It would not be proper travel to a triathlon without a few hiccups on the way.
It started in Boston. I had booked my first leg on Jet Blue. It was the cheapest option and who are we kidding, I thought I'd enjoy the personal TV if not for only 40 minutes. This, however, meant that I would have to collect and recheck my baggage upon arrival to JFK. I had figured all of this into the four hour planned layover. My first flight from BOS to New York City's JFK was scheduled to leave at 3:05pm. Of course, as is expected, the flight was delayed to 3:50 by the time I reached the gate. By the time we boarded, it was already after 4. Pushing back from the gate, I thought "thank goodness I gave myself 4 hours to wait in NYC before my flight to Chile". But, the delays were only just the beginning.
Twenty minutes later, one attendant came on to inform us that they had "paperwork" to fill out. Ten minutes later, we were back at the gate, mechanics were on board and they were still filling out mysterious "paperwork". At this point, already after 5pm, I decided to speak with the attendant to find out if the minor delay was really going to turn into a major multi-hour delay. Of course, no one knew the answer so all I could do was wait. We only just got off the ground by 5:45pm.
My planned massive layover at JFK was now going to be nothing, nothing but me running frantically through the airport dragging my bike box and a stuffed to the brim suitcase sweating and cursing at the airlines for making my life so much more difficult than it needed be. Good thing I'm in good shape!!
Landing in NYC at roughly 6:30pm, I rushed off the plane to the baggage claim, praying my bags came off quickly. For once, they did. In the middle of all of this, I made a phone call to my mom to get an idea of where I had to head to check in with LAN. I then ran, outside, across a busy street, through multiple elevators, down and then back up a few escalators and on to the tram to a different terminal so I could attempt to make my LAN flight before the check-in window expired.
I managed to make a friend along the way, who was also late to check-in. He ran ahead to inform them that I was coming. It made no difference though. I watched as the clock hit and speed by 7pm, the deadline to check baggage. I pouted, pleaded, begged, but the man checking me in was stone cold. He said I had two options, get on the original flight and wait in Chile for my bags or wait and take the next flight, 2 hours later. After pretty much no thought, I decided I needed to get on the original flight. Oddly enough, he checked my bags for that flight (as I'm pretty sure they have to) and lo and behold, 11 hours later, after an hour delay on the runway before take-off, a ten hour flight and a meal fiasco, my bags appeared on the claim belt with all of the others.
Leaving the customs terminal, a man, I did not know, walked up to me and greeted me with an outstretched hand. He said, "are you Jenna Shoemaker?" I was not sure how to reply as I was already nervous about being a "gringa" with "pela rubia" in South America. I paused, looked around, and then said "yes". It turned out to be the head of the Chilean Olympic Triathlon Program, so I was in good hands. He took me, and a few other athletes, to the press conference and then to lunch before sending us on our way to Vina.
By the time I arrived in Vina is was 6:30pm. That meant little to me as it was still bright and sunny and I had no idea what timezone I was in relative to Boston. Turns out, we are 2 hours ahead of easy coast time. I went with a few other athletes to a great 50m pool and got in a quick swim, it started out rough but ended fantasically, and then at 9pm went for my short run. Yes, it was still daylight at that point.
More than 24 hours after leaving Boston, I was happy to crawl into bed and to sleep for the night... and this was despite the hotel, which in short (I will write more later), is something straight from a horror movie and could only be made worse if there were actually cockroaches running around it.
More to come from Chile... stay tuned...
I race Sunday at 11:15am Chile time, so 9:15EST!!