Back On the Rock

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Miami Miles: Week 6

The search for P.M. running buddies is futile. Morning runs mean no nights out. Not an option, especially not at Christmas. I’m considering starting my own club – The Rum Runners – people who like to drink and run, though preferably not in that order.


Monday: Emancipation Park’s Christmas Concert series is on. Dean Fraser and the EPark Big Band are just what I need for my planned 55 minute 10k. Unfortunately, I am nauseous. My sister-in-law has been retching all day and last night’s curried lobster and stuffed crabs are the primary suspects. I’ve been relatively fine, but as I pull into the Park, today’s lunch – veggie balls and broad bean stew – lurches south, then north, then south again. Nausea and the Christmas crowd in the Park aren’t exactly ideal conditions, but my running-induced OCD has returned and after a quick trip to the facilities, I forge ahead.

At the 5k mark my one sensible brain cell begs me to stop. I am practically gargling broad bean stew and my stomach contents are fidgeting like irate stand-by passengers for a southbound flight. A 25 metre swath of the track is clogged with waiting performers, so there’s little hope of getting in a good time. But there’s no space on my schedule this week to fit in the missing 5k so I’m determined to keep going. Inspiration comes at lap 11 when I innocuously pass a heavy-set fellow with a lopsided stride. I christen him ‘Fitzroy’. Fitzroy, predictably, doesn’t take kindly to being passed and 150 metres later, ratatat footsteps announce his revenge. Here comes Fitzroy, plowing down on my right in a blaze of glory.

Oh no, Fitzroy.

Broad bean stew be damned, there’s no way I’m being punked. I pick up my turnovers and take him down in 50 metres. But Fitzroy’s heart is as big as his belly and he answers the challenge. 100 metres go by with Fitz yapping at my heels. This is not good. Now I have to teach him a lesson. So I put a little polish on the next 200 and leave Fitzroy to enjoy the melodic strains of Dean Fraser’s saxophone.

A teenager takes the stage to perform a poem in dialect. One lap later, I hear ragged breathing. Ratatat footsteps. A who dat? Nuh Fitzroy.

Fitz doesn’t know this but he’s in direct contravention of my running rules. So now lesson time is over, and I have to punish him. I slow down to let him find a spot just off my right shoulder. Turn around to smile at him. And then I make him pay.

What happen to you Fitzroy?
You can’t keep up the pace?
If you want fe catch me next time
Take likkle off you’ waist


As Fitzroy’s breathing and footsteps fade into the night, I notice that my nausea has gone, cured by the magic elixir called competition. I spend the next few laps looking for Fitzie, but he’s nowhere to be seen. Carolers take the stage. Just as I start thinking about calling it quits, I spy fresh bait. A runner ahead, moving at my pace. Yellow football jersey. Number 12 on the back. That one sane cell pipes up again: Just enjoy the night. Enjoy the Christmas lights and the music. But I smell blood in the water and I can’t help myself.

I speed up to take on Number 12, but he isn’t going down without a fight. Number 12 does justice to the memory of his baller days and answers with a kick I can’t match. Humble pie joins the bean stew in the back of my throat and suddenly I fell very weak and nauseous. Sanity returns and I slow down. I nurse my wounded pride and tell myself to finish the 10k, go home and rest. But half a lap later, here’s a gift as glorious as partridge in a pear tree - Number 12 hobbling along slowly, favouring his left knee. Ah, Number 12, you’re the worst kind of runner: a one lap faker. I feel sorry for you buddy, but I have to take you out on principle.

On the 12th day of Christmas
Santa gave to me
A slow runner with a bad knee.

I put Number 12 to bed and finish up the next two laps gleefully.

The 56:50 doesn’t disappoint me. Starry night. Beautiful music. Two new scalps.

Sometimes having a good time is more important than running one.


An emergency trip to the facilities follows Monday’s run. Broad beans, veggie balls, curried lobster, stuffed crabs and every meal I have ever eaten exit my body in an instant. Somehow it’s not as cool as Jarrod Shoemaker recycling Gatorade at the finish line of the New York Tri. And it only gets worse. I spend the night propped up on my throne like Pope John Paul in his last days. This is more than runners trots. This is good old fashioned Jamaican running belly.

Tuesday I am slow and miserable but I rouse myself enough to pull through a workout at Gymkhana. Wednesday: not stomach flu, not cramps, not a long work day, rain, nor a fresh pedicure will keep me from running. The plan: 9 miles. Unfortunately, it’s 10 pm before I can even think about running, so that leaves the Park. Laps and laps and laps in the Park. 29 in fact. It’s nearly empty so there’s no one for me to play with. Only the checkered commentary from the security guards keep me going:

“Take time, man. Done now.”

“This lap too slow. Don’t give up.”

“Da gyal yah mad, star. She a run inna de rain? Fe wah? She a t’ief?”

At 11:20 I’m only at lap 25 and the guards decide they’ve had enough. They close the park and I have to call it a night. 7.75 miles: 78 minutes.

The rest of the night is torture. Nausea. Night sweats. Hallucinations. I finally have to conced that I really am sick. I take a day off on Thursday. Friday, I’m still throwing up on the way to the gym so I decide on a short run. Just to make it intersting I alternate (very weak) sprints and recoveries. I inch the treadmill up to 7.5 miles an hour, my old 8 minute mile pace. Surely I’m mistaken. I don’t remember ever running at this speed and certainly not for an hour. Again, 35 sucks. 2.26 miles: 20 minutes.

Saturday: who goes running on Christmas Eve? Not the running friend who calls to bail on Miami, blaming too much holiday cheer for interfering with his training. Not me – officially laid out by stomach flu, I take another day off.


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