March 26, 2011

Night Before the Race: National Marathon

This post is about my day on Friday, 3/25. I was too consumed with getting as much sleep as possible for the race to write/post this at the end of the night!

Thursday night, I dosed up on the last of my medication and then went to bed at 8:30pm. Since I was working from “home” (i.e., my hotel room) on Friday and because I was skipping my usual morning workout due to being sick, I wouldn’t have to wake up until 8am – yippee! But I still wanted as much rest as possible. I was getting really scared about pacing on Saturday, since I’ve been so wiped out all week. How on earth was I going to lead a pack of runners through a marathon on Saturday?

I woke up on Friday feeling surprisingly good, though – perhaps the meds had worked! I knew the true test would be once I actually went outside (to see if my nose started running), but for the morning, I got a lot of work done and was pleased to find that I had plenty of energy to do it.

Around 11am, I headed into the office to turn in my laptop – it needed to be reimaged due to some technical problems that were causing it to crash all the time. I had spoken with IT earlier in the week to arrange this tradeoff, and was shocked to find that despite the fact that my company is a huge professional services firm with hundreds of thousands of employees, they had absolutely no loaner laptops or even workstations in the office where I could continue to work for the afternoon! Given that absolutely all of my work is done on a computer, losing it to IT for the afternoon meant that I was totally out of commission for work for the afternoon as well. I cleared this with my boss and my clients, but still… kind of ridiculous.

On the bright side, this meant I got to spend the afternoon showing my mom around DC! We didn’t have any specific tours planned, but we enjoyed the cold but sunny day as we walked around and checked out the beautiful cherry blossoms everywhere.

Around 4pm, we swung by my office to pick up my laptop, which was deemed in good working order. The technician reminded me that while they had restored all my documents, I’d need to reinstall any programs that didn’t come with the main company build, but otherwise, I was back in business. My mom and I headed back to the hotel, her to nap and me to check on work and get my computer all up to snuff.

Right away, I had a problem. To log in to email and any other company tools, I needed to sign into the VPN. Our VPN requires a PIN in addition to the regular username/password, and my PIN wasn’t working. It was nearing 5pm, and I knew that on a Friday, staff might be going home early, so I quickly called back to the IT desk to see how to fix this. Turns out, the technician had changed my PIN, but didn’t know what he had changed it to! Lovely. After talking with a few technicians in the office, all of whom were itching to go home, they told me that I would need to call our 800 IT number for support, and that hopefully they could fix it. Alrighty then…

At this point, I think the it’s time for a little “IM break,” where I’ll share a conversation I had with one of my coworkers:

Me: tech support story of the day!
Colleague: please share
Me: I had my computer reimaged, and in the process, they changed my PIN for the VPN. However, they did not write down what they changed the PIN to, so now I am on the phone with IT
Colleague: oh yes – happened to me too. you MUST go into the office to fix it
Me: they told me they can NetMeeting into my computer to drop the PIN onto my desktop
Me: but we tried connecting and they told me I have to start by logging in
Colleague: ROFL
Colleague: when they did this to me they just said to come into the office
Colleague: I told them I’M NEVER in the office – maybe once a quarter. So then they wanted me to ship my laptop – told me 5-8 days to turn it around. I finally flew to San Fran – and had them fix it there. Only lost 1/2 day of productivity

I couldn’t believe this – it would not do at all for me to have to go to my office in New York on Monday, when I was supposed to be at my client in DC. I kept talking to the tech I had on the phone, hoping we could come up with a solution. I started by asking him the obvious: to either tell me the PIN over the phone (after getting appropriate verification that I was who I said I was), or email it to my personal Gmail (since I did not have access to my work email). He told me that he couldn’t do that, so we went through false solution after false solution where he’d have me download various password reset programs, and then tell me to start by logging in, which I obviously couldn’t do. 45 minutes later, he said “well, I guess as a last resort, we can try having me send you the password to your gmail.” Um, YES! That was what I had been asking for all along!

But even that wasn’t without its problems. Namely, the fact that while my work email is, and my gmail is, the technician could not get the correct spelling of my last name to send to my Gmail address. (In fairness, my last name is really long and complicated… but when he couldn’t get it after I said “it’s the same as my company email,” I was confounded.) Did he think I got creative with the spelling of my last name for my gmail account? Because lots of people go by “Smith” at work and “Smyth” on Gmail, I guess. Finally, finally he got it right and sent me my password, and I was actually good to go.

On the plus side, all that time spent on hold with IT and a laptop that wouldn’t access work functions gave me time to do something that Adam has been trying to get me to do for a while: join Twitter! Check me out and follow me… right now I don’t quite know what I’m doing, so there are a lot of very random updates. But hey, on the days when I don’t have time/content to write a full blog post, you can now check out some of my random musings in the sidebar on the right.

On the minus, it was now 7pm… mom and I needed to scramble to grab dinner so I could still get a good night’s sleep before getting up at 4:45am to get to the race! I had planned to take her to Vapiano’s, a cute little Italian restaurant/bar I liked, but by that hour it was absolutely packed and way too loud for our taste, so we headed around the corner to Luigi’s, a casual Italian restaurant that served me a big pile of linguini, marinara sauce, and calamari. YUM! Despite that massive amount of food, I still cleaned my plate… gotta fuel up for the race!

It was 9pm when we headed back to the hotel, and I laid out my stuff in a hurry. I had wanted to go to bed by 8:30pm, so I was running a bit behind, but it didn’t take me too long to lay out my race gear and set a few alarms. One more sleep till the race! I hoped it was a curative one.


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