Friday, November 28, 2014

New York Marathon Expo experience (plus some tips)!

Ahhh, the race expo, where each runner will not only claim their race kits here, but find reasons to spend a lot of money too.

Per, Blanche and I arrived safe and sound in New York City on October 29th, 2014 (Wednesday) and proceeded to check in at our Hotel in Manhattan.  We booked ourselves for one room with two double beds at Holiday Inn 57th Avenue, which was near the marathon's finish line.

                 Tip No. 1:  Book your hotel near the finish line as it may be hard to go home after the race given the 50,000+ runners and all the spectators/ family/ friends cheering for them!  Hard to look for a taxi cab after running 42.2km!  One less problem if you booked hotel near finish line.

                 Tip No. 2:  Hand carry ALL the things you will need for the race in the plane (shoes, shirt, socks, Garmin Watch, GU Gels, cap, etc) or you can wear them as well (such as the running shoes).  This is to reduce risk of panicking should one of your luggages get lost/ left behind during the flight!

                 Tip No. 3:  For long flights (such as this one), it helps to wear compression socks in the airplane.  First time I did it for this plane flight as nursing a sprained ankle and it was a good decision that I did it!

The following day after having a filling brunch at Chipotle,  we walked 5-10 minutes to where the free shuttle service would pass by for the ride to the expo.  Bus schedule was every 10 minutes so we didn't have to wait long before our bus arrived.  The ride itself took about 15 minutes as it drove through the Manhattan traffic.  We didn't mind as there was free wi-fi in the bus!  Woo hoo!

Once we arrived at the expo (Jacob K. Javits Convention Center), we were momentarily confused as to why there were a lot of Canon labelled bags given out for free.  Was this one of the sponsors for the New York Marathon?  Definitely not as we found out that the Convention Center WAS BIG ENOUGH to hold two big events:  Marathon expo and a Photography expo!

                 Tip No. 4:  As soon as you can, head towards the Marathon Expo.  The closer to race day, the more crowded it will be here!

                Tip No. 5:  Have a heavy breakfast or early lunch before heading to the Expo.  Chances are you will spend a few hours here so better go here full than having to leave early due to hunger pangs!

First thing to do once we got there was to claim our race kits!  I will be running the 42.2km category (God Willing) while Per and Blanche registered for the 5km race, which will take place the day before the Marathon.

Once we got our kits (in a very quick time of just 5 minutes), I checked my chip timer to see if that worked and we proceeded to the best part here:  SHOPPING!!!

Of course, ASICS being one of the major sponsors for this event, got a big space in the expo and only one selling the official gears.  There were T Shirts, Jackets (thick and thin), caps, beanies, gloves (racing and thick ones), shoes, teddy bears, shorts, compression pants, and any other running related item you can think of!  Just in this area, we probably stayed a minimum of 30 minutes!  Key word is:  Minimum!

After we finally got out, we headed to the other booths:  there was OAKLEYS which were selling customized shades (and where you can have the NYC Marathon logo imprinted on it), other running shoe brands (New Balance, Saucony, Adidas, Sketchers, etc.), North Face, various food brands (selling granola bars, GU gels, Cliff bars, sports drinks, yogurts, etc) and other race-related products (compression socks,Garmin watch, STICK, Spibelt, water bottles, etc).

For the running shoes brands, almost all had their own exclusive shoes released in the expo:  New Balance had a new running shoe that premiered here and will be launched worldwide in May 2015, Sketchers had their GoMeb NYC edition that were released exclusively at the expo, ASICS had their New York editions of Kayano 21s and Nimbus 16s (but released worldwide), and Saucony had their own New York special edition shoes!

Runner's World Inc had a small booth as well and luckily, Bart Yasso was there to do some book signing.  Of course, I got all excited and bought a book and had it signed with him! 

After a tiring but fun day of exploring the Ground Floor of Convention Center (and trying out the free samples), we set out towards the Second Floor where they had a small exhibit of the different boroughs we would run in come Sunday morning. 

I saw that there was a small booth of Kathrine Switzer but unfortunately she was nowhere to be found.  (Kathrine Switzer was first woman who unofficially ran the Boston Marathon and was nearly disqualified midway if not for the help of another runner who pushed the race official away, which allowed Kathrine to run and finish the race). 

Too bad she wasn't there but at the back of my mind, I was thinking of going back here again on Saturday because Dean Karnazes (Ultramarathon man and author of many books) will be there at Runner's World booth to do some book signing.  Since I brought with me two of his books all the way from Manila, I was a bit excited by this opportunity but also worried as to how congested it might be.

                     Tip No. 6:  Check in advance if there are any guest speakers for the Marathon Expo so you could also plan your schedule accordingly.  I knew Dean Karnazes will be here so I brought along two of his books that I bought years ago all the way from Manila.  Same thing I did too in Disney Marathon when I found out Dick Beardsley was giving a talk.

It would also depend what our plans are for Saturday afternoon, given Per and Blanche will be running the 5km race and might be tired.

But as things go, we were free that Saturday afternoon so Per and I headed back with the sole purpose of meeting these running legends!

First one we went to was Kathrine Switzer and luckily she was there.  I bought her book and a second book that she collaborated with her husband and had these books signed by them.  I also bought Spirit of the Marathon II DVD, which her husband co-produced.

After that was my running idol: DEAN KARNAZES!

I got two of his old books signed and bought his latest book "Run" as well! 

My loot for the second day at the Marathon Expo!  First time to try Sketchers GoMeb shoes.  Felt really light and comfy! 

Definitely THE BEST MARATHON EXPO for me.  This is OUR DISNEYLAND!  Now comes the hard part:  finishing my 42km with a sprained ankle!

To God be the Glory!!!!