Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle recap

I survived Shamrock Shuffle 2012. What a fun race! There were nearly 35,000 runners that looped through downtown Chicago and finished in Grant Park. This was my first time participating in this race, and I hope to do it again next year. I did a combination run/walk for the 5 miler, running the first 5 minutes, then starting with two minute run/two minute walk intervals. After the first mile, I realized that my foot felt ok, so I started to run more. I kind of lost track of my intervals and just focused on maintaining a pace faster than 15:00! This race is a Chicago tradition, and there are plenty of people who run it year after year. But as a first time participant, I had fresh eyes. This is my take on the Shamrock Shuffle 2012.

Organization
Because there were so many participants, we started in two waves and I don’t even know how many corrals. Because I entered the max time to finish (1:15/15:00 pace) I was placed in the last corral of the second wave.

I ended up arriving at the race about an hour earlier than I planned, so I stood on my feet a lot longer than I probably should have chatting it up with some ladies from the run group and waiting in line for the port-a-potties. I waited until the last moment to line up in my corral and once I got in there, waited another 15 minutes to start.

I was a bit anxious to get started. Though, there was plenty of entertainment to keep distracted from all the waiting like crazy themed outfits and this treasure.
One of the ladies in my run group snapped this pic. This gives you an overall feel for the race! Once we got out on the course I was appreciative of the corrals being really spread out. There was no issue of overcrowding. Once I saw the final number of finishers, I was impressed because it did not feel like there were that many out on the course.

Course
The night before the race, I surprised myself when I realized I hadn’t so much as glanced at the route. Normally, I like to have a general idea where I’m running during a race! The course started out similarly to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago half, but then it switched up.

We were of course taken past the Chicago Theatre, and over the Chicago River. I loved running under the El tracks between miles 3 and 4. I don’t remember doing that in the Rock ‘n’ Roll. The only time I got annoyed was after the 4 mile marker when there were a lot of walkers and I found myself darting in and out of folks. The route was enjoyable, not boring at all.


Volunteers/Aid/Fuel
There were tons of volunteers at this race. The water and Gatorade stations were well manned. Also on the course was a promo truck for FRS passing out their Healthy Energy drink. I’m pretty sure they were not there as part of the race, rather seizing the opportunity. The only problem I had with it is the fact that runners were dropping half consumed cans on the ground after taking a couple of sips. Unlike the aid stations where volunteers sweep up the cups, I didn’t see anyone from FRS picking up the many cans of their product that littered the road. I hope that someone did afterwards. The race had plenty of aid stations as well. I was pleased to find a bag of ice at an aid station very near the finish line. I was able to ice my foot right away, which I think helped with keeping the tendinitis in check.


I can see why the Shamrock Shuffle is such a popular race. It’s not only exciting because it's the racing season opener for Chicago, its actually a fun race. It’s a great distance for beginners, yet still long enough for marathoners to enjoy. The day following the race, my right foot was very stiff, but I had no pain. I massaged it against a golf ball on the floor (my new favorite thing) off and on throughout the day, and then soaked in an Epsom salt bath in the evening. Today, it feels great. I’m very excited that it’s responding so well to more miles! I plan to start training for the women’s half in June this week. Hooray!

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