Okay, I have a plan for food and hydration. What about sleep and general health?
Next Wednesday we leave for the airport around 9am, arrive at Dulles with 53 minutes to make our connection to Dublin, and then our eight-hour overnight flight arrives at 5:20 Thursday morning.
I don’t sleep well on airplanes. I’ve flown overseas five times (four to Europe and once to Hawaii) and I don’t think I did more than catnap on any of them. I remember on one flight to Switzerland, I stared at the map on the seatback screen for what seemed like hours willing the little plane icon to move faster. To gauge how much longer until arrival, I kept thinking, “This flight is about the same time as a typical workday–what would I be doing now? How about now?” Other times I’ve binge-watched movies to combat the boredom. But I don’t really sleep.
Which is unfortunate because when we arrive in the morning, we have a full day ahead of us. I don’t want to sacrifice daylight (see: Vacation Death March) for sleep–and napping would make jetlag worse in the long run–but I know from past history both B and I will be falling over-tired by about dinnertime.
I’ll try melatonin (or maybe even Benadryl…) early in the flight, but I really don’t have a lot of hope that I will be well-rested when we get there. The good news is that I generally adapt to a new time zone more quickly at the beginning of a trip than coming home. The overnight flight and the general excitement of getting the adventure underway helps a lot, so I’m hopeful this trend holds true for me again. I think B will sleep on the plane, but I’ll probably just have to power through that first day and try to make it to a respectable bedtime in an attempt to reset my clock. Even if it doesn’t totally work, though, I’ll have two more nights before the race.
The other thing that will help me is a 10:30 A.M. half-marathon start. Even if I’m not fully adjusted by Sunday, 10:30 is 5:30 A.M. Austin time, which is when we start our long runs most Saturdays June through August anyway. I thought the late start was kind of weird (we don’t do that in Austin, even in winter) but when I think of it this way, I’m grateful.
So while I might feel more rested if the race were our second Sunday in Ireland rather than our first, it’s a moot point. Besides, considering my Vacation Death March-style, I’m not sure I’d really be better off if the race were later in the trip. 😉
But what about staying healthy? That’s a lot more difficult when you’re trapped inside a metal tube for eight hours, breathing recirculated air.
Case in point: a few weeks ago as I inched my way through security in Cleveland, I watched a family ahead of me in line. There were at least twelve of them ranging in age from about six to adults. Their accents weren’t American, which I could tell from their loud, raucous conversations. One of the women–she could have been 15 or 25, I didn’t get close enough to guess better than that–looked kind of green and unsteady as she trailed the group. Then as she reached the x-ray conveyer belt, she leaned over and vomited into a garbage can. I was suddenly grateful I’d gone to the other line.
Later, when I arrived at my gate, there they were again. Because of course they would be on my flight home. But then a flight to Orlando at the neighboring gate began boarding, and they all queued up over there. Which means they were probably going to Disney World, leaving me to wonder whether she was about to transmit some kind of plague to vacationing people throughout the greater Orlando area.
I get it–your options are limited when you’ve shelled out a lot of time and money on a huge trip, especially when a large family is involved and you’re far from home. Maybe she just had a nervous stomach, or was pregnant and suffering from morning sickness, or otherwise wasn’t contagious. I hope that was the case and that no one else in the family or on the flight became ill. But I have no desire to share recirculated air with someone whose carry-on included a communicable illness, especially on a transatlantic flight.
For our part, we’re going to be guzzling Vitamin C and washing hands like it’s our job between now and the 14th so we don’t face a similar quandary. But what else can we do to stay healthy? Inadequate sleep, meals, and hydration can reduce a person’s ability to fight off illness–and of course all three are factors in this kind of travel.
While there’s no surefire strategy to ward off nefarious germs, I hope I’m at least helping to shore up my immune system so that it can withstand an assault on its walls. To that end, between now and departure I’m going to focus on what I can control: the trifecta of sleep/eat/hydrate with a few miles of running thrown in for good measure. I (gleefully) turned off my 5:45 A.M. alarm last Friday and have enjoyed waking up on my own schedule. Even if I sleep the same number of hours as I did last week, somehow it feels better when I am not jolted awake by my iPhone. And over the summer I’m not beholden to a school bell schedule for restroom breaks–I can drink lime water to my heart’s content. I’ve also been eating salads and healthy snacks as much as possible.
Anyone have other suggestions to maximize our chances of arriving not only reasonably well-rested but also biologically and immunologically unscathed?
How about other things I might have overlooked? Other than stalking the weather, I mean.