When the disposable timing chip started banging on the side of my right shoe, I knew I would have to stop. All the momentum built up in the race’s first quarter mile would be wasted along with my chances of beating last year’s time. It was the second of my three “loser limps” that helped me cope with a less-than-stellar performance.
“Loser limp” is a phrase I picked up from some motivational speaker (Zig Ziglar?). It refers to an excuse you come up with to help you feel better about a poor performance. It comes from the observation that you often see on a football field. When a linebacker is chasing down a running back but is unable to catch him, he’ll often slow down and grab his leg like he’s pulled a muscle or something. Mentally, this keeps open the idea in his mind that had he not gotten that injury, he would’ve certainly caught that player. It’s his “loser limp”.
My first loser limp in this year’s Chicago Shamrock Shuffle came first thing in the morning when I looked out the window. The wind was blowing hard, snow was falling and 2 inches had already accumulated.
Of course, with an attitude like that I wouldn’t. Poor weather can zap your motivation to achieve if you let it.
But I’m a crafty old racing veteran. I’ve joggled in all kinds of weather and wasn’t going to let snow, wind and ice slow me down much. By the time my Under Armor, woosh woosh pants, and two running shirts were on, my confidence returned. I determinedly jogged to the El and made my way to the race.
Timing chip troubles
When the chip started jumping around, I debated whether to continue running or stop and fix it. It was attached with a plastic chord so there was a chance it wouldn’t fall off. But it would be terrible to get a DNF because I lost my chip. I pulled off to the side, set down my Gballz and fixed the rouge equipment. “You can forget about a good time now,” I heard in my head.
Those thoughts were quickly dashed when I joggled passed to 1 mile marker. 7:22 was on the clock. A 7 minute mile with the stop and it didn’t even feel tough. “Maybe I can break 35,” I thought. “Take that you loser limp.”
Splish, Splash, Splosh
The next few miles felt like running through mud. The streets were covered with small snow mounds, slushy slicks, and puddles of salt-filled water. Each time my shoe hit the ground, it sounded like a maraca. Water sprayed from all directions soaking everything below my knee. My shoes were bricks with a layer of peanut butter on the sole. It felt like I was doing 15 minute miles.
Somewhere around the second mile there was a water station and I grabbed a Gatorade. Tried gulping it down but it was a slushy. It caused a quick brain freeze and I had to joggle with one eye closed to try and alleviate the pain.
I didn’t see another clock until the 5K mark. 22:40 “Still a chance to break 36,” I thought.
Loser Limp number 3
Near the final mile, I felt tired. I was happy not to have had a single drop, but my energy was low. The joggling streak was wearing on me or maybe I hadn’t fully recovered from the Red Rock Canyon marathon. Then I felt something hit my left shoe. A stick maybe? When it happened again, I looked down and saw my right shoe was untied. “Great,” I thought.
I wasn’t close enough to finish with my shoe like that so I had to stop and tie it. My double-tie wasn’t good enough today. I tried to string it up with my gloves on, but it just wasn’t working. Flinging the gloves to the ground, I quickly tied my shoes back up. 30 seconds wasted along with my chances of breaking 36. “Just finish,” I thought.
As I got back into my race stride I caught up to John Kelly (36:27). Apparently, he passed me during my delay. Last year, he finished ahead of me and I was anxious to keep up with him this time.
We ran together for a quarter mile when he started to pull away. My strategy was to keep him in my sites and pass him in the last stretch. I always have a good kick at the end. But the crowded street and giant puddles made it difficult to gain ground. I watched him turn up the last hill and knew I wouldn’t catch him.
I lifted my head and gave my all up the last hill. In the final stretch, I tried to sprint but the icy road made it tricky. As I crossed under the Finish banner, the clock read 37:00. Later, I learned that my official time was 36:43. It was slower than last year by almost 3 minutes.
My loser limp tells me it was the shoe lace stops or the weather or my age or the fact that I hadn’t recovered from the marathon. Whatever it was, I just didn’t have a PR in me.
I did however, finish the race without a single drop in treacherous conditions. And as far as I know, I came in first place of all the jogglers.
Who could complain about that?
Congratulations to all the shuffle finishers! Especially, my facebook friends, John Kelly, Fay Hensley, Brandon Fox, Tiffany Carson, Michelle Martin, and Lynn Rogers. It was a tough race and I’m proud of you for getting out there and running.
Here is an excerpt from the email sent by the Shamrock Shuffle officials.
Dear Perry Romanowski,
Congratulations on your finish at the 30th Anniversary Shamrock Shuffle 8K! Your time was 36:43 and you placed 967 out of 13,294 finishers.
This year’s top finishers were:
Top Male Finishers
1. Emmanuel Korir, 28, Lansing, MI, 24:18
2. Ryan Meissen, 30, Mukwanago, WI, 24:29
3. Jeff Jonaitis, 27, Tinley Park, IL, 24:30
Top Female Finishers
1. Deena Kastor, 36, Mammoth Lakes, CA, 27:15
2. Tera Moody, 28, Boulder, CO, 28:03
3. Casey Owens, 26, Des Moines, IA, 28:55
Visit Shamrock Shuffle.com for searchable 8K race results, event weekend photos and more!