A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I’ve been training for an 8K.  The annual Shamrock Shuffle is a rite of spring in Chicago: it’s the opening of  running season, a big party, and chance to get outside after a long winter spent pounding out workouts on treadmills instead of sidewalks.

I signed up for the Shuffle with some friends from work, which I highly recommend if you’re the wimping-out sort: by signing up with casual co-worker friends, you will feel tremendous pressure not to bail.

If I’d signed up with really good, lifelong friends, my thinking might have gone something like this: “these people have seen me through thick and thin, they know I’m not athletic, they’ll understand and still love me if I end up walking the whole thing.  Maybe I should just volunteer to pass out Gatorade at the finish line or something.  They won’t mind.”

Since I signed up with work friends, however, my thinking went something like this: “Oh dear crap, I’ve signed up to run 5 miles with people who seem kind of sporty.  I’ve warned them that I am not FAST, per se, and they’ve assured me they aren’t either, but I have my doubts.  That one guy in particular seems like he’s probably fast and fit.  It will be hugely embarrassing if I end up having to let them go on without me because I can’t hack it.  I’d better get my ass in gear.”

So I followed a program and trained for the Shuffle and, lo and behold, I did not entirely hate it.  I still don’t get the “runner’s high” people talk about, but I can go out and run for 3 miles and feel like I’ve gotten a good workout, without wanting to die.  Victory!  I worked my way up to longer distances, I was confident I’d be able to finish the Shuffle without stopping to walk, and I was really looking forward to the race.

A week or so ago, one sporty guy work friend got last minute tickets to London for this week, so he bailed on the Shuffle.  Understandable.  Then, on Friday, other work friend said that she wasn’t going to run it either, because she wasn’t feeling well, and she had to travel for work this week and it didn’t seem wise to push it.

Hm.  Suddenly I was running the Shuffle alone.  Less than ideal.

I called up some old friends who I know are runner types and asked them if they were shuffling.  Success!  They were!  We made plans to meet up.

Sunday morning at 6:45, I got up to get ready.  I walked over to the bedroom window, looked outside, and saw: 4 inches of snow on the ground.


At that very moment, my cell phone pinged with a text message from my old friends, who said that they were hard core, but 4 inches of snow was a lot even for them, so they were bailing.

I took it as a sign, and climbed back in bed.

The Shuffle did go on:

How miserable does that look? I just couldn’t muster the will to go by myself to the park to wait for an hour for my group to start, then run through that, then go home on the el by myself.  There was only one way I could see that scenario ending and it was with me sick in bed after contracting a slush-induced fever.

But, see, I couldn’t just forget about it and go back to bed.  I’d already picked up my race day packet, which included a souvenir Dri-Fit tshirt.  I’m new to the world of Dri-Fit tshirts, but I bought my first one a few weeks ago and I am IN LOVE.  I want MORE, and I was really excited to start wearing my new Shamrock Shuffle Dri-Fit shirt, but I didn’t feel right about it because I hadn’t actually RUN the Shuffle.  (I am the same girl who did not play with her Christmas or birthday gifts until I’d written thank you notes.  I’m a little prissy about these things.)  I was also kind of pissed off: I’d trained hard for this thing, and I was proud of how far I’d come.

So yesterday afternoon, I laced up my sneakers, put on my sweats, and headed to the gym, where I ran the 8K (and a little more) on the treadmill.  I know it’s not as hard or authentic as running it on pavement, but it still felt like an accomplishment.  Now, the next time I head out for a run, I can put on my souvenir Shamrock Shuffle Dri-Fit shirt and only feel like a little bit of a fraud.