Saturday, June 30, 2012

Chicago is not the place to go in Summer

Chicago is Not the Place to go in Summer.
(Note: I began this entry in the O'Hare airport on Friday afternoon. Without any wifi I just started typing and copied it to the blog just now. This may help put the date/time references in balance.)

I base this on my second travel-go-round in a row. I've been here more than once but the past two times have been tiring from the travel perspective. Click here to read about the trip in August 2007.

My visit here is work related and once again - despite not being a city girl at all - I enjoyed my downtime here immensely. Touring the city on foot and even getting in a morning run along Lakeshore Drive. The education sessions I attended were awesome as well. The trouble started this morning.
Remembering that it is technically a holiday weekend with 4th of July smack dab in the middle of the coming week, I called the shuttle service last night and arranged for an earlier pick up. I figured I'd rather sit at the airport than be rushing to get through security due to traffic delays and extra people. HA!
As we finished up the last session of our mediator training this morning the skies grew increasingly darker. We just made the short walk back to the hotel before the skies opened up and the thunder and lightning began. A fellow attendee -Hank- also from PA was dismayed (to put it mildly) to discover his flight was cancelled and he had been rebooked on a flight leaving early Saturday morning. I did a quick check and my 4:11 p.m. flight was still listed as live and leaving on time. During the shuttle ride to the airport Hank was able to change his flight to 6:30 Friday night.

At the airport we parted ways and I went to check my bag. At the kiosk I was informed that the 4:11 flight was cancelled and I had been rebooked for 6:00 a.m Saturday. I frowned at the agent and asked if that was the best they could do. She worked her magic on the desk and got me on a 9:45 pm flight. It was now 1:45.

Keep smiling and keep moving, right? I mean it could be worse. At least I would allegedly get out of here tonight.

I passed through security relatively uneventfully and headed for the gate.  I had thoughts of seeing if I could get on standby on another flight but the line ay the United desk was very long. it probably wouldn't have helped. There was only one flight to Philly that had not been cancelled. I toyed with going over and begging myself on standby but I had checked my bag and figured if I was successful it'd be days before I saw my bag again. Also, that flight was leaving from terminal E, I was in C. I'm not sure I had enough bread crumbs to get there and find my way back if needed.

My phone rang. It was Hank. "What time are you getting out of here?" He had seen all the afternoon cancellations. His flight was leaving from Concourse B. I had just bailed on my thought to find the earlier Philly flight leaving from E so we met in connector tunnel between B and C then headed to C for lunch. That passed some time at least. We parted ways once again each wishing the other luck getting home. I checked the board. My flight wasn't even on the board yet. Hank's flight status was delayed from 6:30 to 8:30....waiting for aircraft it read.

As I type this I'm sitting at the gate where my plane is scheduled to depart. The flight before mine however- going to Brussels- is delayed 2 hours. It too is waiting inbound aircraft. And according to the board that is the status of over 80% of the flights not cancelled.

I think it's time to go look for Ice cream. Somebody in our group this week said that calories away from home do not count (As this person LOADED their plate with food). I don't believe that. However empty calories during a (so far) 5 hour and 45 minute travel delay is going to go a long way toward making keeping a smile on my face. :)

Stay tuned!

It's 8:32 p.m. The flight to Brussels is loaded but still sitting at the gate. It was supposed to leave at 8:20. My 9:45 flight is now listed as 10:15. The ice cream was good. Two scoops of butterfinger/vanilla in a waffle cone.

Just spoke to Dave to update him on my new flight number. I'm a little wired though from all this doing nothing. I cut the call short so I wouldn't drive him nuts with all my yammering. He's pretty good at power napping so hopefully he's doing that so he can pick me up and still be able function tomorrow.

Oh and get this. No free wifi at O'Hare. What's up with that? Even Philly had free wifi. It was slow but it was there. I'm typing this offline for now.

8:40 and Brussells is still sitting at the gate.

11:30 - We've been sitting in the plane for about 45 minutes now.

[Note: at that point the crew just announced we needed to shut everything down for take off so it's now Saturday afternoon. Let me fill you in on the rest (if you are still reading that is...lol)]

The Brussels flight took off about 9:00 pm. The plane for our flight finally arrived (from Denver) and the scheduled departure was set for 10:45. As you can see at 11:30 we were still at the gate. Several storms cells had developed over O'Hare. We watched lightening streak across the sky. The rule apparantly is everyone off the tarmac when that happens.

Everyone except the people in the tin can at the gate that is.

Somwhere between the 10:45 departure and 11:30 the crew allowed everyone to turn on their stuff again since it was obvious we weren't going anywhere. The announcement was we needed more fuel because the weather in Philadelphia called for it. Uh oh it sounded as if we might be circling when we arrived home. The fuel was loaded and then the storms come overhead in Chicago.

There must have been a break in the radar picture and they decided to take off. No sooner had we started to pull away from the gate a huge - rather spectacular actually - bolt of lightening went across the sky. The spectacularness of it would have been better appreciated from my front porch however. We could only hope that whoever was calling the shots knew how to read the radar correctly.

We took off and soared above the storms. It was a bumpy -  although not obnoxiously so - ride to Philadelahia. You could see jelly fish like globs of lightening outside and below us from time to time. That was kinda cool if one didn't think about how we were going to get down below it eventually.

So I just remembered something. The man in front me fell asleep while we were at the gate. He started snoring. But his snores were very light at first it was hard to say that's what it was. If you've every seen "The Langoliers" - it's a Stephen King book/movie - the noise sounded like the static noise they heard. The noise that made Mr. Toomey think the Langoliers were coming. In my advanced state of sleep deprivation it was really creepy.

So we arrived in Philadelphia at 2:25 AM. The landing was hard and incredibly fast. I've never felt that much speed on the runway like that. As the thunder and lightening continued around us I figure there must have been an opening and the pilot was taking it. If they give speeding tickets for airport runways we may have been a candidate for one.

I really do love Chicago. It surprises me how much I do. I'd rather live in the country preferably on a farm or ranch than in the city. But I always enjoy my time in Chicago and the Chicago marathon is on my bucket list. Getting home from there is a challenge however. I know I'm not the only one who has experienced this. Feel free to leave a comment or two about your Chicago adventures.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Philadelphia International Airport Goes Paperless?

I'm betting you don't believe that do you? Well neither did I so after loading my boarding pass onto my Ipad I printed a copy just in case. I figured if all went well today I would forgo the printing next time. 

I approached the first security check point, scanned my boarding pass off the ipad showed the agent my drivers license and was waved on. Ok this is cool. Next stop the scanners. 

I dutifully removed my shoes that I had untied after climbing the stairs to the gate level. I promised Dave I would not untie them until I was clear of any potential to ride the escalator. He had just scolded me at home for running up and down the steps with them untied. The only reason I was even wearing shoes in the house was so I wouldn't forget them. But I digress. (Are you surprised?)

Ok, I put the shoes with my uncovered Ipad and phone in the bin and sent them on their way through the scanner and resisted the urge to slide in my stockinged feet to the body scanner.  The agent yells to the crowd, "Please have your boarding passes out". Hmmm how to do that if they want the electronics to go through the scanner? I quick grabbed the paper copy which had not been marked by the first agent - due to my successful passage there with the virtual pass- so it was essentially useless but they wanted to see one so I was going to show them one. 

The gentleman in front of me set off the scanner.....because he tried to carry his phone through. "But you said you wanted to see my boarding pass and its on my phone", he said. The agent looked at him, frowned and said, "Ok put it in the bin and show me after you retrieve it." HUH? I knew the man wanted to say that but he resisted. TSA is not a group one gives a "HUH?" to.

My turn. I showed him the paper and he says " How did you get past..." I answered ( yes before he finished this was getting ridiculous) "With my Ipad which is over there because it will set off this scanner." He sighed and said go talk to him pointing to another agent. I went to the second agent - grabbing my ipad off the belt on the way. The second agent gave me a look and a shake of his head that said he realized that somebody hadn't thought this through and waved me on.  I'm still trying to figure out why they were asking for boarding passes at the scanners. Usually once you pass the first agent you are good to go until you board the plane. I heard someone ask an agent but the answer was just a shrug. I have this feeling something happened and the powers that be were quickly trying to CYA and didn't think it through.  And as I finish typing this the gate attendant just announced a half hour flight delay. Keep smiling..and stay tuned. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Walk in the Park

Since my return from injury layoff I have been really lacking the motivation to run on Sundays. Despite a minor success last weekend it has been a real struggle. I awoke this morning again not really wanting to but knowing that if I didn't do something I'd feel like a slug all day and ruin the day with a bad mood.

So I went to Ridley Creek State Park and power-walked the loop. How silly I am to keep forgetting how much I enjoy walking and hiking and that I can get just as much beneift out of that as I can running - more if I'm not in the mood to run.

It helps of course that it is a beautiful day but I think I may have to consider walking, hiking - or maybe even biking -on Sundays. That doesn't mean I can't run if I want but if I don't feel like I have to to get excercise time in I might have better luck. And the rest of the world will be better able to deal with me in a better mood. :)

The walk was great and I love that RCSP has real restrooms. I had to make a stop at Picnic Area 17. The path was crowdee with cylcists (polite ones thankfully), walkers, joggers, families, and chipmunks. LOTS of chipmunks today.

So the challenge now is to find new and interesting places to explore on Sundays. Anything within an hour of Media will do for a start. That leaves lots of options to keep smiling and keep moving.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

So I haven't kept up with schedule this week at all. It's very hot out. That's not usually an automatic bail for me but when other opporunities presented themselves it was not a tough choice. Last night Dave and I had a date for dinner. He left then for Edison NJ and won't be back until Saturday night. I leave next week on Tuesday for Chicago and won't return until Friday. So dinner out together sounded like a good idea. Tonight I took my bike up to the bike shop where Emma works. She is going to tune it up for me. I was happy that they didn't laugh at how old it is. Old or not it is still a good bike (or so she and the store owner said) He might have been schmoozing a customer but Emma would tell it like it is. LOL. We had a nice catch up dinner after that and I came home. I should be able to get it back in a week or so.

As a kid I rode my bike everywhere and all the time. I continue to ride when the kids were little. Each of them has spent time on the back of that bike. Jimmy would fall asleep. Emma not so much. How many folks do you know get bruises on their calves after riding a bike! They would if Emma was in the child seat. Anyway, except for a single ride here or there I really haven't ridden in over 12 years. The doc said it would be a good idea though. Cross training. :)

So I'm behind on my miles for this week but I'm ok with it. It's unlikely I can make up six miles on the weekend - without injury so it will just have to be what it is.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Today's run was more notable for what did not happen than for what did. I DID NOT bail on it. Which was tempting and I almost did have myself talked out of it.

On weekdays I am more likely to do my schedule workout if I plan it for after work. On weekends however if I can't do it first thing I often bail. Today I had 3 miles planned. Then my sister called and suggested we take dad out for breakfast (it's Father's day). I had no trouble saying yes. Family always comes first.

However, every since she suggested it I've been wondering if I would get the run. To do so before breakfast would have meant getting out at 7 am. However when I went to bed last night I was skepticaly that I would manage to get up early. I set the alarm for 8 and figured I'd take my chances. If I woke up early I'd go. I woke up at 7:45. Ok it is what it is.

I had pretty much talked myself into just running tomorrow instead. Realistically though I've been enjoying Mondays off and knew it wouldn't happen. It was today or not at all I knew that. So after breakfast at Nudy's I came home did a few chores and changed into running clothes and off I went. YAY me.

It was not a pretty 3 miles. No soreness or stiffness (thankfully) but just a little sluggish. No big deal I had a great day yesterday and today should be a slow recovery run anyway. It was all about finishing.

So I managed all my miles this week - 19. The weekday miles were not 3-3-3 as planned but over the course of the three days total I did all 9 of them.

Next week it's 21. 9 during the week and 12 on the weekend (8 and 4).

Happy Father's day to any father's that read this.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Weather or Weekday workouts

I had an awesome run today. 7 miles from Valley Forge Visitors Center over the creepy 422 pedestrian bridge and out on the Betzwood Trail and back. I felt great. Better than great.

I made our Red Group run easy the first mile. I told them they couldn't pass me. They didn't and we averaged 12:19 to the one mile mark. Then we spread out. 4 of us doing the full 7 miles ran 3 and 1 intervals. A few did not like the idea of run/walk and a few others were doing the half marathon 3 mile distance today.

My average pace on miles 2 through 6 was 14:15 (included stopping at the start of mile 2 to regroup. I forgot to pause the timer); 12:08, 12:12, 11:44; 13:08. I picked up the pace between 4 and 5. Then once we go back to the restrooms at Betzwood I stopped to stretch and again forgot to pause the timer. Hence, the 13:08 average there. After stretching I ran the final mile in one piece except for haivng to wait to cross route 23. I loaded the data into Garmin Connect but I'm still not sure what to make of all of it.

Interesting note. The three who did not want to do run/walk did get ahead of us since they weren't taking any walk breaks. But we caught up to them at the end and passed them. We had more energy left in the tank at the end because we took the breaks. :) It really does work folks.

So I'm trying to figure out why the run felt so good. The company was one of course. I had two new folks to talk too. The weather was definitely a factor. It's a gorgeous day. As I was running though I gave credit to my weekday hill and tempo workouts. Although neither was stellar (I have a lot of work to do in both). I thnk attempting and completing them gave me confidence.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I really suck at tempo runs

There is no way to soften that. I simply suck. However, I met with a group of Phillyfitters tonight and it was so awesome to have them there that it took some of the sting out of it. We all agreed to 10 minutes easy to warm up and recover leaving the 20 minutes of tempo to whatever we could each manage. I decided to to 5 min tempo/1 min walk. 4*. I know the math is wrong. Apparantly I suck at that right now too.

I didn't do so bad at the beginning but each tempo interval was likely slower than the one before (I havent looked but it felt that way). So my goal for these is just to find consistency.

Stay tuned :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Winning the Head Game and Playing in the Rain

Today was to be our (USAFit/Philly) first group hill workout. There seemed to be interest when it was first posted. And then the rains came. Messages were shared on Facebook questioning the wisdom of trying this given the weather. Most agreed to make it a gametime or "when i'm leaving worktime decision."

If you follow this blog you may recall that I wanted 2012 to be the year of no excuses. So I knew I had to resist making any go or no-go call until as late as possible. If I made a no-go decision based on the weather at noon I simply wouldn't go even if the weather improved. It was difficult to resist making that decision as the rain came down pretty heavy at times and often wind blown during the day.

At 4 pm - my leaving work time - it was a bit brighter out. To say it was sunny would be a big stretch but the system seemd to be taking a break. So I decided to go for it.  Or at least go to the park and see what might happen. I had a few errands to do and arrived at the park about 5:15. I changed in the restrooms and then sat in my car and waited. It drizzled and drizzled. At 5:45 Mel arrived. As she got out of her car she said she'd rather run in the rain than on the treadmill. Amen to that! Shortly after that Michelle arrived and at 5:59 and 30 seconds - just as we were deciding to take off - Mike arrived.

The four of us jogged over the Audobon Loop hill. Then we did three sets of the following:
30 seconds hard running up; 15 seconds walk down
30 seconds hard running up; 15 seconds walk down
30 seconds hard running up; 15 seconds walk down
Then run to the top of the hill. When one of us made it to the top we all turned around and walked down. At the bottom we rested for 45-60 seconds. Once everyone had their breath back we did it again.

Three times.

The rain by the way had stayed at a drizzle but the canopy of trees shielded us. That's not to say we weren't soaked. It was 100% humidty and then some if that were possible. It wasn't pretty. I vowed to keep moving but smiling was a chore. BUT WE DID IT.

The four of us and Perki
The USAFit Philly Mascot
We jogged back to our cars. Took photos to prove we were there :) And met Maureen who unfortunately got stuck in traffic so we missed her.

This is my first official hill workout. In the past I've simply chosen hiller routes to run and often cheated. (Walked the hills). I'd say my immediate goal is to get to the point where I'm not begging for the 30 seconds to be over. Long term of course would be to get to the top of that hill in one swoop and feel good about it. That may be a pretty long way off though.

I will have to stretch more before these workouts. My hamstring has been feeling good on 'regular' flatter runs. I definitely felt it today. Not sore but definitely felt it.

I'm really glad I didn't let the rain keep me in. It really wasn't that bad and as I sit here and listen to it steadily pounding the trees and pavement outside I can smile.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

5 miles; Valley Forge Loop

After last night's storms it was hard to imagine what today would be like. In a word - fantabulous. Bright sunshine, clear blue skies, low temps and low humidity. In fact, I think the humidity was much lower than the weather.com had said it would be. If you have to run the Valley Forge loop this is the kind of day to do it.

I polled my red group runners before heading out and the overwhelming consensus was 2 min run/1 min walk so that's what we did. We spread out after about a mile but there were enough timers to go around I think. I ran with Roy "Attitude of Gratitude" Kardon and a new member Sheri Thompson. Sheri timed into the orange group but wanted to run with red today because her allergies were bugging her. I love when people take the 'you can run with who you want in what group you want' thing seriously. It will make their season that much better. Roy, our walking coach the last two years is no 'officially' a runner and loving it. This was his first time with intervals and he told me it was a revelation to him.

I had an awesome run. I arrived early and ran a little around the parking lot and was in the middle of my stretching routine when folks started arriving. I felt a little tight early in the run but the first part of VF is uphill so that is to be expected. I really have to keep working that left hamstring. After the run I didn't do as much stretchign as I should have. It was just too busy. I went through the whole routine once I arrived home and again just an hour ago when I felt it tighten up again. I'm going to have to add some serious stengthening excercises soon.

It was a great day for a run. I'm still flying a little high partly because I had a good run but a lot because so many Phillyfitters did too! Like I said, if you are going to The Loop. This was the kind of day to do it.