Today I took down an eleven year old 8K PR - I ripped it to shreds this morning at the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle! My original pie in the sky goal was to flirt with my 8K PR (which was 39:47, run at the 2001 Shamrock Shuffle - I was 22), but I bested that and then some.
|post shamrock 2001 with Team Stick|
Background: For the past couple weeks, I've been distracted with this marathon training business. It's really a whole new ballgame since becoming a mom. You cannot exactly immerse yourself in anything, except the baby. But I've had a good quarter of my mind on running lately, and maybe two percent of that on the Shamrock Shuffle. I'm not a huge fan of short races; they, in short, suck. But they are also good fun and involve minimal training/recovery. And there was no way I was passing up the Shamrock. It was on my to-do list ever since moving to Chicago in the fall. And I was pretty excited. As race day drew near, I decided I would attempt to actually race it; something I rarely do in races these days. My strategy was to run comfortably hard, try not to go out too fast, and burn the last "mile." I was hoping to hold eights, but that didn't seem too realistic, seeing as how I never run consecutive eight minute miles. But I had visions of my finish time somewhere in the low 40's.
Race Week: My training this week tried to accommodate today's 8K. After Monday's easy three, I did 8.5 miles on Tuesday (around nine minute pace) with my Dad on his bike. My long run was actually on Thursday; a 12 miler on a beautiful day (1hr52; 9:21 avg). I was elated that the fountains were on and bursting with COLD water! I took this pic around Fullerton when I stopped to get a drink - spring is awesome!
I enjoyed rest days on Friday and Saturday, and honestly, it was kind of nice to focus my attention on other things. But there was an expo to attend, and that sort of put my focus right back onto running! I attended the expo with Baby, who enjoyed it as much as her mama ;)
Race Weekend: C, from Team Stick, was also signed up for the Shuffle. Since we wanted to spend a night out on the town, she came down on Friday. We dined out at Green Zebra (a fantastic vegetarian restaurant in West Town), and downed a few glasses of wine. As usual, it was great to catch up with C! Love her!! Saturday was a blur of activity, but it ended with a big bowl of my mom's homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs over whole wheat pasta. Delicious!
Race morning: It's a bit different with a baby in the house, but race morning primarily consisted of typical race prep activity: coffee, water, toast and PB, sunscreen, going over race plans, feeding Baby, and giving her lots of hugs before I darted off to the start line.
First Problem: While jogging over to the start area, I went to turn on my garmin and nothing happened. Gaaaahhh! It was a crisis, obviously. How was I supposed to "race" without knowing my pace?!? Luckily, this has happened once before and I knew the solution involved simultaneously pushing some of the buttons, but I didn't know which ones. A quick call to my husband begging him to google "dead garmins" stat did the trick and I was relieved to watch it find a signal within minutes. Thank you, M!
Start Line: The Shuffle had an intricate corral system which included waves and numbers and sorted runners accordingly. I was in wave one, corral B, along with C and some of our friends. I was happy to see that the corral entrances were actually being patrolled, and I was "carded" three times on my way in to corral B. Thumbs up, Chicago! (Otherwise, what is the point of the corral system??)
|entrance to seeded corrals, policed by folks in yellow vests|
|more yellow vests checking IDs|
It was quite roomy in corral B, and I could easily see the start line. But it did fill up as go-time drew near.
|with friends at the start|
|C and I|
Oh yeah, I decided to wear green and white striped arm warmers. It was not only a fashion statement (read: st pattys day flair), but also served another very meaningful purpose which I will get to in a moment. Also, please notice the silver bic band holding back the wispies.. But I digress. Soon we were off and running!
Mile One: My tactic was to try a tempo pace; comfortably hard, but maintainable. When the horn blew, I watched C and our friends take off, and I just tried to find my groove. As we passed under Randolph street, I spotted my family (the p's, my husband, and baby in the bjorn), but they didn't see me. This mile was flat and fast and I hit it at 7:59. My first thought was to slow down. But I was comfortable, so I kept cruising.
Mile Two: We came barreling down State Street, which was really awesome! I loved knowing my whereabouts, and I just thought the image of all these runners in the heart of downtown Chicago was amazing. I quickly took this pic, which is a bit wavy, but I was running!
Mile Three: Chicago has a river. If you recall, it was dyed green last weekend for St Pat's day. Today's race course crossed over the river a few times. Crossing over a river involves a bridge, and the particular bridge that matters here is the metal grated one on Jackson Boulevard. Here's a sample pic of these metal grates I'm referring to as seen from beneath.
Anyway, I'm not entirely sure what happened, but I must have caught my toe in a grate and down I went. Hard. Seriously, I fell with the velocity of a clumsy stampeding animal into the side of an unforeseen barn. I'm no stranger to falls, but this was the first time I've fallen during an actual race. And, sadly, it was a race I was doing well in. But I didn't dwell on that fact, and instead, found myself taking the usual inventory as several other runners stopped to help me up (hooray for good Samaritans!!). At least three of them asked me if I was ok, and another one told me to take it easy for a bit. I was wheezing and jogging it out - falling is rather traumatic. But soon I was revving it back up to my previous pace. Mile three clocked in at 7:49. Not bad, considering I spent some of that time on the ground.
Mile Four: I quickly shook it off and was running strong again. I knew there'd be cuts and bruises (the latter are still popping up as I type), but I was mostly concerned about my screaming quad. The last time I fell, a similar thing happened to my quad. Time will tell what happens this time, but I'll get on with the race report. I kept glancing at my watch, noticing my pace was increasing in speed. With less than two miles to go, I had to give it all I had. Mile four was 7:38.
The last 0.97: An 8K is practically five miles, but it's not. So I knew this last part would be fast. Again, I glimpsed my watch and saw a current pace in the 7:20's. And I had more in the tank. It was hard to understand what was going on. I am *not* the type of runner who regularly cranks out this many miles in the sevens. But it was happening today. Turning the final corner (after a slight "hill" on roosevelt road) was just magical. There was the finish, and I was on my way to a PR. I was basically wiping the floor with my 22 year old self..and I had a baby to boot. I don't mean my 22 year old self any disrespect, but I really thought my PRing days were behind me. Not so much ;)
Final time: 38:35 (7:46) omg
Post race: It was somewhat surreal. I was elated about my PR (and shocked!) but I was also distracted by my nagging quad. I was able to meet up with C and our friends in the finish chute with ease, and I eagerly reported my results. They had all done well (despite clubbing til all hours the night before!) and we headed off in search of my fam. Once we found everybody, we shared stories and hugs and took lots of pictures.
|with my fave girl!|
|so you ran SEVEN minute miles, mommy?!|
|with the girls post race|
|speaks for itself|
It was at this point that C pointed out I was bleeding through my left arm warmer. After some inspection, I realized that I had scraped up my elbow good. If not for the arm warmer, I'm sure I would've shredded myself to pieces on those metal grates. Thank god for my desire to be so festive this time. I also noticed that my silver bic band was gone :( It must've been quite the fall to shake a bic band loose - those things stay put pretty well. I wanted to get home quickly and initiate RICE for my ailing quad (not to mention someone needed a nap), so we didn't stick around too long. But we did make plans to meet up later for lunch.
|ironing out the quad with the stick|
And that's a wrap! What a day. Once again, a huge thank you to my ever supportive awesome family! It was great to have them out there today! I'm going to get going on my recovery plan and hope for the best.