Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago

This weekend, I will be running the Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago. I first ran this race in 2009 and I officially got the running bug. It would be another year before I really got serious and ran my first half marathon, but this race always holds a special place in my ASICS. This race signifies the “official” start of the run season in Chicago and it brings out some of the best and most fun runners.

The first time I ran this race, I was training as part of a fitness team at work. Remember those awful “biggest loser” campaigns corporations would do in the name of wellness? Yes, I was part of one of them. As a group, we decided to run this race. I “trained” for this which basically consisted of some runs on the treadmill. (Yes, that was a shiver you heard of me thinking about getting on a treadmill. Never again). The training went well and our team was ready.

I had no clue what to do to prepare for an 8k (4.97 miles for my U.S. readers) on the day of the race. I was even more clueless when I woke up to a snowstorm. Wet, sloppy giant snowflakes greeted me when I looked out the window. The other team members were bailing out of the race, but those who know me know I’m pretty stubborn. There was no way I was missing this race.

What does a first-time racer wear in this conditions?

This photo says it all. The conditions were ridiculous and I had a blast. I still remember the feeling of grabbing a banana and the post-race beer and proudly wearing my medal.

Throughout the years, I really took this race seriously. I have worked my way up to one of the first starting corrals so I can stay ahead of the crowds. This race is massive. There will be over twenty-five thousand of my closest friends and we’ll be dodging each other the whole race.

The past couple of years I have run this race, not for time, but for the experience. People wear costumes and really get into the Shamrock theme. There are those who are running their first race, many who enjoyed the previous night out in Chicago, and the elite runners.

For me, I’ll head downtown for packet pick-up on Saturday and enjoy the expo. There are tons of vendors and this is the one race that I actually spend time at the expo.

The Shamrock Shuffle is my first race of the year and one of the shortest. I’ll run a 5k in May the day before my first half marathon of the year, and then the Chase Corporate Challenge a few days after, in May. I’ll then spend the summer training for my fall half marathon.

The weather looks to be a typical late March day with some wind and mid-30s. After my first Shuffle experience, I know that forecast can change. I’ll lace ’em up and soak in the experience of running through the streets of the Chicago loop and not worry about my finish time. Oh, who am I kidding, of course I have a time I want to beat. And I may even enjoy that post-race beer like I did in 2009.

Hope to see you out at the Shuffle!

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