Maybe it’s the week of your big event, and you’re cool as a cucumber… picking out matching outfits with your teammates, and plotting your course around the expo so you can hit every single booth. If you are, then this article is possibly not for you. But, if you’re like me, and a rather vast majority of race training counterparts I’ve recently polled, the expo is an actual emotional disaster. It’s very personal-space-threatening existence enough to make you lose the very last ounce of sanity you’ve been holding together while things get down to the wire before race morning.
The fact of the matter is I don’t think it’s the expo that’s the problem, but the metaphor for what it represents. Don’t get me wrong, the expo as a concept is a shit show. It’s a swarm of people, if you’re in New York City they’re pissed, and (probably) no matter where you are, it’s fluorescent lights, concrete floors, expensive gear, and no water in sight.
I’ve been in such dread for the New York City half expo that I actually drank an entire draft of Guinness before stopping down hoping the buzz wouldn’t wear off before I could pop in and out of that bad bear, carefully sidestepping even one hand-out vitamin that I’ll be tempted to take race morning but shouldn’t. The train down was packed, I was sweating through my chambray by the time I crawled out of middle Earth back to fresh air, and I was a face-flushed piss ball by the time I got inside. But why?
A large race expo is a well-oiled machine. They’re organized, fast, efficient, and - if you are in the market to pick up new gear - it’s like a damn farmer’s market for running. Everything is fresh, easy, and all in one place. So, on my way home, I was left to ponder…”why are you in such a panty bunch mood about something that should really be pretty great?”
Safe to say I’m already stepping outside of this year’s goal to run for fun, and allowing the expo to be a metaphor for time targets, start-gun countdown, and the imminent reality of lead legs on mile 9.
I started off great. I was all smiles while the weather was cheery straight through New Year’s day. Training was easy, I was happy, and work was relatively slow for the first time in months. I was vibing so much better than the summer and chalked it up to my new super attitude to push my limits and then revel in the latter results. Then, shit, four months flew by like they always do and I’m sitting within 100 hours of race day wondering if I’m ready for this.
Enter the expo.
The expo is the living, breathing, too-brightly-lit demonstration that I’ll never feel truly ready to crush a course, and at this point in the training schedule it’s time to let go of anxiety and just be. The training is behind me now. I’ve done 16 weeks of morning runs, weekend long runs, yoga and strength training. I’ve even dug out the Tiger Tail on more than a mere occasion to give some self induced pain to fend off injury and stay on the road longer.
The training was filled with ups, downs, smiles, and tears (From the cold. Runners don’t cry). And now it’s here. The expo is over. The training is over. It’s taper then fly. So for all the crap talking I’ve been doing about expos it’s really not their fault at all. It’s normal race jitters, and those have only fueled great things before.