February 4, 2012

On the Run

On the Run

A good traveler has no fixed plans,
and is not intent on arriving.
– Lao Tzu

Somehow, people think that when you travel for work, it must be glamorous. I mean new cities, new people, hotels, restaurants…all kinds of fun, right?

Those people, I assure you, do not travel as part of their job.

Mostly, when I travel, I am in airports, hotels, hospitals, clinics, restaurants, running from meeting to meeting, presentation to presentation. I eat, meet, and even sleep on other people’s schedules. When it comes to running, it is a thing I now fit in whenever and however it works.

Here is an example:

Arrive in Cleveland 4pm – on a flight that is 30 minutes late.

When I arrive I already have a text message from my rep saying she is picking me up at my hotel in just under an hour.  I am 45 minutes away and not dressed in business attire.

Cab to hotel, check in, change, brush hair and pray I don’t look like I just stepped off a plane (I do, trust me).

My rep shows up early, we sit in traffic, get to the restaurant 15 minutes late and the main surgeon we are meeting is already waiting for us.

We eat dinner and have drinks with health professionals from two programs. Turns out that I spend most of my night making sure the one does not seriously offend the other. At least one person probably drinks a bit too much (no, not me). My rep and I shake our heads when it’s over.  Then we laugh.

It’s 11 when I get back to my hotel. Midnight before I fall asleep.

My alarm goes off at 6 so I can run.

Half asleep I grab water and seek out the Fitness Center that all Courtyard Marriotts have.  This one is the size of a closet. It has two treadmills – this is what they look like:

So treadmill #1 is an older Life Fitness model. It’s full-sized and looks simple, but perfectly adequate. I get on, put my water in in the cup holder, get my music cued up, and start it up in manual. As I begin to ramp up the speed to a run, the thing starts to shake and make a horrible metal on metal grinding noise.  For the first time ever on a treadmill, I hit the panic button. As I get off I can see the metal bar at the back around which the belt rotates is almost rusted through – that cannot be good.

So how about treadmill #2. Do they make treadmills for children? This one really looks like a toy. The console is white plastic and the whole unit is about half the size of the one I have just dismounted. But hey, I am small…and truly, if I were any bigger, there is no way I could run on this thing. As I speed up to a run, I notice that the whole unit bounces a little with each stride. But it’s reasonably smooth. I get to 2.5 miles and the lights go off in the fitness center.  Really – was I not moving enough for the motion sensors when I was running at 6mph? I take this as a sign to be done. I use my light from my iPhone to find the off button.  The lights come back on when I step off.  Go figure.

There are many times when I am traveling that I would like to give up. I’d like to walk out of a meeting instead of smile, I’d like to cut out of the dinner early and go to sleep because I flew for 8 hours and I am simply exhausted. I’d like to shut off the alarm and go back to sleep (or better yet, never set it at all) because when it goes off at 6 my brain thinks it is 3 – and that just hurts.

But here is the truth – I took up running precisely for days like this. Because I can run on a day like this. Because there is a (lousy) treadmill in every hotel in America and in most places not in America. And if not that, there is a road or a path or even the hallway if need be.

On days like today, it is “no excuses”. It is face the music of the alarm clock, try not to get hurt on the treadmill, there-will-be-enough-coffee-later-to-get-through-the-meetings.

I run. It may not be the best run, but I do it.  And I smile about it.  There are days like this, and that’s part of the ride.

Thank you Cleveland.




Leave a comment
  1. nordictk
    February 4, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    I was at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis once a couple years ago, and it was quite rainy and slippery outside. I just have a hard time doing treadmills, as I can’t just relax and run, and I don’t feel as if I’m receiving the same workout (or endorphins). Check out the huge atrium of this hotel. On this night, I went to the top, and ran around each floor 1 to 3 times, down one flight of stairs, around the next floor 1-3 times, down one floor again, then around and around again. All the way to the bottom. Was sooooo much fun. Sometimes runners can even be creative….or desperate!

    • Jacqueline Jacques
      February 4, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

      “Creative desperation” begets many great things! Hope you don’t mind that I linked your comment to a pic of that atrium. That would have been much more fun than my treadmill experience in Cleveland!

  2. Valerie
    February 5, 2012 at 3:52 am #

    I just discovered your blog and read it from beginning to end! I am 52 and had decided this year (started 01 Jan 2012) to take up running for fitness. I’ve always been active, but mostly relied on walking and the elliptical machine at the gym in recent years, with some yoga thrown in. However, I have always been jealous in a sense of runners, especially the ones for whom running seems so effortless! My 22 yr old daughter runs frequently and now that she is living back home, I want to be like her 🙂 Her pace is much quicker than mine, however. I am much more comfortable running next to her on treadmills at our own individual speeds than I am trying to keep up with her on the roads in our neighborhood. I find I do so much better when I run by myself on the days she is not with me! Anyway, I appreciate so much of what I have read in your posts thus far; I look forward to reading regularly! Thanks for sharing!

    • Jacqueline Jacques
      February 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

      Hi Valerie – Welcome!
      Your story seems to have a lot of similarities to my own. It’s a funny journey isn’t it? I am always happy when I get comments like yours because I feel a bit less alone. In a way, I started the blog because I was pretty sure there had to be a community of us out there working through the same things – maybe even more than just me working it out with a pair of running shoes. Would love to hear more of your experience – or any ideas of things you think I should write about.
      Anyway, I am off to run on this beautiful California Sunday!
      Best to you.