RUN: No, but walking, yes!

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Three short months ago, I unveiled my five smart goals for 2010. Tomorrow, I check off number 2, which is to participate in the 5K Charity Run and Walk event held in conjunction with my city’s annual River Run, a nationally known 15K that draws tens of thousands.

 So tonight, with only 20 minutes left before closing time at the Runner’s Expo, I darted into the packet pick up area where I acquired my official race number customized with my first name. Not an historic event by any stretch, but once I decided to do this I wanted proof that I’d taken steps to actually plan for it and put it on my calendar. So tomorrow, amid the sea of humanity at the race, I – number 17730 – will have my name in bold capital letters. Yippee!

THE PRE-RACE EXPERIENCE

 I remember the first time I met a friend at Starbucks. It was like entering a foreign land – especially since I never learned to like coffee and my dad, who is from Michigan, is the only one in our clan who drinks it and he prefers it black.

 I got that same feeling entering the Runners Expo – only without the coffee scented aroma. A low hum of activity electrified the large room turned marketing extravaganza and temporary shopping center. I was determined to not gather lots of giveaway “junk” from various vendors and actually did pretty well. I even looked at the expo map and noticed that an orthopedic practice had a table. 

When I walked up, the woman behind it – loaded with her personal belongings and clearly on her way out the door – glanced at me but was probably secretly hoping that I was meandering and not really making a full and complete stop at her table because of interest.

 “Hi,” I politely said. “Is anyone still around?”

 She smled awkwardly as if I’d said, “gotcha” and I proceeded to mention that a friend of a friend had referred me to the group.

 “Oh, really?” she perked up, shifting her belongings to her other arm. “Do you need a hip or knee replacement?”

 “No,” I said. “Just need help with my ankle.”

 I guess that WAS the wrong answer. Not only was I deterring her departure, I was a low priority, nonsurgical case, at least that’s how I felt.

 I compensated and consoled myself by saying, “I guess I’ll just take a brochure.”  Then she smiled and scooted out.

 Thank goodness for the free hand sanitizer she left on the table. At least my ankle can be the most germ free one in town until it gets better!

 AND then, back at the Florida Milk table, I spotted it. A spinning wheel, which has that “you’re on The Price is Right” feeling to it. 

“Oh, joy,” I thought, dragging my husband behind me. I love milk even as a grown up and well, it was at table I hadn’t seen before so I trotted up just in time to be the next to last spinner for the evening. 

“Giving away any free cows?” I joked, knowing they too were ready to mooove on out.

 “No,” said the woman behind the table, reaching over and spinning the wheel FOR me.

 “Wow, a sweat towel; thanks!” I said as she mechanically repeated the process and handed my husband his own sweat towel with imprinting urging us to refuel with chocolate milk. Mmmmm is all I thought. I was happy with the towel and did a quick pass around the outside of the room since the inside featured running apparel and accessories.

 And then I spotted the Success Rice booth and spinning wheel! I recognized the woman behind the table and mentioned I had seen her at a recent marathon expo where I tagged along with one of my sisters who is a marathoner.  

 “Yes, we were there,” she said acknowledging my conversational effort. A dad and two young sons were ahead of me in line. The oldest spun and got a pencil. The youngest spun and won a box of rice!

 “I’m sure that little one is good luck,” I thought, so I took my turn after him.

 Wow, a jar lid opener, with the company logo. And then my husband spun and won a box of rice. Oh happy day, I thought, dinner’s half done for tomorrow!

 On our way out, we hit the Publix promotional area where free green grocery bags with coupons were available. And the line, for this wheel, was well, impressive.

 “What didja get?” I asked a young man gleaming after his turn.

 “An ice cream coupon!” he said. “I love ice cream.”

 I had my sights set. I, too, wanted an ice cream coupon. Unfortunately, I landed on the mystery prize, a somewhat odd looking white handle with a blue plastic top containing a turkey-call like noise maker inside.

 “What is it?” I asked the young man handing out the prizes.

 “I don’t know,” he said.

At least he was honest. I’m wondering, though, if  Publix got a great deal on “mystery prizes,” had to slash its marketing, giveaway budget or if  the chain is trying to overtly sabotage the cow-bell clanging crowds that cheer runners at these type events. This might call for an investigation. But back to the story.

 My husband won a can koozie and we left feeling like winners. At least we’re ready for tomorrow. By the way, I’ve never had a can koozie that actually worked. Any ideas for recycling it?

 Just wondering: Have you ever walked into a new environment and “kept to the edges” instead of becoming involved more deeply? Tell us about it.

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