I love a good race expo. While I've been to plenty of races where the race expo is basically just packet pick up and a sample or two, the Nashville expo is usually quite large and takes a while to check out. However, Chicago is like twice as big! I was super excited about it and definitely managed to come home with a lot of excellent things.
For example, I made some purchases in addition to the free race shirt (blue, in the middle). I bought this great grey long sleeve shirt at the Nike store. I also picked up another pair of my favorite Brooks running shorts (Epiphany) and splurged on an awesome Brooks lightweight jacket. Since I spent a good chunk of change at the Brooks tent, they sent me home with their special expo shirt for free!
I also got a ton of other stuff for free. The samples at this expo did NOT disappoint.
Of course, all of this is fine and dandy... but the most important thing about the race expo is picking up your race bib and timing chip. I was pretty excited that my number started with 13 since that's my lucky number. (Don't think it's so weird. If you were born on a Friday the 13th, it'd be your lucky number, too!)
I love wandering around expos and checking out all of the various products. There was definitely a ton of awesome gear that I would have loved to take home if I were made of money. I also tried a lot of the free beverage samples and found that I really do not like the taste of pretty much every recovery drink out there!
My favorite booth at the expo was hands down - the Brooks tent. This isn't even because of the fact that I love Brooks shoes and clothing. They were the only company to really get creative, and I love a little creativity.
They were set up like a tent on MASH. Instead of MASH, it was BRASH for Brooks Running Athlete Support Hospital. I didn't realize I never got a good picture of the whole set-up, but it was impressive to say the very least.
Once in the tent, they offered you a Gatorade cocktail.
You could then see a podiatrist (I let him check out my foot because sometimes in yoga I can feel a knot in one of my arches. He said it probably isn't serious since it's not ever hurting, so that was good. I'll get it checked out if it ever causes pain) and/or get your running analyzed to determine which shoe you need (the official Brooks doc said that the Adrenalines I was already wearing were a perfect match!)
In order to keep things running efficiently, they assigned you a number so that you could wander around and come back. I love organization.
I even got to take a photo with their version of Klinger.
He would make announcements and play helicopter sounds. My favorite was when he announced something to the effect of, "Tonight's seminar on how running can lead to injuries has been cancelled... due to indifference. That is all." The whole thing was really quite clever right down to having all the people working the tent in special BRASH scrubs. I. loved. it.
Even though I am definitely a Brooks girl through and through, I couldn't help but get tickled over this Asics logo. In particular, I like how it points out that we usually do 26.2 on Sundays and holidays (although before Chicago, every marathon I've ever run has been on a Saturday. Maybe we do it differently in the south?).
I originally stood in line for an hour at the Asics booth to meet Deena Kastor. When I was about 8 people from her, they told us she had to move to the next booth. Being a total type A personality, I found this rather annoying. There were a TON of people still in line. They should have either 1) only had her at one spot in the expo for the entire time she could be there or 2) had someone not let any more people get in line at a certain point so that none of us wasted time standing there for nothing. There's no reason to not be organized with this. Asics didn't win any points with me over this.
However, I booked it on over to the Spirit of the Marathon tent to attempt to see her there. (Sidenote: If you haven't seen that documentary, I totally recommend you check it out!) I was more successful this time and got to chat briefly with her and get her to sign my race number! It was totally exciting. I also met Jerry, one of the other people featured in the documentary.
Sadly, Ryan Hall was not at the marathon this year. I did find this giant poster of him... I'm hopeful that someday I can meet him in person. Of all the famous runners, he's SO my favorite.
I ended up going back to the expo on Saturday for several reasons. There were some bloggers I wanted to meet, and I couldn't resist trying to meet Dean Karnazes when he was there.
First up, I connected with Tom from Runner's Lounge. I know a lot of us are big fans of the lounge, and let me tell you - Tom is super nice. He took time out of his day to sit down with me and my mom and friends to give us some super helpful tips on how they could get around to see me a ton on race day. Thanks Tom! If you ever have the chance to meet him, definitely do so! He rocks!
Next up on my list was to find our girl Laura from Frayed Laces over at the Brooks tent. I was of course thrilled to meet her in person and spend a few minutes chatting about what it's like to be on the eve of my first post-injury marathon. She's totally awesome!
Nicole from The Marathon of Life and I had already planned to meet up at the expo. I had just sent her a text when I turned around and found her right there! It was crazy! We were so excited and chatted for quite a while and introduced our little entourages that we had brought with us. It's so fun to meet a fellow blogger for the first time and instantly feel like you've known each other for ages! We made some plans to meet up in the morning and continued to enjoy the expo.
Then I stood in line for a while so I could meet the famous Dean Karnazes. I was pretty excited about meeting Deena Kastor the day before, but I was practically giddy over meeting Dean. I was seriously the sixth person in line. I ended up chatting a lot with the two guys in line in front of me... I love when we runners get together and totally nerd out in conversation about all things running!
Once I got up to Dean, I told him about how I had seen his 50/50 documentary and LOVED it and he just seemed so excited as he thanked me for watching it. I had taken my copy of Ultramarathon Man and he wrote in it to keep running with my heart and signed it. I also got him to sign my race bib before snapping a quick photo. It was a totally exciting minute in my day.
All in all, I give this race expo two thumbs up. I had such a great time getting around to everyone I wanted to meet whether it was a famous worldwide runner or a famous blogosphere runner. I love the things I decided to buy. I'm going to be snacking on free samples for weeks. I think that the expo experience was top notch, and it was kind of funny how excited I got over everything. I really was like a kid on Christmas morning about it all.
Get ready everyone... my next post will be all the details and pictures from the 4:11:22 that I spent running on Sunday!