To say that it takes a long time to get anywhere from South Carolina would certainly be an understatement, but traveling to Missoula, Montana set a new personal marathon travel record for me that I hope is never broken. I am extremely efficient when it comes to travel, and I will go to great lengths to avoid using unnecessary amounts of vacation time at work – to the point of making myself miserable. To get to Missoula and back, it required two full days of travel, so there was no avoiding the pain.
I woke up bright and early on Friday morning, circa 4 am, to drive the two hours over to the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport because, in case you didn’t know, there are no useful airports within a reasonable distance of my house. A 4 am wake up call is miserable regardless, but guess who only caught 2 hours of sleep because their air conditioner broke? Yup. That would be me. This is my life, by the way. This is why I have a blog.
So I headed from Greenville to Chicago (Midway) and somehow managed to restrain myself from eating a piece of cake for breakfast there. On my flight from Greenville, I was sitting next to a woman who was reading a book called “How To Be Found By the Man You’ve Been Looking for.” That title really confused me for some reason. I had to read it about 4 times before it made sense. Anyway, I figure Step #1 for her has to be “stop reading this asinine book.” No one likes people who read self-help books about how to find a man. Girls, if you are reading these books, you need to keep that a secret from the general public. That is all.
The thing that immediately struck me about the Chicago airport was there were massive lines of people waiting for the bathroom. We’re talking lines the size of Best Buy on Black Friday at 3 am. Unfortunately, my life is such a hectic mess at this point that I had forgotten to check into my flight until very late the day before, so I had a late boarding number on Southwest. For those of you who didn’t know, I am extremely claustrophobic. I once made LazyArtistWhoGotTheShaft switch seats with me on our flight to San Diego because I got assigned a middle seat and I immediately started having a panic attack. True story. So of course, as I am boarding the plane, I am frantically scanning for aisle seats and by my calculations there is one left for me. But then an evil troll moved into the seat and just kind of hovered there. Before I even had a chance to ask if she was sitting there, the flight attendant forced me into a middle seat at the back of the plane between two very obese people who were encroaching into my seat. LITERALLY MY NIGHTMARE. And guess what the evil troll was doing? Saving a seat for her 30 year old son who was behind me in line. HATE HATE HATE.
In order to avoid a panic attack, I put my head down on the tray table in front of me with my little travel pillow and did not look up for the entire 3 hour flight. Seriously. I envisioned myself T-Rexing through open meadows and valleys. Too bad the people next to me were constantly touching me because they were in my seat by about 4 inches on either side. I’ll save that for a future edition of T-Rex Rantz.
Finally my nightmare ended and I got off the plane in Salt Lake City. I met Fawn at the rental car counter and we picked up our sweet ride, a Toyota Camry. I told Fawn to search for Missoula in the GPS and off we went, enjoying a very scenic drive through Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. The drive was absolutely gorgeous and we were able to pass some of my favorite places to visit – Yellowstone National Park, the town of West Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, the Grand Tetons, etc. I am such a western U.S. snob. No other part of the country can even come close to it in beauty, but I digress.
Fawn and I chatted away and she took about 25,000 pictures while frequently squealing “It’s so BEAUUUUUUTIFUL! OMG!” So we’ve been driving for about 5 hours and it says we have 40 miles left to go. Now, this whole trip had been very carefully planned in order to get me into Missoula in time to go on the Beer Run on Friday night. It’s a bunch of local Missoula runners, and you go on a tour of the city and then get discounted beers at one of the local breweries. Could there be a more perfect event for me? No. It was to start at 6, and it was looking like we would be arriving in town at about 5:45 – very efficient, like I told you. So with about 40 miles left, we are cruising through Bozeman, and I tell Fawn to go ahead and put the address of the brewery in so we get an exact ETA.
GPS: “You have…two hundred and six…miles until your dest-i-nation.”
NO. NO. NOOOOOOOO!
But yes. Oh yes. Whatever Fawn had entered into the GPS for Missoula actually took us way east, through Bozeman. For those of you not familiar with Montana geography (as I was not), Bozeman is THREE HOURS EAST of Missoula. When we found this out, it was 5 pm. Guess who wasn’t making the Beer Run? As much of an internal hate spiral as I was having, I have to say I feel like I handled it fairly well. I ranted for about 5 minutes and then pretty much let it go, because there was nothing that could be done to fix it except keep driving.
I told my parents, who were in Montana driving around in their RV and were coming to the race, to go ahead and just meet us at the brewery because Baby clearly needed a beer after 16 total hours of travel. I was excited to see that most of the runners were still there, and I immediately found Anders, who got to meet T-Rex Mom and T-Rex Dad and Fawn. Apparently he had been telling all of his friends about me, because he introduced me to quite a few people, including the race director…who was also named Anders. What are the chances, right? As it turns out, there is an odd number of Europeans who lives in Missoula, because it seemed like everyone I talked to had an accent.
Anders #2 was nice enough to chat with us for a bit and told us to make sure and let him know if we had any suggestions for how they can improve for next year. T-Rex Mom immediately jumped in with “Oh, I already have one!”
I feel like I should be past the stage where I get embarrassed by my parents, but apparently that maturity does not extend to my mother’s interactions with race officials. I slowly died inside and then immediately evacuated the area so I didn’t have to hear the suggestion, which turned out to be that they needed a better map for spectators because the one posted on the website was not good enough. T-Rex Mom DOES NOT STINT when it comes to marathon spectating. My races are like her Superbowl. Race directors, you’ve been warned.
So we are all chatting away and I’m talking to Vo, who is from Germany and is in charge of all the Facebook interactions for the marathon. I tell him how my mom is going to run her first 5k in the morning and she chimes in with something about the start location for the race. Vo tells her that that isn’t where the race actually starts, but she insists that it is because that’s what the person at packet pick- up told her. What, do you think, was the end result of this little exchange?
If you guessed it was Vo (a race official) and Rye (the only Marathon Maniac in Missoula) bringing over the GIANT MAP OF THE 5K COURSE and showing her the actual starting line and why where she thought it was was not accurate, then you would be correct. Sigh.
I could have stayed and talked to runners all night, but everyone else was starting to get tired, so we headed back to the hotel. As soon as we got outside the brewery, exhaustion hit me right between the eyes. It was a feeling I remembered well from college. You felt like you had a ton of energy while you were in the bar, then as soon as you walk outside, you basically become a non-functioning drunk person who is demanding pizza and telling your friends how much you love them. I wasn’t drunk, so that didn’t happen, but it is weird how you feel totally different when you leave someplace like that.
We had to be up early anyway because T-Rex Mom was running her FIRST EVER 5k on Saturday. I’m not sure who was more excited about this, her or me, but I think you probably have a pretty good guess.