“Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.”
Actually, it turns out it’s mad dogs, Englishmen and me.
It has been over a month of pushing our boat onward in cold weather, huddled next to our Coleman camping heater, doing long hours at sea or in the ICW, not getting to shore much and wondering if we had strapped our road bikes to the deck for no reason.
So, having already extended our stay in St. Augustine way beyond our original plan, we went on a mission to get out in the sun, and get a good sweat on by cycling to Anastasia State Park and running down the beach to the infamous inlet where our friends on Serendipity ran aground just a few days before.
Cycling through the center of St. Augustine to get out to Anastasia State Park reminded me of a past life when we lived in the similarly terracotta-colored city of Seville, Spain, bouncing our bikes along cobbled roads every day with the sun in our faces, passing tanned, smiling people lounging in outdoor cafes.
It was a pleasant 2-mile ride to Anastasia past an Alligator Farm with cycle paths most of the way there. There was a $2 entrance fee per person, but we figured it was a bargain compared to our old Manhattan gym membership – and it offered us sun, sand, waves, and no crowds, unlike our old Manhattan gym.
I was absolutely ecstatic to be at the beach, to say the least. The sun was scalding, the air was hot, I was sweating, and we were jogging slowly and steadily along a beautiful, secluded ocean stretch. It started out as a difficult run, since heavy sand makes for slow jogging, but it was shaping up to be a great workout. And I was so happy to be outside I would have pushed boulders up a hill, if you’d asked me to. I just lost my thoughts in my iPod music and thought about what temperature it would have to be before I complained about it being too hot. I decided on 100 degrees. Nah, maybe 120.
Then, about 2 miles into the run, I looked over at Ryan and realized that for him, this was it. Whatever temperature this was, it was too hot for him. Ryan was plodding forward with his head down as if trying to duck as far away from the sun as possible, with sweat pouring down his face and his feet moving heavily in the soft sand.
Looking at my watch, I realized that it had never mattered what time of day we went running before because every hour of every day this last month had been freezing cold. In St. Augustine, however, it turned out the intensity of the midday sun could easily shock the system of someone who’d been living like an Eskimo in a floating igloo for the last six weeks.
But Ryan trekked on bravely without looking back and, having survived the hot three miles to the inlet, took off his shirt and draped it over his head, panting, “We must be insane. It’s too hot for this!” I thought he might throw me in the ocean if I admitted how much I was loving it, so instead I suggested we head back before we ran out of water.
In the end, it was a gorgeous four-mile bike and six-mile run, topped off with an ice cream from the park store as a reward. And I even learned a few new things about running on the beach:
- Running 6 miles in soft sand feels more like 8 miles. Maybe 10. It’s hard work.
- Where the water meets the sand, the ground is firmer and easier to run on.
- Focusing on maintaining your usual road-running speed is a bad idea. It’s better to relax, loosen up, and don’t look at the pace on your GPS watch (if you have one). Go with how hard your body feels like it’s working and get into your groove that way.
- Bring lots of water. Anastasia State Park had no water stops along the beach and we ran out at about mile 4.
- Running between the hours of 12 and 3 pm in Florida is not a good idea. Especially if you aren’t an alligator.
With my sore knees finally healing up after the painful pounding they took at the Outer Banks Marathon in November, which I was under-prepared for, I finally felt ready to hit the pavement again. Or the sand. Or anything, really. Hell, I’d be happy to run up mountains now that it’s finally warm enough to wear shorts and flip-flops! I say, “Bring it on, sun!”