I survived the Chicago Seminars! (Survived refers not to the amounts of information taken in, nor the amount of alcohol consumed, but rather to the Tornado Scare on the Sunday of the Chicago Seminars).
Approximately 500 people attended and I had the opportunity to attend various programs given by the experts and the honor to meet up with many slightly obsessed point/mile/travel
I find it amusing, and also rather complimentary, that people are beginning to know me and my blog. On more than one occasion, people would look at my name tag, and say “Oh, you’re the one who runs” or “you’re the one who runs all those marathons.” (Some stepped back and tried to run in the other direction as they spoke those words…. but I gave chase!). A few had positive words for my blog, and that meant the world and beyond to me.
I arrived at O’Hare Airport early on Friday, about 8 a.m. I ran into Jeff (who has a blog entitled Indulge the Wanderlust) at the airport, and we took the shuttle from the airport to the hotel. At the hotel, we checked into our respective rooms, and immediately went across the street to the Office Depot store to buy American Express Pre-paid cards, Vanilla Reload cards, and the like. (People buy these cards either because they have minimum spends on new credit cards, or they have the Chase Ink Plus or Ink Bold cards and can earn 5X points on purchases at Office Depot ~~ If you want to learn more about this, read anything written by Frequent Miler [Greg]).
I assumed I’d relax near the hotel for the afternoon before the arrival of the majority of attendees later that day, but that was not to be the case. Jeff and I came walking back to the hotel and saw Delta Points (Rene) and his wife, Lisa, in their van. They were on their way to the airport to pick up two more attendees, Marshal (who writes MJ on Travel) and Howie, who contributes to the Frugal Guy’s blog, and were then all going to lunch at the landmark restaurant Signature Room at the 95th Floor of the John Hancock Building in Chicago. They invited us scragglers along for the ride. How could we say no? So, there were six of us starting the weekend together, laughing, enjoying the view, and sharing stories, at a beautiful restaurant. Life is good.
|View from the Signature Room Restaurant (photo: Will Run For Miles)|
Friday night, the events began, and they did not stop until the tornado alarms went off (literally) on Sunday. There was a large gaggle of bloggers in attendance at the Chicago Seminars, and I was honored to be labeled one as well. Such good company. I am humbled. They’ve all written about the weekend in detail, so I refer you to some of their blogs, if you want to catch up on the nuances of the weekend.
I will focus on two topics.
First, the fitness facilities at the hotel. I always have grand plans for working out on trips, and sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. Well, on Saturday I did, and Sunday I didn’t.
The first floor of the Holiday Inn is atrium style. Through the clear glass is a lovely pool. Off of the pool area is a rather small
cubicle-like greenhouse-like fitness room. The designers did a good job of making it look a little larger than its actual size with windows and mirrors. I used the gym on saturday morning. There was no one there. No one. There were only a handful of machines, but they all appeared to be clean and in good order. I only ran about two miles, as breakfast was only until 8 am on saturday. I would imagine that, under normal circumstances, the fitness area would be too small, and that there would be lines to use the equipment.
|Treadmill and Elliptical (photo: www.WillRunForMiles.com)|
|Mirrors and Glass give Room Larger Feeling (photo: www.WillRunForMiles.com)|
|action photo! (photo: www.WillRunForMiles.com)|
I’d wished I’d run outdoors, especially when I later found out that there was a lovely park only a mile or two away, and double especially so, when, after the fact, I saw a post in Flyertalk written by The Pudding Guy looking for people to run with over the weekend. (Note to self: read Flyertalk more often!) (p.s. in case you don’t know who the Pudding Guy is, read this Time Magazine Article The Pudding Prince of Frequent-Flyer Miles). (By the way, one of the reasons I did not run outdoors – a gripe of mine – is that there were no safes in the hotel rooms – in all other respects, the rooms were clean and adequate).
Second, this anecdote is for my runner friends – especially the Marathon Maniacs. I was at the seminar on friday, and glanced at Facebook. And there was an entry, from Marathon Maniac # 3657, Liz Santos (whom I’d met briefly at the Great Cranberry 50K in July) saying she was on her way to a Flyertalk Seminar in Chicago. We sent messages back and forth, and finally met up. It was great to see her. What a nice surprise!
Finally, I was honored to be included on a panel with other bloggers! You are all fascinating, and such great teachers. I remain your humble grasshopper! I can’t wait to go back again next year.