Friday, July 8, 2011

And The Hunter Home From The Hill

Here we go.... 

off, on another adventure.

I'm calling this adventure the Hometown Tour: two races on consecutive weekends near towns that once were or now are my (loosely defined) "hometowns."

First up, on July 9, is Muncie 70.3 in Muncie, Indiana.  Muncie is an 90 mile highway drive from where The Support Staffers now live outside Bloomington, Indiana.

The following weekend, July 17, is Racine 70.3 in Racine, Wisconsin, about an hour from Madison, Wisconsin.

Muncie is a little bit of race with a little bit of tempo, a race-simulation workout....surrounded by some of the fastest 70.3 athletes currently racing; Racine is as much race as I can dig out of my body.  Muncie is just parents; Racine is parents, some family and some friends making the trip over from Madison.  But perhaps more importantly, the Hometown Tour is an experiment in racing and recovering twice in two weeks, to see what I can and cannot handle in the crucible of speed and wear-and-tear.

But first, I have to get there.  Which is shaping up to be the third endurance event of the Hometown Tour: getting to the designated hometown.

When I checked my luggage in in Austin, my itinerary was Austin-Denver-Indy.  As I write this, twelve hours after leaving home, I have made it to Denver.  I was supposed to be in Indy four hours ago, and will (supposedly) be there in three more hours.

In the hours since I arrived here and missed my direct connection by 20 minutes, I have subsequently been re-ticketed on Kansas City-Indy and then Chicago-Indy.  I actually made it about a mile toward Chicago when my plane did leave the gate and made motions of going airborne.  However, we got caught in a severe thunderstorm on the tarmac, sat for an hour in winds that came off the Front Range and rocked our 6-seat-wide jet like a canoe, and then returned to the terminal because we no longer had enough fuel to make it more than a mile toward Chicago.  Now I'm on a direct flight that has been delayed so long, it has become my last chance to get out of DIA.

During my foraging for food, I found this statute in the tram system.  Interestingly, this statute was in the U.S. Capitol when I was in the U.S. Capitol.  I see both Jack and I made the smart decision and relocated.  Although I wouldn't have chosen the DIA tram system.
 

We are well met - again, Jack!

Basically I have tried to leave DIA four times and failed the first three.  The outcome of the fourth is still developing.  Perhaps I should have named this post "Escape from Colorado"?

And my luggage?  BUAHAHAHAHAHA!  [NOTE: Ok, I'm not actually that cavalier.   I travel to races with all necessary shoes, race suit, and goggles - all the equipment which is tried, tested, and personally-fit - in my carry-on.  But that is in case of not arriving immediately with my luggage; my luggage - BIKE! - not arriving by race day is another matter entirely.]

So it's the night before the night before the race - the most important night for sleep - and the airline officials have stopped talking in terms of time.  "The flight in Indianapolis is 5th in line to depart and flight time will be roughly 2:30."  Normally I would have eaten a hearty dinner, be heading to bed by 9 pm or shortly thereafter, and sleep as long as I can eek out, aiming for 10+ hours. 

For those of you thinking "why didn't you just bunk down in a hotel and finish the trip tomorrow?" my response is this: I have spent the last seven hours considering that option.  But in Denver I am as far from Indy as I was in Austin, and every direct and connecting flight tomorrow (the day before the race) is sold out so I would be flying stand-by and rolling serious cosmic dice.  The choice is try to get as close to Indy as possible, eschewing sleep for definitely being there on race morning, or stay in Denver and get sleep, creating the distinct possibility that I miss the race entirely.  Some decisions are never clear-cut.

Never I had such occasion to pay close attention to the social anthropology of an airport terminal over the course of a half a day.  Normally, if I have a huge lay-over, I find a corner and hole-up.  But today I was in line, out of line, boarding, deplaning, and chasing planes up and down the concourse as the airlines played musical gates.  And man, the de-evolution of an airport from late-lunch to pre-midnight leaves little to the imagination of just how the end of the world will play out.  Forget chairs, electrical outlets are a HOT commodity.  Apple has single-handedly created a new publicly traded commodity of sorts, as families of four are armed to the teeth with iPods, iPhones, iPads, iMacs - iPeople! - and can only find one or two plugs.  Teacup humans without teeth being fed all manner of re-made baby-food: melted TCBY, what looks like iced coffee from McDonalds's, mushed-by-hand french fries, and the absolute, hands-down worst, the sauce from chinese take-out.  And thousands of people going through the Five Stages of Air Travel Debacle:

No, I'm definitely still going to be able to get there on time.

Why is my flight delayed/canceled?  That flight to Palm Springs doesn't need to leave, we should take their aircraft.

Just re-book me through as many cities as necessary to get me there.  I don't care how many lay-overs I have to endure.

*sigh* I'm going to miss my X/Y/Z tomorrow.  I don't know why I even try to get anywhere via plane. *sigh*

Oh well, time to stock up at McDonald's and Starbucks.  Calories eaten in travel limbo don't count, right?

So my flight looks like it is going to take off, after being delayed four additional times.  A quick calculation shows that by the time I get to my parents house (my home-stay is racing on Saturday too, and there is no reason both he and I should be awake and driving around central Indiana in the middle of the night the day before the race so The Support Staffers have graciously offered to get me...whenever I am there to get...) I will have been traveling two-thirds of the time it would have taken me to DRIVE from Austin to Muncie, and I will have spent 133% more than it would have cost to drive.  Again, some decisions are never clear-cut.

...

It's 3:43 AM.  I just arrived at my parents' house in Bloomington.  I'm freaking exhausted.  My alarm goes off to race in just under 26 hours.  Let the Hometown Tour begin.

1 comment:

the intern said...

that sounded miserable.
your attitude is amazing.
i salute your sense of humor and perspective.

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