Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle recap

I survived Shamrock Shuffle 2012. What a fun race! There were nearly 35,000 runners that looped through downtown Chicago and finished in Grant Park. This was my first time participating in this race, and I hope to do it again next year. I did a combination run/walk for the 5 miler, running the first 5 minutes, then starting with two minute run/two minute walk intervals. After the first mile, I realized that my foot felt ok, so I started to run more. I kind of lost track of my intervals and just focused on maintaining a pace faster than 15:00! This race is a Chicago tradition, and there are plenty of people who run it year after year. But as a first time participant, I had fresh eyes. This is my take on the Shamrock Shuffle 2012.

Organization
Because there were so many participants, we started in two waves and I don’t even know how many corrals. Because I entered the max time to finish (1:15/15:00 pace) I was placed in the last corral of the second wave.

I ended up arriving at the race about an hour earlier than I planned, so I stood on my feet a lot longer than I probably should have chatting it up with some ladies from the run group and waiting in line for the port-a-potties. I waited until the last moment to line up in my corral and once I got in there, waited another 15 minutes to start.

I was a bit anxious to get started. Though, there was plenty of entertainment to keep distracted from all the waiting like crazy themed outfits and this treasure.
One of the ladies in my run group snapped this pic. This gives you an overall feel for the race! Once we got out on the course I was appreciative of the corrals being really spread out. There was no issue of overcrowding. Once I saw the final number of finishers, I was impressed because it did not feel like there were that many out on the course.

Course
The night before the race, I surprised myself when I realized I hadn’t so much as glanced at the route. Normally, I like to have a general idea where I’m running during a race! The course started out similarly to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago half, but then it switched up.

We were of course taken past the Chicago Theatre, and over the Chicago River. I loved running under the El tracks between miles 3 and 4. I don’t remember doing that in the Rock ‘n’ Roll. The only time I got annoyed was after the 4 mile marker when there were a lot of walkers and I found myself darting in and out of folks. The route was enjoyable, not boring at all.


Volunteers/Aid/Fuel
There were tons of volunteers at this race. The water and Gatorade stations were well manned. Also on the course was a promo truck for FRS passing out their Healthy Energy drink. I’m pretty sure they were not there as part of the race, rather seizing the opportunity. The only problem I had with it is the fact that runners were dropping half consumed cans on the ground after taking a couple of sips. Unlike the aid stations where volunteers sweep up the cups, I didn’t see anyone from FRS picking up the many cans of their product that littered the road. I hope that someone did afterwards. The race had plenty of aid stations as well. I was pleased to find a bag of ice at an aid station very near the finish line. I was able to ice my foot right away, which I think helped with keeping the tendinitis in check.


I can see why the Shamrock Shuffle is such a popular race. It’s not only exciting because it's the racing season opener for Chicago, its actually a fun race. It’s a great distance for beginners, yet still long enough for marathoners to enjoy. The day following the race, my right foot was very stiff, but I had no pain. I massaged it against a golf ball on the floor (my new favorite thing) off and on throughout the day, and then soaked in an Epsom salt bath in the evening. Today, it feels great. I’m very excited that it’s responding so well to more miles! I plan to start training for the women’s half in June this week. Hooray!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

2012 Shamrock Shuffle Expo & updates

The Shamrock Shuffle is tomorrow! Training has gone well, and I’m excited to finish my first official race since I jacked up my foot in the RNR Chicago half marathon last July. I spent Friday afternoon in the Fleet Feet Chicago Women’s Half Marathon booth at the Shamrock Shuffle expo at Navy Pier. A few of the ladies in the marketing campaign for the race also worked the booth, talking to people about the race and passing out flyers. I’m a sucker for expos and trade shows in general, so I had a lot of fun pumping up the race.
After the expo, Black Girls RUN! Chicago held its first meet-up for 2012 at Lucky Strike Lanes. It’s always nice seeing familiar faces and meeting new people from the run group. Many in the group are running the Shamrock Shuffle as well, so I’m sure I’ll be meeting more people tomorrow!
In other fun news, I attended EDEN BodyWorks’ Brunch with EDEN last weekend to celebrate the launch of their new JojOba Monoi natural hair care line. There were so many awesome media mavens in attendance, Afrobella, MHE Magazine, and The Nappturalite Radio Show were just a handful. I love using EDEN’s Peppermint Tea Tree line on my hair now, so I couldn’t wait to find out about their latest product offering, and nosh on french toast and mimosas, of course. Jump over to my Examiner.com page to learn more about EDEN BodyWorks and to view the whole slideshow of pictures from the event.
photo credit: Chuckstr Photo
CharyJay, Vlogger
photo credit: Chuckstr Photo
Dawn Yerger, The Nappturalite Radio Show Host
photo credit: Chuckstr Photo
photo credit: Chuckstr Photo

Stayed tuned for a post on my take on the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle coming soon!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chicago Women’s Half Marathon behind the scenes & updates

The Shamrock Shuffle is in less than two weeks. I never thought I would be so nervous about a 5 mile run. My training has been going great. I was able to train the entire winter outdoors, shout out to global warming. I've followed my training plan to a tee with the exception of week 5 when I missed a day due to travel. I'm not concerned about being able go the 5 mile distance, just being able to finish in the 15:00 pace limit! I'm also in the last corral, so there's no where to hide. I've got to stay ahead of the streets re-opening to traffic! My training run/walks have very slow between 14:00-16:00 pace. I've been taking it slow trying to avoid a major tendinitis flare up which has been under control as I continue to ice well after every run. Fingers crossed I'm not escorted off the route by race officials.

I've also officially registered for the Chicago Women’s Half Marathon in June! I'm excited and nervous at the same time. I'll be following this Hal Higdon training plan which at 12 weeks bumps right up against the close of my Shamrock Shuffle training. No break. So I hope I can continue to increase my mileage without a problem. Fleet Feet Chicago posted a few pics from behind the scenes at the Women’s Half Marathon photo shoot. From the looks of it, I think everyone had a blast myself included. Check out the Chicago Women’s Half Marathon Facebook page for more pics and updates on the race. One last thing, I'm once again guest co-hosting The Nappturalite Radio Show this Sunday! Host Dawn and I will be reviewing some yummy body and beauty products, Itiba, straight from the Virgin Islands. Can't wait. You can listen to the show live here at 6pm, or check back for the on demand episode on the Blog Talk Radio player on the very bottom of the page!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Nike Chicago’s Make It Count Leap Day event

Leap day comes but once every four years so I spent part of my extra 24 hours this year attending Nike Chicago’s Make It Count event Wednesday night. It was amazing. Chicago Blogger Network invited the first 30 respondents to attend the event. I leaped at the opportunity! Pun intended. Going into it, I had no idea what to expect. The details were a little vague, but I wanted to find out what the deal was. Plenty of awesome things followed after I RSVP'd.

First awesome thing, Nike Chicago sent by messenger a bag stuffed with gear to wear to the event. I figured this would be for photo ops. Surely, they didn’t want attendees showing up rocking a competitor’s gear. To start things off the group was given a presentation introducing the new Nike+ FuelBand.
It’s Nike’s answer to athletes who desired to track their activity when running is not their main sport. Activities like dancing, basketball, and football all count towards collecting fuel points to meet athlete goals. It’s pretty sleek. A normal day's activity would be around 2,500 points, and an active day around 4,000 or more.
Just like the other Nike+ devices, the Nike+ FuelBand has an interactive website to set goals, view progress, etc. Good news is the Nike+ and Nike+ FuelBand sites will be integrated in the future so existing Nike+ GPS Sportswatch users like myself will be able to view all their info on one combined site. Second awesome thing, we got a chance to try out the FuelBand ourselves for the evening. We’re told we’ll be breaking out into groups and hopping in a caravan headed to Soldier Field and getting out on the field to earn points towards the evening's goal of 1,000 points. Pretty darn cool. So we headed over the stadium. Mind you we had another 50 degree, sunny day earlier but when we left for the stadium the temperature had really dropped and it was raining sideways! Great thing was by the time we got there, the rain had stopped, but it was freezing. The group was still pretty amped to get out on the field despite the cold. Before we got out on the field we were escorted into the locker room and greeted by Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould.
Of course I had no idea who he was (I’m not that into football) but I knew he was kind of easy on the eyes. Robbie was our host out on the field. We worked our way through three stations to earn fuel points; agility, field goal kicking, and pass catching.
That's me attempting to kick a field goal. Fail. We were all pretty much frozen by the time we left, but we had a great time out on the field. We got back to sync our points on an Ipod touch and got a detailed walk through of the Nike+ FuelBand website. Anyone familiar with Nike+ will fly right through the site. It’s very user friendly for new folks too.
Third awesome thing, we danced. Choreographer and dance trainer BraveMonk was there with house music and dance steps to keep us moving and earning more points! Before last night, I liked to think I knew how to dance, but apparently not. I couldn’t keep up. I bowed out gracefully and cheered on from the sidelines. Of course by the end of the night, most had met and even surpassed the 1,000 points goal. Also by the end of the night, I was pooped. The Nike+ FuelBand is totally addictive. I was tapping the stats button all night checking my points progress. I’m still addicted to my running stats on Nike+ so I can only imagine how much fun it will be setting up challenges with others outside of running and getting all my friends up, moving and collecting points.