Tuesday, December 30, 2014

OoRAH!

As previously blogged, Achilles International invited me to race on the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans in the Marine Corps Marathon. This is the result - long delayed because of other issues:

Friday, October 24th, I flew out of ECP on my way to Washington, D.C. - Delta Airlines got off to a bad start.

6 weeks previously, I had called and let Delta know that I was flying with a wheelchair and a racing chair. It was all set - help would be available and the chairs fly free.

No help was available at ECP; at first they said the racing chair was too large to fly - even though the same chair flies on the same class airplane all the time; the cargo supervisor came.in, took one look and said, "no problem"; then they tried to say I would have to pay $150 to fly the chair on each leg - $300 to D.C.; when I said it was supposed to fly free, they got snooty; they said there was no information about the fee being waived - I pointed out they said it flew free, so there was no fee to waive; it started to go downhill, until I insisted they contact the CRO at Delta's headquarters; suddenly, they said they would do me a favor and waive the fees.

They convinced me to check my own wheelchair ... unfortunately. More on this later.

The Delta supervisor came to my loading gate, and told me he had upgraded my seat. I guess he had a guilty conscious, because he had stood nearby while the whole brewup over the racing chair went on and said nothing.

Boarded with no problems, and it was a nice seat - aisle and nothing in front of me, so I could stretch out my booted foot.

ATL is a quick flight, but you lose an hour because of the time zone change.

The Delta wheelchairs in ATL SMB! They have no padding and hard cushions. On top of that, I got the bum's rush from one arrival gate to my departure gate ... Then they left me. It was a layover of a couple of hours. It would have been nice to be able to get around by myself so I could grab a bite to eat. I eventually got a push down to T.G.I. Friday's and got a nice lunch, but ... SMB Delta.

Lunch and a little pood forn.

I started off with Pretzel Bread and Craft Beer Cheese Dip


 Then on to a Jack Daniels glazed Sirloin with Spinach and Sweet Potato Fries


I then had to head back to the loading gate - it was getting close to flight time.

No luck getting a better seat, but they did move me closer to the door. An uneventful flight to Reagan National ... and the wheelchair waiting for me was better than the ones at ATL - but not by much.

Achilles was to meet me at Reagan, but no one was in sight. A quick phone call, and I found out they were at Reagan loading another Veteran, and would be over momentarily to pick me up.

Lots of help getting me and my chairs loaded, then off to the Holiday Inn Rosslyn - my home for the next 3+ days.

The room was fantastic!
Achilles was to meet me at Reagan, but no one was in site. A quick phone call, and I found out they were at Reagan loading another Veteran, and would be over momentarily to pick me up.

Lots of help getting me and my chairs loaded, then off to the Holiday Inn Rosslyn - my home for the next 3+ days.

The room was fantastic!
Achilles was to meet me at Reagan, but no one was in site. A quick phone call, and I found out they were at Reagan loading another Veteran, and would be over momentarily to pick me up.

Lots of help getting me and my chairs loaded, then off to the Holiday Inn Rosslyn - my home for the next 3+ days.

The room was fantastic and there was A little swag from Achilles waiting for me ...


 and some relief after a long day ...



 Pizza Party for dinner  ... and a good nights rest, because ...

Zero Dark:30 the next morning ...


 At the Starting Line ... along with 139 other racing chairs!


 The course has a lot of hills - not bad hills, but MUCH worse than any I can train on in relatively flat Florida. My right are was REALLY complaining by the time I hit the finish line!

And a shot with a Marine after I finished - finished FIRST in my age group in the handcycle division!



It's all about the Bling!


Up early the next morning to catch my flight home ...

Achilles had phoned ahead, and each of us had a personal escort through check-in and TSA! None of the SMB like I had at ECP! Not even a question about the racing chair flying free - of course it does ... that's your mobility! I did NOT check my personal wheelchair this time - ATL had taught me that lesson. TSA was a breeze. A couple of swabs, and off we went to the loading gate - where I had a bit of a wait, but a LOT of people were impressed with the Marine Corps Marathon shirt and that I had 'ran' it in a racing chair.

Nice flight to ATL. They shuffled me to my next gate in MY comfy cushioned wheelchair, and I could get myself around to grab a snack before my next flight.

Flight to ECP was no problem and they took me and my racing chair out to my car and got everything loaded. Maybe someone had had some words with ECP ...

The drive home was uneventful, and as much as I hate bed rest, I was glad to see my own bed!

Worth repeating - A little hindsight - the hills were VERY rough on me. Not that they are that high, but they are steeper than any around here. I had to put a lot more stress on my arms and shoulders than normal.