Well, my 2015 racing season is officially over. I finished my 30th race of the year on December 5th, the St. Jude Marathon. The weekend was quite the whirlwind of a weekend. Of course that had to do a lot with the race itself, but more on that in the official race recap. Sorry, I’m going to make you wait some more for that.
Since it was quite a long weekend, I actually wanted to break down the expo in it’s own blog post. As many of my regular readers might know, I am a sucker for a good expo and this one definitely scored an A to me! As annoying as some parts of this race was, the expo itself definitely scored points for me.
I actually flew into Memphis late Thursday night and then waited for Jason to get in on Friday. Once he arrived, we got the rental car we headed right into downtown Memphis. The expo did not start until 11am, so since we were both hungry, we found some breakfast downtown. I personally think I scored at finding a location. We ended up at this cute little place, the Blue Plate Cafe, right off Court St.
Being from TN originally, I still have a true love for southern cooking. I mean, give me everything lathered in butter, fry it all up and definitely make sure I have some biscuits and gravy for breakfast. If there is a side of grits, even better. I don’t think I will ever lose this love of Southern Cooking and I am okay with that. I ended up getting eggs, bacon and planned on stealing Jason’s biscuits and gravy that came with his omelet. He added on a side of pancakes and we both thought they’d be small silver dollar pancakes, but nope.. out came 3 huge pancakes with his meals. Oops.
After we both stuffed our face, we walked down to the convention center, where the expo was held. We had about 2 hours on the parking meter and inside I was questioning if that would be enough. I am not sure if Jason realized my love for expos and how I can spend HOURS at them.
There were only two annoying parts of the expo. The first was AS SOON AS YOU WALKED in someone was hounding you for donations. Now, let me just get this out here. I completely understand this race was for a huge cause, but I had no plans of making donations nor fundraising. I was simply running the race. I do not discount the power of St Jude, but the level of donation asking/harrassment was getting to me. They would CALL, TEXT and EMAIL me relentlessly about this (and still do). So when I walked in and that was the first thing out of people’s mouths, it was just a little annoying. I mean, there have to be other runners like me who just show up to run or maybe there isn’t.
The process to get your bib was super easy! They even had Jason’s even though after weeks of back and forth and getting approval to do race day pick up. I didn’t know how I would feel post race, but I wanted to have the chance to get into the beer garden as a just in case. To do this, you needed a wrist band.
Now, I am kinda a stickler about nothing new on race day and I know it’s just a wrist band, but wrist bands annoy me even more. Always have and probably always will. This I think stems back to rowing days where we’d get them and expect to row and be able to feather without issues. They said they’d put it on my ankle and that idea just didn’t make sense so I asked the girl to just put it on very loosely. I didn’t necessarily mean for it go on THAT loose, but as soon as I walked away, I slipped it right now and ended up throwing it in my checked bag and put it on after the race. Score one for me!
After we got our bibs, we grabbed our race shirts and our goodie bag. The goodie bag was also to be used for our checked bag since it was a clear bag. Wasn’t the biggest, but wasn’t the smallest. It worked. It’s definitely one that can be reused as well.
Of course like most other races, the line then dumps you right into the race gear. Jason and I both ended up grabbing these custom ornaments. They all had the same design, but then you could put your name or distance on them. I love getting ornaments from my travels, so I thought this was perfect. I also picked up a St. Jude 26.2 sticker.
Once inside the main expo, they had 5 rows of vendors and some on a back wall as well. I was surprised at how many other races were there to showcase their events. I was happy about this because most of course were giving away free race entries. One of the races there was Little Rock Marathon and they had last year’s medals on display. They let me play around with the marathon medal and it’s BIGGER THAN MY HEAD!! It weight 3.5 lbs and was absolutely crazy! The vendor who makes those medals and many other of the crazy sparkly/big ones was there and he definitely gave me some ideas for future races.
There were lots of clothes/shoes vendors, but I didn’t end up snagging anything. Some of the deals were pretty good though. Of course I had to stop by the ProCompression, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Garmin booth. At the Rock ‘n’ Roll booth, Jason and I got a sneak preview of their new Southern Charm medal. I absolutely LOVE it and if I end up getting Rock ‘n’ blogger, I will be going for that one somehow.
One vendor that I was excited to meet was York Sign Shop. They did my one medal holder and I love it. It’s simple and just perfect for me. After a disaster working with another medal holder company, York Sign Shops came to the rescue and gave me exactly what I wanted. They have really taken off in the past year and now have their own website instead of doing exclusively Etsy sales and Tamara’s husband now is working full time on the signs. I couldn’t say enough about how great they are and if you are in the hunt for a medal holder, give them a look!
As we were leaving, the one wall of the expo was completely done over with the mile markers of the race. Instead of just throwing up a general number, they have the ABC’s of St Jude and a drawing from a kid at each mile marker. They were pretty cute. I was glad to see a sneak peak and I will say on the course, I was looking forward to seeing the drawings a little more. They were a nice beacon on the course.
The other clutch booth was a race group selling old race shirts for $1 with all money going to St. Jude. I snagged 5 good throw away long sleeve cotton shirts and Jason snagged 4. At a buck a piece, I was definitely stocking up on some throw aways. Usually I get them at races for $5 and I think that’s a deal.
We were in fact there for just over 2 hours. Luckily there wasn’t a ticket on the car by the time we got back. We did some quick errands and then headed to the hotel to check in. For most of the rest of Friday afternoon, we took it easy and relaxed in the hotel.
For dinner that night, we met up with Kristy and Delano who were also running the next day. This would Kritsy’s 13X-something race and 3rd marathon in about 3 months. For Delano it was his FIRST half marathon!! They found a cute Italian restaurant by their hotel and it ended up working out perfectly. The wait wasn’t too long and the dinner was perfect for me. They offered half and full plates and I ended up with the half. No leftovers and I didn’t feel like I over indulged myself. We parted ways but planned to meet up in the AM since apparently I was the parking planner (it’s another race obsession with me) and headed to our hotels. We all had some big races to run in the morning!