A lowly 5Ker among a sea of Boston marathoners

I’ve decided I have to run the Boston Marathon. Have to.

What inspired this new-found proclamation? Next time I go to the John Hancock Sports and Fitness Expo on marathon weekend to pick up my bib, I would like not to be told, “Sorry, you can’t get your number here at this big table that says, ‘Welcome runners. Number pickup.’ Rather, you have to proceed to the far right, down three flights of stairs, into a basement, through two steel doors with secret codes, down a dark-as-night corridor, and across a bridge under which lives a troll who requires answers to three riddles.

OK, it may not have gone down exactly like that. But for those of us doing the B.A.A 5K on Sunday instead of Monday’s fancy-schmancy marathon, our number pickup was in a teeny, nondescript room off the back of the giant expo that you had no hope of finding unless you experienced the above exchange at the pickup desk for the real runners.

And that is why I have to run the Boston Marathon.

John Hancock Sports and Fitness Expo

A sea of orange Adidas gear (the company is the official marathon sponsor). The screen above says "Boston is all in." Will the runners be playing poker?

Don’t get me wrong. The expo was fun and all. And I certainly don’t want to diminish the achievements of those folks doing the 26.2; it’s an astounding feat. But I felt highly conspicuous as I walked among the stalls without the telltale bright orange swag bag given to the marathoners (no swag for the 5Kers).

The fact that I feel as though I’ve run a marathon at the end of every 5K clearly doesn’t count.

John Hancock Sports and Fitness Expo

Coveted shirt.

I was surrounded by shirts with various Boston-y things on them, like “Boston Runnah,” “Haaahtbreak Hill” (or something along those lines) and “Boston 26.2.” Mizuno had an amazing shirt that just said “RunBos 2012.” And Nike had the one pictured on the left. Sure, I guess I could have purchased either of the latter two, but I couldn’t bring myself to. Not until I run the real thing. I don’t want someone coming up to me on the street to ask how I did.

My favorite display was by Brooks, who brought “Pure running heaven” to the expo and were showing off their wares behind golden pearly gates. Inside was plush carpet and cherubs hanging from the ceiling wearing Brooks trainers. Angels beckoned you in with “Welcome to running heaven.” Genius.

John Hancock Sports and Fitness Expo

Pure running heaven by Brooks.

But, as much as I appreciated Brooks’ heavenly commitment, and was thrilled by the presence of Dick from the inspiring Team Hoyt (he and his son are about to run their 30th Boston Marathon), and a candy-red Lululemon truck, I felt out of place among all the energy gels and compression socks (fear!) and bright orange official threads.

John Hancock Sports and Fitness Expo

Portable Lululemon.

So I took my bagless 5K bib and T-shirt and slunk towards the exit. Who knows if I’ll ever be able to wear one of those marathon jackets for real. But it’s a cool thought. And and least then I’ll know which table to go to.

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3 responses to “A lowly 5Ker among a sea of Boston marathoners

  1. I will be there tomorrow afternoon. I am doing both races…looks like I will be leaving the expo totally broke !!! (ps you should get the shirt, you can wear it while training for the big one!)

    • I could have dropped SO much cash at that expo! I’m thinking about maybe going back today. 🙂 GOOD LUCK in both races!! Can’t wait to hear about the marathon.

  2. Loved seeing the pics on your blog of the Boston expo. You really got me excited for you! 5k – marathoner! That’s awesome!