Training for a ….flight home.

14 Jan

Well, many ambitious people may be making resolutions to train for some type of endurance event in the upcoming year.  A marathon, half-marathon, triathalon…heck, maybe even a fundraising walk.  All of them are admirable.  But, how many of you are training for your next trip through the airport?  I am.  Seriously.  I am.

I have to tell you the story of our flight home for Christmas.  Many of you have heard it but some of you haven’t.  And even though I wanted to drop to my knees and scream in agony at one point, I’m all about looking back at the humor in things.

It started off seemingly fine.  In fact here is a picture of Quinn sleeping on the plane right before take off:

What every parent LOVES to see on the plane...

Well, make that right before we were supposed to take off.  That’s right we sat on the runway for an HOUR AND A HALF!!!!  So all that valuable napping occurred while we were still on the ground.  Eventually we made it into the air and that’s when the fun began.  I won’t bore you with the details of the flight…I mean it’s the same old song and dance.  You know how flights with little ones go…you play, you walk around, you feed them snacks, you pray they’ll go back to sleep, you pray the people sitting next to you don’t hate you, you bank on the fact that you’re kid is cute and charming and wait for the flight attendants to come around and dote on them for a bit, and then REPEAT.  So after several cycles of this and a couple pretty bad airline meals ( I think labeling it “steak” may be a tad ambitious on their part) we land.  Yay!  Except only the half the battle is won so far people.  Technically more than half in terms of flight time, but still there is a long way to go when you consider customs and security and another (albeit short) flight.

Here is where I realized that trying to make a pretty much impossible international connection with a child could be part of the standard firefighter’s physical test.  So, we arrive in Toronto with an hour to make our connection due to the delay leaving Frankfurt.  By the time our baggage actually made it to the carousal it was about 30 minutes.  Ummm, yeah.  Thirty minutes to clear customs (line longer than the line for spray tan at the Arnold Classic) and security, and find our gate (which can be a scavenger hunt in and of itself.)  So what does one do when one realizes the impossibility of the situation?  And one has checked the board and also realizes that the next flight to their destination doesn’t leave for 5 hours?  The answer is simple- pray.  And prepare to run like you’ve never run before.

The cliffnote version is basically that we pleaded, begged, looked pathetic, and used our child as a pity token to get bumped to the front of the line for customs.  I joke but that is where the praying really came into play.  Some airport personnel (not generally known for their overflowing sympathy) actually felt bad for us and did something about it.  Yes, it was a Christmas miracle…no joke.  Even with that ENORMOUS gift we only had 15 minutes til our flight departed and we still had to make it to (and through) security and to the gate.  And since we were international we had ALL our luggage with us til we reached the drop off before security. We looked like fools.

Joe pushed the cart with all our suitcases precariously balanced and I carried Quinn, a backpack, diaper bag and a partridge in a pear tree.  We made it breathless and desperate to the baggage drop off and security point.  A girl from the airline assured us we could still make it and to just “run”.  Again we had great luck by being able to utilize a separate security line for families with small children and despite the typical fumbling awkwardness of removing bags of liquids, taking off shoes, pulling out laptops and doing one handed cartwheels while holding a baby; we were through security relatively quick.  This is where our journey home became part “Amazing Race” and part “Biggest Loser”.  I mean why would gate 246 be near by?  And why wouldn’t you have to have a detailed map to get there?  Let’s just say it involved stairs, split-second decisions about whether to turn right or left, and running an all out sprint while carrying Quinn and a 30 lb back pack.  Joe also had a back pack, the car seat, and a diaper bag.  Oh, and let’s not forget to mention that the “final boarding call for flight…” had long ago been made.  This is where it turned Biggest Loser on me.  I was running, every single fiber of my body was hurting, people were staring and all I could hear was Jillian Michaels in my ear.  “Are you gonna quit Rachael?  So, that’s it- you’re just going to give up?”  I thought “no, no, I won’t quit.  I can do this.”  And then I quit.  Literally I couldn’t take another step.  I yelled to Joe to keep going.  And bless his soul, he did.  He continued on past me with a determination that reminded me of a scrabble challenge from our early dating.  Anyway, not too much behind him ( I hope) I arrived at the gate expecting the worst.  I was fully prepared to hear “plane just left.”  Instead I was met with the “I have so much pity for you right now” look from the women at the gate.  She told us they were waiting and to go ahead down the jetway.  So, ragged and weary we boarded the plane to Columbus.  Granted I sounded like a severe asthmatic in the throws of a life-threatening attack, BUT we were on that plane.  And we were on time.  Hoo-ray.

So, my fitness goals for 2011 are pretty simple: Be able to make it through the airport without feeling like I just ran up 40 flights of steps with a few monster truck tires strapped to my back.

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5 Responses to “Training for a ….flight home.”

  1. Helen January 15, 2011 at 2:07 am #

    Rachael, My heart just went out to you both for everything you guys went through just to come home to see us all. God love you both!! But it was so worth it!! What a wonderful time while you were here! Thank you so much for coming home!!! We all love you guys so much!

    • Rachael January 15, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

      Well don’t feel bad!! We loved being home and seeing everyone!! It was definitely worth it 🙂 It was just an “adventure” to get there!

  2. Shannon January 16, 2011 at 12:58 am #

    I love your blogs. They make me laugh out loud and I hope I never have to see that line at the Arnold Classic 😉

  3. Kim January 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    Seriously…that post about the trip home is priceless. I felt a bit conflicted about laughing about your desperation and despair…but found myself cheering you on as you reached your gate! Love reading your posts. You really are an entertaining writer. Miss you guys!

  4. Kim January 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    and one more thing…i can’t help but think that Quinnie actually was having a ball through all of this excitement…i mean seriously! I’m sure it would beat out any kids ride at EuroDisney! ha haa

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