2012 Beach Running Championships

A small field of 165 participants lined up under the floodlights by the Pier in Cocoa Beach on Sunday morning ready to race across the sand.  It was a pretty amazing sight, and worth getting up at 4:24 am to drive an hour over to the coast to run with them.

I like small running fields like this because you get the chance to talk to other runners and spy a familiar face or two in the crowd.  The RD had set up coffee, donuts, bagels, bananas, water and Gatorade for the pre-race get together and advised that water and sports drink would be availabe every other mile.

The sand was packed tight due to low tide, the beach wasn’t practically deserted as the count down started.  3…2..1 and we were off.  The runners quickly seperated into little clumps by pace.  For me, this was 1/2 marathon number 5 for the year.  With 7 more to go over the next nine weeks, I had to pace myself and couldn’t push… well, not too hard.

The sun started to inch up over the Atlantic turning the water purple and the sand gray.  Simply amazing.  The wind was at our backs and the race was incredible.  I was out and back in an hour and fifty minutes.  One of the women runners, a 20-something up from Ft. Lauderdale run barefoot in 1:23.  Watching her muscled form shift under her suit was reason enough for anyone to start running.  This woman was in shape, and looked amazing.  The men runner’s were no slouches either, these guys were serious about three things.  Being fit, having fun, and enjoying the company of like minded individuals.

They’ll have this run again next year, and I’ll try to be a little faster.  The awards were conch shells, and I wanted one!

Next up, I’m trying to decide if I want to do a 1/2 for Halloween down in Miami.  The medal is two zombies, and I kind of want it.  Do I drive 3 hours to run two then drive back?  Maybe I do.  Then run another 1/2 on Sunday for the Florida Halloween Half a thon.  Man, lined up like that, this runner sounds like he’s nucking futs.  Promise not to stop when I say when.

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Do you take a running vacation?

I flew into Bentonville on Friday for a weekend away from it all.  I had hoped to visit with my children, but their mom had made plans for them to be out of town, so even though it was piss poor timing on my part, I still made the trip.  I planned to run the River Trail through downtown Little Rock, and even further if I could.

This was my second running vacation.  The first I took over Labor Day weekend, flying out to Los Angeles to run in a 10K, a Half and a Full marathon over three days.  There were no races in Little Rock, just a gorgeous trail that I’d eyeballed many times in town, but never had the chance to run.

The weather was perfect.  It was mid 80’s with a hot sun and a cool breeze that occasionally gusted enough to make headway tough.  I parked at The Big Dam Bridge, no seriously, that’s the name of it, a giant pedestrian bridge that arches over a dam, and took off through Murray Park headed for downtown.  I made it to Cantrell Road before I lost the trail, so my suggestion to Parks and Rec is to mark the trail better.  I turned around and ran back to the bridge, and almost pushed further, but I wanted to save a little bit in the tank for the next day.  It was still a good little 6 or 7 mile run, with a little offshoot adventure over behind some buildings that border the Arkansas River. 

On Sunday, the weather was even better.  The morning dawned rainy and cooler, but the sun quickly warmed it to low 80’s and the wind was still there.   This time I headed North.  The River trail runs under the I-430 bridge to another pedestrian bridge over the Little Maumelle River and winds around into Two Rivers Park.  All I can say is the Parks and Rec department got this one right.  The trail was gorgeous, well marked, well used and with the amazing day, a perfect run.  My legs were a little tired because I skipped dinner and opted for a fro-yo and early bedtime, but other than that, it was simply incredible. 

I have often said if I lived in Little Rock, I would have to be near the River Trail to run up one side and down the other of the river.  The city has put some effort into creating a fitness lover’s paradise, and more people should take advantage of it.  This Sunday the crowds were a little thicker than I’ve seen before, a few hundred walkers, bikers and less than 20 runners scattered along the trail.  Maybe the local runners knew another place to go.  But I found a house I wouldn’t mind living in if I moved back to Little Rock.  Perched right on the edge of the water with a waterview off one side and Pinnacle standing in the distance on the other.  Just yards from the trail.