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The Local Running Scene

July 14, 2008

So I’ve told you before about my daily runs: how I don’t run in my neighborhood but in the much fancier, better-lit, dogless neighborhood near us. I run for an hour most days there, between 6 and 8 miles. During the winter, when I was training for my first half marathon, I mapped and ran my long runs in this neighborhood as well, generally stopping at the halfway mark at my car for drinks of water. It became obvious around March and April that this plan would not be viable in the hotter months, as water would be necessary much more frequently. New plan.

My friend Sarah and I had occasionally run at a local county park that has a running loop. While there, we’d also ventured onto the beachfront road, A1A, and noticed joyfully that this road has water fountains every mile or less. When Sarah returned to pool running as her way to beat the heat, I committed to A1A as my long run route. It took a few weeks to get all the details figured out, but I finally have it down . . .

Our local running goods store starts an organized run at 6 o’clock every Saturday morning. Some runners start out earlier and then come back to see who else shows up. Everybody runs at his own pace and everybody runs his own distance. From the store to the local inlet and back is about ten miles, and the store puts out three water and Gatorade stations along the way, so if you go the distance, you actually hit them six times.

There’s some unspoken rules about running on A1A: it is fairly dark before 6 on that road, because loggerhead turtles get disoriented by bright lights and therefore no lights are allowed on the beach or street. After 6, when the sun begins to come up, runners and bikers share the bike lane, and we do so extremely well. We leave the sidewalk to the beachgoers, fishermen, surfers, and dogwalkers, who are many. Runners run facing traffic; bikers ride with traffic. When necessary, though it’s not often, we go single file. Since many triathletes train on A1A on Saturday mornings, we find them incredibly friendly and helpful about sharing the road. They train in groups but rarely large packs. When large packs do form, they are inclined to call out, “Runner up!” and form a single file to allow the runner to pass.

I usually run alone. A few weeks ago I met a girl who is my age and runs about my pace, so no matter what time I get to the store, I usually go back at about 5:50 to see if she’s there and we try to run together. (Actually, she’ll be in training now for an upcoming triatholon, so she’s unlikely to be doing long runs again until after that event. Good luck, Natalie!) I usually run over the bridge a couple of times–each pass over it is one mile–and then do my longer runs to the inlet and back. Though I don’t typically run with a partner, like some people do, I have of late been greeted by some familiar faces. Recently someone called out “There you are!” and at a water station someone asked, “Starting late today?” and I actually had to explain that I had done four miles on the bridge before hitting A1A. Seems wearing the same hat all the time is making me readily identifiable. A trio of runners even identified me from my daily runs, saying, “We see you in running during the week. We’re those crazy girls you see running during the week.” It’s funny. I don’t pay too much attention to what other runners are doing, but when I tell people I’m training for a half they say things like, “You’ll do great with all the miles you’re putting in.” Hmmm. You getting a look at my log on RunningAHEAD? Must be they’re just watching my little white hat out there on A1A.

So that’s the local running scene in my corner of the woods.

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