RUNNING THE STREETS
OF PLAYA DEL CARMEN
After gaining five pounds in five days soaking up the sun in old Mexico, El Jefe of the Pine Belt Pacers, yours truly, decided that it would be advisable to take a long-overdue early-morning run while on my honeymoon vacation. Donning nothing more than my Ironman necklace, a pair of shorts and my new two love handles, I ambled off down the cobblestone streets of Playa Del Carmen, situated along the beautiful Mayan Riviera. It took about five minutes for the real adventure to begin.
First off, as the new wife says when she begins explaining to me how I’ve messed something up again, I almost twisted my ankle off as I passed a Catholic church and saw who I thought was my long-lost friend from Laurel, Ray Martin, dressed in a priest’s outfit with a black cape. Turns out, it was a life-sized wax figure of the great Father Guido Sarducci of Saturday Night Live fame. (See results pictures from last week’s race in Jackson for true picture of Brother Martin). But gamely I recovered and resumed my trek along Calle 5, the heart of the once tiny village known for nothing more than a great beach and topless sunbathers. As I ran, I reminisced about the success that our club has enjoyed in spite of my leadership, and thought about all the good times we’ve had and how much surely I mean to the club. Then it dawned on me that the annual Pine Belt Pacers’ “night out” was scheduled for the very same week that I was to be out of the country. I tried not to let it bother me though and continued running, gasping for breath from the heavy humidity.
“Self,” I said, “I’m sure it was just an oversight.”
Turning toward the beach, I then came to the shores of the Caribbean and slowed to jog more carefully in the deep sand. I tried that for about a quarter, then drifted toward the water, where the sand seemed to be more packed. Looking down to ensure my footing as I jogged, I finally looked up to see a big Mexican lady running toward me with arms outstretched a la the movie “10”. Only problem was, nothing about her resembled Bo Derick, so I turned around and started running for my life. By then I was sprinting a tune of about six-thirty a mile, when I realized that I was running right for the chairs of some European topless ladies smoking cigars. They were as startled as I was, so I then made a break for the water.
Trying to act nonchalant, I swam freestyle for what seemed like a half mile when I looked up and realized that the current had swept me into the jurisdiction of an exclusive resort down the beach from town. There a heavily-armed uniformed security guard stood sentry with his hands out hollering “Alto, Alto”. Not knowing what “Alto” meant, I ran toward him and stretched out my own arms and yelled;
“No problemos, Senor, I am El Jefe of the Pine Belt Pacers.”
He slowly dropped the muzzle of his M-16 from my stomach and a wry smile crept over his face.
“Ah, Senor”, he said, “Welcome to the Ritz-Carlton…”
With that, the man said something in broken English about whether I had ever met the great white warrior runner named Elmer Beardshall. After telling him that I was personally acquainted with him, he then told me a story about the time that the legendary Hank Hardy from Jackson was arrested for holding a shoe clinic for the Leukemia Society in the lobby without a permit. He finally let me pass, where I shortly found myself in a beach bar translating a request for my personal favorite drink, “El Toro Rouge”. I smoked a big Cohiba and ate some fresh guacamole and chips, then decided to resume the workout.
After a quick break, I started back for our hacienda, a little villa down the beach. I passed the usual hawkers and gawkers and managed to keep a good pace back into town. By the time I got back to our place, I was depressed to learn that not only did I not get in a good run, but I actually somehow gained more weight in the process.
These days I’m back in the old routine and trying to get back into fighting shape. Goodness knows I’ve lost my edge, with poor performances in the local races lately.
But don’t count me out yet; I still have six months left in my term as President. Even though the club would like to move forward without me, I don’t intend to let it.
Take a trip now and then and don’t forget to bring your running shoes. There’s no better way to discover new territory than running.
Revolutionary President of the Villa/Zapata Party
Pine Belt Pacers