Marsh Madness Half Marathon: Smaller Race, Better Swag

Marsh Madness Half Marathon: Smaller Race, Better Swag
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There’s lots to love about small, local races: from lower chances of getting elbowed in the gut to better organization (more volunteers per runner) and finish-line snacks. It’s It ice cream! Peach cobbler!

Can you tell I’m excited about the Marsh Madness Half Marathon tomorrow?

I’m especially excited about the cool swag I picked up earlier today:

This is how I like it: simple, substantial!

See my race number? 777? Lucky!

And: Dove anti-perspirant deodorant. Yessss! You know, I have actually voiced out loud my dream of receiving deodorant as race swag. After the Bay to Breakers this year, they packed us finishers tightly in buses going back downtown to the starting line area. Trust me, a bus-full of people who just ran 7.5 miles, some of them having consumed alcohol earlier… not very aromatherapeutic. This deodorant: thoughtful little touch. Take note, race organizers!

Also, a pen (who doesn’t need one!?!), a peanut butter cookie, a cashew cookie and technical long-sleeve shirt. California runners really need long sleeve shirts like, never… but oh well. I’ll wear it some time and visualize this:

Winter is coming. The wind blows hard.

Not least, reusable grocery bags rule. Did you know that in San Francisco and San Jose, you don’t get plastic bags anywhere, ever, and you have to pay 10 cents for each paper bag? (Yes, even if you spend $150 on pretty little things at Victoria’s Secret, they will ask you if you’d like to purchase a paper bag for $0.10.) That’s actually pretty awesome. The world can absolutely survive on reusable grocery bags. FTW, people!

Having picked up all this fabulous goodness, we stopped by the cutest little Japanese bakery for lunch. I mean, this: Read more

EXPO-nentially Large Loot

EXPO-nentially Large Loot
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I remember picking up my first-ever half marathon number like it was yesterday. I walked up the creaky stairs of the New York Road Runners’ office – a beautiful brownstone on 5th Avenue and 89th Street in New York City – and was handed a race number, a yellow timing chip and four safety pins. The race “shirt” was a cheap cotton sleeveless… thing, just like the ones my grandpa used to wear on hot summer days. I thanked the kind volunteer ladies, licked my thumb to grab a small black plastic bag, blew on it to open, dumped in my above-mentioned swag and was happily on my way.

This is what pretty much any race number pick-up used to be 10 years ago… except at one point they switched from cheap cotton sleeveless things to cheap cotton T-shirts.

So imagine my surprise when, in 2010, I went to pick up my first-ever Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon race number. I walked into the San Jose McEnery Convention Center and experienced a New York City Marathon Expo flashback. The race check-in/ number pick-up booths. The merchants. The swag. The loud music. The big-screen TVs playing a video loop of the race course.

All that, for a half marathon. I can only imagine what the Rock’n’Roll series marathon expos are like. Surely, they must rival my wedding in their exuberance.

Now, expos are by no means posh affairs. Case in point, the “fitting rooms” at this year’s San Jose Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon expo:

Do you think the actual “potties” are still in there, or are those some jokester’s idea of a custom-made race expo fitting room?

And it looks like they miscalculated the amount of red carpet needed to make us, runners, feel super extra special on pre-race day: Read more