Saturday, March 24, 2018

Running at THINK 2018: that was the year!

The least we can admit, and this has already hit Twitter all week, is that not everything went smoothly at our conference this year. You'd think, pun intended, that we'd know better after running such a conference for 10 years in Vegas but the fact is that there was a ton of first of a kind give the consolidation of several already behemoth conferences (e.g. InterConnect, World of Watson) into a huger one...

On a positive note though, the program included for the first time a significant wellness track with 24 sessions! At least these weren't going to fill as it happened to the precious technical ones on Monday and Tuesday!

Group runs, yoga practices, kickboxing, both at dawn and dusk, talks about nutrition, lifestyle and health, this was some serious stuff, so much that we hired local companies to run this track. And then there was our traditional albeit more confidential group expedition at Red Rock Canyon on Wednesday morning, organized by Scott Knaffla, and with VP Cloud, David Lapp, sponsoring the bus.

All this awareness on the benefits of wellness were particularly interesting to me as, among many hats, I'm also an IBM Wellbeing Champion to promote these themes within our own organization. Better have a sane mind and body to resist some of the current madness we are going through in many areas...

Anyway, such a perfect setting to get some good running this week, if it wasn't for my back injury, dang! So long for making the best out of our 10th and ultimate conference in Vegas, before we move in 2019 to another crazy place for such gathering, even closer to home, San Francisco! I look forward to seeing how we are going to handle the challenge of avoiding the misses we had this year in such a more cramped and urbanized environment.

Back to the title of this post, I did give it a try. Despite another super short night (less than 5 hours), and still experiencing pain in my back after 16 days, I woke up at 4:30 and jogged a mile on the strip to see how my back was holding up. Well, it was so bad that I made it to the group picture but decided not to hop on the bus. I could have of course walked over there but didn't feel that was worth the risk of missing the presentation of one of my clients, Nationwide.

Instead, I jogged from the MGM to Mandalay Bay to see what the official conference group run was about, and was pleased to see a sizeable group of participants, not counting 5 wellness staff members/contractors.

On my way to Mandalay Bay, I got such a chill, passing by the vantage point of the shooter who killed 58 and injured 851 (this Wikipedia page gives a flavor of the horror, even more chilling as we see the next generation taking the gun control debate to the street with March For Our Lives this weekend).
Speaking of terror, here are new additions to the Strip, I assume to prevent a car or truck to kill pedestrians on the sidewalk. Sad that we have to get there.

I left that other group while they were still in their warm-up practice and thought I'd put another mile in to make it 5K since it was so early. Instead, and marveling at the sun rise, I got on my 10-mile LAS airport loop and, although every stride and step was hurting, both from the pounding on the concrete and the muscle extension due to the rib cage expansion at each breath, my legs were so eager to keep moving that I ended up completing the whole loop for a total of 11 miles, oops! The back was super painful for the next 2 hours but I was relieved that passed afterwards as I kept moving from meetings to meeting throughout the day. See this cool 3D fly-over on

Here is the shot I missed at Red Rock Canyon, the X edition

On Thursday, I completed that loop again in the evening after my post-conference meetings, then again on Friday morning before joining the Hybrid Cloud Architects meeting and flying back to SFO at the end of the day.

Bottom line, the muscle hasn't fully healed yet and I hope I'm not damaging it more with these runs, I think it's ok to solicit it this way. At least it's a relief for my mind and mood to get running again, albeit at much slower paces (respectively 9:03, 8:03 and 8:03 min/mile, that could be worse, but the road to running 6 min/mile again at Boston in 3 weeks is going to be short and steep, ouch!). Yet, given the circumstances, I'm quite happy to have logged 50 kilometers with these three back to back (pun intended again...) ultimate runs. Life keeps being good when you push yourself beyond your comfort zone!

Looking forward to having the opportunity to show some of our local trails to THINK 2019 participants in 11 months; leave a comment if you are interested and not on Scott's exclusive list yet! So we don't just... think, but act and run! What another rich week on all levels, business, networking and fitness wise, let's turn all this to keeping making our planet better and smarter! Hopefully confirming the next transformational exponential which Ginni Rometty and John Kelly described at the new Watson's law, in their respective keynotes. Basically, that we exponentially increase knowledge by learning from the exponential increase of data.


1 comment:

Kathy McGroddy-Goetz said...

Great writeup Jean, sorry I was not at Think to make the last Red Rock run but maybe I will be in SF next year! Will look for you at Boston!