Monday, November 19, 2012

Route 66 - Expo Kicks

When I participated in the Hospital Hill Marathon in June 2012, an event coming up caught my eye. It was the Williams Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma. What caught my attention? The special perks granted to Marathon Maniacs and members of the 50 States Marathon Club – special medals, their own VIP tent, special bibs, a free group photo and their own port-a-potties. I thought it was fantastic and wondered why the Half Fanatics, a sister club to the Maniacs, was excluded from the bennies. I asked the workers at the Expo Booth and it was suggested that I write to the race director to see if perhaps the Fanatics could be included.

So I did. And I was answered with a challenge: Get 100 Half Fanatics to register for the race by June 30th and they would include us in “Maniac Corner”. And thus began my campaign. I wanted a special medal. I wanted a special bib. I wanted my own row of port-a-potties. I became a walking billboard for the Williams Route 66 Marathon. Registration numbers began to rise but we were still short of the goal. The race director told me that the deadline was extended. I campaigned harder. I’m not saying that I was solely responsible for getting 177 Half Fanatics to register for the race but I am saying that I was pretty vocal about it.

You can thank me now.

I’ll wait while you admire that beautiful, specially designed medal and wonder what you would’ve done without running Tulsa that beautiful weekend in November…



You’re welcome.

I arrived in Tulsa the Friday before the race. My friend Amanda (fellow Half Fanatic from Kansas, also a 50 States Half Marathon Club finisher) picked me up from the airport and we then proceeded to get lost getting to the hotel thanks to the ridiculous amount of road construction circling Tulsa. Seriously – it was a master of clusterfucks and by the time we pulled in to the DoubleTree’s parking garage, we were ready for a drink or two (or three but who’s counting…).

The DoubleTree staff was efficient and friendly and very accommodating – we were about 2 hours early for check-in but they let us check in any way. I asked the very pleasant young woman checking us in exactly where the Expo was being held. The DoubleTree was a race hotel so I figured the front desk staff would be the perfect ones to ask for directions. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After she realized I hadn’t sprouted a second head, she told us she wasn’t quite sure but thought it was about 4-5 miles away. I knew that was off because I was pretty sure it was, at most, a block or two away. So I thanked her, took our room key, hid my second head and up we went to our room. In the elevator I saw a woman with the typical race expo bag and I asked her where it was. She told us it was right across the street and Amanda and I just looked at each other. The lack of knowledge for a race hotel was surprising and we discussed the hope that it wasn’t indicative of how the race events will be run over the weekend.

After dropping our gear off in the room, we made our way the 4-5 miles, oops, I mean across the street, to the expo. Very large, well run and full of shiny things to look at, we decided to first check in for the 5k, Half Marathon and our Volunteer shift before losing track of time. We thought it would be good to check in, explore the vendor booths and then get some dinner while we waited for another Half Fanatic to join us, Cheri. Check-in was simple and quick and we were both initially disappointed with the race shirts. It seems race shirts are all going white lately and that’s discouraging. Tech fabric is light in the first place. Add in to the equation sweat, darker colored underclothes and clingy-ness of the material and you’ve got a shirt that won’t be worn by us self-conscious people.  (Just a quick spoiler - we ended up LOVING the shirts and were very glad we got two)

Also – since we were doing both the 5k and the Half Marathon, we got two of everything – 2 race bags, 2 white tech shirts, 2 bunches of hand-outs advertising things we’ll never use because we’re not local and 2 travel-sized containers of Dove Deodorant for Men. I was wondering what they were trying to do to me – give me a white shirt AND imply that I really should be using deodorant strong enough for a man but not made for a woman?? Hmmph. Let’s just say that massive consolidation occurred. We took out all the nonsense flyers, kept the full-packs of tissue and contemplated the meaning behind the male anti-stink stick before returning 2 extra race bags to the Volunteer desk (we got a race bag for each race along with a race bag as a Volunteer). Now we were ready to unleash all that is us on the Expo. (Insert evil laugh here)

I have completed 26 half marathons over the past 2 years and one thing I’ve learned is that all race expos are generally the same – clothing vendors, fuel vendors, knick-knack vendors, and race vendors advertising their upcoming races. Route 66 was no exception. Amanda and I walked by one vendor, a Juice Plus vendor (or something similar to that) and were immediately accosted by an older woman schlepping her miracle product:
Lady Pusher Person: “Have you heard of Juice Plus?”
Me: “Yes.”
 Lady Pusher Person: “WHERE!”
Me (a little sheepishly): “I’ve been to many race expos. This is a standard booth.”
Lady Pusher Person: “Really? How many marathons have YOU done?”
Me (getting a little scared now): “26. This will be my 17th state.”
 Lady Pusher Person: “Do YOU eat 8-12 servings of vegetables a day?”
 Me (trying to escape so I’m going to throw Amanda as a sacrifice): “She’s a vegetarian." (pointing to Amanda and stepping aside)
 Lady Pusher Person (really getting obnoxious): “Just because you are a vegetarian doesn’t mean you get enough vegetables.”
Amanda (looking at me with betrayal in her eyes): “I know.”
Lady Pusher Person (I’m no longer listening to her. Rather, I’m amazed that she’s accosting us in such a manner. Doesn’t she work on commission? Isn’t her goal to win us over???)
 Lady Pusher Person’s poor companion: (She’s trying to shrink away – she can’t believe this woman is being so bossy and treating potential customers like they are stupid ignoramuses)
Me: “Look, Amanda!!! Photobooth!”
Amanda and Me: (quick exit, trying to avoid being stabbed in the back by Lady Pusher Person’s steely gaze)

Fortunately, Lady Pusher Person was the exception at the expo rather than the rule. The majority of the vendors were friendly and the total opposite of pushy. Not that I would’ve bought anything from Juice Plus but that lady has kinda made me make it my mission to ensure everyone has heard the story. Besides – I don’t care how many fruits and veggies you dehydrate and then blend together and add vitamins and minerals and fiber that the dehydration/rehydration process removed – nothing is better than eating the real thing with all its fiber, natural vitamins and minerals and smell-of-the-earth goodness – you cannot go out and pick a Juice Plus off a tree or pull it out of the ground so therefore it is inferior to the real thing.

And thus ends my rant against the Lady Pusher Person of Juice Plus at the Route 66 Marathon Expo. Ok, not quite. We saw her the next day too during our Volunteer shift – she looked just as sour then as when we blew her off. I’m guessing her sales weren’t quite what she expected.

Route 66 had a free photo booth set up and Amanda and I monopolized the machine for 2 rounds of photos. The expo wasn’t real busy yet so we really didn’t keep anyone else from it – we just had a blast. This was a first for both of us – free pictures at a race – so we took advantage of it. I absolutely love the photos that came out of that booth. I’m sure it was quite funny to observe the curtain moving, feet turning and kicking and laughter blasting out occasionally and almost wish there was someone on the other side videoing our efforts. When we finally decided to look out from the curtain, we saw an amused man just standing there, patiently awaiting his turn. With giggles and apologies we collected our photos, apologized and went on the hunt for food. I almost volunteered us to join the guy in the booth but after throwing Amanda to the Lady Pusher Person, thought better of it. Tho can you imagine the photos if I had????

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