Friday, September 18, 2009

How far would YOU walk for Chipotle?

So last Friday (9/11) I got an email informing me I’d have to be in Phoenix next Wed (9/16) morning to inspect the electroless Ni plating job on some forward separation bolts. I was a bit busy but eventually got around to getting a flight and hotel and, although the notice was a bit on the short side, figured I was ready to go.

Tuesday rolled around and after getting in a swim and bike in the morning, I was off to the airport for my trek to Phoenix. Get to the airport on time, board the plane, everything is going fairly smoothly. Our departure time was 12:50 but at 1 we were still on the tarmac. Everyone was ready to go, the door was closed, but we were not moving. Then the message comes from the captain, “Ground stop from Atlanta due to thunderstorms. They’re going to give us an update at 1:50, so we’ll let everyone off the plane until then.” This is never a good way to start a trip. However, my connection wasn’t scheduled to take off until 4:45, so I figured I’d still be OK, especially since it would likely be delayed a bit as well.

Around 1:50 we are told we’ve got the go ahead to take off so everyone reboards. However, just as we are ready to pull away from the terminal, another message from the captain: there is some kind of equipment malfunction on a tower between HSV and ATL which is preventing us from taking off. It shouldn’t take too long to fix, so we'll wait in the plane. Another 40 minutes later, it is fixed and we prepare (again) to pull away from the gate. But wait, another ground stop in Atlanta! Apparently the lightning has fired back up and ATL air traffic control wont let us take off.

This time, though, the controllers aren’t sure how long we’ll be grounded so the pilot pulls us back in and allows everyone to deplane. At this point the flight hasn’t been canceled but agents are offering to reschedule people who think they’ll miss their connections and don’t want to spend the night at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Luckily, after only about 20 minutes we are notified the ground stop has been lifted so back onto the plane and off we go. We finally lift off around 3:40, and after an uneventful flight and time change, land in Atlanta at 5:40.

Upon arrival, I realize I’ve missed my connection but find the next plane to Phoenix and head to that gate. Luckily, I’m able to get on that flight and even score and exit row seat. Finally, things are looking up. We take off a bit after 7 EST and are scheduled to arrive in PHX around 8:20 PST. Here is where things get interesting....

The flight goes fine but as I’m heading to the rental car oasis (if you’ve been to PHX, you know what I’m talking about), I realize I forgot to make a reservation. I get to the car island, where 7 companies have desks and every one is out of cars. That’s right, not a single rental car available. Aside from causing a delay, this puts a bit of a wrench in the schedule as it will be kind of hard to drive to a pool or dinner or work, for that matter, without a car. After finding a cab, I get to my hotel and immediately pass out around 9:30 PST (11:30 CST… well past bed time!).

The next morning, without car (no car = no pool), I decide to go for a 40 minute run even though I have a long tempo run later in the day. It would’ve been nice to get the long run out of the way in the morning because it was nice and cool but I was cutting in close as it was WRT time and something was better than nothing. Then it was off to inspect some separation bolts!

Work was fairly uneventful except for lunch. After flying all the way to Phoenix, I was treated to some Famous Dave’s barbeque. The selection included ribs, beef brisquet, chicken, pulled pork, beans with pork, extra creamy coleslaw, corn bread, and chocolate cake with warm chocolate sauce and whipped cream. The meat was delicious but this is not exactly optimal fuel for the planned long run later in the day.

After work: long run time. Well, longish. ~14 miles with 8 miles at tempo. When I finally got going, I knew it’d be a long workout. Between the lack of humidity (this is the desert, after all…) and the gut-bomb lunch, the run was a slug fest. However, 1h 25min after leaving the hotel parking lot, I was back with a mouth that might as well have been full of cotton swabs and was relieved to be done.

The next thought: dinner. Without a car, this would be no trivial task. The immediate options near the hotel, Denny’s and Marrie Callender’s, were not good. However, when I booked my hotel I checked for a Chipotle in the vicinity (this is standard procedure) and remember thinking there was one really close by. I hadn’t seen it in my time there and after running close to 20 miles on the day I really didn’t feel like walking too far. But I had to check. I put the over/under at 1 mile. Further than that, I was throwing in towel. As I pulled up, the anticipation was killing me. Finally, Google Maps had my answer: 0.9 miles. BAM!

A painstaking long 13 minutes later of brisk walking and I was there. Burrito bowl, chips, and chocolate milk and all was good in the world.

1 comment:

TriCoachTre' said...

Good work! You toughed it out, the sign of a true champion. Oh, and the airlines and ATC suck!