Tours are exciting. Tours make me nervous. Public speaking doesn't come easy, but I love the challenge.
Easy 11am departure from DIA and I even scored a close parking spot. There was no line at the check in counter and the clerk checked my bag through for free. The security line was a breeze and I was at my gate with 40 minutes to spare. Unfortunately that is where I sat for the next 5 hours. We did board the plane on time, but then due to "something" that showed during a safety check we were told to sit tight for additional inspections. Then we were able exit the plane. Re-board. Then instructed to exit again this time with our belongings. Back to the waiting area. I personally tried to remain calm and read my book. With few notices over the extended time period, around 3pm I noticed a line building at the gate. I rose to inquire and found out they had canceled the flight. I took my turn in line and by the time I got to the desk I was given the last seat on the 4:40pm flight to Toronto and a connecting flight to Montreal, leaving at midnight putting me to my destination 11 1/2 hours after I was supposed to arrive. The last question I asked before boarding that flight to Toronto was, will my luggage make it?
I arrived in Montreal, sans luggage. My saga continued with by my pre-paid hotel room not being available when I arrived at 3am in the morning. Maybe it was my unlucky day. But somehow I was laughing when the hotel clerk told me about my room and asked if I could sleep on the lobby couch. They covered me in a room at the Sheraton around the corner.
A whirlwind tour ensued, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. Speaking in each city to crowds of 50 to 500 people. All without luggage and without any assurance from Air Canada as to where my luggage was or when it would arrive. But we made the most of it. My gracious host, Pierre, allowed me to sleep in and picked me up to enjoy brunch with the buyers of La Cordee. Afterwards we stopped by the store for a sneak peak. I hope to return, see more of Montreal and have the opportunity to interact with the running community there.
We made the two hour drive to Ottawa and jumped right into the preparation of the Bushtukah SWEET womens night. 470+ women filled the room, did some shopping, enjoyed snacks and sweets and then gathered for the remainder of the fun evening. Fashion shows and raffle prizes kicked off the event. I was the first of two speakers to present to the large group. It was awesome and a bit intimidating to stand in front of such a crowd and speak to my passion. I realized how much I get out of interacting with people and the energy that gives me. I really appreciated the women that stuck around after the event to ask questions and chat. First Endurance had mailed plenty of samples ahead of time that quickly disappeared as the crowd departed.
The next morning we demoed the Patagonia shoes with a few of the Bushtukah staff and customers. A nice tour of Ottawa with a similarly paced group made for a great start to the day. It was nice to move for a few miles before sitting in the car for the five hour drive to Toronto. We arrived in time to check into our hotel and make our way over to the Patagonia store to enjoy dinner with a few of the staff. What a great group! So gracious and enthusiastic about running! They even helped outfit me... after being in the same travel clothes it was nice to change things up a bit. We had a great time with the 50 person crowd that night. Great interaction. Fun stories and questions came up. Raffle prizes are always a bonus and we had plenty thanks to Patagonia and First Endurance.
Brushing my teeth that night I received a call from the front desk, "are you expecting your luggage?". Well, no I wasn't expecting it, I thought it was on its way back to Boulder, but I will come get it. Sure enough the bag I had completely given up on was waiting for me at the front desk. The good news was that I was able to share the Julbo Sunglasses and Pro-Tec product samples with the run crew the next morning. We took advantage of the nice weather and the group took the opportunity to try out the Patagonia Trail running shoes.
With just enough time I jumped in the car with Jason and learned a bit about his project to help protect the Green Belt in Toronto. Turns out 40% of Toronto is covered in canopy and a few groups are working to maintain that as well as protect the trails and waterways that run through. We did about an hour worth of filming, then hurried back to the Patagonia store for a shower and then made the drive to the airport.
Fortunately my flight home was much better. This time I had to pay for my luggage, but the clerk was kind to put me in a exit row for the extra leg room. I was home on time and got to enjoy 7 days in Boulder. In that short time I've run in shorts and a T in 65 degree spring weather and slipped in the slushy snow of winter. The Front Range in April. I don't know that I will ever understand the weather patterns here. What I do know and life keeps teaching me, is that from anything from presentations, to travel, to running, to weather... It is all there and coming at us. It is how we choose to deal with it, hopefully with humor and humility, that makes up the stories we call life.