If you caught me on social media yesterday, you know I had a great race at the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle. I have been terrible about recapping races recently, but this one I really wanted to, because I want to be able to come back to remember what I did right!
The set up for this race is similar to the Chicago Marathon: extremely organized. 3 entry points, clear instructions on how to get to your corral, and what time you need to be in to be in your correct corral.
They had tons of porta-potties, gear checked looked great (I’ll explain why I didn’t use it below) and a million volunteers. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but they estimate about 3,000 volunteers for 30,000 runners. Pretty good ratio.
I’m a member of the Chicago Area Runner’s Association (CARA) and for this race they offer free VIP treatment. This means they had a hotel ballroom a block from race entry points for exclusive gear check, coffee, water, real bathrooms, and an exclusive after party that included Lagunitas beer, NovaCare PTs, and bagels galore.
While one benefit of Chicago is the amazing lakefront trail, for 30K runners, it’s not feasible to have the race follow it. This means you get to wind the streets of Chicago. It’s pretty fabulous, actually, because you get tons of course cheerleaders.
The downside: GPS hates this course. It winds under bridges, and around Chicago’s biggest buildings (including running past the former Sears Tower), which GPS hates. If you know this, you can work around it, if you don’t, it can be distracting. MapMyRun was updating me in my ears throughout the race, and I was thrilled to be running a 7:30 pace when I hit mile 4 right after the official 5k mark. Ha! Good try. I know better.
Like any Chicago course, it’s really flat. There are a couple of bridges and hills, but nothing major. There are a number of turns, so it is not straight, which can also be distracting. It’s not ideal, but keeps it interesting. It also winds next to the Federal Reserve, and passes my office. You’re welcome for that little tidbit.
I made a last minute decision to go Garmin-less. I decided I’d put MapMyRun on and run by feel, something I need to work on anyway. I had my pump up music playing in my ears as I stood for only about 15 minutes in the corral. When it was my time to go, I had my coach in my head saying “take it easy, don’t go out too fast”.
My music was keeping me happy and pumped, even though the sun had gone behind the clouds at this point. I knew I had a goal I hadn’t said out loud, and that was to only take walk breaks at fuel stops, so I was paying attention to my effort, and my legs. At the 1 mile mark, I noticed the total time, but had no idea when I’d crossed the start, so decided to just pay attention to total time moving forward.
The miles ticked away, and a few times, we had winds that were gusting up in the 30-35 mph range. It was rough, but every time my head got negative, I pushed it out. I focused on my goals, and when my legs started to get tired (this course found the only 4 hills in downtown Chicago) I fought my way back to positivity.
I was beyond excited to see my paces as I hit each mile marker. I knew I was crushing my goals, and was not about to give it up. I kept my focus on MY race, not the people around me, and pushed forward.
Although MapMyRun had my total time at 49:10, and the chip had me at 51:46, either way I crushed my time goal. According to the time chip, I was at a 10:30 pace thorough the 5k mark, then dropped to a 10:18 for the last couple of miles, which averaged a 10:25 pace. Sooooo, about a minute per mile faster than my goal.
I could not be more pleased with this race. It was a big race, don’t get me wrong, but it never felt overcrowdd, course support was awesome, and it was clearly my day. I ran it exactly how I should have, and I’m beyond pumped.
I’m up to $400 raised so far for Girls on the Run Chicago between my Shamrock Shuffle fundraising and my Chicago Marathon fundraising. While my goal is officially $1000, I think I can blow that out of the water. And to ensure that I do, I’m adding in a twist and would love your help.
I’m doing a number of races as part of training before the Chicago Marathon in October, and I’ve decided I’m going to donate an additional $10 for every PR I have between now and then. How can you help? Match me.
Match me for any amount every time I PR in the next 6 months and help me provide this awesome organization with funds to support scholarships, their 5k series, and supplies to keep them going.
Where can you donate? Here: https://www.crowdrise.com/GOTRChicagoMarathon2015/fundraiser/cyannedemchak
What’s your cause? Do you run for charity?
What’s your favorite race lately?
Does this make you want to come run Chicago?