14 November 2008

Holidays in the Sun

The INTA midyear leadership meeting, open only to committee members and the like, is a very different proposition from the gigantic annual meeting. There are 1100 registered "attendees" compared with about 10,000 so it's much easier to get around and to meet people. I have seen many old friends and made new ones, but the meeting venue is a nightmare.
It's a "Resort and Country Club" in Boca Raton, Florida, a community that exists to cater to the needs of those who wish, like Steve Norris, to spend time with their money. They can come to the country club to be parted from large amounts of it and play golf, eat, drink, or whatever. It is a parallel universe which most of the people I have talked to here say they would never have thought about entering had not INTA used it as a venue for the meeting.
It is not permitted to park your own car on site. You are relieved of it at the entrance and you recover it on payment of $9 when you want to leave. We tried to park on the street and walk in, but that too is anathema to the average American and the guard at the entrance, insisting that this part of the estate was unrelated to the conference (though it was adjacent to where many delegates were housed), threatened to call the police as we were trespassing. There is a sense that they are doing us a huge favour merely allowing us to be here. In conversation and text message exchanges with friends, I start to refer to the entrance as the prison gate.
I have managed to fit in a couple of very pleasant runs, taking in the beach - soft though the sand is. On Thursday morning, I drove to a park on the oceanside with Marek and we ran 1.25 miles along the beach and back, an unambitious distance but very hard on the legs even though we ran at the water's edge (or even in the water) where the sand was firmer. Then on Saturday, while Marek recovered after an evening that lasted until 4am and Susannah, who was also expected, packed or something, I ran with a newly-acquired running mate, Matias from Buenos Aires, whom I had dragged into the Vortex when I noticed he was wearing a running watch after he took a photo of Hilary and me at our request. We ran from the resort to the park by the beach, then the same 1.25 miles as on Thursday, then back, totalling over six miles. The weather was fantastic, the scenery was attractive, there were seabirds to watch, the pace was good, and the conversation was interesting - a perfect run, in short.

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