Friday, May 20, 2011

Historic Half Expo, the Food Bank and Ted Leo

Sunday was my big race for the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank at the Historic Half-Marathon. I was going to start in last place, or as close as I could to it, and see how many runners I could pass. People were able to make donations to the Food Bank as a part of my "Hunger Challenge" by pledging $1 for every 10, 50 or 100 runners that I passed on my way to the finish line. The Marine Corps capped the race at 8000 runners, so the potential was high for a large field to be left behind. I apologize if this posting fluctuates between past tense and present tense.

Friday the 13th was the first day of the Expo at the Convention Center. I was asked if I would be attending the ribbon cutting at 3:30pm that day, and since we had a half-day for professional development, I told them I would. I assumed that meant that they wanted me there. They even asked me to RSVP urgently. Apparently I must have missed the memo, as there wasn't anything for me to do there, nor was there mention of my cause. Oh well, that was fine. I stood behind Jack and watched Drew Carey make jokes and play Price is Right games to give out silly MCM prizes. I'm glad I didn't win anything... a free pair of New Balance running shoes, free entries to a bunch of MCM races, a set of cookware. I wouldn't have known what to do with it all!

Anyway, after waiting in line to pick up my packet, I went and set up camp at the FARC booth to raise interest in the club and hopefully collect some donations. I brought my laptop and a stack of forms incase people wanted to donate online or actually participate in the challenge and pledge based on how many runners I passed. Online only allowed for a flat-rate donation. There was wi-fi in the building but you needed a password. I found some girls at the MCM info booth and turned on the charm to get the password. Ha, no, it was probably more of a "I'm acting like you should give me the password" than a "Hey pretty lady give me what I want" situation. Either way, I got what I wanted and we were online.

Donations went well at the Expo. I had a lot of people walk by and make eye contact with me. Once they did that, I went in for the kill. Sometimes I talked about myself in the third person, telling them about this guy who's doing a fundraiser. Other times I just asked them if they read the newspaper, which had a nice article in it about me on Saturday. So I suppose that was Saturday. The hours of the expo were definitely blending in between the two days. I was there on Friday from 3:30 to about 6:45, and then on Saturday from about 11:45 to 5:30. I don't even think I ever did a loop around all the booths. I wasn't too interested.

I did sign up for the ING Philadelphia Distance Run and the P.F. Changs Phoneix Rock 'N' Roll Marathon. So I spent $170 to sign up early and save $10 for each race. I got a free t-shirt for signing up for Philly, but they didn't have any for Arizona because it's so far away. That was stupid of me. I could have waited until Philly to sign up for Arizona and then gotten the same $10 off and another free shirt. But I've got plenty of t-shirts. KC didn't like the shirt anyway and said that it was too small. So it may not last until September.

The highlight of the Expo Friday night was definitely Drew Carey making a donation. He was walking around the expo with an MCM escort and I approached him the same way that I did everyone else. I told him who I was and what I was doing. He thought that I was up for a photoshoot and an autograph, but that wasn't what I was too concerned with. I think that he said something like, "that's something I can get on board with" and I walked him over to the booth. I gave him the form and he filled it out right there. I was honest with him, just like I was with everyone else, about how many people I'd pass. When he finished, he said "I'll tell you what. I'll give you $10 for every 10 runners that you pass. I'm good for it. Pass 7000 people." I was blown away. I couldn't believe it. That just changed the game. I was now looking at a whole new ballpark of donations... I was so excited I called a lot of people to tell them. It actually made my mom start crying on Saturday morning.

Otherwise, the expo was uneventful. I probably collected about $1000 in donations on site in a Twizzlers bucket that FARC had. I made a couple of personal connections; several new facebook friends came from people I met in the crowd.

After I left the expo, I went to Sheetz for a sandwich and then went down to my old apartment on Lee Avenue to see Ted Leo perform at Eyeclopes for a Fredericksburg All-Ages show. I'd been wanting to go to a show and it finally took someone I'd heard of to get me there. Ryan Paulsen joined me after he got through some rough traffic. The first band was a group of guys from Stafford High School and VCU. It was pretty rough stuff but I enjoyed it a lot. I sent KC a text that said "This is so cool. I'm in love with this scene." It reminded me so much of my own high school times; going to shows at the Unitarian Fellowship downtown (now Eileen's Bakery), 911 Charles Street, Courtland High School, and the Knights of Columbus building, to name a few places. A lot of the kids looked the same, but there were a lot more skinny jeans than 10 years ago. I ran into some old friends and new friends too. I had a great time.

The second band was a lot different than the first. Their sound was different, and so was their attitude. It was a lot more fun for them I think. They had a flute and a keyboard and I thinks some sort of string instrument (besides guitar and bass). I liked it. They had free CDs available and Paulsen and I each got one, but I left mine in his cargo pants so I don't have it anymore. He said that they sounded better live after listening to it.

Next up was Ted Leo. Wow. Great. It takes a huge pair of balls to play solo I think, especially with an electric guitar. He carried it though, and played all the songs I knew and a bunch that I didn't that sounded awesome. His stage presense was tremendous for just being one guy... he carried the room much more than the other two bands did. And he's funny and intelligent. It sounds like I have a crush on him. I know Paulsen did at least. But great show. He did an acoustic song/sing-a-long, made fun of his wikipedia page, and told lots of fun stories.

The show ended a little after 10pm. It was funny leaving and seeing all the mini-vans there to pick up their children on a Friday night, but at least they weren't driving home drunk like people do leaving the Norva or the National. Great job, Adam Bray. A late night after going home, and a long day on my feet. But good. Drew Carey and Ted Leo make the day special.

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