Saturday, January 31, 2009

I hate the airline industry

January 5th I flew to Portland. January 10th I flew back to Lubbock. January 15th I flew to Chicago. January 20th I flew back to Lubbock. I fly often and I've never received a free flight through frequent flier programs. I even fly internationally.
On the flight to Portland the first leg of the trip, from Lubbock to Dallas was delayed 5 hours. I only arrived 3 hours late to Portland but regardless it was a long day, 12 hours spent behind security checkpoints. I didn't write about the return flight so I can't specifically recall anything the airline messed up with. I do know that flying hurts by back so I had taken a muscle relaxer and felt like I was on a theme park ride over the Rockey Mountains stretching from Mt. Hood over Salt Lake, Fort Junction, and ending at Pike's Peak. The plane flew low for the size and distance and it was a perfectly clear day. The pilot was also great about announcing which mountains we would be able to see and which cities we would be going over. The only annoyance I had on this trip was with the cost of airport food.
On the flight to Chicago, the first leg I rode with my dad. The flight was a bit delayed. They had reassigned his flight without him knowing and at the last minute we realized and had the attendants switch it back. During out wait however there was a huge chess set with pieces more than 3' tall. We didn't have time to finish the game, which is a good thing actually. The jet bridge in Lubbock was broken and still appeared to be unfixed on the 20th when I came back through. This meant that we had to go down the stairs and across the tarmac to board the plane. Not an issue really for us but at least one of the passengers was in a wheel chair. Because of the short delay by the time we reached Dallas my next flight was already boarding so I had to hurry to the other terminal and get going. We made great time to Chicago, saving off more than an hour of flight time but we had to wait on the ground for 30 minutes for an open gate, then another hour to discover that the sky bridge had frozen to death. It was after all -10 degrees and mechanical errors must be more likely but to add to the issue, the people on the ground would spend 5 minutes outside then 15 inside warming up so there wasn't much ground assistance to further slow the process. Eventually the plane was pushed closer to the Jet Bridge and a makeshift bridge extender was erected for us to get safely into the airport. I was most troubled by this because I really had to use the bathroom. I didn't have any time in Dallas and didn't feel like crawling over the people sitting on my row during the flight. But after waiting so long, I finally disobeyed the seat belt lights tyring to control the disgruntled passengers, jumped luggage and took care of my business. Less upset after this annoyance was done away with.
On the final return flight, all was going well until Dallas. This was inauguration day and I had the benefit of being able to watch the balls while waiting through gate changes and delays. It was a really late flight in the first place, the last one out to Lubbock. There had been three gate changes and at one point the attendants started to board the plane and then mechanics sent the passengers back out because the plane had a broken armrest that was apparently a safety hazard. We patiently waited 40 minutes before being allowed to board again. This was a little twin prop airplane and we sat on the ground for what felt like 30 minutes warming up the engines and propellers. We started to taxi out to the runway and then at the last minute turned around. The passengers were informed that the pilot was already at 14+ hours and would timeout before arriving at out destination. There is an FAA regulation that pilots cannot work over 16 hours in a 24 hour time period. So we were brought back to the airport and given new flight assignments to go out the next day. We were given hotel vouchers for a hotel suite bigger than my apartment and $10 of airport money for any food place. I was scheduled for the first flight out to Lubbock that next morning and didn't get more than 4 hours in my hotel room that night. Once arriving in Lubbock my luggage didn't arrive with me. Here I am very mad. I give the attendants my information and they give me a number to call to see if it has been located. I call when they tell me to a few hours later and the automated voice says that my stuff is not yet located. Thankfully, sometime that night while I'm at work I receive a message from my dad that it has been delivered to their house. So there was finally resolution to the awful ordeal.
I hate the airline industry. But at least I didn't have this happen to my flight: This was a FedEx crash at the Lubbock airport January 27th at 4:30AM. The 27th was an icy day much like the 5th, when I flew to Portland. At least I haven't had to land in Lubbock on a really icy day. One more reason to stay in town for a while. I gave my car a wash yesterday. It is a trusty vehicle that doesn't leave the ground the the only delays are caused by me. I can handle that.

Running in Chicagoland

I had to choose the coldest week in years to visit my home in Chicago. The day I flew in it was -1 as a high I think and -13 as the low. Two days later the when I headed out for my scheduled 9 mile run it was 12 degrees and perfect. I strapped on my YakTraks and pulled on some snow pants with gaiters over my fleece lined running tights. The intention was to get dropped off at the 0 mile mark on the Prairie Path from Wheaton and run 4 1/2 miles out and back but after just minutes I decided that the snow was too deep and the run would be impossible so I aborted that plan at Washington in Wheaton just West of Wheaton College. After running around the college I decided to run to Caribou Coffee for some water and made a new plan to run back to the house were I was staying from there. Once getting to Caribou and recognizing lots of people I wanted to return after each three mile loop and that's exactly what I did. The first loop was to the East. The second loop was to the South West attempting to run past Casa de la Sol, my first residence, but the road was blocked for me by a busted water pipe. I accidentally stepped into it and felt my foot getting wet. I was terrified that the run would have to be over after such an accident. But not even half a mile later, it didn't feel wet anymore. So I continued. The third loop was to the North around Northside Park and back. I forgot to turn the GPS on a couple times but am confident on the achieved distance. After the run I felt fantastic. Lots of energy and a great mood. My joints didn't hurt, I wasn't cold, my stomach was normal the whole time. This was a rare thing for me. Normally after long runs I'm messed up for the rest of the day. I ran slower on the snow and ice and maybe this is why it was so easy to recover. Not sure but I was very thankful for this amazing run and the friends and places I saw along the way.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Running in Oregon

Well, it seems like I'm failing this running blog once again. I was hoping to document several of my long runs during this training season leading up to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon April 26th.
On January 7, 2009 I was in Portland, Oregon and scheduled for a 6 mile run. I didn't yet have my GPS or any good way to judge distance on the particular run that I decided on. On that morning I dressed warm for the chilly (53 degrees) damp day with enough money to ride the MAX to it's northern most stop, the Expo Center. From there I found, with some trial and error, the bike path that wove up and under a few twisty ramps to I-5 and then ran alongside the interstate over the Columbia river, some island, and split on the banks of Vancouver, Washington. The bridge itself was probably 1.5-2 miles, the winding path to get on the interstate was at least a mile and once I got to the other side I ran through a very pleasantly surprising place, the Vancouver National Historic Site, this area was probably a mile also. All in all I estimate that I ran 7+ miles on this untested course. At the very end, last mile or so, it began to really rain so I sprinted the last 1/2 mile to the covered train station. From Vancouver I picked up a Real Estate Book for my dad and it is curled like a baton and shows the water spots from the rain I encountered. All in all this was a glorious run and it was the second time I ran over a state line. This time, however, it was my first time ever in Washington. So from now on I can boast that the first time I was every in Washington, I ran there. Sweet!