1. I was so underwhelmed by the gear at the expo this year. I really liked what North Face had to offer (not enough to actually buy anything, but I did like it), but I was not a fan of Nike’s stuff at all. The colors just weren’t working for me. I ended up only buying my usual hat and Christmas ornament, although SportHooks was sold out of the silver one when I got there! They let me order it online right at the expo, though, so it should be here in the next couple of weeks.
2. The race has various kilometer markers all throughout the course (I don’t think they mark every kilometer, but they mark the big ones…all the 5Ks, the 3K, the last five kilometers individually, etc.). This year–and this is the first time I remember seeing this–they marked the 8K, and it was the “Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle” 8K (naturally), complete with bagpipers and green signage and everything. I thought it was cute, HOWEVER, I also thought it was a pretty major missed marketing opportunity. If I were in charge of signage, I absolutely would’ve had a sign that said, “If you were running the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K, you’d be done by now,” at that point on the course. Now that’s how you get a marathoner to sign up for the Shuffle! Someone get me on the phone with Carey Pinkowski.
3. SPEAKING OF HOW YOU GET A MARATHONER TO SIGN UP FOR THE SHUFFLE. You guys. I am OUTRAGED. (Faux outrage. More like, “throw my hands up in the air in disbelief at the irony of life” outrage than real outrage.) I was so excited to finish the race on Sunday, not only because I had had the race of my life, but because crossing the finish line on Sunday punched my ticket for a guaranteed entry as a legacy runner for the next five years. Getting that legacy entry was a huge part of why I ended up running Chicago last year after signing up to run Fox Valley three weeks earlier (to be fair, I had signed up for Chicago first). I nearly broke my foot doing so, but whatever it takes to get that legacy entry, right?
WELL. Less than 24 hours after I officially achieved legacy status, that gosh darned race released registration info for next year, and you know what new category they added? SHAMROCK SHUFFLE PARTICIPATION. If you’ve run four–FOUR!–Shamrock Shuffles in the past 10 years (?!?!?!?! I’ve run five, by the way) and are signed up for next year’s Shamrock Shuffle (I signed up three weeks ago), you qualify for one of 1,000 “Shamrock Shuffle entries.”
You mean to tell me that I could’ve gotten away with not running last year or this year and still had a guaranteed entry to next year’s marathon?!?! I am personally offended by this turn of events. HOW DARE THEY.
4. Speaking of 5K signs and legacy entries: you guys, I’m kind of freaking out. I didn’t realize this until Monday, but I don’t have a 25K split O.O My results show my 25K split as “estimated.” I’ve looked up a bunch of other people, including a guy from my running group who was right in front of me at 25K, and they all have 25K splits. For some reason, it seems like my chip didn’t register there, and I’m super nervous that it’s going to affect the officialness (<– definitely a real word) of my finish time. I know I crossed the 25K mark–I always notice it, because it makes me think of the River Bank Run 25K in Michigan–and my Garmin map proves that I ran across it, AND I submitted a request to the marathon results race results request page to check on it, but I’m really concerned that my lack of a 25K split will disqualify me and my finish won’t count and I’ll only have four finishes, not five, and I won’t get a legacy entry next year even though I earned one
5. Speaking of signs: time for my annual roundup of my favorite race course signs! I really thought the spectators brought their A game this year, and “All toenails go to heaven” from…whatever year that was. 2014, I think…has officially been dethroned as my favorite marathon sign of all time. The highlights (in my opinion) this year:
– “The end is far!” (seen around mile 6)
– “Go Cubs! Oh wait…wrong event.”
– “Are all these people chasing squirrels?” complete with a picture of a dog
– The always classic, “This is a lot of work for a free banana.” Gets me every time.
And, my new favorite marathon–nay, race in general–sign of all time (which means this officially beats “I’ve got friends in slow paces” from Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville, which was my previous all-time all-distance favorite sign):
A picture of King George from Hamilton, with caption bubbles that said “26.2,” “Awesome,” “Wow,” and “Good Luck.” (Please reference What Comes Next and I Know Him if you are unfamiliar with Hamilton to understand this more fully.)
I saw this sign at mile 5ish, mile 10.5ish, and mile 18.25ish. The third time I saw it I told the girls holding it that, “I LOVE your sign,” which I think is the first time I’ve ever complimented a stranger on their marathon sign. But man, give me a Hamilton reference any day, and I’m one happy camper 😀
5. My Garmin, ever the bane of my existence, was just as useless as I expected it to be on Sunday, and told me I ran 27.3 miles. It only takes a cursory glance at the map of where I ran downtown to see where things went awry (everywhere. They went awry everywhere.). However I did break 5:00 in the marathon according to my Garmin: it thinks I ran a marathon in 4:51:50 – a new PR! Too bad it’s not real haha.
6. Earlier this year, I graded my half marathon training, and I found that to be a helpful exercise, so I decided to do the same thing for marathon training. If you include rest days as a scheduled workout, which I do–every day of marathon training is part of the training process in some way, in my opinion–I had 126 scheduled workouts for this season. I did 101 of those workouts exactly as written when I printed my schedule out from Excel in June. I altered, either by reducing the workout, adding on to the workout, swapping the workout with another one (doing a Wednesday workout on a Thursday and Thursday’s on Wednesday, for example), or skipping the workout altogether, 25 workouts. That means I had an 80 percent success rate, or a low B-. That’s a lot better than I expected, though 18 of those 25 altered workouts (72 percent) happened after the midway point in training, which is probably why I spent the second half of the season feeling like I had had the worst training cycle of all time.
7. That being said, I LOVED Hal Higdon’s Marathon 3 training program. LOVED. IT. Or rather, I loved the version of it that I did (follow the first six weeks as written, then keep up the weekly mileage for the remaining 18 weeks but do Novice 1 (ish, since CARA didn’t follow Novice 1 perfectly this year) mileage on the weekends). All of those really long weekday runs were a total gamechanger for me. I don’t know what, if any, physical difference they made, but they definitely got me used to spending a lot of time on my feet. Novice 1 asks you to do one decently long run per week, but lets you really skate by on the rest of your weekday mileage, at least from a time-on-your-feet perspective. You’re still doing four milers up until week 13. With Marathon 3, you stop doing four milers in week 10 of 24, which, from a time-away-from-the-marathon standpoint, is the equivalent of week 4 in Novice 1. Week 4! I went from thinking three miles was a short run to thinking six miles was a short run, and in the scope of marathon training, that is HUGE. The 20 miler and Chicago Half Marathon were both tough from a weather standpoint, but during both of those runs I remember getting eight, nine miles into those runs and not really thinking anything of it and then having a moment where I was like, “Wait. That’s a lot of miles.” But I had been doing eight, nine, 10 mile runs after work on a routine basis for weeks at that point, so it really didn’t feel as long as sometimes. That alone would be enough to get me to recommend this program to anyone. I really liked it, and if the burden of running day after day after day is something that grinds on you during marathon training, I think Marathon 3 could be just what you need.
8. THAT being said, I don’t think I ever would’ve gotten through this program with my sanity intact if I hadn’t started run commuting. Obviously that’s not an option for everyone, but it was an absolute lifesaver for me – the life-changing magic of starting your workout an hour earlier than usual and, consequentially, finishing your workout an hour earlier than usual, if you will. I’m actually really disappointed that I’m going to have to stop run commuting once it gets colder (the logistics of juggling coats would get in the way of that. It’s one thing to leave my backpack at work and bring home my essentials in the pocket of my water bottle. It’s another thing to leave my parka at work and have to get back there in 20 degree weather the following morning.). I think this is something that will definitely become part of my jacket-to-no-coat-required weather running routine (I can do it with jackets because I have two, so it’s fine to leave one at work overnight. I only have one parka, though, and I’m not going to invest hundreds more dollars in a new one just for the sake of being able to run home from work in the dead of winter.).
9. I love so many of my MarathonFoto pictures (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write) and don’t know what to do about it. I want to buy more than one of them, at which point I may as well buy the premium package (download all your photos for $80), but I don’t want to spend $80 on digital downloads. Decisions, decisions. I could just buy my favorite one, but even that’s a cool $30, which is a scam if ever there were one. Though I suppose it’s hardly groundbreaking news to any runner that MarathonFoto is a scam.
10. I happened to look down at my watch after turning from Taylor St. onto Ashland and noticed that I had been running for 3:29:39 at that point, so good news, guys! I just need to find an 18.5 mile marathon and I can BQ! Haha. That definitely put things into perspective for me. I also looked at my watch at mile 20, and saw I was at 3:51:11, meaning I ran a better 20 miler during the marathon than during the actual 20 miler three weeks ago. First time for everything, I suppose.