First race of the year = rustbuster workout.
I’m making more of an effort to just get to the start line this year and the Shamrock Shuffle 8k was my first go at it. Considering I raced TWICE in all of 2014, this year is going to be very different. I didn’t have a big plan going into Shamrock. The longest tempo I’ve run so far is only 3 miles so I knew there would be a decent amount of grinding if I wanted to run 6:40-6:45 pace. As much as I wanted to run a certain pace, I was also fighting my 3rd cough/cold of the winter all last week. Huge bummer. I was completely drained by the end of the work day and all I wanted to do was crawl in bed and dose myself heavily with Nyquil. By Saturday, I felt decent but not 100%. And then add in the crazy weather forecast and I kind of threw a time goal out the window:
Once you see that wind icon (especially in Chicago) you know it’s going to be a doozy. I met Corey and Chanthana at 7:30 AM so we could each do a quick warm-up before walking over to gear check and changing into racing shoes. CT was generous & offered to watch our bags while Corey and I ran a 20-minute warm-up a few times around the block. We knew there was a headwind from the south but we realized during the warm-up that there was also a crazy wind swirling from the west. Running north was effortless with a strong tailwind, at least!
I felt congested during our warm-up and the cold wind wasn’t making breathing any easier. As usual, despite thinking that we would have enough time to relax, get to gear check, do a few strides, and get into the corral in time, we were rushed to get there! Corey, CT, and I huddled together in the corral to try to stay warm before the start.
Annnnd we were off.
Mile 1 – You can never trust your Garmin in the first 2-3 miles so I didn’t look at it. There was a lot of dodging and shuffling (heh) in the first mile and I felt like I was flying past so many people that had a slower goal pace that I did (big corrals will create that problem, and I started in the middle of the corral). I felt like I was running smooth – breathing totally normal. Once I manually lapped my watched at Mile 1 and saw 7:10 flash on my watch, I thought “what? That can’t be right! I thought I was running closer to 6:50!”
Mile 2- Running south on State St. was surprisingly not against a strong headwind. I was still fighting to pass people (and trying not to elbow people in the process) but found more of a groove in this mile. Split 6:45 – “ok, closer to goal pace at least”.
Mile 3- By the time I got to mile 3.5, my breathing was really labored. Despite feeling calm and controlled until that point, a lot of congestion was building. Breathing through my nose was basically impossible and the cold headwind went straight to the back of my throat. Derp. Still, I tried to push the pace and clocked a 6:42 here.
Mile 4 – the “holy headwind mile”. This was a big mental WOOF. I looked up at one point and saw everyone tucking their heads down and bracing against the wind. Effort was high here even if pace wasn’t as fast as I wanted it to be. Those 40 mph wind gusts that were predicted became reality. Split: 6:53
Mile 5 – Just tried to pull it together. Once we made the turn back south on Michigan, my lungs and legs were burning. The headwind was still strong here and I had to stop to blow a snot rocket. 🙂 Everything was backed up and I just wanted to be done. After the left turn to the finish, I tried to kick it in a bit but not sure if that was all in my head. Split: 6:51.
All in all, these were pretty crazy conditions for the first ‘spring’ race of the year. I’ve only run the Shuffle one other time and that was 4 years ago when it was 75 degrees and sunny. This year, the weather turned the opposite direction. The effort was there on race day but the goal pace wasn’t. My legs felt good and my form felt strong, but the wind and my congestion made racing difficult. I’ll consider this a good rustbuster (and my first 5 mi tempo of this training cycle) and hope for real spring temps to arrive soon.
Splits: 7:10, 6:45, 6:42, 6:53, 6:51
My next race is the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler on April 12! I’ve heard so many good things about this race and I’m looking forward to putting in another solid effort before Bayshore at the end of May.