Thursday night I picked up my race gear for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Washington, DC. This is the first time the race has expanded outside of San Francisco and they chose my city! How awesome! The prize for completing the California race? Not the usual marathon medal, but a Tiffany necklace (and I heard that very good-looking firemen are the ones that drape it on your neck…although that could be a rumor). For Sunday’s race, I will receive a necklace as well, so I’m super curious to see what my new bling will be!
This will be my first all-women’s race (although they can’t discriminate and men are technically allowed to register too). I’m not quite sure what it will be like, but I’m sure it will be a very encouraging day and I bet there will be a lot of men gawking on the sidelines.
Race packet pick-up was interesting…first it was not in the traditional DC Armory or Convention Center, but rather a large tent set up at the Georgetown Waterfront, which I might add is not a very convenient metro-friendly place to be. I walked a good 5 or so miles to get to and from public transportation, but I should not complain as it was a nice evening to walk along the water and through Georgetown.
The expotique, as they call it, was beautifully decorated and I felt like I had entered some kind of posh dream land. There were various displays set up including a Nuun flavored water station (apparently that’s what will be in place of Gatorade for the race) which added a spa-like feel, a Bare Minerals makeover section and a Paul Mitchell hair salon where girls were getting their hair curled. I was confused?! Are we getting ready for the prom or a race?
On the opposite side of the tent was everything Nike–four gorgeous, clear, glass wall displays of Nike sneakers. Yes, none of this normal expo stuff where shoe outfitters set up a booth with boxes upon boxes of sneakers for the runner to try on and purchase on the spot. In fact, I’m not even sure if you could purchase a pair of Nike shoes here since everything was so perfectly displayed.
It looked like you had to wait in a queue to have the opportunity to even try a pair. Instead, runners were given a “credit card” with an access code on it and at each shoe station there was the opportunity to punch in your special number and win a pair of shoes. My access was denied each time, so no free shoes for me. In fact, in the time I was there I did not see anyone win. So disappointing. And then off to the corner of the tent there was a bra fitting area. I don’t know about you but going to an expo is not where I want to be fit for a new sports bra. After all, if one is running a half marathon, shouldn’t they already know what fits them properly?
All I really wanted to purchase was a new runner’s headband. I held off at the Cherry Blossom expo thinking there would definitely have to be some cool race garb for purchase at this one. I had to visit the Nike store in Georgetown if I wanted to buy anything.
I did, however, have a great conversation with a girl who works on the Nike running app. And although I do not use that as a tool in my training box, I found it interesting all the same to talk to her about running and triathlon (something else I’ve been considering). I think at one point I even rolled my eyes a bit at all the glam behind this event. She seemed to get my drift. I did think overall the visual layout was eye-catching and two of the displays were neat to see–one, a wall where people could post their thoughts on running and another that displayed digital photos that people sent in during training. Moreover, Team in Training supporting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society had a presence I could feel, unlike at a lot of running events where you can’t always tell what the race is supporting. It was encouraging to see that there is ultimately more to this event than just the hype of beautiful cases of shoes and hair/makeup stylists on hand. But hey, if this is the way to get people into the spirit of the big event, then I’m all for it, with or without coming away with a new headband!