Friday, March 19, 2010

Correr en Monterrey Mexico

The better part of this week was spent in Monterrey, Mexico on a business trip. It was my first visit there and I was taken by the majesty of the scenic vistas. The views from the work site made it almost enjoyable having to be there. Despite the upside of enjoying the Sierra Madre range and being in a new and different place, the downside to the work I had to do there was the inability to do much running. As a matter-of-fact I didn't do any until my last day there. I brought my gear in case I had the opportunity and my training schedule definitely called for mileage this week so I needed to get some time in where I could. It is tough to train for a race and miss several days so I was bent on doing some kind of aerobic exercise. The work I had to do at the truck plant required me to be on my feet all day long so it wasn't as if I was sitting at a desk but I still needed cardio work to keep me in shape.

Being in a strange place where the language is different is a little intimidating but I was staying in a well-known hotel chain so there was some similarity. My wife stressed to me over and over the need to be prudent and watchful wherever I went so with the cautious tone etched in my consciousness, I decided to save running on the streets for another time and settled instead for the hotel treadmill; or "dreadmill" as it is so affectionately known. If you have ever run any appreciable distance on a treadmill you know it is tough. My training schedule for thew day called for a 7 mile run so I knew it was going to be a challenge.

During the trip to Monterrey one of the most difficult aspects was the language barrier. My frustration with not being able to comprehend the spoken or written word was continually tempered by the realization I was, after all, a visitor in another country. The source of my frustration was none other than my inability to understand Spanish. So, it should not have been a surprise to me that when I got to the exercise room, or gimnasio, at the hotel, that everything would be written in that native language. Like most hotel exercise rooms, posted prominently on the wall was a list of do's and don'ts for accepted behavior. I couldn't help but laugh at one of the rules that stated that the participant should discontinue exercising at the first signs of stress. Ha! If that was the case, I doubt I would ever get very far in my daily regimen. It seems I can never get into a good run without feeling some measure of stress.

I realize the difficulty I have with running on a treadmill is purely psychological. The body really has no knowledge of the environment it is inhabitating. The legs move in response to the moving belt in an effort to keep from falling off the end. The heart and lungs react to the increased need for oxygen to the leg muscles and the heat generated by the whole system causes one to sweat. Hopefully one is exercising in an environment where the sweat can sufficiently evaporate and draw heat away from the body. All of this is happening whether one is on the street, on a track, or on a hotel treadmill.

So, why is it always such a difficult run? I believe it is the feeling of a lack of accomplishment. One of the reasons I run is to get the feeling of having gone somewhere and having covered a distance; as if to say "I ran to so-and-so today" or "I ran up that mountain or down that trail last week", or "I ran in the fiercest rain storm last week and splashed through a thousand puddles and did it all in record time." No, the reality that you have spent an hour fighting against the relentless motion of a rubber belt stretched between two pulleys is hardly my idea of a thrilling time. After the exercise experience, the body knows no difference. Calories have been burned and muscles have expanded and contracted in measured accord. The mind's reaction to the experience is quite different, though.

My time of running in Monterrey was certainly esoteric. I am glad I was able to get some "sweat time" in but I vow to do it differently next time. My runner's thirst for adventure was not quenched on this trip. I promise the next time I make this trip that correr en monterrey will be more than using the hotel treadmill but actually pounding the pavement in a new and exciting place.

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