I am not a fan of the cold. That is why I have never run the Bank Of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K. It is the start to the running season in Chicago. Over 30,000 runners take part in the event annually. This year, I would finally run it.
The lovely, Caroline Gaynor introduced me to Ryan Nord. Caroline has wanted me to meet Ryan for some time. Inspired by Caroline’s tireless volunteering as a race guide for blind/visually impaired runners, Ryan wanted to try it. Caroline felt Ryan and I would match perfectly. My friends and blog readers know that I am most comfortable being guided by beautiful, fast, talented elite women. Unless, national or international rules dictate I must use a male guide, I always prefer women friends to be my eyes. I reached out to Ryan. He agreed to guide me for the Shamrock Shuffle. After a few training runs, we were set for race day.
March 29 was cold. Ryan and I made our way to Chicago’s Grant Park. My last race was 2014 Chicago Marathon so I was nervous to toe the start line again. I wanted to run strong to make Ryan, Caroline, and Jenna Parker proud. We spent time in the elite tent which housed those in the Athletes With Disability Wave. I spent time with Keri Serota, head of AWD and Executive Director of Dare2Tri. I saw Lisa Krejcik and Wendy Jaehn. Ryan and I walked to the start. Starting gun sounded. Time to start 2015.
We started minutes ahead of the pros just behind the wheelchair racers. After a slow start, adrenalin kicked in and we started to move. Ryan called out, “7:45 pace.” Faster than I wanted. I slowed a bit. I could hear he was having fun. Fans cheered. I slowed to over eight minute pace, but upon hearing the cheers I pushed. “7:30. You’re running strong.” I held it for a bit then pulled back. If I can help it, I always want to start slow, build, then close the show with a mad dash final mile. We reached mile one. I kept a steady pace through mile two. By the third mile, my legs felt tired. Less than two miles to go, I was worried I would not have the ability to push. Ryan kept telling me I was running strong. I did not feel it.
As we neared mile four, I heard a woman yell, “You’re almost there. One more mile!” I thought of Jenna parker. She trains me to finish strong. Ryan said he was ready to go anytime. I started turning over my legs faster. Ryan called out my pace and the distance remaining. I gained confidence as the distance between us and the finish line shortened. We were back under eight minute pace. half a mile remained. 7:30 pace. 7:20. A third of a mile remained. We were running at about a seven minute pace. My legs felt strong. I was galloping. I could feel my stride open. My body was relaxed.
Ryan and I finished. I average 8:20 per mile finishing in forty-one minutes. My first race of 2015 was done. Thanks Caroline Gaynor for introducing me to Ryan. Thanks Ryan Nord for guiding me. Thank you Pinnacle Performance Company for being my sponsor, Jenna Parker for being my friend and coach, and Reliv International for my nutrition.