I'm waaaaaay behind on this recap, but it's because life has been full of exciting challenges and interesting opportunities, so I don't really feel too bad about taking my time! A few weeks ago I went to the Arnold Sports Festival down in Columbus to experience the biggest fitness expo in the world - and it was unbelieveable!
The day started with a race! The Arnold Pump and Run 5k is a combination of bench press and running that sells out within mere hours of registration opening each year - but thankfully the 5k only option almost never sells out and I was able to get my first race of 2016 during the trip. Before we ran, I actually got to meet up with fellow Move More Fitness ambassador Theresa, who traveled all the way from (sunny) Florida to participate in the Pump and Run! We took the obligatory flex photo in front of the Arnold statue before (putting our layers on and) heading to our events. I ran a pretty solid race considering how cold it was and how little I'd trained for actual running. At 27:52, it's my second fastest 5k to date, so I'm certainly not complaining! The course went through some of the neighborhoods I used to frequent when I was a grad student at OSU, making the run a nice little homecoming in a way.
Post-race, I made the awful mistake of sitting on a cement barrier in the cold for a couple minutes to talk to another friend, and my poor calves paid the price! As soon as I hopped down to head back to the car for a quick change, I realized how bad a decision that short break had been. Hobbling my way down the street, I thanked my lucky stars that I had found a parking spot that overlooked the finish line. Twenty minutes and lots of in-car massage later, I threw on a pair of compression sleeves that helped for most of the day before hitting the convention center floor for one of the noisiest, most crowded, most sense-boggling experiences of my life: the Arnold Fitness Expo.
This place was wall-to-wall crazy! My weekend at the Fit Expo Chicago last May was nothing compared to five minutes at the Arnold. Many of the same big-name vendors were present, but the sheer masses of people packed into the convention hall was almost overwhelming. In fact, if I didn't have a handful of popular comicon events under my belt, I probably would have been completely unable to handle the huge scenario before me. Fortunately, I'm no newbie, and I dove right in! One of my favorite things to do at fitness conventions is take part in the mini challenges all over the show floor. At the Arnold, I was able to hop into two: the dips challenge at Muscle Sport (do 20, nailed it, sweet shirt prize) and the squats challenge at Muscle Tech. I pulled out 70+ squats in one minute, enough to get me on the top five leaderboard but not enough to come close to the 90+ first place spot!
I quickly learned that, unlike the Fit Expo where lines were pretty short and moved very quickly, there would be no "easy" supplement freebies at the Arnold. Some lines moved less than 10 feet over the course of a full hour, and since I went on Sunday (the last day of a four day event), some of the vendors were actually OUT of samples by the time I made it through the line. It was hard to pick which booths should receive the most attention, and I probably could have ended with a better haul, but I still came away with some great stuff. There weren't many small-scale vendors that interested me much, even though I was looking to buy some more tank tops or leggings, so at least my wallet stayed in my pocket all day!
Being back in Columbus, even for a day, was a rush of memories from a different time in my life. I did have a chance to reconnect with some of the people who had made the most positive impacts on that past life before making the long (and painful) journey home, but eventually me and my sore calves made it back to Cleveland where we quickly passed out to recuperate from an awesome yet exhausting day at the Arnold!
Have you ever been to a fitness expo? How about the Arnold? Ever tried a pump and run?