I've run on a lot of beaches and generally enjoy them very much. The shore is such an amazing place, a liminal place filled with violence and also tranquility. I love the beach, the way the trees grow because of the wind and the dune grasses. Mostly I love the beach because it is a step away from reality for me. I decided to make the most of an opportunity to do some beach running.
Why beach running? Aside from a nice getaway, running on the beach makes your muscles work (hard) while lessening the impact of your footfalls with the result that you can do distance more easily. Besides, pick the right beach and it is sure pretty.
After returning from my 18-miler on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail I hurriedly packed, ate, walked the dog, and got a ride back to AR to load into the van for the drive out to Ocean Shores. I was tired and it seemed that every time I ate something my body's low fuel alarms would go off after five minutes (yes, I have them, they sound like General Quarters alarms). We were scheduled to leave at 2:00 and so I got a pastry and coffee from Starbucks (it'll do in a pinch).
Spent most of the drive fast asleep in the far back seat of the van. I really needed the kip after the run in the morning and also my general lack of sleep the night before. This went on for 85 miles when I felt the van stop and then heard the back doors open. Bestirring myself and rubbing the sleep from my eyes I discovered we were in McCleary, about 85 miles out from Seattle. Why?
E, an AR client, was going to be riding her bike to as close as she could get to Ocean Shores. While Coach T got her ready I walked into a fresh fruit stand where I bought three not-quite-ripe pears for one dollar and three not-quite-ripe nectarines, also for one dollar.
I had thought we would be heading straight to Ocean Shores and that I would have time to get another 3-miler in to get me up to the 20 I was supposed to run but things did not turn out as planned. Instead, Coach T and I marked the turns for E for the 28 miles between McCleary and Aberdeen. Let's just say that I got a little "speed work" in as Coach would pull over and I would jump out with a chalk bottle and put directional arrows and then run back to the van. I've not spent much time out on this part of the Olympic Peninsula and so this proved to be a nice way of actually seeing things. A nice tour through Elma, Satsop, Montesano, Grays Harbor, Cosmopolis, Aberdeen, and Hoquiam. All places I have read about in the news but had never seen. It was nice to see.
Things got a bit complicated in Aberdeen where the 101 splits and kinks all over the place. We directed E off the bridge over the Chehalis River and went down into the city to mark the rest of the course. We found where she was to come out and I ran out to mark an arrow. A homeless person, who was standing at the bottom of the off-ramp with a sign, gave me the funniest look as I ran past her up the sidewalk a ways, set down an arrow, and then ran back down towards her. I stopped and gave her a few dollars and a smile and then crossed the street and continued marking a rather complicated turn. I now can say that I have run in Aberdeen, WA (albeit for a few minutes) and had the chance to see some of the interesting public art on the sidewalks before we were off to mark more complicated turns. This was fun, but I ended up getting covered in green chalk and flour.
Chalet Village, our abode for the night. I ended up in #3, a fairly small place but comfortable half of an A frame. Shared with PT and her DH. One bed! Uh Oh? Guess who got the couch. :-P
Dinner at Mariah's, the highpoint being an excellent class of Syrah (yes actually) and the lovely Tiki heads at the front door. As hungry as I was, I could barely finish my dinner (a theme for this entire weekend I am afraid). It took a while to get our food as they had a large party. It was OK. I had a salad, a chicken strip burger thing (turned out to be batter fried), and fries that came late in the meal (couldn't finish them).
You have to love Tiki (right?).
Late night shopping trip in a Toyota FJ. I'd never driven one and, frankly, not sure I rather enjoyed it much because of the restricted vision. I felt like I was driving a pill box around by looking out through the machine gun slits.
Then to bed for an early start.
Ah, bed. Couch is too small. Hmm. Is there an extra blanket up there? No, but here is a bag of bedding and an extra pillow. I made a burrito out of the sheets and stretched out on the floor in front of the fireplace.
Slept alright but 5:45 came very early. 58 degrees, overcast, with a fairly stiff wind coming out of the NNW. We would be running down coast from Copalis Beach to Point Brown, a distance of 13 miles. 13 Miles! Yippee! I could get in the three that I missed from yesterday. Breakfast? A yogurt, couple of swallows of juice, and some nibbles off a blueberry muffin. I simply could not get myself to eat. Loaded into Godzilla and off we went to the north.
I was the first runner to start not because I am special but because I was the slowest. :-P Just before 0730 my Garmin acquired its birds, I punched the start button, and started down towards the tide-line where the sand would be firmer and then headed down coast.
Running on the beach was eerie. There were some people out but not many as it was still early. What made it eerie was that it was such a gray morning: gray seas, skies, horizon, and even birds. Aside from the sand, which was the usual brown and tan, everything was some shade of gray and it was all moving. The surf is the most obvious. Less obvious were the birds, especially the Sand Pipers whose movements I would first sense before actually understand what I was seeing. And then there was the sand which, though it was not perceptibly moving, looked like it was because of all the sculpting do on it by wind, water, footfalls, and car tires. Large buildings on the horizon looked like they were out to sea when, in fact, they were actually a good deal inland. Still I started enjoying all this variation once I got warmed up. Having the wind at my back was also nice as I could feel its gentle push speeding me along. It was hot though and, obviously, humid and in short order I was both dripping wet and hellishly thirsty.
And then I decided to push it a bit.
Yesterday's run was something of a disappointment to me because I just didn't seem to be able to run as fast as I wanted to. I know! I know! It was mostly uphill, etc. but still. Once I loosened up on the beach I just decided to set a goal that I could meet by pushing a bit but without going all out. Could I run six miles under an hour (something I used to be able to do with some regularity but not recently)? It looked like I could and so I went. 58:21! OK. I did that. Second goal. Can I run 12 miles in under 2 hours? Yup! 1:55:57. Still some pep in the old legs!
By mile 11 the tide was coming in forcing me to run on softer sand which slowed me down.
Finished the run trotting alongside Coach T and chatting for a total time of 2:07:29, not too far off from my Nookachamps time, my last half marathon (2:05 or so). It was great!
I did stop every once in a while to look at the birds. It has been a while since I've actually seen large groups of Brown Pelicans but the birds were much in evidence today, mingling in with the Seagulls of every sort and spooking first as I came along. Lots of Sand Pipers and other tiny shore birds. I did see something that looked for all the world like a Penguin. It was black and white and had short stubby wings but it was also standing like a Cormorant does, airing out its wings. Haven't been able to figure out what it was but I've some bird books and a friend who birds to consult.
Ran through some beached algae. That was a mistake as it glued itself onto my shoes and soon I was carrying half-an-inch of algae and sand with each step. Had to stop, sit on a log, remove shoe, beat vigorously on tree trunk, replace shoe, repeat with other shoe. The algae was a lot more pleasant than the Pomegranate-Blueberry Gu Roctane as recovery fuel. I got this as a freebie during the Seattle Rock 'N Roll Marathon. Can I say "BLECH!" loudly enough? What were they thinking?
I cannot wait to do this again! The running part I mean . . .
Back to the Chalet, shower, breakfast at Our Place. Reasonably priced with really good blueberry pancakes, couple of eggs, and some bacon with coffee and grapefruit juice. The ambiance is definitely interesting (check out the "For Sale" sign in the door). Again, I couldn't finish my meal.
Slept most of the way home and was pleasantly surprised to wake up and see the trees of Ravenna Boulevard going past.
What a great weekend although it feels a bit unreal.
Reality, I am sure, will set in tomorrow.
Oh, that small couch? It converts into a sofa-bed. I suspect that I slept better on the floor than I would have on such a contraption.