Finally we arrived in Maryland. Things are heating up around here in many ways. Actually, I'm just cooling down from the epic travel adventure yesterday. You see, after nearly 12 hours of waiting, flying and driving we arrived at our hotel at 2:15 am.
We arrived at O’Hare around 3 pm for a 4:30 pm flight. At 7:45 pm we were finally boarding the plane. The attendant took our boarding passes and said “I apologize for the delay. And for the inclement weather. And everything else.” Part of me felt sorry for her – the proverbial dog we were all kicking for a delay that was not at all her fault. But the other part of me just spent over 4 hours with my ass sitting sweat-soaked on a carpet I would call questionably filthy in a terminal that was starting to smell like foul puppy. I could use a few apologies.
Actually, I could use an apology from the entire airline. As a paying customer I’m feeling a little shorted about how my money is being spent. Obviously my $200 flight fee is not going towards the acquisition of omnipotent control of the weather from god. So at the very least it could go towards free internet access (how dare you beg me for a $7 daily fee), free coffee (nice try with the Starbuck’s though) and a rule that prohibits people from bringing McDonald’s bags into terminal H (repulsive, really). Those are the things I would like to see in exchange for my ticket fee. But since those are likely not going to happen, I have a few things to say about your apologies.
First of all, the delay didn’t make much sense. Sure, the winds were gusting over 30 mph from the south east. But don’t tell me a plane can’t handle that kind of wind. I recall days of mounting my 20 pound bicycle in 30+ mph winds only to find that sometimes I was going really fast while other times I was going really slow. Either way, I got to the final point at just about the right time. It was a matter of planning. The physics were simple – into the wind, head down & pedal like hell. With the wind, point and shoot basically. So please don’t tell me the 200 ton aircraft designed to withstand ice storms and sub arctic temperatures high in the atmosphere can’t handle a little wind. And also please don’t tell me the winds higher in the atmosphere are blowing at 100+ mph because I already know that but I have decided that today I don’t care.
Secondly, the inclement weather in the terminal is not really inclement at all. Furthermore it is pronounced in-cle-ment. Not inclimate. I’m not sure what an inclimate is but if you are referring to the rank mini climate that has settled into this end of the H terminal then I apologize for not crediting you with your fabulously accurate new vocabulary word. And by the way – if you are going to make us stew in hot terminals please for the love of all things good and hygienic in the world allow people to bring more than a quart-sized bag of personal toiletries because judging from the funk in the air I’d say there’s a few people that need gallon-sized bags. At least. But back to the inclement – if the world wasn’t such a freakhole we would have windows that you could actually open – imagine that – in the airport and the lack of air conditioning on an 86 degree day wouldn’t matter much. But since open windows would mean people would have to take responsibility for their personal belongings (ie., laptops, children) to prevent them from falling out of those open windows – well, we already know that personal responsibility is not one of our world’s strong points so scratch the open window request. Let’s just bake in our own sweat and frustration instead.
Lastly, I assume you when you are apologizing for everything else that you are referring to the fact that as a reward for making it to the front of the boarding line I will now spend the next 20 minutes on the jet bridge waiting for the 100 other idiots on this flight (note: after waiting over 4 hours for a 2 hour flight everyone becomes an idiot, myself included) to put their jam-packed luggage into the overhead bin because they were either too cheap, too scared or too confused to check it in and give you another $15 on top of the $200 for the pleasure of experiencing this 4 hour delay. While standing there I will be subjected to discussion from people behind me about why Barack Obama should not be president. Not to shell out my political views here but brilliant discussion back there because after the last 8 years it’s not like a muppet could have run our country any better. Or my dog.
We arrived in Washington DC at 11:30 pm. Lucky for us being the last living things in the airport we got our luggage almost immediately. We found the Red Bear – he crawled out of his Colorado cave to race a 70.3. Too bad for him it’s going to be 94 degrees tomorrow – not exactly the 70.3 he was looking for – but I’ve always believed baptism by fire is the best way to learn. He did not really agree. Anyways, the Red Bear arrived at 4 pm and spent hours wandering the Washington mall. When I asked him how the shopping was he looked at me quizzically then explained the mall was where our nation’s most important monuments stood. Oh. But seriously, was the shopping any good?
Red Bear and I chatted for what felt like hours in the car on the way to Salisbury. I ordered Chris to sleep in the back of the car. More for his safety because I was ready to clock him with the GPS which of course did not work. Instead we pulled out our compass and protractor and somehow used the position of the stars and the moon to find our way. All right, we read the map. Seems that a bunch of thirtysomethings do have some useful real world skills when stripped of technology.
And now it is morning. I had something that looked like coffee, smelled like coffee but tasted like ass at the hotel so I’m not exactly settled yet. And for crying out loud would it kill them to put out a piece of fresh fruit at the breakfast? When Red Bear pointed to the jelly and “fruit blended” yogurt he almost got a jelly yogurt mix on his head. There were questions from the Bear about what those little red pills were that I was taking (yak blood, bat blood, squirrel blood to be as rabid as possible on race day and bear blood). When the Bear said it couldn’t be bear blood because he could smell a bear a mile away – well, that got me to questioning how he came to be called the Red Bear in the first place.
The boys are building up bikes and soon we will head to the race site. Our other friend JB is arriving soon. He is also in for baptism by fire to the 70.3 distance. Literally. It is going to be a scorcher tomorrow. People often ask how to handle the heat in a race. You don’t. You just learn to handle yourself and your response to the heat. You can’t control the heat (nor wind, rain, hills) and no matter what you’re going to get hot. But you can keep your cool in your head.
My goal today is to keep my cool with the boys. I have three boys to keep on track – meaning exercised, organized, hydrated and well fed. I need to be sure JB arrives before the race starts tomorrow (he has a way of being late), keep Chris from jittering about the heat (he has reminded me every hour that it will be hot), and keep Red Bear away from the Beer Cave a few miles away (seriously, there is a place nearby named the Beer Cave and how appropriate for a bear). And as for myself – this is the best ever – tomorrow I get to train on a hot day. It’s a completely different way to approaching a race and sure does keep one relaxed. I’ve let go of the outcome and will instead get out there to enjoy the process every hot minute of the way.
This just in: JB has called to tell us somewhere between Ohio and Maryland he ran out of gas. He's going to be a bit late.....