The morning of the 2015 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k dawned with little fanfare.
I had been hearing about the Shamrock Shuffle ever since I started running. It was a big deal in Chicago, and I knew a lot of people run it each year. I get really anxious around crowds, so I was mentally preparing myself for the masses of people.
|Soooooooo many people. And this was just Wave 2.|
I was groggy and tired after a night of tossing and turning. I can never get any restful sleep the night before a race. I was in Wave 2, so I had a little more time than usual in the morning to get ready. I ate some breakfast (half a bagel with cream cheese and a cup of coffee), got dressed, grabbed my gear check bagged (packed the night before), fed Hannah, and made my way to the train to head downtown to the race. Pretty much everyone I encountered on the train was also heading down to the Shamrock Shuffle. There was a lot of talk about the race and what to expect.
CARA was offering a "VIP experience" for members at the Congress Hotel. I wasn't too sure what that meant, but I was excited about the prospect of indoor bathrooms, so I made sure I had my member card with me. Once downtown, I went straight to the Congress. It was cold and windy, and although the sun peeked out from behind the clouds from time to time, it didn't really help warm things up.
|The hotel was right across the street from Grant Park, which made it easy to get to the start corrals.|
Once at the hotel, I found the CARA room, checked my bag, grabbed a coffee, and started the waiting game. I still had an hour before I needed to be in my corral, and I was thankful that I had a warm place to wait.
|The bathroom lines were still really long.|
By this point, my fear and anxiety had turned to excitement. I was finally awake and ready to run. I chatted with some of the folks around me and did what I could to warm up in the tightly packed corral.
There were so many people who were just excited to be outside running! It was great!
|I decided to go all out for my first Shamrock Shuffle and wore a sparkly green visor and skirt.|
|My corral was ready to START!|
Running through the streets of downtown Chicago was pretty much amazing. It isn't very often that you can run down the middle of what is usually a busy city street. I felt great throughout the race. I hadn't properly charged my watch, so it died on my around mile three, but I felt as though I was making good time (for me, anyway).
It was cold, but I did warm up once I was running. The wind, however, just seemed to get worse as each mile passed by. I have to hand it to the volunteers for sticking it out in the cold and wind. They were amazing! They must have been freezing, but they stayed out there and helped make this a great race.
At the finish line, there was post race food (bananas, cereal bars, chips, apple sauce), bottles of water, and cups of Gatorade. There were also finisher medals, which are awesome because they double as bottle openers. I don't usually care about medals, but it was really cool getting one, so I guess I care a little more than I though I did.
|Yay! My medal/bottle opener!|
I made my way back to the hotel to get my bag from gear check and add a few layers of warm clothes to my body. There was more beer back at the hotel for CARA members, and it looked as though there were also massages, but I was tired and just wanted to get warm and find some real food.
|I decided to do a post race selfie instead of my usual pre race selfie.|
|The real reason people run is for the post race banana.|
Would I run the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k again? Yes, absolutely! I had a lot of fun and the race was incredibly well organized. I now understand why it is a tradition for a lot of people.