Yesterday morning, I had my weekly longish run slated on the calendar (not physically of course, but rather in my mental calendar). I was shooting for somewhere between 8-10 miles (yes, I’ve been slacking on my long runs since I’m not currently training for anything), and had initially thought it a good idea to head out to the West Ashley Greenway to knock out those miles. However, on Sunday morning a combination of laziness (since I’d have to drive out to the greenway) and rekindled love for the Morris Island Lighthouse (since I had just written a much delayed race recap) led me to the zany idea that running from my doorstep to the beach front near the lighthouse would be a better option for completing my longish run.
Ideally, I would love to live somewhere where you can lace up your running kicks, bound out the door, and have your choice of different running routes you could complete right from your doorstep. I’ve lived in places ranging from pretty solid out the door running spots to downright awful. Where I lived for my last two years in Durham, NC definitely offered the best in terms of a running neighborhood. Unfortunately, my place in James Island does not offer the same diversity of options when it comes to running routes in da ‘hood. Sigh.
As chronicled in this blog in the past, I’ve come to enjoy beach running and typically head out to the beach for a run whenever afforded the opportunity. Thus, wouldn’t it be near ideal if I could combine my love of beach running with my desire for out the door runs? Yes, I certainly believe it would be. The problem with that dream, however, is that in order to get to Folly Beach from my house you’re going to spend some time running along Folly Road. Yes, you can minimize your time on Folly Road by running along some side roads for a bit, but ultimately all roads lead back to Folly Road.
You may be wondering, what’s so bad about Folly Road? Well, in a general sense it can be a traffic nightmare during the summer since it’s the only road leading in and out of Folly Beach (but that’s not what we’re talking about here). From a runner’s perspective, the main issue is that there’s only a sliver of shoulder for much of the road (though there are some well-worn dirt paths on the side of the road at times). Combine this lacking shoulder with motorists who tend to fly along Folly (and who may or may not be intoxicated during the summer months), and you’ve got a potential recipe for disaster.
On this morning, however, I was feeling brazen (and lazy–I really didn’t want to drive anywhere). I had run from my home to Folly before, but had never run from my house over to the end of Folly near the lighthouse. How far of a trek would this be? I consulted with my legs who informed me that they had a maximum of 10.01 miles in them today…maaaaaybe 10.02, but any more than that and they would abandon me outright. I knew they weren’t bluffing as they had quit on me before and clearly were not above doing so again.
I drew out the run on Google Maps, and rejoiced when I saw that the route would be approximately 9.7 miles! My legs gave their nod/shake/jump kick of approval, and Alicia agreed to provide shuttle service at my run’s terminus. So off I went!
I am glad to report that the run was uneventful overall, and enjoyable on top of that. My knees were both a bit sore initially, but felt better after about 15 minutes of running. No cars hit me on Folly Road…score! Believe it or not, I even got a bit of a sunburn on both my forearms as the first half of the run was pretty sunny (it became significantly overcast for the second half) and Folly Road offers little in way of protection from the elements. I passed “Phaz” (or at least that’s what I think it’s called), which I believe is being marketed as a bar or night club but is really two run down buildings with a “courtyard” (read: open space with cinder blocks on the ground) between the two buildings. This spot opened up a few months ago, and it has intrigued me ever since. Further arousing curiosity is the fact that they intermittently advertise Happy Hour and oyster nights (though they seem to be continually changing which night is oyster night…how are you going to build a solid patron base that way?) on their billboard up front. I have found very little information regarding this joint aside from a sparsely maintained Facebook page which may or may not belong to this establishment. Do any Charlestonians out there know anything about this spot? Also I apologize to the owner of Phaz if he/she is among the dozen of blog followers I have and is reading this. I am sure your establishment may indeed be world-class and it is most likely my ignorance (given that I have never stepped foot through your enterprise’s door) bleeding through here.
I was also afforded the opportunity to run over a few waterways, which I always enjoy and I weaved in and out of the Folly Beach neighborhood streets, admiring the beach houses that I certainly would not mind inhabiting. There’s always something magical about being in a beach town, and I’ve found that it feels even more special when you’re there during the off-season as one of the “locals”. I am definitely lucky to live so close to the ocean.
At just about 9.7 miles, I reached Morris Island lighthouse and the end of my run. My legs congratulated me, but reminded me that they were ready to bail on me in another third of a mile (thanks, guys). After snapping a couple pics of Morris, my chariot arrived and whisked me off to the rest of the day’s adventures!