Running. With Pus.

Location: South Beach.
Temperature: 74° F. Humidity: 70%. Wind: 5-12 mph and gusting.
Run Plan: 11 miles.
Time: 6:45 am.

This is Dad and Daughter’s second run in preparation for her 1/2 marathon in two weeks. Run 1 here: Running. 10, on Good Friday.

Mile 1.0: The shoe-to-sock-to-skin chafing is working up a blister, not on one foot, but on the ball of each foot. With each step, the fluid-filled bubbles form from the friction, the high humidity, the sweaty feet, the damp sweat socks. The result? A stinging bite with each footfall. So early in the run, a (very) bad sign. Wore the wrong shoes, and paying a hefty price. Mind rolls forward, I’m in the bathroom post-run, in awe at how anxious I am to prick the juicy, squishy bubble, when I know I will be suffering with each step for days.  Awed again at the creation of this pus, it’s as clear as the run-off from a mountain stream in Spring. Miracle really, my mind and its workings, and this pus, this beautiful liquid created from something so raw and painful, and the healing process begins.

Mile 2.0: Feral cats meander on the boardwalk.  Lady with wild hair (and wild eyes) feeds them Li’l Nibbles Dry Cat Food from a Ziploc plastic bag, scooping a handful, and letting the nibbles slide out of her hand like sand from an hourglass. Cats watch from a distance, hungry but wary. She organizes the nibbles in the shape of a half moon, and walks to the next drop zone, eyes stare blankly ahead.

Mile 2.5:  Man sits on bench, his head in his hands. Far too warm for the dark heavy coat he has on. He vigorously rubs his head with both hands as if he were trying to shine a red apple to a gloss, then he stops suddenly, and is still. Shoeless, the skin on his feet and legs is caked with dirt.

Mile 2.7: Man in shorts, and stained t-shirt, stands in front of the water fountain brushing his teeth. Where do you keep the brush, the tooth paste? What’s for breakfast? 

Mile 3.0: It’s a long, gentle, climb uphill into a stiff headwind. I’m checking my smartwatch every few minutes. Hoping desperately, that by some miracle, it’s not going to flash 3.0 miles, but 9.0 miles.  I’m dying here, and not yet 1/3 of the way. My feet are going to explode.

Mile 3.7: Man is digging through a trash bin. His friend stands beside him waiting. He shakes the residue from a soda can and tosses the can into a hefty garbage bag. The couple walks with a Just Married sign in the rear window, dragging tin cans behind them.

Mile 4.3: Steep incline over the South Beach bridge, Miami’s skyline in the distance. The big bellied cruise ships are filling for the journey.  Head winds are fierce now.  Blisters on both feet screaming. Rachel has created a gap, and is widening.

Mile 5.0: Rachel stops. “Dad, I need to find a bathroom.” “OK, Honey. Let’s turn back.” Wow, what great timing, which triggers the memory of Paul McCartney’s “With a Little Luck we can help it out. We can make this whole damn thing work out. With a little love, we can lay it down.”

Mile 5.3: “Try there.” A convenience store.  She pops in, asks the attendant, who shakes his head “No”.  They don’t open their bathrooms to the public, paying or otherwise.  We’ll take your money, but if you have to go, go somewhere else. Oh, by the way, we don’t care to be run over by serving the Homeless.

Mile 5.5: The shops begin to open. Cleaners are hosing down the streets. Others use ear-drum-piercing vacuums and blowers to dispose of the loose paper and trash.  Man is curled up under a thin sheet in the vestibule of a vacant shop, the brown skin of his lower back exposed, and in contrast to the whites of the elastic of his underwear. Where will you bathe today?

Mile 6.2: We arrive back at Start, a whopping 5 miles short of Plan.

“Not a great effort Dad.”

“No Honey. A bad day.”

Pus oozing all over…and the healing?


  • Inspired By Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone: “It was snowing hard, the flakes whirling down. My hair was soaked already. After a while, I gave him five bucks and walked on. That night I watched the snow falling for a long time. The air was full of wet neon, sliding and smearing in the streets. What is it about the pain of others? Easier to pretend that it doesn’t exist. Easier to refuse to make the effort of empathy, to believe instead that the stranger’s body on the sidewalk is simply a render ghost, an accumulation of coloured pixels, which winks out of existence when we turn our head, changing the channel of our gaze.
  • Image Source: (City of Miami and homelessness)
  • Related Posts: Running Series



  1. Andrea Kenner says:

    Before a run, and before you put on your socks, liberally slather the problem areas on your feet with Vaseline. It makes your feet feel a little “gooey,” but it works. It has worked for me every time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I concur with Andrea. It works every time.
    Run Forrest, run!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The reminders of pain sometimes aren’t so subtle

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahh but is it really a bad day if you spend it together? I imagine one day, she’ll tell the story, I remember once dad and I went for a run and… ❤
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Try some vaseline.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Try some vaseline

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It sounds like absolute torture!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Perhaps against the counterpoint of those living on the boardwalk, it wasn’t such a bad run…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. i loved your pus like a mountain stream phrase –

    Liked by 1 person

  10. carolwelshphotography says:

    “Wow, what great timing, which triggers the memory of Paul McCartney’s “With a Little Luck we can help it out.” – I might not have laughed, except that you decided to throw that part in. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Good read, as always. You are fully trained…in observing people, David. But you need more training in observing birds and nature. I’m sure Vaseline will help on that too.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Body Glide buddy!!! I figured by now you had all the goods for a comfortable jog! Heal well…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Kudos to you, David. I loathe running for the sake of running. Though should I ever lose my mind enough to start, I shall definitely slather vaseline all over my feet… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  14. There is always pain to see and feel.,with a bit of luck, we all have days where we are free from it all. Great read. Even without the birds 🙄🍀🍃🍀

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Davy pops ’em out on the trail. He’s not a runner though, he is a walker. Says he doesnt do the vaseline, but he seldom has a problem. Can you see this? From a 50 miler last year.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Look up my friend. As long as you have Vaseline you will be safe 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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