Monday, January 22, 2018

2018 Houston Marathon Expo

Before the barf-o-rama that ended our time in Houston, we actually did get to enjoy ourselves, beginning with the expo on Friday.  Jeff, Diane, and I drove to Houston together Friday morning, found our new-to-us hotel, The Magnolia, got checked in early, and then were shuttled to the convention center.  While we could have walked there, Houston (and all of Texas, really) was experiencing one of the coldest days ever; it was very windy and bitterly cold, so we gratefully took the shuttle.

Once inside, we had to wait a few minutes for packet pickup to open, but we quickly got our bibs and then went on to see what the expo had in store for us.  We made our first stop at the Sketchers booth, which has the official merchandise.  I found a couple of t-shirts that I really liked, tried them on, and since I couldn't decide between them, I bought them both.  Hey, it was the expo!
These are women's-cut t-shirts, for when I want to be fancy.

Meanwhile, Jeff was interested in some Sketchers shoes that looked a lot like the Hoka Bondi shoes he's worn for years, so he tried on a pair, went for a test run, and decided to buy them.  They were quite a bit cheaper than the Hokas, plus everything was discounted for the expo, so he was happy.  He had Christmas money to spend, which made buying the shoes even nicer.

We came across the Aramco booth - they're the sponsor of the half marathon, and there was no line at the camera station, so we got a picture together:
Three Renegades, blissfully unaware of what was to come...

I went to the Dick's Sporting Goods booth, where they had a buy-two t-shirt deal, and they had a lot of cute shirts, so naturally I bought two.  Hey, it was the expo!
Basically I buy 90% of my wardrobe each year at the Houston expo.

I tagged the wall for our group:
Repping the RRC in Houston!

Then Jeff said that he thought he saw our old running buddy Phillip go by in the crowd.  Phillip and his wife moved to the east coast last year, but he sometimes runs this race, so it wasn't outside the realm of possibility.  We texted him, he responded, and we had a nice catch up session!  I had to snap a selfie to text to Julia since she wasn't in Houston yet and was missing out on seeing him:
Phillip and I - catching up with an old friend and new father!

While we were talking with Phillip, we were in line to see the great Meb Keflezighi.  MEB!  He's one of the nicest pro runners out there, and I was really thrilled to finally get a picture with him.  You see, back in 2012, when I was less aware of elite runners, we'd actually come across Meb when we were at the San Antonio Rock and Roll marathon expo, but even though he was by himself, repping earbuds, did I go over to meet him?  I did not.  And I've regretted it ever since.  So this was my day for redemption:
I told him how I missed my opportunity years ago and he remembered me.  Wait, no...but he did remember when he was a rep for those earbuds (they were Sony).  We chatted a bit and he was just so nice!
Me and Meb - I was hoping some of his running ability would transfer over to me for the race.  I'd like to think that happened, considering how hard the race was for me yet I never gave up.  Thanks, Meb.
So what you're saying is that all I have to do is put one foot in front of the other, over and over, and I'll be like YOU??  LOL.  Honestly I'm surprised he was able to write anything coherent on my bib because I was talking with him the entire time.
Jeff's turn:  he sat down with Meb and asked him to sign his shoe box, telling him that the shoes he'd be wearing when he was 60 were inside.  Ooh, also see Jeff's new red hat?  He bought that as well - hey, it was the expo!
This just cracks me up because it looks like they are concluding a transaction.  GOOD DAY TO YOU, KIND SIR.  PIP PIP, GOOD DAY TO YOU AS WELL.
Diane has met Meb several times before - she's a fan.
She only has eyes for Meb!
Another successful Meb transaction, another happy customer.

We wandered around the expo for a while longer - I was looking to buy another package of Bolt chews just to be sure I had plenty for the race, but no one was selling them.  Karen had extras so she ended up bringing me one from her stash.  And we wanted to buy some replacement water bottles for Jeff's hydration belt, but they were really pricey, to the point of just buying an entirely new system instead in the future.  We finally decided to head back to the hotel, but on our way out of the convention center, some big heads came walking in, so we had to stop and take a picture with them just for fun:
They were representing the Houston Rockets basketball players who were up for All-Star votes, I believe.  Diane is a big sports fan so this was exciting for her.  I just thought they looked kooky!  But ooh, check out the foreshadowing in the background...MEDICAL.  Dun dun dunnnnnn.


  1. I just love Meb! I met him a few years ago at a Chicago marathon meetup. Doesn't he make you feel so special? I wonder if he got the virulent tummy bug?

    1. Meb is really great and I think our sport is lucky to have him as such a wonderful representative. I sure hope he didn't get sick from all the hand-shaking he did over the course of two days!

  2. So great that you got to meet Meb. There are a few elite runners I've always thought were extra special and he's one of them.

    All your goodies are cute - I'm glad you treated yourself to ladies shirts that will fit.

    You know that expo was probably a cooker for that bug, but hey it's the expo! haha

    1. Even before we got sick, I was thinking about how Meb was shaking everyone's hands and how many germs he was getting. I'll bet he has super immunity, to be able to do meet and greets like that and not get sick all the time.

  3. Awesome time at the expo! I love all of the merchandise you got!

  4. What a fun time you all had. I love the 13.1 shirts you got. Perfect for your last heroic half! That Meb seems like a super nice guy.

    And the foreshadowing of the medical tent in the last picture.....

    1. I love my new shirts - and yes, definitely great ones to have as a "last half" memento. :)

  5. How cool you ran in to your friend Phillip! Am I am very glad you got your redemption with Meb and got a photo. He's the best.

    LOL, you are cracking me up with your "Hey, it was the expo!"s

    1. One thing I've learned is that expo regret is real, and if you don't buy the race stuff then, you never get another chance.

  6. I love MEB. I want to meet him. Lucky you. Cute tee-shirts too.

    Did others get sick or did you all catch it before you left??

    1. Out of our group, it was just us lucky seven who got sick...the four who arrived on Saturday did not get sick.

  7. That is awesome that you all had such nice interactions with Meb! Where at on the East Coast did your friend Phillip move to?

    1. Rhode Island...they went from a large state to a tiny state!


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