Sunday, March 25, 2012

Every Day I'm Shufflin': Shamrock Shuffle 8k

Good sign that you pushed yourself just the right amount on race day...
your hammies start barking within an hour of crossing the finish line.

Yowzers! It's the ugliest yet most beautiful feeling in the world.

After the horrifically epic fail last falls Chicago marathon hosted for me, my heart in the past several months has been craving a bit of redemption and speed in regards to racing. Marathons aren't really a grand-ole-time for me, as a matter of fact I have actually recently decided that I HATE them. But that's a story for another day. Attempting to redeem my broken ego, I've spent the past 4 months training intuitively where I follow little to no training plan. December and January hosted only easy miles where my only focus was to build a solid and stable base fitness to work off of for most of 2012. Those slow and steady miles nourished and rejuvenated my soul, and I am grateful for every one of them and the time I spent running carefree.

By late January and early February, my legs felt ready to rock and roll and my head felt back in the game. Speed sessions slowly begun to creep back into my training and my running mojo seemed to return with a vengeance. More recently, the past 8 weeks have hosted a wide variety of workouts that lack any logical explanation other then those were the workouts I felt like I needed at those particular moments of time. Training by my gut and not by what my preplanned schedule is telling me to do has been a completely new experience for me, one that I have become very very fond of. Training this way has caused me to push myself harder then I ever have before at the right moments in time.

Lacing up my new racing flats pre race

I registered for the Shamrock Shuffle 8k back in early January knowing that this would not be a key race for me. The plan has been all along to use this as a test of my fitness level midway through my half marathon training to get an idea of how I was progressing. There was no taper and instead the last 10 days became a heavy build up of miles, speed sessions, progression runs, and recovery from the flu and a pesky run in with the excess amount of pollens lingering in the air. Expectations that I would go into this 8k feeling rested and ready to fly through the race course with ease didn't exist and were instead filled with the knowledge that if I wanted a PR I was really going to have to fight for it.

Behind every great female athlete is a supportive and loving husband

And fight I did.

Going into today I knew that I could bust out a 31:30, but deep down inside I really wanted a sub 31 finish. This was an aggressive goal for me but I felt like if I could squeeze out every single last drop of strength from my body that a 30:xx finish was in the bag. What I didn't realize was that running this fast hurts like no other.

Awkward waving photo to my support crew

Your feet feel like they are on fire.
Your lungs are gasping for breath.
And your mind tells you that you can't.

I wanted to get out there and push myself harder then I ever have at this distance before, to throw in a few miles under my 6:20 goal pace and "ride my edge" all the way through the finish line.

My Garmin stats rarely ever match up with the race distance,
which is normal. 8k's are 4.97 miles,
my signal somehow picked up an extra .14 miles.

I don't know who that girl was out there racing today, but man I like her and I hope that she sticks around. Crossed the 5k and my Garmin read 19:19, my 5k PR from last July puts me at 19:26. Mind begun to go astray here a bit and the pain from a 5:42 mile 2 begun to catch up with me, haven't ever seen a 5 at the beginning of my race splits before so I think I started to psyche myself out. The mental game begun here where bargaining with myself was the only thing that seemed to get me to the finish line. Mile 4 was pure hell as I was suddenly being passed by more men then I would care to admit to. Damn you men with your high testosterone levels and what often appears to be effortless speed. Instead of them getting chicked, I was getting duded. And it sucked.

"You're considered an elite, start acting like one"

This somehow became my unintentional mantra and was the advice of my ever-so-wise husband. Maybe this seems harsh to some, but this man knows me better then I know myself sometimes and often provides good kick in the pants at the right vulnerable moment. Seeing him just before the mile 4 marker somehow provided a mild second-wind and I managed to get myself somewhat back on track as Kelly Clarkson reminded me that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" through my headphones.

Right before the 4 mile marker

In the heat of the moment time seemed to stand still, but now it all just feels like it passed in an instant and all thats left is blurry memories.  Part of me wants to go back for a redo of mile 4 to shave off those extra 17 seconds to get me just under 31 minutes, but what's done is done. I ran my a$$ off, earned an 82 second PR, and feel pretty stellar that my legs randomly pumped out a 5:42 mile. Like I said before, it's just a number and doesn't define me as an athlete. Still a pretty tasty PR and a sign that I'm on track for some pretty booty-kickin spring races.

Statistics from the worlds largest 8k

Clock Time: 31:16
Average Pace: 6:17
since I raced in the elite corral, chip time isn't applicable
think it took me 5 seconds to cross the start 
Overall Place: 452 out of 34,301
Sex Place: 55 out of 19,642

Not too shabby for a race that wasn't my goal race. Feeling 100% confident now that a sub 19 minute 5k is in these legs if I can mange to pump out these splits for an 8k and I can't wait to give one a go.


  1. Very impressive race! Congrats on the PR Britt!

  2. Great pace!! And I think you could go sub 19 if you raced a 5K any time soon... :-)

  3. i love that you have been training by feel more, and are PR'ing with it (even if it wasn't quite what you were aiming for).. i think that's the way to get more happiness from your running! you look amazing out there. even more so than your amazing speed, i'm jealous that your hubs takes good action shot photos! mine needs a little help in this area haha!

  4. Britt, this was an amazing race and a great recap. Yes, absolutely, when is the 5K? You will go way sub 19. And I predict a solid 1:25 half marathon for you.
    Super happy for you. 2 sub 6 miles! Wow! And I completely get how those miles can play with your mind. Yes, you can go faster and yes, you are going to have some amazing races coming up. Giddy up!

  5. You KILLED IT!!! I was thinking about you this morning, hoping you were flying through those miles, and you rocked it! I knew you were going to do amazing - and you are going to smoke a 19 minute 5K, easily. Go for sub 18!!;) You work so hard and have gained such invaluable knowledge about yourself as a runner, you have a lot of new pr's coming! You should be floating on cloud 9, awesome job:)

  6. Awesome!! So inspiring to read about a "real" elite :) Also, it's refreshing to see that running by feel is not only paying off mentally, but also physically with the PR. Great job!

  7. hella nice! I, uneducated runner that I am, have never heard of an 8k. And especially not an 8k with 35,000 runners. holy crap that is a popular race!

  8. You are AWESOME! That is so fast and it's crazy that you are 452 out of 34,000 people!! CONGRATS!

  9. Britt, congrats on an amazingly fast 8k, I am so proud of you! You are an elite, my friend, you totally own that title.

    I am impressed with all your splits and especially those two miles that were solidly sub 6 minutes.

    And one of my favorite parts of this is that a lot of your training was very intuitive. You listened to your body and it worked!!

  10. Wicked fast girl!! So proud of you! Yes, you do know this girl and yes, she will stick around! Can't wait to see what is in store for 2012 and Britt. WAhoooo!

  11. Congratulations on such an awesome time; you are an inspiration to us all!

  12. Congrats on the fast time. You put in tons of miles and workouts and deserve it. Here's to a bunch of PRs this year!

  13. Congrats again on an amazing performance! You seemed like you were enjoying your time out there. :)

    For a race that wasn't your "goal" race, you sure kicked butt!

  14. WHOA!!! Huge congrats Britt! Huge! I saw your 5K time on Facebook and I was thinking that was faster than your PR! Holy cow!

    I love that you were able to have an intutive training plan that left you feeling good about you, and you rocked this race :) Way to go!

    Also... the burning feet... hate them! Is there any way to deal with that? Just go with the pain?

    Congrats again!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Way to go!! That's awesome! You kicked some butt!!! I thought about Chicago yesterday and missed it that much more when I realized it was the Shamrock Shuffle. :)

  16. I would say you more than acted like an elite out there! Congrats to you--what an awesome day for you. And what a great way to start the 2012 season...

  17. Amazing job on the race! Way to go. You definitely raced like an elite.

  18. Wow you are so fast! Such an inspiration for us slow runners lol
    Great job!

  19. Over 34,000 runners for an 8k? That shi cray. Congrats on a speedy race, well done.

  20. YAY congrats on a great race!! you aced it both mentally and physically!
    I think 'tentative' training plans are great, they allow you to believe in what you're doing & feeling and not get hung up if every workout doesn't go as planned!
    way to kick booty and smash a new PR!

  21. that is BEYOND 'not too shabby' it was ur first real race back and u PR'ed by a ton, u gotta always take away pride after a PR. great job out there, and hey, getting duded sucks but they do have that testo on not only did u get the tenacious racing spirit lit but u also learned that maybe next time save that 5:40 for the last few miles rather than the second and it'll prolly feel better...hehe.

    great job, and relish those hammies getting annoyed with u, u pushed up and made em work! :)

  22. Congrats on the race! Sounds like it went perfect overall! 34,000 runners is massive!

  23. Great time for an 8k! Congrats on the PR!

  24. WOW. That is all I can think of to say right now.