Monday, March 26, 2012

Shamrock Shuffle 8K - then and now

This past Sunday I was lucky enough to be part of the biggest timed 8K race in the world - the Shamrock Shuffle 8K. I was one of 34,000+ runners to take to the streets of Chicago and kick off the spring and summer running season. If you've been reading my blog, you might have read my post I did a couple of days after running the Shamrock Shuffle 8K 2011. It was the first race I had ever done, and at that point I'd only been running about 3 months. Little did I know how much different my life would be almost a year later.

Had someone said to me last March that I would: a)still be running; and b)loving it I would have laughed at them. I knew it was great exercise for me, and that coupled with Weight Watchers helped me shed over 20 lbs before last year's race. But here I am - one year later - and I am still going strong...and down over 60 lbs from my starting weight.

The Shamrock Shuffle is the race that bit me with the race bug. While I've loved running it both years, they've been very different experiences. Last year I had nightmares leading up to the big day - in one I was put in a corral with elite runners and I got lost in my dream! No such dreams haunted me this year. I had fun sharing the experience of the expo with my mom and younger sons Matt and Nathan (they loved all the freebies!). The best part was that I was totally relaxed for race day. It was wonderful to be able to take in the experience more this year, and really treasure the fact that I was lucky to be there. I was grinning from ear to ear as I ran the first mile, and kept on smiling as I ran on. The 4.97 miles seemed to fly by, and I actually RAN the entire thing. Well, minus the second water stop - I wanted some Gatorade and I am NOT coordinated enough to move and drink at the same time. Last year I reeked of lemon-lime and I didn't want a repeat of that this year. 

I saw my family near the finish line this year - right on the bridge we had to go over to hit the downward finish. It was the perfect spot, since that last hill seems to go on forever. I went nuts waving to them and yelling to them. Somewhere there are also pictures floating around of me chucking my water bottle at Chad's head :-)...I didn't want to be holding it as I crossed the finish for the pictures they take. I vain!

What a feeling it was to sprint towards the end! There were still a lot of runners around me, and we were all cheering as we hit the line. I didn't feel like I wanted to die this year. In fact, it was the exact opposite - I have never felt so alive! Had I not taken my weight loss and exercise seriously a year ago, I wouldn't have been crossing that start line again.

This was the view before the race started - a little cloudy, but we were getting more and more blue sky as we moved closer to the start 

Some of the 34,000+ runners - waiting to hit the start line

I survived!! 56 minutes and 42 seconds after hitting the start, I finally crossed the finish line!

The weather yesterday was perfect for running - the sun came out right about race time and it was in the mid 50s. Quite a change from a high last year of 85 degrees! I am already looking forward to next year...let's hope the race gods continue to smile on me with the perfect Shamrock Shuffle weather!!

Oh, and just for the sake of comparison, here is a picture from last year:
Shamrock Shuffle 2011 - finished it in 1 hr 10 min 28 sec

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Coming out of my running/tracking funk

I've been struggling for the last couple of weeks to find my happy place, in just about every aspect of my life. I think it started when my dad had a small heart attack just a little bit over two weeks ago. I was so incredibly scared at the thought of losing him, and it threw me completely off-kilter. Luckily he's recovered very well, and didn't have to have surgery.

I felt like I had lost any control I had in my life. I know that essentially I'm not the one calling the shots, but I come face-to-face with that reality was rough. After all of that I just shut down - I stopped running except for a couple of runs early on, stopped tracking what ate, and didn't focus on eating the things that were good for me. I went for whatever was easiest, and I could feel how it was figuratively and literally weighing me down.

But today I'm back on track! I weighed in at my Weight Watchers location, and was happy to find out I hadn't gained any weight. And even though it was cold and a bit icy this morning, I still got out for a great run with wonderful women. It was wonderful that my friend Lesley joined us today. I'm so excited for her to run her first Half Marathon this fall. I know it's a huge step to sign up and commit to the Half, and it'll be wonderful to share this with her. Of course, first I have to survive the Half I'm running in May!