My dog Oakley walking through the crystal. :)

Guest Blogger Nancy Cook

I don’t remember where I first heard the term, “schwag”, whether it was in the ski biz or as a runner when I would win a spot in my age group. As a running “racer”, I began to collect “schwag” or all kinds of “stuff”. I would collect fun items with the race logo & giveaways at races that I would proudly wear. Maybe I thought it would show that I am a runner – branded everywhere! It was back when I was living “hand to mouth” or as my dad would say – when I “didn’t have 2 dimes to rub together”… that I would appreciate all that could be collected as part of my race entry fee.  I would rate the race on the pre-race goodie bag, the post-race BBQ and the “schwag” that could be won by running as fast as I could!  I would race every weekend – - make new friends – eat some great BBQ and collect new running partners, along with all this great “schwag” ! SO much fun!

Boston 2009 Finish Roses from my sweetheart

My first Boston Marathon in 1997 I couldn’t afford to buy the jacket, but I eyed the $100 stylish little jacket & all the other gear with the Boston Marathon logo – paying for the Motel 8 was the priority and not more “stuff”.  Fast forward to 2002…. I bought my first marathon jacket at Boston and like my friend DP says – just love to “strut” with my jacket on! Every year I have run the Boston Marathon since I have bought the jacket and wear it with pride! I truly am a collector of jackets and love the marathon jackets that are offered at the races. So cool to say “ya – I ran that marathon!” I hate to even admit to how many marathon jackets are in my closet, but I will say that I proudly own 7 Boston Marathon jackets!

Let me tell you about the marathon EXPO…. When you go to a marathon expo, you get to see the latest in gear. You see the latest cutting edge products in technical wearable’s & energy foods. It is so fun to shop with 5000 or more of your new “running buddies” – all sharing the same love of running. I find my eyes wandering to what shirts they are wearing – what shoes they are trying on – and the varied reactions to new product being tasted. And maybe run into some friends you have met before or waited to meet along the way.

After you finish it is the shiny metal blanket that covers your shoulders, keeps you warm, or blocks the elements. It is the memories of that finish when you get the cool medal to hang around your neck and wear for at least the rest of the day! I have a shadow box of my medal collection & a shelf with some shiny hardware proudly sharing my marathon memories! Some collect bib numbers, technical tshirts & those shiny metal blankets Iike me! For some reason to look back at them gives me strength & motivation knowing what I have accomplished.

Posing with the mannequins :)

What is it that you like to collect from your race experience? Is there anything that you look for in particular when you go to a large athletic Expo? Be ready because the SF Marathon has a great expo with lots of vendors and fun to share! Be ready to check it out!

See you in July!
Signed “Marathon Shopaholic” :)