I grew up in Sydney’s western suburbs, an hour’s drive from the nearest beach, so I didn’t get many chances to channel my inner bronzed Aussie. I hated getting sand in all the wrong places, couldn’t surf, and was scared of the waves after I got too big for my dad’s shoulders. The only time I ever ran (i.e., stumbled ineffectually) was when I needed food and had to traverse lava-hot sand in order to get it. Needless to say, I was an inelegant beach-goer.
I adore the beach now – but not much has changed, it would seem.
As part of my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge, Hubby and I signed up for the Frosty Knuckle 5K at Salisbury Beach, MA (actually, it was a 3.5-miler, but 5K sounded snappier). I was excited about this road/beach run as I figured it would make for a fun change from all the dullsville paved surfaces. Also, there are no hills down by the water! Or so I thought …
Son of a beach!
The first two miles were typical road racery: paved, flat, asthma-inducing. Determined to redeem myself after last week’s inferior display, I ran without stopping – all the while inventing ways to sneak back to the car without anyone noticing (I should probably stop doing that).
As we crossed over on to the sand, my first thought was: “I’m really not dressed for this.” My Absurd Winter Outfit™ looked nothing like a bikini. Are you even allowed to run on the beach in sneakers? It just didn’t seem right.
Naturally, I headed down to the water’s edge. My experience watching others beach-run had taught me it was the place to go. Right?
It would have been fine had the tide not been unusually high, and had we not just entered Crooked Land. The water’s edge was at such an angle that running was painful, undignified and, for me, basically impossible. I stumbled ineffectually for a while, running back and forth in an attempt to dodge the water as it closed in on my shoes. I started to shriek. All I needed was a plastic bucket and a shovel and I would have been all set.
I decided to flee the slant. Away from the water it was flatter, but the bulky wet sand made for a formidable opponent and I couldn’t conquer it. (Great workout for the legs though!) There was no other option but to walk.
I noticed that the runners I could see in front of me clearly had the same idea. This 5K had turned into a casual mid-winter stroll along the beach. In tights.
When Mr. I Ran The Whole Way And Barely Broke A Sweat came back to cheer me home, I still had a good three-quarters of a mile to go. Normally I’d be concerned about my time, but had long given up on the idea that it was going to be anything but a disaster.
And I didn’t much care. Despite the deranged staggering, I had a lot of fun just being out on the beach at this time of the year. (My face as I crossed the finish line may have conveyed a different story.) It made me realize that my fitness levels still hover around the Couch Potato mark, so I knew what I had to do …
Drink beer! Eat chilli!
The run was sponsored by a local brewery called Frosty Knuckle, and the brewer was on hand to provide samples of his ale (“a tribute to seafarers, barkeeps, and local characters who always have a story to tell,” according to the website). There was also chilli. Who cares about times when there’s chilli to be had?
Seven down, 45 to go. It’s a long, slanty road ahead.
The event: Frosty Knuckle 5K (actually 3.5 miles, my longest distance yet)
The location: Salisbury, MA
The date: February 11, 2012
My time: 44.57 (yikes!)
Hubby’s time: 26.12 (third in his age!)
The T-shirt: White, long-sleeved cotton
The cause: We donated $25 to the USO as this run didn’t support a charity