Day, night, rain, snow, doesn’t matter, give me a new location and I’m off and running. I use the hobby to explore new cities and locations. I’ve run in the majestic shadow of the Swiss mountains, along Lake Geneva. I’ve run down the busy streets of Beijing. I’ve run across all but one major bridge in New York and along the East River. I’ve run in dangerous neighborhoods and rich neighborhoods, foreign lands and across the U.S. I’ve even gotten lost in our nation’s capitol and was forced to ask White House guards to help me find my hotel. The problem was, I couldn’t remember the name of the hotel. But, that’s another story. In races from the East Coast to the Midwest, I’ve run up to 2200 miles in one year, sometimes 100 miles a week. When it’s time to run, I gotta go run, no matter what.
As you can see, running is an important part of my life. But, sometimes, my hobby can be embarrassing.
Years ago, being part of a small group of technical writers, I was enjoying my first trip to Paris. We were there to visit some major French broadcast sites to study the technology. While there, we stayed at a classy hotel near the Eiffel Tower and the Champs de Mars park. Naturally, my desire to go running in this French capital was intense, and I couldn’t wait to get started.
As I began unpacking my belongings, something began gnawing in my head. What was it? Something wasn’t right. Never mind, let’s just get running! Paris in the summer, the Eiffel Tower, the parks and history. Wow, what could be better?
However, as I reached the end of my unpacking, I discovered I’d made a horrendous mistake. While I had packed my running shoes and requisite T-shirts, I had no running shorts. OMG. Now what? I couldn’t run in my business suit, I didn’t have any jeans. I’m in the heart of Paris, right next to a location I’ve always wanted to see and jog around and I don’t have any running shorts. Arrrggg!
While highly discouraged, I decided to check around the hotel neighborhood to see if there was a running store nearby. No such luck. If I’d wanted an expensive dress, suit or coat, plenty of those options, but no running store. I’d have even settled for a swimming suit, but no luck there either.
I then walked over to the tourist area near the base of the Eiffel Tower with the hope that some vendor might be selling T-shirts and running shorts. That’s really not so far fetched. This is common in the U.S. You can buy running shorts in practically any San Francisco, New York or Washington, D.C., tourist trap. It’s easy and ubiquitous. Everyone sells this stuff in their kiosks.
Unfortunately, that’s not so in Paris. After a examining the wares of a dozen vendors selling everything from ice cream to balloons and trashy souvenirs, I became totally dejected. I reached the conclusion I’d not be able to jog around Paris unless it was in my Jockey underwear. Not wanting to also visit a Parisian jail, I decided that wasn’t a realistic option.
Hummm, could this be my solution to my dilemma? I considered the possibilities. Yes. This can work. I promptly bought a pair.
While they were really boxer underwear, they did sort of look like running shorts, albeit really short running shorts.
I decided that if I left the hotel early, well before sunrise, only the hotel staff would see me. And, once I got outside, it’d be dark, and then, who’d care?
The next morning, I got up well before the sun, donned my brand new Eiffel Tower boxers and headed downstairs.
Once outside my hotel room, I felt painfully exposed. I don’t know how catalog models show off underwear because I was covered with goose bumps. I was desperately afraid I’d meet someone in the elevator. Or even worse, that the person would be someone from my travel group.
Once the elevator door opened in the lobby, I scooted across the huge entryway, feeling as though every eye was watching me. If anyone was thinking, “Oh gawd, that nut is in his underwear,” no one said anything.
Once outside, all trepidation receded and I began a wonderful 45-minute run through Paris parks and around the Eiffel Tower. There were plenty of other runners out that early morning and I had no doubt they never gave me a second thought. We were all just enjoying our morning jog.
Upon returning to the hotel, my plan was to time my entrance so I could quickly cross the lobby and directly enter an awaiting elevator. Then, I could rush back to my room, all without being seen.
The best laid plans….
I watched from outside until an elevator opened. Then quickly I paced myself across the lobby floor, headed right for the open elevator door. Almost there, almost here.
Suddenly, the adjacent elevator door opened and out steps one of my fellow technical writers — and a woman too. OMG! How embarrassing!
“Hi Brad, been running”, she asked. “Uh, oh yah”, I sheepishly responded, “Are you, headed for breakfast?” I asked. All the while I’m looking for hole to crawl into. “Yes, I am, see you there,” she responded. And off she trotted.
Quickly, I ducked into the welcomed privacy of the elevator.
All I could think about was her telling the entire crew how she’d seen Brad Dick standing in the hotel lobby wearing nothing but his undies. Oh jeeze, I’m going to be the laughing stock for the rest of the trip.
Later, when I joined my fellow writers at breakfast, no one seemed to know anything about my early morning escapade. No one said anything. No jokes. Nothing.
I later came to the conclusion that either, out of courtesy or maybe she never looked below my waist, the lady never told anyone that she found Brad Dick standing in the hotel lobby in his undershorts.
So, if you’ve got a habit that sometimes caused you to go to extremes, don’t panic. At least you haven't found yourself standing in the lobby of a Paris hotel in your Eiffel Tower underwear.