Sunday, March 25, 2018

Race Recap: Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k

Earlier this spring, I received an email about the Shamrock Shuffle. There was a one-day-only price special of $39. For a Chicago race, that sounded like a bargain. It had been a long time since I last ran this race--the last time was in 1995! I thought it might be fun to revisit it, plus the distance--an 8k-- was really attractive to me. I contacted my friend Steph and she said she was in.

Fast forward to the present. Steph is injured and winter won't let go. All week, I agonized over my decision to run this race. Plus, I just ran that spontaneous Sarasota Half Marathon last weekend. Did I really want to trek into the city for an 8k? I had opted for having my packet mailed ahead of time, so I didn't have to go to the expo. Bottom line, I don't want any DNSs this year, so I sucked it up and headed into the city for the 2018 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle.



I woke up early Sunday morning, had my coffee and smoothie, and drove to the CTA El stop where I would catch the train to downtown. I had planned on driving and purchased a SpotHero parking spot but when I rechecked the location, it was smack dab in the middle of the race course. Doh! As usual, the El was a freak show, with the usual night crowd of homeless people and druggies. Someone lit up a cigarette and a group of us got off at the next stop and moved to a different car. The rest of the ride was uneventful.

When we emerged downtown from the underground station, we were greeted with a frigid blast of wind off Lake Michigan. The temperature was 27F. The only plus was that the sun was shining. I hoped that the sun would warm us quickly. I made my way to my assigned gear check, surrendered my thermoball, and headed to my corral. The corral filled up quickly. I asked the woman next to me to take a picture of me and we struck up a conversation. That helped pass the time and kept my mind off how cold I was!

Do I look cold?
We were in corral D and about 20 minutes after the gun went off, we crossed the starting line. I could not feel my feet but I settled into a nice pace immediately. My goal for this race was to run sub-9 minute miles, which meant I would have to eliminate some run/walk intervals. I decided to just go with it and see how I felt. It's kind of freeing to run a shorter distance and not have to worry about having gas in the tank for the finish, isn't it?

We ran up Columbus Drive. It seems like every big Chicago race starts like this. Almost immediately we ran through a tunnel and my Garmin went crazy. Knowing this would happen, I was using it for timing only. Once we emerged from the tunnel, we crossed a gridded bridge. I remember when I ran this years ago and someone tripping and falling on the grids. Fortunately, I didn't see that this year.

The iconic Chicago starting line view
The course turns on Grand and runs down State Street. Can I just comment how much I love this course? It loops all around downtown Chicago. We ran past the iconic Chicago Theater. There was an aid station at mile 1.5-ish but I felt really good and just kept on running. Could I run this whole thing without stopping to walk? I started to think I could.


About mile 3, I noticed feeling returning to my feet. I was still really feeling good and so I kept on running without stopping. There were a lot of spectators along the course and at every mile was a DJ blasting music, with enthusiastic people dancing and cheering. That was kind of fun. I saw Rabbit Food Runner in her November Project costume, although I didn't know it was her at the time! I saw Gumby. I ran behind someone in a dinosaur costume and reflected on how tough that must be. I salivated at the smell of Garrett's popcorn. I passed a lot of people with lower bib numbers than me who were not moving very quickly. I began to wonder how the corral seeding was done.

At mile 4, the course turned onto South Michigan Avenue and then we ran up Mt Roosevelt, which is also the last push at the Chicago Marathon. It was a heck of a lot easier to run up it after running 4.5 miles instead of 26! Once I crested the hill, I saw the finish line up ahead and I pushed my pace, crossing the finish line smiling from ear to ear!! I knew I did well, but when I looked down at my Garmin, I saw 43:07. Could that be right?

I couldn't stop smiling!
This was fun! I have been feeling really good lately--I think the change in my medications has definitely helped keep my RA symptoms quiet. I'm still using the GLG Collagen too and I'm wondering if that has been helping me as well.  It was really exciting to feel my legs want to go like they did. Just for fun, I pulled out my old race bibs and to compare results from those previous Shamrock Shuffles. In 1994, my 31-year-old self ran it in 44:15, but in 1995, I finished in 40:27. Who knew that at age 55, I could still bring that kind of pace? Interestingly, back then, you didn't get official results right away like you do now. The results came on a postcard in the mail a few days after the race.

You also didn't get a medal.


This year's race had an awesome medal. I don't expect a medal for anything shorter than a half marathon, but hey, I'll take it! This is a really fun race. It's also the largest 8k in the world, so if you're looking to be part of something big, you should consider running it! Since the folks who run the Chicago Marathon also are in charge of the Shamrock Shuffle, you can expect the same smooth organization and planning. It was too cold for me to hang out, but the afterparty was rocking when I left! I definitely would like to do this race again, but can we have some warmer weather next year?



Have you ever run the Shamrock Shuffle? How about an 8k? Is there a race you return to year after year?

I'm linking this post up with Tuesdays on the Run aka Marcia, Erika, and Patti as well as Running Coaches Corner aka Debbie, Rachel, and Lora.



61 comments :

  1. Congratulations! So glad you had a great post-RA race..I'm sure it feels amazing!

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  2. What an awesome race experience! You totally rocked that race, despite the super cold temps. Where is Spring? LoL. Congratulations Wendy!

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    1. There was a lot of green at the race but it wasn't grass or leaves on the tree! LOL

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  3. You are a racing Queen lately! I'm so glad you are feeling better- you have so much to be proud of! I'm totally waiting for the trend of getting medals at shorter races to trickle down to little ole Asheville. :-)

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  4. AND Congratulations of course!!!

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  5. Congrats on your race! The logistics of heading down to a race in a big city sounds a bit stressful though. It is always a nice surprise when you end up finishing a race faster than expected. You were just running faster so you could get warmed up right? haha.

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    1. Exactly! My motto was the faster you run, the faster you're done!

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  6. Sounds like a great race! Congrats :) 8k's a fun distance. Our local running club does a bunch of 8k free races in the Summer when it's hot.

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  7. Great job! I'm trying to focus on faster, shorter distances. I have never been to Chicago but it is definitely on my bucket list!
    And no, you don't look as cold as it must have felt, brrrr. I noticed the guy behind you has his bib pinned on his back. Why do people do that?? :-)

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    1. I had the same thought about that guy's bib. Actually there was a lot to question there...that may be a subject for another blog post.

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  8. How awesome that you beat 31 year old you?! I've done Shamrock 8 or 9 times and I just love it. Like you, I love the course. It's so fun to see friends and meet new runners, too. I ran faster than I expected (~7 seconds slower than last year) and not my slowest 8K so I call that a win! I was excited to be top 10 in my AG, too! Sorry I missed you! Hope to see you soon!

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    1. It seems like a lot of us had a good day in spite of the cold! Congrats on that top 10 finish!

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  9. I haven't done an 8k yet, and what a fun tradition. I hear you on winter though. I'm ready for spring. For whatever reason, my training cycle this spring has been tough.

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    1. I think it's been a tough spring to be a runner!

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  10. I'm glad you had a great race! When I ran the Rothman 8K last fall I was pretty reluctant about the whole thing but then ended up having a really fun time. So glad you're feeling well and rocking your races! :)

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    1. The 8k distance is so fun! Far enough to challenge your pacing but not so much that you're trashed at the end.

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  11. That looks like such a fun race and I love the idea that you can run some of the iconic Chicago Marathon route without having to, you know, RUN A MARATHON.

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  12. Congrats on a great race! How awesome that you were able to run in close to your previous times. Looks like it was a good decision to run the race!

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  13. OOOHhhh I've wanted to run in Chicago for a long time. This sounds perfect, no pressure, and I can see all my family I've been neglecting! I could take a vacation in March and do my St. Patty's with my parents and then more with the rest of the kin!

    ON a serious note, you have been quite an inspiration to me for a while. Before I even got my Lupus diagnosis. After, even more so. It is hard to find athletes with auto-immune diseases, including you and me I know of 3... :( either we don't talk about it or there aren't a lot of us?

    Thank you for being you and keeping on keeping on and being real and honest!

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    1. I sure needed to see this! Been made to feel bad about my disease twice today! What is wrong with people?

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  14. What an awesome job!! And that looks like a fun course. My cousin ran it with a couple of her friends, too and she said it was a great time. I'm not sure which corral she was in but wouldn't that be something if she was the one who took your picture? :)

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    1. That would be something! But the woman I was with was solo as well. This is a really fun race! Always has been.

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  15. You never cease to amaze and inspire Wendy! Congrats nicely done

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    1. This one surprised me! It's always fun to see what the old legs will do.

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  16. Congrats!!!! I'm so happy you had a good day! :)

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    1. I'm kind of hoping to ride this wave for a while. Fingers crossed!

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  17. I seriously think you just convinced me to run this instead of the Chicago marathon!! I mean WOW! The course looks amazing and an 8k is over and done with so I'll have more time to enjoy the city :-) CONGRATULATIONS on your finish and fast time!!! WOW Wendy! I'm so incredibly happy for you and you deserve every ounce of that medal!!

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    1. It was really fun to see my old body turn out a fast run! I know it's still in there--I just need to figure out how to bring it to a half marathon!

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  18. Congrats. So happy for you.

    I ran a Shamrock Shuffle too but with 300 runners.

    I had a similar experience. I wanted to see if I could still run fast. I hoped to run without walking and I did. A course PR. Redemption and a Garmin pr. It wasn’t chip timed. Still happy.

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  19. Wow, great pace AND great photos! You rock! This looks really fun!

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    1. Yes, this race is always a good one!! Thank you!

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  20. Congratulations, you did awesome!!!!

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  21. Congrats! That looks like so much fun - and I love the medal!!!

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  22. Congrats on an awesome race - what a strong finish time! The 8K sounds like a fun distance.

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    1. You just never know what you're going to bring to the start line! At least, these days, I don't!

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  23. I'd still be grinning from ear to ear. Fantastic job, Sista. RA be damned.

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  24. So many congrats! And I love, love that color green on you!!

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  25. That’s an awesone finish time! Congrats!!! I don’t do many 8K/5-milers, but they are fun because of the short (but not too short) distance.

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    1. I don't do many 8ks either but that'd because there just aren't many races of that distance. I do like it, tho! Can you tell?

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  26. You did great Wendy! I love this distance and wished there were more 8Ks. When is your next race?

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    1. I'm considering the Lakefront 10 miler. You?

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    2. Don’t think so since it is a week before my marathon. I have to see what my coach has for me that weekend.

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  27. Congrats on a great race! It's so nice when things fall into place. Like you, I am so over this winter...

    -MCM Mama

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    1. It's been an interesting ride--These days, I just never know what a run or race will bring!

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  28. Despite the cold, it’s clear that you had a great race. Way to go! I can only imagine how great it feels to feel like you’re running like your pre-RA self!

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  29. Is it standard practice there that bib number correlates to predicted finish? I ran into that at Cherry Blossom last weekend and it was a first. Most of Road Runners' races are just pickup/signup order other than the elites
    Congrats on a great race, this looks like a fun way to sightsee Chicago

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    1. In Chicago, the races are so big that yes, they do try to seed the corrals. It doesn't always work, but it definitely helps!

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    2. Interesting. The runners are seeded in NYRR races by the first letter, which just gets added when you pick up your bib. For example if you and I turned up for pickup at the same time we'd get most likely sequential bibs, but the letter they applied would assign us to the corral

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    3. That's interesting! No, the bib numbers at most Chicago races are assigned ahead of time.

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