Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Queen Elizabeth II and Me

I saw the Queen! I saw the Queen!!

There’s no point in burying the lede, because that’s the most exciting thing that happened to me today. My friend Liz, who is running the marathon for Cancer Research UK, and I went to pick up our race numbers and goodie bags. As we were walking into the Expo Hall, Liz said to me, “Look! There’s the Queen!”

“Oh Wow!” I said, thinking that I’d finally spotted Her Royal Highness after living here for six years. But then I got suspicious. She had no minders, guardsmen or ladies-in-waiting with her. She seemed to be wearing the same outfit she wore to Charles and Camilla’s wedding on Saturday. And no one was curtsying.

“That’s not really her, is it,” I asked, my voice deflating with every word.

“You didn’t really think that it was, did you? Liz asked. Well of COURSE I did. Why wouldn’t the Queen be there to greet me at the Expo on the day I picked up my race number in fulfilment of a lifelong dream? Besides, what do I know? I’m an American living in London.

Once I realized the error, the Expo was a bit of a letdown. The Expo is like a trade show for all the marathon runners where you pick up your number and championship chip (which electronically records your time when you cross mats at the start and finish) and also get to see all sorts of running-related merchandise. You can taste powerbars and gels—I think they’re gross. You can try on running shoes. You can buy running gear.

In my reporting career I’ve covered dozens of trade shows ranging from the fun to the downright dull. The best trade show ever was the Candy Show 1998 at McCormick Place in Chicago where U.S. candy manufacturers showed their new products. The highlight was The Sample Room where they handed you a bag at the entrance and you crammed it full of everything that appealed to you for free. Wasn’t I the most popular reporter in the newsroom with a bag of candy next to my desk? The less said about the downright dull trade shows the better, but I think the names say it all: The Steel Manufacturers Equipment Show, The Manufacturing Expo, The Textiles Show. I am a veteran of looking interested when someone is explaining ISO 2000 standards or fabric trends.

The Marathon Expo was great only because you got to see what some of your fellow competitors looked like and everyone kept wishing me luck. When I picked up my number, the man asked me if it was my first marathon and it took a GREAT DEAL of self control not to burst into tears right there and then. (As regular readers of this journal know, I am somewhat emotional at the moment, given that even the Porta-Loos set me off).

Oh, am I excited. I’m going to do this! I’m running the marathon! I can do it! Look for number 9985 with a red cap (pictured below), fluorescent yellow shirt and (most likely) tears running down my face as I cross the finish line.

1 comment:

Michelle Mitchell said...

Collected my number thurs. evening 334422 charity spot in the Red zone i will be wearing my Red ActionAid Top with red hair and well a red face :-)

The show was very quite when i got there which allowed me to lookk around very quickly. Have to say though i wasnt very interested in it as well i have what i need. so didnt hang around.

Didnt see any good freebies either :( must have gone earlier in the day.

Maureen have a great run tomorrow. Enjoy it!!! PS dont worry about teh tears i think we will all be crying once we cross that line.