Sunday, April 02, 2006

Shamrock Shuffle

Today I ran in the Shamrock Shuffle (advertised as the "largest 8K in the world!" with 25,000 participants). For starters, the weather report was saying something about it being in the high-50s today, but actually it was a cold 40 with wind when the race started. Thankfully it didn't start raining until after. Not exactly what you would call a "nice day for a run", but whatever. I've done this race for the past two years, and its generally a fun time. You get to run through the downtown streets and lots of people come out to watch. I've been telling myself I'd like to run at a 7 minute pace (5 miles = 35 minutes), but actually I'd be happy with 8 minutes and my knee ligament not hurting (its been twinging a bit on my last few runs). Anyway, 'ere's the play-by-play:
  • Mile 1: Start out north on Columbus, right past the Gehry alien spacecraft and then into the underground streets. The downtown, stripped of its cars, is totally transformed -- it feels a bit like being in a music video or something. The pack of runners is quite crowded, and in the tunnel the thump thump thump of our shoes is the only sound. I start out fast and feel pretty good. We cross the river, quite windy, turn on Grand.
    Time = 7:10
  • Mile 2: Head back across the river on State. I don't think I'll be able to keep up the 7 minute pace, but I'm still feeling pretty good - no twinges in my knee yet. Crowd starts to thin out a bit.
    Time = 7:30 Total = 14:40
  • Mile 3: Mmm, gatorade. My ankle and shin start to feel a little tight, maybe I'm overcompensating for the knee? Anyway, we turn west on Jackson and head out over the river again. There's a pretty good crowd cheering us on, which is cool. When I look down the side streets, I can see the front-runners already returning in the other direction, almost a mile ahead.
    Time = 7:40 Total = 22:20
  • Mile 4: Return east on Van Buren. Starting to feel a... little... tired. I slow my pace just a bit, and wonder why there aren't bands serenading us along the route like last year. OK, starting to feel more than a little tired. Breathe in, breathe out, remember to keep your stride long.
    Time = 8:00 Total = 30:20
  • Mile 5: OK, we turn south onto Michigan and it's just a mile left. Despite wanting to die, I pick up the pace a bit. Only a mile left, right? Then someone decides it would be funny to end the race with the only hill in Northern Illinois - it's uphill along Roosevelt to the corner with Columbus. Brutal. But after that it's only 300m and I try to finish strongly. I manage to cross the finish with arms upraised for the cameras.
    Time = 7:50 Total = 38:10
After we cross the finish line, they present us with mountains of bananas and granola bars and water. We all stumble through the lines, grabbing whatever we can carry. The bag check line is really long, which is too bad because it feels really cold once you cool down and everyone wants their warm clothes.

We have the option of getting a free beer and listening to live music, but for me, the idea of standing shivering in the rain drinking a beer by myself at 10am on a Sunday morning sounds too much like an operational definition of alcoholism. I put on my windbreaker and try to track down a bus back home.

Of course, all the bus routes are screwed up by the race, but I do eventually find a 6 bus and am extremely grateful to be out of the rain and cold. But then as we're turning south onto Lake Shore, the bus sideswipes a cab. I didn't even feel the collision and it looked like nobody was hurt, but we had to sit in the bus, blocking traffic, for about 25 minutes until the next 6 came along to rescue us.

ps: ---
My official time was 0:38:09, which I think is identical to last year down to the second (a 7:38 pace) and which places me 2386th out of 20,408 finishers (top 12%). Among men I finished 1966th, and 494th in my division (age 25-29). The mens and womens champions clocked in at a mind-wowing 23:52 and 26:27, respectively. All in all, it was pretty fun time. Pictures coming soon, hopefully.


LeahC said...

Congrats on your race! My feelings exactly about the weather. I was way annoyed when I opened early sunday morning to see the forcast. I remember more bands last year as well....maybe it was too cold this year. I have a full race report at I am excited to come across your blog as it's always fun to find other Chicago runners! Also, love the title of your blog.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tim,
great commentary, the sound of feet on the underground street was cool.

Leo said...

I think that beer is possibly a good source of post-run carbo loading.

7:32 pace is great -- I'm impressed. I think I might be able to do that. For 1 flat mile. And wheezing for a while afterward.