Monday, March 22, 2010

Shamrock Shuffle 2010 Race Report

The Race: Bank of America's Shamrock Shuffle 8k (4.97 miles)
The Site: Downtown Chicago next to Millennium park... same starting and finish points as the Chicago Marathon
The Time: 8:55 am (5 minutes to race)
The Location: The front of Corral A... reserved for me, the elitest of the non-elite, and anyone else who can run faster than 22 minutes in a 5k
The Weather: A surprisingly pleasant overcast day with a temp of about 38 degrees (after a previous day of sleet and freezing rain)

I was near the front so after the “gun” went off it only took me about 5 seconds to cross the starting line… not bad for a 36,000 people race… of course with only a hundred or so people in front of me the 36,000 people field was basically a moot point… for now anyway...

One of the few people in front of me was Paolo Tiongson, 11 years old, from Skokie, Illinois… It was pretty funny because the kid must have been about 3 ½ feet tall max and also kinda scary as he was swallowed by the stampede of runners charging out of the gates.

I tried to keep my pace under control and not start too fast. I focused on keeping my breathing relaxed, my upper body loose, and my stride fluent. Only problem was that everyone else must have been going way to slow because I was passing people right and left. Soon I passed lil’ Paolo (actually I probably could have hurdled him with out breaking stride) and I was well on my way to the race of my life!

As we approached the 1 mile mark I looked down at my Garmin and realized that something must be wrong… the Garmin said that I had already run 1.25 miles but my time was only at 5:40 (Downtown Chicago does a number on a Garmin… more on that later). I passed the mile mark at about 5:55, a new one mile PR!!! Great… except now the prerace adrenaline was starting to wear off and my “relaxed” pace wasn’t feeling nearly so relaxed anymore… FAIL!!!

Knowing that I still had four miles left and considering that I was beginning to feel sick to my stomach I knew I had to slow down… problem was, when you go out waaayyy too fast, and your in the front of a field of 36,000 people you’re inevitably going to start getting passed. I hate getting passed so I tried to hang on as best as I could for the next mile and subsequently hit the two mile mark at 12:25… a new 2 mile PR!!! Great… except now I was really starting to hurt and I still had about 3 miles left.

At this point I was just trying to hold on and not slow down too much… but as I lumbered along, I was really starting to get passed…. Chicked on my left, senior citizen on my right, senior chicked on my left again… and then here comes lil’ Paolo again blazing past me… Groan… very demoralizing yet I still forged on… and passed the 5k point at 19:55, a new 5k PR by over 2 minutes!!!... Except now I realized that before... you know, when I thought I was hurting... well, I was wrong because now I was really actually hurting…

And now the mental games started…. If I can just slow down and maintain a 7 minute pace for the next 1.85 miles I’ll still break 34:00, but if I can get to the 4 mile point in under 26 I can maybe break 33:00 I tell myself. So I keep the legs going, trying to keep at least some semblance of good form… plus I start randomly grunting and muttering obscenities at the course to distract myself from the pain I’m feeling.

I hit the four mile point at 25:50 and change and know that if I can just hold on for 1 more mile I can break my super secret goal time of 33 minutes and if I can push it at all during that last mile I might even break my double super-duper secret subconscious (secret even to myself) goal time of 32:30…

I continue on, fighting for each breath, willing my legs to keep turning over. I turn the corner onto Michigan Avenue and begin my final approach down the last long straightaway on my way towards Roosevelt hill and then the finish line. As I trudge down this final straightway, still cursing and grunting, still wanting to quit, and still getting passed on my left and right, I raise up my hands in an attempt to hype up the spectators(anything to distract from the fact that I’m about to keel over and die)… and then finally we make it to Roosevelt Rd… I’m almost to the finish… just one obstacle left… Roosevelt hill…

Anyone who’s ever ran the Chicago marathon is probably well aware of Roosevelt hill… most notable as being the only hill on the entire 26.2 two mile course and for the fact that it shows up right when you’re in your most vulnerable condition, making what normally would be a unremarkable incline into the “Mt. Everest of Chicago”.

As I turned on to Roosevelt hill I decided that I had quite enough of getting passed… it was time to do some passing!!! So I started charging up the hill… for about 10 meters… at which point a harrowing gust of Lake Michigan wind (“Windy” city ring a bell anyone) threatened to knock me on my arse. My charge was thwarted… so I just put my head down and forced my way up the rest of the hill at a pathetic saunter… And then I had crested the hill and I was making the final turn towards the finish… 300 meters and I'd finally be done with this whole debacle… finish line in site, it was time for the "legendary" kick… I picked up my pace, dug deep, and reached for that last bit… only to find that there wasn’t anything left… 10 meters later and I had slowed back down again and was resigned to just half-ass it in to the finish… I leaned forward letting the dead weight of my blood deprived head carry me as I stumbled on towards the finish line… until with about 100 meters left I heard my friend Symons’ fiancĂ©, Julian, yelling at me to push it… Damn it… I never should have talked all that shit about my “legendary” kick… oh well, I had to at least try... so I dug down once more, even deeper, and found that I did in fact have just a little bit of gas in the tank (inferior grade E85 at the very least)… and unleashed a “pretty much unexceptional, never to be spoken of again” kick slight but marginally acceptable speed up that carried me through to the finish.

Final Stats:

Distance: 8K (4.97 miles)
Clock Time: 32:25, Garmin Time: 32:20, Chip time: XX:XX:XX???!!!!????!!!?? (a 5 minute impovement over last years race!)
Pace: 6:30 miles
HR Avg/Max: 176/187



As of now I still don't have any results from my race even though the results have already been published over at I called a complaint line and they told me that they've been having a lot of problems with results not registering, mostly because they switched from the Champion Chip timing system to the disposable D-tag timing system... Supposedly the D-tags are cheaper for the race organizers than the Champion chips... too bad they couldn't pass along some of that savings through the 45$ sign-up fee (grumble grrr...). I've been assured that they're working hard to fix the snafu so hopefully I'll get some official results eventually. After all if I wanted to rely on my Garmin to measure and time a race course I wouldn't have to pay 45$ race fee, 20$ parking fee, drive into downtown Chicago twice (once to pick up the packet and once for the race)etc... I could just head out the door anytime that I'd like... oh well, hopefully they can work out the kinks now, so that it doesn't happen to me again in the Chicago Marathon...

Speaking of Garmin, here's a picture of the elevation profile my Garmin captured while running through the city.

For those of you unfamiliar with the city of Chicago, let me assure you that there are not multiple 1200ft peaks to climb, unless of course I was superman and I was amusing myself by hoping over the Sears Tower... (but of course I'm not superman... or am I????)...

Also, after the race I was supposed to meet up with my friend Symons(who ran a 5 minute PR with a time of 36:45, BTW!!!) and his fiancé Julian at Buckingham Fountain... again for those unfamiliar with Chicago, that's the fountain most notably know from its apperance in the intro to the greatest sitcom of all time "Married with Childern"... (I'm being sarcastic there BTW... or am I????)...

Anyway, I wound up waiting at the fountain for 20 minutes before Julian eventually showed up so I spent my time doing a little two mile cooldown (or rather since the fountain sits right in the path of the freezing Lake Michigan winds and I was only wearing a t-shirt I should probably refer to it as a "stay warm" instead of a "cool down" since cooling down was not the issue)...Anywho, it was a real cool course so I decided to share it just in case one of you guys are in Chicago and want to run an awesome 2 mile loop(s)...

haha... that's it for now... hopefully I'll have some pirated race photos and some official results to share in the next couple days.


  1. Holy shit, man. That time is unfreakingbelievable.

    I don't see how y'all do it. At the 5K I did this past Saturday, a guy tied the state record for his age group. His time? 17:22. SEVENTEEN MINUTES. Insanity.

  2. Thanks Pam... I'm feeling about the same myself right now... I mean I shaved 5 minutes off my time from last year!!! I had no idea I'd be able to run that fast... possible ever, and certainly not at this point in my season.

  3. @EZEthan,
    Bravo hai fatto un gran tempo, segno che ti sei allenato bene.

    Mi scuso ma anche io per parlare con te uso il google traslation e quindi dobbiamo sforzarci un po per capirci.

  4. Grazie Giuseppe

    Spero di poter godere di imparare un po Italiano!!!

  5. Wow, you speed demon you. Congrats on your time man. That is quite impressive. What's next? Keep running. Loved your report!

  6. Ok first off... this was the most hilarious race recap ever! Seriously. You crack me up. I'm going to start paying you to write my recaps for me! LOL!

    Second, HOLY PR BATMAN!!!!!!!! You killed it out there! Way to totally smash even your super secret goals outta the water!

    And finally, LMAO at Mt. Everest of Chicago and the 2 mile loop of Buckingham Foutain.

  7. you are flippin' awesome. not only in your writing skillz but also with your crazy running! sheesh a 32:20-25!! daaanggg. bottle some of that up and send it my way PLEASE. :)

    i think you should suggest that new course to the chicago marathon people.