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12/29/2009

The Midnight Run of The Krieglstein Brothers - Part 2

Note: This is a continuation of Part 1 of this story.
Every mile further we looked at the GPS, the clock, and the gas tank. It was nerve racking and fun at the same time. We felt like we were on The Amazing Race, minus the cameras and smiling Phil to greet us at the pit stop. At one point, I looked at my eyes in the visor mirror and remember seeing my pupils being fully dilated from all the adrenaline.

4:10am - 73mph - 65 miles to PIT - Gas on last line
4:25am - 75mph - 30 miles to PIT - Gas on E but no warning light
4:45am - 76mph - 13 miles to PIT - Gas warning light comes on!

If we make it to the airport, the plan was for me to jump out as Daniel rolled the car by without stopping and then he'd drop the car off at the rental place. It was all or nothing at this point. One outcome was me making the flight with seconds to spare. The other outcome was us standing on the side of the road in a thunderstorm only a few miles from the airport with no gas.


We exited for the airport, made our way to departures, and found our airline, which was, of course, the last one. Our celebration was half muted because we arrived at 5:03am and, from my experience with traveling, know that some airlines just smile and say there is nothing they can do if you show up late.

I tumbled out of the moving car and sprinted to the ticket counter.

"I know I'm late and I apologize. It wasn't easy getting here. Please, please, please, you have to let me on the flight! I'm a contestant on the NBC Today Show Race To The Altar and the show won't happen without me!" (Not sure if that was factually true, but I was willing to say whatever was needed to get me on the flight.)

The ticket lady typed away, in silence, on the computer.

"Here's your ticket, but you better hurry as fast as you can to make the flight. They're about to close the ga...."
I took off before she finished and channeled my inner Usain Bolt as I sprinted through the airport. I sneaked into the first class security check-in because the regular check-in was too long.

I didn't even wait to put my shoes back on after security so not to waste time.
"This is the final boarding call for Flight 562 to Laguardia. All ticketed and confirmed passengers must be on the plane at this time."
I'm cooooommmmiinnngg!
"Once again I repeat. This is the final boarding call for Flight 562 to Laguardia. All ticketed and confirmed passengers must be on the plane at this time."
I'm cooooommmmiinnngg! I could see the gate and started waving my hands hoping to catch the gate person as they made their way to close the door. Either he saw me or something made him turn around because he paused just long enough for me to make it to the gate with sweat dripping down my face and completely out of breath.

"What happened to you?" He asked with a smile.

I just shook my head to dismiss his question and boarded the plane. I texted Annie, Daniel, and the producer:
"Holy shit I made the flight! I'm on my way to NYC!"
Then I texted the producer:
"Can you figure out a way to get my brother home :-)"
Then I heard the best news I'd gotten all day, "Hello everyone, this is your captain speaking and wanted to give you an update that we are expecting some nice tailwind in flight which will help us to arrive at LaGuardia about 15 mins earlier than expected." I almost erupted into applause.

While I was flying, the producer helped get my brother a flight back to Indianapolis where he picked up his car and drove home.

As promised, a driver was waiting for me when I landed, and drove me to Rockefeller Plaza with 30 mins to spare until airtime.

I walked into the dressing room area and the other two couples, the producers, and the make-up people all stopped to cheer. I couldn't believe I'd actually made it. I don't think anyone there could believe it either.

Annie gave me a big huge and kiss and as we walked over to the make-up chair she whispered to me, "It's us."

I looked back at her and saw a sadness in her eyes, "What do you mean, it's us?"

"I can just tell. We're getting kicked off this week."

I said no way, because I didn't want to believe it, but for the past two weeks she was able to correctly guess who was getting kicked off just by the way the producers interacted with us in the morning before going live.

The stylist asked how I wanted my hair done. I laughed, "Anything that makes me not look like I just traveled through the night without sleep to get here."

After I was done, the group walked out to the plaza where they taped the segment and waited for our turn.

"OK, bring out the wedding couples."
A stage manager yelled toward us and we took that as our cue to position ourselves next to the hosts.

They came back from commercial and Matt took over the talking.

"Well it's that time again when we have to say goodbye to one of our lovely couples. You've all been so wonderful, but I'm sorry, Annie and Tom you had the least number of votes."


Annie was right.

First thing I did was turn and hug Annie. I could see her tearing up. We thanked Matt and congratulated the other couples as we made our way off the set so they could begin the next round of competition. And, just like that, we were kicked off.

In the dressing room we said goodbye to the producers and thanked them for letting us be on the show. They told us the vote was extremely close. It was tough to maintain my state because we worked our tails for a month for the show and to have it end like it did felt incomplete and we swore we had enough votes to get us to at least the final round. I had also just risked serious physical harm driving through the night to make it to the show only to be on air for 30 secs to get kicked off.

While we waited for our car to pick us up we watched the other two couples play a game with the final prize being a brand new hybrid car! Up until that point there were no prizes for each round. It was the final gut punch as we left the set for the last time.

On the ride back to the hotel, we teared up knowing we worked so hard, but didn't quite make it. It was an amazing experience and now that time has passed, we cherish it as another great adventure in our life book. The Today Show crew were wonderful and treated us like royalty while on the show. And thanks to Daniel, our midnight run is an epic tail that I'll keep with me for many years to come.

And so ends the tale of The Midnight Run Of The Krieglstein Brothers.


Credits


  • Our Parents - who spent endless hours drumming up votes
  • Our Siblings - who remided all their friends to keep voting each round
  • Extended Families - Too many to mention, but we love hearing each story at gatherings
  • Daniel - for making the Midnight Run happen
  • Amy - for reminding (with baby Noah in hand) all of Pittsburgh to vote
  • Kevin & The Swift Kick Team - for supporting the month long endevour 
  • The Lupus Foundation of America - for being our biggest national champion
  • Phi Theta Kappa - for activing a network of members to vote
  • College of Dupage - for supporting two alumni
  • Aurora University - for sending out multiple press releases
  • NBC 5 - for wonderful 5am interviews 
  • Student Affairs Folk - too many to mention for supporting us every step
  • Student Leaders - Again too many for your non stop energy 
  • APCA - for sharing your stage for our engagement, and then our wedding run
  • Chicago Media - for embracing our story each step


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