Race Recap: Shamrock Shuffle 8K

1 Shamrock 2014

It is the largest 8K with 40,000 runners. The race is also the official start of the Spring racing season in Chicago. This year was my 3rd year participating in the race.

Earlier in the week, I started to feel a little under the weather. It wasn’t quite a cold but it felt like a cold was imminent. As such, I opted to take some extra rest days for the week.

Saturday, Eric and I headed over to the Expo to get our race bibs and to get out team bibs for the Wurst Running Club Ever (WRCE). It was quite a chilly day and of course, it those days that I loathe going to Navy Pier because it always feels colder… and there are way too many tourists. We spent about an hour there, chatting with people and walking around before calling it a day.

I didn’t sleep well on Saturday night but I still felt pretty energetic when my alarm went off for the race. I got ready and then met Eric on the bus. It was quite chilly in the morning. It wasn’t too bad in the sun but pretty cold in the shade. I knew once the race started, I would warm up but I also knew that it would be chilly in the start corral.

2 Shamrock 2014

I hung with Eric until he entered his corral and then I went toward the gear check to see if I could find any friends. I did run into Rhoda and it was good catching up with her. Finally, I knew I should head to my corral. I took off my jacket, checked my bag and headed to my corral.

It was about 15/20 minutes before my corral closed and nearly 30 minutes before wave 2 started. It was far more crowded than I remember it being trying to get to the corral. When I got closer, it appeared that the corral was completely full and there were a ton of people still trying to get into the corral. As the minutes ticked by, there was no moving.

Turns out that Wave 2 and Wave 3 where sharing corrals. Which is just a horrible idea. People from wave 3 were trying to get in and were being stopped but that also prevented the people from wave 2 getting in. Turns out there were quite a few people that from Wave 3 that got in and started running with Wave 2. The start corrals for waves 2 and 3 were a bit of a cluster to say the least…

It is the first time I have ever seen that before and I was rather surprised this race decided to do something like that. It was a horrible idea and didn’t even come close to being executed well.

Eventually, I did, eventually, get into my corral and without much fuss I was running.

6 Shamrock 2014

It really was a great day for a run. The sun was shining and there was almost no wind. The course was a tad different this year. We didn’t go as far west and we ran down LaSalle instead. But I liked the course changes because it meant going over the river fewer times and thus we avoided a lot of the bridges.

I was feeling pretty good but definitely wished I had been drinking more water before the race. Near the 4 mile mark, I knew Anne would be there so I looked for her and ran over to her to give her a hug and chatted for a few seconds. Then I moved on. I felt like I was starting to fade a bit but I fought through refusing to walk… except the short hill on Franklin. I also knew that I was probably going to walk Mt. Roosevelt. I just didn’t have enough left to charge up the hill. I wanted a decent kick to end the race and knew if I ran the hill I would be done so I walked it… just like the past two years.

Once I got to the top, I was off again but I didn’t have enough left for the kick that I wanted so I just kept a steady pace instead.

After crossing the finish line, I got my bag from gear check and then found the WRCE crew. We hung out for a while chatting before Eric, Vijay and I decided to go grab brunch in LP at the Edge.

8 Shamrock 2014

As we were heading there, Chris text me so I told him where we were headed and asked him to join us. I was pretty excited about having the Oreo pancakes. Since I gave up dessert and candy for lent, I haven’t had many indulgences. Pancakes, after all, are not dessert. I have to admit, I am pretty good at breakfast loopholes. AS good as they were, they were also rich, so I ate maybe about a third of them before I gave up.

We sat around and chatted for a bit after we were done eating. We then parted ways.

It really was a great day and I love that I got to spend time with so many great people today.

My official time
Shamrock Results 2014

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I am a Runner
To all the Runners out there!

Support
We need to support our fellow runners, not shame them. The women on the Right was recently made fun of by Self Magazine for wearing a tutu while running the LA Marathon. This women is wearing a tutu to motivate herself while fighting cancer. Further, she makes the tutu’s and sells them and then donates the proceeds. Support her and all runners. If you would like to read about the story you can go here

Spring Forward
This has been floating around all week… and it couldn’t be more true!

Shamrock 2014
My weekend will be all about the shuffle. Spring Racing Season officially begins on Sunday!

Giveaway!

I am really excited! I have a great giveaway for everyone today! The Michelob Ultra 13.1 in Chicago has graciously given me a free entry to my readers!

This is a great race. It is frequently mentioned as a favorite amongst half-marathon runners. I have not run the half-marathon part of this race. But I have done the 5K twice.

This 5K will always hold a special place in my heart. Not only was it my first 5K race ever but it was a race that I ran so well, I finished minutes faster than I had expected.

I made a reappearance at this race two years later when my best friend, Eric, choose this to be his first ever half marathon. I took part in the 5K again along with another friend, Chris. Chris and I both enjoyed the 5K course and waiting around after the race for Eric to finish his half marathon. Eric also enjoyed the race and ran it again the following year.

Sadly, last year, I came down with a horrendous cold a few days before race day. I ended up on the couch sleeping for 5 days instead of taking part in the 5K and then cheering on all my friends running the half. I was really bummed.

This really is a great race, the course is flat and fast and along the Lakefront. It starts and ends at the South Shore Cultural center which is a really awesome location.

The race will be held on Saturday, June 7th this year. I am really bummed that I won’t be able to make it again this year due to a work conflict, otherwise this race would be on my calendar. And don’t worry, if you are not ready to run a half-marathon then you can run the 5K instead. I can honestly say that the 5K course is great!

What do you need to do to enter?

Leave me a comment telling me which race (The half or the 5K) you want to do and why. You must enter before midnight on Monday, April 7th.

I will randomly select a winner and announce the lucky recipient on Tuesday, April 8th.

Throwback Wednesday – Turkey Day 5K 2012

It’s odd that a race that is mere blocks from my home… and has been for several years, is also one that never made it on my race schedule. That’s not to say I never wanted to do the race before… the timing just never worked out.

I was excited to do this race for the first time. And I got insanely lucky with the weather too. It was a beautiful sunny day and it had been warm most of the week. It was a great day for a race.

I headed over the race with mom and dad. I lined up while they waited near the finish line for me. I didn’t really have any time goals in mind but I really wanted to run the race without walking (except for water stations like always). It had been a really bad year of racing for me. I was bummed that times had slowed so drastically and that running a 5K actually felt like a lot for me. It was a far cry from the previous two years of running.

I was a tad overdressed for the race, but not too much. I also chose to wear my Vibrams for the first time in a race. I was curious to see how that would go.

The race was an interesting course and of all the ones I have run in my neighborhood, this is the only one that had a different course… we got to run on Lakeshore Drive. So I was excited about that. Sure, we still did some running through the park but a good portion of the race was on LSD.

As I made my way through the race, I enjoyed it. It really was a beautiful day out and I kept a steady pace going. Running on LSD was a very cool experience… even if there was only bright orange cones separating us from traffic…. Which was a bit unnerving. So I tried to stay as far right as possible.

I actually felt pretty decent for most of the race. Towards the end there was a bit of fatigue but overall, I felt good. And more importantly, I hit my goal of running the whole thing. Definitely a rare event for the year. So I was really pleased with the race.

Timing does not always work out well for this race but it is one I would definitely do again.

My official time 34:55 for a 11:16 Pace

Have you submitted your question for Question & Answer Wednesday?

Long Run Success

Yesterday I headed out for my longer run of the week.

The previous week had been a decent run but I had noticed the fatigue earlier in the run and had to struggle a bit to finish. That and the wind and being under-dressed made for a not entirely enjoyable experience.

I always find it odd when the longer distance run goes better than the shorter distance. My 6 mile run yesterday felt far better then the 5.50 miles the previous week.

But I guess that is running for you…

Despite the fact that overall I have been avoiding the Lakefront Trail lately because it REALLY is cooler by the lakefront, I opted to use that as part of my course for this run. I didn’t want to run back and forth in the parking lot again. And I also didn’t want to loop my hillier park. I briefly considered using the full park, but since I am not sure if the full gravel area is muddy or not, I didn’t want to chance it and have to re-direct at the last minute.

So to the LFT I went. Heading east towards the lake was chilly… very chilly. But once I turned north, I felt a lot warmer. I decided to go only as far as Addison… which is about 2.25 miles. I was feeling good the entire way up to Addison. I felt strong and energetic. I was comfortable… well… as comfortable as you can be while running. Once I reached my turn around point, I stopped for some water and then headed back south…

What a different story. Running south was COLD. The wind was blowing right at me and I had to put the hood back up to keep warm… and even then I could still feel the biting wind. I had never completely decided if I would continue south past Fullerton and then turn back North to finish the run. But after over two miles in that wind, I had to get off the LFT.

So where did I end up… yep… the parking lot…

Luckily I only had to run up it once because after that I just ran the rest back home. And running south was still COLD. It was a tad warmer about a block off the lake but still REALLY cold.

I was surprised that I was still feeling pretty strong. I was fading a bit and felt a bit fatigued but overall I felt good. And running North was heaven compared to running south.

I was very happy with the run. Mostly, I was happy that I felt strong for most of it. The past two runs were much more of a struggle to get through…. like considered bailing numerous times struggle.

Perhaps my winter of base building got me here. I certainly struggled through longer runs a lot more last year. And sure, there will probably still be some struggles this year but so far it doesn’t seem to be as bad.

My only issue now is water… The water fountains are not turned on yet… and at the rate we are going, are not likely to be turned on for a couple months still. I am pretty sure I will need more than 10 ounces when I do 6.50 miles next week and for the weeks after as well. Especially if it is warmer (and goodness, I hope it will be). So it looks like I might have to start using my fuel belt… which is not my favorite option. Or figure out a way to loop back to the CARA Water Fountain in the park… preferably without mud…

 

 

Weekly Training Report: March 17th – 23rd

Mar 17 - 23

Monday – 5.53 Miles

I headed out for this run after checking the weather probably three times from the time I got home and the time I left for the run… I was inside my place maybe 20 minutes at most. I had also mapped out a course earlier in the day. Thank goodness for Map My Run. I got outside and it felt colder than the weather said it would be but I thought maybe I just needed to warm up. I headed to the Lakefront trail. The plan was to go north about a mile and then head south for 3 and then head back home… this would allow me to have the wind at my back for the last 2ish miles. I was going well until I headed back south and came to Fullerton…. and saw that there was a massive pile of ice that had wash ashore. I didn’t want to go on the upper bank where there was a higher chance for mud so I re-routed and went to the parking lot behind the zoo… I swear this is becoming my long spot even when I try to run somewhere else. About 3 miles in, I started having some slight GI Issues. I will spare you the details but it was a first for me. With my over 4 years of running, I have never had GI issues while running. I am fairly certain too much fiber during the day is the culprit so hopefully that was a one off. It was a decent run and I was happy with the pace. But Holy Moly I was drastically under-dressed. The wind was far stronger than the weather suggested which led to me being really cold for pretty much the entire run.

Tuesday – 2.68 Miles

I intended to run 3 miles but it was my 6th day running in a row plus I did my two longer runs on the same cycle… I forgot how tiring that it for the body… been a LONG time since I have done that. So I cut the run a little short and decided that Wednesday would be a rest day. The one good thing about this run was that I did it through the slightly hillier Lincoln Park. They are not huge hills but there are tons of smaller ones and a couple of larger ones. I know that running the hillier course tends to make me a stronger runner overall. And luckily all the snow finally melted from the area.

Wednesday – Rest

Much needed rest day and it was also a really icky weather day… so I ended up planning this really well

Thursday – 3.02 Miles

I felt much better after my rest day. I headed out for my “hilly” course but on the way there ran into my best friend. So chatted a bit and once I was completely freezing… because I was dressed to run, we parted ways. It was a really awesome and I felt great.

Friday – 3.06 Miles

Back out for the hilly course. I dressed based on how it felt outside once I got off the bus and to my place. But it warmed up quite a bit in the 15 minutes or so I was inside. So I ended up being over-dressed. I am convinced I am going to spend the next several weeks being either over-dressed or under-dressed while this screwy weather makes up its mind. It was a good run though and I noticed on the first half I felt very strong. Still fading a bit on the back half but I will get there.

Saturday – 3.02 Miles

The weather ended up being a LOT nicer than I originally thought it would be. It also got a lot warmer than the weather said it would be… so bonus. I just wish the sun had been out… I geared up and headed out and then my watch decided it didn’t want to locate the satellites. Recently, I have taken to bringing my watch with me so I can go through that process while on the way home from work or while running errands. Then I do my quick 15/20 minute change and head back out to satellites that locate right away. That was not the case on Saturday. I waited for about 15 minutes outside until I got too cold and went just inside the door of my building and waited another 10 minutes. I was getting annoyed so I decided to just run the course that I knew for sure was 3 miles because I know exactly where the 1.50 mile turn around point is. But as soon as I got out from underneath the awning of my building I looked at my watch and the satellites had located because it was registering my pace and distance already. SCORE! So I ran the hilly course that I wanted to run instead. Again, feeling strong on the first half and fading a bit on the second half. I noticed during my last half mile or so that the temp started to drop and I was no longer dressed appropriately. At least it was towards the end of the run…

Sunday – Rest

I woke up to see SNOW on the ground and falling from the sky. I am so sick of this winter. This year has just been brutal. I spent the entire morning and most of the afternoon being insanely lazy on my couch. Then Eric text me that he wanted to go to Ikea to buy a dresser and new office chair. He asked if I would go with him so I could help him do the lifting. I figured why not… as long as we avoided the areas of the store where I might be inclined to buy things. I walked out with less than $20 of things… which is definitely a first. We then went to get pizza because we were both starving. Apparently everyone else in the city had the same idea because they were REALLY busy and there was a wait. I then proceeded to eat WAY too much because I was so hungry once we got the food. Whoops… At least I am doing my longer run today…

~~~~~

I am really pleased with my training from last week. With the exception of the one run I bailed on a little early, all the others were great. It feels like my base building from the winter has done me a lot of good and I finally feeling like the runner from 2010.

This week I have a 6 mile run for my longer run which I plan to do today. Sunday is the Shamrock Shuffle 8K so I will have two longer runs this week… for the first time in a LONG time. My plan is to take Friday and Saturday off as rest days before the race but the weather may not cooperate with my plan to run today through Thursday… so I may need to get in an extra run on Friday or Saturday… I REALLY don’t want to run the day before a race though…

Fingers crossed that the weather will (mostly) cooperate this week…

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Picture Friday

Pi Day Fun Run 3-14-14
This is how I spent last Friday evening – Really couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the week

Keep Calm Spring is Coming
Technically spring happened yesterday at 11:57 am but it still a LONG ways away from feeling like it… evidenced by the weather report for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday…

Sun - Mon
I get that it won’t be 70 for quite a while but can we at least have temps in the 40s consistently?

Just go
As someone who should do speed work but rarely does, this speaks to me. But at the same time it is very true. You are not always going to hit the time you want and not every run is good. Just keep lacing up and getting out there

Kep Calm - Its Friday
Whoo Hoo!

Have a great weekend everyone!

An Introduction

Some of you may have been wondering what I was going to do once I ran out of things to talk about on Throwback Wednesday. And if you weren’t wondering… then I am sure you are wondering now.

Obviously, I was going to have to come up with something new to take the place of Throwback Wednesday. After tossing some ideas around in my head, I finally choose the one that I liked the most.

Question & Answer Wednesday

I want you, my readers, to submit questions to me through NeverGetsEasierJustGetBetter@gmail.com and I will choose one question a week to answer to the best of my ability. The questions do not have to be running related either.

What are some things you can ask me about?

My childhood – The places I have lived (there are 4 of them and a stint with studying abroad) – Why I choose to live in Chicago – Why I am staying here after this brutal Winter – Specific questions about my training and how/why I train the way I do – The sports that I like – The sports that I have played – My other hobbies (yes, I have interests other than running) – How I choose a race – My Goals

There, plenty of ideas to get you all started.

Now – Some Rules

I hold the right to refuse to answer a question if I think it is inappropriate. So let’s keep things PG here. Up front, I am telling you that if it is inappropriate, I will not answer. But outside of PG Rule – You can ask me just about anything. Also, if you have a blog, please send me the link to your blog so I can send my readers over to check your blog out.

The main reason I am doing this… outside of the fact that I am shortly going to run out of old races/running stuff to talk about, is because I think this is a fun way for my readers to get to know me better. So please ask away.

The First Edition of Question & Answer Wednesday will be in May (probably mid-May) so get your questions to me. And please, feel free to submit more than one question if you have one.

I am really excited about this and look forward to reading and answering all of your questions.

Throwback Wednesday – Running & Yoga

After Hot Chocolate, I knew I needed to work on getting back on Track. I had been fudging my way through racing most of the year and my race times showed that. Not only was I unhappy with that but I really wasn’t feeling like myself.

To add to my desire to run more, I had new running shoes. I had purchased a pair of Vibram Five Fingers and was eager to try them out long term. I had already been wearing them on some of my runs but I wasn’t racing in them yet. I still needed to build up to running three miles in them.

I decided that I would give running three days a week a shot and see how things go. I was doing pretty well and was making some progress and starting to feel more like myself. The mileage was low but manageable.

At the time, I was trying to figure out if running three days a week was good for me. I knew that in order to keep anaerobic capacity, you need to run at least 3 days a week. So that was the base I used for choosing my three day a week goal. After months of barely running at all, I knew I needed a small schedule to get myself back out there… But trying to do too much too soon would backfire.

I started going to Yoga on the days I wasn’t running. My overall hope was that I would be able to run 3 days a week and then do three days a week of Yoga and have one rest day a week. Then perhaps, once my body got used to both, I would run one extra day a week either before or after the yoga class.

I know that yoga is good for runners because it stretches you and it also helps to strengthen some of the areas of the body that we, as runners, use most frequently. I had found a studio that I was enjoying and after a few weeks of experimenting, I found a few classes/instructors that I really enjoyed as well.

I also found that if I got a slight head cold, I could still do yoga even if I wasn’t able to run. That was a HUGE plus for me.

So that was my short term plan for get me back on track. My first test would be the Turkey Day 5K race…

Pi Day Fun Run

Friday was Pi Day (3-14) and Fleet Feet was hosting a fun run with the Illinois Science Council. I did this run last year and had a lot of fun so decided to sign up again. Right after I signed up, Anne asked the rest of the WRCE if we should do the run. Everyone was nice enough to join me at the Old Town location instead of Lincoln Square. I was definitely looking forward to the run.

It probably should have been an omen… but Friday was not going my way. I wanted to run my errands for the weekend before heading home to change and then over to Fleet Feet but the bus was not cooperating so I only got one of my errands done. Then Eric was early to my place so we could head to Fleet Feet together… like I am half dressed throwing things frantically into my backpack early. Now I know how he feels when I do it to him… In my defense, I am ALWAYS early. Eric, though never later, is rarely 15 minutes early. And for the record, I was ready by the time I said I would be.

We waited a few minutes for the bus and ran into Chris once we got on. Once we got to Fleet Feet, I head to the back of the store and then realize I lost Chris and Eric… who are about to look up their bib number for the wrong event. After pointing that out them, we headed to the back of the store. Apparently the packet pick-up and fun run did cause some confusion for some people.

While waiting to check-in, I found a friend of mine from Volleyball. After we checked in and got our shirts, we were in search for other WRCE members. We found Erin and when I went to introduce her to my volleyball friend, I completely messed up Erin’s name and totally blanked on my friend’s name. Oh yea… I am doing really well here. I still feel really bad about that.

I decided to wear the Pi Day shirt because it was REALLY windy and I knew the temperature would be dropping soon. We all headed outside to start the run and holy moly it WAS REALLY WINDY. It was definitely cooling off too. The owner of Fleet Feet started us off with a short speech and talked about the course. They changed the course that day due to the melting snow that caused issues on the original course. I was actually really glad that they did this because I knew what the course was from last year and I knew that most of it was not clear… at all. In fact most of it was completely underwater.

We were off and heading east toward the overpass over Lake Shore Drive to head north on the LFT. Aside from the wind and dropping temps, it was a pretty night. The sky was beautiful and I was enjoying the view of the city.

As we got close to the turnaround point, I realized that my hair was going to fall out of my ponytail soon. Shortly after turning around to head back south, I walked so I could fix my hair. But about a quarter of a mile later, I had to stop again to fix my hair… Then AGAIN after about a quarter mile… I was insanely annoyed at this point and I could tell that perhaps it was time for a new ponytail tie because the one I had was too loose. So I decided to do a half French braid. The only flaw with this plan was that the wind was now, for the most part, at my back. I ended up walking backwards for a bit just so I could braid my hair. Once I was finished with my (which I am sure was a VERY ugly) half French braid, I had no more hair issues.

By this point, between battling the wind and my hair, I was just sort of done with running. Instead, I was more interested in eating Pizza… although, in reality, it is rare for me to NOT be interested in eating pizza.

Everyone was still waiting for me when I was done and we all waited for Anne to finish as well. We then rushed back to the store because it was COLD.

I grabbed my pizza and a bottle of water while everyone else got pizza, pie and beer and we all chit-chatted for a while. Erin ended up winning a cookbook for coming in second place on the Pi Trivia contest. We took a group photo before heading out for the night.

Pi Day Fun Run 3-14-14This Photo was taken from Anne

All in all it was fun night. Definitely plan to do this run again next year… minus the hair issues and hopefully minus the extreme wind…