I know there’s wind…but it’s sneaky. Just tip-toeing along behind us as we run through mist and drizzle on this long, long beach. You can hardly tell it’s there.
Wind? I’ve already put it out of my mind. I’m not even feeling it. Just filled with the pure joy of running barefoot on this packed wet sand, through puddles and streams of rippling sea water.
I am puzzled by one thing. Almost all the other runners are wearing shoes, and in a road race or trail race I would understand that. But this is a BEACH RACE! We’re running on the sand. Why wear shoes here? People walk barefoot on the beach all the time! So why are these runners around me in shoes? In those shoes and socks, they’ve got to jump over rivers of water and detour around small lakes. I just run through! But they’re enjoying this race as much as I am, and that’s all that matters.
Ah! The turn-around point. We’ve run a mile and a half down Crane’s Beach, and now we’ll run back to where we started. I check my watch. 13:21. Good! Slightly better than a nine-minute pace. On a typical 5K I’d expect a sub-nine pace, but running in sand takes a lot more work, so I’m pleased it hasn’t slowed me down much.
I follow another runner around the pickup truck that marks our turn-around point. As we clear the truck, something SLAMS me in the face. Like running into a wall! An enormous, invisible hand pushes me back to the pickup truck. No, you don’t! I lean forward and push against the wind, digging into the sand to make headway.
Like trying to push a piano.
So I lean down more, trying to get under it, but I’m six foot three and there’s no way I’m slipping under THIS wind.
Okay. So this is how it’s going to be. The wind snuck along in my shadow for a mile and a half, hiding, taking a free ride behind me–but now it’s leaning into me as I try to run back to where we started. Am I even moving? I dig one foot into the sand and hurl myself forward. Take THAT, wind! It gives a little. I work my arms a bit. A left jab. A right. Take that! and THAT! It doesn’t notice.
So I kick back hard against the beach and drive myself forward. Yes! It’s giving way. Still leaning on me. Pushing back. But giving way.
Oooff! It threw a shoulder into my chest. I don’t even think. Just head-butt it in the gut. Ah. It backs off for a moment. Okay then. I showed it.
Nope. It kicks a spray of sand in my face and I shut my eyes. Still sneaky.
A long struggle. Slow. One short hard step after another.
A mile. A mile and a half. I’m squinting into the wind and baring my teeth. Angry? No. Laughing! Laughing and shouting at the wind. I can’t imagine a better run.
© 2010 by Ken Skier. All rights reserved.