A Successfull Shamrock Shuffle

Toni, Julie and Colleen (Team 40/10) pre shuffle

I am happy to report that 3 members of Team 40/10 successfully completed the Shamrock Shuffle 8K Sunday morning.  It was a blast thanks to weather that miraculously cooperated and long-time friends that kept me laughing all morning long….

Well, the members of Team 40/10 that ran the Shuffle continue to battle the “40” part of the team name.  One team member is nursing nagging knee pain that might be the beginnings of osteoarthritis, one is battling overall joint pain following taking a week off of training due to an awful cold, and after successfully recovering from a heel injury, I had a gallbladder attack the night before the Shuffle.  To steal Colleen’s battle cry “OY VEY!!!”  Thankfully we were all able to overcome our ailments to actually run the entire 5 miles without further injury.  Read on and you might find yourself overcoming your obstacles to find the joy in accomplishing something new…

Team 40/10’s Shamrock Shuffle 8K – March 21, 2010 – Chicago, IL

It’s 5 0’clock in the morning and I didn’t have to get my gallbladder removed so I take it as a sign that today is going to be a good day.  I feel a bit more relaxed than I did prior to the Turkey Trot as I had run a few 5 mile training runs since I recovered from my heel injury.  My runs were not focused on speed.   I was just trying to get the miles on my legs and lungs.  This resulted in pretty slow training runs but I didn’t die, get eaten by a coyote, or reinjure myself so yay for me.  I was pretty sure I would finish, but that was it for my expectations. 

Alex and I hit the road to meet team members so we can carpool into the city.  We are dismayed, to say the least, as we have to use the windshield wipers constantly to clear the windows of sleet.  I keep saying to anyone who will listen, “It can snow and rain all it wants until we have to get out of the car and stand in the corrals.”  Unfortunately Alex is the only member of my captive audience and he sleepily nods his head in agreement.  We arrive at our meeting point and Alex, for the 3rd time of the day (it’s only 7:15 in the morning) says that it’s colder outside than… in the house, in the car, than before etc. etc. You get the idea. 

Jim, Tom and Alex - Team 40/10 support crew

We all pile into the van and head into the city.  Jim, who drives like a veteran cab driver, gets us downtown in record time.  Much to our amazement, the weather appears to be clearing up! Sadly, we exit the car and it gives Alex yet another opportunity to state how cold it is.  In his defense, we are all frightened by the bone chilling winds whipping off the lake. We make sure we have cell phones and agree on a meeting point for the end of the run.  We get the first glimpse of the sea of humanity that we will be joining. The Alex and Tom abandon us for the corral that states “9 minute mile” pace.  Jim heads off in search of a warm place to have coffee. Team 40/10 let’s them go.  We happily file into the corral that states “10 minute mile” knowing that this may not be right, but we don’t want to start too close to the street sweepers that clean up after the last runners. 

As we stand in the aptly named “corral”, we resemble cattle as we inch forward toward what we hope will eventually be the starting line.  Colleen provides much comic relief as she is completely exasperated with her inability to “start running ALREADY!”  I, on the other hand, am taking in the sights.  I don’t know what moves people to wear ridiculous outfits for race day, but I LOVE it!  Team 40/10 looks like we’re about to rob a bank.  We are dressed head to toe in black/grey save for Colleen’s red hat.  Others have chosen flannel shamrock pants, shamrock antennae head gear, shamrock Dr. Seuss hats, and green fishnets.  It’s approximately 37 degrees out and I see some very serious runners wearing almost nothing. I say almost because they are wearing sports bras, teensy weensy running shorts – that’s it. But wait, they are wearing arm warmers (picture leg warmers for arms). Like that’s going to keep you from dying of hypothermia.  Julie says she’s thirsty and eyes the water bottle hanging off the utility belt of an over prepared fellow runner standing mere inches in front of her.  We almost die of laughter as she feigns taking a sip right off the bottle. These are the moments that make me thankful that we went to the bathroom twice as we were waiting to start the run.  In the midst of all the craziness, we sense the front of the pack start to inch forward a bit.  My heart starts beating a bit quicker as it dawns on me that we are about to do this thing.  This goes on for what seems like the entire 5 miles.  We walk past a 10 foot tall speaker that is blaring some Taylor Swift song and walk under the banner that announces START and we are off!

Colleen is a quick footed runner and finds a hole and Julie and I are left to watch her red baseball cap disappear into the crowd ahead.  Julie and I are step for step and happy to settle into our stride.  I wish I could say the miles went by as quickly as they seemed to for the Turkey Trot, but that would be a big fat lie.  Apparently Chicago is not as flat as Naperville. It has bridges, hills and slight rises that do not make me happy.  It’s quite an experience running with 25,000 people through downtown Chicago and along the lakefront.  There are supportive spectators ringing cowbells, blowing whistles, clapping, waving signs, cheering from the overpasses, and hanging out windows lining the entire route.  I lose Julie for a moment and then I find her.  I lose her and then I find her.  At about 1.5 miles I lose sight of her for the last time as I get stuck behind a couple that finds it necessary to run holding hands.  Barf.  I think I see Julie about 17 times during the rest of the run, but there are many, many Asian women wearing all black and donning ponytails.  Later Julie discloses that she too thought she saw me many times.  I pass the marker that indicates I’ve reached the 5K distance and I remember that was the Turkey Trot distance.  I fight the disappointment that rushes over me as I come to the realization that I still have 2 more miles to go.  I dodge the myriad of lost hats, single gloves and socks (can’t figure that one out) that have dropped from clueless runners.  I know I’m running at a quick pace for myself.  I’m just trying not to get run over. Of course the last 2 miles consist of a turn that has us running into a wind tunnel and one last hill that has got to be someone’s idea of a cruel joke.  My legs are dead as I approach the finish line.  There is no sprint to the finish for me this time. I’m relieved to be done and amazed to beat my best time for that distance by 6 minutes.  It’s still a snail’s pace by most people’s standards, but it’s super speedy for me and that’s what matters. 

Julie and I find each other with the help of our cell phones.  We take our “finishers” picture, slug some Gatorade, eat a banana, collect our beer (we didn’t get carded – ugh!), and meet up with the rest of the group at our meeting place.  We all share our individual experiences and it’s priceless to relive it. 

Team 40/10 finishes another organized run.  We all finished vertical and smiling.  We are all happy with our times.  Most of all we had fun accomplishing something together.  It was an experience I’ll never forget.  This is going to be a fun year full of ups and downs (literally) for Team 40/10 as we continue our trek towards the Marathon in October.  The next significant step will be a ½ marathon in June. OY VEY!


Until next time…Live Well, Toni Kuhel

...and SMILING!!!


5 thoughts on “A Successfull Shamrock Shuffle

  1. Toni,

    Hey great Job!!! Beating your time by 6 whole minutes is HUGE!!!

    Which half are you doing in June? I know that our paces are a little different, but do have any interest in joining me and some friends on some long runs? I am training for a half in May.

    I’ll see you at the gym. Again…AWESOME JOB!!!

    • Thanks Ann. Like I said, I’m slow like a turtle, but that’s okay. I would love to join you guys for a long run when I get a bit quicker. I’m a long way off from an 8 minute mile 🙂 I’m deciding between the Highland Half and the Party on the Pavement Chicago Half – both June 13th. Do you have any opinion on which would be better? The Highland looks to have many hills and a jillion turns. Do you know anyone that has done either? Which one did you say you were doing? I know you’ll kick butt in May.

  2. Congratulations on a strong finish, and one in which you were smiling at the end! Appreciate you sharing your experience, as it’s motivating and inspiring! Keep up the great work, Toni!

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