Wednesday, January 16, 2013

WDW Race Expo and TNT Inspiration Dinner

WDW Marathon Race Expo

After the 5k, I rushed back to the resort to shower and then headed to the Expo. I had a Goofy package to pick up and I have been dreaming of shopping this expo for months.  MONTHS!  Making shopping lists.  Imagining the vendors who would be there.  Dreaming up commemorative merchandise I might want. Canadian expos are usually just functional - package pickup and maybe a handful of booths (and most of those are the same at every race). American expos are like shopping malls for runners (at the big races anyway)! Finally I was going to have a chance to shop my favourite companies without the shipping charges to Canada!

There was a direct bus from the Coronado Springs resort to the ESPN Wide world of Sports so Team Goofy Alberta all went over together with the understanding that we would likely go our separate ways once we were there and just meet back at the hotel later before our team meeting with the entire Canada team.

The Expo was laid out a bit oddly - in that it was located in two separate buildings.  The bib pickup was in one building, along with a race merchandise section and places to pick up your ChEAR Squad packages and any commemorative merchandise you ordered.  Then, once you had your bib and had confirmed the chip was assigned correctly - you head over to the Jostens building and you collect your race shirts and bag check bag...and visit the rest of the expo, where the awesome vendors are.

The bib pickup went really smoothly.  Then, I was able to find the commemorative booth to pick up my necklace and the TNT booth to pick up my park pass. Just outside of the building was a photo backdrop of the marathon medal so we all took turns posing for photos with our bibs against it.

Then, you could see the line for the Expo that wound around the field outside of the Jostens building.

Luckily, the line was moving along at a good clip so we were inside the building within 5 minutes...and into the craziness of the expo.

First stop was our race shirts.  I was a bit surprised to see my team mates lineing up at the medium table with me (they are all A LOT smaller) but soon we had our giant plastic bags with our 3 race shirts and assorted race swag in them.   Right next to the shirts was the disney merch booth and then it was the zoo of other vendors.  I broke from our group and headed out on a mission to conquer my shopping list!

I even got to hold the marathon medal for the first time.

It wasn't long before I was going into sensory overload.  Combined with many of the vendors being sold out of the items I wanted, I didn't end up buying much at all and was ready within the hour to get out of there.

Race swag

My big purchases
It was awesome to see and touch the things I have oogled online for years, but it was really nice to get out of there.  I guess the apple didn't fall far from the tree with my daughter after all...Doodle goes into sensory overload pretty easily and I had never really seen the connection before.

After the expo, I hopped in a cab and went to Target to do some grocery shopping (Heather, my nutrition guru, will be so proud of the veggie burgers I made in my toaster) then it was a mad rush to get back in time for the team meeting.  Then I had to hurry back to the room to get dressed for dinner.  My date was due at any moment!

TNT Inspiration Dinner

Nikki arrived around 5pm and I was pretty much ready to go - despite a couple of wardrobe changes to account for the REALLY warm weather.   We were to meet up with the rest of TNT Flex Canada at 5:15 by the fountain in the Foyer so we could all enter together.   At the team meeting just before, I also finally got my TNT Rockstar pin!   This is to show I raised at least $1000 above my fundraising minimum.  I never received my pin last time so I was over the Moon to get it this time. I also got my alumni pin :)

Coach Ramona and Cheryl (our coordinator) were ready with the Canada flag.  We took some group pictures and then with Anna and Alex in the lead with the flag - we made our way into the convention centre and the cacophony of staff as they cheered us in.  The person timing the entrances of each chapter held us back a bit - with such a small team coming from such a big country (there were only around 10 of us), they wanted Team Canada to not have to share the spotlight.   With a "Go Canada" we headed in.

It was every bit as emotional as I remember Nike being two years ago.   Even knowing what to expect and this being on a much smaller scale - it was still really emotional.

Our team and accompanying family and friends grabbed our food from the pasta buffet and then sat together around our 3 assigned tables.   John "the Penguin" Bingham was our Emcee for the evening and he regaled us with his stories and anecdotes all evening.  The more familiar they get, the funnier I seem to find them.  He also made a great deal of fun of all of us Goofy people.  Particularly those who also added the 5k into the mix...

There was the inspirational speaker who spoke of his own unique battle with blood cancers and we were all brought back to our central reason for being there - to find a cure.  We have worked so hard for so many months and without the weekly mission moment to bring us back that it was really powerful to be reminded there.  Anna and I were at the same table and neither of us had a dry eye.  No matter what drama accompanied the journey - we were making a difference and that was our whole reason.  As Anna said "It DOES matter" as she squeezed my hand that night.

Altogether there were 1080 TNT runners and walkers at this event.

And just like that the dinner was over and it was time to get to bed.  2 am comes really early on these race days and we needed to be fresh and ready for our half marathon.  Nikki and I made plans for our meetup in the morning and then she headed back to her hotel.  I was so tired that night that when I finally let my head hit the pillow - it wasn't long before I was asleep.

Next stop - the Half Marathon.  It will likely be up tomorrow night...

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