Tag Archives: Shamrock Shuffle

Spring (HAH!) Sunday Stats #2: I Still Have All 9 Toes.

Since today’s stats will be mostly taken up with my race report on the 2009 Shamrock Shuffle 8k race this morning, I’m going to get the writing report out of the way.  Here goes:

On Writing: I got through another 35 pages of Meet the Larssons (to 311), re-reading and marking up on the train.  I have had no time at all to work on it in the evenings or even at lunch, but even so, it’s moving along a little.  I didn’t do anything on it this weekend; Saturday was taken up with personal business stuff, and today was the race and then Junior’s 5-1/4th birthday party (he turned 5 at the end of December but we put off his party to get past the holidays and in hopes of warmer weather, ha ha), so no room for writing. Maybe this week will be better, but I think I’ve got another 2-3 weeks at this level of intensity before things even out.

On Running: The weather report last night looked pretty bad, and for once the predictions were spot on. It started snowing around midnight, and by 7:30am (two hours before race start), this is what it looked like in our backyard. It was about 30 degrees.

I got downtown early enough and trudged half a mile through the slush to the C0ngress H0tel, where CARA (the Chicago Area Runners Association) had its indoor, members-only gear check. By the time I got there, my shoes were already soaked through from the enormous puddles of slush everywhere.  I ducked into the Starbucks at the Blackstone Hotel on the next block for a quick espresso (which I think helps my time), and this is what it looked like on Michigan Avenue just before 9am:

Michigan at Balbo, 30 minutes to start

Michigan at Balbo, 30 minutes to start

I trudged through more icy slush to my start corral, and was in place by 9:15, 15 minutes before the start of the race.  I had earned a preferred starting position by time last year, which in a race with 30,000+ entrants, is a big deal — if you’re stuck at the back, it can take 20 minutes just to get across the starting line, and you’re backed up for most of the race. The price is that you have to be in your corral early, which today meant 15 minutes of standing in place with my feet slowly numbing.  Here I am at the start:

Why is this man smiling?

Why is this man smiling?

I was smiling because my toes had stopped hurting; I couldn’t feel them at all.  And I didn’t for the rest of the race.

My goal was to finish in less than 38 minutes, since I’m pretty sure that’s the time I need to get the same starting position next year.  Since I did more than 2 minutes better than that last year, I thought it was possible, but considering the weather and my inconsistent running over the winter, I wasn’t sure.

There was no let up in the snow, wind, or the slush for the whole race.  The Sun-Times has pictures here; the Tribune has pictures here.  Race conditions were miserable to outright shitty, worse than the torrential rain during the 2008 Chicago Half Marathon, since the temperature was 30 degrees lower.

I missed the first two mile markers and I wasn’t wearing a watch (still need a new battery), so I was shocked when I got to the 3-mile mark and saw that I’d been running much faster than I thought.  I was able to finish in 36:48, almost exactly a minute slower than last year but comfortably under my goal time.  Here I am at the finish; you can see that the weather didn’t get any better.  At this point, I was happy about my time but seriously concerned about frostbite on my toes and possibly the soles of my feet.

It's all over but the screaming.

It's all over but the screaming.

I hurried through the finisher chutes, got more coffee, and grabbed my dry clothes.  I considered changing at the hotel, but was worried that my feet would just get wet again by the time I got to the garage, so I waited until I was in my car and got out of my wet tights, socks, and shoes and into dry things.  My feet felt better in new wool socks and dry running shoes, but the feeling didn’t really start to come back until I got into the shower an hour later, and then the pins and needles were almost excrutiating.  It’s almost 9pm as I write this, and my feet still feel tingly and weird.

I was really surprised at my time, considering that my shoes alone must each have been carrying an extra 5 pounds of water with every step.  And the running I did on the treadmill this winter did a better job of maintaining my speed than I thought it would; I’m really glad we bought it.  Thank you, Craigslist.

All in all, I’m glad I did it, but it was pretty stupid.  I think 33,000 people registered for the race, and just over 13,000 finished.  There’s always a little attrition at races, but two-thirds?  Where’s that flinty Chicago toughness we’re known for?

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I Walk Like a Cowboy…

… because my quads are killing me. I was right — I’m paying for my caffeine-fueled race on Sunday. Damn DOMS.

I’ll Pay For This.

I ran the 2008 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K this morning. The Shuffle is the kick-off for the Chicago racing season and, for many of us, the true start of spring. In keeping with the kind of winter we had and the way spring has started, it was below 40 degrees at the starting line. For the first time since I started running this race (1997, I think), I wimped out and wore tights instead of shorts. I felt like a real wuss when I saw the guy with no shirt, covered in green body paint and wearing a neon green wig.

I set a personal record today by over a minute — I came in under 36 minutes, far and away my best time ever. Yes, I’m bragging, but with a purpose: I have discovered the secret to fast times, and I’m going to share it with you. It isn’t training; I haven’t done much running this winter, or any cross training. It isn’t diet; I have not been particularly careful about what I’ve been putting in my mouth the last few months. And I got less than seven hours of sleep last night.

Here’s the secret: drugs.

This morning, I arrived downtown just over an hour before the start of the race. I parked, emerged onto Michigan Avenue, and immediately began to look around for a dealer. I knew there had to be one nearby. There! I ducked into a storefront doorway, and placed my order. Minutes later, I had it: a double espresso. I gulped it down while it was still hot, and I was off to the races!

Oh, I know the side effects, but I was willing to bet I could get to the port-a-johns before the race started, and in fact I handled that issue just fine. Mrs. Unfocused says I need to put an asterix by my time this year, but I say if the major leaguers can do it, so can I. I just hope that I don’t develop a tolerance and have to move up to triple and quadruple espressos, because that could get expensive.

I’m going to feel it tomorrow, that much I promise you.

Long Run Sunday

Not that long ago — a few months, at most, although it seems like much longer — my regular Sunday morning run was ten miles, week in and week out. Yesterday, with a lucky combination of better weather than we’ve been having and a lack of other plans, I was able to take my first Sunday morning run in weeks. I slogged out a painfully slow one hour run of almost exactly two-thirds of my former Sunday distance. My running has gone to hell this snowbound winter, but the Shamrock Shuffle is two weeks away and I need to get some miles under my belt so that I don’t embarrass myself. Not that anyone else is concerned about my time, but I’ll know if I’m getting slower. I already know I’m getting older; I can feel it in my knees. I can tell that this running season, Aleve and I will be close friends once again.

I decided at the beginning of the year that once again, 2008 will not be a marathon year for me. I would like to get two or three half marathons under my belt again, and try for a PR at that distance, but I just don’t have time to train for a marathon. I will probably end the 2008 racing season with [insert trumpet fanfare here] the Phedippidations World Wide Half Marathon, a virtual race for entrants all over the world. I ran the first one in 2006, but had to miss 2007; I don’t intend to miss it again. Registration hasn’t opened yet, but I think Phedippidations podcaster Steve Runner announced that the race will be held the weekend of October 11 and 12, 2008 (whichever works best for you). It’s a great idea, and Steve and the other organizers put a lot of effort into making it fun.

If you’re running the Shamrock Shuffle on March 30, maybe I’ll see you there. I’ll be wearing black shorts and a white cap.