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.
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|
|"Shuffling" near the finish|
|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.
I walked down the finishers chute and met up John and we walked over to bag check.
We got our stuff and made our way to the Buckingham Fountain post-race party. We scored some beer and met up with Annabelle:
|Me and John Post Race|
|Meeting up with Annabelle post race|
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!