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Dr. J. on Running

Travel Running

Any Place, Any Time

Published December 11, 2000 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Not unlike tomatoes, I do not travel well. My life's pentathlon of needs includes work, running, food and sleep. Travel is not on the list. It ranks somewhere between a tax audit and a root canal.

So, when a recent job took me to Oklahoma City, I pledged to keep travel from interfering with my running. I planned my itinerary to allow a daily run. I scheduled my flights to maximize flexibility. I selected an airline that flew through Atlanta, not Chicago, to reduce the impact of winter weather. An early morning departure from Syracuse and a mid-afternoon landing in Oklahoma left plenty of time for a sunset run.

Even the best laid plans go awry in the information age. A mechanical malfunction cancelled the last leg of my trip. An efficient attendant re-assigned me to a later flight on a different carrier, departing from the other side of the airport. My sunset run was doomed. It was time for action.

As I walked underground towards my new gate, the sight of the people movers gave me ideas. These horizontal escalators resembled very long, very slow, treadmills. I estimated their length at 70 paces. There were two such treadmills in tandem, stretching just over 100 meters. Since most passengers took the bus or the train between terminals, the treadmills were all mine. It was interval time!

I placed my laptop and my coat halfway down the runway to keep them in my sight, took a deep breath, and embarked on the first set of sprints. I ran down the carpeted path one way, and returned against the moving walkway. I counted each roundtrip as 200 meters, and timed my sprints to the nearest tenth of a second.

Midway into my third interval, I came face to face with a security officer. "What are you doing?" he asked. Out of breath and out of wit, I stopped my stopwatch, and acted exasperated. I swallowed my pride, and admitted that I was "jogging". I gambled that he was more likely to accept "jogging" as an explanation, than running intervals.

My excuse worked. He dismissed me as a remnant of the seventies jogging craze, and instructed me to pick-up my luggage and proceed to my gate. "Loitering on the walkways is illegal." Just when I thought that loitering meant standing still.

I arrived to Oklahoma City after sunset. The fear of running in the dark in a strange city and memories of a broken foot from stepping in a pothole dissuaded me from a nighttime jaunt through downtown.

I checked into the hotel. The front desk clerk assigned me to room 1322 "non-smoking". That's thirteen floors up, times twenty steps per floor. I could send the elevator upwards, race it to the thirteenth floor, take it back down, then repeat the journey. Nah! The smell from the kitchen was too good to resist. There would be no stair-climbing that night.

Kamal Jabbour ran into the Oklahoman sunrise the next morning. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at jabbour@syr.edu.


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