Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cherry Blossom Expo

I headed to the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run expo on Friday at 3 pm when it opened. I work downtown, so it makes more sense to get in there on Friday than to make an extra trip into the city on Saturday. Plus going on Friday helps you take it easy and rest on Saturday, the day before the race.

Rest before a race is important. Which is why I am a bit dismayed to be awake and writing this in the wee hours of the morning. I tell my runners not to worry about poor sleep the night before the race, it is the night before that really matters. I'm not sure what to tell myself about the fact that I woke up at 3 am, unable to get back to sleep, on the night that really matters. This might hurt on Sunday morning! But I digress...back to the expo.

I was picking up packets for 5 of my friends. I had permission & bib confirmation letters for each of them, and a list of the things I wanted to do at the expo. Armed with my list and a nearly empty backpack, I set off on the metro to head to the National Building Museum and meet Lynn.

My checklist (although the first bullet ended up being "6 bibs")

I got there a little early and things were relatively quiet. I met Eric out front who was directing runners to the lines inside for the 5k and 10 Mile pickup. All of the volunteers were wearing long-sleeved versions of the race shirt so they were easy to identify throughout the expo.

Eric welcoming runners and offering directions

Inside I met up with Lynn and we took a quick peek at the expo floor while the vendors and volunteers were finishing the last-minute setup. Then we headed upstairs to get in line and were pleasantly surprised by Tai Fung directing runners on the main stair case. Checklist item alert! We've been twitter friends for a while and it was great to finally have the chance to meet in person.

Tai's traffic-directing security spot. Thanks for volunteering Tai!
(these are our "Giddy" faces)

Lynn and I headed upstairs to the line which we thought was a little long. I assured her it was only because they hadn't officially opened the doors yet (it was still a bit before 3) and that it would move quickly. The line did move quickly, and we found a much longer line when we left the expo at 4:30. So we were glad we came when we did. Jen happened to arrive at the same time so we all hung out together.

Waiting in line upstairs - how cool is this building?!
A shot of the expo floor below from the vantage point of the line upstairs

Bibs are ordered by number, and I was glad I had created a spreadsheet with all of my pickups in numerical order. I had to go to five different bib stations for the 6 bibs. Well, in the end it was 6 different stations because one of the bibs was missing and I had to go to the "solutions" table! What happens with a missing bib? They voided the old one and assigned a new number to the runner. So if someone stole the original bib, they can run on it but they won't get a time. Why does a bib get lost? It's possible that it was stuck to someone else's bib, or that someone picked up the wrong bib and neither the volunteer or runner caught it.

Michele at the "solutions desk" was really helpful
to us. Thank you Michele!

Jen and Lynn organized the bags & bibs while Michele and I sorted out the missing bib problem. I was really grateful to Jen & Lynn for their help - I didn't realize how many bags I would be dealing with and how overwhelming it would be. We headed back downstairs to pick up all of the t-shirts and get them into the right bags. Then we found a quiet corner and double checked each bib and t-shirt to make sure we really had everyone we were supposed to have and the right shirts. Then I put 6 bags into my nearly empty backpack which was suddenly looking quite full. And we hadn't even shopped yet!

t-shirt pickup!

The Sparkly Soul headband booth was right next to the t-shirts so we headed there first. You can see from my list I had several colors I wanted to pick up, including the special "Run DC" cherry blossom design. I have headband challenges - I have a small head and fine, slippery hair. These are the only headbands I've found that will stay in place while I run. They are velvet-backed which is common in headbands, but they are also full circle - there is no small piece of black elastic in the band. That small piece of black elastic seems to be what makes other headbands not stay on my head. I am not an ambassador, there is no affiliate link above. Just my honest experience!

#SparklyDC headbands

Lynn shows off her color selections which happen to be some
of the new colors that are now being sold at Athleta stores

Lynn displays my selections

We turned around and went to the Cherry Blossom merchandise booth. It was pretty packed. Jen found a great jacket. I had been thinking about getting a hat, but the crush of people was pretty off-putting for me and I decided against it. We went next door to the New Balance race gear to browse while Jen got her jacket. In the New Balance area Lynn found a gorgeous PR training shirt in coral. If they had one in my size I would have gotten it too.

This is Kevin McHale from New Balance.
He got me my awesome New Balance shoes.
Thank you Kevin!
My 860v5 shoes from Kevin

Next we went to the Potomac River Running Booth were things were 40% off. Despite the fact that my backpack was full, I bought a jacket and a half zip (they gave me a bag). The jacket is the turquoise version of the Nike Max Shield that I love so much. The half zip is also Nike, and it is a pink/raspberry combo that my friend Shannon has. She wore it for our recent 17.75k race.

From 17.75k - Shannon's cute half zip on the right.
Yes, I also have the Nike jacket in purple.
Don't judge me. It's awesome.
(okay, I might have a problem)

Next on the list was BeeCause shoe charms. I wanted to get a 26.2 for my Marine Corps Marathon Vision Board, and a cherry blossom charm. I got Cherry Blossom charms for many of the women I've been training with to commemorate our experience. But I didn't get enough to have one for myself. I was really touched when Lynn said she wanted to get the Cherry Blossom charm for me, since I got the charms for everyone else. Thank you Lynn!! I didn't get a 26.2 charm...I didn't see a color that said "Marine Corps" to me.

My MCM vision board...shoe charmless for now 

Shoe charms that Lynn bought. The first two are gifts.
The third she is going to wear on her shoe to pull in inspiration
from her mom who has been ill yet persevering & showing true strength.
She'll wear the cherry blossom from me on her other shoe.
The cherry blossom above is her gift to me. 

With time growing short we made some quick stops to pick up caramel macchiato GU (Lynn) and discount codes for the Navy Air Force Half Marathon (Lynn & me). We ran into Cherry Blossom Social Runner Lauren as we were headed out, and I laughed that we were wearing the same New Balance shoes.

Sweet shoes!

Checklist complete, we headed back out to the metro so I could get home in time for "packet pickup at Kim's house". We were surprised to see the packet pickup line now outside the building and going down two blocks! Glad we came early!

The line stretching out along the building...

...and from another perspective
(photo courtesy of Coach Mike)

Have fun if you are heading to the expo on Saturday!


  1. Oh wow what a long line! Glad I took my lunch break late and came at 3:00. Too bad I missed ya!

    1. I wish I had seen you Jennifer! One of these days we will meet IRL :)

  2. You had a full visit!! So glad to have met you, have a great race. :)

    1. So glad to have met you too! You were an excellent security volunteer.

  3. When I got to the expo @ 4:40 the line was down the block. I hit the expo first and by 5 the line was non-existent.

    1. So simple, so brilliant! Go to the expo first when the line is out of control. I learn so much from you Coco :)

  4. That should say 3:40 for the long line ...