Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Beach Day

There were two horse trailers in the parking lot today when I ran through the municipal lot at Pine Point Beach in Scarborough, Maine. I got excited that one of them might belong to the trainer who brings his trotters down to the beach for their off-season workouts, though when I hit the beach and saw only hoof marks and no wheels, I knew they weren't there and hoped they would come during my run.

I love seeing the sulkies training on the beach at low tide. Scarborough Downs is nearby, and the trainers have the advantage of running their horses on the beach. There's just something wonderful about seeing a horse run, particularly a racer. As a runner and racer myself, I fully appreciate what they are doing there: They're doing a workout! They run a couple lengths of the beach, at varying speeds, good for three plus miles one-way to the Old Orchard Beach Pier. Sometimes, of course, they are flying! And the drivers are so committed. They're out there in cold, wet, and often uncomfortable conditions.

One day (I'll never forget this,) the driver, horse and sulky were finishing a fabulous full-on run to the finish area and instead of stopping and walking, they headed straight into the ocean! It was amazing since not only was it a raw 40 degrees, but the sulky and its sand-covered driver went underwater as well! OMG, I thought, that is passion, and commitment. As runners know, there is nothing better for your legs after a high intensity run than to get in the icy ocean water. A shower or bath will do but on the coast of Maine, one might as well take advantage. And this driver was not only taking advantage but taking the dip voluntarily, for the sake of this horse under his tutelage.

Today, I saw three clammers hip high in the water. As mentioned, the tide was low and these guys gotta dig. It was sunny and clear, 3o degrees, and the ocean was very calm. I've never quite figured out how they are able to see where they are plugging their shovels and landing on clams when they are in the water. I would think the depressions and air holes are easier to see on the beach.

Many people were out walking on the beach today, as well. It does seem like spring is in the air. The sun is noticeably warmer, and it stays light until well after 5:00 pm. There were lots of dogs, too. What was missing for me, though, were other runners.

Self-employment, coupled with a sick school-aged child during a school vacation week, tend to warp my sense of time and place. Today, after I went through all sorts of gyrations, manipulation, and planning to get out for a run - the desperate homemaker that I was - I looked around the beach and felt like a retiree. I saw two children with what appeared to be grandparents, and one woman doing a power walk who was probably in her late thirties. Otherwise, the rest of us were AARP eligible and except for me, not runners. It felt strange. I missed the vibrancy of the Tuesday noontime run with friends in Portland, and, I felt like I was moving about as fast as a slug. Oh well, I figured, this is temporary.

I was coming off a long race, I felt tired, and it was a beautiful beach day in Southern Maine. Maybe I should have pulled up a chair, snuggled in my down coat with binoculars in hand, and looked for the sulkies for inspiration.

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