I had an enormously enjoyable two-week break with the family over the Christmas/New Year period. Enjoyable because, from morning to night, the main thing on my mind was what we should eat, where we should go to eat it and how much of it should we eat. Indeed, our daily itinerary revolved around these deliberations on eating.
Then there was the drinking, ranging from the soft kind that requires multiple pit stops en route to a recreational destination, to the alcoholic kind that pretty much rules out venturing to any destination.
After five consecutive days of this bingeing, my body started to cry out for help.
“Hey dipshit, I’m dying over here! So pretty please, with cream and cherry on top, take me fuckin’ running!“, it pleaded me on the sixth day.
So I did.
This was despite the 36 degree-Celsius mid afternoon temperature that day, with humidity of 1,000% and UV intensity technically classified as ‘Even-Sunscreen-Lotion-Ain’t-Gonna-Save-Your-Ass-From-Burning’ High.
Of course, I could have waited until evening when the temperature would have dropped by 10-15 degrees. But that would have meant sacrificing an ‘All-You-Can-Shove-Down-Your-Throat” buffet dinner at a Korean BBQ restaurant that very night. And I’d be damned if I was going to miss out on that!
However, regret for the decision to run came less than a kilometre into it.
It was hot! DAMN HOT! Locked-in-a-sauna-with-the-key-thrown-away hot!
It was so hot that I had difficulty breathing. Hot enough that my body was very quickly coated with a thick shiny sheen of sweat – another layer of UV protection on top of the sunscreen lotion that I had already applied.
Then the stitches in the abdomen started. It was the type that made me realise that I do indeed have a six-pack behind my fine flab of tummy fat. The first stitch attacked the second pack on the left formation. When that began to fade in pain, the third pack on the right formation started to stitch. It was then joined by another stitch in the first pack on the same side.
Round and round the stitches went, like an orchestra, in my stomach. It was just as well no one else was crazy enough to run on the trail that day, for I would have looked even crazier – bending left, right, front and back trying to lessen the discomfort from the stitches.
The suffocating heat then went to town with my mind. Normally when I run, the music from my iPod Mini acts as just a background companion while I think. That day, the music was the very epicentre of my thoughts.
For instance, when Justin Timberlake’s TKO came on, I started hallucinating that I was directing the music video for the song. I was imagining shit like telling him on the set:
“Listen here JT, when you’re being dragged by the pick-up truck, you need to show a bit more pain and angst. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s just not realistic to have zero facial expression. Not when your freakin’ body is being scraped along the dirt road by a moving car!”
When Cold Chiesel’s Fame Trees came on, I began imagining that I was singing the song with Jimmy Barnes, on stage in a smoke-filled shit-hole pub.
By far the weirdest one was when the song Feel This Moment came on and I started imagining that I was Pitbull, jamming with Christina Aguilera.
And I won’t even go into what I was imagining when Mariah Carey’s Touch My Body started playing.
While all this nonsense was going on upstairs, my legs and feet just kept on moving downstairs, minding their own business, pounding away in excruciating heat.
When I eventually staggered home after the run, my wife looked at me in horror and asked: “Are you OK, honey? You look like you’re about to drop dead. But the way, if you are going to drop dead, can you please do so in the backyard? Your sweat is ruining the lounge room!”
Even my Garmin watch looked dead-tired, with just enough battery life to show that I somehow managed to trudge 17 km in the heat. My brain must have been fried by then because I was adamant I ran 170 km.
The funny thing was, 30 cooling minutes and about half a gallon of water later, I felt great. After 5 days of gluttony, my body felt liberated and loose. It was as if the exertion and the sweat squeezed out all the lethargy, giving me that ‘cleansed’, born-again feeling all over.
Then, after a long cold shower, I was ready to tackle that Korean BBQ ‘All-You-Can-Shove-Down-Your-Throat” buffet dinner.
And, believe me, I shoved plenty down my throat that night!
Keep on pounding.