Hot! Endurance Traveling

It’s race time in Arizona. In the past few weeks my friends have spent 24 hours riding their bikes in very long loops in Tucson, run in relay teams from Prescott to Phoenix, rocked and rolled through marathons and gotten muddy in army-style obstacle courses.

Every weekend, there is some crazy way to be out in our equally crazy spring-in-February weather. So what’s a traveler to do when the best place to be is her own back yard? Take a day off for the traveling equivalent of endurance racing – the 24-hour Mileage Run.

For a frequent flier like me, a mileage run is a way to maintain elite flier status – and the perks that come with it. The combination of free baggage, skipping to the head of security lines, priority boarding and complimentary upgrades are easy to get used to, and hard to give up. They just require logging 25,000 miles a year with a single airline.

My big trip and a few weekenders get me close every year, but I usually have to keep my eye on fare deals to get me over the top. And those deals are typically in off-season months like January, February and October.

This year, in a fit of organization, I planned my run early. But not wanting to give up any more of the Arizona spring than I had to, I went for a one-day / mid-week push to Boston. Flying midnight red-eye to East Coast night flight, I would have a 9-hour layover in Beantown and be there and back in just one calendar day.

There are a lot of potential pitfalls to traveling this time of year. While it is beautiful in Arizona, it’s still winter everywhere else. Unpredictable weather can cause unpredictable delays. It can also mean a layover of bar-hopping rather than neighborhood walking.

Luck was on my side for the skies, but not for the airplanes themselves. Both in and outbound flights were delayed by hours with mechanical problems. My 9-hour layover shrunk to 7.5. I returned to Phoenix in the wee hours of the next day.

As with my running and riding friends, my body is now in endurance recovery. I am dehydrated from a 24-hour diet of chowder, coffee and beer. My knees and back ache from the double whammy of walking a city then sitting in a small place for hours. I am not quite sure what day it is.

And just like my friends, I shake my head in disbelieve over what I’ve done but still have a sly smirk on my face. Riding, running, traveling. These are our passions, and sometimes – as crazy as it may be to the others – it is fun to see just what is possible.

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