Finding A Bit Of Joy

Runners seem to be of two minds about runs during vacations at the beach.  Either they love it and crave it or they hate it.  I’m ambivalent.  While I sometimes crave the flat roads of the Jersey shore, more often than not, I miss the hills and trees of my home.  The last time I was in Avalon, the threat of a hurricane made for oppressive humidity and increased, though not unmanageable, winds.  On this particular morning, it was somewhere along the third mile that I remembered I had chosen to do this.  No one held my feet to the fire.  I wanted to go for a run but I wasn’t experiencing joy. It only took a split second to consider where I might find that joy. I turned down the quirkily named ‘Lois Lane’ and headed toward the beach.  Cresting a small hill, I was greeted with the wide expanse of the ocean.  The beach in the early morning is an entirely different thing than hours later, filled with families.  In the morning, absent of people, it is raw, unclaimed, wild.  Today, the hurricane, hundreds of miles out, was whipping the water into a frothing frenzy and I watched, mesmerized, as it rose curling in on itself and then crashed at my feet.  The tendrils of the tide reached upward, grasping grains of sand and luring them into the depths.  I resumed my run, marking my progress with familiar landmarks: the church steeple, seen just over the crest of the dunes; the water tower; the pier.  Running on the beach is like running in dreams – or nightmares.  The destination never draws closer until suddenly it’s right there.  I dug deep to reach my last marker, the lifeguard stand at our street. I stopped, panting to catch my breath, and stared at the ocean.  With barely a formed thought, I kicked off my shoes and slid off my tank top, dropping both in the sand by my feet.  I strode into the water and as I dove through an icy wave, I found what I had been missing on the early part of my run. Joy. 

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