Sunday, March 8, 2009

Leaving on a jet plane (tomorrow)

In about ten minutes I will be able to check in and obtain seat assignments for our flight to London tomorrow. If you think that means I am all packed and ready to go, you are wrong. I am suffering from my typical, perpetual, packing procrastination. Not a new experience. It dates back to my college years and occurs whether I am going to Europe or to Canada for a weekend.

I just took a break from my procrastination post to try the online check-in, and have encountered a loop of frustration. British Airways requires you to provide passport information in advance, but when I attempted to do so I got a message that the system was not working, try again later. However, I can't check in or get seats until that information is provided. So although online check-in is "open," I CAN'T CHECK IN!!!

Better go pack. But before I do, a few notes to update.

Yesterday I did my last long run before the half marathon, 10.2 miles on the Centennial Trail near Snohomish. This was actually a fundraising event for the YMCA's Invest in Youth Program, where you raise or donate money and run as many five-mile loops as you choose to. I hope somebody besides me brought some money, because I got the sense that the participants were more interested in running ultra-long distances than raising money. I'm probably wrong, I'm sure they chipped in. Just because one of the volunteers seemed surprised when I handed him a check, meant nothing I am sure.

Anyhow, I was one of the few people there who seemed to be planning to run less than at least a marathon-length distance. I came planning to run ten miles (with enough time allotted for that), and that's what I did. I got there a little after 10 a.m., just in time to run into Julie Bell, who I've seen at so many races over the last couple years. She was finishing up ten miles, so that's one other. The friend that she was running with wanted to do a couple more miles so she asked if she could run along with me for a mile (then she'd turn back and quit).

I said sure, although I warned her I planned to be slow. She said that was fine, she just wanted the distance. Now you'd think she might be a little tired after the ten miles, but on the other hand she was also all warmed up, and I had just come straight from my car (and pretty much my bed before that). We started out at what felt like a pretty decent clip to me. Then she started talking to me, and asking me questions. It was all I could do to maintain the pace and answer in short sentences, while I was trying to get my legs and cardiovascular system going. We finished that first mile in just under ten minutes. Shortly afterward we said our goodbyes and she turned around.

I realized, after she was gone, that I had been running without my ipod, so now that I was alone I pulled it out and turned it on. Nothing like music in your ears to mask the sound of your own breathing. The good thing about starting out faster than planned is that it set the tone for me. I was able to continue to maintain between a 10:15 and 10:30 pace even on my own. This made me happy because that was the non-race pace that I had usually maintained last summer, before my downslide began. I did not consider this event a race, because nobody was running against anybody else, many of us started at different times, and there was no specific finish.

The turnaround was just past 2.5 miles, and I headed back toward the trailhead to finish my first lap. The "back" part of the out and back was slightly easier, because although the path seemed pretty level, it was slightly uphill on the out portion, and therefore slightly downhill on the way back. That was nice.

At the trailhead I stopped at the bathroom, dropped off my gloves because I was getting warm, and started out again. Second verse, same as the first. I began to recognize people as we passed each other going opposite directions. Usually we would wave, sometimes the other person would say "good job" to me (I was never quick enough to say it back).

On my second and final return trip I caught up with an older woman who was walking and talking to another runner who was passing her. Both of them were doing marathon distances ("just" a marathon, each said), and were doing some sort of walk-run combination. The older woman said, I think, she was doing 60-40, which I assumed meant 6/10 of a mile running, and 4/10 walking.

I met up with her just as I began mile 10 on my Garmin, and she started running with me and talking to me. She organizes some kind of long-distance trail run in Kirkland (or somewhere like that) and much prefers trails to pavement, even the gentle blacktop of this path. As we ran together I was able to talk much more easily than in my first mile, yet when I looked at my watch we were doing a 9:30 pace. Clearly warming up makes a difference.

After a ways together she said goodbye--apparently going into a walk phase--and I finished the remaining half mile or so. I was definitely glad to be finished, but felt pretty good about the run.

This morning, even with the one-hour "spring forward" time change, Rod and I were up before the crack of dawn to go skiing up at Stevens. The Pass had multiple inches of new snow, and shockingly, there was even an inch of snow on the ground here from a late night or early morning snowfall (in March!).

In addition to the fresh snow, we were treated to shockingly blue skies and bright sunshine, warm enough that I felt overheated working my way through the soft snow. Rod was excited and claimed it was very light, but it made me a little nervous. My nervousness was well founded when, on one run, I inadvertantly wandered too far off the side and got stuck in deep "powder."

This was a bit of a freak-out experience for me. I don't want to relive it (much) now, but I will say that it took a long time for me to get out, and here was a certain amount of hyperventilating and crying, as well as a fair amount of swearing. Afterwards I was still shaken and skiied badly for at least a couple more runs, until I regained my equilibrium by having lunch. (Funny how that works.)

After lunch some clouds had rolled in and we got some snow. Still, even the snowflakes were light and fluffy, and didn't really disrupt the skiing the way snowfall sometimes does. But by very early afternoon, my quads had had enough. Yesterday's ten miles plus somewhat strenous skiing did me in. At one point I literally thought, I just don't want to make another turn; luckily that was in a spot where I could just point myself downhill and go!

So I've done lots of stuff this weekend (I didn't even mention the auction fundraiser and dinner we attended last night); everything but pack, really. And, now, check in for the flight. I made a second effort and the system is still down. Better go do that packing and try again later. I am sure my mother will blame me if we get bad seats! Okay, better try again now, just in case it's working. Then pack.

1 comment:

Marie said...

We have NEVER had a smooth experience checking in on British Airways, whether online or in person. Don't get me started!!! I like BA for other reasons, but their check-in process is positively antiquated!!! Someday I will tell you some of our horror stories. I hope you have smooth travels, and I'm glad you made your way out of the deep powder--that sounds terrifying! Bon voyage and traveling mercies!