Saturday, March 29, 2008

Running Just to Run

Two weeks ago, Jodie and I demonstrated the utility of flying on a trip down to Virginia Beach. Jodie is a runner. For the last few years, she and a friend who also enjoys running have moved from job to job together. This year, Jodie, Meg, and Nick, Meg's husband, decided to run a half marathon (13.1 miles) together in Virginia Beach on St. Patrick's Day weekend.

Virginia Beach is southeast of Hampton, where I've driven and flown to recently for work. The closest airport is Norfolk International Airport, which is serviced by Southwest Airlines, Continental, and several others.

Jodie and I took the Cardinal, while Nick and Meg drove. Our time in the air was about an hour and ten minutes. It was beautiful. The sun was shining and there were little puffs of clouds that we dodged. It was so peaceful that Jodie fell asleep. Or maybe it was just the thinner air at altitude....? (Just kidding!)

We landed ahead of a Southwest 737. While we taxied the plane to parking, we called for a . . . taxi. Jodie and I arrived at the hotel, had some lunch, and waited for Nick and Meg to arrive. They had begun the drive earlier in the day, but traffic made their trip about five hours long. Ugh. I've made that same drive with similar problems, so I can sympathize.

Jodie ran the race early Sunday morning and finished with a great time of 1 hour, 52 minutes, 12 seconds, her personal best so far.

We had lunch with Nick and Meg, got a late checkout, and were dropped at the airport around 1pm. The morning had been cold, rainy, and windy. While the rain had gone away, it was still windy and the clouds were low, so Jodie and I sat around in the plush leather pilot's lounge and waited for the clouds to lift as forecast.

We took off around 3 and headed north, taking note of the naval base and aircraft carriers off our left.

A stiff headwind increased as we headed north. About halfway home, there was a sudden jolt of turbulence. Between there and home, the ride was bumpy. The lack of a smooth ride didn't prevent us from picking out beautiful places to live along the Chesapeake Bay, though.

When we got close to Gaithersburg, I listened to the weather report. The first time I listened, the winds were variable from 320 to 020 at 21 knots gusting to 28 knots. I entered a 45-degree track to join the downwind for Runway 32. The airplane's crab angle was extreme, and while the airspeed showed 110 knots, our groundspeed was only about 85 knots. I listened to the weather again, and the wind was reported as being from 350 at 18 knots, gusting to 28 knots.

When we lined up on final approach, it seemed to take us forever to get close to the runway because the headwind was so strong. I told Jodie that we might have to go around and approach the runway a couple times before I was comfortable landing, which seemed to make her a little nervous. Fortunately, though, the first approach worked beautifully and we landed gently.

With the headwind, our flight time was about an hour and 40 minutes. We found out later that Nick and Meg had hit traffic again and it had taken them more than five hours to get home.

Overall, it was a great, fun trip, and Jodie definitely succeeded at her run. I'm really looking forward to our next weekend away. Here's a little video summary:


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1 Comments:

Blogger Amy said...

The blog bar has been raised!! I love your video. Way cool...

1:04 PM  

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