1. Since I saw no fewer than three anxious posts about the forecast for marathon day on social media on Monday, I would like to offer up an annual reminder that weather forecasts attempting to predict what wrath the atmosphere may or may not unleash on us are rarely accurate beyond the next 48 hours and are not worth the angst they create.
If you could get certified in worrying, I assure you that I would have the highest level of certification possible. I worry about everything. I worry about work. I worry about my health. I worry about other people’s health. I worry about my safety. I worry about other people’s safety. I exists in a constant state of, at best, low level anxiety. I am very, very good at worrying. But even I don’t worry about the forecast for marathon day (anymore) two weeks in advance, because, after years of tracking the forecast for marathon day to prove how useless of an exercise that was, I have enough data to even convince me–ME! A girl for whom no amount of data or facts can assuage her anxiety that bad things will happen–that the forecast is not worth worrying about.
Exhibit A: 2014.
In order to prove my point, I started tracking the forecast for marathon day in 2014 (Oct. 12) the day it became possible to do so in AccuWeather. I wrote down the date I read the forecast, the forecast’s prediction, and, closer to the race, which forecast I used (AccuWeather, Weather Underground [Wunder], Weather.com, WGN, and NBC Chicago.). Behold:
Aug. 31 — Sunny. 58/45.
Sept. 1 — Sunny. 58/45.
Sept. 2 — Sunny. 58/45.
Sept. 3 — Sunny. 58/45.
Sept. 4 — A chance of rain. 58/45.
Sept. 5 — Mostly cloudy, a little rain. 58/45.
Sept. 6 — Mostly cloudy, a little rain. 58/45.
Sept. 8 — Clouds and sun. 56/38.
Sept. 9 — An a.m. shower; partly sunny. 56/38.
Sept. 10 — An a.m. shower; party sunny. 56/38.
Sept. 11 — An a.m. shower; party sunny. 56/38.
Sept. 12 — Cloudy with a little rain. 56/40.
Sept. 13 — Cloudy with a little rain. 56/40.
Sept. 14 — Sunny. 71/50.
Sept. 15 — Sunny. 71/50.
Sept. 16 — Sunny. 71/50.
Sept. 17 — Sunny and warmer. 69/50.
Sept. 18 — Sunny and warmer. 69/50.
Sept. 19 — Sunny and warmer. 69/50.
Sept. 20 — Sunny and warmer. 69/50.
Sept. 21 — Mostly cloudy. 62/48.
Sept. 22 — Sunny. 67/49.
Sept. 23 — Sunny. 67/49.
Sept. 24 — Sunny. 67/49.
Sept. 25 — Clouds giving way to sun. 62/46.
Sept. 26 — Clouds giving way to some sun. 62/46.
Sept. 27 — Clouds giving way to some sun. 62/46.
Sept. 28 — Mostly cloudy. 62/48.
Sept. 29 — Sunny. 71/43.
Sept. 30 — Sunny. 72/50.
Oct. 1 — Mostly sunny. 60/37.
Oct. 2 — A little rain in the morning. 61/44.
Oct. 3 — Partly sunny with a shower. 66/52.
Oct. 4 — Cloudy with a few showers. 70/51.
Oct. 5 — Heavy showers in the morning. 64/46.
Oct. 6 — Rain tapering to showers. 67/56.
Oct. 7 — Partly sunny with a t-storm. 72/54. (Accu)
Chance of rain. 68/57. (Wunder)
Scattered t-storms. 70/52. (Weather)
Clouds part following an overnight frontal passage. 67/52. (WGN)
Scattered t-storms 70/52. (NBC)
Oct. 8 — A thunderstorm possible. 69/55. (Accu)
Partly cloudy. 68/54. (Wunder)
Isolated t-storms. 68/52. (Weather)
Cloudy w/ a few pds of showers/t-storms possible for CM 70/50. (WGN)
Isolated t-storms 68/52. (NBC)
Oct. 9 — A morning shower possible. 68/55. (Accu)
Partly cloudy. 66/48 (Wunder)
Few showers. 67/50 (Weather)
Turning cooler with steady easterly wind. 66/48 (WGN)
Few showers. 67/50 (NBC)
Oct. 10 — Partly sunny. 68/55 (Accu)
Clear. 64/52 (Wunder)
Partly cloudy. 66/46 (Weather)
Lingering clouds and possible showers exit area early. 67/49 (WGN)
Partly cloudy. 66/46 (NBC)
Oct. 11 — Partly sunny. 65/52 (Accu)
Clear. 64/50 (Wunder)
Sunny. 67/46 (Weather)
Becoming mostly sunny. 66/45 (WGN)
Sunny. 67/46 (NBC)
Oct. 12 — Partly sunny. 65/51 (Accu)
Clear. 63/52 (Wunder)
Sunny. 66/46 (Weather)
Pleasant for mid-October. 67/46 (WGN)
Sunny. 66/46 (NBC)
Please note that a mere five days before the race, every outlet was predicting thunderstorms. Did it storm on race day in 2014? No, it did not. It was sunny that day, and, according to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Media Guide’s Historical Weather Conditions section, there was a high of 64 and a low of 45. Weather Underground came the closest to getting that right, and when did they get it right? 72 hours before the race. This is not an anomaly, either. The same thing happened in 2013 (please see this blog post, and then this blog post, for evidence), and for all I know it could’ve happened in 2015 and 2016 as well – I’ve stopped paying attention.
Exhibit B: My complaints about the heat wave.
As you may recall, I posted this screenshot last week, complaining about the weather:
I would now like to present you with another screenshot of AccuWeather’s forecast, taken a week later:
There are a few things I’d really like to draw your attention to here.
Thing #1: Tuesday. As you can tell, the high on Tuesday most certainly was not 79 degrees, even though they said it would be less than a week before.
Thing #2: Wednesday through Monday. While the details (sunny and hot) were all correct, the predicted high temperatures themselves were off by anywhere from four to seven degrees. These are temperature differentials marathoners will absolutely split hairs over, so this is not insignificant.
Thing #3: Friday 9/29 and Saturday 9/30’s details. While the predicted high for both of these days has gone up, rain has been taken out of the forecast entirely. This is something else marathoners split hairs over, so once again, not insignificant.
I think people forget how much the forecast changes from day to day–do you remember the specifics of what kind of weather was predicted for today this time last week? Because without that screenshot, I sure wouldn’t–and this lack of knowledge, combined with taper crazies, leads to panic. So I am here, fellow marathoners, to assure you as a professional worrier, that you do not need to worry about the forecast for race day. (Yet. If the forecast is bad on the Thursday before the race, then you–and I–can definitely start worrying.) Although, I will offer up another friendly reminder: you can control so many things on race day. You can control your pace, your hydration, your nutrition, where you decide to run on the road, your clothes, your accessories, your aid station strategy, how many selfies you take per mile. You can’t control the weather, no matter how much you worry about it, so instead of losing the precious hours of sleep you need leading up to race day tossing and turning and refreshing your forecasting app of choice, figure out how you’ll need to adjust your race plan in light of the forecast, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you were never going to win this race anyway, and even if you had huge goals (a BQ, an enormous PR, etc.) that the weather may sabotage, your life will go on. Your family will not love you less if you don’t BQ. Your training partners will not abandon you if you don’t run your fastest time ever. Your nonexistent sponsors will not snatch your livelihood away from you if you don’t have the race you wanted to have. It’s one long run on one long run day. You will be okay if it doesn’t go the way you envisioned when you signed up.
I would also like to take one moment to point out that we had seven consecutive days where the high broke 90 degrees. I would be exceedingly okay with never experiencing something like that, particularly in late September, ever again.
2. Since I already touched on the topic of taper crazies: guys. I do not feel ready for the marathon. Not even a little bit. This is the first year that I’ve gotten to taper and instead of feeling immediate relief that I could finally cut back on my mileage, instead felt instant and unrelenting panic over how little time I had left, and how none of that time really counts as training. Taking off almost the entirety of the week before Labor Day killed me. I’ve missed so. many. miles. this season: 47, which, when you consider that I’ve been averaging 20 miles/week, is nearly two and a half weeks of training. Two and a half weeks out of an 18 week program that’s really 15 weeks + three weeks of taper. Two and a half weeks out of an 18 week program whose 15 weeks of “real training” start with seven weeks of fairly low mileage–all of which I completed just fine, of course–leaving just eight weeks for hard training, of which I missed a QUARTER. I have been a very bad runner and added miles during taper (I KNOW, I KNOW. But I only added two last week and two this week, none next week, and I only added them to my mid-week long runs, and my midweek mileage was STILL lower than CARA’s training program AND Hal Higdon called for on those same weeks anyway, so just…leave me alone. Haha.), which kind of makes me feel better, but also makes me feel worse because now I’m worried that I’m screwing up my taper. I just really, really wish I had more time.
3. When my tomato plant started ripening the tomatoes it had produced back at the beginning of August, it also stopped blossoming. I had at least a dozen blossoms on my plant when my first tomato began to turn red, but all of them shriveled up without turning into fruit. That was fine by me–I had 42 tomatoes on the plant at the time, which seemed plenty sufficient for my tomato-consumption needs.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I went outside to pick the most recently ripened tomatoes last Thursday and discovered several tiny baby tomatoes AND new blossoms.
I don’t know if this was brought on by the heat wave or if tomato plants normally get a second wind towards the end of the season. Either way, I now have more tomatoes than I originally anticipated (and will no longer have an accurate count of how many tomatoes my plant produced as a result, since I don’t know how many I’ve picked/eaten at this point). I’m pretty surprised that a plant that looks half dead managed to pull off such a feat, but I’m not complaining.
Speaking of my tomato plant, I am kind of eagerly awaiting its demise (don’t tell it I said that), because after I pull it up, I plan to plant tulip and daffodil bulbs in the bathtub for next spring. It needs to get a lot colder before I can plant any bulbs, but that hasn’t kept me from daydreaming about what I want my tulip and daffodil garden to look like. Since my Netherlands trip has, once again, been delayed by a year–but mark my word: I don’t care who’s getting married in April of 2019, I am not. going. No one’s wedding will derail my thrice-rescheduled Netherlands trip!–planting tulips in my own backyard seems like the best way to get my tulip fix.
Please, shower me in your stories of being undertrained for a marathon and having the race of your life. I need all the encouragement I can get.