Sunday, April 7, 2013

Shamrock Shuffle race recap

I entered the Shamrock Shuffle at the urging of a co-worker friend. And then we didn't see each other at all during the day. In fact, he had already completed his race before I even crossed the start line. But that's OK. I enjoyed myself and probably would have entered anyway...

Hi, my name is Chris and I'm a race-aholic.

So, how did this race go down?

Packet pickup:
Packet pickup was smooth, lots of tasty samples to keep my post-work hunger at bay (I hit it up on Friday evening) and plenty of running things for me to spend my money on. I managed to contain myself and only picked up "The Stick" which had been on my purchasing list for quite some time but I'd never got around to getting. My legs very much approved of this purchase.

There were bonus points for a Hal Higdon sighting. I love being in the presence of running greats. I was too shy to go over and say hi though.

Race shirt:
I liked the technical shirt. This one will end up in my running clothes rotation but likely as a "I've got nothing clean, what will I wear?" item, only because it's a bit too green for my personal comfort.

Given the weather forecast earlier in the week indicated that it was likely to rain, I'd put today at near perfect. Warm enough that I could race in capris and a t-shirt. A little windy in places but nothing too bad. Not too much sun, a bonus as I started to overheat by about 3.5 miles in.

Gear check:
Because I'm a CARA member, I checked my gear at the Congress Hotel in the "CARA Compound". After my gear check scare at the Get Lucky Half I figured this would be a safer option. I didn't see the lines at the race but I did see a few runners carrying their bags so I'm going to assume I made a good decision.

The race:
Based on my previous 8km time (yes, time, because I only have one other 8km race in my past), I lined up for the race in Corral G. I generally like to start a race toward the back because being passed by too many people early on sparks my competitive side. And running too fast, too early very rarely ends well.

So far back you can't see the Start line
My plan was to run the race as a progression run, increasing my mile splits throughout the race. I was also going to look for a faster time than my previous 8km race, the Rudolph Ramble in December last year. I made this decision while standing in my start corral. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember how fast I ran that race but estimated I needed to beat 10:30 min/mile to get there.

The first mile was the usual winding my way around slower runners and walkers (grrr, if you're walking in mile one then you should be starting at the back). I felt good but went out a little too fast, clocking in at just over 10:00 at the Mile 1 marker.

In the second mile I settled into a comfortable pace, which I estimated at about 10:15. Running down State Street was fun. I continued to wind my way around people and narrowly avoided being spat on by an eight(ish) year old girl. OMG! Call me old fashioned but I don't think it's cool for little girls to be spitting. Ignoring my issues with that, if you're going to teach your kid that spitting is OK, then at least teach them to pay attention to what's going on around them. Mile time 9:32 (hmm, not so much the 10:15 I thought I was at).

Mile three was uneventful. I don't spend a lot of time south of Randolph (I work on Randolph and live north of The Loop) so took in what I could but running with so many people means you have to be on constant alert to avoid tripping or crashing into someone. This mile also included my first time running on the metal grate (or whatever it's called) part of the bridges - I did not like it. Mile time 9:40.

Still in unexplored Chicago, mile four had the greatest number of corners (aka running bottlenecks) and another metal grate bridge crossing. Add to this the fact that I was now beginning to overheat (seriously, summer is going to be hard work) was my least favourite mile. Mile time 9:34 (yes, my initial race plan went completely out the window).

Mile five - the end is in sight (figuratively speaking). I love the last mile of a race. And this was no different. Coming back onto the openness of Michigan Ave was refreshing after being in the shadows of the tall Loop buildings. I was still passing people (always a positive). Nothing was hurting even though I'd run five miles the day before and this was the first back to back run I'd done in ages. The hill incline going along Roosevelt Road was a reminder of how few hills I've run since leaving Melbourne and how much Nashville is going to test me. Turning the corner onto Columbus Drive and seeing the Finish arch was lovely. A nice straight with a clear sight line to the finish is always a good end to a race. Mile time 9:20.

Total time: 48:15
Turns out my time at the Rudolph Ramble was 51:06 (10:20 min/mile average, not 10:30) so I was glad I didn't rely too much on my race plan. Very happy to come in sub-50:00 and now desperately want to do a 10km as I think I can come in sub-60:00. Given my current PR at that distance is 68:19, chasing a sub-60:00 10km is enticing.

I was very impressed at how this race is organised and managed. It's definitely the biggest race I've ever been involved in and without the great organisation has the potential to be a disaster. I read on my way home that there was a last minute course adjustment. This was not even on my radar running the race, as it was so well organised.

Is it expensive, given the distance? Yes. Does running in such a crowed race frustrate me? Yes.
Would I do it again? Definitely.


  1. Wooo, way to go beating your goal! That's awesome!! I agree that this race is really well done. It's huge, but they do a great job pulling it off. Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. You totally can do a 10K sub 60. Congrats on the race. As i am also a race-aholic, i will probably see you out on the course! :)

  3. Nice improvement over the Ramble. Too bad we missed each other at the expo. It looks like we'll have a few chances to bump into each other in the future though... I'm also running Chicago Spring, Soldier Field, Chicago Rock n Roll, the Marathon, and Las Vegas Rock n Roll. I think I might qualify as a bigger race-aholic though... I need to put together a race log on my blog, but I did put all the races I'm registered for in a post. Oh well, I'm still young, single, and healthy so I'm making this my year of crazy running before life gives me other things to worry about.