We runners are a bunch of nutbars. Even though we’re in the throes of winter, that doesn’t mean we can’t get our race on, right? Well that was my attitude this weekend, when I found myself once again participating in the Manasquan Mid-Winter Beach Run!
I ran this 2-mile race last year and had a blast, even in the rain, sleet, and snow. I somehow managed to convince myself that I can do anything for 2 miles, and this year I even convinced my cousin (of Frog Hollow 5K fame) to come run it with me! Maybe I should become a car salesman…
After a few rounds of texting each other the night before (“Why did I let you convince me to do this?” “Because you get a free hoodie and a beer afterwards! It’s only 2 miles!”), we arrived at the start on Saturday morning to find it a balmy 22 degrees. Hey, we hit negative temps every night that week, 22 is a heatwave! We killed time by discussing our layering strategies (me: shorts over tights and a mid-weight waterproof jacket, her: hoodie and sweats over tights and long sleeves) and daydreaming about how warm our free race hoodie was going to feel after we finished.
The gun went off and for the first half mile I struggled with my Garmin: between it being a new piece of equipment and not having run with it outside much due to this crap-tastic winter, I forgot what side the start button was on and I turned it off instead of on at the start. D’OH!
Regardless, I got it working at about .6 miles in and found I had been at a pretty slow pace due to the congestion at the start. At this point I also had a brief moment of Race-Rage: this personal-space-invader lady kept perfect pace with me, even creeping up and bumping my shoulder around a corner – with a whole open street to run on! I was beginning to think I was being punk’d when finally I had enough and shot away from her, cruising through the rest of the first mile at like a 9 minute mile pace out of sheer frustration.
At the start of the 2nd mile, we turned up and on to the beach, where things kind of fell apart. See, looking at the weather on paper, I would have said that we lucked out this year with a dry race. But in reality, I would have much rather preferred to run in 30 degree sleet on snow-free sand like last year, compared to having to trudge through mountains of snow on the sand this year.
Those random “paths” you see in the snow were really just snow drifts that thinned out, so people would start on one, sink into the snow/sand slush, and stop, then walk a little, or dart to the side. This turned already tough sand-running into an ankle-twisting nightmare when I had to bob and weave around everyone!
In all honesty, while it was frustrating, this is where I feel like I gained the most ground in the race. As a solid back-of-the-packer, I so rarely get to experience the awesome feeling of picking people off in a race. Since I was feeling good and only had another mile to go, I made it a point to pass as many people as I could, and I loved it! I lost count after 10 or 20, and just kept going. I was actually “racing”, and it felt awesome!
After a quarter mile of sand, we turned slightly onto the boardwalk for the next quarter mile, then turned back onto the street in a straight line for the home stretch. I wasn’t as speedy as I’d hoped to be (turns out all that bobbing and weaving adds time, who’d have thunk?!) and I had an uneventful finish around the 25 minute mark.
A minute or two later, my cousin finished too, “looking like a homeless person” (her words).
Overall it was another great race! There are no official timing mats or chips for this one, just a fun chance to race in conditions that I would normally avoid, and a cool hoodie instead of a cotton t-shirt. I’ll definitely be doing this one again in the future, if not just to see if I can finally catch a break and run it in semi-decent weather! A girl can dream, can’t she?