I travel a lot for work – at least I think it’s a lot. I just finished up my 164th flight of the year, and have racked up almost 70,000 domestic air miles (except that I work for an airline and I don’t actually get air miles, but that’s how much I’ve flown). The majority of the airports that I have some responsibility with are relatively close to Dallas, and I can just fly there for a meeting and still be home for dinner. There are a few locations where I have to spend the night, Salt Lake City being one of them.
Since I rarely leave the confines of airports when I travel, I was excited to be able to eat something other than airport food for once (don’t get me started on how hard it is to eat vegan at airports, particularly smaller ones like Amarillo, TX and Jackson, MS). I was excited to find that there was a vegan diner less than 3 miles from my hotel in Salt Lake City. I arrived into town in the early evening, and with no rental car, I laced up my running shoes and headed out for dinner.
The food was great, and by the time I polished off my meal and dessert (it’s not everyday that I can have a homemade ice cream sandwich with my meal), I was incredibly stuffed. I was definitely a little slower running back to the hotel, but nevertheless running on a full stomach equals quality ultra marathon training, at least in my opinion.
I woke up pretty early in the morning, and headed out the door for a run sometime just after 5am. The city was quiet, and I had the sidewalks to myself. I had a loose idea of where I wanted to go, but no real agenda other than to try to enjoy myself and see a little bit of the city.
My first destination was Capitol Hill. I’m not sure why I didn’t realize this ahead of time, but Capitol Hill is on a hill, and I haven’t run hills forever (thank you Dallas). I was definitely huffing by the time I reached the top! There was a nice path around the buildings, so I ran around a couple of times before heading down to level ground.
Next stop was the Mormon Temple. I ran the perimeter a few times, and took a couple of short detours inside the massive walls a couple of times, although I didn’t run anywhere inside the gates (I felt like that may have been somewhat sacrilegious, even though I’m not Mormon myself).
Throughout the downtown area, I kept seeing these containers with orange flags in them. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what they were for, until I took the time to read one of the signs posted above the containers. It said something to the effect of “Look both ways before crossing the street. For added visibility, carry an orange flag across with you.” Umm, no thanks. I’m not very cool to begin with, and I definitely don’t need a safety flag when I’m crossing the street to make me even less cool. But for people who aren’t as superficial as me, I’m sure that there is some merit to announcing your presence by waving around a construction flag.
After leaving the Temple area, en route back to the hotel, I found myself on television. Nothing special, just me in the background of some morning news casters, Good Morning America style. Only it was just me and a homeless guy. And nobody came out to interview us. If the photo would have turned out, you would be able to see me in the live television feed above the window. I was surprised that they didn’t have any real delay set up between the live and the broadcast. I guess they don’t have many people in Utah giving profane gestures or dropping their pants behind the news casters.
I was really surprised at how many bike commuters I saw in Salt Lake City. It was a breath of fresh air, compared with the three of us bike commuters in Dallas – ok, so I know there’s more than three of us, but most days it sure doesn’t feel like it!
I think that next time I’m in Salt Lake City for a meeting, I’ll plan my schedule a little different and try to make sure I can get out and run some of the trails surrounding the city. I’m not much of an urban runner, and the stoplights at every block were driving me crazy!