This weekend all four members of the household ended up in different places.
- My husband went to Boy Scout camp
- Stepson #1 went to a church retreat
- Stepson #2 wasn't feeling great so he skipped Boy Scout camp and went to his mom's house
- I went to Chicago and ran the Shamrock Shuffle
The backstory on the Shamrock Shuffle is that in previous years it's been held on the same weekend as spring break. In 2018 we saw it as we drove by, and in 2019 we learned what it was. In 2020 we planned our vacation and I registered for the race...'nuff said about that. In 2021 it was offered virtually and I ran it in my hometown. In 2022 the race was planned to be an in person event and we planned to go to CHI for spring break...but whomp whomp spring break did not line up with race weekend this year. Sigh, it's just one of those things. It was doable for me to go to CHI on my own, but kind of silly when we'd just be going back in a few weeks.
And the more I thought about it, the more I decided to go for it. Right now most of my husband's vacation time is pledged towards the Scouts, and I've gotten in the bad habit of not taking time off work since the pandemic started. Chicago is a bit of a haul, but a fairly straightforward drive, and in addition to the race I could knock out a couple of touristy things that I'm interested in that we haven't been able to get to in our previous family trips. So I decided to go for it.
I took Friday off from work and headed up to the Windy City. My hotel was blocks away from the race and close to all of the museums, so I was set for everything that I needed.
The least exciting part of my trip? The food! There was a Trader Joe's and a Starbucks right down the street so that was the budget part of my trip. That breakfast burrito tho...
Seriously tho...if I had been with my family eating out would have been part of the vacation experience. When I'm on my own I just want something quick and easy.
Early on Saturday morning I was surprised to see that registration for the one mile race was still open and I briefly entertained the idea of running it. But I'd done my long run the day before so I knew that at best it would be a very slow mile and decided to save it for race day. I ended up walking to the race site around the race start and getting to hear the national anthem, so at least there was that.
From there I headed to The Art Institute of Chicago. I spent three hours there and still didn't see everything. I walked in and was minding my own business when I walked up to the next room and BAM found myself face to face with American Gothic.
Anytime that I've seen this painting before, the couple looks a bit sinister. But when I was looking at it in person they have a very sweet and gentle aura to them that I wasn't expecting and now I'm downright obsessed with this painting. I talked myself out of buying the jigsaw puzzle at the gift shop because I didn't want to carry it around but ended up ordering it later from Amazon.
On Sunday morning I put on my running gear and headed out to the race. There were only 20,000 runners so it was only about twice as large as the big races where I live. The weather was ideal for running: 36 degrees, bright and sunny, and almost zero wind. The people watching was to die for! I'm not much in to running costumes, but when I run this race again I will get a kilt.
The start was incredibly long. I was in corral G (out of corrals A-H plus the walking corral at the end). The start time was supposed to be at 9, but we didn't start until 9:15. I was a little nervous about this since checkout time was 11, so I knew that I wouldn't finish until 10:10-10:15 and then would have to really book it to make it out on time. But then we were off! And it was everything that I hoped it would be.
The biggest downside to the race was that it was so crowded. I'm used to the first lick of a race being a little bit congested, but there were so many people that it was immediately clear that this was only going to be a shuffle. Every once in a while I passed people when they got too slow but it was a lot of effort so for the most part I just went with it. The other negative was that early in the race we went over a bridge with open grating. There was a carpet that covered about 1/4 of the surface any just by luck that's where I happened to be, but it was still very uncomfortable underfoot. On the plus side, there were no hills to speak of. A tiny one near the beginning and of course a longer one at the end, but they were really nothing to write home about.
I've read a billion recaps of this race and the one thing that they all have in common is that the GPS signal isn't very good in downtown CHI and that your Garmin will just end up being a stopwatch. So imagine my surprise that it was dead on for mile markers 1 and 2, and just a click behind for 3 and 4. 8k is 4.97 miles and my Garmin came in at 4.99, so I thought that was pretty good.
Once I crossed the finish line, the real race began. The finish line was very close to the hotel, but it was fenced off to lead the runners back to the festival area. If the race was crowded and slow, the finish line was even more so. I finally got my medal, and it tickled me no end that I was also able to get a banana. My husband and I have a "thing" where I always bring him back a banana from my races and the Shuffle delivered.
Anyhoo, I finally got to the race exit and on my way back to the hotel. I got back to the room at 10:35 and was out of the shower by 10:40. From there I threw my wet hair right back into my runner's power bun, got everything in my backpack, heated my breakfast burrito and the rest of my coffee, and was out the door at 10:55 and checked out at 10:59. I ate my burrito in the lobby and then made tracks for home.
Will I run this race again? YES!!! Plans are being set in motion because my Chicago niece and her boyfriend want to run it next year. The only thing that I will do differently is to be more aggressive about getting to the front of my corral instead of very nearly at the back of it, which I think would have helped with the race course congestion. And also I'll plan on staying an extra day so that I won't have to deal with the check out deadline. But yes 10/10 would recommend. Running this race was a long time coming and I will be back.
All of the Other Stuff that I Usually Talk About In These Recaps
Last week I raved about The Nothing Man and this week I'm raving about the same author's latest book, 56 Days. I wasn't planning to read it so soon after finishing her other book, but sometimes that's how the library hold game pans out.
56 Days is the only book that I know of that falls into the class of Pandemic Lit. It's March 2020 in Ireland and Ciara and Oliver have just started dating. The lockdown starts and neither of them has any family in the area so they decide to move in together for the "two weeks" that we were all expecting. 56 days later the police are called to the apartment and there is a body...
Apart from the fact that it's a good book, I really respect the author for taking the pandemic head on. She was working on another book at the time but was having problems concentrating on it. Then came the lockdown and there was a push for couples to "either shack up or break up" which gave her the idea for the story and she had no problems at all concentrating on that. She tells it better than I do, so you may want to check out this podcast to hear it straight from her.
The surprise of the week was that the disgruntled HR Bigwig quit! It doesn't fix the problem but it cures a symptom.
Player 2 let me know that they are reviewing their "budget and remote work policy" which to me means that they can't afford me but they'll keep me on the hook while they try to find someone local. I'm certain that I do not want this job - there are no obvious pros and a lot of potential cons. It's easier if they don't want me so that I don't have to break up with them, but on the other hand job offers are always good for the ego.
So what's next? Nothing! There were a few jobs posted this week that I could have applied to, but when I researched the companies either the businesses were boring or the Glassdoor reviews were negative, so I didn't apply. This is a shift for me because last year I applied to every job that moved and then only researched the companies if they contacted me. I just have to sit back and cool my heels until the next promising candidate comes along.