Day 134 – My first race of this year

In an ideal world, you would be ready for your first race of the year after spending more than an hour everyday all winter running. But in a real world, many things can happen no matter how hard you try. The important thing is, you should do everything you can do. Then whatever the result is, you can enjoy and celebrate it. Success is relative. And this is my enduring and hard, but all-good-in-the-end successful race story 🙂

2012 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle 8K is the largest timed 8K in the world.
40,000 runners participate to celebrate the unofficial opening of the outdoor running season in the Chicago area. And this was my first race of this year and also the first race for me since the 2009 Chicago Marathon. I signed up for this race on my day 59. And for the last 70 something days I tried to get myself ready for this race. I didn’t follow a specific training program until I finished my 100 day project but I did build up running distance and did tempo runs. I could run 6-7 miles at 10 minutes a mile or less. So I aimed to finish between 45 – 50 minutes at the race. But two weeks ago I got a side pain and after that my pace plummeted to 14 minutes per mile. I didn’t have any specific pain in my legs but just couldn’t run at my usual pace. I got so frustrated and disappointed. Just one day before the race day, my slow running mystery started to go away. But I didn’t know what to expect on race day. I wondered if my legs don’t cooperate, will I be able to finish the race within the official time limit (75 minutes). I know myself. Once I started a race, unless both my legs are literally broken, I would somehow cross the finish line. Of course I can’t deny that I hoped to have a very good race while I was preparing myself for the worst case scenario.

The night before the race, I couldn’t fall asleep. Not because of the typical pre-race anxiety, but because I had a serious tummy problem. I slept only about 3 hours and didn’t have any energy what so ever in the morning. I wasn’t sure I could finish my race. I worried about the possible injuries the race day can bring especially when I’m not myself. Just before the race started, I gave my watch to my husband to prevent me from running harder than I should. But once I crossed the starting line, I was feeling okay. I mean for a while. My legs felt weak, but okay enough, and actually it was better than the last two weeks’ runs. But around Mile 1, I started to have a tummy problem again. I already passed the bathroom so I just tried to keep running until the next one. Since I went to the bathroom so many times last night and I did go to the bathroom in the morning, I thought I don’t have anything left in my tummy but I was wrong. It was so hard to run when you have a tummy problem. You can’t run fast. It was a shame because at last my legs wanted to run at my usual pace or faster, my tummy didn’t cooperate. The next bathroom was after Mile 3. It was a very difficult and painful 2+ miles. At last I saw the porta-potty. I wasted some time for waiting and using a bathroom but I was so grateful. I never used a bathroom during a race before and hopefully I will not have the same problem in the future.

After the bathroom break, I ran the way I wanted to. The last 1 and a half mile was the best part of the race. I enjoyed that a lot. That was the one good run I wanted to have in last two weeks! That was the stress busting, pick-me-up run. I finished strong. Even though my total time(57 minutes) was far from good – 10 minutes more than my original goal time – but I call this a “good run”. I enjoyed a banana, 2 tiny pieces of Home Run Inn Pizza, and a cup of cold beer. I had a good time. I can set my PR next year 🙂

This year’s Chicago Shamrock Shuffle had a wave start. Start time for the fast runners – Elite Corral, Corrals A,B,C,and D – was 8:30 am and the rest of the runners’ start time was 9:15 am. Even before I started my race, some fast runners finished their race and came back to the start line to cheer on their slower friends. It felt a little bit weird though. Thanks to the wave start the course wasn’t that crowded and even at the post race party the beer tent line was fast!

There are so many participants wearing the race t-shirts. Maybe this years’ t-shirts had some magic power or something? There were fewer people who dressed goofy this year, too. Maybe all funny, goofy runners were in Wave 1.

The weather was perfect. The best race day ever. Not too cold, not too hot, mild breeze and a very sunny beautiful day. Compared to the last time I ran the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle in 2009, it was like day and night 🙂

Perfect weather. 2012 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle

2009 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle - running in the gusty wind and snow

I got the Shamrock Shuffle scarves at the race expo and my corgis wore them.They look so cute 🙂

Cappy : "Mommy, what is the Shamrock Shuffle???"

Jeter and Cappy

Jeter : "Have some fun at the race, mommy!"

Thank you for reading this long story. Happy running!!

Day 132 – Better day / Race Expo

It was raining hard this morning when I was heading to the gym after I drove my husband to the train station. It looked more like a summer storm than a spring rain. Even rain skipped spring this year.

The gym was a little bit crowded. I went to the treadmill I usually use to block the sight of some unpleasant members. I ran 3.5 miles. It was a slow run but it felt different. It felt better. It felt like I finally saw a little light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t decide what to do for the 8K race on Sunday yet but maybe I will be able to run it without putting my legs at risk. I’ll still be very careful though.

When I came back home, my corgis were so lovey-dovey. They are such sweet pups but today they were sweeter than usual. Maybe they sensed my not so cranky mood 🙂 I played with them and groomed them with a FURminator. Just 2 days ago I FURminated them but boy, I was buried in their fur again. Maybe they are two sheep not corgis! They really enjoyed the spa time and looked thinner after that 🙂 If I could shed my time at the race like them, I would be an Olympic medalist! Once I heard about the service that makes yarns using your dog’s hair. I’m sure I would have a lot of yarn if I use that service.

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In the afternoon, I met my husband at his work and went to Navy Pier with him to pick up my race packet for the 2012 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle 8K. On Friday afternoon, it wasn’t that crowded. I got my bib and t-shirt. We walked around and bought some GU gels and chomps. I tried several headbands but still couldn’t find any good one which doesn’t slip. This year, race day weather will be good. Not like 2009. You can see some pictures of that one in my previous post by clicking this link. Day 58

There was a fog warning issued in Chicago area. Rain is on and off. But somehow I had a better day.

Day 58

I ran 5.18 miles today. I felt good but when I came back home, I suddenly felt tired. My plan for today was putting Christmas ornaments back into the box but I didn’t do anything. I just did a laundry and tried to take some rest but Cappy bugged me all day. She wanted to play fetch endlessly so when I stopped it and lay down on the sofa, she threw a toy to my face. She woofed at nothing and everything. She did the zoomies several times. She kept going like an energizer bunny. She just didn’t let me rest. It’s time to take her and Jeter to the Doggy Dojo. I made an appointment.

I’m going to register for the 2012 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle 8K. It is the largest 8K road race in the world and I ran it once in 2009 in the snow and slush. It was the craziest race I ever ran. Even before I passed the starting line, I couldn’t feel my feet and I ran 8K with numb and frozen feet. Everybody ran in the blowing snow and the whole course was covered with deep snow turned into slush. Lots of runners didn’t show up. Maybe they were normal and the runners who came out in that weather for the race were crazy. But, I can say I never had that much crazy fun in my adulthood 🙂

2009 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle - waiting for the start with wet shoes in the slush

2009 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle - Let's start!

2009 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle - running in the gusty wind

It is considered as the opening act of the outdoor running/racing season in the Chicago area. Thanks to the fickle weather in Chicago, race organizer pushed the race date to April last year. But this year it will be on March 25th. My 100 day project will end in February. So registering for the Shamrock Shuffle will give me my post project motivation. I just need to find something green to wear 🙂