One of the things I miss about living in Dublin is the sea. In the two decades I spent there I was rarely farther than a 15 minute drive to the water.
In more recent years, living close to the northern shore of Dublin Bay, I could run to Dollymount Strand in 10 minutes (if I pushed it mind you, usually it took a little longer).
Since relocating to Portland, Oregon, last year, most of my running has been on the sleepy streets of North Portland, usually in the morning before traffic gets busy. It gets the job done, but it’s not quite the same as jogging along the surf line, out among the elements.
Neither is grinding out the kilometres on a treadmill, the other option in recent times (and the more sensible one, given Oregon’s weather this winter).
After six months of this, I’d had enough, though. And so I found myself arranging a trip with my wife to the central Oregon coast, to a small town called Pacific City. It boasts a large offshore sea stack, a huge, climbable sand dune, a famous brewery, and four miles of straight, level, sandy, beach.
And it was deserted. After months of living and working out in a city, it felt strange to be standing on sands which stretched out for four miles with nobody in sight. It may have been the time of year, or the early morning, but no-one ventured past the beach entrance (the site of the brewery’s pub – which may explain matters). And so I ran on alone, in silence.
Well, anything but silence. The roar of the ocean, whipped around by a steady north-easterly, kept me company. Once I got into the zone I was not only running in Pacific City, I was on Dollymount Strand, or Rosslare Strand, or Curracloe Beach, my favorite coastal runs back in Ireland.
Without cars, street signs, people, or a phone, one beautiful natural area is like all the others – thankfully. For 50 minutes I was out of civilization and out of time. I planned to run 5k along the beach, but I couldn’t resist pushing on.
I’ll hurt tomorrow, of course, but I’ll be back on city streets then, where – nicely lit, well paved, and without the wind and the noise – running is always a little tougher.