Tuesday, February 26, 2013

RunDisney Fit for a Princess Expo + Pop Century Resort

I'm never shy to admit that I'm a lover of expos, but it's not much of a difficult admission to make. In the world of runners, expos would rank pretty high up there in favorite parts of race weekends for many of us. But to the non-running world, or the non-racing world, the word expo sounds remotely unappealing and much like an RV or boat show for your great uncle who didn't make the effort to get out of his sweat pants when he left the house last Sunday. 

In reality, they're far from the boat shows or home expos that you may think of when the word expo comes up. They are open to the public, but one of the reasons all runners in a race attend the expo (if the race is bigger and/or is offering an expo), is because it's usually mandatory and the place where we pick up race bibs, swag, timing chips, and anything necessary for the actual race day. Not all races have them, and some are better than others, but the one that I went to this weekend was my second all time favorite (falling behind Gasparilla, which will have a hard time losing its top ranking).

This weekend, I ran the RunDisney Princess Half Marathon with four girlfriends from Tampa, and we headed over to Disney the day before to attend the expo. Genna had made reservations for us all at Disney's Pop Century Resort, and though the room definitely was crammed with five people, we loved the decorations and themes. Disney does everything big!
All of the buildings were assigned to the different decades, and we were assigned to the 1980's one. They must have known we are all children of the 80's. The rubix cube out front didn't help us remember which building was ours, though, because there were at least a few of them with the same rubix cube. We did a little tour of the resort on one of our outings to find our way from the main building to ours.

Disney is fantastic about providing shuttles between the events during their running weekends, so we opted to utilize those shuttles to get to and from the expo on Saturday as well as the race on Sunday. Though there were always lines, there was never a wait longer than 15-20 minutes. We were perfectly content to stand around and wait for that period of time for someone else to shuttle us where we wanted to go.
Tori had mentioned that this expo was different than the others, and she was absolutely correct. It was more pink and glittery, and I loved every minute of it. It was the special girly touches that added to the reasons that I loved it so much. From super cute race tshirts to different vendors to the special touches that I'll share more of below, I had a blast. Though there were crowds, they didn't touch the expo on marathon weekend. One difference was that this one was held at Coronado Springs (for the first time) instead of Wide World of Sports because of an event they had going on at WWOS.
Meghan, me, Tori, and Genna came ahead to the expo and met up with Caitlyn a little bit after we arrived. She had run the 15k and 5k at Gasparilla that morning, so she needed a bit of time to shower and make her way over later.
We picked up our bibs and were reminded of who we had noted as our favorite Disney princesses. When we signed up a month or two ago I didn't yet know that I was going to be Snow White for the race, so I put down Belle as my favorite. I guess I don't really have a favorite...I like them all!
Next up, we all wanted to look at the official merchandise, and we even had to wait in line to get into that area for 10-15 minutes! There was no shortage of lines this weekend at all. The merchandise was really cute, and I came away with the pink "I did it!" shirt and the mini Princess medal that goes on my runDisney vinylmation. 

Then we made our way through the food samples. My personal favorites were the new luna fiber bar and the Cabot cheeses. We got as many squares as we wanted, and I was in heaven. I love cheese, but I was also really hungry and would have been pleased with anything that was being offered at the time.
Before we knew it, Caitlyn had arrived and we snapped our first whole group picture of the weekend!
The next special touch that I really loved was that New Balance had setup a gif booth where you dressed up and danced around for fun for 15 seconds and it emailed a gif to you of all of your pictures. I loved the outcome! It was so cute. Here's a snapshot of our hat and sign choices!
After we had all sufficiently perused the booths, it was time to head out to lunch and then a meetup for the ZOOMA race series.
ZOOMA is a series of races for women that take place around the country. It's a new racing group started by two friends, and their races have really started to gain a following. I wanted to do the ZOOMA Florida at the Ritz Carlton, but it was the weekend after the Disney Marathon, and I didn't want to risk anything.

When we arrived, we liked what we saw! There was wine, water, swag, and friends all in one place! We enjoyed ourselves there quite a bit, chatted with some other attendees as well as Kat and Rachel, who were also running the half the following morning.
Rachel had done the 5k with her sister that morning, and I loved their medals and shirts. Though the medals are plastic and made of the flexible material, they're still fun. Maybe one day I'll throw one of those into the race weekend as a shakeout run or as a way to get Tim to join in on the RunDisney fun!
After a packed and fun afternoon, we headed back to our room, grabbed a bite at the cafeteria-style restaurant at our hotel, and got busy chit-chatting, giggling, finishing our costumes, and getting ready for a great morning to follow. I laid out all my swag for my customary photo, and in it you can see the dark purple official tshirt (which I of course love) and the pink "I did it!" shirt that I purchased at the expo.
Since Disney races that are in the morning start at 5:35 am, we couldn't make it too late of a night. We were able to balance it well between having a great time talking about silly girly things and important personal things and also getting in bed early enough to be able to enjoy the race, regardless of the early wakeup call. Being in close quarters with five women can be unimaginably tough I'm sure, but that was definitely not true of this group. I think the five of us worked so well together respecting each others' needs and timelines. We all agreed that we'll definitely have to make this a repeat experience! And we hadn't even done the fun part yet!

What's the best free swag that you have gotten from a race during packet pickup or instead of a medal?
Did you do the Princess Half? What did you think of the expo? 


Taylor said...

I have definitely been having some race jealousy this weekend!! (How did I go my whole life in FL without doing a Disney race?!) Looks like you had loads of fun!!

Genna said...

I really enjoyed this expo! A lot better than marathon weekend. I now need to run out and get the luna bars! I wish I would have remembered when I was at Target yesterday!

Kat @ S and F said...

I'm glad you girls had fun at the resort like we did!

Tori @ In Love and Peanut Butter said...

It's true, we were having so much fun before the race even started! We absolutely have to do another girls race weekend. I had such a great time with everyone!

Running Betty said...

I did the very first Royal Family 5k with my daughter in 2009. We said we would come back to do the half together when she was old enough, but she did the RnR instead. Walt Disney World is one of my favorite places on the planet, so I love running through there!

Our (very dated) video memories are here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uybljW-LrP4

Melissa said...

Congrats on the race! I like that they moved the expo to Coronado. I am especially liking the mini medal for your vinylmation! You are such a running inspiration! I feel like after a big race, I get burnt out and quit running. I'm so impressed that you manage to stick with it!

Chrissy said...

Great job on the princess half. I want to do that race one of these years. I love the Gasparilla expo! I was there on Friday and got lots of great stuff.

Beka said...

hmmm.. i got a buttload of towels (face/sweat towels) spaghetti, biscoff spread, ice cream, and protein bars at Gasparilla this past weekend.... basically did half my grocery shopping!

Jessica B. said...

I spent the weekend being a pirate. You ladies are making me wish I would have been a princess! ;-)

erin said...

Two posts in a row reading about the fun expos! Princess with you and Gasparilla with Nanci!

Chelsea said...

This looks so fun! I think I will be planning a trip to run this marathon next year :)

Tara @ A Daily Dose of Fit said...

Love this! This race is definitely on my bucket list. I live in Michigan, so running any race at Disney is quite the challenge...but I'm bound and determined to make it happen at some point.

TWINS RUN in our family said...

Fun! :-)

Cecilia @ MommiesRun said...

I'm planning on running the Princess half next year and you are making me so excited for it! Having 4 year old little girls has really brought out the princess in me and I can't wait to share the experience with them!

Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie said...

What an awesome expo! I need to run this race one year!

Mindys fitness journey said...

I can't wait to do this next year. This looks like an absolute blast! Great post!

Lauren said...

That resort looked so awesome and love the Princess race shirts, so cute!!!! :-)

The Unlikely Runner said...

wow that does look like an awesome expo!!

Heather said...

This was my first race and first expo. At first I was very overwhelmed. I actually wish I would've had more time at the expo. I also wish I would've seen what girls got in their bags cause now that I'm home, I'm realizing my bag was missing things :( So sad for my first expo. I still loved it though. There weren't as many things that I wanted to buy though which I was thinking there would be more. But it was great fun.

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