It was a cool morning of 53 degrees with a heinous wind whipping around for the Chariots of Fur race. I showed up to Jax beach with a jacket, an ipod and no dog for the 3.1 race for dogs. I knew when I pulled in this was going to be a fun experience, and had hoped I’d run into the friends on Facebook that shared the race on their pages, Kim Pawelek and her husband Keith Brantly.
As I got out of the car, two cars down, there they were, Kim and Keith. They had just pulled in the lot. The timing couldn’t have been better. I got out and said hi, with my hair sticking out from the wind and barely any makeup on and you could tell it wasn’t photo shoot day. Their dogs, Scout and Chase were eager to get the day started, probably more so than me. I wanted to get a picture (glam or no in my case), so I could put away my phone. As we were posing, we were in good company with Greyhounds passing by with full length coats on, and the loud speaker announcing the “warm up session with Doga will begin in five minutes”. As I walked to the car, I could hear the instructor saying “ok, double dog down”. I just had to laugh. A “double dog down” with a dog, that’s classic.
The race itself started at 10 am. We all shuffled to the race start on the beach and planned to go out and back on what was a blustery day, which could’ve been much worse with rain. I needed to be done no later than thirty minutes so I could hit the car, the shower and attend a memorial service of a friend from the gym who had passed away. When we got down to the beach, I knew I was going to need my tunes. The wind was at our backs going out, and any beachrunner like myself will tell you it’s usually better to have it in your face on the way out and at your back on the way to the finish. I forgot to give Mother Nature the phone call before I left my condo.
The whole idea of the race, the name and the beach run brought back a memory from my teens. In high school, I would sometimes ride my bike to public beach access at Solona road in Ponte Vedra, and run down the beach to Corona road and back with a headset on. Back then, there was no Lodge, A1A was a two lane highway and then I’d only dream of doing the River Run. One afternoon, I got on the beach to run and a pack of guys were teasing me as I ran by humming the tune of the movie “Chariots of Fire”. This only made me laugh and I raised my hands in the air and acted like I was carrying torches. They laughed and one guy, Bill Luebke, said “hey Beth”. Once I passed them, I jacked up the volume to the song “Boys of Summer”, by Don Henley. It was on the radio then, just released, and it was then I made the goal of having my own place in PV and a nice ride, while singing “deadhead sticker on a cadillac” that day. There were no ipods or cassette players, they hadn’t been invented for years and the only way to hear music was being at the mercy of the DJ. Rock 105 was usually my station, along with an R & B station in town famous for hits by The Time. Truth is, I doubt I’d like running without music, or most other forms of fitness training. Let’s face it, I wasn’t a Shalane Flanagan out the gate, and just ran for recreation. I know I’m not a phenomenal singer, so singing only gets done on the beach when no one is around, in the shower, or in the car when I’m alone. I have a good time. Today singing was only brief, after the turn back, followed by a few facewind cusswords and on to cracking up laughing at the dogs. One pair was having a lickfest with the dog next to him and another decided the ocean was more fun than the running.
I got in under 28 minutes and cooled down walking to the car, among the other doberman’s and retrievers and made the funeral on time. The pouring rain didn’t hit until much later, so the day was a success. As always, I’ve said, if I’m not laughing, it’s not worth it, and today was full of laughs:-).