3 days running
4ish hours elliptical (I lost track)
3.5 days in Boston
4.5 days in Minneapolis
It's currently Monday evening and I'm typing this on the plane home from Minneapolis. Actually, to be completely factual, on the plane to Atlanta from Minneapolis. I still have a layover and another hour in the air before touching down just past midnight. From there I'll enjoy a restful 36 hours at home before embarking on my next adventure, a quick sojourn to San Antonio and Houston. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's take a look back at another glamorous week in the life.
From a fitness perspective, I'm getting slower and fatter by the day. Running was nonexistent save for an awesome trail adventure with a few friends on Monday morning and two lackadaisical jaunts around picturesque Marblehead, Massachusetts (fun fact: hometown of Shalane Flanagan) with the Karhu CEO on Wednesday and Thursday. I'd planned to cross-train every day once I departed Charlotte, but when your CEO is a 6-foot tall Dutchman named Huub Valkenburg and he fixes his steely blue eyes on you like the Russian from Rocky IV and firmly requests that you accompany him on a jog, you don't say no. (Actually, once you get past the initial terror of meeting Huub he's actually quite congenial and charming. The real force to be reckoned with is his 14-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, Dutch, who deviously snuck into the guest bedroom while his master and I were out on our morning run and proceeded to extract and devour my Honey Stinger chews and several packets of dry oatmeal from the depths of my backpack. This landed him squarely on my shit list, but I respect the effort and the healthy food choices.) Once I arrived in Minneapolis, I played it smart and slogged away on the elliptical in the hotel fitness center while my coworker Jeff and later Caitlin enjoyed the beautiful weather on their outdoor runs. Several months ago I'd planned to actually run the race with Caitlin, but for both injury and logistical reasons another finish line hand-holding scenario would not materialize. Instead Caitlin powered ahead on her own and earned a sweet medal and PR despite running solo for almost the entire race. Having her around for a weekend that would otherwise have consisted of 24/7 work was a real treat even if we didn't enjoy any Minnesota miles together.
While we're on the topic and in case you're not aware, Minneapolis is quite lovely. They call Minnesota "the land of 10,000 lakes," and I had the pleasure of seeing at least a few dozen of them during my time in the Twin Cities. Add to that the beautiful blue skies and mild summer weather (temperatures ranged from the low 60s to low 80s all weekend), and I could almost picture living here. Of course, then I remind myself that nine months out of the year this part of the country is straight out of a scene from the movie "Fargo"--hopefully minus dismembered body parts in the neighborhood wood chipper--and I'm jolted back to reality. The other noteworthy aspect of the Twin Cities is the abundance of bicycle lanes and other pedestrian-friendly infrastructures. Never in my life have I seen more people riding their bikes from place to place at all hours of the day and night. Bicycling magazine recently named Minneapolis the #1 bike city in the nation, and it's not difficult to see why. There's something about watching people young and old traversing a city by the power of their own two legs that's sure to warm the heart of any runner, cyclist or all-around fitness enthusiast, and I am no exception. It also serves as a glaring reminder of how far Charlotte has to go before it can truly be considered hospitable to pedestrians, but that is another topic for another rambling post.
Also, a few words about Minnesotans: they are genuinely, unfailingly nice. Everywhere you turn you're met with a blinding smile and a sincere inquiry into how you're doing or how your current condition can be improved upon. It's quite disconcerting, to be honest. Just this afternoon when I was driving to the airport I spotted an orange road construction sign that said the following: "Left lane closed ahead. Please take turns merging." And, I swear to you, everyone did. When I inadvertently rebelled against the system by becoming "that guy" who waited until the last possible second to change lanes, neatly cutting off the person directly behind me, I winced and braced myself for the blaring horn or shouted expletive to follow. When neither did, I looked into my rearview mirror and, I kid you not, the other driving was waving at me. With all his fingers. This, friends, is Minnesota. To be frank I find myself utterly at a loss for how to respond to it. I'm not entirely sure if I could handle this unwavering friendliness year-round, but for one weekend I found it quite refreshing. Heck, I might even pay it forward and actually talk to the person sitting next to me on my connecting flight instead of averting my eyes and/or feigning sleep as soon as they sidle in beside me.
Okay, probably not, but it's the thought that counts. Don'tcha know?
Monday, August 22, 2011