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!

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