Instead of writing one obnoxiously gigantic post about my marathon weekend, I’ve decided to break it up into a few. After all, this was a three day affair.
I was asked weeks before the marathon if I would be able to volunteer at the Steel City Road Runners booth at the GNC Live Well Expo. The expo opened up late Friday morning and ended Saturday evening. I decided that I wanted to stay off my feet as much as possible on Saturday, so I volunteered for a Friday shift. I planned to work a half day and then volunteer from 4-8pm.
Since I volunteered, and since I was running the UPMC Health Plan/UPMC Sports Medicine Pittsburgh 5k on Saturday morning, and since I live an hour away from the city, I decided to splurge on a hotel stay. I had already anticipated staying in the city Saturday night, but with all the activity going on Friday and Saturday, I decided that it was best for my sanity to spend some extra money and stay two nights.
I left work around lunchtime on Friday and left my car parked in my work garage. No sense in paying for two garages over the weekend! Fortunately one of my work perks includes free transportation with the Port Authority, so I hopped on a bus, luggage in hand, and headed downtown. I was able to get an early check in at my hotel, ensuring I had plenty of time to unload all my junk, walk over to the expo, pick up my packets, and do some browsing before my 4:00 shift began.
My friend Jeannette was running the half this year, through the same charity as last year. Unfortunately, there was some debacle with assigning race bibs, and she was told to show up at the expo ASAP, because the bibs would be first come, first served. One of the problems with this plan was that she lives out of state, and wouldn’t be coming in until late Saturday afternoon. She asked me if I could pick up her bib Friday, and I figured there would be no problem since I’d be there so early.
After an uneventful hotel arrival and walk to the convention center, I made my way into the expo. It was immediate sensory overload, but the lines at bib pickup were non-existent. I picked up my marathon bib, shirt, and my 5k packet. The marathon goody bag pickup was all the way across the convention center, so I decided to stand in the Runner Services line which was right beside bib pickup. I needed to get Jeannette’s bib here.
The line was really long, but I assumed that it would go quickly. I was tragically wrong because the Runner Services was severely understaffed for the volume of people needing assistance. For what resulted in a three minute fix, I stood in line for an hour and ten minutes. All the while there was a mouth breather who continually invaded my personal space and seemed to have a lack of queue etiquette when he repeatedly ended up standing in front of me. After a few death stares and me going “DUDE!” when he bumped into me, he seemed to get the hint. Then he would forget and do it all over again.
I was pretty annoyed at this point, because WTF LINE, but I wanted to leisurely browse the expo vendors before my shift began. By the time I had Jeannette’s bib in hand, I had about 45 minutes before I needed to be at the SCRR booth. I scurried through the expo like a lunatic, completely inefficiently, hitting up several vendors and finding some fun things. It was total sensory overload.
There was a poster wall for people to leave words of support for Boston. We also sold #runforboston bracelets at the SCRR booth, and ended up raising over $4400 for the One Fund Boston! All bracelet proceeds went directly to the One Fund. It was gratifying to feel like we made a difference.
After doing a few laps around the booths, I headed to the restroom to change into my vendor shirt and tame my windblown hair – after all, my main goal in working the booth would be to recruit new members. Can’t do that with crazy eyes and crazy hair, but really, I can only fix one of those things.
When I say that working a four hour shift on my feet on the hard concrete convention center floor without carbs was my favorite part of the entire weekend, I am not lying. I had an unbelievably awesome time, hanging out with my fellow runner friends, and meeting new ones. I think the reason this was so much fun is because I believed in what I was saying: that joining this club has changed my life. I met dozens and dozens of people, and I repeated the benefits I’ve enjoyed until my voice was hoarse. And I loved every minute of it.
Later we learned that over the weekend, we had recruited something like 150 new members! Evidently our goal had been 60-70, so I think everyone overachieved. Hooray!
The expo came to a close, and I was ready to eat and get off my feet. Despite wearing my compression sleeves, my legs ached from the hard floor. I stopped for a burrito bowl on my walk back to the hotel and settled in for the evening. It had been a great day, but the weekend had just begun. Check back soon for my recap of Saturday!