Making My Way Downtown

IMG_6198Yesterday, Denver.  Today, Chicago.  It’s funny that I choose a career path that includes so much travel given that I’m not a great traveler:  I have no patience for airports, I always overpack, and I’ve single-handedly kept Dramamine in the black.  Running has changed that for the better.

Before I ran, I would rent a car and stay in a hotel in the burbs, away from the action of the city.  I’d spend most of my downtime in the hotel, working on my laptop and eating dry club sandwiches from room service.  It seemed like a chore to go out and explore the city or even find a restaurant for a real meal.  Trips were planned around getting in and out of town quickly and consisted mostly of the inside of airports and hotels.  Every trip felt the same.

After I started running, the way I planned my trips changed.  I started getting hotel rooms downtown and walk when I can, Uber when I can’t.  I build time into my travel schedule to get a run or two in before I start working.  I explore cities and let the new surroundings distract me from the exercise part of running.

Running when I travel has made me more adventurous in other ways too.  I’ve kayaked with manatees (you can’t pet them, by the way, or you’ll get fined for “molesting”), swimming in the ocean with sharks nipping at my ankles (there’s a chance that was actually kelp, but we may never know for sure), and catching shows on Broadway (yes, Hamilton is as good as they say).

Getting a feel for the city on foot has also made it easier to find good eats and enjoy the specialties of the city I’m in, like fresh seafood on the Coasts, key lime pie in Florida, hot dogs in Chicago, cheese steaks in Philly, and – my personal favorite – pizza in New York.  Approaching work travel with the perspective of exploration vs. hibernation has made each trip more interesting and unique.

This morning before my flight, I got in an 8-mile run along the Riverwalk in Chicago.  The weather was cool and crisp and I was thrilled that the Windy City didn’t live up to its name…until I turned around at the halfway point and realized it was windy, I was just running in the same direction as the wind so it was helping me along.

Now, before I hop on my flight, it’s time to enjoy a Chicago-style hot dog.  Yes, for breakfast.  I’m pretty sure it’s Chicago state law that you have to eat at least one when you’re in town.  Trust me on this one.

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