Ok, so this is Part 2 of my adventures in Birmingham – you can find Part 1 here.
Soooo, one of the things I was looking forward to by going to Birmingham was to run in warmer temperatures. I knew that it wouldn’t be super warm there, but compared to Ottawa it should be MUCH better. But the problem was that the North Pole descended on Ottawa last weekend…and I’m not kidding – we were colder than the North Pole was.
And that leaked down into Birmingham leaving us with a race day temperature of -2C/29F. Yeah, so as a Canadian that should be warm to me, right? But a) I’m a fake Canadian – I am the biggest wuss with the cold and b) I hadn’t brought running clothes appropriate for that!!!!
I have a irrational fear of being late to a race…and literally have nightmares about showing up after the gun has gone off! I also NEVER check a bag because the only other time I have done that (12 years ago), the race lost the bag and I had stupidly put in a favorite fleece jacket and (I’m not sure what I was thinking) and my CAR KEYS!!!
But last weekend, the cold made me change my ways.
- I checked a bag full of warm clothes to put on after the race
- I showed up with only 15 minutes to go AND didn’t take off my warm throw-away clothing until after the gun went off!!
I managed to find Carson before the race started and her mom snapped a quick photo of us!
I’m not one to give a play by play of the race because, quite frankly, I never remember the race well enough. But I will say that it’s not super hilly, but it’s also not super flat (this shows the double loop full marathon – I only had to do that set of hills once).It’s well organized, the water stations (of which there are plenty) are high energy and there’s good fan support.
But I’ll be honest, by the last few miles, I was frozen solid and miserable. I just wanted it to end. I had gone into the race with no intentions of a crazy fast time – didn’t look at my watch once, just kept it at a pace that felt comfortable. Figured it would be between 1:40-1:45 and I crossed the line at exactly 1:41. And, folks, that is State #14, done!!!
But seriously, I had to ask someone to open my checked bag (clear plastic bag with a draw string) because my hands were so frozen they would not work at all. I’m such a wuss. lol
Luis finished about 15 minutes later and we quickly found each other…
And then we found Carson who took this race nice and easy – she has not been regularly training lately but loves this race so much that she couldn’t not participate!
After a good nap (under a million blankets and my hotel room’s thermostat cranked up to 77F), Carson picked me up at my hotel and brought me back to her house so I could meet their fur babies!!
Then, Alec and Carson took me out for dinner to Davenport’s Pizza Palace.
Monday I got myself to the airport in time for my 1:50 flight – I was to fly through Philly and then onto Ottawa. Then my flight to Philly got delayed until 2:50 due to weather there. And so began the hell of travel.
We eventually got to Philly, but after circling the airport a number of times, the pilot announced that after the two planes in front of us has had to employ emergency braking procedures when they landed, we were being diverted to Scranton, PA. When we got there, we were informed that we had been grounded for the night. Problem was that there were flight cancellations everywhere sooooo, there were no hotels AND Scranton didn’t have ANY seats on flights the next day for us and the plane we had come in on was being re-positioned somewhere else! I just laughed. Really, what else could you do?
American Airlines worked VERY hard. I was impressed. They found us all rooms at a resort just outside of Scranton, they shuttled us there, and then instructed us to be back in the hotel lobby by 6am to be taken back to the Scranton airport where a chartered bus would be waiting for us to take us to the Philly airport (2.5 hours away). Again, I just laughed. I phoned AA to get myself on another flight and the only one they could get me on (because really, it was a disaster in Philly with all the cancellations) was the 8:40pm flight. Soooo, after 4 hours of sleep, I arrived at the Philly airport at 9:30am prepared for an 11 hour stay there.
While I was standing in the check-in line I started talking to this (very good looking) man (named Mike) who, turns out, is from Ottawa. He was trying to get to Columbia, South Carolina for business and, like me, had been grounded the night before. He had been re-booked on an 11:30am flight to Columbia. We chatted through the check-in line, then up to security. He then waited for me on the other side of security and we chatted as we walked to his gate. I asked if I could hang out with him until his flight took off (because really, I had 11 hours to kill!!) and he said sure! THEN, his flight got canceled and his work said to forget it, head back to Ottawa. He managed to get on the 3:00pm flight!! So we went and grabbed lunch and just hung out and chatted easily for the next few hours. When it came time for his flight to board, the woman at the gate asked if there were any volunteers to remove themselves from the flight. I laughed out loud. As if. The airport was in chaos because EVERYONE had canceled flights, no one would give up a seat on a place that was actually taking off. Mike looks at me and with a smile says, “Why not?!” and walks up to the woman and surrenders his seat in exchange for a seat on my flight.
AM I IN A MOVIE??? Seriously.
So we went off and grabbed drinks which then turned into dinner as the sun set on the Philly airport.
When we got to Ottawa, he insisted on driving me home.
Seriously, is that an awesome story or what??!!
Mike gave me his number and we’ve been chatting…but nothing is ever perfect. At least not for me. He is in the midst of a divorce. Not great timing. Buuut, who knows. Regardless, I have a great story to tell, right??!!
Ok, and while all the flight cancellations were so annoying, there was good reason for it…this is my front yard right now.