I could have been struggling to find non-cheesy carbs at the Chicago airport last night… but I was drinking beers on Stone Street with Boyfriend and his coworkers.
I could have been at the starting line in South Dakota with my adrenaline flowing… but I was in my bed in New York, sound asleep with the melatonin flowing.
I could have been sucking down a vanilla orange Gu Roctane at a water stop… but I was eating french toast bites infused with apricot brandy tea and topped with vanilla creme anglaise at Alice’s Tea Cup.
I could have been racing to the finish line so I would make my return flight… but I was strolling through Central Park with Boyfriend with no plans until Sunday morning.
So what happened?
Surprisingly, this wasn’t a non-rev flight; this was a confirmed ticket on United, going from LGA to ORD to FSD (Sioux City, SD). Because it was confirmed, it never even occurred to me that I might not make it. Unfortunately, weather in Chicago created ATC delays that meant my flight was going to be 2.5 hours late, which meant I would almost defniitely miss my 1.5 hour connection. The guy at the ticket counter told me that there was a chance that my connecting flight might also be delayed, but that if I canceled the trip now, they’d refund the ticket, whereas once I got on the flight to Chicago, there would be no refund if I missed my connection. If I missed it, the best they could do would be to put me on the next connecting flight, which would get me to South Dakota at noon on Saturday… 5 hours after the marathon started and only 1 hour before my return flight was supposed to depart.
I debated gambling on the connecting flight being delayed too, but in the end, I opted to cancel my trip and take the flight refund. I lost out on my marathon entry fee, but the race director was nice enough to offer free registration next year. I was pretty bummed, especially when I looked at the race results and found that I would have taken second place in my age group.
On the bright side, I got to spend some quality time with Boyfriend. Also on the bright side, I didn’t have to kill myself trying to get to the finish with enough time to catch my return flight that I had scheduled way too early. This also means I’ll have fresh legs for Vermont next weekend, so I don’t need to stress as much about being a pacer. On fresh legs, I know I can do it.
I felt that I handled the situation well, trying to look on the sunny side of a disappointing experience. While I really wasn’t expecting anything to go wrong with this particular trip, I’ve been starting to prepare myself for the fact that flying non-rev/standby means there’s a chance I won’t get to my destination, and that I need to be flexible. I may lose an entry fee here or there, but I think it’s a small price to pay for free flights to marathons.
Maybe I’m on my way back to being the eternal optimist I used to be? That would be nice 🙂