It was becoming undeniable that my Southwest A-List status was in serious jeopardy about this time last year. I found myself sitting poolside on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons when I would be packing for a departure to a race somewhere around the country in a typical year. In 2019 I had traveled to over 20 races for either coaching or officiating (or both). January of 2020 started out much the same with a trip to Tampa for our MPI coaches retreat. And then, to paraphrase Tillie from that masterpiece of a movie, Guess Whose Coming To Dinner, we woke up one March morning to find out that “All hell done broke loose!”
Now, after months of sitting, waiting, and hoping for a return to racing, we seem to be back, and full-on at that, here in the U.S. But there are still those differences.
Can you imagine being allowed to walk around an airport, much less go through security while wearing a mask in 2019? Now we are required to wear one.
And the flights? Our airlines are suddenly overtaxed to supply sufficient crews to keep the flights going as demand increases--right along with crew fatigue. And then there are always the expected delays anyone who travels by air frequently enough will invariably encounter. Weather, delayed flights, mechanical issues.
Since returning to flying to events, Lee and I have been impacted to various degrees on more than half of our trips. In one, we flew from Houston to Jackson, MS before the plane could turn west to go around a storm and get us to Las Vegas for a two-hour drive to St. George. Our latest trip featured a one-hour delay in the airport and then an additional hour on the runway followed by a westward flight out of Lubbock almost to San Antonio before the plane could turn east and bring us back to Houston. Once again, to avoid weather.
And here is the thing about the mask. A normal length flight, with a mask required from the time we board the parking lot shuttle until we pick up and drive away in our POV or rental car, can be a smothering pain. And when time is tacked on to the trip by delays, it really adds up. It is me and my own breath that I can’t stand under the mask.
On our last flight, I lunched on a Texas-size Whataburger before boarding the plane. Now I love the aroma of a Whataburger. But not for four hours. Fortunately, early in the return to travel, I discovered a mask hack that allows me to stand… well me. Listerine came out with a product called Listerine Ready! Tabs.
It is a chewable tablet that freshens that little pocket of air under the mask. Freshening breath and at least subduing the lingering aroma of whatever airport meal you consumed during your flight. It won’t make the mask totally comfortable, but this hack has helped me survive, well, once again, me. Give the hack a try!
Mark Turner (aka Coach MarkT) is a Houston, Texas Metro area based Coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II and Paratriathlon Certified Coach, IRONMAN University Certified Coach,VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and Mental Strengths Performance Coach. Coach MarkT absolutely loves coaching and helping the athletes achieve their dreams. MarkT is also a US Veteran having served in the United States Marine Corps. He is a graduate of the University of Houston Honors College with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. In addition to endurance sports, his interests include history, science fiction, and cooking. He can be reached at markt@teamMPI.com.