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Running-St.Louis
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Running in St. Louis

running-in-st-louis

I stepped outside my hotel room and put my headphones in. Taking the elevator down to the lobby, I looked out at blue sky and sunshine—much nicer than the previous day of cold rain.

Then on the way outside, I did something that brought on instant embarrassment, pain, and déjà vu: I walked directly into a glass door that I didn’t know existed. I thought the door was open, but sadly, it was not.

Since I was walking quickly through the lobby and even getting ready to run as soon as I was outside, the collision was sudden, shocking, and loud. The receptionist, the doorman (who was obviously slacking off on the job), the other guests, and even the piano player turned around to look. Of course, I ignored them as best as I could, finally managing to push open the door that had previously been closed and stumble outside. The world was spinning and when I put my hand to my forehead, it came away streaked with blood. Nice one, Chris.

The déjà vu came from three years ago in Singapore, when I pretty much did exactly the same thing. That time I was carrying a takeaway cup of café au lait, which spilled on the floor during my collision. I’m not sure which was worse—spilling the coffee in a crowded Singapore Starbucks, or crashing my head into a door in St. Louis on the way out for a run.

Quickly deciding that having a concussion on the sidewalk was preferable to being further embarrassed inside, I kept walking down the street. Gradually, my head cleared and I calmed down. I didn’t have a concussion, I wasn’t bleeding that much, and the best thing I could do was try to forget about it and have a good run.

Which is exactly what I did. The hotel was on the waterfront, right by the MLK bridge and the famous Gateway Arch. I only had about 25 minutes to run (time is short on the book tour these days), but it was a great 25 minutes after I got over the door collision. I ran by the waterfront and listened to Marching Bands of Manhattan by Death Cab for Cutie. Then I listened to Paula Cole and Dave Matthews. When time is short, no need to be experimental—stick with what you like.

People often ask about keeping up with running while I’m on the road. These days the goal is just to maintain a base: if I can run at least 3-5 miles, three times a week, I’m not really in marathon mode by a long shot, but I least my body remembers how to run. The main marathon taking place these days is 63 meetups in 63 cities, often back-to-back on a one-per-day schedule.

St. Louis was stop #14 of 63. Last night was Lexington, South Carolina for #28 of 63. So far to go, but so much done already.

On the way back to the hotel I ran under the arch twice, circling back around after the first time to get another look. The sun was out in full force. I was sweating, which is much better than bleeding, and excited about the day. I snuck back in the hotel and kept my head down all the way to the elevator. After getting a shower and packing up, I went back down to check out. Thankfully, the clerk either didn’t recognize me as the guy who had just ran into the glass door, or was nice enough not to say anything.

These things happen; we have to shake them off and keep going. When you run into a glass door, keep running. In Chicago a few days later I showed up at the restaurant where we were having the event and the hostess said, “Oh, are you here for dinner?” I said, “No, I’m here for the 75 people who are coming out in about twenty minutes.” Both of us then realized that something had gone wrong and the restaurant hadn’t planned for our arrival. It was a little awkward at first, but we sorted it out and in the end everything was great.

Remember: always ask, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” Most of the time, the answer isn’t that terrible, or even that likely.

Back in St. Louis

I walked to the parking garage and retrieved my rental car. Onwards to the next stop! This is life in motion. And speaking of life in motion, an hour later I received a speeding ticket in Illinois from a state trooper who was obviously not familiar with AONC. I gave him an invitation to the World Domination Summit, but he still gave me a bill for $140. Alas.

These days I know a lot of people, a lot of people know me, but it’s an interesting dynamic. I think it was Maggie Mason who coined the phrase “famous among dozens,” which is a good way to explain it. I go to book signings and everyone comes out to say hi. Sometimes people introduce themselves at coffee shops or on airplanes. But it’s a very small circle, and no one in the non-blogging world knows who I am, which is probably for the better.

The way you deal with fear and uncertainty is to put things out in the open and do them regardless of anything else that comes your way. Do one thing a day that scares you. Get excited and change things.

This is your reminder today.

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Image: HZ

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40 Comments

  • Josh Swindle says:

    You must have stayed at the Drury downtown. I’ve hit that door before. Granted, I was drinking so I didn’t feel the pain till the next day. Have a good tour.

  • Good for you to keep going! I know the temptation for me would be to go back inside and take a nap.

  • Brett says:

    The takeaway: whenever you do something embarrassing, keep working through it.

    One of my more embarrassing moments of all time (OF ALL TIME) is misspelling ‘chocolate’ in my school’s spelling bee in the 8th grade. When I got the word, I laughed because of how simple it was. I knew I could get it. Unfortunately, as they say – pride comes before the fall.

    When people would mention it (and occasionally people still do!), I laugh with them and go back to whatever I was doing. It’s the equivalent of running into the glass door and continuing on your run anyways.

    The idea is to work through mistakes instead of getting frustrated and ending up quitting for the wrong reason.

  • Hannah says:

    Wow. Nothing like pain and embarrassment to remind us that as much as we might inspire others, we’re still only human. I think it keeps us humble. I’m pretty sure nearly everyone who saw felt bad for you, and was glad it wasn’t them.

    One speeding ticket on a 48-state tour? Not bad. Though, it’s not quite over yet. Keep on keepin’ on Chris!

  • Olga says:

    Thank you for posting this today, at this very moment. I am doing a solo work abroad trip and the glamor of it is slowly fading. When you work and travel, the excitement is different as your responsibilities and commitments are with you everywhere you go. Ironically, running every day (in Quebec City at that where it’s cold as heck right now) has kept me going through those days when I ‘run into the door’. Today is one of those, but it is so comforting to know that it’s not just me. We all go through this. Sometimes at home in the comfort of our support network and sometimes alone on our adventures.

    Thank you.

  • Jeanie says:

    The Arch is sleekly inspiring (to me anyway) 🙂 beautiful picture!

    I heard about your plan for world domination being written out before all this *looks around*

    I’m not sure how mobbed you’ll be in OKC, but it would be a pleasure to give you a hug & get a 30 second critique on my baby plan.(I’ll draw it for time’s sake.) Definitely looking forward to WDS in June.

  • Nathan says:

    Awesome. Runners don’t let blood get in the way 🙂

    See you in Tampa.

  • Linda says:

    Sorry about your head bump, and the ticket…now that one hurts-ugh.

    Not that it was too scary, but I just sealed the deal on a rescue Siberian Husky. Scary b/c it’s another life to be responsible for, but excited about the possibilities. The shelter owner explained that the economy has been especially harsh to her mission, but assured me I’d have plenty of choices. I hope I make the right decision…

    Thanks for the reminder to endeavor one scary thing per day Chris. Who knows all the lives we could touch..?

  • heidi says:

    Glad you are ok! Beautiful pic too!

  • kimmie says:

    Oh, how that brings back memories…. after a 16-hour drive and then a 3-hour curbside wait for my host to arrive… a full on crash into a storm door…” *sigh* I am grateful it did not shatter… I hope to run someday… 🙂 in my dreams it is the most amazing feeling!

  • D.esigner says:

    I must say I understand just how you feel. The last time I ran into a glass door (physically, not metaphorically) I was staying over at a friends place. Coming in from the backyard meant walking through the family room. Unfortunately that also meant I would crash into the expertly cleaned glass door for the viewing pleasure of a room of people. I’m pretty certain that was an honor only shared by myself and the family dog. Good times!

  • Jen Gresham says:

    Chris-

    This gave me a good chuckle as I have done the exact same thing. I always thought it was better to be elegant than beautiful, but it’s hard when you’re a klutz. Not that I’m calling you a klutz. LOL

    But it was the speeding ticket story that really got me laughing. Can’t believe the World Domination Summit offer didn’t work!

    My husband is traveling for business right now and called to tell me how much he is enjoying AONC. Since he doesn’t read any blogs but mine, and sometimes not even that, I think we can safely say you are known and appreciated outside the blogging world. Congratulations, and thanks for another great post.

  • I love your honesty and willingness to share an embarrassing story. But, I love the message even more of pushing through the setbacks. It’s something we all need daily reminders to do. Thanks, as always, for inspiring!

  • I remember that post from back then. This is insane. Thanks for keeping the tradition alive. But wait… St. Louis was right before I saw you in Kentucky right? Wow, more had happened than you let on. :>)

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  • Garret says:

    Chris,

    I must admit I did laugh when I read about you hitting the glass door until I realised I’ve done it before myself! I liken it to the infamous “PUSH” / “PULL” on doors in public that we all invariably get wrong! What makes it worse is when you’re by yourself, sometimes you somehow feel more embarrassed than if you were with friends. But as you said, you gotta keep goin, I’m just glad you didn’t leave a trail of blood down the streets of St. Louis.

    BTW, I picked up your book in NYC a few weeks back as its not out in Europe till December. Enjoying it so far and you never know, it may just give me the impetus I need.

  • Tisha Gay Reed says:

    So I just left a training for my governmental supervisor’s job about disciplining employees. The trainer stated “employees are fired because they will not conform.” I immediately realized that my days are numbered.

  • Annie Stith says:

    Somebody should’ve warned you about those Staties across the river. And I’m sure the clerk saw your head bump but was too polite to let you know. We were part of the genteel South, just not the cotton-growing, slave-owning part up here in St. Louis. (People forget that.)

    Sorry I missed you.

  • Andrea James says:

    I suppose the most avid runners should have at least one good story about bleeding in public. 🙂

    Mine involved looking over my shoulder to check a cute guy out, and tripping on a sidewalk crack and scraping my knee. This was in a city that shall go unnamed, on the US Gulf Coast.

    …I love exploring a new place via a run, and the best part is getting back to your hotel room, sweaty and panting, and hopping in the shower, ready for whatever the day might hold!

  • John Mathews says:

    That gave me a nice laugh because I remember reading your post about the other glass door. I think the one thing I would add to your article is that we all need to laugh at ourselves now and then. Life is comical and we tend to take it too seriously.
    I remember one time I parked and was trying to get to a restaurant through a series of sprinkers that covered the whole area, shooting out reclaimed water. (FUN!) I ran through them because that was the only way to get to the entrance, and then realized I forgot my wallet in the car. I ran back through them, got my wallet, ran through again. After going through them for the third time, the sprinkers went off. A director couldn’t have timed it better in a movie. I just laughed.

    I hope your day is filled with laughter.

  • “When you run into a glass door -keep running”

    Love it!
    Trisha

  • Susan says:

    I thought I was the only person who did things like run into a glass door, say the wrong thing at meetings and spill paint all over myself. It’s all in how you look at it! Thanks for sharing and looking forward to meeting you in Dallas Friday!

  • Jason Dudley says:

    I actually really enjoyed reading this little article that was simply about you going for a jog. 🙂

  • Zach Ellerbrook says:

    Oh yeah, I’ve gotten a few tickets from Illinois state troopers on the other side of St. Louis. They’re vicious.

  • I’m loving your book Chris. I’d promised to send it to a Twitter follower after I was done- I like to do that with books. But I had to order him a new one…I want to write in all my margins. Fear and the one scary thing every day is kinda where I’m at. Your writing is so straightforward- which looks easy- and is sooo not. Thank you!

  • Both your story and some of the responses hit chords with me. I’ve done the clean-plate-glass-door-crash, too … but this door story is a little different.

    I was walking in the middle – there were three of us approaching double doors. My friends each held a door open for me, and I walked smack into the centre post that I hadn’t even noticed. Ouch!

    Keep running and keep smiling, Chris, all the way to Calgary! Looking forward to meeting you there. I loved your book and have passed it on to my daughter and son-in-law. Perhaps they’ll keep it and I’ll get another one.

  • maggie says:

    Sorry about your head, Chris, but the story did make me laugh. I’ve done that myself and been unable to laugh at my own stupidity because my head hurt so much.

    My thing seems to have become mistaking the position of streets I know really well and not only walking miles out of the way myself but also giving detailed directions to someone accompanied by smiles and jocularity, with them thanking me profusely, only for me to realise later on that I have sent them in totally the wrong direction. It’s the most embarrassing feeling as I’m powerless to correct my mistake. I want to shout as loud as possible in the street, an abject apology for them………….but that would be very much more embarrassing.

    A friend who doesn’t read blogs said she knew about you from an article in a newspaper here in London.’ Oh yes, he’s famous,’ she said ‘Oprah was talking about him and he’s in the Guinness book of records for all the countries he’s visited.’

    Well above the parapet! Well done!!

  • Paul Carlson says:

    Fun story about pressing on after pressing into the glass door. Darn minimalist architecture.

    Did the same thing a couple months back at a hotel, heading into the swimming pool. Wham! Good times.

    Was the first to pick up AONC at the library (1st!) and am digging into it a second time… my copy from Amazon is on the way so I can mark up the margins like Megan.

    Great stuff, man, keep it up.

  • Gary Wilson says:

    Ouch, those are the annoying things that seems to jump out of the road and bite us when we are flying fast in the direction of a goal.

    One of my best is falling off my bicycle in the rain in winter on the way to the gym because I cycled into the tram lines here in Munich. Scraped hand and knee, ripped pants but I still went to the gym. I was achey all over the next day.

    A worse one now that I think about it, was when I was in a riding lesson doing flexibility exercises with my horse and the horse reared up and threw me. I got up and finished the lesson but I had concussion and once my instructor realised it, he sent me home. I only “woke up” at home watching re runs of yesterdays movie that my parents put on in order to wake me up.

    I guess the key is to get up and continue, conscious or not!

  • I’m with Jen, the speeding ticket story is absolutely hilarious! Thank you so much – I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of that one! An invitation to WDS? LOL.

  • Chris says:

    Thanks for keeping it real Chris. I think in life we have to walk into a lot of glass walls because we’re just so focused on our goals.

    That’s while they call it “stumbling on happiness.” 🙂

  • rob white says:

    All of our problems (even if they appear physical), are mental… that bears repeating: all of our problems are mental (even if they appear physical). Learning how to reframe time gives you command of that part of your mind where infinite intelligence dwells. Reframing time simply means we see the solution and are not dwelling in the problem. What I love Chris, is that you simply don’t have time to be a victim and wail out “poor me” … that’s because you are up to something much bigger.

  • Rick says:

    Great to meet you over the weekend in Columbia/Lexington, SC – and anytime you come through stop at Jamestown Coffee again, say HI, and they’ll help if they can with any glass doors or non-AONC officers.

  • As a St. Louis-ite, it was great seeing you in the city…sorry about the ticket haha.

  • Steven says:

    I feel bad cause I laughed a little reading about your head collision. Of course, we’ve all done that to some degree (although hopefully not with a big audience around).

  • Giving him the invitation was classic. Glad all that’s passed. May the remainder of your stops be pain free – or at least may you get such great stories from them.

    Cheers!

  • Dan S. says:

    I’ve done it with a mug filled with coffee. Hit the glass door after swiping my badge. The card reader was not fast enough for me and me hitting the glass door with face. The coffee exited the mug about a foot up above the mug I was holding down the glass and all over the floor. Opps, I said. The cleaning people happen to be standing right behind me. Thanks I said and left.

  • ami says:

    Sorry – I laughed when I read about your misadventures. I know the feeling of being set in my place by the universe after feeling like I’ve got the whole world in my hands – keeps me humble. Glad the glass door incident was not serious – but hope the universe accords more respect to your dignity for the remainder of the tour.

  • Phil says:

    Great story!

    Perhaps better advice would be, “When you run into a glass door, open it, THEN keep running”.

  • As the saying goes ‘if you live in a glass house… remember to open the glass door.. before jogging outdoor’. That was another interesting and hilarious read on your eventful life of adventure. I’ll be working on ‘do one thing a day that scares you’ and get excited and change things… starting tomorrow. One of my bucket list is to complete a marathon. Is playing 4 hours of tennis the equivalent or an alternative to the arduous training schedule.? It’s an unconventional idea, anyway.

  • Hehe, hilarious! I remember when I walked into a glass door. Luckily I wasn’t running. Ouch!

    I like your suggestion to do something that you’re afraid of each day. Definitely something to think about.

    As always, great post!

    Christina

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