Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Shamrock Shuffle 2014

If you're a runner in Chicago, you know of and have probably run the Shamrock Shuffle. 

It's the race that unofficially represents the "start" to racing season in Chicago. 

The Shamrock Shuffle is an 8K race that leads about 30,000 runners through the streets of downtown Chicago. For years, the first few miles of this race mirrored the Chicago Marathon (which is fitting, since the same organizers who put on the marathon also handle the shuffle). It's a large and very well run race. 

In 2005, I ran it for the first time with my friend Margo and Uncle Mark. Some things have remained the same in nine years, like the expo being held at Navy Pier (mighty convenient for some) and start line set up. 

Other things have changed, and I can say, definitely for the better. 

Some time ago, the race announced a wave start which introduced qualifying corrals. This helped the faster, more experienced runners be grouped together and removed from the slower, more casual runners. Overall, I think it created a better race experience for all. 

This year, the race announced a new course. The course no longer took a western jaunt out down Jackson. Instead, miles 3 and 4 of the race visited the financial district and River North before heading down Michigan Avenue into the South Loop. 

Margo and I started together in Corral F on Sunday. We couldn't have asked for better weather. 

I've waited in the start corral at the Shamrock Shuffle and experienced many emotions over the seven times I've run it. The first year, it was pure nerves. It was my first 8k race. Other years, when I maintained a strong winter training program, the Shuffle seemed like a piece of cake. 

On Sunday, it was a question mark. How would it go? I haven't been running much this winter season. Not like other years anyway. What type of performance would I be happy with? Keeping my Shamrock Shuffle PR in mind, I hoped I could get somewhere in that range. 

Parts of the race I felt great, while others I questioned how it is that I think I'll run a marathon again this year (especially when 5 miles seems, well, not easy as it should). In the end, I was happy to be out running on that beautiful spring day. It made me hopeful for summer in Chicago.

Guess it's time to get back on the roads. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. 

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