1. This year’s official race shirt is SO much better than last year’s. Infinitely better.
Good work, Bank of America.
The rest of the Nike stuff, however? Pretty lackluster, in my opinion. They used basically the same design as they used last year, but with less cool graphics. This is the only year where I didn’t spend a zillion (give or take) dollars at the Nike booth. I did, however, buy my annual Nike running hat.
The design may be boring, but I will say I love the color!
2. While Nike totally dropped the ball on swag design, North Face hit it out of the park. By the time I got to shopping, they only had one of two shirt designs I really liked left.
Isn’t that awesome?!
The other shirt, which I would’ve bought had they had sizes other than XL available when I got there, gave turn-by-turn directions for the entire marathon on the front. It was SO COOL. They literally wrote out the entire marathon course! I was bummed they had sold out when I got there. Though this neighborhood shirt is hardly a burden 😛
3. I also bought a shirt at New Balance, where I hemmed and hawed forever over which color/design to get before settling on this one at the prompting of a woman who did not seem to be from around here, given her distinctly southern accent. But I ❤ it. Chicago stars always get me.
4. In college, sometimes for responses to assigned reading in my English classes, I would write parodies of the assignment (the English department at my alma mater was pretty chill about how we responded to our work. Hooray progressive education philosophies! Haha.). I loved doing that kind of thing, and on Saturday I was feeling inspired, so I tweaked “A Visit from Santa Claus” (aka The Night Before Christmas) to fit the Chicago Marathon. I posted it on Facebook, but since you’re not all my Facebook friends, and because this may even beat my “February is the cruelest month” parody of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” from college, which is really saying something, because I was pretty darn proud of that…
“A Visit from Pheidippides”
(with my sincerest apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, and those bothered by irregular poetic meter)
’Twas the night before Chicago, and all through the city,
Not a runner was sleeping – oh, what a pity!
The race bibs were laid by their singlets with care,
With Gu, shoes and shorts – it was all there.
The racers sighed and tossed in their beds
While visions of Roosevelt danced in their heads.
“Why do I do this?” they thought to themselves.
“For that medal, cause it’ll look great on my shelves.”
When outside their windows arose a great clatter
Of metal and armor and other such matter.
With fear and concern they sprung to their feet,
Pushing away pillows, blankets, and sheets.
With awe they stared – could it be true?
The ghost of Pheidippides came to see you?
The famous Greek soldier who started it all,
Here in Chicago to race in the fall?
With a flash of his spear and a twist of his shield
The mythical man spoke to the field:
“From Grant Park, to State Street and north on LaSalle!
On Addison, left! Run south, you shall!
Through Boystown and Old Town, and the Loop, too.
Say hi in Greektown: I’ll cheer for you!
Rally on Damen, find strength on Halsted.
Ashland’s the worst, but you’ll make it,” he said.
“To Pilsen! To Cermak! To the Dan Ryan!
Keep running, keep racing, though you may feel like dyin’.
And once you hit Michigan, you’re on the home stretch.
Three miles left: your goal, you will catch.
One right turn, one left turn, and then you’ll be there.
You’ll fly up Roosevelt with nary a care.
The finish line greets you, the crowd screams and cheers.
All this for you! No reason to fear.”
With a grin and a wink, he nodded his head.
and the runners knew they had nothing to dread.
And they heard him cry, as he faded from sight,
“Happy marathon to all, and to all a good night!”
(I may or may not have recited bits and pieces of this to myself throughout the entire marathon.)
5. Though I do, for the most part, enjoy marathon training, I am loving the freedom that comes with not training right now. My primary attitude this week has been, “NOTHING MATTERS!!” and it’s glorious. Give me all of the chocolate and none of the PT exercises or foam rolling. Especially after taper, when it feels like everything matters, it is so, so, so nice to just…not care. Not care about anything at all. I’ll start caring again next week, but in the mean time, I’m happy as a clam to throw all common health and fitness sense to the wind and be a sugar-eating couch potato for the one week I feel like I can get away with it per year.
6. Speaking of which, my post-marathon indulgence this year? Shake Shack.
I had had it in my mind that I wanted to go to Shake Shack post-race for weeks, because if there is any time I would feel exactly zero guilt over having a burger AND fries AND a milkshake, it’s after exercising for 4:52:52. When I started to feel sick at mile 25, even in my dehydrated state, I was super upset because I feared my nausea would prevent me from going to Shake Shack, and that, my friends, was a tragedy of unparalleled proportions. Thankfully I felt good enough to go, and I ate every single bite of every single thing you see pictured, with two extra packets of salt dumped on top of those fries because I could not get enough. Nomz.
7. On the other hand, as a consequence of my “NOTHING MATTERS!!” attitude, I was crazy sore post-race this year. No stretching + no ice bath + no foam rolling = pain. Historically I’ve been fine in dance class the Tuesday after the marathon, but this year I had to bail on break (such a burden, considering how over that class I am 😛 ) because my quads just could not comprehend the idea of breakdancing. Stairs were still a little bit of a struggle on Wednesday, but by and large I’m feeling a lot better…or if nothing else, I’m at least able to walk normally, which is a vast improvement from Monday and Tuesday.
8. When you go to the med tent at the Chicago Marathon, they have this standard form they fill out on all the patients that includes vitals, symptoms, etc. There’s also a section for diagnoses, and one of the available options is “Toenail Trauma.” Hahahaha. That made me giggle. #marathonproblems
9. I got my medal engraved at Fleet Feet, per usual, but this year I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to put in the “Place” line. My first year I put “Team PAWS,” since that’s who I ran for, and last year I put “10:30 Awesomes!” for my CARA group, but I just didn’t feel quite as ~connected~ with the group this year and didn’t want that engraved on my medal. So I went with something a little more personal.
10. I was looking through my MarathonFoto gallery from the race, and for the first time ever, I clicked on “Video Clips” and discovered that the video clips are of ME! I assumed they were just generic clips from the race, but nope – they’re tagged based on my timing, which makes sense. I was watching the finish line video and saw myself cross, which in and of itself is pretty cool, but what’s even cooler is that apparently they SAID MY NAME when I crossed the finish line!! Well, technically it was a couple seconds after, but whatever. The point is the announcer lady, after finishing her spiel about charity runners, said, “And that’s Bethany!” GUYS GUYS GUYS THAT’S ME!!!! Ahhhh!!!
11. While we’re on the topic of the finish line, however, I have to say, finishing Chicago is such an odd experience. The general public hasn’t been allowed in the finish line area at all, including along the sidelines, since the Boston bombings in 2013, which means, especially by the time turtles like me finish, a solid five and a half hours after the elites began the race, there aren’t many people in the area. You go from having this HUGE crowd lining Michigan and up onto Roosevelt, and then all of a sudden: nothing. Or basically nothing. It’s so jarring.
12. I was all set on probably not doing Chicago next year right up until this past week. My plan was (is) to enter both the Marine Corps and New York lotteries next winter and see what happens. If I got into either one, I’d run that instead of Chicago. If I got into both, I’d run New York. If I got into neither, I’d find a way into Chicago, or maybe think about another different, area fall marathon (Indy? Grand Rapids? Detroit?). But then I went to the expo and was reminded of how much I enjoy running these races that are a Big Deal, and I wondered if I could truly handle being in Chicago next fall and not running Chicago, especially if I was already trained to run a marathon (or mostly trained). So then I started thinking (I know, I know. Always a dangerous idea). The chances of me running well in New York–IF I got into New York, which is an enormously huge if–are very slim. I don’t know if there’s any way I could be prepared for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge alone, never mind the rest of the bridges and otherwise not-flat terrain of New York. I do, however, very much want to hit 4:45 (…or 4:30). Going out to New York with a time goal seems like a fool’s errand to me. Marine Corps also features approximately a 200-foot elevation gain in the first two miles, with a few additional rollers along the way. LOLNOPE. (Although both of these races appear to be closer to sea level than Chicago [0-200ish feet, rather than 600ish feet here], so does that mean I could count living here as altitude training…?). Point is, neither one of those courses is likely to provide me with a PR, given my utter lack of hill training in Chicago. New York in particular, and Marine Corps probably too, then, would just be a “for fun” marathon. (Right. Because marathons are so fun.) But I’ve got time goals and (pipe) dreams of BQs…. Chicago, tentatively, is scheduled for Oct. 9 next year. Marine Corps is Oct. 30, and I presume New York will be the week after that (Nov. 6). Assuming Chicago sticks with that tentative date–and I don’t know why they wouldn’t, because it’s not like Oct. 9 is earlier than the race has ever been held before, and it would then still coincide with Columbus Day weekend–that would give me three weeks until Marine Corps, or four weeks until New York. If I had a healthy training cycle for Chicago and a healthy race, I’d be good to run again by the Thursday after the race (today, next year), if all I did was a two miler…which, incidentally, would be the same distance I run as the last run of taper. Taper lasts three weeks, and conventional wisdom states that to get race ready again, you should follow a reverse taper, which, as it happens, would have me ready to run another marathon…just in time for Marine Corps or New York, provided, of course, that I got into one of those races, which certainly is not a guarantee by any means.
Of course, on Michigan Ave. on Sunday, I was reminded that I only run one marathon per year because it takes approximately that amount of time to forget how hellish the last miles of a marathon are, and three or four weeks would NOT be enough time to erase the memories of the pain and anguish that come along with just about everything beyond mile 20. But you know how it is when you get ideas into your head…
We’ll see. Never say never?