Shamrock Shuffle 8k 2019 review

Disclaimer: Iโ€™m promoting the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

After not making it to the start line for the 2018 Shamrock Shuffle due to illness, I was excited to not only receive an entry for the 8k race, but to make it to the start line healthy ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป I also convinced my husband to run with me as per usual ๐Ÿ˜‰ Well, not with me, with me, because he is a lot faster than I am! As I previously mentioned, my training has not been stellar with my busy student schedule and I’m still easing into hard training post injury. I only did two fartlek workouts going into the race and I averaged 15 mi/week. My goal going into the race was to have fun and run 7 min miles. I was definitely surprised with my race result to say the least! I ran 33:15 (6:42 pace) for the 8k, which is not too shabby for such low mileage and little workouts. My BibRave friends and I decided not to enter the team competition, so I accepted a place on the Recreational Oiselle IL team and our team came in 1st! The results are age-graded, so my time did not put me on the scoring team (top 4), but it was still fun to run on a scoring team like the good ‘ol cross country days.

My Garmin was not working, so most of the race I had no idea of my pace and just tried to maintain a “comfortably hard” pace. Plus, I found myself distracted by all the race views and reminiscing on when I ran the same streets for my first marathon last October. ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, when I hit the 5k in 20:39, I realized I was running sub 6:40s, even though I thought I was running 7 min miles. Then, I got a side stitch around mile 3.5 and slowed down considerably (or so it felt) ๐Ÿ™ƒ I am not sure if it was the oatmeal and dates I ate 1 hour before the race start (I usually need 2-3 hours to adequately digest) or my lack of training, but I told myself to jut try and hold on for less than 1.5 more miles, despite the pain.

Chicago Road Runners, a local running club, snapped the picture of me below trying to focus through the side stitch pain. lol. I was able to bring it home and only add 8 seconds per mile to my pace, so I am proud of that. And I’m seriously proud of what I was able to do in this race considering my circumstances. I think with hard work and consistency, I’ll be able to chase some of my upcoming (and lofty) running goals! ๐Ÿ™‚

I have my sights on a sub 30 minute 8k in future years and I know I have to put in the work to achieve that goal. I cannot just coast by on 15 miles per week! Although, Ashlyn is helping me train more seriously and consistently starting now (Do I really have to do 400 meter repeats this week? :P) So hoping that helps me achieve my goals at my half marathons in May and July-do not worry there will be a blog post all those in the near future ๐Ÿ˜›

Other race notes:

-Expo/packet pick-up: The packet-pick and expo were held at the McCormick Center, which was coincidently the same weekend as a Comic-Con. So it was crazy crowded ๐Ÿ™ƒ experience at the expo last Saturday was fine, though. I was able to pick up my packet and swag, chat with some brands, and force my husband to take the below picture with me. He loves when I make him take pictures ๐Ÿ˜›

-Parking/transit: The race starts at Grant park and parking can be both challenging/expensive, so I recommend public transit, biking, or running to the start. My husband and I walked/jogged to the start line, since we live pretty close to downtown.

-Gear Check: This race had gear check, so I was grateful to be able to warm up in layers and then ditch my warm-ups at gear check. Although, after the race it took gear check over 10 minutes to locate my bag…that was frustrating and an unusual experience. Usually my experiences with gear check are smooth. I found out the worker just put my bag in the wrong section. I got a little short with the workers because I was chilly post race and I feel bad, but sometimes we are not our best selves post-race when we are hungry. Or maybe that’s just me?! I doubt whoever worked the gear check reads my blog…but if you do I am sorry for being short about my misplaced (and later found) bag. It was not a big deal!

-Start line: Unlike the Chicago Marathon (which also starts at Grant Park), it was super easy to get into my corral. That experience at the Chicago marathon was kid of stressful, I will not lie! I barely made it to the back of my corral (C) at the marathon. But at the Shuffle last weekend it took less than 5 minutes to get into corral A. I noticed a lot of corral jumping and lack of regulation at this race. It was stricter at the marathon. All around me there were people who should have been in corral D, but were in A with my husband and I. Oh well, though ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ

-Swag: The swag this year was SWEET! I am obsessed with the hat. Although, I wish I did not need to run in such a warm hat now that it is the beginning of April, but also at least my hate is cute๐ŸคฃI’d be fine waiting to wear it again until next winter, though ๐Ÿ˜› We also received dry-fit short sleeve tops that I plan to rock all spring and summer. The medals are AWESOME (see above!). Mariano’s had a lot of free post-race eats at the finish as well. I took everything I could hold from mixed nuts, to fruits, to granola bars. I was grateful that they had a lot of vegan options. I actually forgot my post-race beer somehow ๐Ÿ˜ญ But, we did get oat milk cappuccinos with my sister-in-law after the race, which made me feel better. haha.

-Post-race/Meet-ups: After the race we had a nice little BibRave met up in Grant Park. It was so fun to hang out with Mark and Ben again. And to meet Melissa for the first time. She even brought her dogs and they were the cutest! I missed Zenaida this time ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Maybe we can photoshop her into the picture below? I love that BibRave connects me to so many amazing runners across the country, but nothing beats actually hanging out with them in real life ๐Ÿ™‚

I also FINALLY got to meet Amanda (not me ๐Ÿคฃ) in real life after becoming Instagram friends, so that was awesome. I cannot wait to hang out and run more of the same races!

Overall, the Shamrock Shuffle 8k was an awesome race! It is flat, fast, and it’s such an obscure distance, it is almost a guaranteed PR. The swag is worth it and I love how everyone gets decked out in shamrock and green attire. It is the race that signifies that start of the Chicago racing season and one that I plan to run again!

Did you run the Shamrock Shuffle this year or in previous years? What did you think?

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The Top 5 reasons to run the Mardi Gras Chaser 5k/10k on 3/2/19

Disclaimer: Iโ€™m promoting the Mardi Gras Chaser 5k/10k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

Good afternoon friends! I hope you are all staying warm on this chilly Chicago weekend. โ›„๏ธI’m here to tell you about an awesome racing opportunity in Chicago for a great cause: The Back on My Feet Mardi Gras Chaser 5k/10k on Saturday March 2, 2019 at Montrose Harbor. I ran the 5k race back in 2015 and my now-husband won and I won my age group despite being injured during the race! It was a cold day, but a fun experience! ๐Ÿ™‚

Need more convincing?! Read my top 5 reasons to run below! If you stick through the post I’ll even share a discount code with all of you ๐Ÿ˜‰

  1. Signing up for this race will give you an excuse to train through the winter and get some vitamin D by running outside. Well, unless you run on the treadmill-which is totally understandable! I’ve been on the treadmill a lot myself this winter. You will still get a healthy dose of endorphins and motivation, no matter how you train :).
  2. 100% of the race proceeds go to Back On My Feet, an organization that uses the magical power of running to fight homelessness. Homeless people enter the program by committing to run three mornings a week with their local Back On My Feet running club. Then, Back On My Feet also helps homeless people develop different life skills to find jobs and housing here in Chicago. What’s even better is that 11 other states have a Back On My Feet doing the same awesome things for their states.
  3. You may find a new volunteer cause after running this race! Back On My Feet has three running clubs in Chicago if you are interested in being volunteering with them. They are always looking for more awesome runners like you to help them out ๐Ÿ™‚
  4. You get fun swag to wear during the race! Every participant gets a Mardi Gras mask and beads, so get in the spirit and wear them during the race! You can see the beads I rocked at the 2015 race in the picture of my husband and I above.
  5. The after party is AWESOME! Every year it is held at Fat Cat and they have a unlimited brunch for $15 with New Orleans style breakfast foods like red beans and rice, as well as a yogurt bar. You will also get a free beer! ๐Ÿป

So, what do you say? Want to run for a great cause and have fun in the process?! The 5k is $45 and the 10k is $50, but with the code BR5OFF you can take $5 off either race! I really hope you all run! It’s one of my favorite 5k/10k races here in Chicago! ๐Ÿ™‚

Running into 2018: goals and dreams for the new year: spring check-in

Hello friends! Happy Easter (if you celebrate)! I hope you all had a fun and relaxing Sunday. Mine was busy because of work, but now I’m happy for some time to relax. ๐Ÿ™‚

For those of you who don’t know, my temporary teaching job ended last week, so I acted quickly and snagged two part time jobs. Both of the jobs are at places I adore and are perfect for this somewhat “limbo” phase of my life. I’m still figuring out what my next steps are, but I have a really good idea what they will be and will share when the time is right…

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In the meantime, I thought the 1st day of April was the perfect time to check-in with my 2018 goals. This is mainly a way to hold myself accountable, so feel free to skip this post if this sort of thing bores you ๐Ÿ˜› If not, I appreciate your support by reading and commenting! I’d love to know if you set goals for 2018 and have accomplished some of them, so feel free to share with me too!

Black Bean Queenโ€™s fifteen 2018 goals check-in #1:

1. A minimum of 5 minutes of stretching/foam rolling after EVERY RUN

9 times out of 10 I have accomplished this goal since January! So that feels good. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just knowing that I shared this goal publicly with all of you made me think twice when I wanted to slack on stretching and rolling ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus I am recovering from my runs well so far…but we shall see once I start ramping up the miles ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

2. Strength training a minimum of 2x/ week (particularly glute/hip exercises)

Not doing well with this goal…I’m at once a week when it’s a good week. When I was teaching I barely had enough time to fit in my runs, let alone my strength workouts, but this isn’t optional for me or I will get hurt. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Strength training at least twice week, focusing on hip strength, is my top goal moving forward. 

3. Yoga 1x/ week (a class or YouTube video)

Also not doing great with this goal for the same reason as #2…BUT now that I am done teaching and working two PT jobs that do not require outside work (i.e. lesson planning, grading, etc) I will be able to better fit in the “extras” that enhance running training. Yoga will be my second top goal moving forward. However, I have done yoga twice in the last week for what it’s worth.๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ

4. Finish my first marathon in October (my ultimate goal is 3:30 or faster so I can Boston Qualify)

Not accomplished yet ๐Ÿ˜‰

5. PR in the 5k and the half marathon by increasing my mileage (SLOWLY) and adding in more track/speed workouts (5k goal is sub 18 minutes & half marathon goal is 1:25)

Same as above. I’ve only done one 5k in 2018 and no half marathons yet. My first half marathon is the Illinois half marathon in less than a month!

6. Run my first 10k race

Same as above. My first 10k will be on June 3rd at Run for the Zoo

7. Run a trail race of any distance

Not accomplished yet ๐Ÿ˜‰

8. Hire a coach in the spring/summer to help me with Chicago marathon training

Accomplished sooner than expected. A few weeks ago, I won two months of coaching with Heather Szuba of McKirdy Trained and it could not have come at a better time! I’m at a new phase in my life where I can prioritize my training a bit better than when I was teaching. I can already tell this is going to be huge for my running and so far I love working with Heather. I can’t wait to see where working with her takes me! ๐Ÿ™‚ 

10. Join a running group or racing team

Not accomplished yet ๐Ÿ˜‰ Since one of my new jobs is at a running store, I think it is time for me to finally do more group runs or join a team. Stay tuned…๐Ÿ˜œ

11. Read 24 books (2 books/month)

Not accomplished yet ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sadly, I’ve only read one book in 2018 so far ๐Ÿ˜ฆ On the bright side I am an extremely fast reader, so I am confident I can still accomplish this goal!

12. Connect with more liked minded people by growing Black Bean Queen to 1,000 subscribers. I also want to grow my social media presence on Instagram and Twitter to at least 1,000 followers and my Facebook and Pinterest to at least 500 followers.

Partly accomplished! ๐Ÿ™‚ Last I checked this blog has over 1,060 subscribers, so it has grown a bit in the last few months. My Instagram is also over 1,000 followers, but I am not at my Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest goals yet. I’m concerned less about actual numbers and more about connecting to even more awesome runners, fitness enthusiasts, plant based eaters, etc. 

13. Be kinder to and less critical of myself by reflecting on the positives in my life at least 1x/week

Working on this! One of the best things I did to help me with this goal was buy 52 Lists for Happiness by Moorea Seal. I love starting a new week with one of the lists. Thanks to Connie of Constantly for the recommendation! ๐Ÿ™‚

14. Take my vitamin everyday

I was really good about this in January and February, but fell off the wagon during March. It’s a new week and month, so time to be better about taking my vitamin again! ๐Ÿ˜› 

15. Cook a new vegetarian/vegan recipe with my husband 1x/month

Working on this goal! We got in a bit of a rut cooking the same old favorites the last few months..BUT we just bought the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook and I flagged some of the vegetarian/vegan recipes to make over the next few weeks. Plus, I still need to make a bunch of the recipes from Oh She Glows Everyday, which we bought a year ago. So ideas are not the problem ๐Ÿ˜› One way that has helped us in the past has been by turning it into a date night to make a new recipe. I highly recommend this tactic for any couples out there who keep making the same things or go out to eat for many meals. 

Are YOU accomplishing your 2018 goals, running related or not? Iโ€™d love for you to share, so we can support each other! ๐Ÿ™‚

Top 5 reasons why you should join me at Run for the Zoo on Sunday June 3, 2018

Disclaimer: Iโ€™m received a free entry toย Run for the Zoo as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

This will be my first time running Run for Zoo and I’m not sure what took me so long to sign up! ๐Ÿ˜› When I first moved to Chicago about four years ago I even lived across the street from the zoo and would regularly take a lap through the zoo in the middle of my runs…at least until I got injured ๐Ÿ˜ฆ What can I say, I’m a sucker for cute animals๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿตย If it werenโ€™t for all my injuries over the last few years, I’m sure I would have run it sooner! YOU SHOULD RUN IT THIS YEAR WITH ME!!! Need more convincing?! Check out my top 5 reasons why you should run the Run for the Zoo below. And if you read the whole thing Iโ€™ll even give you a discount code (or you can scroll to the bottom right away for the code, but I’ll know you didn’t read)!๐Ÿ˜œ

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Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Run the Run for the Zoo:

1. The course weaves through the beautiful Lincoln Park Zoo! If you have run many races in Chicago ,you know that is is a treat because most races occur on the Lakeshore Path. Granted, the Lakeshore Path is gorgeous, but it’s fun to shake it up. ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Multiple race options. Do you have a competitive side? Do you have a little one at home? Or trying to convince a reluctant spouse to try running for the first time? This is the perfect race for all three options! There is a 5k, 10k, and the Safari Stampede race for kids ages 3-6. There is chip timing, it is a USTAF-certified course, and there are wave start times, so you can go for that elusive PR OR take leisurely walk-run through Lincoln Park Zoo. The choice is yours!

3. Proceeds from the race go directly to Lincoln Park Zoo to keep it up and running for FREE 365 days a year!

4. You will receive fun swag and attend a post-race party! All finishers get a tech T-shirt with the new an improved logo, plus admittance to a fun post-race party with a DJ, free beer (for those over 21), and snacks!

5. Iโ€™ll be there! Iโ€™m running the 10k for the first time and you know youโ€™ve always wanted to meet the Black Bean Queen in real life ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜œย  And yes the Black Bean King (AKA my husband is also running) Plus, if there’s interest I could host a shake-out run the day before or a warm-up the day of the race. Just let me know on social media or via e-mail!:)

This is a picture of my husband and I is from Zoo Lights in December 2017. It is a free month long event during Christmas time that is open to the public. It is made possible through generations donations and proceeds from events such as Run for the Zoo. Just incase you needed a 6th reason to run ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have you done Run for the Zoo before?! If so, whatโ€™s your favorite part of the race? If not, are you joining me at the race this year?! Sign up by using the codeย โ€œBIBRAVE” forย  10% off your race entry!

F^3 training weeks 1 & 2 (12/11-12/24/17): my return to running after injury

Hello friends! It’s been far too long since I’ve had a running/training update…but until Saturday December 16th this gal was confined to cross training and rest due toย  left IT band injury. :/

The good news is all my rest/cross training/strength work paid off and I’m back at it! ๐Ÿ™‚ My comeback race will be the F^3 5K on 01/20/2018! I’m sad that I’m not running the half marathon like I planned, but that would not be a smart training move…Sudden mileage increases and laziness toward strength work is what got me injured in the first place.ย  I’m just happy to be running again! I have all year to reach my time goals- this 5k is just to get back out there! Although, at some point this year I’d like to run a sub 18 5k…not sure how realistic that is.๐Ÿค”

lake views run

So, without further ado let’s recap my last two weeks of training/ my return to running. I won’t lie- it’s not very excitingย ๐Ÿ˜‚ย My return to running involves cross training, strength work,ย and only a few days of running per week. Each pain free mile and increase in my strength and balance is a step in the right direction, so I’ll take it!๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿป

Week 1: Monday December 11th-Sunday December 17th:

-Monday December 11th: REST DAY

-Tuesday December 12th:ย 20 min on the stair stepper, lower body weights, foam rolling, & resistance band exercises

-Wednesday December 13th:ย 30 minutes of yoga & foam rolling

-Thursday December 14th:ย REST DAY

-Friday December 15th:ย 20 minutes stationary bike, resistance band exercises, upper body exercises, and core

-Saturday December 16th:ย 1st run back in nearly 6 weeks! 2.2 miles at 7:30 pace followed by lower body strength exercises & foam rolling

first run back

-Sunday December 17th: REST DAY

Week 2: Monday, December 18th- Sunday December 25th:

-Monday December 18th:ย 2nd run back was 2 dark miles at 7:24 pace followed by stretching and foam rolling

2 miles in the dark

-Tuesday December 19th:ย 40 minute upper body, core, & IT band strengthย routine

40 minute IT band

-Wednesday December 20th:ย 3 miles at 7:15 pace followed by 15 minutes of yoga and foam rolling

3 miles

-Thursday December 21st:ย Lower body strength routine similar to Tuesday’s workout

-Friday December 22nd: REST DAY. Went to zoo lights and out for pizza/beers with my husband to celebrate the end of final exams with his students (he gave a little over 100 final exams Monday-Thursday, so was A LOT of grading due today ).

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-Saturday December 23rd: REST DAY, but did some stretching & foam rolling

-Sunday December 24th: Christmas Eve fun run of 3 miles at 7:47 pace with my husband and the running club in our hometown. We kept the pace easy because it was icy and it started to snow toward the end of the run.

christmas eve run

Today’s question: Are any of you running any races this winter? If so, are they in a warm or cold destination? ALSO, if you aren’t running any winter races and are interested in the F^3 5k or half marathonย in Chicago, check out myย race discountsย page! Plus, then you can join me at Chicago’s coolest winter race! See what I did there?!ย ๐Ÿ˜‚

I won the lottery!

The Chicago marathon lottery that is!

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Sorry, if you were hoping it was the $$$ kind of lottery…no, I cannot buy you a Ferrari or fund your child’s college education! ๐Ÿ˜œ Honestly, getting in the Chicago marathon feels like a million bucks, even if this prize is only worth $195… of my own money…oh wow, that’s awkward I almost forgot I pre-paid for this race! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Running the Chicago marathon has been on my running bucket list since I graduated from college and moved to Chicago in 2014, but for many reasons it has not happened yet. Between graduation in 2014 and now I’ve only entered the lottery one other time- in 2015- and I was not chosen. It was a blessing in disguise, though, because I spent most of 2015 injured and would not have been able to train adequately once I was healed up in the middle of the summer. I’ve been at the marathon every year since I moved here to volunteer and/or cheer people on. And before 2014 I used to watch the live stream on TV!

A look back at my Chicago Marathon experiences over the years:

(L: Volunteering at the first water stop in 2014 with my now husband/ R: Hanging at the post-race party in 2014 to congratulate my now mother-in-law for finishing)

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(In 2015 with my now husband after the race. He PRed in his first Chicago and second ever marathon. He’s hoping to run well under 3 hours in 2018! I also volunteered at the first water stop in 2015 with my now mother-in-law.)

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(In 2016, after the race where my now husband proposed! See more about the proposal below. I volunteered at the first water stop again with my now mother-in-law and sister-in-law and he ran.)

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(2017 was the only year I did not volunteer at the first water stop. My husband and I just watched my mother-in-law run and we did a 7 mile run in between all of the cheering.)

Looking forward to Chicago 2018:

In 2018 I’m ecstatic to finally be the one racing and not watching! The Chicago marathon holds a special place in my heart because it is where I got engaged in 2016! ๐Ÿ™‚

The brief story (maybe I’ll share a more detailed version in the future :P): After the race and in the post-race party, my now husband told me he wanted me to buy him beer, so I started walking toward the vendors. He then jogged up behind me and said he wanted to join me in buying the beer…but then he stopped me, got down on one knee, and proposed! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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The only bummer is that this year my husband he did not get in the race, despite running a fast enough time to automatically qualify him (although he did not run a marathon in 2017, so his time is over a year old, and maybe that’s why he did not get in). I was hoping for us to be together for my first marathon, but at least he can still watch me! :/ We are both avid, passionate runners and our relationship started in high school (2009) because of running and it continues to be one of the greatest sources of joy in our marriage. We are looking into other marathons for him to run instead of Chicago or he could be a charity runner. He’s being an awesome sport about it and is genuinely happy for me!

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So, what am I going to do differently the rest of 2017/in 2018 to ensure I make it to Chicago  2018 healthy and strong?!

  •  Work on hip/glute/IT band/core resistance band and body weight exercises pre or post run 2-3 days per week
  • Yoga on my own or in a studio 1 day per week
  • A longer overall body strength session 1 day per week
  • Build up my mileage slowly
  • Race to gauge where I am at in my training (5ks and a half marathon are already on the race schedule, more TBA)
  • Get a coach in the late spring. My husband and I know a lot about running, but I want the expertise of someone who has run several marathons and has Boston qualified. I already some ideas in mind! I want someone who can help me reach the goals below.

What are my A, B, and C goals, as of now, for the Chicago marathon in 2018?!

  • C Goal: Finish…it is my first marathon after all!
  • B Goal: 3:30 or faster (Boston Qualify)
  • A Goal: 3:15 or faster

Are any of you joining me at Chicago in 2018?! If so, what are your goals?