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
Just imagine how much more fun it is when we get nice weather! Usually folks stick around Buckingham Fountain drinking beer, but today I'm guessing most folks did not! I also noticed that the amount of finishers was a lot lower this year (22,000 vs usually mid-30,000s).ReplyDelete
Yes! Had the weather been nicer, I imagine that there would have been a ton more spectators, and lots of people lounging around Grant Park afterwards. Right after I finished, I pretty much grabbed my belongings from gear check and then headed home. Hopefully next year the weather will be nicer! Although, I am ever-so-relieved that the rain held off today until the afternoon...! I actually had heard that the Shuffle was limiting registration this year due to complaints of being too crowded in prior years. Have you heard anything about that?Delete
That's interesting about limiting registration. It is a crowded race, but I never felt like it was too crowded or unsafe - I always felt they handled logistics pretty well. However, I always started in corrals A or B, so I don't know what it's like for folks in Wave 2.Delete
I was surprised how much time there is between the two waves. I was in the final corral of Wave 1, and my wave started around 8:50. I don't think Wave 2 started until 9:15! Then, as I was Divvying home, I saw plenty of folks still on the course around the Mile 2 marker. The organizers REALLY spread things out!Delete
I'm so happy you didn't have rain! What a nice treat after the wet races you've had lately.ReplyDelete
8ks are one of my favorite distances. Even though it wasn't a PR, I think 45 minutes is a great finish time. Congrats!
Thanks so much, Amy! Normally I would have complained about the cold temps and the wind, but you are absolutely right that it was a nice treat to be dry for once. =)Delete
I do like the 8K, too! The pacing is obviously more laidback than the 5K, and I find it easier to maintain the pacing than at a 10K. It's nice that the race is over fairly quickly, but not so quickly that you blink and it's over!
Sounds like a great race, but the weather definitely wasn't ideal. Still a really great time!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Sara! The runners and all their energy definitely made up for the less-than-ideal weather and the sparse crowds. Runners are the best. =)Delete
Adam is right! We do this for fun, right? You had a great finish time. And wind? Blech! I enjoy an 8k so much more than a 10k!ReplyDelete
Thanks Hoho! Yes, I tend to take the running too seriously a lot, and get caught up in the numbers. It's always nice to have the reminder that running is a hobby and should be ENJOYED. Completely agree that an 8K is so much more enjoyable than a 10K! That 2K really makes such a difference!Delete
Great job! I'm so surprised they give finishers medals for this one. Of course, I haven't run it for a long time. The weather was really bad today...ReplyDelete
Thanks, Wendy! I was very pleasantly surprised to get the finisher medals, too. I think they were saying that Special Olympics was the mastermind behind the medals this year? When did you last run Shamrock yourself?Delete
So what do you think, now that you've done it... will it be added to your regular rotation?! :) This is one I have never done, but did volunteer at, once. And man, there were TONS of spectators then. I wonder what's changed?ReplyDelete
And that is a great time, especially with how much you pushed through that nasty wind! From which race is your 8K PR?
I do think I'd enjoy running Shamrock every year! It's so festive and the location is so convenient. Xaar described it as a mini version of the Chicago Marathon, and I agree with her! The course start and finish brought back a lot of memories. =) Do you think you'd ever run Shamrock yourself?Delete
Thanks for the kind words on my time! My 8K PR is from the PAWS Run For Their Lives in 2012 (which, speaking of the Chicago Marathon, took place in September of the year that I was training for Chicago - guess that makes it a tougher comparison, right?)
Ahh, great! I am happy you really enjoyed it! I don't see myself running it - city races generally aren't my thing :)Delete
That IS a tougher comparison! Although, really, when can you compare races like apples to apples? Different seasons, different weather, different training... you never know what you will get! :)
I hear you on how city races can be cumbersome if you don't live nearby. They definitely have their pluses and minuses.Delete
You are absolutely right that it's almost impossible to compare races like apples to apples! There are SO many variables at any given point. I think that's why racing is so addicting - there can be so much strategy involved and so many things to consider!
Congrats on the strong race despite the conditions (and the fact you had to use the bathroom)! Yes, the best part was seeing so many friends out there! :)ReplyDelete
Congrats to you too on NAILING the course!!! It was so great to see you and all of the other CRBs pre-race! I can't remember the last time we had such a large gathering for a pre-race photo!Delete
You're lucky it didn't rain -- I had every intention of blaming it entirely on you if it did :P You better not make the weather suck for the Lakefront 10, since I plan to run that as well! Hahaha.ReplyDelete
Congrats on your race! It was definitely a different vibe out there this year with a smaller field, but (aside from the wind) I think it was a pretty enjoyable day. I really think the Shuffle is a top notch race and I'm glad you finally go tot do it :)
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. YES, you have no idea how completely relieved I am that it didn't rain. I was already mentally preparing myself to shoulder ample blame if it did rain. Whew!!! And I will do all of my anti-rain dances for the Lakefront 10 for sure. Some of us were saying that if it has to rain, the shorter races are much more tolerable than the 10-milers or the half marathons. But obviously, we'd prefer that the rain hold off until AFTER the race, regardless!Delete
Congrats to you too on your race!!! Way to push through with a SUPER solid performance despite your knee issues. I wish you a speedy recovery!!!
Congrats on a solid race in crappy conditions! To be so close to your PR in that weather definitely bodes well for a knock out performance when the weather is friendlier :) so nice seeing you this weekend!!ReplyDelete
Congrats to you too on notching yet another PR in really tough conditions!!! You are amazing - you bag PRs even on hilly courses and in crazy wind. Just imagine what you could do on a flat course in ideal weather!?!?!? You'll be giving the Kenyans a run for their money!!! =)Delete
So great see you this weekend, too!!! Let's go for Mediterranean tapas and Greektown food ASAP!!!
Congrats Emily! So glad you finally experienced this awesome race. But it sucks that we had crappy weather. Hopefully next year it will be nicer.ReplyDelete
Congrats to you too Zenaida!!! It was so great to see you both at the expo as well as pre-race. It sounds like the CARA pre-race area that you got to partake in was really nice! It does suck that the weather wasn't good, but at least it didn't monsoon like it did at Chinatown or at Wine and Dine!!! Here is definitely hoping next year will be better, too!Delete
I'm incredibly jealous that I didn't get to do this race again in 2015. Last year it was a ton of fun!ReplyDelete
I'm also jealous that you ran it the year they finally gave out a medal and a decent shirt. Did you see the shirts they gave out last year?! Figures I'd run it the year they gave out the worst possible swag - it wasn't green and didn't even have the race year on it. Was this year's shirt the green one they used in the promos?
I wish you could have run Shamrock this year, too! It would have been so great to see you!!! But it's certainly understandable that scheduling didn't work out, given that you just got back from your amazing European vacation!Delete
Yes on scoring with both the medal and the shirt this year! Indeed, the green shirt you saw in the promos was what they gave out. I am amazed that past years' shirts weren't green. That should be a violation of race shirt rules in 25 states!
I am so behind in commenting but CONGRATS on finally running this race!! And no rain = winning! The streak is over *knock on wood* :) I loved running the Shamrock Shuffle, it was my second ever 8K and the only time I got to run through the streets of Chicago. Crazy about the wind tunnel though! All those tall buildings are at fault... And I'm super jealous that they give out medals now! We all know how much runners love the bling ;)ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Irina!!! KNOCK ON WOOD, indeed! Now, if we could just keep this non-rain streak going. =) Yes on how the Shamrock Shuffle is an amazing experience running through the streets of Chicago! I started thinking about how you can only do that with the Chicago Marathon, Shamrock, and Rock N Roll Chicago. Pretty special!Delete