Thursday Things

1. Greetings! You don’t need me to tell you (though I’m obviously going to anyway) that I’ve started to take a more laissez-faire approach to blogging, where I blog when I have the time and desire to do so rather than sticking to a rigid twice-weekly schedule for the sake of consistency and building my readership, which, let’s be honest, has been a losing battle for the past three or four years anyway, once influencing moved into the Instagram sphere and away from being the exclusive territory of blogging. Of course, I was never an influencer of any sort to begin with, and have never made a penny off this blog, so it’s not like maintaining readership has ever been vital to the health of my blog.

Anyway, the point of that rambling introduction was to say that I have been busy, because I’m a human and it’s the end of the year, and who isn’t? I’m busier than normal, thanks to a gigantic event I have coming up in January. I’ve approximately 12384379347 decisions to make when it comes to that event, ranging from big ones (who’s invited?) to stupid ones (what color should the napkins be?), and even the vendor meetings I thought I’d enjoy have by and large turned out to be enormous headaches. Somewhere between attending these meetings and making these decisions, I’m also supposed to deal with all my normal end-of-the-year stuff, like wrapping up my work goals and having to help everyone whose work intersects with mine wrap up their goals as well, and coordinating where I’ll be when for holidays, and realizing a late Thanksgiving is going to mean very limited Christmas shopping time if I insist on waiting until after Thanksgiving to get started.

2. Conveniently, in the midst of all of this stress/anxiety/misery, the good folks at Disney released Disney+, and I have taken full advantage of its offerings.

So far, I’ve started rewatching Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens, began the new Pixar and Real Life and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series shows, watched the new live-action Lady and the Tramp, and am slowly working my way through Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience, as that movie came out while I was in college and thus tragically fell into the Disney Dead Zone of my life, where I erroneously thought I was too old to watch Disney-related things and was shamefully shy about my love for the Jonas Brothers for fear of judgment from my peers. You are never to old for Disney-related things, as Disney+ has shown me, and I have absolutely outgrown any shame I ever felt about loving the Jonas Brothers, so bring on 10-year-old concert movies!

As I’m sure you’re very curious as to my opinions on the new content I’ve watched, I have to say that I was genuinely shocked at the quality of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Sure, it’s a little corny, and I find it much more difficult to relate to the drama of high school romance these days, but I honestly had very low expectations for the show and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it isn’t awful. Pixar in Real Life has been an absolute delight thus far (all of one episode into it), and I thought Lady and the Tramp was well done (though that has never been one of my go-to Disney movies, so I didn’t know the storyline of it as well as I know the storyline of, say, Mulan).

Literally two days before Disney+ came out, I got an email from Apple letting me know I have a free year of Apple TV because my parents got new iPhones this fall (shoutout to family plans), and I honestly have next to no interest in signing up. Why on earth would I watch grown-up Apple TV when I have a treasure trove of Disney content available at my fingertips? (Although there is a Snoopy series on Apple TV that piqued my interest.) While I enjoy grown-up sitcoms (Friends, Parks & Recreation, etc.), honestly, give me Disney over grown-up entertainment any day. My life has enough stress in it to begin with (see item 1). I don’t need entertainment that adds to my stress. I want lighthearted, enjoyable, wholesome content that by, and as far as I’m concerned, Disney has the corner on that market.

Thursday Things

1. NO.

octobersnow

NO. NO. NO.

I knew snow was in the forecast for this week, but the last time I watched a weather report (Monday morning), Andy Avalos of NBC 5 specifically said it would not accumulate. This is accumulation, Andy Avalos!!!

To be fair, he didn’t call for snow until Thursday afternoon/evening, and this fell Tuesday night into Wednesday morning (?!?!?!). BUT STILL. I didn’t even have a snow brush for my car yet 😦 Thankfully, I was able to borrow one, because I never would have been able to drive to work Wednesday morning otherwise. My car had a solid inch of super heavy, wet snow on it, and there’s no chance I would’ve been able to get it all off without a brush.

2. I have gotten sick way too many times this year, and I am OVER IT.

I woke up around 3 a.m. on Saturday with a sore throat, which was but a harbinger for the misery the rest of the day would hold for me. By the time I went to bed Saturday night, I had a low-grade fever, sinus pressure so ridiculous I thought my cheeks would explode, and such swollen and tender lymph nodes that I could feel them protesting being squished when I would look down. Fortunately, my fever was gone by Sunday afternoon, and I felt more or less like myself by Monday evening. Of course, I had family in town to see me specifically on Saturday, so the timing of the whole situation was a bit of a bummer.

But the bigger bummer is that this is the third time this year this has happened to me: once in March, once in July, and now this. What am I, a kindergartner? I should not get three upper respiratory infections in the space of one calendar year! PLUS, I was similarly sick last December! What gives?? My immune system needs to get itself in shape, because I am not here for this quarterly nonsense.

Oh, and just to add some irony to the whole situation: I had scheduled my flu shot for Sunday, but then I couldn’t get my flu shot on Sunday, because I was too sick to get a flu shot. Figures.

2. While I’m complaining about my health, I’d also like to file a complaint against my stupid teeth. I went to the dentist a couple of weeks ago for my second cleaning of 2019, and it was finally decided that the time has come for me to get a crown. Boo.

This wasn’t an enormous surprise. I made an effort to find a dentist all the way back in 2014 because I had noticed a suspicious black spot on one of my molars and was concerned it was a cavity. Turns out it wasn’t a cavity: it was (at the time) a craze line, a result of me apparently grinding my teeth at night. I didn’t believe I actually ground my teeth while sleeping, but after switching dentists in 2017 and being told by my new dentist, unprompted, that I grind my teeth, I decided these dental experts apparently knew more about me than I knew and agreed to get a night guard. Multiple trips to the dentist and like $300 later, I was the proud owner of my very own, custom-fit night guard, which I’ve worn faithfully (ish) since November or December of 2017. That night guard was supposed to keep my craze line from progressing to a crack. As you might have guessed, it didn’t, and the crack is now big enough for the scrapey hook tool they use at the dentist to catch on it. That means it’s big enough to be a problem, so by this time next week, I’ll have 27 real teeth tops, and one porcelain one. Boo.

I’m told that I should be grateful all I need is a crown, because if I let this go on too much longer, I’d need a root canal. While I suppose I am grateful that I don’t need a root canal (yet), I’m mostly annoyed that I spent $300 to postpone the problem rather than avoiding the problem. I’m also not looking forward to the procedure at. all. I mean, I suppose no one looks forward to dental work, but this is the first time I’ve needed any dental work (other than having my wisdom teeth extracted, that is), so I’m extra nervous about it. The dentist claims it will be fine, but the dentist also claimed that my night guard would keep this from happening, so what does he know?

Open House Chicago

I look forward to Open House Chicago weekend every year. Ever since stumbling upon it in 2012, I’ve made a point of attending, and generally try to attend both days. While I’ve gone in with a strict itinerary in the past, I decided to be more flexible about my Open House schedule this year. Unfortunately, that led to the poorest Open House experience I’ve had to date. Multiple sites I wanted to see were closed when I tried to visit them. I spent more time feeling frustrated and disappointed over Open House this year than I did enjoying it, which was a real bummer.

Regardless, here are the sites I did manage to see during Open House Chicago 2019.

Saturday

St. Ignatius College Prep

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I’ve wondered about the interior of St. Igantius every time I’ve passed it, so this was my top priority for Open House this year. It. Was. Insane. I cannot imagine going to high school (or any school, for that matter) in a building like this. The tour was a bit rushed and too crowded (a group of 14 arrived right after I got there, which bloated our tour groups. I think it would’ve been a much more pleasant tour with fewer people.), but we still got to see a ton of the school. I was particularly fond of all the architectural artifacts and the timeline gallery, which featured pictures of St. Ignatius and the surrounding area from its founding 150 years ago to the present day. There were two pictures taken at Blue Island and Racine–one in the 1950s, one in the 1960s–that were particularly striking. The neighborhood and built environment changed enormously in that time period, and both of them were really fascinating to see, especially in light of how the area looks now.

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Chicago Children’s Theatre’s The Station

The Chicago Children’s Theatre, located at Racine and Monroe, is housed in a police station that closed in 2012. We got a tour from a woman who works for the architecture firm (Wheeler Kearns Architects) that handled the 2017 renovations that transformed the building into the Chicago Children’s Theatre, and it was really fascinating. Despite obviously needing to redo the space to change it from a police station to a building meant for child-friendly shows, the renovations managed to keep many of the original details from the 1930s design (thought 1940s construction – the design was finished pre-WWII, but construction wasn’t able to happen until after the war ended). It was a really interesting and informative tour.

150 N. Riverside

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I make a point of avoiding repeat Open House sites (or avoiding sites I’ve previously visited during non-Open House times, which is why I didn’t visit the Nederlander Theatre, for example), so I didn’t originally plan to see 150 N. Riverside, as I went there in 2017. It made sense based on my route, though, and I’m glad I went! Instead of taking visitors up to an empty floor, this year we went down to the lower level conference room, which is only a few feet above the Chicago River. While there are ample opportunities to see the Chicago River from high up, it’s not often that you get that close to the river, particularly inside a building. It was fun to get a different perspective for a change.

Design Museum of Chicago

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In honor of 2019 being the Year of Chicago Theatre, the Design Museum featured an exhibit with objects (costumes, props, set designs, etc.) from what had to have been every (or nearly every) theatre company in Chicago, from college programs all the way up through Steppenwolf, Second City, and Broadway in Chicago. It was really cool!

Prudential Plaza

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This was easily one of the highlights of Open House. The 11th floor tenant space was open, and boy, it was enough to make me want to slide my resume under the door of every office in the Prudential complex. My office downtown has a nice rooftop tenant space, but it is nothing compared to what they have at Prudential. The indoor area was beautiful, and the rooftop itself was out of control. The landscaping was lovely, the views were amazing, and the beautiful Saturday weather made me want to stay there all day.

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Sheehan Nagle Hartray Architects

I didn’t plan to see any architecture firms this year, but since I was already in the Prudential complex, I figured I may as well swing up to their office. They moved into the Prudential Plaza in April, so obviously the office was super fancy and modern. I’m used to getting tours at architecture firms, but we were allowed to just wander around at Sheehan Nagle Hartray. That meant I didn’t learn as much about buildings they’ve designed as I expected, but it was still fun to see their space.

Vista Sales Gallery

This was another highlight of Open House for me. The Vista towers are still under construction, but when it opens, those with substantially more money than I have will move into condos taking up most of the building. The sales gallery showed the available floor plans and finishes, which, since the condos start at about $1 million, were a bit nicer than what I currently have in my apartment (but I have more square footage and an additional bedroom for a lot less, so *shrug emoji*). Short of winning the lottery, I’ll never be able to afford living in a place like Vista, so it was fun to ogle at the kitchen and bathroom fixtures the one percent will have.

465 N. Park

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The tenant space on the sixth floor of this brand-new apartment building was open for coveting during Open House. The indoor portion of the tenant space was lovely, but of course the rooftop was, once again, out of control, with private grilling areas, a pool, cabanas, and great views. After a long day of walking around the city, I actually hung out here for a bit, relaxing on one of the chaises by the pool before heading out to meet up with friends for dinner.

Sunday

Elks National Memorial

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The Elks National Memorial is one of the Open House staples, but I had never managed to make it there. I went Sunday, and it didn’t disappoint. Built initially to honor Elks members who died during WWI, the memorial now commemorates the lives of Elks who’ve died in subsequent wars as well and is a truly stunning building. The rotunda is amazing, but the Grand Reception Hall really surprised me. It reminded me of rooms I saw in the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, which is about as high of a compliment as a building in the U.S. can hope to get from me.

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Lincoln Park Conservatory

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I’ve been to the Lincoln Park Conservatory once before, but I went during Open House 1) because I was in the area and 2) because they were doing behind-the-scenes tours. We got to go into staff-only areas where we saw the administrative office, which is in the cottage that used to serve as housing for the conservatory’s caretaker. We also saw the former horse stables and greenhouses full of poinsettias the conservatory is growing for its and Garfield Park Conservatory’s holiday shows.

St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church

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I didn’t plan to go to St. Chrysostom’s, but I stumbled upon it on Sunday and decided to check it out. It was a really beautiful building that made me miss going to church in a real church (as opposed to in another church’s basement, which has been my church’s setup for the past year and a half). The organist was playing (another thing I miss), and I enjoyed looking around and seeing a church unlike most of the churches I tend to visit during Open House.

openhousechicago2019-stchrysostoms2

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.