After most Disney races, the one thing I am so interested to hear about is the Expo. I mean, I’m a running princess and I know how to shop! So in case we have any others like this in the crowd (and I know we do, because I just saw 26,000 of them in Disney World!), I am going to give you the scoop on the Expo experience – the good, the bad and the ugly.
After the Princess Meet-Up, a bunch of us went directly to the Fit for a Princess Expo. This is where you can pick up your race kit and shop the vendors (everything is pink and it all sparkles!!!). This year, the Expo was at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort whereas it normally takes place at the Wide World of Sports. On my agenda was simply to pick up the race kits for me and my kids, as well as the “extras” I had decided to purchase (Race Retreat, ChEAR Squad and the Princess Breakfast). As it turns out, there was nothing simple about this!
What do you think happens when 26,000 princesses are all crammed into one place at one time? Lines and crowds and well, not the most magical behaviour amongst royalty. My first stop was the Official Merchandise area because I knew it would sell out of certain items and sizes quickly. I could not believe that there was a line-up just to get inside that area! And once inside, it was a line to walk through and look at things, and then another line to pay. It was crazy! Despite being bumped a few times and having my injured foot stepped on, I got the things I wanted: an official race hat, jacket and shirt. I also picked up a cute Sweaty Band. It was worth the fight, but not how I pictured my shopping experience. Here’s a sample of the damage I did to my credit card (don’t worry, I didn’t wear any of it until after the race!):
Next I went to get the race kits and these areas had no lines – so quick and easy. That is, until I was told there was yet another place to pick up my race shirt and goody bag. I will say I was thrilled with the race shirt and the adorable pink mesh backpack but, once I picked this stuff up, I had 3 race kit bags, 3 ChEAR Squad bags, plus my special event tickets and my merchandise bag. I was loaded down and stressed out! I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to keep track of it all in the crowds, so I got out of there. I was planning to return the next day with Alana to actually enjoy the Expo so this stop was all business.
The next day was MUCH better! Since I had already paid my dues in the long line ups, I was able to enjoy the Expo so much more.
Our first stop was the Another Mother Runner booth, where they were holding a running shirt for me. Although I had met Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell the day before at the Meet Up, this was Alana’s introduction to them and she was so excited! We had a great chat with them and they signed our copies of their books. They had my shirt ready, and Sarah commented that they had been waiting for me. How cool is that? Alana also bought a shirt and we told them we’d be on hand for their presentation at the Speaker Series a couple of hours later.
We then found our names on the Princess Wall of Fame!
I steered Alana to the runDisney booth, knowing that she would love to meet Jeff Galloway and he happened to be right there and available to chat when we showed up. Alana was so emotional meeting him, it made me tear up just watching. He signed her book, and even remembered me from the Meet Up. What an incredible memory with all of the princesses he was meeting that weekend!
After their chat, I was drawn in a zombie-like state, while drooling, to this beauty:
Hmmm…more on that later.
Alana wanted to hit the Official Merchandise booth so I took her to the spot since, you know, I was now an Expo veteran having survived the mania the day before. On our way, we were pixie-dusted!
At this point, we split up for a while as I had braved that booth once and it was enough. It was so much fun, and actually really relaxing, to wander the Expo on my own. I ended up purchasing a travel Stick for massage on the go, a “Race You to the Castle” shirt from Raw Threads, and a beautiful necklace that has a pink charm attached to a small plate that reads “Courage to Start, Strength to Endure, Resolve to Finish”. I absolutely love it!
I found myself at the Speaker Series stage a little early where I got to hear Jeff Galloway finishing his presentation. As it happened, he was talking about injury prevention and treatment which was so interesting and helpful given my recent injury (and the sore hip that had prompted me to buy The Stick!). It was also a great time to hydrate, as we were seeing the Heat Advisories all around the Expo and very well aware of the heat and humidity outside.
It was then time for the Another Mother Runner duo – Alana and I had been waiting to hear these gals for months! We were in the front row and so excited to drink in every word. It was worth the wait – they were fabulous! So many laughs and a few teary moments too as they talked about reflecting on the journey to this moment. They clearly know their geeked out superfans when they see them, so they asked me a question during the presentation about what my race mantra is (“I am stronger than this”, in case you’re wondering) and Alana had the opportunity to ask a question at the end about compression wear (this detail is important!).
Afterwards, we had the opportunity to chat it up with them and then head to a party they were co-hosting with the Zooma race series. We were so thrilled by how much time we got to spend with our running idols. Just for attending, we were given Zooma carry bags and tech shirts as well as adorable sparkle head bands. We also won prizes at this party! Alana scored yes, compression wear – the exact compression wear Sarah had just recommended about 30 minutes earlier when answering her question! I won an all-natural moisturizing stick, great for running in the harsher temperatures of winter and summer.
With that, our Expo experience was over – and what a fun way to end it! As you can see, it was T-minus 13 hours to the race. It was time to get back to the resort and think about an early dinner as we had to be up at 2 am for the big day. Yes, you read that right: a 2 am wake-up call was only a few hours away! And I was eyeing the clock with both excitement and anxiety as it inched closer and closer to the day I had been training for…it was almost time to make my year-long dream a reality.
P.S. I didn’t see Sarah or Dimity at the race, but made their recap nonetheless! Meeting them was such a huge part of my weekend and I was so thrilled and flattered that they took the time to congratulate me here! They like me, they really like me! (I think I need a few more exclamation points in this post!!!)