Sunday, December 26, 2010

Woof woof, bacon, maple syrup and manatees

Well, I have never spent a Christmas quite like this one. Am currently down in Fort Lauderdale, FLA with la belle et ses parents. So that's a fully fracophone Christmas. This has had the effect (an advantage to some I'm sure) of shutting me up almost completely; my French isn't good enough yet to think and speak on my feet! I can keep up with simple conversations but by the time I've translated a sentence, come up with a suitable reply and translated that, the conversation is somewhere else completely. So my verbal contributions are effectively limited to "Oui", "Non", "Pamplemousse", "Toaster", "c'était écoeurant" (probably misspelled but my accent is atrocious anyway) and the ever popular "Oui, je vais prend une autre bière". After a couple of bières it gets better, especially if the Canadiens are playing. You'd be surprised how far you can get with "Carey Price, eh?"

This morning, Boxing Day, we were up at 5. Yup, five, 5, cinq. WTF? La Belle had entered us all in the Greater Fort Lauderdale Road Runners Resolution Run, an essentially pan-flat 5K in a State Park somewhere near the ocean. So, that was up as early as I do for the Bridgetown LC, in the car for 6 and registering for the race at 05:40. Except they got my registration wrong and couldn't find my dossard because they'd written my name as "Nacanay". That was a new one for me.

You know this guy? I don't.

La belle had been cautioning me all week that it was an untimed fun-run and "don't do a Matt Callaghan" viz; bomb around a Running Room 5K Santa Run, winning the thing by five minutes, for naught, and getting injured in the process. As you know, running any race intentionally slow is an anathama; why give me a bib-number if you don't expect me to use it, but I resolved myself to run at a reasonable pace, with the leaders if possible, and not to do a Rami, go cracking off the front and pissing off everyone else who's just out for a good time.

View from the start. There was a signing asking boaters to reduce their speed and watch for manatees; no wonder I felt at ease, being in the presence of other fat marine mammals.

This lasted until the start. A group of four, including a handy-looking Junior, slid off the front in the first few hundred metres and were tantalisingly within sight, only a few strides. So instead of talking it easy and falling back into the laughing group, I closed the gap. There's something of the dog-mentality in me, and many of us I suspect, in that we carry a compulsion to chase down runners (and cyclists and even swimmers). Woof woof!

A car-ornament spotted in the race car-park. Neat.

The guys in the front group were savvy to the idea of "work" and we started taking turns;, going to the front to keep the pace high, but not to intentionally drop people. Yet. It was unasked but expected. Soon, people were sliding of the back and by half-way it was down to myself and one other guy, an ex-pat Jamican called Courtney. We did for the age-groupers by one mile and the Junior a little after. Courtney said the Junior kid been good when he was 14, but had recently discovered girls and his form had subsequently suffered. Good for us.

So, sorry La Belle, I was off the front doing 3:30s (kms), or a 5:30 mile for the first one, but I was doing it in company and to be honest he started it.

I had a crack at the win with what I thought was 200m to go, but what I thought was the 3 mile clock was actually the 1 mile clock (the race was 1 and a half loops) and even though I dropped Courtney I'd gone too early and he was coming back. I let him come back thinking I might, might mind you, recover enough to be able to cover his kick but who am I kidding? I'm a slightly overweight age-grouper on the wrong side of 40 and when Courtney went, all I could do was wave goodbye, bonne chance et bon voyage. I still got second, 17:30 something and it might have been a tad over 5K too.

My warm-down was longer than the race!

There were no prizes, but the GFLRRR set up a table with all the unclaimed prizes from their races, first come first served. I have to say, they have way cool prizes. I was there pretty early and secured 3rd Senior Masters Lady from the 2009 Spookactular 5K. Score!

After that we debouched to brunch. On first sight, the Club Tropical seems pretty run down, kinda closed off and possibly a mafia front (I've read Donnie Brasco). But all the cars outside had "Je me souviens" on the license plates; it's run by expat Quebecois and on Sunday they offer a Canadian brunch, which is essentially plus du bacon avec sirop d'érable et cretons. Done. I'm sold. So two plates full of cured pork-products and home-fries later (there was fruit, but why? There was bacon!), I'd recovered from a ca. 600 calorie run with a 1000 calorie breakfast. Double-score!

As well as offering two chronic diseases in one (atherosclerosis and diabetes) they also have shows with Quebec artists who are playing the snowbird circuit. I wonder if it's the unofficial social centre of the francophone community in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area?

Seeing as we'd dispensed with a race, a run and a slap-up breakfast by noon, we killed time in the afternoon by going for a walk on Hollywood Beach. It was cold by Florida standards, 15C, and people were, I kid you not, wearing coats, tuques and scarves. At the race I saw one guy in tights, long-sleeved technical mid-layer and gloves! It was 18C! Anyway, seeing as it was "freezing" the beach was deserted, and it had a bit of a tropical island feel; white sand, blue, blue ocean and palm trees


I have to say, Christmas decorations look a bit silly in such an environment!

Oh well, compared to what's meterologically on offer in Nova Scotia or the UK, it's a breeze. I feel kinda guilty I'm not sharing in the collective misery, but I'm sure Mother Nature will have saved some for me when I get back!


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