Thursday, June 25, 2009

Won't You Take Me To...Texas?

I’m on a plane heading to Albuquerque.

(I’ll admit it took me about 5 minutes and 10 iterations to figure out how to spell Albuquerque)


I'm refusing the snacks right now. I have an unwritten rule that you should not eat anything in a sealed foil bag before 10 am. Nor should you smoke, drink pop or nachos. All things I’ve seen before 10 am. And when you see that before 6 am something inside of you just shivers and dies, doesn’t it?

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write for a few days. I’ve just been busy. Dozens of thoughts have been stirring in my head about dozens of things. I just need more time.

Time. Where does it go? I’ll tell you where mine went. I spent the better part of yesterday driving. In less 24 hours I drove over an Ironman. We’re talking 145 miles. Most of them through the suburbs. At about 35 mph. Which is like saying I rode 100 miles with one crank. It’s very painful and there has to be an easier way.


It started with my weekly drive into Chicago. That is a relatively harmless drive as long as I leave the house by 3 pm and it’s not raining. Rain slows the traffic down. But did you also know that heat slows traffic down? In the hierarchy of things that can really f*ck up the flow of traffic I’d like to list in order of f*ck-upped-ness; (1) snow, (2) heat , (3) rain, (4) gaper’s delay, (5) Cubs game. Let’s cover the heat first – it has a worse effect than snow. I’m not sure why but I think low electrolytes, bloating and a general sluggish feeling impairs a driver’s ability to…step on the gas. Snow and rain – those are obvious. They are hazards and you should drive slow. Gaper’s delay always pays off when you realized the traffic slowed to 6 mph just to watch some guy change a flat tire. And, lastly, Cubs game – I learned that if you get on the highway and notice the traffic crawling under 4 mph there is a good chance that the guy in the car next to you, behind you, in front of you and a few cars up is wearing a Cubs jersey.

Not a baseball fan.

As you can see, so much driving took it’s toll on me. It also didn’t help that summer exploded around here in 96+ degrees in the past few days. Obstacle? Not really. I call it an opportunity to crash acclimate to the intense heat that awaits me in Texas (which is where we are going via Chicago via Albuquerque – doesn’t it seem like there should be another “r” in there?). Since it was winter until about a week ago, I needed to re-teach my body to sweat and think straight in intense heat. So, I convinced myself that driving 145 miles with no air conditioner would be great training. It was. I was sweaty, uncomfortable and had a millions thoughts with the letters DNF. Eventually I just got used to it. But I’ll admit 145 miles later I had a raging case of road rage and I smelled like a monkey.

I also desperately needed a (sports) drink and a salt tab.

All of this driving and ado was in preparation for our trip to Texas. Let me just say that I like Texas. Maybe I just like the idea of Texas. Southwestern Texas that is. I like the idea of having wide open spaces. I like the idea of owning a ranch. And what would I raise on that ranch?

Chihuahuas.

A few years ago we traveled to San Angelo, Texas, and I really liked that place. For two reasons: 1 – they had a great gourmet coffee shop there. And 2 – they had an even better shop for tasting wine.

That about did if for me.

En route to Texas was a layover in Albuquerque. The view from the airport windows was beautiful because it had something I never get to see – mountains. Even better was my experience in the coffee line. I accidentally bumped into the woman behind me with my laptop bag. Sorry. She gives me a smug look. Oh get over yourself it’s just a laptop bag. She got in front of me while I mistook the order here line for the order here line when really I was supposed to skip the order here line and go straight to the pay here line instead (do simple things have to be so complicated?). While waiting I heard her order a cheese danish. I thought to myself – you don’t need that Danish because nobody does. There had to be 6 inches of circumference to that danish. Which means the danish had a radius of 3. Knowing that, Chris and I calculated that there was over 27 square inches in that danish. (pi r-squared = 3.14 x (3x3) = roughly 27 inches) = area of one said cheese danish. Not only did she willingly purchase and agree to eat 27 inches of danish but then got snippy about being shortchanged a dime.

10 cents.

Anyhow, we made it through another flight to arrive finally in Texas. We quickly recalled the setting from our last trip here. Three years ago when I did this race and Chris had to join me to bring my bike. We remembered a few things – going to Prairie Dog Town and a really nice grocery store. The more important things about a town. After eating some lunch we actually headed over to Prairie Dog Town. Driving in Chris provided the soundtrack by singing won't you take me to...prairie dog town. We watched the prairie dogs. Here’s a recap: stand on top of dirt hole, dig in dirt, stand on top of dirt hole, chirp at your friends who are standing on top of their dirt hole, run into your hole, dig more hole. It was fascinating but it was no Meerkat Manor. We did walk around the perimeter of the town because dammit I just had to move. I called it heat acclimating, Chris called it a hot walk at way too fast of a pace.

If you think this is fast, wait until Sunday.

Next up we walked around the local arboretum. I like plants so imagine my delight when I located the arboretum – we had to go! It was as big as a postage stamp but still we could circle the trails about 4 times to get in a good walk. And more heat adaptation.

We found the grocery store and our hotel too. I’ve already switched rooms. The first one smelled like cumin. I’m not spending 4 days in a room only to emerge smelling like a well-seasoned taco. It’s bad enough that I had to pack my bike shoes in my suitcase and they have to stay in the room. Chris has learned it's just best to go along with me at times like this. I should add that he also enjoyed wheeling the luggage cart with about 150 pounds of stuff around the hotel to change rooms.

He loves me. Actually, his exact words were I have a death sentence in 12 solar systems. I have no idea of that means something good or bad. Yes, I married one of those guys that whips out random Star Wars quotes.

What to do with the rest of the evening? I’ve looked at the local visitors guide and let me just say we might be taking a trip back to Prairie Dog Town because it was listed as the first thing to do on your first day here. Stand on top of dirt hole, chirp at friends, dig in hole. Yeah, I think we know how it’s going to play out but you never can tell.

3 comments:

Angela and David Kidd said...

Good luck this weekend!

I used to drive from Warrenville to Chicago EVERY SINGLE DAY during rush hour. I was a very angry person.

Dave said...

Chris: This little one's not worth the effort.

Andrea said...

GO ELIZABETH!!!