to run through downtown Chicago when all the streets are closed off to traffic! Us runners only get this opportunity a few times each year. Therefore, I always relish these events.
Source
  • I ran a negative split and for once I did NOT start out too quickly in the first mile. (Quite the opposite, in fact. More detail below.)
  • Adam came to cheer me out on the course. I saw him once around Mile 2.5 and again around Mile 3. I was only expecting to see him once, so seeing him twice was a wonderful surprise. He got this action snapshot of me:
On the negative side...
  • I rode a Divvy bike to the starting area. Divvy had announced they'd be monitoring nearby docking stations to ensure docks and bikes would both always be available. Unfortunately, the Michigan/Jackson station was completely full when I arrived and Divvy was NOT there. Whomp, whomp. I ended up having to scurry to the Millennium Park station a few blocks north. No harm done, but it added an element of stress. 
  • As expected, my Garmin lost signal when we went underneath the Columbus tunnel shortly after the start. When I regained signal, it showed I was running paces between 11-14 minutes for quite some time. I knew it wasn't right, but WOW did that mess with my head!
  • Since my Garmin was clearly off, I was running semi-blind on my pace for awhile. I kept telling myself to take it easy and not push too much. Unfortunately, I ended up taking that strategy too far because... 
  • I hit the Mile 1 marker in 9:18. I was targeting an 8:50 average pace, and had wanted something around 9 minutes flat in Mile 1. It was mentally defeating to face a 28-second deficit so early on. Could I really come back from such a large hole in just 4 miles? 
  • Something was amiss with chip timing because the Shamrock Shuffle website said I hit Mile 1 in 9:08. What the heck? I only wish that was true because it could have been a whole different ballgame. Did anyone else experience variances on their Mile 1 split? 
  • The straightaway on Franklin Street around Mile 3 included an enormous wall of wind. Add another checkmark to the list of mental hurdles. I remember this stretch feeling like a monsoon last year, too. 


Here are my splits:
Mile 1: 9:18
Mile 2: 8:51
Mile 3: 8:52

I forgot to lap my Garmin at Mile 4. I completed the final 1.97 miles in 17:26, which translates to an average pace of 8:41. However, I pushed the pace as best I could during the last mile. Here are my split guesstimates:

Mile 4: 8:50ish
Mile 4.97: 8:30ish

During the final stretch on Columbus, my lungs felt like they were going to explode.

In closing, my execution was solid with the exception of the problematic first mile. Big lesson learned: I need to work on properly pacing myself at the start without relying on my Garmin.

It's a bummer that the 8K race distance is uncommon. I am itching to get back out there ASAP to get my revenge, er, uh, try again.

I'm already looking ahead to the PAWS Run For Their Lives 8K in June. When does registration open???

After the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, my work is cut out for me. Bring on the speedwork and pace practice!

My next race: Chicago's Perfect 10 on April 9

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Linking up with HoHo and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap, and with Zenaida's Shamrock Shuffle race recaps.

64 comments:

  1. Congrats on your race. I am like you, I always start out to fast. Its so hard to hold yourself back.

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    1. Thank you, Nicole! I think it's one of the toughest challenges we all face as runners to not start out too quickly. When EVERYONE around you is pretty much sprinting, it's a crazy challenge to keep the pace down!!! Talk about peer pressure, right???

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  2. Your Garmin doesn't automatically lap at a mile? Those are wonderful splits, especially with wind! And congrats on the coveted negative split. I only know of two 8ks around here. I wish there were more because I like that distance. Adam got a great picture of you. I've got to work on speed too! I keep putting it off. It's hard to do when you've got races already scheduled. Thanks for linking with us Emily.

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    1. Ahhh, I should clarify! My Garmin does have an autolap setting, but I turn it off during races. This is because most of the time my Garmin's distance does not line up exactly with the race's mile markers. So I choose to manually lap at races when I cross the mile markers. Thank you so much, HoHo! I like the 8K distance, too. It's nice in that it doesn't require nearly as much stress about night-before preparations, fueling, etc. Speed is something that's pretty much always on my to-do list but I tend to favor distance over speed. =) Thanks again, as always, for hosting up the link-up!!!

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  3. Oh, I would love to run a race in Chicago! I have never traveled for a race, but Chicago I could do - just not the marathon! I am so hooked on my Garmin when I race but do have to be wary of those mind games it can play. 12 second is SO close!

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    1. Coco, please come to Chicago sometime! There are SO many races to pick from of all different distances. Between March and November, there are races pretty much every single weekend! If you ever do make plans to come visit, let me know - would love to show you around. =) Yes, the Garmin can become a real crutch for me and I have to learn to run without relying on it so much! Thank you - I am hoping 12 seconds will be easy to overcome next time!!!

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  4. Looks like there's an 8K in Arlington Heights on May 21st! It's called the Got2Run For Education :-)

    The first mile in "shorter" race is always tough because you can't necessarily make up the time later. I think what will help you is just learning what a certain pace feels like so that you don't have to rely on your Garmin! I'm getting there myself but I'm not quite there yet!

    Regardless, you did a great job today. Congrats!

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    1. Ooooh, thanks for sharing about Got2Run! I will actually be in Palatine that afternoon to attend a wedding, so the Arlington Heights location might work out quite nicely!!!

      Goodness, YES on not being able to make up the time later in shorter races. That's part of the reason I get so spooked by 5Ks because there's so little room for error. I wish there were "pacing" classes out there that teach you how to run by feel! Paces can feel so different for me from day to day depending on any of a zillion factors, you know? It's a real challenge! Heck, even the Kenyans have pacers at the World Marathon Majors, right?

      Thank you so much, Erin! Much appreciated!!!

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    2. If you don't want to run on 5/21, Kim is also having boxing that morning. It's my birthday, so I'll be bringing snacks too :)

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    3. Also, did you see the email about the PAWS race? They've turned it into a 5K instead of an 8K. Disappointing.

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    4. Anne, happy early birthday to you! My mom's bday is 5/23 so it's a big week of bdays for me. =) I'm attending a friend's wedding on 5/21 so that day probably won't work, unfortunately. I am bummed that I'll be missing your celebration but we'll definitely find another time!!!

      Erin - yes, what a bummer about PAWS making their race an 8K! I am guessing they are trying to make it more friendly to the general public, since a lot of folks get intimidated by the 8K distance. I am disappointed in the change, too. =( But I will still participate just to support the cause!

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  5. It can be so hard to lock into your pace at the beginning of a race in all of that excitement. It would be so neat to run through downtown Chicago! But they don't call it the windy city for nothing.

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    1. OMG, Meagan, it's like swimming upstream during the start of a race! You have to be careful not to get swept out with the tide! And absolutely, they do NOT call Chicago the Windy City for nothing. It's been an unusually crazily windy weekend, too. Hoping spring arrives soon and stays for awhile!!!

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  6. Congrats on your race. Sorry you were having problems with your Garmin. I was having problems with my ipod during my race this weekend and it drove me nuts!

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    1. Thank you so much! Appreciate the sympathy on the IT issues. I've had issues with my music before, and it's the WORST!!! Sorry you had to deal with that, as well!!!

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  7. I love that distance. My Garmin always has issues downtown, so I already know to be prepared for that. You did a great job!

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    1. All the tall buildings always throw things off downtown! Too bad this race didn't have pacers - it makes such a difference to have them there doing all the clockwork so you can just run, yes? Thanks so much, Wendy!

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  8. Sorry you didn't get the PR you were looking for, but gosh am I definitely impressed with your pace! It's so frustrating when the GPS watch doesn't do its job, grr! Running in Chicago is on my bucket list, would love to do a race like this!

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    1. Thank you so much, Janelle! Yes - we invest a lot in high-tech devices to help us with our training and racing, so it is frustrating when we have to go at it "alone." Yes, please do come to Chicago! Between March and November there's races every single weekend! Would love to show you around if you do make plans to visit!!!

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  9. Hooray for negative splits!!! Sounds like it was a good race-you'll get your 8K PR in June :) :)

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    1. Thank you Stacey! Appreciate your confidence in me!!!

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  10. Do you have your watch set to not auto lap at each mile? Mine is set up to click off each mile and while they're never exactly at the mile spot during a race, it's usually accurate enough for pacing purposes. Just curious. :) It seems like all the races this past weekend were brutal with weather. I ran in my neighborhood yesterday and it was quite breezy, but at least the sun was shining. Hope you have a great week, Emily! -C

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    1. Yes - at races I purposely set my watch up for manual lapping. I've had issue with my Garmin's measurements being pretty far off from the race's mile markers - especially when running in downtown Chicago or through tunnels (which is exactly what this race did). To give you a sense - the race was an 8K, so 4.97 miles, but my Garmin listed a total distance for me of about 4.5 miles. =( So we're not talking just a little off, sadly - it was WAY off!!! Glad you got some sunshine yesterday! I hope you have a great week, too!!!

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  11. I start in a crowd specifically to hold back my pace. I am better now, but I always did go out too fast when I was younger. I run by feel when I start out and see what my Garmin has after the first mile.

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    1. It's funny - I've had both good and bad experiences with the crowds. Sometimes they do help me hold back when there isn't a lot of room, but other times the crowds pressure me into going faster than ideal! I need to practice running more by feel...

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  12. Congrats on a strong race, Emily! I think Chicago races are some of the toughest to pace well given that infernal tunnel, all the turns and the weather/wind. Love the sparkly medal. What's the open middle for: finish time??

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    1. Thank you so much, Marcia! Shamrock did very well with the medal and shirt this year. LOL, the open middle is a bottle opener. Go figure!!!

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    2. I do like the idea of displaying finish time in the middle, though. Very clever concept!

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  13. That must be frustrating to have missed your PR by such a small amount of time! I'd wonder what I could have done differently too. But as others have mentioned, it can be tough to lock in to your pace at that race, especially at the beginning! 12 seconds could also be something so small and simple, like weaving to go around someone who suddenly stopped to walk, or stepping over the spent gatorade cups, etc. (I lost a lot of time on that first one!). So congrats on a really strong effort anyway! :)

    And yes, that wind at mile 3 was awful! That was the only point during the race where I felt cold.

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    1. You know it, Anne. 12 freaking seconds! You're absolutely right, I kept thinking about the folks I had to weave around, walking through an aid station, cup shrapnel, the tangents I may not have cut as closely as I could, etc. Grrrr. But there will be more opportunities in the future. Thank you, Anne! And CONGRATULATIONS to you on your amazing performance yesterday and knocking off a minute and half from your time despite being at a bachelorette party the night before! WOO HOO!!!

      That Mile 3 area is killer. I remember Lauren said it was consistently a tough spot for her in the last several years, and I totally get it!!!

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    2. So maybe an 8k PR is more doable in a smaller race with less obstacles :)

      Yeah, something about that area does mess with me mentally too. The first year I did it, I remember wanting to puke around then (but I was sick, so that's why), and the following year I was overheating and wanted to quit there. Remembering how much I dislike that part of the race, I had to really talk myself through it yesterday.

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  14. Awesome medal! I'm super jealous. What did the T look like?

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    1. Thanks Natalie! Hopefully next year you'll be able to join the festivities with your family. =) I must be missing something - what "T" are you referencing?

      How are you feeling these days!?!?!?

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    2. Did you get a finishers T for running this race? Maybe they stopped giving them out in favor of the medal...?

      I'm feeling good - baby is basically holding on by a thread so the doc says I could go any day. I'm anxious for the end to come!

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    3. Oh duh, of course you were asking about the race shirt, LOL. Yes - they gave out a very nice green Nike tech shirt with a Shamrock-themed logo on it! The shirts have been good both years I've run this race!

      OOOOOOHHHHH, the countdown is underway! Super excited to hear the big news once it happens! BIG HUGS!!!

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  15. Great race and fantastic work with the splits! I am happy you guys didn't have to deal with Saturday's miserable weather!

    It sounds like you've figured out what you need to do to try to PR this again later this year :) I bet it will be easier on a less crowded course, too, and after speedwork training!

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    1. Thank you, Kim! It was a huge relief for the weather to clear up yesterday compared to what we had on Saturday. Talk about bipolar weather, eh? Appreciate your confidence in me. The PAWS race will be much more conducive to a PR - not to mention it's got no tunnels. =)

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  16. Yay for the Pittsburgh half coming up. I am running it too!

    I've never run an 8K distance before. Not even sure if I've ever seen a race for one around here. I think my mind would be super confused by the distance. Not quite a 10K, longer than a 5K. I would have no idea how to pace myself. But holding back in the first mile is always tough for me too.

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    1. YAY for the Pittsburgh Half! Have you run it before? My friends who are familiar with it have given me ample warning about the giant hill at Mile 11. Sigh...

      Yeah, the 8K distance took some getting used to when I ran it the first time, too! I tend to treat it more like a 10K for pacing purposes. That first mile of ANY race is always killer, isn't it?

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  17. Congrats on a good race! Cool that you will be in my neck of the woods for the Pgh Half!

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    1. Thank you, Jennifer! Are you running the Pittsburgh Half or full, too? My husband is from Pittsburgh so it's going to be a great experience for him to get to spectate in his hometown. =)

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  18. 12 seconds!!! So close. No doubt you'll get it next time!
    I definitely know the mental struggle when the mile markers are accurate.
    Great running photo!

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    1. 12 seconds!!! ARGH!!! Thank you, I appreciate your confidence in me for next time. =) Yes, it's so frustrating when there are variances in metrics - you see one thing but feel/know something else, and it's hard on the brain. Thank you on the photo!!! Credit to my husband. =)

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  19. My splits seemed a bit funky to me, too. Wendy was struggling with her Garmin at the start when we were running together and I reminded her to JUST RUN. I think it is good to run by feel and not worry about the watch. Especially in the shorter races. Big races like Shamrock in cities are a GPS cluster. Great job on close to a PR. That wind was pretty tough (I thought Michigan to Roosevelt was worse this year and the 5K part was not as bad as last year but we probably went through those at slightly different times based on corral and pace.)

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    1. Glad to hear it wasn't just me who was having weird split issues! Great advice to JUST RUN when the technology isn't coming through. I think about how when I was younger, I didn't have a Garmin and I had no issue at races. All the extra info has made things probably a bit more complicated than they should be, yes? GPS cluster is exactly right! As much as I love downtown Chicago races, the GPS signals are really tough to come by. I remain hopeful to one day run a Shamrock without walls of wind! Thank you, Erica - appreciate your thoughts and support!

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  20. Congrats on the near PR. Was it a second best PR? Yes, my race results were off by exactly 5 seconds for my mile 1 split. I looked at my watch as I hit the mile 1 mat. As for the rest of the race my Garmin was kooky! I forgot to wear my Garmin footpod which tracks my distance when my GPS signal goes out. Anyway, I love the course through the city as well. Can't beat it. Good luck at the Perfect 10!

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    1. Thanks Pete! It was a third-best PR as I ran a 44:16 at the PAWS Run For Their Lives one year. I am really glad to hear it wasn't just me that had a variance on my Mile 1 split. It means even more coming from you, since you are so good at analyzing race data! I need to get a Garmin footpod to measure my stats when I lose my signal, too. The course through downtown Chicago reminds me so much of both RnR Chicago and the Chicago Marathon - it is awesome! Thank you for the well wishes on the Perfect 10 and good luck to you on Carmel in 12 days!!!

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  21. Bummer I did not see you. You still did a great job on this race. You are liking right?

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    1. Bummer I did not see you, too! Thank you, Zenaida. I am going to borrow your idea next year of staying indoors at the Congress Hotel to stay warm pre-race. You are asking if I am liking Shamrock? If so, yes - I enjoy the festivity and the course downtown very much. You too?!?!?

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    2. Love it. It is one of my favorite races. It is a secret about waiting at The Congress Hotel. :-)

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    3. I won't publicize the Congress secret. Pun intended, heh heh heh.

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  22. Congrats on the near PR! Those negative splits were really sweet too. I'm glad you had a solid race. I think you'll smash that PR in your next 8k- especially when you can see your pace a bit easier. It's funny how much we rely on garmin/gps stuff for pace now. I remember in high school having to run around the track and hit a certain time to lock in the effort for race pace. It's also something I practice outside now too- just for these kinds of days, but it's still so hard to execute due to so many variables.

    Congrats lady!

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    1. Thank you, Xaar! Appreciate your confidence in me! Likewise - congratulations also to you on the exact same near-PR margin, especially since you weren't targeting this race. I am wishing I had easier access to an outdoor track to help practice the effort for certain paces. It would be more helpful than the treadmill!

      Wishing you a speedy recovery from the food poisoning! Can't wait for you to tear it up in Carmel in less than 2 weeks!

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  23. Great job on your race! Way to hold back at the start! I too usually start out fast but held back in my race yesterday (although the hills right at the start helped slow my pace) and it helped. I hope to run in Chicago in the fall! :) Good luck at Chicago's Perfect 10!

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    1. Thanks Sharon! Good job on holding back at the start of your race over the weekend, with or without the hills. I hope you run in Chicago in the fall, too - would be great to have you here! Thank you for the good luck wishes next weekend. =)

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  24. Ah yes, sometimes that Garmin plays tricks on our minds! Yes it's always a bit off from the "official" time. Luckily that worked in my favor at my last 5K race. I had wanted to get sub 30 and my Garmin said I was 3 seconds over. Luckily the actual race time had me at 3 seconds under!

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    1. Curses to the Garmin's ability to control the mind, yes? Likewise - my Garmin is usually a little slower than race time since I start it a step or two before crossing the start line, then wait until after I've cleared the finish line to stop it. (I've had way too many race photos at the finish line which showed me stopping my Garmin, LOL.) Congratulations on going sub-30 on your last 5K - that is awesome!!! It's a nice surprise when the Garmin is off in the right direction. =)

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  25. You and me both-- we have to work on what our 8K pace "feels like" without having to rely on the Garmin! Sorry I didn't get to see you!

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    1. We are pace "feels like" twinsies! This is going to be a real challenge because my pace feels so different from one day to the next. You too? Sorry I missed you as well, but awesome that you and Zenaida saw each other!!! Next time!!!

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  26. Congrats on the race. I understand the Garmins/tunnels after my Chicago run this past fall ;) I would love to run the shuffle one year (an excuse to return to Chicago).

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    1. Thanks so much, Jenny! I think you would really enjoy running the Shamrock Shuffle! Yes, any excuse for you to come back to Chicago. =) Likewise, I am always looking for excuses to return to DC. I'm looking at the Army 10-miler this fall!!! Any chance you might be running that, too?

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  27. I start out faster, not really fast, but fast for me and I always peter out. I really need to work on this. Great job and you were so close to your PR! Thanks for linking up with us!

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    1. It's the hardest thing to fight the runners' current at the beginning of races! It's like swimming upstream, isn't it? Thank you so much, Tricia - and thanks again to you and HoHo for hosting, as always!

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