Spoiler alert! I’m happy to report the Shamrock Shuffle went really well. But let me start from the beginning.
I usually run 4-5 miles every Friday morning at about 5:30/5:45 with a group of women who all live within a few blocks of our start corner. Last Friday I was going to be the only one around and I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t maintain the motivation to get my ass out of bed and on the streets without a running buddy. I briefly considered hitting the gym and running on a treadmill but that’s even less inspiring and was less likely to actually happen. So I put social media to work. I tweeted that I was looking for someone to run 5 slow miles early Friday morning near Lincoln Squareand tagged it with #runchi so that my fellow Fleet Feet runners would see it. I got a response almost immediately and had a new running buddy for Friday morning – sweet! I love it when things like that work out well! Sara met me for a lovely run with the added bonus that we had lots to talk about to make the time pass quickly. That run put me at 17 miles for the week (along with a swim workout, two weights workouts, and a yoga class - not too shabby). And made me worry less about spending the entirety of Saturday at the Shamrock expo and missing my regularly scheduled long run.
So the expo. I ‘volunteered’ (in quotes because I was compensated with a nice gift certificate, a new pair of Brooks shoes and a Brooks half zip) at the Fleet Feet booth to help promote and sign people up for their Women’s Half-Marathon & 5K in June. My shift was from 8:30 am until 6pm. I had some sort of magical idea that we might be sitting behind a table, but we were on our feet all day approaching people to ask them about the races (the booth also promoted the Soldier Field 10-Miler and the Big 10 10K). It was hard work, but most of the people we talked to were enthusiastic about the races and some were even happy to have a chance to sign up on the iPads we all had – especially since we had $10 iTunes or Chipotle gift cards to give out. The expo was HUGE this year. For once I managed to not buy a bunch of crap that I don’t need. I did take a few laps around to look at all the booths – lots of shoe companies (I stopped at Newton and told them how much I love them), running stores, running accessories like headbands and race belts, charities trying to get marathon runners to raise funds for them, and of course other races. I did stop by the Ragnar booth to visit with the Ambassador Co-ordinator and to discuss the booth we’re going to have at the Lakefront 10-Miler later this month. Altogether I really enjoyed working the Fleet Feet booth – I got a chance to work with a bunch of runners that I only knew through Facebook/Twitter and get to know them better. I’d absolutely work other expos for Fleet Feet although maybe not for a full 9 hour shift – the last hour or two my back was aching, my legs were sore and it was harder to work up a full enthusiasm as I approached harried strangers who were trying to get their packets. Luckily all the race workers helped keep a smile on my face and it was pretty easy to promote a well-run race that I rtruly love. After the expo I hurried home and went out for a nice Italian dinner with my husband and came home and went right to bed with the hopes of recharging my tired legs.
Race day my alarm went off at 6am as planned and I got up to check the temperature outside. It was cooler than I expected oo I wore a dri-fit t-shirt (one of the commemorative Nike race shirts) with an emerald green Icebreaker half-zip over it and a pair of capris (RoadRunner house-brand – the best around as far as I’m concerned), and pulled on my Newton shoes. I was still kind of full from dinner so I didn’t want anything to eat - just a small glass of water to hydrate. I puttered around and checked my e-mail and took care of bathroom business (always a relief) and packed my gear bag ($20, ID, L-card, iPod/headphones) and pinned on my bib. I walked to the L and met my friend Kendall. We rode down to the Harrison stop and walked to the CARA compound so I could check my gear (Kendall was going all minimalist and didn’t need to check anything). We were running a little late and had to squeeze into the first wave corrals and fight the crowds to move up to the C corral where we were both assigned. I knew Kendall was going to have a great race so I told her to just go when she got the chance – not to wait for me – and that was the last I saw of her when our wave started at 8:45. I started out feeling pretty good – especially considering that I’d been on my feet for all of the previous day. I always forget that even as a pretty flat city Chicago has a few ‘hills’ in their bridges and that you have to run on the metal bridge grids (or compete for space on the carpet that is put down for the race) which is a little unnerving. My first mile went great (8:29) and so was mile 2 (8:46) and then I started to get a little worried that I was going to blow out my calf muscle so I consciously slowed down a little and mile 3 came in at 9:02. Mile 4 was 8:59 and the last .9 was at an 8:55 pace. I have to say that I paced myself really well - especially since my Garmin was completely useless with the tall buildings blocking my signal for much of the race and I couldn’t rely on the info it was giving me. I wasn’t completely gassed going up the hill on Roosevelt and I had enough left in me for a decent sprint to the finish line. I finished just under 44 minutes and I was really happy with that for my first race back post-injury. It’s less than 2 minutes off my best time from 2 years ago when I was several lbs. lighter and didn’t have any injuries to contend with. I’ll take mostly sub-9 minute miles any day. I skipped the post-race party and hit brunch with my husband and a friend and enjoyed a celebratory Bloody Mary to replace the sodium I lost through sweating. I was surpirsed to read later that the course had to be altered because some guy was threatening to jump off a bridge over the river along the course. Kudos to the race organizers for making the changes so seamlessly that I didn't even notice anything was different (although I'm not one for poring over course maps before races).
Totals for last week were 22 miles – back to being able to bank a few miles which I need to replace the deficits from February and March. This week I’m going to try to hit the speedwork session at the Fleet Feet fun run, put in 6-miles at Chicks Night, 5 on Friday morning and then a slow 10 on Saturday morning for a total of around 25-27 depending on the speedwork miles. I’ll be back tomorrow for a speedwork review – I’m sure I’ll hate it but I know it’s good for me.