I'm home! Ok, so I've actually been home for a week, but that is beside the point.
For those who have happened to watch the news at any point this past week, you may have been aware of the massive delays and snowfall that the UK received. Luckily, I managed to get out the day before all of this took place. Still, London tried hard to keep me there. Even though I boarded my plane on-time, we sat on the runway for 5 hours waiting for the plane to be de-iced. (Heathrow only had 4 de-icing trucks so it is of no surprise to me that the disasters of the following week took place). There is nothing more disheartening then sitting on a plane for 2 hours only to have the captain tell you on the intercom 'Well, we are 8th in the queue and it is taking between 40-50 minutes to de-ice each plane. Could be a while, folks.' Also unhelpful was the man sitting next to me who kept muttering, 'I hope this doesn't turn into the EasyJet 10-hour episode'. Of course, it was only 5 hours, not 10, so it wasn't too bad.
I had been scheduled to arrive at BWI at 5:30PM EST time...I didn't emerge from customs/baggage claim until near 10PM. We actually landed around 8:45, but it took AGES to get our luggage, go through immigration, and then, for me, go through a 'random agricultural check'. By the time I came out into the 'arrivals' area, I really just felt like crying. An 8 hour flight had turned into a 13 hour epic journey. Still, I am lucky that I even got home. There were people in my program scheduled to leave on Friday and Saturday whose flights were canceled 2 or 3 times, and who will only just be getting home today. What a nightmare!
The best part of my journey, other than actually landing in the US (which, at hour 3 of our delay, seemed a very remote future), was emerging from the customs area to see my Mum and Dad holding a 'Welcome Home Rebecca' sign, and my boyfriend standing there with his father. I experienced a brief moment of confusion in which I didn't know whether to go to my parents or boyfriend, but decided that my parents would understand and made a beeline for Drew. It was wonderful being reunited after 3 long months apart! By the time we arrived home, it was near 11 (4AM GMT) and I was essentially dead on my feet. Never was a bed so appreciated!
There was no chance for a lie-in on Saturday though, as Drew and I were signed up to run in the Celtic Solstice 5 mile race at Druid Hill Park in Baltimore. With an 8:30AM start time, this meant that I had to be up by 6AM and out the door by 7. Since I was a bit wary about driving to Baltimore after not having driven a car in 3 months, my Dad agreed to drive us. It was bitterly cold on Saturday and I have no idea how he managed to sit there and not freeze while we were running, but I am glad that he came. The atmosphere at the race was excellent. There were around 3000 runners, most of whom were dressed in kilts or holiday-themed costumes. The race start was announced by a parade of bagpipers and a woman walking a pair of magnificent Irish wolfhounds. It was wonderful. As for the race itself...the actual running of it was rather unpleasant for me. I was exhausted from having traveled the day before, my stomach was terribly unsettled from the plane food, and my feet were numb the entire time due to the cold. That said, I felt fine after running, and managed to finish the 5 miles in 39:08 -- good enough to earn me 2nd place in my age division! Best of all was getting to race with my boyfriend! The last time we raced together was the May 2010 Patapsco Trail Race a '10k race that is actually closer to 7 or 8 miles' and that involved fording a river (seriously, it went up to my waist), running (er...walking in my case) steep hills, and crossing train tracks. This was much less...intense.
So far my break has been relaxing. I've been spending time with the family, mostly baking dozens of cookies that smell delicious and require immense willpower on my part not to consume. Words cannot express how wonderful it is to be home, sleeping in my own bed (and quiet room), enjoying the perks of central heating, and being able to drive Old Blue (my car) around. Tomorrow is Christmas Day -- I'll be spending it with my boyfriend and his family. This is a HUGE step for me as I have never spent Christmas away from my family.
A better post later this week. But in the meantime...