Business Travel and Triathlon Training: Denver

Last week, I hit the road again, this time for the Planningness conference in Denver, CO. Finding time to train, regardless of how busy I am while traveling is becoming critical as Ironman Arizona draws closer and the time left to prepare gets tighter. From all I’ve heard about Colorado, I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult a place to accomplish this. The only challenge I thought might present itself would be the fact that I would be staying in Downtown and wouldn’t have access to a car.

I arrived at the Denver airport at around 3:00 p.m. and caught a cab from the airport to downtown, driving across some surprisingly flat terrain and recall quoting Lloyd Christmas to myself, saying “that John Denver’s full of shit, man.” Where were all the mountains?

Arriving at the Sheraton downtown, I checked into my room and asked the front desk for the best running routes around town. I was told to make my way over to the Cherry Creek Trail right next to the Denver Convention Center where I would find miles of trail following Cherry Creek.

I started my run out of the hotel lobby and made it to the trail in just a few minutes. When I got to it, I was pleasantly surprised with a creek just below street level that had a nice bike/pedestrian path with ample room for runners, walkers and cyclists… and there were plenty. The people of Denver were out in full force exercising, commuting, and just enjoying the nice Fall weather. Heading Southeast on the trail took me upstream and I continued on the trail for 4 miles until I arrived at a Whole Foods.

I decided to stop into the Whole Foods for a gel and a water bottle that I could carry with me because seriously, Denver is DRY, my throat was parched. Another thing about Whole Foods in Denver is that I discovered my people. If I cruise the Whole Foods in Irvine, CA near my home, I feel out of place because my car, clothes, cosmetic surgery experience, and Whole Foods bill itself just don’t matchup to those around me. But in Denver, this didn’t feel like the case, the guy behind me in line had ridden his bike to the store and had just purchased the largest bag of granola I have ever seen.

After paying for my goods, I ran out the door and headed back downstream and back to my hotel. In total I got in a 9 mile run and really enjoyed the whole experience. Were I to have had a car, I would have tried to head out of town for a trail run in the closest mountains 10 or 20 miles away.

The next day I was fully engaged in the Planningness conference (which if you happen to be a strategist, digital strategist, or just love to learn and do cool stuff, is the best conference you could possibly attend) so I didn’t have time to train. After enjoying an amazing dinner after the conference, I headed back to my hotel room and logged into (United States Masters Swim) and checked out the “Places to Swim” link for pools and Masters teams in Denver. I found the University of Denver pool on the list and checked their schedule to make sure I would be able to get a lane at the times I was available.

After day two of the conference, I caught a cab to the University of Denver, paid a $10 guest fee to get into the fitness center and found my way to the pool. It is a great looking Olympic 50 meter by 25 yard indoor pool that is part of the same building housing a bunch of other sporting facilities, including a hockey arena, full gym, basketball courts, volleyball courts, and with soccer and lacrosse fields just outside… very cool.

Once I made my way to the pool, I jumped in, only had to share a lane with one other guy and managed to get in 4,000 yards before needing to had back into Downtown Denver to grab my bags and head for the airport.

Training in a place far away is never quite as convenient as home, and there always seem to be distractions, but Denver is definitely a place that you can pull it off.

The next installment of Business Travel and Triathlon Training should be about Chicago in a couple weeks. That should be a fun one, as I will have to train extra hard to make up for all of the food I am gonna eat in that town.


Business Travel and Triathlon Training: Manhattan and Houston

One of the perks of the job in advertising is the ability to travel. I have traveled across the country for focus groups, in-home interviews, ethnographies, concept testing, meetings, and conferences and love to check out new places and especially the food. One of my other favorite things to do is train in a new city as well. I love waking up early, lacing up my runners, and getting lost for an hour or two in a new place. Training for endurance sports is a tough thing to work into any schedule, but it becomes even more difficult when you are on the road.

I have spent the last two weekends in New York and Houston and worked hard to still find time to train. I have decided to share a little bit about how I go about finding places to train and even people to train with.

As a member of USMS (United States Masters Swimming), I always go to the “places to swim” link on the USMS website and see if there is a Master’s program I can workout with and at the very least, find a nearby pool to go pay for lap swim time.

The next thing I do is search for a triathlon club in the area and find out their training schedule. If there is a big group run, track workout, or road ride on any of the days that I am around, I try to join along. Almost every club is happy to have a visitor for a day as long as you are respectful and don’t make bonehead moves in the peloton.

If there isn’t a tri club, I’ll look online for a running club, and I always look up local bike shops that might be able to rent me a bike or give me info on a group ride taking place while I am in town. If you are anything like me, you like just being in bike shops and looking at new gear, so finding a good local shop is hardly a burden.

My latest thing is to pick up a water bottle or two from the shops I visit when I am out of town so I can bring home a local souvenir. When recently visiting New York, I brought home a couple of SBR bottles and while in Texas, picked up a couple bottles from a shop in Houston called Bike Barn. The 160 mile drive to Austin was very tempting in order to visit Mellow Johnny’s and pick up a souvenir or two, but our hectic work schedule was enough for me to resist the temptation.

On the New York trip, I made sure I was able to go for a run in Central Park. Central park is surrounded by a winding, undulating road roughly 10 kilometers long that is sprawling with runners and cyclists getting a workout in before heading to work. I took a cab to the South end of the park, did the 6.2 mile loop around the park and then took a second loop that wound in and out of the various trails and bridle paths that snake throughout the park.

I didn’t get the chance to swim while in New York but if I go back, I will definitely go for a swim at the pool in Central Park or the pool on the Hudson River at the Chelsea Piers Sports Center. I have heard the view through the floor to ceiling windows surrounding the pool is amazing.

Off to Texas.

Were I to visit Houston again, I would be sure to stay at the Houstonian which has a world-class fitness club including anoutdoor olympic pool. The beef I have with the Houstonian is that they wouldn’t let me in! I tried to go there for a 3,000 yard swim and a spin class but I was stopped at the front desk and told “MEMBERS ONLY!”

As annoyed as I was with that treatment, I will stay make sure I stay there next time because I REALLY want to use that pool. Luckily I had a backup plan and headed to FIT Athletic Club just a few miles away. For 20 bucks they let me use all the facilities for as long as I wanted. While there I took a 2 mile warmup run on a treadmill, a one hour spin class, and followed it up with a 2 mile transition run on the treadmill at a torturous 6:15/mile pace. The FIT Athletic Club was actually very nice with the exception that it didn’t have a pool, but the spin class instructor (I believe her name was mary) was one of the best I have ever had, and the place had fresh towels which is more than I can say for my local 24 Hour Fitness.

Here is a quick list of my must haves for any business trip. And remember, you can pack light, you aren’t going to race a triathlon, just looking for quick efficient and fun ways to workout.

Swim: swimsuit, goggles, cap (leave your paddles, fins, and other junk at home

Bike: Helmet, Glasses, Gloves, Shoes, pedals, bottle, and spandex (if you plan on attending a spin class, remember that most spin bikes only accept the small SPD mountain bike cleats… unless you are at the almighty Equinox Gym pedals that accept both). Also, remember to contact bike shops ahead of time about renting or demoing a bike as they often may not be able to help you out on very short notice.

Run: Running shoes, shorts, shirt/tank

And for all three: sunscreen and your watch (Garmin preferred ;)) so your not lost or late for business (the real reason you are there!)

Working out while traveling is tough but very doable, so get out there and explore a new place, meet new people, and be energized for whatever kind of boring conference or trade show it is that you might have to attend.