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:


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.


A Weird Run

A recent long run was weird for several reasons:

  • It was very cold. That in and of itself isn’t weird. But I didn’t bail because of it, which is weird.
  • I had a cold. Didn’t bail. Weird.
  • We went to the Jersey Shore for the weekend. It snowed there. Beach + snow = weirds me out.
  • I peed under a bridge. Sorry, TMI, but weird.
  • And finally, when hubby and I ran on the boardwalk, it looked like this:

That's hubby, running on the right. I can tell that's him because uh, HE'S THE ONLY PERSON AROUND FOR MILES.

Weird, weird, WEIRD!!

(Now that I’ve typed the word weird several times, I’m staring at it, and I think I’ve misspelled it because it looks weird.)

So my weird run began just after dawn. I needed to get in 7 miles, according to my race calendar. Hubby and I had a rare opportunity to run together, so we mapped the route and went. It was about 20 degrees, but the wind…oh, the wind…was gusting about 30 m.p.h. I knew it was going to be a slog.

That's Mr. See-Nancy-Run and myself, at the start of the weirdness. Oh, another small, but weird thing: I forgot my contacts and had to run with my eyeglasses. Always weird.

We started on the boardwalk and realized we were the only ones there. If you’ve ever been to Ocean City, New Jersey’s boardwalk, you were probably there with throngs of people. I felt like I was in the twilight zone as we ran through…no one.

O.C. got about 3 inches of snow the night before. You’d think that 3 inches wouldn’t be that hard to run through, and I didn’t think it was at first…until about mile 2, when my ankles started to throb. I guess I was running stiff-footed in order to try and “grip” the boards (at times the wind had blown away the snow leaving a sheet of ice). Just keep going, I chanted to myself.

We ran to the end of the boardwalk and into the beautiful Gardens neighborhood of O.C. This was going to be an out-and-back run, meaning you run in one direction, hit the halfway mark of your goal, turn around and run back. Our goal was to get to the base bridge off the island, at the 3.5 mile mark, and turn around.

The problem is, by the time I was within a mile of the bridge, I really had to pee. I’m horrible at timing my fluids. We knew that the restrooms on the boardwalk would likely be open on the way back, but dammit, that would throw off the course. Must get to bridge! There’s a beach entrance at the base of the bridge. I was hoping for a port-a-toilet there, but no such luck. I really needed to go.

Hubby and I ran to the beach and I was desperate. So I ducked under the bridge, just where it meets the sand. Peeing outside is always tricky, but 30 m.p.h. winds required a level of deftness that I wasn’t sure I had. But mission accomplished, and we set off back through the gardens. Of course, we passed not one, but two port-a-toilets at house construction sites on the way back. Grrr.

Back on the boardwalk, there were more footprints, but still basically empty:

See that building on the far left horizon? That’s the Music Pier. It has restrooms, just so you know. (I timed those fluids very badly.)

It’s already a slow run and I’ve stopped twice, why not take a photo of myself in triple layers in the shadow of the music pier?

If photos could convey bitter cold, you'd be grabbing a blanket right now.

So as the run ended, I grabbed an “arty” picture of…

…my duck-footed footprints.

Soemtimes on long runs I push myself to do a little extra, but this time I stopped the second the GPS hit 7.00, and not one hundredth of a mile more. The weird run was over.

Oh, and as I walking back to meet hubby, I started to see a few more people on the boardwalk. Guess what they were doing?


No doubt about it, runners are weird.

Had any weird runs lately?