8k Race Day!
Apr 22, 2011 by Shelley Merz
It is hard to believe that April 10th has already passed by. Back in January when I signed up with Team in Training & registered for the Shamrock Shuffle, April 10th seemed like it was so far away. But here it is, almost 2 weeks after the race, and I'm finally writing this update.
The Shamrock Shuffle was an incredible experience. Steve & Julie arrived on Saturday since they were running the race with Jon & me. We all headed downtown Chicago very early on Sunday morning. Lots of fellow runners were on the buses & trains that day, of course. With an expected crowd of 40,000 for the race, I expected no less than standing room only on public transit. Surprisingly, we were able to sit most of the time. Once we reached our destination, the area surrounding Grant Park and the park itself was insane. We quickly decided on a meeting point for after the race, since it would likely be hard for all 4 of us to stick together and finish at the same time. We found the Team tent and declared that an easy enough meet-up point.
When the start gun went off, we waited about 30-35 minutes to start the race. They had us sectioned off into start corrals and we were toward the back. So finally our turn came and off we went!!! Did I mention that it was already in the 70s and quite humid at 9am? I think it reached a high of 84 later in the day! We all had been training in either very cold weather or inside on a treadmill so the sudden rise in the temperature was quite a challenge! It was a beautiful day but hard, at least for me, to breathe and find a good pace in the heat. Along with the heat came inclines in the race course that I didn't even think about, let alone prepare for. There was a lovely hill at the end of the course that I was told about, so that one was not a surprise, but when you've been training on pretty much a flat surface for 2.5 months, the small inclines are even tough! I ran one hill near the Lakefront Path, one time, throughout my entire training. Not too smart :)
Anyway, the energy of all of the runners and supporters along the route was awesome! Many people cheered us on from their balconies, along the street and in front of their businesses. Team even set up a cheering location along the route around Mile 3 and this was much needed by the time we got there :) I guess the race itself went pretty quick, despite the fact that it felt like forever. Steve & Julie crossed the finish line in around 54 minutes and Jon & I crossed the finish line in 1 hour. I didn't hit either of my time goals, I had two, one was a I-really-hope-I can-finish-in-under-55-minutes goal, and the other was I-better-finish-this-in-under-an-hour goal. We crossed the line 36 seconds after the 1 hour mark. So, despite not meeting my goal time, I am happy that we finished in a fairly decent time. That is about a 12-minute mile pace and that is nothing to be ashamed of.
We all met up at the Team tent after and made our way home, celebrating the fact that we all crossed that finish line! What an experience it was. We ran in memory of my dad, knowing he would be proud of us all for accomplishing quite a feat. We ran in honor of my mom, knowing that she was also proud of all of us for running. We ran for everyone battling blood cancers and we ran in support of a truly amazing cause. We were a part of the largest 8k in the world, with 40,000 registered runners. There were 32,447 finishers. Team in Training had the largest group running for charity with 88 participants and we raised $50,000. From what I hear, donations are still coming in and will be until May 12, which is our fundraising deadline.
I am truly honored to have been a part of such a dynamic, dedicated group of individuals. Team showed me that there is truly strength in numbers, there is no "I" in Team and we can all make a difference, and will make a difference, in the fight against cancer. Together we can and we will. So thank you to Team for the support and allowing me to be a part of something truly amazing. I've met some great people that are members of Team, an awesome mentor and several TNT/LLS staff members that are incredible, too.
Thank you again to my family and friends who supported me throughout the last few months, whether it's been emotional support or monetary support with donations. I truly appreciate all of you for your generosity and kindness. Being part of a group that raised $50,000 wouldn't have happened without each and every one of you. I love you all!
A huge thank you to my parents. Dad, this was for you and I miss you so much that words can't even express how much I miss you. You will be with all of us always and nothing can ever change that. Mom, this was for you too and you are such an incredible, strong woman and I admire you more than you know. I love you both.
Lastly, I have definitely rediscovered my love of running, and especially racing, this year. To date, I've run in this 8k, 2 5k's, registered for another 5k and 2 half marathons. My first half marathon is June 4th and the second one is September 11th. The one on September 11th is the Chicago Half Marathon with Team, so I'm very excited to be doing another event. I never in a million years thought I could run 13.1 miles and I finally believe that I can do it.
Apr 08, 2011 by Shelley Merz
2 days until Race Day! It's been a good week but emotional as well. I've been thinking about both my mom & dad a lot over the last few days. My mom, because she has gone through so much, and my dad, because I miss him very much. This week, my TNT Mentor, Mattie, had all of us Shamrock Shufflers over to personalize our race day shirts. Please see below for my shirt :) It's a wonderful group that I'll be running with on Sunday. Speaking of those I'm running with, the other half of Team Spitler will arrive in Chicago tomorrow :) Jonathan and I are looking forward to running with Steve & Julie! Scott & Kat can't be with us but we will run for them also. Maybe in the future we can all run a race together.
GO TEAM! Next time I post will hopefully be with my race time & photos :)
Mar 20, 2011 by Shelley Merz
Three weeks from today is race day! I am so excited about completing my first 8k at the Shamrock Shuffle. Today, I ran the St. Paddy's Day 5k in preparation for the upcoming race. I finished in 35:03 :) So not too shabby for someone that hasn't run that distance since high school! I plan to run more 5k's this year & hope each one is under that 35 minute mark :) Just a personal goal I hope to achieve.
Something neat to note from the race today...I wore a Team In Training singlet and got a "Go Team" from a guy running past me in the race. Then I crossed the finish line and got a thumbs up from a girl who finished after me who was also sporting her Team purple. Awesome feeling to know how many fellow supporters of this great cause are out there!
I've been training hard over the last few weeks. Most days now I am running 5 miles since that is about the same distance as the Shamrock Shuffle. One day (when I was still running 4 miles), I decided to run a bit further to see how far I could go. I do most of my training on the Lakeshore path, which is a nice, paved trail along Lake Michigan that runs 18 miles from start to finish. I have a turn-around point for my 4-mile loop so I ran past this to explore the trail further south. Well, each half-mile is marked & somehow I got into the zone, happily running along, and didn't realize how far I'd gone. I decided to turn around and head back to my car. It turns out I ran 6.5 miles that day. So that was a pretty incredible feeling and a personal milestone I hope to surpass in the very near future!
This weekend, I did some volunteering with Team. We "painted the town purple" and put up signs in storefronts around the Lincoln Square area. We got a lot of support from local business owners and hope to spread the word to others to get involved with the organization. Afterward, we all met up for food & to chat and it was a lot of fun.
I am seriously considering running the Chicago Half Marathon in September and am very excited about this possibility. There is another half marathon over the summer and if you complete both of these races, you are awarded the "Windy City 26.2 Challenge" medal for "completing" a marathon. Very cool concept, if you ask me. So, I'm thinking of doing that one as well.
On a more serious note, Team In Training lost a good friend this week, Bob Piercy. Bob lost his battle to ALL (Acute lymphoblastic leukemia). While I never had the opportunity to meet Bob, I was able to hear his story this weekend at training. He was a big supporter of Team, well-respected and loved much by family & friends. So, my heart goes out to Bob's family and friends and I will also run for Bob. One of his trademark sayings was "You run and I live" so I will continue to run and raise money for cancer research so others live on as well.
FInally, an update on my fundraising. I REACHED MY GOAL!!! THANK YOU, FAMILY & FRIENDS, FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT! Without you, I would not have reached my goal. I really appreciate all of your donations for such a wonderful cause. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. Without you, this wouldn't be possible. I will continue with my fundraising campaign until this website no longer accepts donations for my race :) Thank you all!
To my own honored heroes, Mom, I love you very much & I can't wait to cross that finish line for you and Dad. And to Dad, I also love you very much & know that you live on in each of your kids. We miss you so much.
I'm Almost There!
Mar 04, 2011 by Shelley Merz
37 days until race day...hard to believe as the last few weeks have flown by! I've reached the "I'm almost there" phase of my training. I am running 4.5 miles now. Hard to believe that about 5 weeks ago, I could barely make it around a 1.7 mile loop in my neighborhood. In a couple weeks I am running a 5k, just for fun. It's the weekend after St. Patrick's Day and should be good "practice" for the upcoming 8k :)
A brief update about my fundraising - everyone has been so supportive and I really appreciate it. I'm getting so close to my goal and can use a bit more help. Please consider donating $5, or $10, or whatever you can, every dollar helps. I would love to go above & beyond my goal because I know we can all make a difference in the lives of others. Together we can, and will, make a difference!
I'm doing a fundraiser next week. Yours truly, along with Jonathan, will be guest bartending at a local dive bar in Wrigleyville. Yes, I just said I will be bartending at a dive bar. How fun is that? This place was voted the best dive bar in Wrigleyville last year, so I'm not joking :) It should be a blast and hopefully some of you can come out to show your support. All tips go to TNT/LLS and we are doing a 50/50 raffle too!!! I'm really looking forward to it. If anyone needs details, send me an email - firstname.lastname@example.org .
I forgot how much I love to run and am happy I discovered my love of the sport again. I've been talking to my mom on an almost daily basis and she has been a huge support for me. She always asks how my running is going and I know she would like to be there on race day. Every time I step into my running shoes I can feel my dad's presence and I know he is looking out for me. I really miss him and each day is as hard as the one before but this has really given me something to focus on, so for that I am grateful.
Finally, I want to give a shout-out to my family and friends who have been so supportive. My mom, my brother Scott & his family, my brother Steve, Julie, Jon, my friends (if i try to name names, I will forget someone!), I love you all. Also need to mention how proud I am of the progress that Steve, Julie and Jon have all made with their training - you guys are doing GREAT! Keep it up!
Time to plan tonight's route for running :) Also, TGIF!
Wind, Sleet & Snow!
Feb 21, 2011 by Shelley Merz
Just a quick update that I've reached 3 miles in my training :) Today, I ran 3 miles along the Lakeshore path in Chi-town in the wind, sleet & snow! It was a fun experience and felt great to hit the 3-mile point. Only 1.97 miles more to go before race day!
On a side note, I signed up for a 5k run in March around St. Patrick's Day. I figured it would be a good warm-up for the 8k a few weeks after that.
Thanks to all for your continued support. GO TEAM!