On Friday I wanted to get a jump on my day and get over to the race expo early. I'm not a huge shopper, but every once in awhile I just like to browse and pick up a few things. The right expo can be a runners paradise with all the gear available for you to see hands on. So my plan was to hit the expo as early as possible and then check into my hotel. My girlfriends who were also coming had plans to come later in the day. I knew of Charles, a runner from my hometown running group (Muscatine Running Friends) who was also coming to the expo, race, etc. Where I live now is right on the way so I contacted Charles about riding with him and since he was going over first thing in the morning then I hitched a ride with him.
While at the expo I did do a little shopping. We do have a great local running store here where I live, but they can be limited on what they have to offer or only offer certain brands, etc. (make no mistake, it IS a great store!!) And as much as I am a fan of online shopping some things you just need to see or try on before buying.
Bondi Band is a great company that I
I wasn't planning on buying earphones, in fact I had just bought a pair that morning. When I walked in the booth caught my eye with their specially made runners earphones. I listened to their "sales pitch" and told them I would think about it. I'm a firm believer in walking away, thinking about it and then coming back if I decided to go ahead with the purchase. A few features that perked my interest was that they offered a control button on the cord that would allow me to change my song as well as control my volume. Also it allows the ear buds to sit in your ear, but not in the ear canal which makes it possible to hear ambient sounds. Sometimes I want the music blaring and to be tuning out everyone. Sometimes I want my music blaring, but still be able to hear when someone says something to me. I typically don't like spending "a lot" of money of such items (I'm a cheapie!!), but decided to splurge.
That is all I had purchased at the expo. Later that night, my RP and her sister was talking about the specific race marathon jackets, fleece zip ups, etc. I realized I had skipped over that whole section of shopping. I know how those are typically priced and Mrs. Cheapie here didn't want to tempt myself with what I knew I would not spend the money on. However the next day after the marathon I had time to kill while I waited for the others to finish so I wandered over to the merchandise tent and browsed around. Nothing wrong with looking! I knew my eyes would bug out at the prices (seriously, yes, I am that cheap!) and be thinking "thanks, but no thanks." I did see some socks that I liked. You know I LOVE socks! I really wish they had them in knee high! (Will have to send that comment to them). And they had car stickers. Simple, cheaper things that I can justify spending some money on. While browsing the gear I came across a jacket. All of the other jackets (they had different styles, colors, etc) that I had seen were priced at $99. Ummmm, no. I have no clue why I even looked at this price tag, but I did and it said $59. What?!?! Did I touch the wrong tag? Was it a mix up? What size was this jacket? My luck it was going to be XXXXL or some size I would never wear. It was a mens small. I actually prefer mens cut over womens. I looked at the exact same jacket next to it, which was a womens small and it was priced $99. I was confused. I looked around expecting to see a Candid Camera (showing my age?) ready to jump out. Or maybe the Twilight Zone music would start playing. I stood there guarding the jacket. I mean, I'm not sure why it was $40 cheaper than all the others. Honestly $59 is still a little high for a jacket. Buuutttt, I did just run my best marathon ever and run a BQ time. Why not treat myself to a little something special? Yep, you guessed it. I bought it. When I walked up to the register I was expecting it to ring up at the $99 price which I was ready to argue with the tag and if they didn't give me the tag price I was prepared to walk away. But it rang up as priced. They didn't seem to bat an eye either. So I hurried and paid then took off! Score for the day!!!!
(All my purchases from the weekend)
As part of my race packet I also got a nice long sleeve tech shirt for the marathon. (I already showed you my 5k shirt). The last 2 years they had done short sleeve shirts so it was nice to get a long one. Bright, bold colors look good on me so I was excited to see this years shirt. The race medals were also very nice. They are a solid, heavy quality. Since I did both the 5k and the marathon I was a part of the I Challenge so I received that medal as well.
This is on the back of the race shirt. At first when I saw it I was looking at it from upside down and I though what a botched shape of IL it turned out to be. When looked at it the right was I saw that it was Abe Lincoln.
I didn't talk too much about the race course. If you've never run this race or ever been to Champaign-Urbana then you don't know how flat the area is. There are no hills. On the marathon course there is one slight incline. Unfortunately it's at about mile 24 or shortly there after. It's so late in the course you about want to die trying to get up it. Really, it's not bad at all. The course itself goes through many areas of the town; residential, parks, downtown, school zones and more. The course is lined almost non stop with crowds supporting and cheering you on. There is absolutely no lack of official support. Water/Gatorade stops in abundance, even one manned by Zombies. Several chances to get GU, even as late as mile 24. Plenty of un-official support as well. People handing out bottles of water. Kids with bowls of Jolly Ranchers. Stations with fresh bananas & oranges. Someone even cooks bacon & has it sitting out for runners to take (one of my favorites!!) A lot of signs and entertainment. Elvis was there, as were bag pipe players. College frat boys hooting & hollering from their house. Beer stops & kegs along the way (not a favorite of mine or anything I participate in, but if that is your thing then ok). Signs of cheering and encouragement all around. Some of my favorites: Quitting? Ain't nobody got time for that! or Quitting? That's for the Pope! Basically it's an awesome race! The price is very reasonable and you get a racing experience you won't forget. I can't wait for next year!!