Shamrock Shuffle 8k Race Recap

Last Sunday, March 21, I ran the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k (4.9 miles) in downtown Chicago. This was my longest race to date and my longest running distance ever! I've never run more than 5 miles in a row (though I have been training with 6 1-mile repeats in the same session).

I ran the race with four other people from my church as part of Team World Vision to raise money for Haiti earthquake relief. We raised nearly $1,500.00 altogether so far! There's still time to donate if you'd like to participate. Thanks to everyone already who supported us!

None of the runners from my group had actually run 5 miles before (except Boyi since she's on the cross country team at her high school). It was kind of funny because our group included me, who has been training for races (triathlon & 5k) since last May; Tiffany, who started seriously training for this 8k a little over a month before the race; Josh, who apparently had been training for a while and running 5 miles every weekend; Boyi, who did cross country in the fall, but had to start running again to train for this race; and Craig, who didn't really train at all (he played basketball and then ran a little less than 4 miles with us the other day--we were doing 5--and was still really sore from it the day of the race).

Josh and Craig pre-race.

The girls: Tiffany, Boyi, and me before heading down to Grant Park. Tiffany and I made our team shirts. They say, "Everyone loves a Shamrock Shuffler." The Team World Vision logo's on the sleeve and our names are on the back.

Weather on race day was cloudy, windy, and around 30-something degrees. At least there wasn't any snow on the ground (it snowed the day before), but it was still a little wet. We got down to the race site at about 8:15 AM. Luckily Josh's apartment (our homebase) was a really short walk to Grant Park. So Tiffany and I checked our gear and then we headed over to the Team World Vision tent for a group picture (which I'm somehow trying to get a copy of). Then we tried to warm up a little (for the race and just because we were cold) while we headed over to the start corrals. None of us did this race before so we were all in the open corral. We seeded ourselves in the 9-minute mile group (which was the first one after corral C). Then we stretched and waited.

The race started at 9 AM for the elite runners (of which we are not) so by the time we got to the starting line it was nearly 9:30 (and the elite runners had already finished the race...haha). But it was pretty exciting starting out and running under a bridge with people cheering for you above it. I've raced in the city a couple times before (Chicago SuperSprint Triathlon and Santa Shuffle 5k), but none of them were actually running through the city streets. That was a new and fun experience for me.

So the first couple miles were mostly just dodging people and trying to pass them up (and trying to run carefully over a slippery bridge, jumping up onto the sidewalk then having to run up a short flight of stairs to get to the upper sidewalk, jumping back down into the street...). Tiffany, Boyi, and I stayed together for the first 2 miles. At the first mile marker, Tiffany asked me what our time was and I looked at my watch and said, "8:30...we're so slow!" Okay, so maybe we weren't that slow, but normally in races I tend to run my first mile faster than normal so I guess I was just surprised.

There were a lot of people throughout the entire race though, so it was generally still "crowded." The site says 36,000 people signed up though I know some of them didn't come because of the weather (which actually wasn't that bad for the race). I picked up my pace between miles 2 and 3 and lost Tiffany and Boyi somewhere behind me (though apparently Tiffany could still see me & follow me until after mile 3). So I just kept trying to run and keep a decent pace. It's kind of like a game. You pick someone, then you try to pass them. Then once you pass that person, you pick another person and try to pass him or her. I was getting tired by mile 4 though, but I knew it was almost over so I just kept pushing through. Luckily my knee wasn't hurting me during the race. I was concerned about that so I had my knee brace just in case but decided I didn't need it.

The worst part about the course was the slight hill right at the end (Roosevelt Rd.). I thought that's where I could push myself a little more to the finish line, but by the time I got up the hill, I was even more tired. So I tried to sprint a little bit toward the finish (which was still kinda far away), but had to slow down in the middle, and tried to push toward those last few meters to the finish line. I did it though!! Everyone in my group finished. The picture to the left is our post-race group pic. I finished in 0:42:35; 5,781 out of 25,567 finishers; and 528 out of 4,000-something women in my age group (I don't feel like looking up the exact number right now.) So not too bad for my first 8k. My eventual running goal right now is to continue building my mileage so I can run a half marathon (not this year) and as part of my triathlon training. I also want to improve my 5k speed so I'm under 25 minutes (or maybe even under 24!).

What are your running goals? Any race tips for me for the future? I'm still a newbie. :)


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