Running in Paradise

The view from our bed Saturday morning

The view from our bed Saturday morning

I’ve come to paradise to stay a few weeks, and it is beauty beyond measure. But, it’s cold. Now, I don’t want to hear it from you guys shoveling snow just to be able to take your dog for a walk (like my DM friend Douglas who lives in Ossining, NY); when you’re at the beach, it’s not supposed to be this cold.

This morning brought my last long run before the Seaside Half Marathon, a 14 miler. I wasn’t dreading it, but I wasn’t really looking as forward to it as I usually am, either. Like I said, it’s cold. My eyes opened as God painted the sky at sunrise, then closed again as I snuggled down into my nice, warm bed beside my nice, warm man. My eyes opened again at about 6:30 and I didn’t see the beautiful scene from yesterday that I’ve pictured above outside my window, I saw scores of runners heading east along the beach. We groggily wandered into the living room and while Gary tried to figure out what was going on outside, I made coffee. We finally determined that it was the Destin 50 Beach Ultra. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with this type race, an ultra marathon is any distance over 26.2 miles, this one was 50. On the beach. In the cold. Really put my pitiful 14 miler on the bicycle path later that day (when it had warmed up) into perspective.

So, I got myself in gear, made breakfast, and began making preparations to start my run. I fooled around with gear and clothes, and whined about the cold until Gary finally said Just. Go. Run. So, I did. Other than some issues with my blue tooth headphones which would make you realize just how dumb I can be sometimes, it was an awesome run. I warmed up after the first few miles (although my nose ran faster than I did), and found my rhythm fairly quickly. I ran east along the bike path, following part of the half marathon course. I ran through the picturesque towns of Watercolor and Seaside, around the little “square” at Seaside, then continued east out of town. I ran past million dollar homes and homes that needed a million dollars spent on them to make them habitable. Mile 7 arrived before I knew it, and I turned around to head west, back toward our home away from home. Traffic picked up on the return; foot, cycle, and auto, so it was much more crowded as I made my way back through town. The diner/cafes that line the highway in Seaside had opened and were putting off mouth watering aromas that made my tummy growl.

When I reached the outskirts of town, I got to the part of the course I like best – the woodsy, beachy paths that line the highway and are part of Grayton Beach State Park, an area I can’t wait to explore in the upcoming weeks. Traffic died down, and only the occasional cyclist whizzed past me, usually announcing with a tinkly, little bell, rather than the usual “on your left”. Got to love that. My legs got achy and crampy at mile 10, and I’ll admit that the last 4 miles were tough. For runs longer than six miles, I do a run/walk interval of 6:00/1:00 (this changes when I have a different pace goal). I have a timer that I wear, and the chime it sounds creates a Pavlovian response in me for which I’m grateful  when I come to the end of a run. Ding – I run for 6 minutes, ding – I walk for a minute. I don’t have to think about it, my body just knows. When the walk chimer dinged about 2 1/2 miles from the finish, I looked to the left, and there was Starbucks. It took all the discipline I could call up not to end my run there. I ran on, finished 13.1 at a pretty decent pace, then finished the last mile much more slowly, cooling my body down and stretching my hamstrings.

I’m as ready as I’m going to be for the race in 2 weeks. I’ve already started obsessively checking the weather reports multiple times daily. Last year, it rained really hard on Saturday as we came in for packet pick-up, then the sun came out and it was beautiful for race day. I’m hoping for sunny and warmer this year.

As I watched those ultra runners this morning, I was reminded of one of my favorite verses.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1

I couldn’t put that better myself. Happy running, my friends.

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