Last year I decided to give my finances a break, by limiting the number of short races I participate in. The 5Ks were a really essential goal when I was first ramping up from pudgy couch potato Mattie, but now it’s really the longer races that get me out of bed at 530a on a Sunday. And, at $50 a pop, 5K is not enough. I’d rather just donate some dough to a good cause.

All that said, I can’t give up the Shamrock Shuffle. It really has become a tradition. It was the first 8K I ran and was really the one race that sparked my serious interest and started me down the path to 15K to 13.1 and 26.2 and this year 2 x 26.2.

The race is a good practice drill for the cattle call aspects of a 35,000 participant race and despite the ridiculous numbers of runners is a lot of fun after a long winter of bleak, gray, frigid and solitary mornings.

This year, for me, the run was also a test of the speed work I’ve been doing over the winter, and a successful one at that. My hard work definitely paid off. Coupled with a return to yoga practice for strength and flexibility over the winter, I’ve shaved a full minute off of my street pace and remained mostly injury free.

A 47:08 PR in the race has left me a lot more confident of my ability to run the Chicagoland spring marathon in four weeks and the Madison to Chicago Ragnar Relay in June.