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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Beach Week... sand in the toes and salt... everywhere

Slumming it... Kure Beach, NC
Last week was summer vacation for me and my family. Lynnea and I packed up little Sylas into the family vehicle and drove east to the Atlantic Ocean.... specifically Kure Beach, NC. We had accommodations at a friend's home and we weren't too sure of what to expect but when we were given instructions on the elevator and pool we figured it couldn't be too bad. We were not disappointed.

We arrived after 6 hours of travel to a home with an ocean view, a ginormously comfortable bed and a full refrigerated drawer of tasty beverages. Arriving a half a day before the rest of the family meant we got some bonus time to check things out and play around a bit... and pick our room... more specifically, pick our floor of the house. Ultimately we resided on the top floor with master bath (larger than our living room at home) with views of the rolling ocean swells. But enough of the Better Homes and Gardens tour...

Beach Running
Sylas having a laugh
While at the beach I laced up my Inov-8 Roclite 295s and headed out to see how versatile these trail shoes are. I've made the mistake of running barefoot on the beach... 20 mins okay- 22 minutes- blisters on every contact surface you didn't even know you had- what was powdery soft becomes harshly disabling in a flash of a threshold. Having learned that last summer, I was prepared this time around. The Roclite's allowed me to feel the sand as it held or crumbled under my stride. When bombarded by bellowing breaks- these trails shoes did their thing managing moisture, a few soggy steps and then back to the norm, making few extra salt crystal in toe. So, with a week's worth of sand running on the beach and at Carolina Beach State Park trails, I give another ringing endorsement to the Inov-8 Roclite 295's... my official Mountains-to-Sea shoe.

Running along the beach is an exercise in patience and in the deception of vision. Trying to guess how far something is can be disheartening. Piers in the distance can seem 5 minutes away... and maybe they would be on a paved surface or hard packed trail- but out there the wind and waves have a way of putting you on the moon; taking all relativity away. This was an escape and I just allowed myself to experience this giant sandy treadmill, focus on good form and take in the sights of the morning.

There's Single Track Here!
My second run of the week was out at Carolina Beach State Park. When I read their was single track on the island you know I was there first thing in the morning, so quickly that I forgot my watch... so I told time by- how my water remained in my bottle, gauging squiggly maps with diminishing volume to meet at my car.

Chatting up the locals
Setting out from the trail head at the marina I chose to run to the right and make a 6 mile loop with additional mileage on spur trails to see everything in the park. Right away I was running on seldom used trail, I imagine where only trail runners or birders venture along the coast. There was tall grasses and boggy areas with crabs everywhere, the ground was a literal scurry  of sideways scuttling. Bridges were... condemned, out here- I balanced along the remnants of planks and thought this couldn't possibly be the way- not anymore, but a little investigation proved that it was my route. A pause on the primitive white sandy beach and back on the run.

Hills... well, Hill
I found the "big climb" of the week soon after as I approached Sugarloaf... a 55 foot outlook atop a mound of  sand... this location was/ is used by water as a landmark for navigation. I explored the social trails in the area, met a few hand-sized spiders and their cable like webs before returning back to the trail and onward to the bog with its dark mud and stumps and...  a few Venus Fly Traps, a native species.

Having the opportunity to run through such diverse habitat made this morning run very rewarding. The bog was still sandy but more firm with moisture and I began spotting some larger wildlife. Squirrels and chipmunks scurried about and then a bounding deer crossed the path. She was here and gone in a flash as I awaited additional, though non-existent hoofed traffic.

Bringing it all Back Home
Surprise! Me & Sylas are drenched!
Running on the beach for the week brought back times passed when I lived on the Gulf Coast in Fort Walton Beach, FL. I remember the diverse running terrain there too, the flatness of daily mileage and the oppressive heat of the day dictating the running routine. For a week at least, I was a morning runner.

The last day of vacation I headed back to the beach to run southward... Meeting me were storm clouds and heavy mist with gusty winds.

I relished the fresh rain water on my face and lips as I ran to the end of the island and back home again. It is always great to get out of the routine and for me- even better to return to it.

An hour on rocky, muddy, wet trails. Climbing gnarly, steep hills, with stinging plants, biting bugs and slithering snakes. I'll knock my head on branches, trip on roots and bleed and sweat and love it. Soothing songs of the woods and plunging into the river pools brings me a smile. It's good to be home.

The family: Lynnea, Sylas and The Sean
Happy Running!


  1. Who wears roller skates anymore? Only NC, I guess!

  2. glad you could enjoy beach running on your vacation...awesome photo of Sylas having a laugh attack and the family at the end :)

  3. Such a great time. I"m jealous - looking forward to (much colder) times in November!

  4. I LOVE that picture of Sylas. It's a keeper for sure...the beach looks and sounds fantastic. :)


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