Plane Tickets and Pain

Since I last blogged much has happened. To begin with, I bought my plane tickets. What a goat rope that was! There aren’t many carriers that fly into tiny little Kilimanjaro International Airport so my choices were limited. I narrowed my choices down to KLM and Ethiopian Airlines. KLM code shares with Delta so I was able to check flights via the Delta website and actually found a GREAT deal on a flight out of Dulles. It only had one connection through Amsterdam. It also left later in the day which seemed perfect. Sadly, Delta engages in some shady “bait and switch” tactics. For example, once I decided to buy the ticket, I went through the complete booking process including providing my credit card number. When I hit submit, it came back with a message that essentially stated, “Sorry, the price JUST went up. The ticket will now cost…”. The price increase was nearly $500. Not believing my eyes, I decided to try again. Same thing. In disgust, I called the customer service line and spoke to a nice lady in Minneapolis who, unfortunately, couldn’t help me. Needless to say, that soured me against Delta/KLM. It’s just as well though…I’ve read that KLM loses baggage left and right on flights into Kilimanjaro. With Delta/KLM out of the picture, that basically left Ethiopian Airlines. I found a a good deal from Dulles which connects in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. With airfare out of the way, I am now able to focus on other things, which is good.

I forgot to mention that I also booked a safari. My trekking company offered a tour but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted and it was more expensive than what I wanted to pay. I finally settled on Warrior Trails, which is run by a Maasai warrior. They’ve received really good reviews on Tripadvisor and my communication and interaction with them has been great.  I will be on safari for two days in Lake Manyara National Park and Ngorongoro Crater.

The title of this blog is Plane Tickets and Pain. I’ve discussed the plane tickets, now let me explain the pain:

Today was the Star City Half Marathon.  As many know, I’ve been training since August for this. I’ve been a mentor for Fleet Feet and have really enjoyed every minute of it. It was a perfect day for a run but boy was it cold this morning! I don’t remember the last time I was THAT freezing. I think it was around 30 degrees.

Despite the beautiful weather, the run didn’t go as I expected.  On Halloween, a student broke my toe which made training grind to a halt. I was so upset and worried I’d miss the race but luckily my toe healed in time! There’s bad news though: It looks like all that limping took a toll on my legs. Around mile three my knee started hurting on my left leg (the one with the bum toe). I knew immediately that it was my IT band. It increasingly became more painful as I ran and I went from the front of my pack to the back. Going up Avenham was where it all started to fall apart for me. My knee just continued to tighten up and by the time I made it to the top, I had to stop and stretch. My group went ahead (which was great!) but by mile 10 I was starting to have doubts I’d even make it. When I got to mile 11 I stopped to stretch out again. However, when I tried to take off, my knee locked up and wouldn’t even bend. Yikes! I limped and hopped along for about 1/2  mile. At one point, I felt certain there had to be blood in my mouth because the pain was so intense I was biting my tongue to keep from crying/screaming. Far off in the distance, I heard, “Rhonnnnddaa. Rhonnnnnddda”. I thought the pain had gotten so intense that I was just hearing things…a sort of audio mirage, if you will. Turns out it was Nikki! Yah! She came to my rescue and walked/ran with me all the way to the finish line. Now that’s a friend!

The day wasn’t a complete wash though. Despite feeling lots of disappointment, pain, and fear that I may have an injury that will be hard to shake, I learned some things along the way. First of all, I learned that even when something hurts terribly, I have the perseverance needed to reach a goal. This is going to be important when I get to Kilimanjaro. There will no doubt be days that are painful and grueling. But I know that I have what it takes to muscle through pain and reach the summit. Second, the cold this morning really drove home the fact that being near the summit is going to be brutal. I will need to be prepared for that. Today it was 30 degrees but the summit temps can reach 10-20 BELOW zero. Yikes!  Despite my Northern European ancestry, I don’t do well with cold AT ALL. In fact, I think I might be descended from the equatorial Swansons and would be happy to start a colony on the Sun.

So that covers the pain….and I think that’s all I have for now. Next week I plan to buy some gear when I visit REI. I will enthrall you with those details another time though.

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