Monday, March 31, 2014

Shamrock Shuffle 2014

Since I have been nursing an ankle injury for the better part of the last few months, I was only able to squeeze in four weeks of low-miles training for the Shamrock Shuffle. I got in a 40 mile week two weeks before the race which helped my endurance, but it also help set off some ankle pain  (too much, too soon?), so I took most of last week off from running to try and get healed up for the race. In any case, I still wanted to "race" the Shuffle and try and score some points for my team the Bootleg Runners Coalition. However with so many speedy teammates, I expected that my time would merely serve as a "backup" in case someone could not make it.

Pre Race
My neighbor Tad and I left for the race at about 7:20 and parked at our $14 spot just a quarter mile from the start line. Unfortunately, due to security concerns, they were only allowing runners entrance to Grant Park through a couple of access points. This took us about a mile of run/walking to get to. So, after checking my bag, I only had a few minutes for a real warm-up jog, before I made my way to the A corral to scout out other Bootleggers.

Once in the corral, I spotted fellow Bootleggers Lynton, Annabelle and Ken. After a brief chat and the national anthem - we were off.

The Race:
Mile 1: I was right behind Annabelle and half contemplated trying to run with her, but I thought the better of it as she is in Boston shape and I felt it better to run my own pace. This was a complete flashback to the 2013 Chicago Marathon, where I also ran behind Annabelle for a mile or so, later in the race. 6:35/Mile

Mile 2: I started feeling really good and started to push the pace a little too much. 6:20/Mile

Mile 3: I knew I was running too fast, so actually using my brain, I slowed down so I would have some energy for the homestretch. Flashbacks to the Hot Chocolate 20136:36/Mile

Mile 4: Started to get winded but I knew I had enough energy to put this one away. 6:20/Mile.

Mile 4.97: One thing I have been doing regularly in training is using the stair climber, so hitting Mt. Roosevelt was slightly less painful than anticipated. However, when I got to the top, a guy running directly in front of me STOPPED! I put my arm out in front of me to deflect off of him and try and avoid a fall. I think he was winded by the climb, but decided to choose the exact spot where I was accelerating to recover. I had to swing to the outside to get clear of him costing me a couple of precious seconds.

Climbing Mt. Roosevelt

About to make the turn...
Way on the outside after almost falling

Anyway, with only daylight ahead of me, I sprinted down the hill towards the finish line where I heard Annabelle's name being called as a finisher. I also heard my name called as a member of the Bootleggers! Very cool. 6:19/Mile.

My Official Results
Analysis: It turns out this was my 2nd fastest 8k ever. I think I did quite well, considering my short training cycle. I also ran a somewhat sweet negative split. My next race is the Indy Mini (Half Marathon). I'm hoping that if I can run 6:30/mile for 5 miles, I should be able to run 7:00/mile for 13.1. In order to do this, I need to concentrate on endurance runs and very little on speed. Hopefully, this type of training should help my ankle stay relatively healthy. Also the BRC got 2nd place and my time counted toward the total score! Although, I was the #4 runner, it feels good to contribute.

BRC will be back for 1st place next year!
Post Race: 
I walked down the finishers chute and met up with Todd, Ken and Annabelle.
Finishers' chute with the BRC
We walked over to the packet pickup, got our stuff and made our way to the Buckingham Fountain post-race party. We bumped into Mo (who had run a marathon the day before! Wow!). The group got setup by the fountain with Mo providing a mylar blanket to sit on. Then we had some libations with Eric and Jennifer. My neighbor Tad showed up and had a beer or two before he needed to split. Then Maggie, Anne and her friend showed up and of course it was time for photos:
Eric, Jennifer and Mo (who ran a marathon the day before!)
Lynton, Anne and her friend
Maggie, Lynton and the Green Guys
The gang (BRC and WRCE)
Then it was off to O'Donovans with some of the group for a gut-buster post-race buffet.

The Future:
I'm looking forward to some more CARA races with the BRC and am cautiously optimistic I can keep injury-free if I don't push myself too hard (fingers crossed).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Running Status and the Shamrock Shuffle 2014

So, I have been running. Nothing impressive with the mileage, but running nonetheless. I live in fear that the ankle will act up at any time, which isn't too fun, but I am trying to ignore the possibility of injury and enjoy this running stint while I can.

I have even signed up for the Shamrock Shuffle this weekend! I'm running for the BRC. Scoring for the Shuffle is just like the team scoring for the Chicago Marathon, but our team is stacked with three sub-3 hour marathon runners (including Ken), plus Declan and Lynton who are just a minute or two away from that club. Anyway, only the top four runners' times are counted so my time won't count for anything unless (heaven forbid) two or more runners on the team can't make it. Temps are supposed to soar into the 60s on Sunday so look for a lot of drunk people in Grant Park post-race.

Anyway, long runs are anything over five miles for me right now, and today, I went out for a six miler and ended up running over seven.  Took some pics of the ice and snow (what's left of it)! It was a beautiful morning. The more I read about how people hate this winter, the more I love it and want it to stay for a few more weeks. It's beautiful if you just stop take it all in (twss).

Sunrise (kinda)
A path with untouched snow
Loving winter running
Geese sleeping near the edge
I am overly-excited for my first race since early January and am cautiously optimistic that I will be able to actually "race" it even though I will be nowhere near a PR. It's good to be back.