Running in the basement

Today I actually made it to the hotel gym. It seems to be an unwritten law of travel for me that no matter what good intentions and however many sets of training gear I pack, I spend all my time sat at desks avoiding exercise. But today I managed to get up early enough to get down to the basement and get on a treadmill.

The W where I’m staying has four treadmills. I arrived at just the right time to get one, because five minutes after I got on, the other three were all occupied. One by a woman jogging slowly, one by a bloke jogging slowly, and one by a man running in bare feet who had a very loud footstep, as if he was stamping on the treadmill with every stride.

The treadmills are new and have lots of silly features that aren’t really necessary, like graphics showing huge fake dials about your speed and exertion. They also have the option to watch a video of a running route as you run. There you are, running in place but able to see yourself run through mountains or parkland. I chose New Zealand as I’ve never been there, and got this odd virtual running tour around Auckland.

The video footage has been obtained, I imagine, by sending somebody out with a gyroscopically-stabilised camera (otherwise everyone watching it would probably get sick) but the cameraman walked very slowly, and the speed doesn’t vary with the pace you’re running at. I had expected that when I was running at ten miles per hour, the video would speed up, but instead it continued at its glacial pace, frustrating my hope of running through Auckland faster and faster. I still endured 25 minutes though, before going back to my room and getting ready for work.

This evening, at the other end of this long day, I went for dinner with one of my colleagues and all his friends from New York. We had dinner at the Blue Riband Bakery; down in the basement they have a dining room with a good selection of meat and cheese, and desserts. I assumed it would just be a bakery, but it’s a proper restaurant. I had a cocktail, a Corpse Reviver #2, one of my favourites from Singapore, and half an avocado, some pungent cheese, a bowl of soup and a fudge sundae, while everyone around me ate bone marrow and other meaty treats. The waiter was quite happy with us eating till well past midnight, and then we left to brave the cold, catching a cab back up to Union Square. Tomorrow I fly home, and I’m hoping and worrying about whether I get to the airport on time…

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