Recovering on the Flats


Recovering on the Flats

By Patrick Reed

“For me, on these sandy reaches, enough comes right around 3.1 miles. The 5k again completed, I see my days here at sea level as those of rest.”

I am on the east coast this week. Right on the east coast. Topsail island, NC to be exact. A typical thunderstorm last night has me awake at this early hour. The brilliance and booming of the lightning and rain awoke both me and my daughter, and for an hour we shrugged off yesterday’s sand and the night’s thundering to try to dream again.

For me the dreaming became planning: how to structure my life, to be sure. And with such mental meanderings comes the rush of the larger questions. Rumination about priorities and personal values – and waking dreams… And so I find myself up at the early hour of 5 am, and all is quiet in our family’s beach house. And I finally get to think about running. My runs here might be the antithesis of those on the central coast of California, my home. There, but one grand terrestrial wave blossoms on the near horizon, its tree-less brow calling with wooing eyebrows the long distance harrier. The driven runner must ascend by forceful strides the climb up the ‘rock garden’ to land for but a brief moment on the mountain’s shoulder. No rest there, as the trail swiftly climbs again, upwards to the summit of Madonna Mountain.

Here in NC, by contrast, the infinite noisy white-frothed static of the ocean reveals coastal waves. These, no taller than a man, except on stormy nights like this one, come in relentless attacks and sound eventually a comforting din. The soft sand which has for its embroider the edge of the ocean’s diaphanous slip meets the steely sea with heavenly resilience. And so, without any hill but the protective dunes, the running here at the beach is a humid monotony. The road – or sand, if you choose to run along the rollicking water – reaches out straight as far as the eye can see, with maybe just the hint of a crescent’s arc miles ahead. Only the watch can mark the distance, by counting the seconds which pile up as the runner efforts. And there is no resistance on this flat plain. The runner’s lean is not for balance but instead provides the contrast necessary to impel a canter. Whereas climbing up to the high summit requires the distance runner to lean into the mountain and so holds her even as she struggles, here there is a perpetual falling forward until she decides she’s had enough.

For me, on these sandy reaches, enough comes right around 3.1 miles. The 5k again completed, I see my days here at sea level as those of rest. A sabbath for the running addict.

Run on! ~Coach Patrick

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