My Running and Living Adventures in Northern Manhattan.
Friday, April 2, 2010
The Prodigal Beach bum returns..
3/26 Friday Morning
Since my car is permanently out of service because it failed inspection and I'm getting rid of it, I had to get up early on day 1 of vacation to drop Mom off at work. I figured I'd get my run in since I was going to be up anyway and what better place to do it than the beach! I love doing boardwalk runs along the (in)famous Seaside boardwalk in the off season. The forecast was rain and wind, but whatever, it was going to be in the high 40's and I haven't done a boardwalk run all winter. My last attempt was foiled when I checked the boardwalk cam in Feb and found it under 3ft of snow. I dragged myself out of bed and into the grey, dreary day and was instantly perked up by the thought of wearing my new Brooks Shelter neon yellow jacket from the Shamrock 1/2. After dropping Mom off (she works 2miles from home, but can't walk because she has to cross a highway) I cranked up the tunes and made my way east towards the beach and Rt 35. Crossing the Mantaloking Bridge onto the island made my heart go pitter-patter with the thought of being near the ocean and my beloved beach. You have to understand, I am a beach bum. I was raised in NJ with both sets of grandparents living within spitting distance of the water. One set of GP lived right on the bay until last year, the other lived steps from the ocean so that is where we spent our summers. I think I have salt water in my veins sometimes, I feel more at home on the beach than almost anywhere else on the planet. I lifeguarded on this very island in HS and college and loved it. For me "I need to go to the beach" is synonymous with "I need to go for a run" in terms of mental state. So needless to say, I was looking forward to feeling that ocean breeze on my cheeks. I'm not sure if it was the prospect of a beach run or the morning radio chatter, but something distracted me from the "school zone" signs on the road and I cruised through them at a brisk 42. When I looked up, there were flashing lights in the mirror. Oops. I literally smacked myself in the forehead. Dummy. A gorgeous cop ambled up next to the car and I smiled at him while handing over the goods. I couldn't think of anything better to say so I told him I was going for a run. He was holding my licence etc and he said "ok, what does your license look like?" Dumbfounded, I stared at him blankly until he said "you know, points? Accidents, tickets?" Duh. I thought he suspected it was a fake. Dummy. :) He let me off with a warning and said "Have a good run!" Whew. With that hiccup out of the way, I drove as far south as I could, parked and stripped down to my shorts, brooks jacket and "Where's Waldo"-esque gloves that I keep at Mom's. The wind was going to give me a run for my money. As I headed north into the wind, I smiled as I pushed past the games, ice cream booths, pizza places, the carousel, caramel apple and salt water taffy shops all closed up tight for winter. I trotted by the two large piers with their carnival rides and funhouses, both stirring with a few workmen tinkering with the rides. One group of guys was using the Himalaya's speaker system to play their music and I bopped along for a minute as I passed. The northern end of the boards is a quiet place, even in high season. There is a ski-lift ride for the last half-mile or so that runs along the beach that shook in the wind. I was thrilled to turn around at the end of the boards and have the wind at my back. Whew, it was gusting pretty hard. The run south took me to the parts of the boardwalk past the games, pizza and rides where its simply you and the dunes. It was quiet with the exception of the dump trucks and other equipment working hard to bring the sand back up to the beach from the nearby streets. Wow, what a thankless job. They had quite a system going and I enjoyed running by and watching the whole quiet process. Seaside Park is a sleepy beach town in the winter and as I turned onto its quiet streets, I welcomed the break from the wind. I was hoping to get in 8 miles, but with the wind, I changed those plans and scaled back to 6. Running south along the main road was fun because it was deserted all the way down to Island Beach State Park where I turned around and was smacked by the wind again. I had to laugh at myself because I felt like I was running backwards a few times. It was a sweet run in the end, I finished feeling windswept but really happy. I turned back toward the ocean and spotted my car in the distance. I could have crossed the street to the boardwalk but I stayed on the sidewalk where I enjoyed my own private beach. Wow, those guys have their work cut out for them after the storms we had this winter.