12 Half Marathons & 1 Full Marathon later, the quest goes on.
"What you seek is seeking you." - Rumi
"What you seek is seeking you." - Rumi
So, I have been traveling by myself to run races, and I feel compelled to talk about what happens when an adventure beckons, and when someone like me heeds the call.
Traveling to Oklahoma for my very first full marathon:
My flight was delayed by 9 hours because of a torrential downpour and the ensuing floods. I spent almost 12 hours at the airport from 6 am to 6 pm, which would have been absolutely insanity personified, if it weren't for this wonderful library book: "Death be not proud by John Gunther". Regardless, I still had my mayhem filled madman like moments. I almost bawled my eyes out, and tore my hair in despair because the flight delay meant I couldn't reach in time to collect my BIB, and I couldn't run a race without the official BIB.
"Please, I have a race to run. I need to be there at the earliest possible time. Help me.", I frantically pleaded my case with the airline personnel. Her laconic reply was that the earliest flight would get me there by 7:30 pm. I was in total shock, and quite mad.
I called up one of the runners from my running group, and left a Facebook message, asking her to collect my BIB since she was also running at this event. I messaged a friend that we might have to drive out to Oklahoma despite warnings of an impending storm, and hoped the rain wouldn't kill us. I messaged the race organizers asking if I could get my BIB after 5 pm. I called someone else from the event organizing team, and she said she couldn't help. All I could do for an hour was wait, and hope, and tear up and curse. Thankfully, my running pal was able to collect my BIB, and she was kind enough to drop it off at my hotel. She saved the day, totally. The race organizer was also kind enough to respond to my email that I could collect the BIB from her hotel until 11 pm that night. In retrospect, I know, one way or the other, I would have made it to the race because it mattered more than anything else at the time.
I did finish three quarters of a wonderful book at the airport, which was the only good thing about being stuck out there.
Traveling to Rockford, Illinois:
It was freezing cold, raining hard and a grey day. And, because I hadn't checked the weather, and had been under the illusion that it would be summer, I was drenched completely, marching on the streets of Chicago downtown, chilled to my very core. I shivered, my hands had gone numb, my head had begun to throb, and my phone battery was almost dead. So, I spent an excruciating hour in a mall trying to find a cheap sweatshirt, and a reasonably priced portable charger.
I got mugged at the parking station in downtown, cant say in broad daylight because it was overcast as hell. A man pretending to be the parking attendant asked me to pay him 15 dollars, took my parking ticket and blissfully disappeared. I was stuck in the lot, and no one was around. My phone was about to die, and I was about to start crying. At that very instant, thankfully, the actual parking attendant drove in, a lady who empathized with my situation, apologized and swiped her card to let me out of the parking lot. I was partially soaked, cold, and totally overwrought as I gripped the steering wheel of my car, and drove on. I plugged in my GPS and drove for 2 hours through a godforsaken farmland kind of creepy place with very minimal cars. Again, I was thankful that it was summer, and it didn't get dark until 8:30 pm, else I probably would have lost my mind driving in the dark through that strange land.
At the hotel, my room door wouldn't budge open. So, I had to trudge back through the long, winding corridor, and had to follow a repair personnel to my room to have the issue fixed. I was unhappy and annoyed because for safety reasons I prefer to be as inconspicuous as possible.
My hotel room was at the end of a long corridor, and there was a door that separated the entire corridor from my room. Why were these doors out here, condemning me to the other side? That was not the only thing strange. Beyond my room laid a passage of stairs leading down to a maintenance room and a laundry room. What was the point of separating my room and the notorious stairs from the rest of the hotel? Geometrically and architecturally, shouldn't the doors be after my room? In my imagination, I thought I was going to be eaten alive by whatever creature they bred down those stairs. I asked the receptionist if she could change my room, and she refused saying all the rooms were already taken. I told myself I would try to stay awake to keep vigil and ensure my safety, but I was so exhausted from the adventure of the day, and from the mere 2 hours sleep the previous night that I slept off soon enough.
And, finally, because I needed google maps to navigate me through the labyrinth of downtown Chicago, and because I was dumb enough to hold my phone out in the rain, it stopped working a month later.
Traveling to Chicago:
I almost missed my early morning flight, but thankfully an airport personnel pointed me to the lightly populated section of the airport, and I made it with enough time to spare.
I got lost while returning from the race. Google maps had thoroughly confused me, and I kept driving round in circles in the concrete maze that is the Chicago downtown. It was unpleasant and annoying, to say the very least.
I almost missed my return flight. I was sitting at the wrong gate, and had the flight not been delayed, I would have never made it to the right gate, and would have missed my flight. I am not sure why I had goofed up, or had been harebrained enough to be at the wrong place.
Traveling to Roswell, Georgia:
By the time, I reached the race venue, all parking spots were taken, and as I was backing out of the crowded lot, thankfully, a maintenance truck was pulling out of a spot, and I quickly parked in its place. If it hadn't been for this stroke of luck, I wouldn't have been able to run this race because I wouldn't have had the time to find a parking spot, and to get my BIB before the race began.
Traveling to Birmingham, Alabama:
I lucked out, and except for being lost once while driving to my hotel at night, and freaking out elaborately for a couple of minutes, everything went smoothly.
The story so far
I was born athletic and running called out to me as a young kid. So, being a runner, is my way of staying true to who I am and bringing meaning, love, joy, adventure and peace into my life.