Random News of the Day: Shamrock Shufflin' Crew

Random News of the Day: Shamrock Shufflin' Crew

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Posted: 10:27 a.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

It is said that when you attend a game at Wrigley Field or U.S. Cellular Field, you cheer for your team with 40,000 of your closest friends.

Now imagine that amount of people running through the streets of Chicago all at once (without the beer and nachos).

This Sunday, up to 40,000 runners are expected to file into Grant Park for the 32nd Shamrock Shuffle, the worlds largest 8K road race. The run begins at 9:00am on Columbus Drive at Monroe. The route snakes through downtown Chicago and ends back on Columbus, just north of Roosevelt Road. For those who are Shamrock Shuffle aficionados, the race represents a marathon atmosphere without the knee-melting aftershocks. For some, its the cherry-on-top for a successful New Years resolution that involved getting in shape. And hey, for others, its just an excuse to put on running shoes and dress up like Lucky The Leprechaun.

I have done many of these races in the past and its truly one of those sporting events that has to be experiencedwhether as a participant or as a spectator. Its kind of like the outbound Dan Ryan during Friday rush hour: some take to the roads to compete, and others are there for the scenery. Theres always a lot of jostling for position. You try to make your moves two or three cars (errpeople) in advance and theres a general disdain for people that talk on their cell phone while driving.

(Random thought: what is the point of talking on the phone while jogging? I never understood why people do this: Hi Mom....hhhhuhhhhhhhh....doing........Shamrock..........Shufffle.....whooooooooo.......huhhhhhhhhhow are you? Are you.....going to.....the mall.....today?)

I am by no means Johnny 8K Expert, nor will I ever be. Too many 4am burrito runs have derailed any serious thoughts about contending for prizes. But I have done enough of these beasts to warrant a list of tips to runners, whether theyre novice or rank amateurs. Such as

Dont unveil new running shoes on the day of the race. Period. Hopefully, you will have broken in your race day shoes weeks in advance. You should always wear shoes and clothes that you feel the most comfortable inand are familiar with (Note: This doesnt apply to participants who don Cookie Monster costumes the day of the race. These people are just in a different league, mentally and physically).

Be sure to eat a little breakfast, but dont overdo it. The race is at 9am, so if you down a granola bar at 7:30 and maybe a bananayou should be in the clear. Nothing says pain like running an 8K (4.97 miles to be exact) with a Rooty Tooty Fresh n Fruity in spin cycle in your stomach.

Make sure to get to the race early. Much like the Chicago Marathon, the lead up to the Shamrock turns Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive into a standstill. If you are coming from outside Chicago, plan on getting off the train or securing a parking spot by no later than 8:15am. Youll need the 45 minutes to stretch and to find your starting corral , which is assigned to you when you register. You wouldnt want to run to the starting lineand then run a five mile race on top of it.

Stay in your race corral and dont try to be a heroat least for the first mile. For instance, if youre a C class runner, dont try to sneak up to the A class. Its not allowed, for one, and the chance of you getting trampled increases tenfold. The runners in the A class mean business. Know your limits. And your pace. After the first mile, the pack will loosen up a bit. And remember, you are timed via microchip from the time you cross the starting line to the time you finish.

Watch the bridgesliterally. You will have to cross the Chicago River four times during your run. And if youve ever set foot on Chicago River bridges downtown, you will know that they have the metal drawbridge gratings toward the center. Watch where you step.

Looking to cut time? Dont get caught on the corners. During the first mile, the route goes north on Columbus, then turns west on Grand Avenue. I have seen so many runners get stuck at this intersection because everyone tries to hug the corners to cut time. Staying to the left at this corner is a natural instinct, but it can add a lot of time to your schedule. Remember: you will be sharing the route with thousands of people! My advice is to make a softer left turn and avoid the stampede by the curb. Ditto at the upcoming intersections: Grand & Rush (just after mile 1), Rush & Hubbard, Hubbard & State and especially State & Jackson (just after mile 2).

Stay hydrated. Even if its 40 degrees on race day.

Dont burn out early. I have seen so many runners get hopped up on adrenaline, leap up and high-five the START sign, and then do Carl Lewis-like sprints for the first half mile. Hey, if that rocks your world, go for it! Just be aware that by mile four you might end up like Clark Griswold in Vacation, when he's hallucinating, trying to run across a desert.

And dont forget to check out the Health & Fitness Expo at Navy Pier this Friday and Saturday. If you're participating, you will need to pick up your race day essentials here: participant packets, bags and Nike Technical T-shirts. For everyone else, its a great chance to check out the latest and greatest in footwear, apparel, nutrition and technology. The expo is open on Friday from 10am to 8pm and Saturday from 9am to 6pm.

For additional information, check out www.shamrockshuffle.com

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' shutout win over Bruins

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' shutout win over Bruins

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins on Friday night:

1. A sluggish start.

The Blackhawks have gotten off to some solid starts lately, scoring the game's first goal in the opening frame in five of their last six contests heading into Friday. But they were lucky to get out of the first in a 0-0 tie this time.

They had 15 shot attempts (six on goal) through the first 20 minutes while the Bruins had 30 attempts (17 on goal). Fortunately for the Blackhawks, Scott Darling stopped all of them that came his way.

Boston's third line of Ryan Spooner, Riley Nash and David Backes dominated possession, leading all skaters with a plus-12 Corsi in the period.  

2. Scott Darling steals two points.

Joel Quenneville decided to go with Darling in an effort to give a slumping Corey Crawford a chance to reset, and the Lemont native an opportunity to play in front of his father away from home, where he's used to watching him shine. It's safe to say he made his papa proud by putting on a great show.

Darling turned aside all 30 shots he faced, including 17 in the first period, for his second shutout of the season and fourth of his career. He has now allowed two or fewer goals in eight of his last 12 starts. 

Asked after the game whether he will earn a second straight start Sunday when the Blackhawks host the Vancouver Canucks, Quenneville responded, "We'll see."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Special teams not a factor.

In a game that featured only one goal, you'd think the way to crack the scoresheet would be on the man advantage. That didn't happen.

The Blackhawks went 0-for-3 on the power play, while the Bruins failed to cash in on their only two opportunities. Boston entered the contest by going 7-for-17 on the power play in their previous five games, good for a 41.2 success rate.

It was a nice bounce-back game for the Blackhawks' penalty kill unit, which allowed a goal on the man advantage in their previous two games.

4. Third line steps up at crucial moment.

The Blackhawks' third line of Vinnie Hinostroza, Marian Hossa and Tanner Kero had the worst possession numbers among all skaters, each registering a 24 percent Corsi or below. But when their team needed them the most, they stepped up.

With 1:26 left in regulation, Hossa ended his 10-game goal drought by burying home a terrific feed from Kero to snap a 0-0 tie and give the Blackhawks their second consecutive win. It's Hossa's 17th goal of the campaign, which ties Artemi Panarin for second on the team, and his fifth game-winning goal of the year. His 83 career game-winning goals now ranks 24th in NHL history, surpassing Mike Bossy, and remains fifth among active players.

Hossa's goal also moved him within a tie of Pierre Turgeon for 37th on the all-time goals list with 516.

Kero has six points in his last six games, while Hinostroza has two goals and one assist in his past two.

5. Despite recent struggles, Bruins in good hands with Claude Julien.

It seems like this is a discussion every year, but firing Julien would be a huge mistake for a Bruins team that fell to 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. They're still the No. 1 possession team in the NHL, controlling 55.42 percent of the even-strength shot attempts, and give up the fifth-fewest high danger scoring chances with 326, according the naturalstattrick.com. They average the second-most shots on goal per game at 33.9, and allow the second-fewest at 26.5.

To back it up, their PDO is 97.5 percent, the sum of a team's even-strength save percentage and shooting percentage that usually works it way toward 100, which indicates they're due for a fairly large correction. They're not getting bounces right now, but they're playing the right way and a change behind the bench would be a step in the wrong direction, considering Julien is easily a top-five coach in the NHL.

Bulls lifeless in Atlanta despite fourth quarter rally

Bulls lifeless in Atlanta despite fourth quarter rally

The bus was warm before the game started, as the Bulls looked like they wanted no parts of the Atlanta Hawks.

It was evident from the jump that playing with a full and healthy squad for one of the few times this season wasn't enough to arouse their competitive juices, as they put together arguably their worst 48-minute showing in a 102-93 loss at Philips Arena, dropping them to 21-23.

Fred Hoiberg, fed up with the starters, ran with the reserves for the fourth quarter and outscored the Hawks by nearly 25 points, bringing the lead to 95-90 with a minute left before a Dennis Schroeder jumper restored order with 52.6 seconds left.

Four Hawks scored in double figures led by Schroeder's 25 points and six assists and Paul Millsap scored 14 while making all four of his shots in just 22 minutes of run.

Perhaps it's the Hawks being the same kryptonite to the Bulls that the Bulls are to the Toronto Raptors — except the Bulls simply frustrate the Raptors, not embarrass them.

The Hawks shot over 60 percent for most of the night until the game devolved into what amounted to a pickup game late. After all, the Hawks seemed to be battling boredom by half, leading 65-36 and shooting 68 percent from the field and hitting 67 percent from three.

The Bulls weren't about to make it any more suspenseful than it had to be, as they started off missing their first 11 3-pointers, often missing multiple open looks on the same possession.

It wasn't relegated to just shooting as the Bulls squandered easy opportunities in easy situations, like Denzel Valentine turning a three-on-one fast break into an airballed finger-roll attempt that he caught himself — a violation, of course.

This one was over a few minutes into it, as the Bulls looked like a lifeless squad with no direction and very little fight, short of a minor dustup between Dwight Howard and Robin Lopez in the third quarter.

At that point, though, all Howard had to do is point at the scoreboard, where a 30-point lead did all the necessary talking.

The Bulls trailed by 20 even before Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a 35-footer to end the first quarter, sending the Hawks off on a high and seemingly demoralizing the Bulls.

Even Jimmy Butler's 19-point night, hitting six of his eight shots in 29 minutes, rang hollow. The Bulls could've trotted out a D-League team for the second half to gear up for Saturday's game against the Sacramento Kings and been better off than how they performed Friday night.

And for the Bulls, they can’t simply just go back to the drawing board. There looks to be something fundamentally wrong with this bunch — either that, or the Atlanta night got the best of them Thursday.