Thursday, April 28, 2016

shamrock shuffle 2016 recap

Source: @ChiShuffle

The Shamrock Shuffle was held on Sunday, April 3, 2016. The Health and Fitness Expo was on Friday, April 1 from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. and on Saturday, April 2 from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. You can read my more succinct review over on BibRave.

I was able to get to the Expo on Friday morning when it opened. Packet pickup was quite easy - just head on over to your bib number line and show them your confirmation email.They give you an envelope with your bib and safety pins, and then you head to the back to grab your shirt. They give you your plastic bag with some coupons, samples, sunglasses, and shirt. I felt like the size I got was a little snug, so I went to the exchange booth area. They just scan your envelope barcode and you exchange your size for the new one. They had sample shirts for you to try on as well. (You were allowed to have someone else pick up your packet, they just needed your confirmation email.)

The Expo was closer to the Parking Garage this year (West Buidling, Hall F), which was nice. No longer needed to walk the mile to get to Expo Hall A. It was filled with vendors and races - most offering expo discounts. I snagged some new Sparkly Soul headbands and chatted with some of the race folks. Nuun was also there with their new formula, so I tested a few of the flavors hoping to find one I liked as much as the old formula. Negative. So disappointed that I have to find a new hydration mix, but I digress.

Fleet Feet Chicago is always there with the Nike Shamrock Shuffle gear - way too many awesome items here! Sweatshirts (they had the cowel neck one similar to the Chicago Marathon, so obviously needed that), t-shirts, tech shirts, tech 1/4 zip jackets, and those new Nike Flyknit shoes. I grabbed a few items as I'm a sucker for Chicago Irish items haha. I also got a pint glass from the Official Merchandise area (they had water bottles, coffee mugs, stickers, magnets, etc).

We also made sure to get our parking ticket validated so it was $10 instead of $20 (there was a kiosk before exiting the expo hall with someone who did this for you).

This race is always very well organized. They have two separate waves to help keep the congestion to a minimum. Along with these waves, you are designated a color - red or blue. This designates which area of gear check you use. I don't do gear check ever, so I can't speak to how this went, but I have a feeling it was smooth. It opened at 6:30 am and closes at 11:30 am.

Flat Heather ready to go, though I made some adjustments in the morning.

Food trucks.

Start corrals opened at 6:30 am, with Wave 1 starting at 8:30 am (Corrals A–D), and Wave 2 (Corrals E–H) beginning at 9 am. Now, take note that since there are multiple corrals in each wave, unless you are A or E, you won't be starting at the start time of the wave itself. They leave a few minutes (maybe 5?) between each corral start so as to get the course cleared a bit before releasing the next group of runners. I was in Corral H, and I think I crossed the start around 9:30. There were plenty of porta-potties at the start, also.

Forgot I had a Shamrock Sparkle Athletic skirt and leggings!

My mom and I parked at Soldier Field and walked over. There was someone else in the parking lot heading over who didn't know where to go, so she walked with us. It's always nice to make new friends :)

With so much of the area blocked off for safety reasons, it took us a bit to find our way into the start area, but we eventually made it and went our separate ways. There was a Thomas' food truck there giving out free bagels and muffins to participants, which was cool. The line wasn't too long, but I can't eat before races, so we passed. When we finished, the line was super long.

At the Start Line.

Like I said earlier, this race knows what they are doing. The aid stations are all well staffed and it's always Gatorade at the first few tables and then water after that. Each aid station also had plenty of porta-potties. The two aid stations were at Mile 1.6 (State and Randolph) and Mile 3.6 (Harrison and Wells).

Running down State Street.

The course time requirement is a 15-minute per mile pace and must complete the full 8k (4.97 miles) in 1 hour and 15 minutes. There were clocks and mile marketed at every mile. Timing mats were at the start, 5k, and finish line. Don't expect your GPS watch to be completely accurate - along with adding distance by not running the tangents, it's often difficult for the watches to get accurate satellite readings in the city. My watch at the finish said 5.53 miles.

Going up Mt. Roosevelt.

Being in the last corral, we tried to stay towards the back since we are slower. However, once we started moving up, a ton of runners were suddenly behind us. Whether they were running late and missed their corrals, I'm not sure what happened, but suddenly Corral H was monstrous in size. It could have used a separation between the two halves before starting, even. I think this might have been part of the problem with the course never really thinning out and being crowded the whole way. I've never had that problem before this year, and I think it's because so many people were starting in the last corral.

Headed into the Finish.

The course begins on Columbus and Monroe. You head north on Columbus, west on Grand, south on State, west on Jackson, north on Lasalle, west on Randolph, south on Franklin, east on Harrison, south on Michigan, east on Mount Roosevelt, and north to the finish line on Columbus. At the finish line you received your medal and grab photos and goodies until you are out of the finishers chute. Goodies this year included bananas, bottled water, cups of Gatorade, snack bars, pretzels, Sun Chips  The post-race party is around Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. Each participant received a free beer (Michelob Ultra).

My mom and I took a quick look around and as I was wondering how our new friend did at the race, we actually ran in to her! We took a photo and then mom and I began our journey back to the car.

The day started out a bit windy and cold, but it was fine while running (minus a few big gusts of winds that made me glad I didn't wear a hat because I know I would have lost it). The weather was in the mid-30s at start (7 am was a feels like temp of 25) and at races end was in the low-40s. Approximately 10mph winds. I was comfortable during the race – it was cold waiting in the corrals, but that's the norm it seems.

I love doing this race, and for most it marks the beginning of race season in Chicago. I race all year long, so doesn't so much for me, though it does mark the beginning of when there are more races to choose from every weekend. As long as I'm able, I'll definitely be back again for 2017. I was coming off of a late night from a wedding, so wasn't expecting anything crazy with my pace. Having a large crowd that never really thinned out around us made it difficult to pass or  weave around, so we just kept an easy pace and had fun. It's a nice change to actually run through the streets of Chicago versus the Lake Front Path, and not a ton of races in the city are afforded that luxury. My advice is to just enjoy yourself the best you can :)

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