That was Sunday morning's caption for a picture of a couple running along A1a Saturday morning. It captured my feelings about having done my last long run before the London Marathon on Saturday morning along A1a with my wife, Salome. We started around 6 AM with Salome intending to run 12 miles and I planning on 15. A mile and change into our run, we come across our friend Miranda doing interval work with a running buddy in the dark along A1a near Sunrise Blvd. It takes us almost being face to face to recognize each other in the dark. As we get another mile south along A1a, we spot another friend, Chris Howard heading north in the dark on his bike to get to an early morning group ride. I think how it's only the very serious athletes that get out well before sunrise to start their workouts.
A1a curves toward the west to become the 17th Street Causeway. As we get closer to the Runner's Depot Store on 17th Street, we start coming cross more runner who are now getting out for a group run from the store. After we hit our 6 mile turnaround, it's light enough out for Salome to give me permission to go ahead at my own pace. As I run east and start heading up the 17th Street Bridge, I'm somewhat blinded by the rising sun, which causes me to pull my hat down low over my eyes to allow me to use the hat's bill as a shade. As I climb the bridge, I can only see the silhouette of runners climbing or descending the bridge. With the bright early morning sun, I can only make out distant dark shapes of runners in motion. It's looks like a work of art. As I descend the bridge I can make out some familiar faces of runners from a group that starts out of Holiday Park that I sometimes run with on Saturday mornings. As I come around the curve where 17th Street becomes A1a, I get a honk from a car that I believe is Miranda's. I wave back, wondering what she's got going on so early in the morning to have gotten home, showered and be driving down the road so quickly. Must be an after workout breakfast date.
As I head further north along A1a, I note how different the sidewalks look now. With the early morning sun above the horizon, the sidewalks are much fuller with runners doing shorter mileage and walkers out for a couple miles. Groups of cyclists ride by heading north for various lengths rides. The street and sidewalks are now a beehive of activity compared to the sparse singles and couples running in the predawn hours.
I cross paths with an old friend, Abe who lives in the condominium we lived in several years back. Abe is one of those fixtures in our running community who one inevitably comes to recognize along A1a because he runs it almost every day of the year. Everybody who runs near dawn either knows him or recognizes him. We high five each other for the third time in a week as we once again cross paths while running.
I get to the turn around of my northern loop near Oakland Park and head back south through a beachfront neighborhood where some of our other friends live. I cut through on the beach side of the Palm's Condominium to run the soft boardwalk that takes you along the beachfront. Coming north are our friends Manda and Andy out with their two dogs. "I see the dogs have decided to take you guys for a walk this morning," I say as I pass. "You got that right," they respond. The both have on bike jerseys having completed their early morning workouts before the dogs take them for a cool down walk.
As I hit the open beach road and into the unshaded portion of A1a just north of my Sunrise Blvd. turnoff, I decided that I feel so good this morning, that I'll run an extra few miles in the tree lined shade Birch State Park. As I start this 2.5 loop, I note a charity fund-raising walk about to start. "How nice," I think. I know that for many of these walkers this charity event will be their first steps into a more active lifestyle. As I hit the outward end of the park and circle around to the west side of the park, I can see my house across the inter-coastal waterway. It's always at this point in a run that I wonder if I couldn't just swim the half mile to my home instead of running the 2 miles that it will take me to leave the park, cross the Sunrise bridge and run back north along Bayview Drive to get home. Of course, it's a totally ridiculous thought that only comes to mind late in a long run. I finish the park loop, come out onto Sunrise Blvd. and cross the bridge to the mainland. In another mile, I'm almost home. Just before turning on my street for my last couple hundred yards, my Garmin beeps off my 18th mile.
Yes, it's taper time. Next weekend, I'll only run between 8 to 10 miles. I had no real reason to run as much as 18 miles this weekend, but the weather wasn't too hot and I came across a lot of my friends. I suppose part of it was just hitting my stride again in training and feeling good. Part of it was the realization that I love the shared experience of all the early morning athletes along A1a getting in their long runs and rides before the weekend's activities sends us all in different directions. Besides, it was just a nice day for a run along the beach.