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Sweet Reward

November 1, 2008

The local community of long distance runners meets for long runs at 6am at the running goods store, which is on an east-west artery less than a half mile from the north-south beachfront road. The more social members of our group wait until 6am for the others, then head out (I head out as soon as I get there). The regular route sends you north as soon as you hit the beachfront road, A1A. Doing this, you can go about five miles before that road becomes commercial; the running route therefore turns east to do small loops around the inlet, which can add one or two miles before returning south. Training marathoners add distance as necessary on this route.

When I ran sixteen with my friend Gwynne she had us start by heading south on A1A first. Few runners do this, so the route is definitely lonelier, but I decided to do this today. Heading this way means your first miles are much better lit. On this side of A1A, homes are built along the beach side, so the road has lights on it, allowing for better pedestrian illumination*; there are also sidewalks and a bike path along both sides**.  I passed about a half dozen runners heading back as I headed out this way today because I started late. As I neared the end, when A1A joins busy US1, on which running would be impossible, I was passed first by two men running together, then by a solo runner. The two men turned around first, then the solo runner. I saw their turnaround point, but decided to keep going until I reached the stoplight at the intersection where the Boss works, just so I could tell him I had run to his office.

Sweet reward! The running store puts out water and Gatorade at that intersection! Had I not run the extra 250 yards, I would never have seen it–in the predawn darkness, you literally had to be on top of it to see it. I drank a cup of water and headed back, much refreshed.

At mile six, I tried Gu for the first time. After that training race when I discovered I couldn’t do Sport Beans while racing, I knew I had to try something else, and I only have two long runs to do it in. Well, the Chocolate Outrage flavor isn’t too bad. Stayed down okay.

Tried to do miles 7-12 at goal race pace. Did okay, though it was raining during most of the run; at times at a rate that made it feel like I was running through a mist machine and other times at a rate that made it feel more like a Biblical deluge. Fortunately for me, many of us runners are at a point where missing a long run is just impossible, so I wasn’t (by far) the only runner out there.

*on the north side of A1A, only red lights are allowed, close to the ground. Higher, brighter lights would disorient nesting sea turtles, who by instinct follow the brightest light as they leave their nests after laying eggs. In undeveloped places, the brightest light is the moon, which guides the turtles back out to sea. In developed communities, those brightest lights tend to take them toward the beach and certain death unless protective measures are enacted. Thus, the lighting is conducive to sea turtle, not runner, safety. There, aren’t you glad you got your marine bio lesson for the day?

**on the north side of A1A, the bike paths are consistent and always in great repair, but the sidewalks are absent at times, especially on the west side. Today, for example, that meant that as I headed north, after it had been raining for several hours, there was no option to running in the collected rain water in the bike lane on that side–other than crossing the street and running on the sidewalk on the east side. [Visiting runners have asked me about this, but in this town, runners always run facing traffic, and bikers with it, and that makes sense to me–I absolutely want to see what’s coming my way.]

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