Well, my Shamrock Shuffle experience didn’t start the way I would have liked, but definitely ended in a huge PR for an 8k for me!
I decided to go to the expo on Friday thinking that it would be better going on a weekday than going on Saturday. Was I wrong!! Getting to downtown Chicago was not a huge issue thankfully. I luckily found parking and got on the train on time (I was actually early… which never happens for me when I’m getting on trains!) and made it to downtown Chicago around 11:20. I decided that I was going to take a bus to the expo because it was a far walk (2.5 miles one way and I was planning on running 7 miles in the evening) and since I was planning on taking the 1:30 train back home, I would just eat later. I got to my bus stop and found out that my bus was 20 minutes away! I was a little upset but I decided I’d just rather wait than get lunch closeby and see my bus leaving. Well, 20 minutes turned into 30 minutes and my bus finally came around 11:52 ☹. The trip took forever since Navy Pier was so crowded with tons of people coming in for the expo (there goes my Friday theory!) and I didn’t make it to Navy Pier until 12:30 (at which point, I realized I wasn’t going to make the 1:30 train home…grr!!)
I tried to put on a happy face, but as I was walking to the expo, I kept seeing people walk along the pier with their race bags and white shirts inside. I thought, no, it cannot be… IS THAT THE RACE SHIRT?! I immediately checked twitter as I was making the 10 minute walk to the actual expo to discover that yes, it was the shirt. Here it is….
To say I was upset is an understatement. I was vivid!! I tried to not take it out on the volunteers (as I know they have nothing to do with it), but they agreed with me too and said that most runners were unhappy with the shirts as well. The race got a pretty nasty email from me on Monday (I tried to be polite, but had to be a bit forceful since I was so disappointed!). I feel like this shirt should be for the “Bank of America Shuffle” since shamrocks are not red and blue and there is nothing on this shirt that resembles any bit of the inspiration for this race. Especially in a race that doesn’t have a medal, it better have a good shirt for the $45 price tag for an 8k.
After getting my bib and shirt (which was an incredibly easy process, so I do give props to them for that!), I had to check out the expo. Since I’m trying to save money for Washington DC, my plan was to not sign up for any races (I really don’t have the time anyways) and avoid buying too much stuff…haha. I did go to the official merchandise booth. The official race merchandise is all Nike – so it carries a high price tag! I passed on the zip pull over this year, because of the $65 price tag and it really was very simple. Instead I got this really cute hat ($22.. but it fits great and will be good for summer runs in the sun!) and pint glass (only $9… a good momento of the day!).
I figured out on twitter that my Wisconsin half marathon—Rock N Sole in June- was at the expo and was offering money off to people who signed up for the race. I found their booth and saw the medal for the race (not a super big one, but I’m still very excited about it!)
They also gave me this free shirt from a few years ago since I was already signed up! Sounds like a great race already!!
After that, I briefly looked around and then I decided to take off because I needed to catch the 2:30 train back to the suburbs. When I got to the bus stop, I found out that my bus was 25 minutes away! GRRR!! It was cold and I didn’t have any gloves, so rather than wait standing for a bus, I just started walking. I found my way back to the train station and as I got there, the bus pulled alongside me. Oh well. I saved a few bucks and got some more exercise, plus I still did my 7 miles a few hours later in good pace.
I was in the 3rd wave of the race which was to start around 9:15. I woke up around 5:45 and was on the road by 6:30 am. I wasn’t sure how crowded the public transportation would be, so I wanted to give myself plenty of time.
I got downtown around 8:15 and it was COLD! It was in the low 30s to start the race. I found my corral gear check, short port o potty line and then I made my way to the corral where I waited for about 20 minutes before the race finally started for me.
My major complaint at the beginning was that within the first minute of starting, I encountered a walker?! Are you kidding me? I’m a walker too, but if you’re going to walk right out of the gate, then have the common courtesy to start at the back of the corral then.
My first mile was pretty quick (9:18) and I knew I would have to slow it down. My goal was to run to the first aid station (around 1.5 miles), walk one minute, and then run to the next aide station (around mile 3.25-3.5). As I was passing the miles, I was staying under 10 minute miles by about 20-30 seconds. When I started the race, my major goal was to be around 50 minutes… but as I know, it’s important not to get your hopes up!
After I passed the second aide station and after my second walking break, I was debating with myself as to whether or not I should take another walking break before I was done. I remember “the hill” about .25 miles away from the finish that I walked up last year and I knew that if I was able to run up it, I would need a 30 second walking break. So, after I crossed the mile 4 marker and made my way onto Michigan Avenue, I took a quick walking break. I wasn’t super tired, but I knew if I was going to make it up “the hill” then I would need it! Needless to say, I made it up “the hill” and someone shouted that we only had .25 miles left. After the hill, you make a quick left and you see the finish line in the distance. I gave it all I had and paused my nike plus app after crossing the finish line and it said 49:11! It was a good thing I had sunglasses on because I started crying. I was SO HAPPY! I quickly texted my family and told them I had gone sub 50 for the race! I got my free bottle of water, glass of Gatorade (couldn’t spurge on bottles I guess for us) and bag of snacks (pretzels, sun chips, banana, and some cookie). They were telling us to get our pictures taken but why would I need a picture since I didn’t get a medal?! Crazy!! I didn’t bother going to the after party, but instead made it to the train so I could get to work. Yes, I worked after running… it’s frequent for me since my job revolves around me working the weekends, so anytime I want to run a race around Chicago, I usually am off to work afterwards. What fun ☹
My official time was 49:05—which was 5 minutes and 5 seconds better than my previous shamrock shuffle last year of 54:10—so a new PR!
If you had told me a few weeks ago that I would have gone sub 50 for this race, I would have thought you were crazy! I’m not going to be doing the race again next year, but this year’s time is enough for me to be happy with!
Overall pros of the race
-Great expo—lots of vendors and physical packet pickup is very easy
-Running downtown—the entire course is thru the streets of Chicago—very enjoyable not running up and down Lake Michigan ☺
-I had a great running time this year!
Cons of the race
-Horrible race shirt (I emailed the shamrock shuffle and they said they would pass my complaints off to Nike as they do the shirts. It’s not the shirt quality Shamrock Shuffle! Nike Dri Fit shirts are very nice!! It’s the design and color of the shirts this year… which I’m sure you have the final say over!!)
-Location of the race expo (I’m not the only one that hates the location… lots of complainers on twitter!)
-Expensive race– $45 for an 8k with no medal… a big part of the reason I won’t be returning anytime soon
-Very crowded—they allow 30,000 people into this race. I like big races, but this is almost too many. I did a TON OF WEAVING during the race (my run tracker said I did 5.28 miles) to avoid all the non runners in this race. I’m trying not to be a running snob, but I think I may becoming one. If I would have known how awesome I was going to run, I would have been in a better coral, but I wasn’t sure and I went on my Mississippi Blues Half time in January (10:50 pace—I did this race in 9:53 pace!!). I’m a little worried about the crowds of Disney but you need to send in proof for those race corrals, so that should help me out by avoiding people who are miscorraled!!
Only 24 days until Washington DC!! Sub 2:20 or bust!!