the expo for the 36th bank of america shamrock shuffle was held down at mccormick place, which is quite a bit out of the way for me. because i'm lazy and don't like having to go out of the way, i wasn't looking forward to the expo at all. until i got there, that is! i had never been to such a huge expo outside of disney, and there were so many vendors. i got a few freebies from the vendors and looked at the official race merchandise, and finally picked up my goodie bag. i have to say, the race shirt is one of my favorites! our registration also included a shamrock neck gaiter, as well as finisher medals after the race. i'm all about the stuff when it comes to races, so this lot made me extremely happy.
i woke up bright and early on sunday morning after a fitful night of sleeping. originally, i had planned on running this race full-out with hopes of getting a fast time. but, when they changed the emergency alert system to yellow the night before, i decided to play it safe and just use the race to practice my race strategy for the half. i wanted to practice starting out slow and not letting myself get caught up in race day excitement, walking through water stops only for the duration of drinking my cup, and negative splitting the race. i ate a quick bowl of cereal and banana to fuel myself for the race. the forecast called for temps in the low 30s, with 20 mph winds (with gusts up to 40 mph) causing a feels-like temp in the low 20s, and freezing rain starting near the end of the race. i knew i didn't want another event like my 5k in the cold in november, so i wore my windbreaker jacket and stuffed my pockets with a beanie and mittens and stored an emergency poncho in my flipbelt. i felt bulky and looked pregnant on the way to the race, but it was worth it!
smuggling mittens or running for two? you be the judge.
i was in the second wave of the race, which was set to start at 9:15. i got to the race about 10 minutes before the corrals were set to close, so i made my way to the corral right away. it was cold in the corral, and we were all kind of bouncing in place, waiting for the race to begin. the winds weren't too bad while we were all huddled together, though, and i kept thinking that if i stayed like this, i probably wouldn't feel too cold while running. i knew i wouldn't be able to hit any fast paces with it being that cold, but i did think i could pull off a time i was proud of. my goals were
a) finish in 52:30 or less (10:33 pace)
b) finish in 53:45 or less (10:49 pace)
c) finish in 55:00 or less (11:03 pace)
before i knew it, we were off! i read enough chicago marathon and shamrock shuffle recaps to know that garmins don't work during these big races through the loop, so i just used mine as a stopwatch to check in at each mile to see how i was doing. i honestly was surprised how fast i was able to fall in to a comfortable pace; it didn't seem that crowded on the course in the beginning. i was loving listening to everyone around me and seeing parts of the loop i hadn't before. the first mile marker came up quickly, and i clocked in around 10:37. not bad! i didn't want to speed up yet, and decided to keep that pace for mile 2. honestly the first few miles were flying by! the first water stop came during mile 2, and i ran a little of the way in to it to not get caught up behind people waiting for the first cups, and then speed-walked while drinking my cup. definitely better than trying to run and drink like i usually do! i hit the second mile marker at 21:15, still right on pace.
mile 3 started to get a little windy, but not too bad. it was also where my corral/wave started catching up with the people who started before us who were slowing down or walking. things were starting to get crowded, and there were definitely a lot more tight turns and weaving on the course now. i didn't feel myself slowing down because of this, but i guess i was, because i hit mile 3 at 32:20. uh oh! i knew i was over half way done, and had a lot of gas left in my tank, so i decided to up my speed. we hit the second (and last) water stop just after the 5k, and then i knew there was nothing to stop me from here. and just as i thought that, one huge gust of wind came speeding toward us. i really wish i had been filming at that moment, because it seriously looked like we were all frozen in place, mid-stride for a couple seconds. it was really funny! but it was also a sign that the weather was getting worse, and i really wanted to be done so as to not have to run in the freezing rain and huge gusts of wind. it wasn't easy upping my pace as the wind got stronger, but i kept going. i hit mile 4 around 42:50, and then charged it up another notch. by this point, the course had us in familiar territory, so i was able to push myself knowing how close we were to the end. we hit the dreaded roosevelt bridge and i kept telling myself that the finish line was just over it and not to stop. it honestly wasn't too bad of an incline, though i'm sure it feels much, much worse when racers are experiencing it at the end of the chicago marathon. but it makes for such a nice sight to see the finish line just after you turn off the bridge. i sprinted as fast as i could toward it, huffing and puffing in that frigid air, and then i was done! my official time was 52:21.
rocking sparkly headbands, as usual.
i was so happy with my time as i made my way through the long finishers chute. i collected my medal, a banana, and some water with a big smile on my face, knowing that i had stuck to my race plan and hit my a goal. but pretty soon after finishing, i was freezing in the wind and cold and just wanted to get home. i'm glad i finished and left when i did, because by the time i got home, little pieces of hail were falling and by the time i got out of my shower, it was full on pouring.
so what did i think of the shamrock shuffle? i loved it! it was so fun to be apart of such a huge race. there was such awesome swag, and i really enjoyed getting to run through the city, rather than just along it on the lakefront. also, despite the weather, there was amazing crowd support! especially in that last mile. i'm really hoping to do it again next year! here's to kicking off the 2015 race season!