Sunday, September 27, 2009

Welcome to Whorelando

Well, folks . . . I made it! My journey started when the alarm went off at 6:45 Friday morning. We snoozed a couple times, finally rising a little after 7. I proceeded to run around the apartment in a complete state of panic, trying to figure out what I might have forgotten to pack. Finally, at 8:15 a.m., I called my usual car service company to get a car to the airport. "We don't have any cars available right now," the woman told me. "What?! Well, how long is the wait?" I asked. "We don't have anything 'til this afternoon, honey." SHIT ON A STICK. Trying not to hyperventilate, I unpacked my laptop, booted it up and searched the yellow pages for another car service company (does anyone ever use a phonebook anymore?). FINALLY, I found a company who had a car for me. THANK THE BABY JESUS. As I waited for my car to arrive, I tried to say goodbye to my cat. I swear, she rolled her eyes at me and yawned (just FYI, cat . . . I will really NOT miss having your fur all over me all the time). Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the car arrived and I dragged my suitcase, over-sized duffel bag and backpack outside (I chose to forgo the over-sized purse). I was on my way.

On the way to the airport, the driver asked me in broken English which airline I was flying. I replied with "Spirit Airlines" and, I kid you not, the dude LAUGHED at me. I didn't understand why, having never flown Spirit Airlines before. But soon enough, I would find out. First, I had to wait on the sloooooow check-in line (despite the fact that I was, in fact, already checked in) in order to get the tags to check my bags. Then, I basically had to carry my bags down to the aircraft and load them on myself. Okay, so I'm exaggerating a bit, but still, their "self-drop" system was a little odd. When I got onto the plane, I came to realize that Spirit Airlines' strategy for offering discounted fares involves stuffing 3X the amount of people any other airline would ever attempt to fit onto a typical plane. I kid you not, things were so tight in there that my backpack hardly fit under the seat in front of me. A BACKPACK. With a whole lot of jiggling, kicking and shoving, I finally got it under. Of course, there was always the chance that it might not ever come out again . . . but apparently I was willing to take the risk.

The flight itself was uneventful, as I slept through most of it. But the next fun part of my journey was the layover in Ft. Lauderdale/Miami. Please note that this stop was made "on the way" to my ultimate destination, Atlanta. I loved this . . . especially when I learned that the only options for food in my terminal were Dunkin Donuts or Nathan's Hot Dogs. Luckily, I noticed that Nathan's had a grilled chicken sandwich on the menu, which I ordered, requesting that all mayonnaise or sauce be omitted. The girl at the counter looked at me in a state of confusion and asked, "is that all you want?!" Indeed it was. I scarfed the sandwich down and waited patiently for my flight to arrive. We boarded about 30 minutes late, which I didn't think was so bad . . . but along the way, Atlanta decided it had too many flights coming in around the same time, and forced us to slow down. This was delightful, considering I was sandwiched between an obese man and a 6'8 giant of a man, whose gangly limbs had nowhere to go but in my lap. Yay, Spirit Airlines!

Anyway, I finally arrived in Atlanta 9+ hours after I'd left my apartment . . . and I met up with my parents, who had so kindly agreed to lend me a car for the next four months (thanks, Mom and Dad!). We spent the night at a Renaissance Hotel, and let me tell you, the bed was HEAVENLY. Unfortunately, I was so terrified of driving by myself for 7 hours the next day (it was my first time driving in about 3 years) that I couldn't sleep. I think I fell asleep for maybe 20 minutes at one point, but during that time, I suffered a nightmare that ruined my chances of sleep for the rest of the night. Things that went down during this nightmare included: me losing all of my top teeth, me missing the alarm and waking up at 10 a.m., and me somehow running over a small bunny with the car. Yowsers.

Finally, it was 5:00 a.m., and time for me to get up. Did I mention that I had to be in Orlando by 1 p.m. for NPTI Orientation? Yeah, I did. The plan was to leave by 5:45 a.m., but my parents and I were chatting about directions and insurance and various items, and I didn't end up leaving until almost 6:15. In a panic (so what else is new?), I prayed I wouldn't get lost or hit any bunny rabbits. I managed to find my way to 75-S despite a general lack of street signs and a pitch black sky. NICE. I CAN DO THIS! I continued on 75-S for about 15 billion miles, and somewhere in the middle of Georgia, I started to feel REALLY proud of myself. Because, usually? I refuse to do anything scary without Wilson's help. It's pathetic, I know. But I was doing it. And I was proud. And also, I missed Wilson . . . but still, I was proud of myself.

I made it to Orlando with about 15 minutes to spare (yes!) and walked into my hotel to find a bunch of kids, also known as my classmates. Yep, I'm basically the only person above the age of 21 . . . which, now that I think about it, makes sense. On the one hand, it's really cute to see these kids experiencing their own version of "college". On the other hand, the fact that they keep sending me text messages, asking me if I want to "smoke a bowl" and calling me at 12 a.m. is not so cool. I AM OLD, KIDS. DEAL WITH IT. But anyway, the staff of the program who we've met thus far seem really cool, and I am confident that this is going to be a great experience through which I will learn a lot. And isn't that what this is all about? We start class tomorrow morning, so I'll be sure to update you as we go; especially since this program seems like something a lot of you would be interested in doing at some point.

I made a trip to the Super Wal-Mart last night which was, admittedly, a bit overwhelming. I'm used to smaller grocery stores with not the best selection. That's kind of just how it is in NYC--we don't have space for something like a Super Wal-Mart. But, Super Wal-Mart? It's out of control with the selection. It's also kind of scary--you have to watch out for the electric scooters, man. But I survived it, and I am super excited to experiment with cooking for one in a mini-kitchen with one pot, one pan, a steak knife and a can opener that requires a LOT of muscle :) I was going to post a picture of my new digs . . . but when I turned my camera on, I realized that my memory card is missing. Oops. Other random items I forgot to bring include:

-my electronic toothbrush charger (oops; I don't think that sucker can last for 4 months)
-regular, non-running socks (probably don't need 'em, considering it's hot as balls here; but still)
-my glasses (whatever; I never wear them anyway--who needs to see?)
-my checkbook (again, not a HUGE issue in this, the day of the credit/debit card, but still something you want to have)


-my i-pod. Yep. How the hell did I forget my i-pod?! That is just inexcusable! Oh well, I'm just going to make Wilson bring this stuff (and all of the forgotten items that will continue to pop up over the next couple weeks) to Chicago. I think I can survive until then.

In running news, the fitness center in my hotel is DEFINITELY not an option for running. It would seem that there is NO A/C in the 12 x 8 room they call the "fitness center". I went in there earlier today to check it out and (hopefully) get my 12-mile long run in. Considering it was 90 degrees today with a "real feel" of 103, I knew running outside wasn't going to work . . . especially since I'm still trying to figure out WHERE to run around here. Anyway, I entered the fitness center to find a treadmill from about 1985, a decrepit stationary bike and a dusty stair stepper. I hopped on the 'mill and started running, and was SOAKED within about 10 minutes. It was basically just as hot and humid in there as it was outside, which was a huge disappointment. I was so uncomfortable that I bailed after just 2 miles. I'm figuring our school facility will be a much better environment in which to 'mill . . . thus, I'm postponing the run until tomorrow afternoon (we get done with class at 3, so I'll have plenty of time to run afterwards). Desperate times call for desperate measures, yo!

Also, I don't want to jinx anything, but I checked the 15-day forecast today, and the Chicago weather for race-day looks like this:

Sunday, Oct 11
High: 54 RealFeel: 52
Clouds and Sunshine


Finally, I promised Beka over at Fair Weather Runner that I would write her a haiku on my blog in order to earn an extra entry into her AMAAAAZING race training kit giveaway going on right now (check it out here! You have until Friday to enter!). So without further adieu . . .

The Leaves of Autumn
Calling You To Chicago
Beef Will Be Consumed


The Laminator said...

Wow! That is quite an adventure, Irish, and classes hasn't even started yet?! This is going to be a fun few months for you...

Running and living said...

Oh, forgetting the Garmin. Man, that's tough! Have a blast over there and taper up...Chicago in 2 weeks? Crazy! As far as the mental toughness part, it comes with practice I think. Small successes breed more confidence which enable more risk taking, more mental toughness, and so on. It;s a work in progress for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Spirit Airlines?? Never heard of them, but definitely steering clear of that any time soon....

how do you even Travel w/o the iPod? mine is always one! always always, love my music. at least you'll get it back soon though :) I can't believe Chicago is coming up so soon!

good luck with the first day of classes tomorrow!

Morgan said...

Welcome to Hades... I mean Orlando where it's a billion degrees all the time...

Spike said...

Super Wal-Mart...really, what's so super about it?

All things considering, sounds like a good move.

Also, I skipped the Chicago forecast, I had to, I can't look this early!

Rachel said...

Sounds like you've had quite the trip so far. I've definetly experienced a muggy warm gym before and those are no fun.

After reading your post--I've also realized that I'm going to miss warmer weather and sunshine. Yesterday was our first day of fall weather--and today it is a mere 50 degrees. So not ready for the descent!!

Hope the weather stays nice for Chicago!

Marlene said...

Oh man, that does not sound like a good day traveling. I hope things improve and that you can figure out somewhere to run.

The forecast looks FANTASTIC!

lindsay said...

love the travel/walmart stories :) welcome to the rest of the world! lol about your fellow classmates. yes, you are a senior citizen..... riiight.

i know the feeling on crappy hotel "gyms". love those old treadmills and NO A/C. seriously, what were they thinking? hope all is settling well!

sRod said...

What a trek to get to Orlando! Glad that you made it in one piece and really proud for you doing this on your own.

Can't wait to hear about Chicago!