Thursday Things

Annual marathon thought-dump edition!

1. While I thought the expo felt bigger and more populated (from a brand standpoint) this year, I was #notimpressed with the offerings. I purchased one thing (see line item #3) and was honestly pretty disappointed about it, until I remembered that I had already bought three things from Nike prior to the expo, which was why I didn’t have anything I needed to buy at the expo.

2. The three things I bought from Nike (well, one was technically Nike via Fleet Feet):

nikechicagomarathongear2019-1

I already mentioned that I got a visor at Fleet Feet two days after the 20 miler to make sure I got something. When I went to Nike the following weekend, they still had plenty of everything. I got a blue half-zip and my traditional marathon hat, both of which I like a lot.

nikechicagomarathongear2019-2

I’m a big fan of the heathered look on anything, so obviously I love my half zip, and I like all the detail on the hat. I’m also VERY excited that both the hat and visor have mesh-y-ish material for the sweatband (by which I mean its perforated – I don’t know the best way to describe it), which I think will make them both INFINITELY more breathable than anything else in my current hat/visor collection. I insist on wearing hats or visors when I’m running in the sun, but the lack of breathability does make them a bit toasty. I’m optimistic that the design on this year’s marathon hat and visor will solve that problem.

3. I, sadly, was not able to make my annual Christmas ornament purchase from SportHooks, as they have apparently gone out of business and therefore clearly weren’t at the expo this year. I’m bummed out about it, because I’m quite proud of my SportHooks Christmas ornament collection. Instead, I bought a glass ornament from the Commemorative Merchandise booth with all of the official Bank of America Chicago Marathon non-Nike swag. I think Christmas ornaments are the best souvenir–they don’t take up much space, they’re a great way to show off your interests/experiences, and they don’t clutter up anything but your Christmas tree–so I’m glad I was able to get one for this year’s race, even if it doesn’t match the others. (You can’t really see it, but it’s on my participant shirt in the picture below, right under the Nike swoosh.)

4. The participant bag seemed light on stuff this year, though maybe I just feel that way because I didn’t buy anything but that ornament on my way out.

chicagomarathonparticipantbag2019

I’m a HUGE fan of this year’s shirt and think it’s light years better than last year’s monstrosity. I also think this is the best poster they’ve given out since the 2013 poster. (Maybe they only have good posters on years the race is run on October 13?) You can’t see it here, but the poster is a picture of view facing south on LaSalle towards the Board of Trade and ran with the “I am” theme that the marathon apparently decided to go with this year. (“I am fearless. I am strong. I am ready.” etc.). They had that all over the participant bag, too, which was new. Usually it’s just the logo. I thought it was a nice touch, though one year too late for me, because I was all about those positive statements last year.

5. I know some people were annoyed that CARA gave you a wristband to get into the VIP Experience this year, and that they put it on you at the expo (which, if you went on Friday like I did, meant you had to wear it all day Friday and Saturday.). It didn’t bother me at all. It seems to me like checking shoe tags is probably the easiest way to go about doing things, but I wasn’t irritated by the wristband.

6. Like I said on Tuesday, maybe this is just because last year’s crowds were light due to the rain, but I thought the crowds this year were some of–if not the–best I’ve ever experienced. I’ve worn my name on my shirt every Chicago Marathon other than my first one, but I felt like I was cheered on by name way more this year than any other time. I loved it. Give me all of the encouragement! I can’t even tell you how many times I heard, “Bethany! I see you!” which was weird, getting that turn of phrase from so many different people, but I was all about it.

I also, at almost every aid station, thought the medical aid station staffers were cheering for me when in fact they were yelling that they had, “Vaseline!” which, when yelled, sounds a lot more like my name than I ever realized prior to Sunday. Ha.

7. The signage game was also on. point. this year. Honestly, looking for creative signs was basically how I survived most of the race. Some of the ones I really liked:

  •  A little girl holding a “You’re almost there!” sign around mile 4/5, while her mom (or otherwise responsible female adult) standing next to her was holding a sign with an arrow pointing to the girl that said “She’s lying.” Ha.
  • No fewer than three different, “It took the Cubs 108 years to win the World Series. Take your time.” signs. I thought it was crazy that I saw that exact phrase on three different signs?? Did they all coordinate??
  • No fewer than FOUR different, “At least you’re not at work right now!” signs. Apparently this was a banner year for running the race if you hate your job.
  • “The one where [name I forgot] runs a marathon,” and a “Run like Phoebe” sign, both in reference to Friends.
  • “You don’t have to run tomorrow!” to which I thought, “FREAKING FINALLY,” every time I saw it.

However, my top three signs were as follows:

  • #3: A life-sized cutout of the Jonas Brothers that said, “Mandie, we’re waiting for you at the finish!” I saw that around mile three and was VERY upset I didn’t see it again. I’m also upset they weren’t waiting for me at the finish, but whatever. I’ll get over it 😛
  • #2: “If Hamilton could write the other 51, you can run 26.2.” Amazing. Excellent reference. 10/10.
  • #1: “My sister is running the race but I’m here for Tyler C. #abcbachelorette” I mean, seriously. How do you top that?

I also saw approximately a million and a half “Touch here for power” signs–WAY more than usual–and sincerely appreciated the various signs that in one way or another referenced Truth Hurts, including one that just said “100% That Bitch.” Phenomenal.

8. Having not watched The Bachelorette for a few seasons, I didn’t have high hopes about recognizing any of the four former contestants running this year. In fact, I forgot that there even were former contestants running this year until I saw the aforementioned sign. When I found out there were Bachelorette contestants running the race, it suddenly became important to me that I beat all of them. I’m sad to report that I only beat one of them BUT I would like the record to show that Tyler and Dustin ran 4:45s, which is slower than my PR from last year, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. That will be a point of pride for me for the rest of my days, even if either of them ends up going on to run a much faster marathon in the future.

9. SPEAKING of celebrities at the Chicago Marathon! When I took out my phone during my post-Pilsen pre-Chinatown walk break, I saw a text from one of my friends running the race that they had seen none other than JERRY GERGICH FROM PARKS AND REC SPECTATING THE RACE. WHAT!!!!!!! I mean, technically they saw Jim O’Heir, the actor who played Jerry, since Jerry’s a character. But that’s not the point! I guess he was just before Whitney Young. I was obviously long past there by the time I saw the text, which is an argument for getting texts on my Fitbit if I ever there were one (because my friend was ahead of me, so I would’ve known to look if I had seen the text in time!), but MAN, how cool is that??? My friend got a selfie with him, and I am unspeakably jealous.

10. I was SO invested in how my runners from my training group would do during the race. I saw two of them after the race and gave them big hugs and lots of congratulations. I’m so freaking proud of them!

11. That being said, I don’t know that group leading is for me. Or perhaps more accurately, I don’t know that group leading in the situation I found myself in this year is for me. I really didn’t like being the only 11:30 group leader out of downtown, especially when, five weeks into it, I got half marathoners thrown into my group, too. I always prioritized the marathon distance over the half marathon distance, especially since I only had two half marathoners, which meant they ran the second half of their runs solo pretty much all season. I don’t think that’s the group training experience they expected or deserved, and I wish if CARA were going to offer half marathon training out of the same location at the same time as marathon training, that they’d get half marathon pacers to lead it instead of expecting the marathon group leaders to figure it out (especially when I don’t recall anyone ever telling me that I was going to be responsible for leading both a half and full marathon group at the same time). Being the only 11:30 group leader made me feel a lot of pressure, because there was never anyone to pick up the slack for me. And, let’s be honest, group leading downtown after I moved to the suburbs sucked. I knew that was going to happen when I signed up for it, but I didn’t expect to move so early in July. I thought I’d have to drive in for all of August and September (plus one week of October), and instead I had to drive in for all of July, August, and September (plus one week of October). It was a lot, and getting up at 4:05 every Saturday got very old VERY quickly.

I think one of the things that really got to me about group leading, though, was that I no longer had the illusion of choice when it came to my long runs. Was I going to show up every single week, even if I were only a participant and not a group leader? Almost certainly. I’ve never bailed on a long run for anything short of illness, injury, or a race the next day, so do I think I would’ve drug myself downtown every Saturday even if I weren’t group leading? Most likely. But as a participant, I made the choice to be there every week. As a group leader, I didn’t have that choice. I had to be there–especially since I was the only group leader for the 11:30s.

That being said, I did really like being in a mentor position and having free rein to offer unsolicited advice to my runners, so that aspect of group leading was nice. It was also nice to be invested in other people’s races on Sunday, not just my own, so it has its pros and cons.

12. I had my mind made up that I wanted to get finisher gear this year, and after trying to get some on Tuesday last year only to find everything remotely close to my size sold out online, I didn’t want to take any chances this year. I knew it would go on sale online on Saturday and planned to buy something as soon as that happened. I was super annoyed, then, when I checked the website that afternoon and they only had men’s finisher gear available. It wasn’t unisex, either – it was specifically labeled as men’s. I was so annoyed! I checked the website multiple times that day, and it kept only showing men’s finisher gear.

When I was unsuccessfully trying to fall asleep Saturday night, I decided to check the website one more time, and lo! The number of women’s items had gone up from 45 to 48! I scrolled down, and sure enough, there was the finisher’s pullover, jacket, and t-shirt. I contemplated getting the pullover, but since I already have a pullover from this year’s marathon, I opted for the jacket instead. Now I just need to make a point of, you know, wearing it. I have a 2016 finisher’s jacket that I’ve only managed to wear a handful of times because the weather never feels right for it, but maybe this one will be different. I can hope 😛

13. I was really surprised by how friendly everyone on the course seemed to be on Sunday. I’ve never experienced overt rudeness from other runners during the Chicago Marathon (or covert rudeness, for that matter), but I both elbowed and was elbowed by several people during the race. Every single time I was elbowed, the elbower apologized, and every time I elbowed someone and apologized, they didn’t seem bothered in the least. Amazing!

14. I love this.

meangirlsmarquee

 

Thursday Things

1. Um, guys.

sundayforecast

Help.

I’ve run seven marathons, and none of them have had a forecast even remotely close to this one. I don’t have the exact weather stats from when I ran Fox Valley, but the Chicago Marathon conveniently publishes the daily high and low from each race day in its media guide. According to that, I’ve run the Chicago Marathon in the following conditions:

2013: High of 64, low of 47
2014: High of 64, low of 45
2015: High of 79, low of 53
2016: High of 62, low of 48
2017: High of 80, low of 56
2018: High of 63, low of 57

You can’t see it because the details cover it up, but the predicted temperatures for Sunday are a high of 52, low of 39 (and a 20 percent chance of rain, but I’m not too worried about that right now).

While I’m not upset about the forecast for Sunday, I am concerned about the forecast for Sunday, because I don’t have a CLUE what to wear. I’ve never run farther than 13.1 miles in this sort of weather!

Right now, I’m leaning towards the outfit I wore for my half marathon PR in April, when (according to my Garmin’s weather stats), it was 40 degrees and overcast. That day, I wore a short sleeved shirt, arm sleeves (which eventually came off), and capris. I think that will be okay for Sunday? I might also add a disposable pullover that I can throw away mid-run if necessary. My real concern is capris vs. shorts. I normally wear shorts if it’s 50 degrees or warmer, which, problematically, it seems like it might be at the end of the race, but not the beginning of the race. Figures. That being said, the forecast is also calling for more wind than normal (i.e.: wind at all), and that will keep it feeling colder than the mercury says…and hopefully counteract the sun, which is my real concern in the capri/temperature department. If it were going to be 50, windy, and overcast, I’d feel better about capris than if it’s going to be 50, windy, and sunny. Though I suppose it’s also worth remembering that I was never going to win this thing outright anyway, so perhaps my concerns about dressing perfectly for changing conditions is…unnecessary. It’s not like it would be the first time I was uncomfortably warm during a marathon.

My other concern is chafing/discomfort, of course. I’ve never even had the opportunity to test anything other than a tank top and shorts at anything longer than 14 miles, so I certainly haven’t done a 20 miler wearing those clothes. I’m pretty sure the capris will be fine. I’m more concerned about my short sleeve shirt and its chafing potential, but if I lather up on Aquaphor under my arms, hopefully it’ll be okay?

On the bright side, I probably don’t have to worry about getting a racerback tan line at the race this year!

2. This whole post is probably going to be marathon themed, just FYI.

Ugh, I am a MESS, folks. My messiness started last Saturday, and it’s only getting worse as time goes on. This is (for real this time!) my last Chicago Marathon for awhile, and I’m not handling it well.

I did a visualization session (on my own, not with a sports therapist this time) on Wednesday to try to get my head in the game for Sunday, and by the time I visualized myself in Little Italy I was in tears. By the time I visualized myself in Chinatown, I was full-on ugly crying. By the time I visualized myself at the finish line, I was practically inconsolable.

I know I can’t run Chicago next year. Too much about the next year of my life is way too up in the air to commit to doing a race 11 and a half months ahead of time. Honestly, I likely wouldn’t know if I could run the race until about a month before, at which point it is obviously WAY too late to START training for a marathon, not to mention way too late to register for Chicago, period. I knew this was going to happen at some point, but even as it became clear that “some point” was no longer some nebulous imaginary time in the way-far-away future, it’s still hard to wrap my head around “some point” being “Sunday.”

At the risk of sounding overdramatic, the Chicago Marathon has been the defining event of my post-college life. Sure, plenty of other major life events have happened in that time, but the Chicago Marathon has been my reliable point of reference through all of it. No matter what job I had, no matter where I lived, no matter what other extracurriculars I involved myself in, my participation in the Chicago Marathon stayed the same. When making decisions like where to live or what job to take, one of my top considerations has always been, “How will this impact my ability to stick to my marathon training schedule?” Which is insane! I’m lucky to run a marathon in under five hours, and I act like an elite athlete whose livelihood depends on successfully completing a marathon. But it’s important to me, and that’s what makes knowing this time is the last time (at least for awhile) so emotional. Since I got involved in the marathon, I’ve never not cared about the marathon. I’ve never not cared too much about the marathon, really.

So I think Sunday is going to be tough for me. I’m always sad when marathon season ends, but in the past, I’ve always been able to temper that sadness by reminding myself that I’ll be back at it next summer. That’s not the case this time around.

I hope to continue being involved in the marathon in some capacity moving forward, specifically through volunteering in whatever capacity makes the most sense for me at the time. But even so, it’s tough to see this chapter of my life come to a close, and I should probably stash some tissues in my hydration belt on Sunday.

3. Three days out from race day and I still, truly, do not have a time goal for Sunday. I keep trying to come up with one for appearance’s sake, but it feels like you’re supposed to have a time goal in mind, but I honestly have nothing. Even when I was doing my visualization session on Wednesday, when I really needed to have a time goal in mind to help the visualizing process along, I felt totally “meh” about the times I saw on my watch in my mind’s eye. I could barely conjure them up, in fact.

Part of it is that I genuinely have NO CLUE how fast I’m capable of running a cold marathon. I’ve always thought that I could run a lot faster if it’s cold, but I also could barely hang onto an 11:45 pace all summer on my long runs, so who knows! The past two cold weeks, I’ve done closer to an 11:15 pace, so maybe that’s reasonable? That would be a 4:54 marathon. I’d be perfectly fine with that. I guess if I really HAD to pick a time goal, I would like to go sub-5:00. I prefer to go sub-5:00 in general. Anything after that is icing on the cake at this point. PRing would be cool, of course, and if I feel like that’s physically possible, maybe I’ll go for it. At the end of the day, I really just want to be happy with how I run the race. As long as I can cross the finish line satisfied with my effort, it’ll have been a successful day.

 

 

Thursday Things

1. Friends, I come to you today with the most tragic news. After the final tally of steps in my company’s September step challenge (which, I would like to point out, really should have been called the Steptember Challenge. One more complaint to file with the people who organized this.), I finished in third place. *sobs forever* To add insult to injury, I finished in third place by a mere 1,524 steps. *increased eternal sobbing* Had I made more of an effort to get additional steps the day before the 20 miler (instead of my paltry 4,201), or even done one more lap of my neighborhood walk on Monday, I easily would’ve surpassed my rival and taken home the metaphorical silver. Instead, I will forever be haunted by the 1,524 steps I did not take in September, relegating me to third place and crushing disappointment.

I’m being dramatic, obviously. Life will certainly go on. I had nothing to actually lose or gain from coming in second place over third (other than my fragile pride, that is), so it’s hardly the end of the world. If nothing else, I definitely learned that I am FAR more competitive about these sorts of things than I realized. Like I said last week, I went out of my way to get as many steps as possible this month, but it wasn’t until reviewing my all-time (since June 2016) Fitbit data that I realized quite how far I took things. I averaged 20,618 steps for the month of September and only had one day where I didn’t hit 10,000 steps (that cursed day before the 20 miler). My previous daily-average record was 17,966 (August 2018). I must admit that I’m pretty with myself for setting a new daily average PR, especially since I live in the suburbs now and consequentially have less opportunity to walk places.

I must also admit that I am SO GLAD the step challenge is over. Now I can live my life normally, and more importantly, start actually resting my legs for taper.

2. I also have un-tragic news! After my run on Saturday, I went to the Nike store on Michigan Ave. on a quest for marathon gear, and they had plenty. I am now the proud owner of a heathered blue half-zip and, more importantly, my annual marathon hat. I probably won’t even need to go to Nike at the expo now?! What am I going to do with myself instead??

As I was making my purchase at Nike, the employee handling my transaction asked if I was running the race (which seemed like a silly question at the time, until it occurred to me that people probably buy race swag as gifts for their loved ones who are running the race, so I no longer think it’s a silly question), and then asked what my goal time is. To my surprise, I realized I really didn’t have an answer for him. I said 4:45, but I don’t know that that’s really what I’m aiming for. I don’t know what I’m aiming for! I guess a sub-5:00? It’s going to depend so much on the weather that I don’t feel like I can have a reasonable goal time until, like, 24 hours before the race. It’d be nice to PR, of course, but I think I’m really more concerned with extending my no-bonk streak to three consecutive marathons than I am with finishing in a certain time. Though that mindset could certainly change in the next week 😛

3. I came into work one day last week to discover that I am woefully underenthusiastic about Halloween compared to my coworkers. The area where my team sits was totally done up in Halloween decor: garlands, fake webs, plastic spiders, pumpkins, skeletons: the whole nine yards. It was quite obvious that my desk was dragging down the aesthetic, and feeling bad about it, I decided to check out what Target had to offer online. In so doing, I discovered this year’s iterations of the birds Kim sent me last year, and decided a weekend trip to Target was in order.

halloweenbirds.jpg

*dies*

I haven’t come up with good, bird pun names for the two new additions to my collection yet. Apparently they come with names (the one with the pumpkin mask is Spookster, and the one in the witch’s hat is Cackles), but those are boring and not punny. I need ideas!

Thursday Things

1. *sigh* I feel so out of sorts with marathon training this year, and it’s really wearing on me. Ninety percent (made up percentage – I haven’t done the actual math, but you get the idea) of my weekday runs feel fantastic. There were some tough ones in the first couple of weeks of June, and then two other real struggles since I moved to the suburbs. But other than that, my weekday runs have by and large been great, or if not great, at least satisfactory. I’ve been happy with how they go and how I feel, and they boost my confidence for the marathon.

But my long runs. Oh, my long runs. They’ve been the bane of my existence this training cycle, and I don’t know why. I can go bang out a seven mile run at a 10:20 pace on a Wednesday morning, but put me on the Lakefront Trail on a Saturday morning, and I’m struggling to run even one mile at an 11:30 pace, never mind multiple miles in a row. It’s been enormously frustrating, and zaps all the confidence I’ve built up during my weekday runs.

I don’t understand why I’m having so much trouble on my long runs, and it really frustrates me. Maybe it’s because of the move? Maybe spending so much time in the car prior to a run makes my legs incapable of running? Or getting up earlier in order to make it to the run in time? If that’s the case, there’s really nothing I can do about it, at least not at this point in training. I have a place to spend the night in the city the day before the marathon, so I won’t have a drive in (or train ride in) to deal with that morning. Hopefully that’ll make some sort of a difference.

I also just need to get over caring so much about this marathon that I swore up and down I wouldn’t care about. I’ve invested a ton of time and energy into training for this race, so it’s not surprising that I care–and I don’t think it’s bad that I care–but I need to remember that the whole point of running the race this year was to enjoy it. I don’t need to PR, or hit a certain time, or whatever. Things to work on during taper, I suppose.

2. Speaking of things I need to get over caring so much about, I’ve been taking this September step challenge at work way, way too seriously.

As of Wednesday afternoon, I had an 8,000-step hold on second place (though my rival in third hadn’t tracked her steps for Wednesday at all, so I could be living in blissful ignorance to the actual state of affairs. I’m like 40,000 steps behind the person in first, so I’ve given up my dreams of taking the gold.). I really, really thought the 20 miler on Sunday would get me ahead of her once and for all, but when I returned to the office on Monday, she still had a 3,500 step lead on me. This is what I get for only logging 4,000 steps on Saturday!

My company organizes day-long volunteering events throughout the year, and I participated in one on Tuesday with a handful of coworkers. While there, the step challenge came up. As it happens, three people in my volunteer group work in the same department as my step challenge rival and gave me the inside scoop! Turns out she walks the stairs at work (six flight) every hour, AND she runs at lunch! Ah ha! I suspected she ran regularly–I don’t know how anyone could possibly average over 20,000 steps per day when you work a desk job without running–but the stairs! That was a surprise. Genius!

I don’t know how much of a chance I have at maintaining my tenuous grip on second place, but I have been going out. of. my. way. to walk as much as possible to satisfy my ridiculous need for validation. Keep in mind, coming in second place won’t win me anything. Coming in first wouldn’t, either. Each person on my team needs to log 210,000 steps for us to even get wellness points (a useless currency), and as of yesterday, we were averaging 166,000 per person and were in close to last place (from a team perspective). I’m guessing there’s no chance we’ll even hit the minimum 210,000 threshold, never mind shoot into the top three teams (who get extra wellness points). So all of this walking I’m doing, my powerwalks at lunch, my gigantic laps around the office to get to the kitchen for water, my intentional inefficiencies so I have to make multiple trips from Point A to Point B in order to log more steps: none of it matters at all. I will get absolutely nothing, probably not even the smallest amount of recognition, for doing this. And yet this has become one of my top priorities for the month. Like I said, ridiculous.

3. SPEAKING of ridiculous. I had some time to kill on Tuesday and a $15 voucher to Fleet Feet burning a hole in my pocket. Since I won’t need shoes for awhile, I decided to stop into the Old Town store (the first time I’ve been there since they moved forever ago, incidentally) to check out the marathon gear. Having learned my lesson the hard way with last year’s marathon hats, I didn’t want to wait until the expo to try to get any.

Well. Not only was Fleet Feet completely out of hats, they were almost completely out of everything. As far as women’s clothes went, they had three or four half zips, a handful of t-shirts, maybe 10 sweatshirts, one tank top, and two visors. That was it. Gear went on sale one week ago. The employee who showed me where their clothes were said people showed up when the store opened last Thursday to get things.

What is this?!? Since when did buying Nike marathon gear become such an arms race?! Are they going to have to make a lottery for marathon gear, too, like they did for registration? It’s insane! When I got to the expo at like 1 p.m. on FRIDAY last year, Nike was already SOLD OUT of hats. And they weren’t even that interesting! They were just plain black running hats that said Bank of America Chicago Marathon on them!

So I bought a visor at Fleet Feet (and a pair of socks that I didn’t need but said Chicago 26.2 on them, so *shrugging emoji*) and plan to try my luck at Nike downtown on Saturday after my long run to see what they have in stock. I have a coupon for Nike as well (thank you, birthday month) that I’d like to use on marathon gear if at all possible. I’d buy stuff online to save myself the trouble, but as I suspected from Fleet Feet’s pictures of the gear, and had confirmed to me in store by what Fleet Feet had available, nike.com only has like half of the actual gear (which is also ridiculous, but whatever. I only have so much marathon gear outrage available 😛 ), so in-store it is. I suppose if that doesn’t work out, I’ll hope for the best at the expo, or just stick with my visor and call it a a day. THE DRAMA. Haha.

Friday Things

1. Welp, I’m officially panicking about the 20 miler on Sunday.

Sunday’s forecast is abysmal, to put it gently. Apparently the remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda are scheduled to arrive in the Chicago area Saturday evening into Sunday morning, bringing with them heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Per usual, I’m particularly concerned about the potential for thunderstorms, given the whole “running exposed on the Lakefront for approximately four hours” thing. I know from experience that the obvious threat of thunderstorms almost guaranteed to arrive during a run isn’t enough for CARA to cancel–I have three 18 milers and their corresponding tales of waiting out storms in underpasses and bathrooms to prove that. Unless it’s storming at 6:30 a.m., I’m quite certain they won’t cancel.

However, the 20 miler won’t be done by, you know, 7 a.m. It’s going to take literal hours to run. So what are they going to do if it starts storming mid-run? CARA has never seemed to have a mid-run thunderstorm contingency plan, so I have no reason to believe they’ll have one for the 20 miler–though if they do, it would be awfully helpful if they’d at least inform us pace leaders about it ahead of time.

I suppose at this point, it would be more efficient to link back to my thunderstorm-related complaints I had for the Chicago Marathon last year, because it boils down to the same thing this year with CARA: just communicate with us. I can’t, for the life of me, understand what harm it would do to show people you’re prepared for bad weather and that you have a plan in place to keep your participants safe should electricity shoot down from the sky. I absolutely understand keeping your security protocols under wraps, because announcing to the world what you plan to do in case of a security breach is a security breach in and of itself. But it’s not the like weather is sitting in a dark room somewhere, waiting anxiously to see if CARA reveals its plans so it can find the holes in them and exploit them.

2. Even if it doesn’t thunderstorm, I’m still concerned about the “heavy rain” situation.

At the end of the day, if it rains, it rains. There’s nothing I can do about it. It will be unpleasant. I’ll wear a garbage bag until it’s time to start running, put my phone in a Ziploc bag, slather my skin in Aquaphor, and hope for the best.

My concern, however, are concerns that I had in the first place, which are only exacerbated by the predicted heavy rain. For whatever reason, I’ve really struggled with blisters this year. I got blisters running my half marathon in April, and marathon training hasn’t been much better, particularly in the past few weeks. I have an especially brutal blister on one of my toes that seems to reignite after any run in even vaguely humid conditions, which doesn’t bode well for Sunday.

I started wearing my Injinjis more regularly, hoping that having some fabric between my toes would keep them from rubbing against each other and blistering. No such luck. I put Body Glide on my toes before my run on Wednesday and finished blister-free, but I also only ran about 5.6 miles.

So if anyone has any blister avoidance tips, I’m accepting them. My toes would appreciate your guidance.

3. *heavy dramatic sigh* Guys, I’m so upset that I haven’t had any random encounters with the Jonas Brothers while they’ve gallivanted around Chicago this week 😦 I doesn’t help, of course, that I don’t live in the city anymore, and they’ve primarily been in the city…but still. They were in the area on my birthday! Why didn’t they come visit me?! 😦 *more heavy dramatic sighing*

I obviously didn’t take it too personally, since I’ve bought myself a ticket to their show in Rosemont in a few months. Nike’s the one who should take it personally, since I’m channeling the majority of my birthday money into Jonas-related things rather than marathon swag this year. It helps that, per usual, I’m not all that into this year’s design (which means I will inevitably be super into it on Oct. 14, also per usual). I like the look of the tank top, but I bought that same tank top (the Nike Miler) last year and honestly don’t like the fit of it at all. It’s too loose and bounces around too much for my liking. Plus I hate that the arm holes are so big. If I wanted to show off my sports bra to the world, I wouldn’t wear a shirt. I’d really like a half-zip, but right now Nike.com only has men’s half-zips available, so I don’t know if they’ll have any for women. I sure hope they do! I have more marathon swag than any one person could possibly need, but my only half-zip is from the 2013 marathon. It’d be cool to have one from my first Oct. 13 Chicago Marathon and one from my last (for now) Oct. 13 Chicago Marathon.

Happiness Begins Tour: Grand Rapids Recap

I considered writing my normal Thursday Things post this week, but since it was going to end up being entirely about seeing the Jonas Brothers in Grand Rapids anyway, I figured I might as well give this post an accurate title so you know what you’re getting into 😛

As I’ve mentioned previously, my love for the Jonas Brothers knows no bounds. I’ve have been 100 percent obsessed since the first time I saw the Hold On music video on the Disney Channel in the summer of 2007. As soon as I found out they were reuniting, I knew I had to see them on the tour they would inevitably announce to coincide with their new album.

I got tickets to the September 8 show at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids for several reasons. Van Andel’s capacity is significantly smaller than many of the other arenas on the tour (the United Center’s capacity is 20,000; Van Andel’s is 10,000), so I knew wherever I sat would be a good seat. Because Van Andel’s capacity is small and because the tour also stopped in Detroit, Milwaukee, Rosemont, and Chicago (twice), I thought I’d have a better chance at getting into the meet and greet in Grand Rapids than anywhere else. (Though I don’t think Rosemont was announced when the meet and greet went on sale, so that was irrelevant at the time.) On top of all of that, the first (and only) other time I had seen the Jonas Brothers was at Van Andel Arena in December 2007 when they were the opening act for the Best of Both Worlds tour–because yes, I, a senior in high school, proudly went to a Hannah Montana concert on a school night. NO. SHAME. (Though I was really there for the Jonas Brothers. The fact that Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus were also performing was an added bonus.)

I went to the concert with my sister and my best friend from high school, who was the one in charge of actually purchasing the tickets. She knocked it out of the park. We got the three seats next to the aisle in the fourth row on the floor. As someone who generally considers 200 level seats to be outstanding, this was clearly on a totally different level for me (both in terms of views and in terms of price point. Haha. These tickets were BY FAR the most expensive I’ve ever got.). I’ve never been that close to a stage before, and it was incredible. I’m officially ruined for all future concerts.

But I’m getting ahead of myself! Before the concert, I had my meet and greet! Technically before that, the three of us went to Founders, since it’s just a couple of blocks from Van Andel, for a super early dinner and beers. Wanting to keep my wits about me, I only had one, but I’m glad I finally made it to Founders.

Anyway, after Founders, the two of them dropped me off at Van Andel for meet and greet check-in at 5:15. While waiting in line, the girl behind me noticed my shirt (from the Best of Both Worlds Tour) and said, “Wow, you’re an OG fan!” As those of you who came of age in the mid to late 00s may recall, this was an era of music where it behooved you to be a fan “before they were cool.” I specifically remember seeing the Hold On music video on Disney and thinking that the Jonas Brothers could potentially be the band I was a fan of before they were cool (ignoring, of course, that the bands you were supposed to be a fan of before they were cool were mostly pop/punk and/or emo bands), so shoutout to you, 16 year old Bethany. We did it!

This girl and I chatted for a bit and I happened to coincidentally find her on Twitter later that evening, as @JonasConcerts, my primary resource for Jonas Brothers news on Twitter, had retweeted both of us. (Side note: thank goodness there are so many extremely active Jonas Brothers fans on Twitter. Back in the day–“the day” being the 00s–I relied on fan forums to connect with other fans and get the inside scoop on what was going on with celebrities I like, but those aren’t really a thing anymore. I worried that all of this would’ve moved over to Instagram, since that seems to be the coolest social media these days, but fortunately for Instagram-less me, there are plenty of Jonas Brothers fans who are more than happy to tweet about them all day long.) It was fun to make a new friend in the meet and greet line!

After about an hour or so, it was finally time to meet the Jonas Brothers. Based on my exhaustive Twitter research, I was under the impression that the meet and greet would last two to three minutes and not feel rushed at all. I suppose this was my first meet and greet, so maybe compared to others, it was relaxed. But it definitely felt rushed to me. I was a little disappointed that things felt that way, but only a little. The fact that I got to meet them at all was just beyond words.

Part of why I went way above and beyond for this concert was because I was celebrating an occasion. I wore something to indicate that, so the Jonas Brothers congratulated me (my heart!) and I thanked them for throwing me a party, ha. We chatted very briefly (like, a sentence or two) about if I had come with anyone else (I had, but they were just going to the concert, not doing the meet and greet), and then I told them I’d be in the fourth row on the floor “wearing this *gestures to self*, so look for me!” We took a picture, and I was on my way. Oh! But not before I got a bonus goodbye high five from Nick, which still makes me smile when I think about it.

I met up with my sister and my friend and got in the merch line to throw even more money at the Jonas Brothers, because clearly all rules are off when it comes to them. Nike wants $45 for a quality, Nike tank top at the marathon expo? WHAT A SCAM. The Jonas Brothers want $70 for a Gildan sweatshirt with their tour dates on it, you know, like the ones your high school volleyball team ordered? TAKE MY MONEY. Ha. The merch line went WAY faster than I expected (my fellow meet and greet attendees who had been in Detroit the night before said they waited about an hour and 20 minutes in line for merch. I waited maybe 20 minutes. Small venues ftw.), and then we went down to our seats!

Jordan McGraw and Bebe Rexha opened. I know exactly one Jordan McGraw song (“We Met at a Party,”), so I wasn’t all that interested in his set – though I did appreciate when he briefly covered Blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?” I thought I knew exactly one Bebe Rexha song (“Meant to Be”), but it turns out I know a bunch of her music: I just didn’t know she was the artist. Oops. So that was a more enjoyable set. The highlight of her set for sure was when she brought a fan from the crowd up on stage with her for a whole song. Lucky him!

AND THEN. The main event.

happinessbeginsjonasbrothersgrandrapids-1

I kept my cool when I met the Jonas Brothers a lot better than I expected, so I kind of thought that would be the case when the came on stage, too. I mean, I had just met them. How could seeing them in concert be better than meeting them?! Apparently pretty easily, because the second they started descending from the ceiling to “Rollercoaster,” I lost ALL of my chill. I was screaming, crying, generally inconsolable: the epitome of a fangirl, with not one ounce of shame about it.

happinessbeginsjonasbrothersgrandrapids-2

The Jonas Brothers kept performing, it kept being the best thing ever. Around the midpoint or so of their set, they started playing “Used to Be,” the first song where they come into the aisle and head to the B stage at the back of the arena. All of us with aisle seats immediately threw ourselves into the barricades when they started coming down the stairs. Kevin was playing the guitar, so he was unable to hand out high fives while walking down the aisle. Nick was singing with his mic in his left hand, and since I was on his left side, only people on the other side of the aisle got the privilege of high fiving him (but I already had, so *hair flip*). Joe had a mic in his left hand, but he wasn’t singing at the time. He had his right hand out on his right side, high fiving those geniuses who had the foresight to get tickets on that side of the arena.

AND THEN.

Joe looked in my direction.

Saw me.

Reached his free right hand across his body.

And grazed my fingers.

You guys. YOU. GUYS. I’m literally crying again just writing about this happening. I don’t care that I’m six days away from turning 29, and something like this shouldn’t turn me into an easily-excited thirteen year old. I had already shook his hand three hours earlier. I had literally talked to him. But this! Being recognized in the crowd by JOE JONAS. I have been a Joe girl from the moment I became a Jonas Brothers fan. I spent most of the show in 2007 screaming, “I LOVE YOU, JOE!!!!” from the 200 level of Van Andel. I would have appreciated being noticed in the crowd by any of the Jonas Brothers, but to be recognized by my favorite Jonas Brother…! It was, truly, indescribable. I thought maybe I imagined that he saw me and gave me a high five (which, like I said, was more of a finger graze than a high five), or that I was just telling myself that’s what happened because it’s what I want to believe, but I was taking video of it when it happened, and in the video, you can see him look directly at me, smile the tiniest bit, reach across, and then (off camera) high five me. And then you can hear me start sobbing, because obviously.

happinessbeginsjonasbrothersgrandrapids-3

I would say everything was downhill from there, and I suppose it was in the “I have now had the moment of my life to which all future moments of happiness will be compared” sense, but man, it was SUCH a good show. I have all of the Jonas Brothers music (duh) and had been listening to their entire discography all week leading up to the show to get ready. I’d daydream about what our fan request song would be, and when daydreaming about it, would think, “You know, it genuinely doesn’t matter what song they play. I’ll be happy to hear anything.” And it was true! When you can go to a concert where every song is exciting, it’s a pretty great night. By which I mean it’s the very best night ever.

happinessbeginsjonasbrothersgrandrapids-4

happinessbeginsjonasbrothersgrandrapids-5

happinessbeginsjonasbrothersgrandrapids-6

Thursday Things

1. My company decided to do a step challenge as part of our wellness program for the month of September, and boy, talk about the right time for that kind of challenge! September is always bonkers when it comes to marathon training, but this year it’s extra bonkers due to the marathon falling on the latest day it can. That pushed all of training back a calendar week compared to the past couple of years, so instead of having pre-peak week (the 18 miler week) at the end of August, it started–started!–on September 1, the same day the step challenge started. BRING. IT. ON.

Of course, I’m now extra paranoid about getting sick and/or injured, because I’m really counting on those 129 miles I have planned for September to shoot me to the top of the leaderboard. While I certainly don’t know everyone in the company, and especially don’t know what everyone in the company does in their free time, there’s only one other person I know for sure is running the marathon. Even though there’s no additional prize for being the employee with the most steps in September (there’s only a prize for being one of the top three teams, so everyone else in my department needs to step (heh puns) it up, too), I am only somewhat secretly hoping to individually win – or at least finish in the top three. As of Wednesday morning, I was about 3000 steps away from first place *flexing emoji*

(For the record, there are individual prizes for this challenge, but the way you win them isn’t even an option for me. The company is going to give one person a fitness tracker of their choice (up to $300, so no Apple Watch 4s, but Apple Watch 3s are available), but in order to be eligible to win, you have to post pictures of you getting your steps on Instagram. That seems pretty unfair to me, given that I don’t even HAVE Instagram, and certainly am not going to join so I can post about my step count every day just to get entered into the drawing–because that’s how you win the fitness tracker. It’s not based on who actually goes above and beyond in the challenge. It’s all based on luck, and if your name gets picked out of the hat.)

2. I spent most of Sunday afternoon with family (spoiler alert for next week’s training post), and we used that time to go visit the Morton Arboretum. I’ve been a couple of times before and really like it, so I was excited to go back!

There’s been a Lego exhibit going on at the arboretum since May (it closes on September 15), so we checked that out. It was SO cool! There are huge Lego sculptures of various things–mostly animals–throughout the arboretum, and they were very impressive.

legosarboretum

There were signs by all the sculptures indicating how long it took to build them and how many bricks they used. The numbers were mind-boggling! We’re talking 250+ hours of work and tens of thousands of bricks per sculpture.

I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in the area before September 15. The arboretum in general is such a great place to connect with and appreciate nature, but the Lego sculptures are a cool added bonus. And if you happen to see the hummingbird sculpture, take a picture of it for me, because I didn’t see it 😦

3. Guys. I have tickets to see the Jonas Brothers on SUNDAY. Cue all of the freaking out.

I’ve been following various Twitter accounts and the Jonas Brothers subreddit (as one does) like a hawk since the tour kicked off a month ago, and it sounds like it’s AMAZING. Though admittedly, those reviewing it are probably a bit biased, ha. So I’m super duper excited for that. And by “super duper excited” I mean “cried listening to ‘Fly With Me’ on Wednesday because I love that song so so much and it’s on the set list so I’m going to see it live on Sunday and just the THOUGHT of seeing it live is enough to make me cry.” I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.

BUT. Not only do I have tickets to see the Jonas Brothers on Sunday – I have a ticket to MEET the Jonas Brothers. I. KNOW. Don’t ask me how much money I spent on this concert. Thank goodness Europe came in under-budget. Anyway, I’m so nervous about meeting them! Everyone says they’re really nice and easy to talk to, so hopefully that’s true. I’ve never really met anyone famous before! I mean, I’ve met Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi, but the times I’ve met them, I was there to interview them, not, you know, marvel at being in their presence. Ha. What am I supposed to say?! Others who’ve done the meet and greet on this tour say you get two to three minutes with them – that’s a lot of time!! I will admit that I’ve been practicing how I’m hoping the conversation will go, a la visualizing how I want the marathon to go. I just don’t want to cry. There’s a really good chance I’ll cry. Definitely wearing waterproof mascara on Sunday. Don’t mind me. I swear I’m days away from turning 29. (I almost wrote days away from turning 30. I keep having this problem where I think I’m turning 30 this year, but I’m not. That’s next year. I don’t know why this is happening. Probably because I’ve started considering people in their early 30s to be my age–because, you know, they basically are– so I keep thinking I’m almost 30, when in fact I’m almost 29. Hopefully this will make turning 30 next year a lot less traumatic, ha.)