2014 Shamrock Shuffle Race Report

Another Shamrock Shuffle done and in the books! This race is a must-do for me, and I’ve signed up for it every year. I registered but did not run in 2009 when there was a lot of snow and Mike was in the hospital, and I did not start my blog until August 2010.  Read about my recaps from 2011, 2012 and 2013 for a look through history!  

Expo  – Skipped.  Mike was kind enough to trek to Navy Pier for me!  Instead I was napping digesting a sandwich that looked like this:

BLT Old Oak Tap

Pre-Race - We are in upgrade season at work (I work in healthcare IT) and things admittedly have been a bit busy, including an upgrade that we were working on for this weekend.  As a project manager for the project, I wasn’t directly doing the work but trying to stay updated on everything that was going on.  I did eat a good dinner but got to bed a bit later than planned and was up early to check on if there was anything for me to do before heading out for the race.

Stir Fry was an excellent pre-race dinner, and I ate leftover rice with soy sauce for breakfast the next morning.  I got in a 45 minute ride & 15 minute run on Saturday morning (pre-brunch) to shake out my legs.  I was not too sad about missing the 2 hour ride that was originally on the training plan.

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Race - We got to the race pretty early, and like previous years, I hung out with the A Corral peeps until they had to leave.  I was in Wave 2, Corral E (I think I was in Corral D, Wave 1 last year) so I then headed out to do a warm-up.  I got in about 15 minutes of warm up and then headed over to get into Corral E.  It was crowded as Wave 2 (E & F) and Wave 3 corrals all entered from the same spot, but it seemed like things were moving until we were closer and then heard that they’d closed the corrals.  Rumor had it that the race volunteers would open the corrals up after those already in E&F had moved toward the front, but that didn’t seem to be happening.
So I hopped a fence.

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It actually wasn’t as bad as I’d thought, and I’m glad I did it when I did as the race officials then started DQ-ing people who jumped the fence about 20 seconds after I jumped and then blended into the crowd.

Then the race started.  My plan was to run at a 9:00-9:03 pace for the first mile or two, and then to pick it up as I felt good.  I felt strong and my pace was initially at that 9:00 pace.  After getting through the first underpass and then rounding the corner to see the one mile marker, I was incredibly surprised to hear the beep with an 8:38 pace!  I wasn’t pushing all out, but that is much faster than my 5K PR pace.

I kept strong for the next mile, and got a bit tired during the third mile.  However I was keeping these mile laps at sub 9-minute miles, although I did see that my Garmin miles were consistently shorter than the real mile markers.  (Note to self: Maybe it’s time to turn off the auto-lap feature at races?)   I did feel particularly proud that when I finished mile 3 I could tell myself:  ”Push it. You can do anything for 18 minutes” and know that this was pretty much true.  I pushed myself harder and kept it up.

I finished in 44:56 and was proud that I did not need to stop or slow down at any point during the race!  This is a real indicator of fitness for me, as I have historically taken a walk break during my 5Ks even.  In comparing my results to a 20 minute all-out run test I did for Ironman training last month, I held the same pace over 45 minutes, and had a lower average heart rate for that time.

Post - Post race at the Shamrock Shuffle is always fun, although one must balance fun with staying warm.  On a chillier day like yesterday, this was a bit of a challenge even though I brought many layers.  But I did drink multiple beers! :)

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FINAL TIME:  44:56

AVERAGE PACE:  9:03

NEXT RACE:  New Orleans 70.3 Relay, 4.12.2014

Charleston Marathon Recap

On Saturday I accomplished what is (in recent memory) my hardest marathon!  Well, also my only marathon in the last year, ha ha.
I announced that the Charleston Marathon was going to be my shot at running a 4:30 marathon goal back in September. I really wanted this, but I also moved ahead on my preparations for Ironman Louisville.  I also was working to tackle a 2 hour half marathon before the end of 2013.
As we approached the end of December, I realized that my 4:30 goal was probably not going to be possible given my lower mileage and my injury, and looked toward other goals.
Going into the race, I had the following goals:
  1. A (Pie in the Sky) – 4:38
  2. B (Good Day) – 4:45
  3. C (General) – Finish running and PR (faster than 4:53)
Thursday:
Getting out of Chicago and the Polar Vortex and into the South did not end up making me that much warmer.  Things were crazy in leaving Chicago and I ended up upgrading my plane ticket to Business Select just so I could bypass the main security line at Midway and make my plane on time.  Best $100 spent that day to not miss my flight!
Friday:
Packet Pickup. And the only photos I have that are race-related
Saturday – Race Day: 

The race was a LOT chillier than we’d planned.  I knew it wouldn’t get higher than 48 degrees that day, but I had not anticipated the 20 mph winds that led to the “feels like” temp being 15 degrees cooler.  I had on my compression socks & shorts (normal for a 35-50 degree day), with a tank & arm warmers.  I started the race with a cotton longsleeve throwaway shirt.  I planned to discard it in miles 2-4.  I still had it on at mile 10 when I saw Mike the first time (I realized when he didn’t recognize me at first!).

I threw it to the side, but was glad that I was on an out-and-back to pick it up four miles later when I was freezing.  Lesson #1:  Do not discard your throwaway shirt if it’s less than 40 degrees out– tie around your waist.
 

I kept on keeping on, but things got hard after about mile 16.  I was starting to enter a “loop-de-loop” that was about 6 miles long.  You kept seeing people, but you were going in concentric circles.
charleston marathon course
This is where I began hurting.  I kept going, found people to run with, but my IT band started aching, and tweaking my butt.  Thankfully it held out for about 4 miles longer than my longest training run, but that still got me only to mile 20.  A little after mile 22 I realized I would be doing damage if I kept running, and adjusted my strategy to walk.  I kept strong, and my new goal (as I watched the 5 hour pace group glide by me with ease) was to stay mentally strong and not get upset at this.
Ultimately this was not going to be my day, nor my A goal for the season.
I met up with another guy who was walking. We’ll call him Fridgidaire Man, but really he was Ian from Charlotte, who was wearing an Electrolux shirt. This was his first marathon, and he was struggling too.  We walked pretty much miles 22-25. It was desolate, because, if you notice on that map up there, you head AWAY from the finish line.  You heard it, and saw finishers coming away with their medals.  That was pretty depressing, especially when I knew I still had 4 miles to go.  We walked & chatted.
When we hit mile 25, I decided to run. We’d been walking FOREVER (it seemed) and I was ready to be done. I was also cold.  The wind was still blowing.
I ran in pretty well, and at a decent pace comparable to my earlier miles.
Lesson Learned #2: When you see your friends & family, you probably have a 1/4 mile to go.  I sprinted when I saw Mike and another friend, but then realized I had to loop around the block to the finish.
Lesson Learned #3:  Even when the going gets tough, use the race as a process of goal-setting. My initial goals went out the window. I am proud that I finished the race and mentally was OK with my crapalicious performance time-wise. This is a big comparison to my 15 minute PR at Chicago 2012 where I was still disappointed because I hadn’t met my time goal.  For me, focusing on the mental was important and I’m proud. I never seriously questioned “why would I ever do this again,” even after (as Mike did say aloud) a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike.
So this is where I came to respect the marathon distance.  I can’t just always pull PRs out of my ass.  Since I’m starting Ironman training officially in two weeks, I can’t plan a redemption marathon.  I will have to wait patiently for the time when the marathon can be given it’s proper love, interest and time.
Onto other things:

Recovery is going well. I had a good time in Charleston, and will be preparing a post on travels there!

Also, Marcia’s Healthy Slice is hosting a giveaway of some awesome goodies (nut butter, compression socks!) – check it out! 

New Year’s Day 5K 2014 Race Recap

It was another chilly new year’s day, and I made it out for my first run & race of 2014!  With the mini-blizzard that came to Chicago, this wasn’t exactly PR-worthy weather.  In fact, I wasn’t even sure if the race course would be shoveled or plowed (spoiler alert: it wasn’t).

But this was a good way to get out and move on the first day of the year, and to see friends that I’ve gotten to know over the past year.  The Chicago Tri Club held a holiday streaker’s challenge (which I failed, story for another post) and this was the culminating event.

NYD 5K 2014 group CTC

In the above group photo you can see a lot of people have neckwarmers on and covering their faces.  I wish I’d brought mine!

Hi Gloves.jpg

I had my “Hi” Gloves on for good cheer!

The run was snowy and indeed was not fully shoveled.  Going at a slow & steady pace with my friend Tiffany (who’s faster than me, but recovering from a bad cold), we definitely encountered spots that were single track in the snow.  And if that’s for us, I can only imagine what it was like for the front runners!

Post-race we warmed up at O’Briens, a bar in Old Town that hosted the Awards Ceremony. It was fun to catch up with friends on New Year’s Day, and then to go home, shower, and watch movies the whole rest of the day!

Lauren and Mike Post NYD5K

 

FINAL TIME:  35:28

AVERAGE PACE:  11:27

NEXT RACE:  New Orleans 70.3 – April Charleston Marathon – January 18