Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shamrock Shuffle 2012

Sunday comes and it's Shuffle time.

Traffic's a bear, though it's what you'd expect 30,000 plus people converging on a few city blocks.

Margo, Chris and I start in corral G. I'd been assigned D based on my Fort2Base race time last summer. The Shuffle allows runners to go down in the alphabet, but not up. I let my friends know I'm attempting to break my previous time. We agree that if we are to get separated, we'll all meet at the end. My strategy is to go out hard and get past the leisurely shufflers. Hopefully I can find a pocket that moves closer to my pace.

The first mile is constant bobbing and weaving. I was prepared for that, but thought I'd been more efficient than a 9:45 mile. I decide I need to step it up to break my time. At the 5K, I'm averaging at 9:24.

Ever since the Fort2Base run, something's changed in the way I mentally approach a race. I used to concern myself with pace. In turn, I think I shortchanged my abilities and overall fitness. A race should be a challenge. So now, instead of letting the voice in my head say 'You better slow down,' I'm encouraging myself to think 'You can keep this pace. You can keep going to the finish.' It seems to work, though maybe it's the drink three ____ strategy that's trimming down my times.

The race route turns onto Michigan Avenue as we run south to Roosevelt. I try hard not to look at each numbered street sign reminding of the inevitable. That damn bridge. But as I work my way south, I remind myself this isn't the marathon. In fact, I'm only on mile 4. Time to show the Roosevelt street bridge once again it can be conquered.

As I reach the crest of the bridge, I set my sights on the finish line on Columbus. I measure the distance to determine when I should start sprinting. I decide now is as good a time as ever.

I hit the finish line at 46:22. A two minute improvement.

This calls for a Revolution Brewing Hombre Burger and a beer!

Winning* the Shamrock Shuffle

Last week I mentioned to my boss I'd be visiting the Shamrock Shuffle Expo Friday around lunch. I told him I was running it for the first time in 5 years.

He was busy responding to an email on his iphone, so I dropped the subject. A few minutes later, he followed by asking, "Are you going to place?" As in, am I going to get in the top three. For a moment, I'm shocked and somewhat honored. There's no way I'll ever be a contender, but he isn't aware of that.

I told him my goal was to beat my former best Shuffle time of 48:22 (around 9:45/pace). Which is still about four and a half minutes too slow (per mile) to win the Shamrock Shuffle. I read off last year's times, which leads in to a conversation about who holds the world record in the mile.

More googling, followed by what I can only assume is boredom on his end.

Overall, he's a good sport about all the aspects of training - lunchtime runs, showing up to work like I just rolled out of the shower (since it was more important to run before work than look presentable), eating like a horse, icing aliments on top of my desk, and talking about any and all things running.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Marathon First Timer

Back in February, registration opened for the Chicago Marathon. A few days later, it closed. The fastest sell out in the event's 36 year history.

On opening day, a co-worker came by my office asking if I had signed up. I said I hadn't yet, but I planned to. I could sense he was interested, so I asked if he was going to sign up. He said he was thinking about it.

As I heard the race was filling up at a record pace the next day, I asked him if he was going to sign up. He said he might over the weekend. I let him know that I had signed up.

Though he was still sorting it out in his head, I started getting really excited for him. He was thinking about training for his first marathon. This is awesome! Very quickly, I got to the point where I couldn't contain my excitement and started emailing him. My first email was something like:

"I heard 13,000 people registered the first day. That's a record. It may sell out in the next few days. You should sign up"

This started an email chain, which resulted in him coming in my office the next day and throwing a piece of paper on my desk. It was his registration confirmation.  Later, I walked down in to his office and saw a look of distress. He asked me "What have I done?"

I told him he was going to be accomplishing an amazing feat and a life experience before the end of the year. I talked him in to something good - not like going on a spur of the moment trip to Vegas.

He said that he may rather go to Vegas.

Friday, March 16, 2012


A number of months ago, possibly during a post-marathon haze, Brian mentioned a great race.

The Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon.

13.1 miles through wine country. Who wouldn't want to do that?

He sent an email out to a group of our running friends regarding registration. No one acted on it.

The race sold out in a day.

In early February, I started thinking of racing season. I had lined up a few Chicago races in the spring, Ragnar in the early summer, followed by the marathon in the fall.

But I didn't have a Nashville, or an Indy, or a duathlon to speak of.

And I started thinking about Napa. And Sonoma. And running. So I went to the race's website. To my surprise, the race allows registration transfers. Which got me thinking, maybe I could get into this race afterall.

I went on the race's facebook fan page and pleaded my case - If anyone had signed up and couldn't run, well, I was their girl.

Within two weeks, I had a message from Rudi.

Rudi had signed up for the race but wasn't going to be able to make it out to California in July. She was currently training for the Publix Marathon and taking care of her grandson.

We exchanged a few emails and discovered we had a central Illinois connection.

We transfered information and I sent her a check.

Today she emailed me to say she had received my letter. She was surprised to see I was from Chicago. She mentioned her daughter lives in Evanston. We exchanged a few emails about the area, to which she followed the last one with, "I'll be in town in a few weeks, want to meet for a run?"

Why, yes, I would.

I love runners.

Where Are the Barefoot Runners?

Yesterday I read another article on barefoot running.

It got me thinking. Then wondering.

Have I ever run across a barefoot runner?

No, I haven't.

I like the idea of barefoot running. The theory that a human 'has everything they already need to run' seems right on. I recently heard that children posses better running form than adults because they run naturally as opposed to adults who fall into habits (be good or bad) over time.

I have run in to a few people wearing Vibram Five Fingers or other minimalist shoes. But I always wonder how far they're running or how often they run.

I've thought about barefoot or minimalist shoe running. I'm just not sure how I'd incorporate it in to training. I think I'd have to ditch my Saucony's for, well, nothing. Or close to nothing.

If Nike and other big athletic retailers have, (to quote the idea in the book Born To Run) 'created the need for running shoes', I'm ok with giving money to the man and buying in to the idea.

I recently compared barefoot running to sleeping on the floor. Sure, it's available, but why would you when there's a posturepedic mattress right next to it?