Every year I look forward to the Shamrock Shuffle. It was my first ever race and has since become tradition. This year was my 4th time running the race.The difference this year was that I was taking on a marathon the day before. While I did complete 4 races in a row for the Dopey Challenge, it is a much difference experience with the marathon coming first. There's no avoiding beating yourself up running 26.2 miles.
I headed down on Friday during my lunch break to get my packet since I was leaving Friday evening to head to Indiana. I took the El down to the new green line station. All in all it took forever to get down there and pick up my packet and finally get home. I didn't even have time to dawdle and check out the goodies at the expo. Once I got back from Indiana Saturday evening worries started creeping in. My stomach had been in knots since the 2nd half of the marathon and I was having trouble even eating. I finally did get some pizza down and went to bed at a relatively decent hour. A few restless hours later I awoke and headed down to Grant Park.
Once over in the corrals the coldness set in. It was uncontrollable shivering whenever the wind picked up. I settled in towards the back of the A corral with Mo and soon we spotted Charlyn. We all settle in, the national anthem was sung, and the race began. Charlyn darted off since she's been gaining crazy speed in her training. I quickly lost Mo and struggled to coax my body into running.
The first mile was a total struggle. All of a sudden my lungs and chest ached on top of the soreness I had in my legs. The one nice thing about this year's Shuffle was a smaller field with only 22k finishers vs the normal 36k.The reduced field was noticeable and I didn't have to worry about getting trampled for finding room to run. I came into the race hoping to crack 40 minutes and clocked a first mile in 8:11. I had some work to do.
The 2nd mile I started to find my groove and settle into a nice pace. The wind was blowing from the south but wasn't as bad heading south on State street. Mile 2 was completed in 7:45. As we wound around the Loop it felt tougher, but not as hard as an 8K would normally be. Mile 3 clocked in at 7:38. Turning back south down Franklin saw the wind return with vengeance. All I could do is tuck into the crowd, put my head down, and ride it out. It was all I could do until we turned back east on Harrison. The 4th mile was done in 7:31.
I decided I was going to give things a go on the final mile. I knew my 2014 Shuffle time was 38:xx and so I was well within reach to challenge it. I got my legs moving as efficiently as I could. I had to stay someone conservative heading south on Michigan Ave since the wind was gusting fiercely every now and then. I knew I also had to save some energy for Mount Roosevelt. Eventually I willed myself up the hill and gave everything I had left for the homestretch. It felt like I was running in molasses, but somehow I was moving forward. One last push got me across the finish line in 37:58 beating last year's time by 14 seconds. The final 0.97 miles was run in 6:54.
I had competed as part of the Mikkeller Run Club and we wound up in 8th of 58 teams in our division. A very surprising and strong performance thanks mostly to our fast women.
I learned a bit about myself in doing a "fast" race after a marathon. Even with tired and beat up legs I could still coax some turnover out of them. I just need to remember that for the later stages of my future marathons and ultras. It was a successful weekend overall with my 2nd fastest of 7 marathons and my 3rd fastest of 7 8K races.