Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver pre-race report

I ran Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver last Sunday -- which will get its own post, I promise... But the days before the actual race were pretty run-tastic, too! I try to work one big race a year -- from set up to tear-down -- and then run the race. I've been lucky enough to work Denver, San Antonio, and St. Louis over the years, and I was excited to work the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver Half Marathon.

First of all, I took the train up on Thursday morning. THE TRAIN! Sure, I could have driven... but the train was $34 one-way. That makes it way cheaper than gas or mileage, expense-wise. Plus, umm... THE TRAIN!

there's something about a train...
Soon it was time to get on the train -- the Amtrak Cascades line, specifically the Mount Adams.

Clean, comfy, spacious -- and I had a seat by the window on the water side, facing forwards. This seemed like a stroke of excellent luck until I walked the train a bit later and discovered that no one was seated on the other side of the train because it was nearly empty.

Taking the train feels like luxury ... well, luxury with mediocre food.

(at least they had a hot vegetarian option!)

It was pretty great going up the coast -- especially when we went across tthe "lifty bridge" that we've often run under. I got a quick glimpse of the Ballard Locks as we went across it. 

view from the lifty bridge

The ride up was pretty uneventful -- a few scheduled stops (Edmonds, Everett, Stanwood, Ferndale) and a few unscheduled stops -- like when we got, literally, side-tracked. 

Favorite trainism: "side-tracked" -- when your train is moved onto a secondary track to wait so that a higher-priority train can go by on the main line. (Okay, maybe it's my ONLY trainism...)

quick glimpse of the Peace Arch as we sped by

crossing the Fraser River

Two side-track waits, plus a long wait for maritime traffic on the Fraser River to pass, meant that we were 90 minutes late getting in to Vancouver. But I went out into the drizzle, got a taxi, and headed over to the convention center to help with expo set up. 

This was the 4th real set-up I've worked, but the first one where I was issued a high-visibility vest. It was a little surprising, but then again there are lots of forklifts and cherry pickers and other big machines moving around, so it makes perfect sense.

calm before the storm!

I worked on unpacking Brooks and Moving Comfort product and getting as much of it out on the sales floor as possible. Meanwhile others were organizing Moving Comfort bras, Vancouver event merchandise, and Rock 'n' Roll Series merchandise. 

lots of cute Moving Comfort bras!

We put all the overstock in the back room, tried to keep it organized by size, and got everything else squared away for the next day. We managed to wrap up pretty early -- we headed back to the hotel not long after 5pm. 

cute Rock 'n' Roll keys at the Hyatt

That night I went out and grabbed take-out from Freshii -- an amazing small chain of restaurants that has lots of vegetarian options. Settled in to do a little work at the desk in my room at the Hyatt, then bed. 

On Friday the expo didn't open until noon, so I didn't need to be there until 11:30. I went out for a little walk, checked out the big new Lululemon store (not super amazing, but I did like the digital pants wall), and then headed over to the expo hall. I was a little worried that I didn't see anyone waiting to get in, but it was early...

We did some last-minute tidying, someone somewhere in the hall played a short set of accoustic music, and then the doors were open. The calm before the storm:

all of these tanks and most of these shirts were gone by the end of day one
cute NightLife gear for the ladies
… and for the fellas
I fully expected the first hour to be busy -- people coming in on their lunch break, rushing through, and heading out. And it was. But they didn't rush through... they lingered. They shopped. They bought like crazy. 

Kathy and I were kept busy restocking product, tidying up the racks, and helping people find sizes.... and it didn't stop feeling busy.

a quiet moment in the merch booth
By closing time, at 6:00, we'd already sold half of the weekend goal. We were starting to run out of sizes and products. And nearly all the backstock was out of the back room.

That night, feeling tired from having done a lot of running around all day, I begged off an evening out… which meant a long, hot bath, pizza from Megabite Pizza (sesame seed crust!!!), and a few episodes of West Wing… 

Up earlyish on Saturday to be at the expo by 8:30. I made a detour to find Douglas Coupland's "Digital Orca" statue -- giant and charming on a rainy morning!

the convention center (site of the expo)

Digital Orca by Douglas Coupland
If I thought Friday was busy… Saturday was NUTS. We were solidly busy all day. A few friends came through: Connie and her husband, Ryan and his family, Jess and Kevin, Dawn, and Suz -- always nice to see my peeps! Between helping look for sizes, bringing out the last few scraps of merch, and spreading the dwindling product out across the racks, well, time flew. But I was dog tired (and more than a little relieved) when the announcer started the 30-minutes-to-closing countdown.

with Dawn from the Inca Trail trek!
So little merchandise was left that we were able to pack things up in just under half an hour -- crazy!

Suz came to meet me after the expo and we walked a couple of blocks in the pouring rain to the Steamworks brewing company for dinner. Why Steamworks?
1. It's a steam-powered brewery. What's not to love about that?
2. I read they had a great pumpkin beer.

So we enjoyed a tasty (if noisy) dinner, and then headed back to our hotels. I'd like to tell you that I enjoyed a great night's sleep… but the dudes who stormed home at 3:45a.m. and then had a dance party in their room spoiled that. But thumbs up to the Hyatt staff for quickly responding to my front desk plea!

I did manage to get back to sleep before getting up at 7am on RACE DAY!

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