When I don't like the t-shirt, I'll wear it as a throw away shirt when it's chilly at the start of another race. We run a Turkey Trot that consistently has the ugliest long sleeve shirts I've ever seen. Because they are so cheap and don't breathe, you would never want to run in it. For that very same reason, it worked perfectly at the start of the Twin Cities Marathon. It was cloudy and chilly at the start (it later poured down cold rain). After a mile or so I was warmed up and I just tossed it on the sidewalk.
When I get a shirt that I do like, I want to wear it all the time. What makes a race shirt a favorite? Is it the design and color of the shirt itself or does it have more to do with the significance of the race? My favorite race t-shirt is my favorite because it is the perfect blend of wear-ability and race significance.
The Bear Water Run is a 20 mile race scheduled three weeks before the TC Marathon. Advertised as a tune-up for the marathon, it is the perfect last 20 mile training run before the big race. A course with a lot of short, steep hills, it was one of the toughest runs I have ever done. About 12 miles into it, it started to rain and, being September in Minnesota, it was cold. Turns out this would be an omen for the marathon. It was hard and I wanted to stop, but somehow I kept shuffling along. At least with the marathon, when you want to stop you can just tell yourself that when you're done you will be a marathon finisher. During a 20 mile race three weeks before the marathon, all you can tell yourself is that you better suck it up because the marathon is 6.2 miles longer. Not exactly a heartening thought.
When I came into the finisher's area, I could see people who had already finished wearing their finisher's shirts. Did I think, "Oh, thank goodness a dry shirt because I am freezing cold and wet?" No... I thought, "Hey, that shirt isn't half bad! I need to keep mine nice and dry so I can wear it after I take a shower." Oh, by the way, I did end up getting so cold in the rain that I went into a porta-potty to take off my wet shirt and put on my nice, dry, long sleeved finisher's shirt. I forgot to lock the door and some poor guy opened it right as got my wet shirt off. Ooops! He was mortified. I had my sports bra on, so I didn't see it as a big deal, but I think I traumatized him.
I know it's not the most attractive shirt ever, but it goes with jeans in the winter and khaki shorts in the spring and fall. I wore it to clean the house today and it reminded me of how proud I was to cross that finish line. Now I just need to score the perfect short sleeved shirt before summertime!