Traveling During the Holidays

AKA Freezing Your Ass Off

So I'm running along and I'm thinking about an old song, the one that goes, "Take this job and shove it, I ain't working here no more."

Why am I thinking this, you ask? Did I just get in a fight with my boss, yelled at, backstabbed, passed over, or fired?


It's because I'm sitting in a hotel room in North Carolina. It's 22 degrees outside. I've been up here since Sunday. I'm lucky, I suppose, in that I get to go home to friends and family on Friday morning. And who am I to complain, really? At least I've got a job. My boss and our customers seem to think I know what I'm doing.

If they only knew.

Anyway, back to the point. I'm talking about traveling for work. If you're not a kid anymore (at least chronologically, I mean), then chances are you are either in college or working in the 'real world.' If you're in college, and you have the means, stay there for as long as possible. I think eight or nine years is a good goal. That should earn you at least one degree in something or other, and your parents will be very proud (and very broke).

But if you have a job like me, then you may at some point be required to do some traveling for your work, either real work or professional development. Some of these trips may be nothing more than driving to a neighboring town to meet a customer, visit a site, or sit in a class for 4 hours. Some of the trips, however, may require overnight, weeklong, and weekend stays in order to get the job done, keep the customer happy, and make sure you have a job to go back to.

So what's a dedicated, insane triathlete like yourself to do? You can take your bike with you, but this is generally going to cost you 50 to 75 dollars each way on a plane. I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of money to throw around just yet. So the bike is out, at least for now.

Next, best, and easiest options: Bring your running shoes, your goggles, and workout clothes. Here's the easy part. Go running. Run a lot. If you know in advance that you will be taking an extended business trip in cold weather, plan ahead (Do I sound like your Mom?). Bring your gloves, your hat, and warm clothing. Don't catch a cold, dear. We don't want you to get sick. Is your nose runny again? Do you have a fever, my little smoochie woochie?

In all seriousness, running is something that a trip should not interfere with. People run outside until it is way, way cold. I don't know what the lowest limits are for safety reasons, but I've been out in seven degrees in Colorado with tights, one t-shirt, a hat, gloves, and two pairs of socks and was comfortable. The coldest I've experienced on the East Coast was last night. Twenty-five degrees, and I wore the same kind of outfit except for two t-shirts. The East coast has damper air in general, so it feels colder than the dry Mid-West.

Next option: The hotel exercise room. Most hotels have a treadmill. If cold air is your enemy, you can put some miles in inside. This week I ran for twenty minutes each morning on the treadmill, because I just can't face running out the door into freezing weather first thing in the morning. I was raised in Miami, OK? I need the whole day to get psyched up to run outside in the afternoon. It's not my fault I like warm, sunny, beautiful Florida days…but I digress.

If you're lucky, the hotel exercise room also has a bike trainer. There are good ones and bad ones. The ones I had this week sucked. You know the kind. Spinning fans with moving handles, pedals that keep going without you, brakes screaming against the front wheels…aargh. Don't waste your time trying to make these work. Do something else. Anything else.

The pool. Most hotels have a pool. Some of them are indoors. Some of them are not. Some of them are heated. Some of them are not. The one at my hotel this week was outdoors and not heated. I asked the hotel clerk what the temperature was.

"Around fifty, I'd say," she said.

"Great," said I. "Is there a lifeguard?"

She rolled her eyes, thought to herself, "Oh, you're one of them," and slowly walked away. Not that I blame her…

So unless you're lucky enough to stay in a hotel with an indoor pool, or you just happen to bring your wetsuit, surf hood, gloves, and booties, forget about swimming in cold water. The ocean, which is pretty close to my hotel, is actually warmer than the pool, at 56 degrees. Let me say that you can swim in this water. There are people who can handle cold temperatures without any protection or minimal protection (wetsuit, etc). But, unless you are very experienced, very tough, and very dedicated, yuck. Go easy on yourself. Do some research. Find out where the YMCA is, or a gym with a pool, the local master's club, anything. That's what the Internet, phone book, hotel staff, and your work associates are there for. To provide you with information. You only need to ask.

So you found out where the Y is and what time they are open for lap swimming. You've planned your runs. You've overcome your demons and will be able to make it through the week without your new Cervelo P2K aerodynamic frame with the Dura-Ace components and the Cosmic Carbone wheels and the whole thing only weighs like 19 pounds and man I really wish I had it here but take a breath because you don't you'll be okay get a grip man get a grip. Phew. So what else will you do?

Well, I lift a couple times a week, so I took advantage of the minimal weight room and did some type of weight lifting every day. You can take the time to work on your sit-ups and push-ups.

But besides all the physical training, you can take the time to catch up on your reading, your work, your writing, meditation, self-discovery - whatever you want to do. It's your time. Make the most of it. If you have a family, you can reflect on how lucky you are to have one. You can think about your past, learn from it, and plan for the future. You can write letters to an old friend. You can start that short story you've been thinking about for so long. You can read that book you've wanted to but just haven't had the time.

You can do anything you want. Just don't waste the time, because you will never, ever get it back.

Want to know what I did this week? Are you sure? It was real exciting. I caught up on sleep. On Sunday night I was asleep by 11 pm. On Monday and Tuesday I was asleep by 10 pm. Last night, because I am such a wild and crazy guy (anyone remember Steve Martin and Dan Ackroyd? That's me…), I was asleep by 9:15 pm. In college my nickname was Party. Now It's Mr. Responsibility.

Bleearrgh. ;-) What's happened to me? Oh yeah, I'm getting older...(sigh).

Happy Holidays everyone. Be safe, don't drink and drive. All I want for Christmas is a new wheel set and a flume trainer. Come on, Santa!!

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