Thursday Things

1. I visited the Chicago Flower and Garden Show for the third year on Friday, but this time came armed with my fancy camera!

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I look forward to the flower show every year, but I won’t lie: this year was a letdown. For one thing, the show was a lot shorter than in years past (historically, it’s taken place over two weekends and the interceding week; this year, it only lasted five days), which made it trickier to find time to go, particularly when you consider that one of those weekend days was St. Patrick’s Day. The idea of tackling Navy Pier on St. Patrick’s Day was not appealing, eliminating Saturday as a possible day to visit the show.

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So I went on Friday. Maybe going on Friday instead of a Saturday like usual made a difference, but the show felt empty. It seemed like there was next to no one there, which wasn’t very encouraging. On top of that, I felt like there were WAY fewer gardens–and the gardens that were there felt way smaller–than when I attended the show in 2016 and 2017.

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I was really bummed that Mariano’s wasn’t there with a flower market, and I didn’t see Proven Winners anywhere either: another garden I always enjoy. The only positive thing I have to say about the show, really, was that the tablescapes, usually my least favorite part of the entire show, hit it out of the park with the “Flowertales” theme. All of them were clearly inspired by some story or book, and naturally the English major in me appreciated that.

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Although they did have free craft beer tastings this year, which seemed pretty unrelated to flowers but was still a nice touch.

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I’ll probably go to the show again next year to see what it’s like, but my expectations are pretty low. If it’s not good next year, my Chicago and Flower Garden Show attending days might be over.

2. Speaking of things that I’m curious about, I am SO CURIOUS to see how the Shamrock Shuffle shapes up on Sunday.

As I documented briefly in my recap of last year’s race and expanded upon about six weeks ago, it is no secret to anyone who keeps an eye on race results that the number of Shamrock Shuffle finishers has TANKED over the past five years or so:

2017: 20,005–apparently, the race gained 10 extra finishers from when I looked up my results for my recap last year and this week, which just so happens to push the total into the 20,000 range. I’m trying hard to not view this as suspicious.
2016: 23,459
2015: 22,884 (This was the year the race was yellow flagged due to high winds)
2014: 30,122.
2013: 33,257

The race has gone from being one that sold out to being one that is absolutely marketed to death–oh my gosh, I have received SO. MANY. EMAILS. begging me to sign up for the race over the past several months. Heck, they were pushing the race DURING the Chicago Marathon last year! The advertising, the newly(ish)-scaled price structure, the extra swag: all of this, combined with the race results, indicates to me that the race is desperate for more finishers and a return to the race’s glory days.

However, the St. Patrick’s Day/Shamrock Shuffle-themed email that Fleet Feet sent out for its weekly newsletter on March 10 claims that “the race [is gearing] up for one of its largest fields in recent memory.” What do we think, peanut gallery?? Do you think that’s true? I’m kind of inclined to think it’s true, since Fleet Feet partners with the race. It would be a stupid thing to lie about, given how easy it is to find finisher numbers from past years. Then again, BibRave apparently partners with the Shamrock Shuffle too, and its ambassadors’ posts shilling the race claimed that the race gets over 30,000 finishers each year, which is flat-out not true (see above), so who knows?

Anyway, because I am far too interested in wildly unimportant things about Bank of America races (you should’ve seen my post about my suspicions about the size of last year’s Chicago Marathon field: a post I had the sense to delete while still a draft to avoid coming off as a conspiracy theorist) I think I’m more curious to see how many people finish this race on Sunday than I am to see how I do.

3. I planned to use this space to brag about my best-performing bracket (88.8th percentile on ESPN, heyyyyyyy), which is fortunately also the bracket I entered into my family pool, but I have something MUCH bigger to muse about today:

*flails forever*

If you are unfamiliar with my Broadway obsession, hello, welcome to my blog, I’ve barely listened to anything but show soundtracks for over a year. I’m particularly fond of Hamilton (who isn’t?), and last year took a trip to New York exclusively to see Dear Evan Hansen with (most of) the original cast. Unsurprisingly, when Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted a picture of Ben Platt last Wednesday with the caption, “I’m really excited/nervous about Monday’s March #Hamildrop, cuz it’s for you kids…” I lost my mind. (Hamildrops are Hamilton-related new music that comes out every month in 2018.) I’ve continued to lose my mind even more since the Hamildrop came out on Monday, since it’s a collaboration between Lin-Manuel Miranda (HAMILTON HIMSELF) and Ben Platt (EVAN HANSEN HIMSELF), with a mashup of a song from Hamilton and a song from Dear Evan Hansen written to support March for Their Lives.

*continues flailing forever*

In the words of another Pasek & Paul song, “It’s everything you ever waaaaant! It’s everything you ever neeeeeed! And it’s here right in front of youuuuuu!” I’m ob.sessed., and think you should be, too 😛

Who’s running the Shamrock Shuffle on Sunday?

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10 thoughts on “Thursday Things

  1. Your photos from the flower show are gorgeous! They remind me of the beautiful stock photos that come with the new iPhones (to be used as backgrounds). I mean that as a compliment!
    I wonder why the show is going downhill 😦 Was having less people there not a good thing – like, it was so sparse you felt weird? (I don’t like when I go to events like that that are super crowded.)
    You know, I thought Shamrock used to sell out! I feel weird that I keep seeing people pushing registration. I hope you have a good race!

    • Thank you! That’s very nice of you to say 🙂 I agree that I don’t like it when events are super crowded, but it definitely felt sparsely attended this year, to the point where it felt empty. I mean, I certainly wasn’t the only person there, but compared to what I’m used to, it was noticeably smaller. It made the whole show feel less energetic and exciting, which I think definitely contributed to the letdown for me.

  2. I am running the Shamrock Shuffle for the first time this weekend! Since I have never ran it before I don’t really know what to expect but I am expecting a crowded start! I am in Corral E!
    Love your flower pictures!

    • Ooooh yay! That’s so exciting! You know, I’ve never felt like Shamrock is *too* crowded, mostly because even though there are a lot of people, the entire course (I think? Certainly the entire course until you get to Michigan Ave. – I can’t remember if you get the full road there or not) is 100% closed to traffic, so there’s LOTS of space for people to spread out, even though there are lots of people. It’s much better than Lakefront Trail races that way! Good luck on Sunday!

  3. Also, this year they have brought the race back closer to St. Patrick’s Day (which was traditional) rather than in April. I bet there were complaints about running a St. Patrick’s Day themed race in early April, so they moved it. However the weather is riskier having it two weeks earlier. Anyway, up until about 5 years ago I would say 10 of my neighbors would make their annual pilgrimage down to Grant Park for the Shuffle regardless of the shape they were in. It was the race that transcended running and was a day of fun and drinking by the fountain. Now there are only two neighbors that I know of that are going and they are a dad and his son (who has recently gotten into running). I should ask the neighbors that are now sitting it out what has changed. Besides all of the reasons we have pointed out, maybe it’s a generational thing and its simply fading out. Kind of like the way tradition stomping on straw hats past September 15th faded after the straw hat riots of 1922. 🙂

    • I understand why they started having the race in April (and why it’s not the first Sunday in April this year, since that’s Easter), but I’ll never understand why they insist on continuing to call it the Shamrock Shuffle when it’s in April! Even if it is the first Sunday in April, the closest it could possibly be to St. Patrick’s Day is 15 days after the fact (and it can be as late as 21 days after the fact!). No one is still celebrating the holiday that long after it ended. Can you imagine running a Christmas-themed race on January 9?? If they’re going to insist on doing the race in April–which is fine with me, for the record–they should rebrand it to the “Spring Shuffle” instead of the Shamrock Shuffle and stop with all this St.-Patrick’s-Day-two-to-three-weeks-after-the-fact nonsense. Example #201934 of my genius ideas on how these Bank of America races could be improved 😛 Hahaha

  4. I’ve been running my local Shamrock race since 2011 and I don’t have numbers to back it up, but I know based on registration that participation has been declining ever since. It used to sell out several months in advance – in fact, the first year I ran it I registered about 12 weeks before the race, and it sold out the next day. Over the next couple years the sell out day got later and later, and now I can’t remember the last time it sold out. I also get 500 emails asking me to sign up, even after I’ve already signed up, and I find it annoying that they can’t or for whatever reason don’t filter out addresses that are already registered from that listserv.

    The half and and the full used to start 90 minutes apart and run in opposite directions (so basically there was no potential for overlap except for maybe the very last half marathoners and the very first marathoners). This year they changed it so that both races start together and run in the same direction, which I suspect they are able to do because of the participation drop, and probably want to do to save money on permitting by not leaving the back half of the course open for 4+ more hours.

    • I signed up for this race I think in September? I know I signed up a long time ago, but I also know I was getting emails through this past Sunday still asking me to sign up, so I feel you on that! Not to mention it’s a little disconcerting the first 20 times you get them – it made me second guess if I had actually signed up or not! That seems counterproductive.

      I understand why your Shamrock race would want to save money on permitting, but holy cow, that’s a huge change! I definitely get why that would discourage people from signing up again!

  5. Awww I want to read the post about the Chicago Marathons finish size!

    This makes me think of our local marathon that I ran as my first in 2014. I registered for this October race when it first opened in January because I had been warned that I thought sells out – sure enough, it sold out in April. But then the next year it didn’t sell out until June. And now it doesn’t sell out all. A lot of that, to be fair, is due to competition from a new fall race….but I suspect it’s also the result of the trend of declining race participation in general. It makes sense if you think about it – the running boom is waning while the over saturated race market remains; the novelty of racing has worn off for the crowds of people who got into it in the social media age as something to do for the ‘gram/ for the blog. Even as someone who actually likes the RUNNING part of racing, I have to admit that I’m not as motivated to sign up for them anymore – there’s a definite “if you’ve done one, you’ve done them all” feel to most races that has me a lot less inclined to fork over the exorbitant registration fees.

    • Haha I’m sure I still have all the tables and graphs I created to prove my point somewhere – I’ll see if I can find them and send you a SparkNotes version of my conspiracy theory 😛

      You’re so right with the done one, done them all thing. The more races I’ve run, the more they all start to feel the same, especially when they’re in Chicago and quite often literally are the same, at least for significant parts of the course! I keep signing up because I like the rhythm of how my running season plays out with races, but the more I’ve started to do new-to-me races in other towns, the less inclined I’ve been to sign up for local events. Even with the Chicago Marathon, which is about as exciting as you could hope for a race to be (aside from Boston or New York, perhaps)–it’s the exact same course with the exact same features every year. It gets really stale after awhile and starts to not feel worth the investment. And if *I’M* saying that, and I’m in the same boat as you–someone who likes the running part of racing–I’ve got to imagine that the lack of excitement from everything being the same year after year is a MUCH bigger issue for the people who race for the experience part of the equation more than the enjoyment-of-running part of the equation.

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