Sunday, April 20, 2008

Glorious spring and a flat beach run

What a difference a thousand miles makes. Thursday night Kelly, the kids and I set out on the first leg of our Myrtle Beach drive, landing in Richmond, VA at 7 AM. The drive took 12 hours and was really difficult. The kids didn't want to sleep and Riley sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star about 100 times in succession through New Jersey. Needless to say that with no sleep I skipped my run Friday. Saturday we set out for Myrtle Beach and after another 5 1/2 hours in the car, we arrived. We were greeted by the most perfect weather; mid-70s and sunny. Having arrived after 3 PM, there was no run for me on Saturday either.

The absence of runs the last few days was well worth the wait for yesterdays run. This run reminded me how much I miss living in the south. Springtime down here is comparable to summertime in Maine. There are few words that can truly describe how perfect these seasons are. The dogwoods, redbuds, azaleas, and so many other plants and trees are blossoming and flowering that you feel like you must be traveling through one big botanical garden. The run yesterday gave me the opportunity to see spring in full action close-up and presented me with numerous sweet smelling flowers whose names I can not produce. The mockingbirds and morning doves provided the aural chorus to the spring slideshow during the road segment of my run and the sand pipers were my audience for the beach portion of the run.

The run started out at mid-morning, and I joined Kelly and her cousin, Jena, for the first few miles before heading off on my own. The first portion of the run was done pretty slowly, more for the social aspect of running than for training. The pace was terribly slow but fun. After three miles at 10:00 to 11:00 pace I picked it up and hit a 6:47 on mile 4, which was quite easy given the flatness of the terrain down here (see the elevation profile below). I kept this pace until mile 7 when I hit the end of the public road and the guard at the gated community told me I couldn't soil the rich people's property with my sweaty, runny self (really he apologized that I couldn't pass - nice, southern gent). So I detoured to the beach and continued my run along the beach perimeter of these nice folk's property. They were no worse for my presence.

As I hit the beach my pace slowed a bit due to the softness of the surface. Running beach is much like trail in that you get very little energy return from each footfall unlike the road (lucky road runners). This pace continued for a couple miles as I ran on the soft sand around the point at Murrell's Inlet (see the satellite photo). I was eventually forced to turn around when I ran out of runnable beach. It was at this point that I had to hit the water for a quick bio break leaving me soaked and my feet covered in sand for the return trip which left me a little uncomfortable after the fact...

As I hit the straightaway on the part of the beach that I had not run the sand firmed up and my pace increased to sub-7s once more. Mile 9 was covered at 7:00 pace and the last mile, Mile 10, was done at a 6:38, which I thought was pretty good on the beach. It was fun checking out the satellite image of my run, as you can clearly see that I stayed below the high tide mark (the satellite image must have been taken at high tide) as it appears that I was running on water for most of my run!

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