Monday, March 30, 2015

Shamrock Shuffle 2015 Recap

As I mentioned in my last post, I was unsure of my fitness going into this year's Shamrock Shuffle 8k. Basically, I have cut down on my mileage and have been following the "run slower to get faster" philosophy for the first time in my life. I was definitely in better shape than I was going into last year's race, but the weather, especially the forecasted 30+ MPH winds out of the south were a wildcard that made me unsure of how things would go.

Pre Race
I woke up at around 5am put my running gear on and went for a two mile slow "shakeout run". Then I got my backpack together and walked to my neighbor Tad's house and we left for the race at about 6:40 and got to his $14 "Park Whiz" spot in about 20 minutes. The spot was only a couple of blocks from one of the entrance gates in Grant Park which was pretty sweet. Tad is a CARA member, so we walked over to the CARA hospitality room at the Hilton. Unfortunately, I was not allowed in the room (since I'm not a CARA member), so I sat in the warm lobby of the hotel in a comfy leather chair until 7:30 when I got up and walked over to the CRB group picture on Columbus Drive. I bumped into Lynton (who else?) and then found the blogger picture:

You may have seen this picture on about 10 other blogs (src)

Then it was over to bag check and a leisurely stroll to the "A" corral. Once in the corral, I bumped into Ken, Annabelle and John B. It got a bit chilly, but luckily I had on a disposable cotton hoodie which I threw towards the fence once the air horn sounded.

The Race:
Mile 1: From the start, I was right behind Annabelle (what else is new?!) and she took off ahead of me along with the masses. Usually, I have to force myself to hold back during the first mile, but for some reason my legs were not letting me run a fast pace, so I just went with whatever pace they were giving me. Although I felt like I was getting passed by quite a few runners, I knew that the Shamrock Shuffle is famous for people overdoing it in the first 3.1 miles - then flaming out. So, I wasn't worried that my pace was just a little slow. 6:40/Mile

Mile 2:  It was a little windy here and there, but since we were in the heart of the Loop, it wasn't too bad. I tried to stay tucked behind groups of runners wherever possible. I passed John and started to pick off runners here and there. 6:19/Mile

Mile 3: More of the same, windy, and tucking behind runners. 6:24/Mile

Mile 4: I stepped on the 5k timing mat at 19:59 exactly. So, I guess I definitely proved my sub-20 pacing cred. Anyone need a pacer?! I was still behind Annabelle, but I sensed that I had a lot of speed saved up in my legs. So for the first time in my racing career, I passed Annabelle (disclosure: she has been taking it easy in training, so I'm sure she will dust me next race). I then proceeded to haul up the Franklin Street hill and started really laying on the speed. 5:52/Mile.

Mile 4.97: Since this is the shortest race I've run since April of last year, it was exciting to know that after only four miles I was almost finished. I stopped tucking behind runners and just put my head down, ran into the wind and started picking off tons of runners along Michigan Ave. I easily crested the hill at Roosevelt Road. Then, as I made the turn onto Columbus Drive, perhaps the best race picture of me in quite awhile was taken while I was turning while airborne:
Turning onto Columbus Drive while airborne
I then started my descent towards the finish line and it was a mad dash down the final 200 yards:
"Shuffling" near the finish
I heard my name called by the race announcer and I was done! 5:52/Mile.

Finishing "strong" ha, ha.

Analysis: This was my 2nd fastest 8k ever and only 38 seconds off of my 8k PR. My last two miles were on a 5k PR pace. If it had been slightly warmer and slightly less windy, I may have been able to get sub-31, or maybe even flirted with my PR. The results of this race might give me the confidence to at least attempt a 5k PR at the Ravenswood Run in four weeks. I hope to be even speedier as I will have had a few more track workouts by then. It also helps boost my confidence in the "run slower to get faster" philosophy that I have been following.

Post Race: 
I walked down the finishers chute and met up John and we walked over to bag check.
Me and John Post Race
We got our stuff and made our way to the Buckingham Fountain post-race party. We scored some beer and met up with Annabelle:
Meeting up with Annabelle post race
After chatting a bit, Annabelle and John took off to go to the BRC after-party, so I walked to the other side of Buckingham Fountain and found Lynton, Eric and Mo. Then after awhile Eric and I took the Green Line over to Kaiser Tiger. There we met up with Xaarlin, Erin, Maggie, Jenny and the rest of the crew for brunch. I feasted on a bacon waffle and an Irish banger and washed it all down with a Bloody Mary (with bacon and a beer chaser). Yum!  Maggie kept us laughing through brunch with her witty humor. After brunch, Erin and Jason graciously gave me and Eric a ride to the Brown Line for the trip home. Thanks guys!

The Future:
I'm looking forward to my 5k and Half Marathon race in the next two months. If I just keep doing what I'm doing and not do too much, I should be in good shape for to shoot for at least one PR!

Friday, March 27, 2015

My Goal for the 2015 Shamrock Shuffle

Since I haven't raced since the F^3 Half two months ago, and since then I've cut back my weekly mileage, it's hard to figure out where my fitness is at the present and thus what pace I should run the Shamrock Shuffle in 36 hours. So in lieu of a pace calculator, I thought I'd simply look at things that will be in my favor and those that are not so much in my favor when I race on Sunday.

In my favor (= for a fast race):
  1. I have done about three track workouts this spring and have made gradual improvements in my speed
  2. I haven't really been killing myself on most workouts as I try to follow the 80/20 rule, I hope to be fresher than if I had done loads of worthless yet fast junk miles
  3. Despite the smaller weekly mileage, the last eight weeks compare more favorably than those leading up to the 2014 race:
2015: 45, 51, 43, 51, 51, 54, 51, 51 = 397 miles

2014: 07, 00, 05, 02, 16, 24, 34, 40 = 128 miles

Not in my favor (= for a not so fast race):
  1. I've had a head cold the last week and a half, which I have tried to ignore, and hopefully won't affect my race too much
  2. The wind is forecasted to be above 20 MPH and the temps could be in the 30s. I love the cold, but anything below 45 starts to impact speed. Throw in the wind and some extra layers of clothes and that could add quite a few seconds to my final total
  3. I haven't put in extra high mileage which could potentially help me hold a really fast pace for miles four and five
With the BRC post Shamrock Shuffle 2014
Those track workouts were all run while wearing full winter gear, so if I'm able to shed a couple of layers for the race, this should at least make me feel a couple of pounds lighter and this could give me an additional mental boost. The days leading up to most races, I usually am pretty confident with a few percentage points of what I am capable of. But since I can't figure this one out very well, and the forecast still not ideal, I may just try and best last year's time of 32:27. This race will be a mystery until we get underway. See you all Sunday! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

I Saw Vince Vaughn and Lady Gaga on my Run Yesterday

Yesterday, I was out for my 14 miler along the Chicago Lakefront. As I ran near North Avenue beach, I spotted a crowd of people and I realized that the annual Polar Plunge was taking place there. The Polar Plunge is when they cut the ice in Lake Michigan and about 3,000 people in all manners of dress and costume jump into the frigid waters to raise money for the Special Olympics. The temperature for the event was probably somewhere around 20 degrees which was a little warmer than it had been the previous week, but still very cold for a swim!.

I slowed my run to a walk as I got close to the crowd. As luck would have it, the event was about to begin and the MC was announcing that they had a "very special guest" to kick off the festivities. The special guest turned out to be Vince Vaughn. Vince took the stage in a Jonathan Toews jersey.
Vince Vaughn about to Address the Crowd
Vince Getting Ready to Go
Then Vince jumped into the frigid waters of Lake Michigan:
Vince After taking the "Plunge"
As Vince was making his way back, I started hearing people scream "Gaga, Gaga" and I first thought that someone had dressed up like Lady Gaga and was about to jump in the waters in costume. However, it turned out to actually be the real Lady Gaga in person. She climbed on the back of her fiance Taylor Kinney (from the tv show "Chicago Fire") and they headed for the lake:
Lady Gaga and Taylor Kinney about to "Plunge"
Gaga Leaving the Water with Icicles on her Hair.
Taylor Kinney after the Plunge. Gaga in brown hat to the right.
All three celebrities looked cold, but were casual about it as they walked back to the warming tent. They weren't carrying on or shivering even though they were probably pretty cold, which I thought was cool. If I ever do the plunge, I am going to act similarly! Anyway, I took off to finish my run and wanted to tell the people I ran by, who I had just seen on my run. As luck would have it, Lynton ran by and I was able to tell him and his running group!  It was quite an exciting long run. Only in Chicago!
Runners Along the Lakefront Trail Yesterday