You’re done with training and now it’s time to face… The Marathon Expo!

Here are a few important tips to keep in mind when you’re picking up your bib and your race shirt.

First off — the Marathon web page about the Expo is here:

The Expo is being held in Lot G and I at Dodger Stadium. Those are the two lots just outside Center Field. You can grab shots of yourself with the cool statues of Jackie Robinson and Sandy Koufax that the Dodgers put out there when they remodeled the plaza.

Parking is FREE at Dodger Stadium: enjoy it! If you go to a game there it’s $$$$!

Which day should you go? If you can possibly go Friday, do it. You’ll be able to get in and out more quickly and it’s open from 10AM – 7PM. Saturday’s OK, but the Expo closes at 5PM that day and there are going to be a lot more people. Before the Expo opens there’s a 5K and a Kid’s Run, so there will be loads of people there already in the morning. The 5K is at 8AM, the Kid’s Run is 9:45 AM, and then the Expo opens Saturday at 10AM. If you are going on Saturday you might want to show up closer to noon. And carpooling is a good idea (as long as your buddies aren’t going to spend hours shopping).

The actual entrance to the Expo is way over on the western end next to Lot F. Lost? Just walk the opposite way that all the people with their Expo bags, shirts and bibs are going. Once you’re inside you should see the bib lookup and pickup stations. As you make your way east to the main part of the Expo you’ll see tables for beer wristbands and LA Loyal swag, and then a BIG set of tables where you’ll get your official LAM T-shirt. The volunteers will mark the back of your bib to indicate you’ve picked up your shirt.

Now you’ve heard your mentors say this over and over: NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY! That shirt is your souvenir. Wear it with pride starting Sunday afternoon. It is NOT the shirt you will wear in the LA Marathon. You’ll see plenty of people on Sunday in those shirts: they are new at this and they do not have coaches and mentors who care about them. They have not been trained to avoid the chafing, bleeding, and general discomfort of violating this cardinal rule: NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY!

Here’s the other rule you need to know as you walk into the Expo: DO NOT EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING THAT YOU ARE GIVEN AT THE EXPO. Stick with your plan for Marathon prep: hydrate, eat sensibly, and maybe replace some of your proteins and fats with carbs. That, by the way, is what’s meant by “Carb Loading.” It means favoring carbs over proteins and fats…it does not mean eating two giant plates of pasta the night before the race. If you do that you might spend a lot of the race looking for porta-potties!

The reason you should not eat or drink anything that you are give at the Expo is related to Rule #1 — NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY. You will see vendors passing out samples of new products. There’s always some new special nutrition/hydration/energy drink/bar/gel…ALWAYS! You will see “Xorbitol Sport X Goji Coconut Overdrive” (or whatever it is) exactly one time…at this Expo. And you will never see it again. Don’t take the chance that it’s not going to agree with your insides.

Even worse: once I attended a marathon expo (the old Pasadena Marathon, back in 2010 I think) where there was actually a RECALL on a sample product we were all handed. I hope nobody wrecked their race over a free sample there.

You should absolutely accept all the samples (packaged) that you are given. Just put them away and try them out another day. And by the way: there are usually vendors at the Expo who will have deals on products you know, have tested, and trust. You can stock up on your Gu’s or Stingers or Sport Beans or whatever you’ve been using in training.

Gear is also on sale here: ASICS is a partner of the LAM, so once you get your shirt you’ll be dumped into their store. Want an extra souvenir? Go for it! They might have a cool shirt or jacket with the race logo on it. Just don’t spend too much time shopping. Once you have your bib you should focus on getting back home so you can put your feet up and rest.

Make sure you walk away from the Expo with that all-important bib. And when you get home pin it to your Leggers jersey and try it on to make sure it feels and looks good. Then lay out everything you’re going to need to put on Sunday morning so you’re ready to roll out of bed and into your gear.

Good job! Last thing…set your DVR to record the marathon. It’ll be broadcast starting at 6:30 AM on KTLA Channel 5. It’s a blast to get all cleaned up after the race, get a nice recovery meal set, and then kick back with your shirt and your medal and watch the replay!
Congrats again on completing this season with the Leggers. I’ll see you out on the streets of Los Angeles!