If all goes as planned, I will be adding an entry each day before the 2012 Comrades Marathon. With over 18,000 runners, this “Ultimate Human Race” is a unique experience that every runner should have at least once. For me, this is my second year. I didn’t know last year that I would be trying for the “back-to-back” medal, but here I am. This medal will be one of the most unique medals of my entire running/triathlon career. And yes, I said that positive – I not only want to finish, but I’m not considering failure. It could happen, but I’m determined not to think about that.
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One of the things you must always prepare for is the unexpected. That’s already started early in my adventure to South Africa, but in a very pleasant sort of way.
The Atlanta Hartsfield Airport opened a new international terminal “about two weeks ago.” I had no idea they had a new terminal, but it was a pleasant surprise.
What isn’t so pleasant, however, is wifi isn’t free. I would guess it’s free in the Delta SkyClub, but I’m not privileged enough to enter there, so I am now using my phone as a hotspot.
How any new terminal in the USA can not provide free WIFI is beyond me, but then again I’m from west coast where amenities such as free wifi are expected. In the new Terminal 2 in San Franciso, which opened before the new International terminal in Atlanta, they provide free wifi service, so I guess I’m spoiled. The wifi doesn’t have to be fast, but it would be nice to at least check email without using my data allotment.
Of course, you might think… Well, thank goodness for the iphone hotspot capability and AT&T! Yes, you might think that, except for the fact that AT&T has the slowest service ever… in airports. Every airport, from the San Francisco airport to the Atlanta airport, the data speeds on the AT&T network appear abysmal. It’s almost as if the company was throttling its data to drive people to pay for the wifi.
So, you just roll with it.
A Long Time Doing Nothing
If you’re an ultrarunner, the chances are you are pretty active. Sitting around and not doing anything for hours… and more hours… and even more hours… is really tough not only on the body, but the mind also. So, I’ve brought lots of things to keep myself entertained. That, and I’m wearing compression shorts. Yes, I’m wearing compression under my clothes. Why? Because of Deep Vein Thrombosis. That’s a surprise I definitely do not want.
How am I being entertained and preventing mental breakdown? Well, one way is writing this blog. I have a lot of time to expand my social media exposure. But, I also have Doom RPG, Osmos HD, Grand Theft Auto 3, and a few other apps. What in the world did I do before my tablet?
Oh, right. I read books. One of which I have with me: Be Ironfit by Don Fink. Always a good read and a book I need to become more familiar with after Comrades… Because the HITs Triathlon Championships in Palm Springs, CA are coming up fast in December.
I also like people watching. It was interesting to overhear a conversation between customs and someone taking a parrot to the Netherlands. Paperwork is endless! The bird was very cute, however, and quite happily sitting in its carrier with just an occasional contented squawk to remind the owner just how much paperwork drama the little creature was causing. Which brings me to:
Advice for those who don’t often travel
This could be an entire article in itself, and I probably should add it to the aviation side. But, in short, the best advice I have is one my grandmother gave me ages ago: “You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar”. Or, in modern terms: “Kill them with kindness”. The nicer you are to the poor schmuck sitting behind the counter at the airport, the greater likelihood you’ll get a positive result. Remember, those people behind the counters don’t make the rules, do not control the weather, the airplanes, the scheduling, the cancelling, the delay times, or, in fact, do they really make any decisions that have affected you so far – they can not change the past. They do, however, have power over your future. The nicer you are to them, the more likely you’ll have a brighter future.
Additionally – Get to the airport early. Very early. The earlier, the better. If you’re planning on travelling on Wednesday, then don’t plan on doing anything else (if you’re a frequent flier, you know the game, modify as necessary). For the rest of the travelling public, you pretty much can’t be too early. Reduce your stress, and plan to be at the airport hours early. For an international flight, give yourself at least 4 hours to be at the airport before departure. You’ll be way less stressed if there is a traffic jam on the freeway. Besides, this is a rare or unknown experience, and you’re going to do something that will delay you. So, plan for the unexpected. If it all goes well, you’ll have extra time at the gate to relax. But if things (life, the universe, and everything) do not go as planned, you’ll have plenty of buffer to absorb those life events.
Speaking of that, it’s 3.5 hours before departure… time for me to stretch my legs, get some food, use the restroom, explore the terminal, and get ready for a very, very long flight. If all goes well, the next entry will be from Durban!
Comrades Video of the Day
Today’s video comes from last year’s finish. One of the most dramatic Sub-9hour finishes in recent history, this gentleman almost.. maybe… or maybe not… made the finish!
I hope I finish just a bit stronger under 11 hours – but honestly, I just want to finish, no matter the method!