Freedom Is Running Across an Enormous Bridge

“I get to run.”

Not, “I have to run.” Change one little word, change the entire meaning. One sentence implies a burden, the other implies freedom.

I celebrated Independence Day by getting to run. And I got to run (and bike) at my Happy Place: Ocean City, New Jersey.

While OCNJ did get pummeled by Hurricane Sandy last fall, from a visitor’s perspective it felt mostly back to normal – though there are some remnants of that Frankenstorm: Some shuttered shops, giant random mounds of sand under buildings, a half-rebuilt dune system, and sights like this:

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My brother-in-law and his wife are preparing to do that to their house in a few months. Whoa. They don’t be playin’ around.

So I GET to be in OC and I GET to run. Where should I go for my first long run – 9 miles – of marathon training? Let’s start with the boardwalk…

sunrise long run marathon training

Sunrise on the boardwalk.

I left at 6:00 AM to avoid the heat and the crowds. I took off at the south end and headed up. Already, there were quite a few runners out. The boardwalk is always a forgiving surface to run on (except when it’s snow covered) but I noticed the boards were a tad bit warped from Sandy. Walkers wouldn’t notice but I certainly did not want to give my brother-in-law cause for calling me “Tripsy McBleedsalot” as he did a year ago when I tripped and bled 0.3 miles from his house on a night run, so I made sure to pick up my big clodhoppers and tread carefully.

I ran about 2 miles, then cut across the island at 9th Street and headed to the brand-spanking new Route 52 Causeway/Bridge. It’s 2.2 miles across with a huge, lovely pedestrian walkway that makes it an attraction unto itself. It has two hill climbs, great views, a nice breeze, and that makes it a perfect spot for a run. The family and I had biked it the day before and I couldn’t wait to venture across it again.

I ran to the base of the bridge. I wish I could have taken a better picture, but the ascent is curved and moderately steep and it does look like you’ll launch yourself into the bay, Dukes of Hazard-style.

Route 52 causeway marathon training long run

Bye for now…

Getting to the top, though, YEE-HAW, the views are breathtaking!

route 52 causeway marathon training long run

At the top of the first span.

I’m so glad I dragged my arse out of bed to do this sunrise run! I’m about 3 miles in at this point, and I’m nice and warmed up. Here’s what’s in front of me, and it’s glorious:

route 52 causeway long run marathon training

The building in the middle of the causeway is the new OCNJ visitor’s center. Note: It has bathrooms (but not at 6:30 AM.)

Next, it’s a long downhill, then a long flat, and then and ascent/descent over the second span, which is very teeny in the distance. Stopping at the cluster of trees by the Visitor’s Center, if you’re a bit of bird-nerd you’ll spot some nesting Night Herons.

route 52 causeway night herons long run marathon training

Good morning, birdies!

I just kept moving right along at a safe 11:00 long-run pace. There were times I had to hold myself back from running too fast. Being that it was the first long run of the training cycle, I did not want to blow-out my feet.

I get to the top of the second span, and the view is just blissfully breathtaking. By this time, I had a serious runner’s high going, I felt like I was sweating unicorn tears and sprouting Pegasus wings, this view was JUST THAT GOOD.

long run marathon training route 52 causeway

Top of the second span and I can see from whence I came…

I got to the end, turned around and headed back over the same spans. The breeze was blowing, and there were many walkers/bikers/runners out, but not enough to make it crowded. It was PERFECT. Like riding a rainbow (again, it’s the endorphins talking here). I didn’t want it to end. My feet did, but I didn’t.

I left the span and headed back to the boardwalk to finish the last 2 miles. By this time, the boardwalk was getting crowded, but runners have their own cute little lanes.

marathon training long run boardway

Stay in your lane, lady!

As my run ended and the boardwalk narrowed, it became filthy with runners.

marathon training long run boardwalk

Runners everywhere. We are taking over.

I get to walk out the door, get to wear what I want, get to experience beautiful run, get to take dorky selfies, get to sweat unicorn tears, get to ice my feet, and I get to be a little bit sore. For that freedom, I am truly thankful.

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7 thoughts on “Freedom Is Running Across an Enormous Bridge

  1. Ill be in Ocean City next week and can’t wait to run over that bridge!! Your post was so helpful…thank you! Have a 14 mile run to get in (never gone past 13.1) – so I’m hoping those beautiful ocean views will provide some inspiration to keep 1 foot in front of the other!

    Lindsey in NY

    • You will love it, and it’s so breathtaking it will help 14 miles fly by. Hmmm, so if you’re doing 14, I’m guessing you’re training for a marathon?… 😉 ENJOY!!

      • We did it! Ran our 14 miles in Ocean City, NJ and part if it included that super cool (and super long) bridge! On the uphill, I was looking down and focusing and then I looked up and there was a HUGE rainbow in the sky over the bay–was such a cool view and felt like an inspiring message saying “you are doing it-enjoy the journey and look all around and see what you would be missing if you were sleeping in!!” 🙂

      • We did it! Ran our 14 miles in Ocean City, NJ and part if it included that super cool (and super long) bridge! On the uphill, I was looking down and focusing and then I looked up and there was a HUGE rainbow in the sky over the bay–was such a cool view and felt like an inspiring message saying “you are doing it-enjoy the journey and look all around and see what you would be missing if you were sleeping in!!” 🙂 oh and yes, I’m training for my first marathon — Philly 11/17– a google search for the marathon led me to your blog 🙂

      • That’s so awesome. I’d be willing to bet that somehow the bridge and rainbow were in cahoots – the bridge is THAT GOOD. And Philly will be my second marathon, but the first one wasn’t the experience I’d hoped it would be, so I’m considering this a redemption race. Good luck on your training!

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