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Accidental Running on Purpose

I am not being chauvinistic here but the young woman who set up our beach umbrella today didn’t do such a good job. The wind pulled it right out of the ground, tumbled it upon my four sun-bathing girls and onto a couple sitting in front of us. I jump up and out of my sand chair, cell phone in hand, to grab the umbrella. I extract it from our gracious neighbors and realize, as the wind is whipping it in my hand, that I have no idea what I will now do with it.

“Here, hold the phone,” I tell Olivia. Sasha grabs the umbrella from me. “I’ll go get help,” I tell her.

At once, I am racing across the soft sand. Fifty yards up the beach is the able-bodied young man who works the umbrella stand. My feet dig through and my arms pump. Hurry. The sand is hot. Is it EVER hot! But I am not thinking about the hot sand. Something feels odd…oddly strong. It’s the sensation of running. I am running. Evenly. Strongly. Without thought. I am not supposed to run. Haven’t been released to run yet. I slow.

Nope. Sand is… Ouch…hot. I dash again.

I can run!


Now, I’m being a little bit bad but since I can take little quick steps and side to side steps and since I can dash across the sand in an emergency, I am planning to sprinkle a few jogging steps into my long walk this morning. The route brings back so many memories of beach trips gone by. When I left at sunrise each morning and jogged along Route 1 out to the water tower and beyond.

Today I am again that person. The jog-walker. Not limited to mere slow, ambling strides, I can step freely. I test a few paces wondering how far I can stride. If it hurts, I will reduce it to walking. But it doesn’t hurt – not when I stride, not when I land. It doesn’t hurt at all. The sensation is not as it was. I have little feeling in part of my left foot. Wake up, I tell it. It doesn’t listen, but it does what it’s supposed to. It balances and rolls forward and I move along, right and then left. There is a rhythm I remember, an ease, a grace, that every athlete knows.

I turn around just beyond the water tower (of course I took a photo so I could prove I came this far) and head in the direction from which I’ve come. Funny, they have separate lanes painted on the road now (this wasn’t there when we last came to Bethany beach but it’s been a while) – grass side for pedestrians, car side for wheels. On my return trip I see the people approaching me, walking, running and biking. As a walker, everyone went around me. But now I am jogging. I go around them.

Some “real” joggers, runners even maybe, and cyclists pass as they head north. They raise a hand or nod in greeting. This is what we do, we athletes, we acknowledge other members of the club. I am one of the again.

Twenty yards at a time, or until they are beyond me, I am one of them again. I can pass for a runner.