Family vacations are wonderful opportunities to spend some quality time with your relatives, to enjoy shared experiences, and to create lasting memories. But, amidst all of this quality time, especially when you are sharing a condo with 3 extremely precocious – albeit wonderful – nephews under the age of 5, a little alone time is needed to recharge the batteries. At those moments, it is time to put on the old running shoes and hit the beach for a little Casual Running, vacation style.
In my last post I walked you through my – some would say overdone – packing list for my trip and why I was so determined to get out and run on my vacation. I was also really excited when I read Jennifer’s stories of running in Central Park, and wanted to share a few running stories from my travels to share as well. I had never been to Hilton Head before, and I just assumed that it would be a good locale for running, though I had no idea just how great it would be.
There are two things you should know about Hilton Head Island. First, in the summer time, it is FILLED with Ohioans. That’s right, we Buckeyes seem to invade the Island. Which begs the question why there is no Handle’s Ice Cream location on the Island? Second, the kinetics on the Island are awesome. There are people jogging, walking, and cycling everywhere you go. A few weeks ago I wrote about how in my town I rarely see people out running, but on Hilton Head, you could not help but be motivated to get up off the couch and go for a run by the site of fellow travelers (many of them Ohioans, yes, we were everywhere) who were being active on their vacations. This is not to say that the Island is busy or overwhelming in any way. It is a nice balance between energy/activity and relaxation.
The morning of our first two full day on the island, although we missed a direct hit by a tropical storm that was having fun a few hundred miles offshore in the Atlantic, were marked by overcast skies and some heavy rainfall. Having checked out the local hourly forecast on my Weather Channel app, I felt confident that I had a 2 hour window to hit the beach. So I did.
I put on my Fila Skeletoes to head out to the beach and run in the surf. It was awesome. There were people everywhere. Runners. Joggers. Walkers. Run-Walkers. Bike riders. Tandem bike riders. Every once in a while you would see someone drop and do some pushups or sit ups in the sand (to be clear, neither of those are a part of my Casual Running routine). It was easy to feed off the energy of those around me as I pushed on and splashed through the tidal pools created by the receding tide.
Outing number 1 was a very successful 10k out and back course one the beach south of our condo in the early morning hours. I loved running in the surf, but sadly it would be the only time on this trip I could do that. For some reason, the Skeletoes absolutely tore up the back of my heels. TMI alert. At the end of my run, my heels were bleeding and they hurt pretty badly. While it was pretty disgusting to see at the time, it was not the worst ankle bleeding I’ve had while running (don’t worry, I will have some TMI pics in a future piece about my marathon adventures). Oddly, I did not notice this while I was running, but as soon as I slowed to my cool down walk, I had to take off my shoes immediately because the pain was so noticeable. Oh well, it was a small price to pay for such a memorable run.
Even though the sores on my heels were bothering me from the day before, constantly seeing people out enjoying the beach and the many walking/biking paths around the island motivated me to get back out and run throughout the rest of the week. I was done with the Skeletoes, and in turn running in the surf, but fortunately I had brought an older pair of Saucony’s so I could still log some miles on the beach. One unexpected benefit of the Hilton Head is that the beaches have a lot of hard pack sand, which is ideal for running. Don’t get me wrong, after each run my legs were sore (running on sand gives you more of a workout that you might expect), but it is far better than trying to run on lose sand. Since I don’t like running in wet shoes, I stayed away from the surf and avoided the tidal pools.
Running along the beach necessarily means out and back courses, but there was plenty to see on Hilton Head. When the weather cleared up, group yoga sessions were common and cool to watch. Additionally, the standup paddle boarders were out in full force, and some even combined yoga with their paddle boarding. At one point I came to a stop to watch a small group of the latter standing on their heads whilst on their paddle boards. I also have a thing for palm trees. While I honestly cannot tell the difference between a palm tree and a palmetto (is there a difference?), seeing the trees waiving in the morning breeze as you run by is always a cool experience.
My vacation routine was consistent: every morning I would wake up, enjoy my cup of coffee, play with/entertain my nephews for a little while, then lace up the shoes and head out to the beach. As the week went on, my legs grew more tired from running on the sand. Not wanting to miss out on time on the beach, rather than taking days off, I opted to reduce my daily mileage to compensate for my tired legs. Even when I could not run any further, I slowed to a walk and just enjoyed the moment, but kept on going. Jeff Galloway would refer to this as “time on your feet,” but I just accepted it as time to enjoy myself while on vacation.
My Casual Running, and in turn I suppose my Casual Walking, allowed me multiple opportunities to take in the beautiful ocean views, to see hundreds of other vacationers out enjoying themselves, and to breath in the familiar sea air. There would be time to resume more serious training for my fall races when I returned, but my Casual Running during my vacation was all about the enjoyment of the experience, and it certainly was rejuvenating and rewarding. Casual Running on vacation was not a chore, it was a privilege. It was not something that I necessarily had to do, but rather it was something that I wanted to do. And I am certainly glad that I did.
Check out the following YouTube video and come along and enjoy the sights and sounds of Casual Running in Hilton Head, South Carolina, including some pretty swell shots of vacationers (including one or two Ohioans) enjoying the Island.
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