To know me is to also know that, among other things I am constantly and consistently late for, the airport is my favorite. There's a rush I get when I'm running really, really late. Since I haven't checked a bag since I flew to Australia some years ago, I can normally get away with this*, but since I had to check a bike box, I knew I had to be there at least somewhat early. I thought I had it all set on Thursday, I was out of the pool with enough time to get my haircut and then pack my stuff (yep, hadn't packed yet, flight was at 12:35pm). But then, just when I thought it was safe and I had avoided all the gym crazies, THWACK! Some dude starts rattling off about online stock trading. I crept closer and closer to the door, but my inability to rudely walk away when the situation warrants it was the death of me. 20 minutes later I was finally in my car, and now on the verge of running late.
I was 98% sure I had packed everything, but the one thing I forgot was also one of the most important - my watch. Fortunately I got word back to Ed, who was able to drop off the watch at Jen's, from where Alyssa picked it up later before she left to come out here.
I parked my car, hopped on the shuttle (sidenote: carrying the bike box in addition to your other stuff onto the bus is quite challenging) and got into the terminal around 11:48am. By the time I got to the counter, it was 11:54 I think. Apparently that meant late check-in and my stuff was not guaranteed. However, I experienced some good fortune in that the nice Southwest lady didn't charge me the $50 to fly the bike. That was marginally cool.
The flight is uneventful, other than being long and filled with old people (presumably snowbirds), and everyone seemed to be coughing. I was riding bitch in between two old ladies and quietly read my book, "Drink, Play, F@*k." When we got off the plane, the bike showed up but my other luggage, containing all of my clothes, did not. Everything evens itself out for me, I can never come out ahead. I got picked up by the hotel shuttle and checked into the Courtyard, conveniently located just a block off Mill Ave, in between 5th and 6th. In other words, less than 400m from Chronic CANTINA (they changed the name in the offseason!). It was now just after 4pm local time, and the weather conditions could not have been more ideal. Great temperature and most of all - absolutely no wind.
I walked around for a little bit, getting suckered into a number of conversations by random people. One of the construction guys working on the hotel saw my Maryland jacket and that led to finding out he's from Linthicum, and that he also worked on the Courtyard which is a mile from my home in NJ. Another guy on the street saw the jacket and told me he's from Ellicott City. At the Dunkin Donuts, the kid working was a nerdy filmmaker and was psyched to see my camera so that was a long conversation about photography.
If you've ever been to a triathlon, then you probably have an idea of what that scene can look like. Lots of nerds, lots of expensive shit, lots of talking about races you've done and races you plan on doing - but surprisingly not much talking about the race that's in 2 days. Well an Ironman is like that times a thousand. Probably because you have to be there so many days in advance and it attracts a different type of supergeek than your run-of-the-mill sprint tri. They stick out like white people in Harlem. Especially when you superimpose them in the setting of Tempe, a hippie-ish place in the shadow of its flashier neighbors, Phoenix and Scottsdale.
Once again, Alyssa bailed me out by picking up my bag at the airport, so I didn't get an opportunity to run last night. No big deal, I mostly wanted to shake out after the flight but I think the walking worked. Currently I'm sitting outside the Starbucks, where the temp is a balmy 57 degrees. Slight wind but not bad. Certainly not what it was like on Wednesday in Baltimore. Temp will eventually get up to 80 or just over, conveniently around the time I need to run on Sunday. Today I'm going to walk down to check in, then put the bike together and ride/run. Claire gets here in a bit so perhaps she'll join me.
Sidenote again: I just don't understand why people don't bring normal looking clothes. I mean jeez, you don't need to run around in and wear all day your tri kits. You look ridiculous. Compression socks. Visors. Your jacket that you bought when you, and a thousand others, qualified for Age Group Nationals.
I love it, and wouldn't have it any other way. You know you're at a triathlon.
Oh, and I did get my favorite - grilled fish burrito - last night from Chronic CANTINA. I am not sure what my food choices will be just yet for tonight and tomorrow, but Sunday, rest assured, Attack of the Taco, part deux, immediately following the race. Presuming I can walk.