For the third year in a row, I went on vacation while preparing for a race. Two years ago, I was in the middle of Boilermaker training, shredding a perfectly good pair of shoes on the hard cinder railbed of the Danvers Trail and enduring the energy-sapping humidity of early summer in Boston. Last year, I was hobbling down Virginia Dare Trail in Nags Head, trying to get ready for my first Burlington Marathon and paving the way for my Mountain Goat injury the following month.
So when Tessa suggested we get away from the brutal upstate winter for a few days in Rehoboth Beach, DE, I readily agreed, even though it meant finding running routes in an unfamiliar town, which is a challenge I am sure many of my running friends have had to deal with from time to time.
Fortunately, rather than getting lost or, worse, taking my life into my hands running on unfamiliar and potentially dangerous roads, there were trails to explore.
First up was the Junction and Breakwater Trail, an enjoyable crushed-stone path that ran through some wooded areas before sadly terminating in a new and rather soulless subdivision. But I was on a program and had work to do, so there was no time to really admire the scenery. The 10-mile tempo run had to be completed.
The following day was a different story. A little exploration led us to Gordons Pond and, as luck would have it, the program called for an easy 5-miler. With Tessa leading the way on her bike, we set off on a gloriously sunny afternoon, letting the early spring warmth and gentle ocean breezes blow away all memory of the wretched February we had just endured in central New York.
The trail began by winding around the “pond”–actually, a saltwater lagoon surrounded by drab, sand-colored marsh grasses that contrasted starkly with the green scrub pines and blue water.
In the distance, two imposing World War II observation towers stood guard against an old and ghostly enemy.
All the time, I was running gently and easily, not gauging pace or worrying about mileage. This all felt so good, and I was determined to savor it.
I was on a garuda run.
Just then, the boardwalk turned into a paved road, and Tessa reappeared. “I hope you’ve still got some running in you,” she said, “’cause there’s something up here you have to see.”
So off we went, through the pines and up a slightly elevated winding road. At this point, I was having so much fun I didn’t mind the extra work. I was going off program for the first time in months, surprising myself and being surprised at every turn.
Another World War II observation tower appeared,
followed by some abandoned army barracks,
We had arrived at Fort Miles, designed to defend the Delaware Bay and US shipping from the German navy, which had managed to sink fourteen US vessels off the coast of New Jersey in the months following Pearl Harbor.
It was time to take a breather and take in some water and the view. We chatted for a little while with a local elderly couple who took a nice shot of us
In the end, I had run 3-1/2 miles more than I had planned and that had been on the program. But all the way back, there was a big smile on my face that I had run just for the hell of it in the middle of another physically demanding Hanson’s marathon program.
As much as I needed a vacation to get away from work and day-to-day personal stresses and lousy weather, I also needed a vacation from the relentless work-run-sleep schedule that I had been my life since the middle of January.
Tonight, I ran another tough 10-mile tempo workout. The weather was cold and rainy, but I was strong, focused and (for me) fast. Rehoboth had been a vacation from running as well, but like all good vacations, it has left me energized and ready for the races to come.