Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dat's some MAINE MILEAGE girlllll

Apparently I am a cursed traveller. Perhaps *some* of the events of my Montreal trip were partially my fault, but my latest adventure leaves everyone to blame but myself. I SWEAR.

I was set to go to the exciting town of Lewiston, Maine for a research conference from Sunday to Friday. I arrived at the airport an entire 1hr45min early - PLENTY of time in Coolis land. Apparently, however, in anal airport land it's equivalent to arriving at Porter 20min before your scheduled flight. I ended up waiting in a never-ending customs line for over an hour (at the end of which, the official asked if I was old enough to attend a conference. With my passport in hand. WTF?!). I was left with a mere 30 minutes to get through security and onto my plane. Another lineup later, security demanded I take my shoes off - my 'shoes' being flimsy flip-flops, the only footwear that fails to encumber my painful conglomerate of plantar warts, blisters and missing toenails. I'm not sure exactly what happened to whoever was in line in front of me (and I don't think I really want to know), since the end result was a trail of blooding on the floor leading through the scanner and onto the other side. ' want me to walk through this? Barefoot?' I asked timidly. 'YES.' He looked down. 'One second,' He signalled to someone with a tissue to come and wipe up the small pools of blood, as if THAT would properly sanitize the area and eliminate any risk of contracting some contagious disease! (As someone later astutely pointed out, it was far worse for the person behind me, who would undoubtedly emerge from security with bloodstained feet AND a fresh set of plantar warts. Duly noted.) Since I was too scared of the big burly man and too anxious about missing my flight, I hopped around the blood-ridden areas and through the scanner and grabbed my sandals, just as I heard an announcement 'paging passenger COOLIS to flight 3792 with service to Washington, DC, this the final boarding call. Your luggage is subject to removal from the aircraft if you do not show up at the gate in two minutes.' I flew down the escalators, suddenly realizing I had to pee more than I've ever had to in my life. I debated stopping at the washroom, convincing myself that I could be in and out in 45s and still make my flight. Fortunately I decided against it and instead strained to run as fast as I could down the corridor without compromising my bladder control. I got to the gate with seconds to spare, legs crossed like an un-potty-trained puppy, and was ushered down the chute to the aircraft. At this point I continued sprinting down the aisle toward the washroom, carry-on bag in hand. I am sure all the passengers feared I was some crazy terrorist fleeing to the back of the plane to set off a bomb - why else would I continue on with my frantic sprint?! Alas, to everyone's relief (but mostly mine) I soon exited the washroom and settled into my seat, avoiding the curious stares around me. The man sitting beside me turned to me and asked simply 'are you a runner?'. I nodded, and we were off.

Ironically, it didn't really matter that I made this flight, since my next flight was delayed for SIX HOURS in Washington. First, the plane was 30min late. Then, the crew disappeared. How does an airline crew DISAPPEAR? I wondered if it was possible they could get lost in the airport. I pictured them wandering around aimlessly, unable to find their next departure gate. I understand that airports can be large, confusing places, but really, that's like me getting lost in the lab. Do doctors get lost in the hospital? Does Obama get lost in the Whitehouse? The situation didn't seem to make much sense. We were then updated that the crew simply flew somewhere else. Ooohhh I see, so they were so confused they got on the wrong plane? And it took off? Our flight nearly got cancelled, until at 10pm they announced that we'd be getting a new plane and new crew members, 'and we'll see about your luggage.' 'SEE' about our luggage? WHAT? So the crew flew off in our plane, with our luggage? Did they just forget to board the plane? Is this what they were trying to admit to us? I was at a loss at this point. Apparently the woman working at the gate couldn't take the stress of 100 passengers asking her what the hell was going on, so she left too. Awesome. Soon after this, the phone at the gate started ringing. Naturally, some random dude on our flight got up and answered it. 'Gate D14 speaking,' he said a-matter-of-factly. At this point there was a chorus of laughter - at least people were finding some hilarity in the situation. I, meanwhile, had already started to blog about it and had been giggling uncontrollably to myself in the corner for the last two hours (this is what happens while I am writing blogs). They notified us of a futher delay and went back to their initial prediction of a cancelled flight. Then the phone rang again. 'This had better be fantastic news' was the greeting this time around. The man got off the phone and yelled to everyone 'WE'RE MOVING! NEW DEPARTURE GATE, WE'RE GOING TO GATE A PEOPLE!' Well glad we had some responsible patrons that were taking control of the airline communication! Finally - and I mean FINALLY - after we waited another 30min for the last crew member to arrive - we were on our way to Portland. We landed at 1AM and fortunately so did our bags. I ended this amazing trip with a 1-hour cab ride to Lewiston, where I would be staying for the next 5 days.

Bates College campus

Some would say this conference is a pretty big deal. At least, the people attending think they're a big deal. And I guess most of them are. So of course I am rooming next to professors from all over the world who have discovered some critical gene in cancer and who have probably cured one form of the disease or another. And it's my first time meeting them. So what do I do on the first day to impress them? Well, let me tell you! Of course I was running twice a day on this trip, squeezing in 12-milers before and after talks. So I got back from a run, left my room to take a shower, and returned wearing a skimpy towel and unruly hair only to discover that I had forgotten my key and was locked out. I paused and looked around, wondering what my options were. Walk to the security office (one block away) in nothing but a towel, and ask them to let me in? Try and scale the walls of the dormroom and enter via the window? Or ask some random person to call security for me? Just as I was about to leave the building and take my chances being seeing half-nude on the street, one of the professors from the conference turned the corner and jumped at the sight of me. I looked down in embarassment. 'Umm...I got locked out of my room,' I admitted shamefully. She looked at me sternly. 'Well, that's unfortunate! Where on earth were you intending on going in THAT?!' 'Uh. Security?' I responded innocently. 'Let me call the office, and I'll get security down here,' she continued, 'I'm on my way to meet someone, but I'll get someone sent over. What's your name?' I debated giving her a fake name, but realized that wouldn't help me any, so gave her my real identity. 'Are you one of the dancers here?' What? I thought to myself. This is just great. Not only do I come across as a complete idiot, but a hooker as well. That's just awesome. 'Um no I'm with the conference,' I answered, a little more firmly this time. 'REALLY?!' She could not hide her surprise. 'How old are you?!' Once again, I had to convince her that I was actually 10 years older than she thought I was. Luckily, after this she was much friendlier to me, and actually went to security and got them to come back and let me in. So now when my supervisor asks me if I met Adrienne Cox, a speaker at the conference, I can tell him that we actually had quite an intimate encounter, where she saw me half nude and mistook me for an exotic dancer. Nice.

The scientists I normally hang out with. Kinda laid back.

I later found out that it wasn't SO bad - it turns out there was a dance camp going on at the same time as the conference so at all the meals, half the room was filled with flamboyantly-dressed, loud and colourful young dancers and the other half with conservative, quiet and pensive scientists. It was quite an interesting clash of personalities. I actually seemed to fit in better with the dancers and ate a couple meals with them. They were an entertaining bunch. I especially enjoyed the one girl who was told by her instructor to get a new weave. I don't think she liked this idea: Girrrrl, 'I ain't gettin' no Maine weave! Who she tryin' to fool makin' me get some weave in Maine, yo they be messin' with yo hair down here. Girrrrrrl!'

As per usual, I digress. And of course with all the stories I have from this trip, I have neglected anything about my actual training! This week was supposed to be a low-intensity week with no workouts and plain 'ol mileage. I did doubles most days and reached a record mileage over 6 days of 128 miles. Although they were relatively un-intense miles, they weren't easy, as the small town of Lewiston was annoyingly hilly. At least they warned you with clear street names, such as 'Mountain Avenue,' (straight uphill), 'Big Road,' and my personal favourite - a near complete vertical road called 'OLD BLOODY HILL ROAD.' Amen! Why can't Toronto have such honest names? It would make for a much more entertaining tour of the city. Like 'Longest Street' instead of Yonge Street...'Rich Avenue' in place of Yorkville but mainly I'd way rather live on 'Money Road' instead of Bay Street. I mean, who wouldn't?!

So accurate

They also like to point out how big their houses are

Lookin' forward to a down week this week, capped off with the Acura 10-miler. Should be a great race with lotsa speedsters headin' down!


  1. You've officially made me paranoid about my upcoming flights to NYC, transferring to London Heathrow! Flying Porter, then Delta, the latter of which has a spotty reputation. I'm thinking I arrive at Porter a good 3 hours early, just to make them happy!

    At least you got your workouts in, half naked or not. I'm often mistaken for a dancer myself due to my elegant nature (read: I definitely do not). Good luck with the Acura 10 miler prep!

  2. Oh dear, that does sound like a recipe for disaster! Delta is awful!Porter should be ok providing you give it at least 30min ;)... unfortunately there's not much you can do to control stopovers. I wish you the best of luck in your quest to London.

  3. Great run yesterday! Looking forward to your Acura 10-miler race report :)