I can’t say the word “shuffle” without thinking of this stupid song; I’ll be glad to have this out of my head in the next 24 hours.
Anyway, here are the promised goods for today’s 8k race report. A little background information might be in order for all my non-Dailymile readers, so here goes. Saturday was my final “long long” run for Eugene–21.3 miles on the lakefront, some of it with Jack, and the last bit of it at sub-marathon pace–so going into the SS, I had some tired legs, though not particularly super sore: just sleepy (àpropos for me anyway these days, since we’ve transitioned A from her crib to her daybed… lil stinker figured out how to climb out, so now my toddler awakens me in the middle of the night by yelling “maaaaaaaaaaaa-ma” and insisting that we do a few rounds of “shake your hands” or “baa baa black sheep”).
When I ran the SS in ’12, I had also run my last 20 for Urbana-Champaign the day before, but I had also not run for 5 days prior after dealing with my second sinus infection in four weeks. Combined with not physiologically being 100% for the race, I made a really dumb, novice-y mistake: going out too quickly and therefore enduring a slow, painful, and will-killing death march for 3.97 miles of the 4.97 mile race.
This time around, I was determined to race more intelligently, like I knew what the hell I was doing.
My girl and I had a good time at the expo on Friday at Navy Pier. We didn’t particularly have anywhere to be, so we had fun just strollin’ through it, and of course, the vendors ate her up. She, apparently, was far less unnerved by this expo than that of Houston’s. Maybe it was the lack of Texan accents…?
Come race morning, I woke up to some GI issues–a recurring theme this week, for some reasons I’m still hypothesizing–but I felt fine nonetheless. Once I got downtown, I eventually did an easy mile-and-change warm-up, plus some strides, before I got through the sea of humanity that was the SS participant field and put myself in the A corral.
Interestingly, my fast training partner, Jack, who ran faster than me here last year, got relegated to the B corral because, essentially, of gender parity issues. I get it, I do, but it seemed problematic in more ways than one that some fast men were in the second non-elite corral and starting behind women who are slower runners than these fast guys; I haven’t heard if there were any collisions, but from what Jack said afterward, the release of the B runners seemed to be executed pretty well.
Seconds before we started running, I realized that I didn’t start as far back as I thought I had placed myself in the corral–my attempt to start rather conservatively–but I still felt pretty confident that I wouldn’t do anything stupid.
Well, my watch assured me I wouldn’t. Or, at the very least, it wouldn’t tell me if I did.
The first two miles of the course mirror that of the Chicago Marathon, and just like last year, my Garmin pretty much flaked out within the first… oh… half-mile. We run under a series of bridges and overpasses that connect Randolph and Wacker Sts. to Lake Shore Drive, and my watch hung in there for a couple minutes but then quickly informed me it had “lost satellite reception” for the following… oh… .3 of a mile. (This will be something I’ll have to deal with and worry about more this summer, when I’m training for Chicago. For today, it was just one of those “you’ve got to be kidding me” moments).
I felt like I had gotten into a pretty comfortable rhythm and pace early on, by about mile 1 or 1.5 (though I had no idea what my pace was because of my watch issues), and then I noticed that the course seemed different; I didn’t recall running on Wabash last year or zig-zagging around the Trump Tower before picking up State St.
My first few spectators I was trying to spot were going to be near mile 2, but I didn’t see any of them; instead, I saw a former Team in Training teammate-turned-coach around mile 2.5, which was a nice pick-me-up. Once we ventured all the way west before looping back around and coming down Harrison, I began counting the minutes until I would see C and A at the 4-mile turn, but alas, I didn’t see my family anywhere either 🙁 Spectating, in and of itself, can be a challenge; add a toddler to the mix, and the 50-50 odds seem to go down to about 20-80. I did, however, spot Jack’s wife, Guerline, right before our turn up “Mt. Roosevelt” (also on the marathon course), which brought a spring to my step. Finally, as I was about to run up Roosevelt, I heard another voice yell my name, though I was pretty sure I had made up hearing it and didn’t even turn my head to look… and it was my loss, since I missed seeing another friend (sorry, Ken)! I think I need some spectating-on-the-run practice.
By the time I finished, the clock read in the 35:xx, so I was pretty sure that I had PRed at the distance and at this race, in particular, but again, I had no idea. My watch indicated I had run 5.4 miles–whatever–once I finished, and just a few minutes later, I saw Mort come in with a friend he had paced and then Jack, who reported that he had run a steady, watch-less run that he was happy with.
Everyone was a winner today.
It was a beautiful day for a race–40s, overcast initially but then sunny, and I was comfortable in a hat, shades, racerback singlet, shorts, and armwarmers. I ditched my snazzy $1.50 gloves right after I crossed the starting line, and strangely, the singlet + sportsbra combo I used this morning gave me some weird chafing issue in my armpit: strange only because I wore the same bra and singlet (though in a different color) in the Houston Marathon’s nasty weather and was totally fine.
Something to evaluate for Eugene in the coming weeks.
Once C, A, and I rendezvoused, we took advantage of the generosity of some very obliging runners making their way back to the CTA to have a little photo session. Gotta love these sunshiney days in Chicago in April (and bonus, where we’re standing is just a half block away from where I used to work).
The Shuffle is one of those races wherein I’d advise against really *thinking* about it. For a long time, I tended to think that it was overpriced for the distance–which it is–but I think there is something cool about the race–or maybe the experience of the race, that makes it worthwhile.
There are just so many runners (approximately 40k) that, no joke, by the time I finished and was strollin’ over to gear check, there were runners in their corrals who hadn’t even started their race yet. It’s a super fun atmosphere, and people really go all-out for it: dudes decked out in full-body green paint and green ‘fros, costumes, lots of glitter and sparkle, but also some serious, serious speed.
It’s a fun combination.
And for comparative purposes, let’s see my splits, according to the SS, versus those of my flaked-out watch:
*official* results: 6:52, 6:37, 6:49, 6:43, 6:41 (.97 mi) = 33:31, 6:45 average.
–Overall: 851/33,219; 140/19,231 females; 59/5,020 age division
my messed-up Garmin: 6:40, 6:19, 4:59 (WTH?!), 6:16, 6:28, 6:40 = 33:31, 5.42 miles, 6:11 average. [This is just comical…]
Today’s race was a solid confidence booster for Eugene. Of course, I don’t plan on running 6:45s for 26.2 miles, but it was really refreshing and encouraging to know that after running 21.3 the day before (at around an 8:18 pace on average), I can still turn my legs “on” a bit and take them for a ride for 8k. This also makes me really optimistic that I can go sub-20 in a 5k this year.
Hard to believe that Eugene is just 21 days away now. Pretty freakin’ exciting.