If you enjoy running, then the idea of running on a beach is one of those things that seem wonderful, but sometimes the realities of tides, winds and temperatures can get in the way of that wonderful experience.
Two of my fictional characters, Jack & Jessica Stillwell, live on the beach in Naples, and they run the beach every morning they’re in town. Unlike me, they’ll go out regardless of the weather, or conditions on the beach. I’m not nearly as hardy as the Stillwells. If it’s too cold, if it’s raining, if the wind is blowing too hard, I’m either not going at all, or I’m waiting until things get better.
This morning was one of those mornings when I couldn’t find a reason not to run, and since I like to pretend that beach running is actually research, I wanted to take advantage of what seemed like one of those mornings where all of the conditions come together to make a perfect beach run. What makes for perfect conditions? Well for me it’s three things, tides, winds and crowds.
Running anytime around low tide means you’ll have a running surface of hard packed sand, which is very easy to run on. Low tide this morning was at 7:26 and I started around 7:00. Just about perfect.
Winds this morning were nearly ideal, as well. There was just enough wind to kick up some soft waves, the sound of which provides the perfect background music for any beach run. It amazes me to see people running on the beach with headphones jammed into their ears. The sound of the surf is one of nature’s great gifts. The idea of blocking it out while you’re running seems criminal to me, but to each his or her own.
The third component of a great beach run is the lack of crowds on the beach. It was a little chilly this morning, so there weren’t a lot of people out. I was able to run two miles, to the sound end of the Naples beach, and two miles back and to track my own footsteps in the sand. The combination of the low tide and a hard rain last night turned the beach into a blank canvas this morning. For most of my run, I saw only my own footprints and the imprints of a barefoot walker who must have come and gone before dawn.
I never know what I’ll see in the morning when running the beach, but there’s very often something special that makes me smile. Today, that something special, was a love note left in the sand.