What a great start to the racing season! The Shamrock Shuffle was huge! The sun was warm, the crowds friendly, and the 30,000 runners shuffling along pretty well. Race Director Carey Pinkowski mentioned during our news on an interview before the race that it was probably the nicest weather for the Shamrock Shuffle that he could remember. His memory is slightly longer than mine, but I would agree! The picture was taken by John Kussman, who works at ABC-7. It's taken from right in front of our building on State street.
I worked in the morning before the race. I was filling in for weekend morning anchor Kevin Roy. The show ends at 9:30, the same time the race starts. But with so many runners, it takes at least 15 to 20 minutes for everyone to cross the start line. I made it over to the start a few minutes late, and wormed my way through the crowd. I probably started ten minutes after the official start, and I can tell you first-hand that it was crowded! The first couple miles are the same as the marathon route, and seem every bit as packed!
That was probably for the best as far as my run is concerned. I would normally try to run somewhere between 6:30 and 7:00 per mile pace in an 8k. Saturday, however, I did a 20 mile run for my Boston marathon training, so I was not exactly fresh for the race. I was never able to get going faster than 9:00 per mile pace because of the crowds. It seemed like I was weaving, starting and stopping the whole way. But I got to overhear a lot of conversations with some of the runners in the back of the pack who were really enjoying the run, so I had a good time, and no complaints.
As far as the Boston training, I have to say that after I finished the 20 miler, and let out a huge sigh of relief! The hard work is officially over, and my favorite word in the running vocabulary is now the phase I'm in: TAPER! Like any marathoner, I do have mixed emotions at this point. You never feel like you are ready enough. I kind of feel like I never really put in as many hard miles as I would have liked during the last couple of months, but what's done is done, and it's time to ease up on the miles a little and recover/rest for the marathon.
As far as final preparation, I think it's time to start thinking about the course, and developing a plan for how to run it. I've got a lot of friends who have run lots of Boston marathons, but none more than Mark Buciak, who has done 27 consecutive ones! Mark writes about running for Chicago Athlete magazine. I've been picking his brain for the last couple months during occasional runs. One piece of advice he has stressed is to take it really easy for the first half, especially on the Boston course, because the first half is more down hill, and you are likely to feel really pretty good. Heartbreak hill awaits however, and it got that name from runners who fail to respect it!
Mark is hosting a really good event on the Boston marathon on Sunday, April first at Momentum running store on the north side. He's going to have pizza, messages, and a video of last year's Boston highlights, followed by a question and answer session with Mark. There is no cost, but call to RSVP at (773)5257866. You can email Mark for more info at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Congrats to everyone who ran Shamrock, and I'll see you on the roads at the next one!