Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review and write race reviews!
What an amazing weekend.
That just about sums up Saturday and Sunday at the Shamrock Shuffle and The Mile, because it truly was an unforgettable time in the city.
For details about packet pick-up, race day logistics, and those such things you’ll have to check out my BibRave review; it’s all about the race here.
So let’s start on Saturday with the first edition of The Mile. I signed up for the Mile on a whim (and still because I was salty about not being able to run the MCTU). Besides, how many opportunities do you get to run an all out road mile?
The race itself started at 11:45 am, so I ran a quick figure 8 at The Arb in the morning with the CARA group before coming down to the city. That, plus a longer run on Friday, is obviously not conductive to a fast mile, but that’s the point of doing it all!
The field size was surprisingly (I thought) small. For the race, we got out and headed straight down Jackson Dr toward Michigan Ave. Just before the first quarter mile, we did a hairpin turn, and went back over the Jackson Dr hill and back onto Columbus Dr. On the straight part of Columbus, I could feel my body trying (and succeeding) in settling into a fast but not disgusting pace.
We made the turn onto Congress Pkwy, which featured another hill over the train, and another hairpin before heading back up Columbus. I was able to muster enough speed to pass one runner before the finish, coming in at 5:34. Not my best mile, but not my worst.
The highlight of the day was that Olympians Deena Kastor, Alexi Pappas, and Carrie Tollefson were all present at the race. Naturally, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to get a picture with them!
The forecast all week for the Shuffle was high 30s/low 40s and rain. We ended up with low-mid 40s and overcast. Absolutely perfect. Again, without a 50k on my legs from the weekend before, I had said (I think in my Training post?) that I would try to PR this race.
Once I found parking, I rolled into Grant Park with plenty of time to sit, relax, and wait for the start. The trick with big races that close corrals is to time everything (warm-up, pre-workout, bag check, bathroom) all correctly. The Shuffle closes corrals at 8:20, and I scooted into Corral A at 8:18. Perfect.
I nudged my way a little forward in the corral, but didn’t see the need to move too far ahead. And before I knew it, we were off.
The challenge with trying to run in control, but also PR pace, in Chicago is that GPS watches get dominated by the skyscrapers. It doesn’t help that we run on lower Columbus, which makes GPS useless. Because of this (and you’ll remember I used a similar strategy at Chicago and NYC) I was planning to take my own splits based on where the mile markers on the course were.
Naturally, in the first mile of the Shuffle, and any large race, there is some people weaving that slows you down a little bit. I didn’t feel like I hit my groove, though, until we got on a brief downhill and both the course and my legs were able to open up a bit.
While it felt like it took forever, I ended up splitting the first mile in 6:18; a little slower than I would’ve liked, but not bad by any stretch considering the first mile of a race in crowded Chicago.
Mile 2 was pretty nondescript, in the sense that I don’t remember much about it. Pretty much the entire mile is churning up (or rather down since it’s a slight downhill) State St. It’s a good time to make up some time from the first mile, and I did just that, surprising myself by clocking a 6:07.
Mile 3 was notable for a couple reasons. The first was that when we turned onto Jackson, we ran past what I assume was a bakery. I could smell fresh pretzels, which normally I like, but just after 2 miles of an 8k? That smell made me want to puke.
And speaking of gross things, the highlight of the race, for me, came a few blocks later as a group of us turned from Randolph onto Franklin.
A runner in our pack shouted “Rat!” as he did a mini hurdle, as us runners do. And sure enough, there was a rat scurrying across the road. A bunch of us jumped over it, said some choice words, and kept running. Another runner noted that at least it wasn’t carrying a pizza slice, so there’s that.
After that excitement, we closed in on both Mile 3 and the 5k mark, I crossed Mile 3 in a 6:12 split, and the 5k in 19:22, which is about what I’ve been running most of my winter 5k races in.
For Mile 4, I told myself I just had to maintain before pushing the last stretch for Mile 5. The only thing I consciously remember in Mile 4 is the BioFreeze station and a dude with smiley face sweatpants passing me. I split 6:19.
I’d just like to say here, that I absolutely hate the last mile of the Shuffle. Partly because of “Mt Roosevelt,” which is also at the finish of the Chicago Marathon. But this part seems like the longest yard. Passing Balbo Dr is mentally crushing, since going straight would take you almost directly into the finishers chute. Instead, you can see runners on the Roosevelt bridge, but those 5ish blocks feel like an eternity.
And let’s be clear, Roosevelt is hardly a hill. But at the end of a race, it’s dreadful. Going over that road, and back down Columbus feels like slow motion because you have runners all around you (more or less all going the same speed) and you can see the finish the entire stretch.
I came through the finish at a 31:17. My plan/hope was to run 6:15s, but I knew that might be tough to find with the city throwing off accurate watch signal. Still, I hit the 5k in 6:14s before taking Mile 4 probably more casual than I should have, and the suffering of Mile 5.
All in all, I can’t complain a ton about a 30s PR in the 8k, especially coming off two medium-long runs and The Mile.
In the chute, I chatted with a couple (really really fast) friends before moving on to get my 2019 Advocate Health Care mug, and my beer. Once we all got finished, and our bags, our amazing BibRave Pro team met up for some post-race chat and pictures.
Like I said. Amazing weekend.