Tag Archives: Beach Running

Sometimes Even Horseshoe Crabs Need a Hand

(Because they don’t have any…)

Yesterday morning, I went out to the always scenic (and often offering adventure) Folly Beach for my Sunday morning run. I set out aiming for six miles on the beach, and that’s ultimately what I accomplished. It was a beautiful (albeit a bit chilly) morning and I felt good overall despite having run the truly epic Onshore Racing’s You Can’t Run From Love 8K the day prior (race recap coming in a future blog entry when I stop slacking so much…).

Although this weekend run was rather ho-hum overall, it was notable on two counts:

  1. The sky was (for lack of better terminology) poppin’!
  2. I tried to rescue a horseshoe crab.
Look at those popcorn clouds!
Look at those popcorn clouds!
I mostly took pictures while warming up and cooling down, but will admit I stopped to take a couple during the run itself...
I mostly took pictures while warming up and cooling down, but will admit I stopped to take a couple during the run itself…

While the pictures may suggest otherwise, this “run” wasn’t all about being awed by the beauty of the sky.

Right as I was coming up on my three-mile turn around point, I also came across a horseshoe crab lying/resting/dying/drying out/tanning just beyond the shoreline. Now seeing a horseshoe crab stranded on the beach is no longer the sight it once was for this guy given the fact that they are frequently desiccating out on the beach (I’ve actually noticed that there are way more dried out horseshoe crabs out on the beach in the winter months than during the spring/summer months…maybe someone out there knows why this could be?). In fact, this horseshoe crab dude that I speak of was probably the fourth or fifth I had seen on this run alone.

What set this guy apart from the rest, however, was the fact that he did not appear all that dried up…and the fact that he was moving!

Come on, buddy, let down your hard shell guard a bit. I'm just trying to help ya...
Come on, buddy, let down your hard shell guard a bit. I’m just trying to help ya…

Yes, indeed I could clearly see him waving about his rear rudder tail/scorpion stinger appearing death appendage as he laid there helpless on the sand. So I paused my Garmin and took to assessing the situation which involved taking the above picture and admiring his cool barnacle like appearance.

After the in-depth assessment was completed, what ensued was a 10 minute cycle of me picking the big guy up, avoiding his rear tail (yes, I know it won’t kill me but still…), placing him a bit deeper into the water, watching to see if the tide takes him out, and then repeating. It was a delicate dance balancing my desire to save a majestic sea beast and my hope to not get my shoes soaked. Ultimately, the scales tipped further towards the humanitarian side and thus I was able to get him sufficiently far enough off shore that he could “swim” off to his sea home if he wanted to. I watched him for a bit, and he was definitely making movements on his own but I never saw him enter into the true depths of the ocean. After all, I didn’t have all day to watch him…sheesh!

So who knows if I ultimately did a good deed or not. It could be that he was dying and just wanted to be left alone in peace on the shore and instead some jerk in shorts threw him back into the water. It could also be that he was out on the shore to mate (though I don’t believe it’s crab mating season now) and thus I effectively “you know what–it rhymes with rock”-blocked him. Or in the best case scenario, it could be that I truly did save his crabby life.

In any case, I learned from Wikipedia (which contains only factually correct material) afterwards that horseshoe crabs are often used as bait fish for eel but a “permanent moratorium” has been put in effect in SC to restrict this practice. Way to go, South Carolina! Not enough to make up for being part of the Confederacy, but it’s all about baby steps…

Maybe the crab dude was just coming to shore to admire the sky as well?
Maybe the crab dude was just coming to shore to admire the sky as well?

If you somehow read this or have someone read the blog to you, Mr. Horseshoe Crab, please know that I was only trying to do you right.

Unrelated to running and crabs, I was able to close the day out with drinks at Kudu and watching the sunset with Alicia “It’s So Cold Outside” Herklotz. It was a good day overall.

His and Hers Evil Twin Brews at Kudu.
His and Hers Evil Twin Brews at Kudu. 

The sunset as seen from Folly.
The sunset as seen from Folly.


I Had To Wear Pants

That’s how cold it was today during my run. I know. It was brutal.

Come on, Mother Nature, what’s the deal here? It’s only early January and I live near the beach so I’m thinking it should be tropical all the time.

Yes, I know the thermometer is hitting southward of the 0 degree Fahrenheit mark and there is a significant amount of that white stuff on the ground up at home in Northern Jersey. I also know that Winter Storm Ion (not really an intimidating name, eh?) is about to unleash some chilly wrath upon the Rockies and the Midwest.

But guys, I had to wear pants. Outside. While running.

Not exactly what the beach looked like, but it felt this way...
Not exactly what the beach looked like, but it felt this way…


Ha! Now assuming I haven’t offended everyone reading this, let’s talk about what today’s run was actually like, shall we?

First thing first, it honestly was a bit chilly. Remember we’re talking South Carolina chilly, though. The fact of the matter is that it was in the mid-30s (not all that horrible for early January when you grew up becoming acclimated  to Jersey winters), but the wind is what was truly intense!

That wind was whipping around with gusts over 20mph and throwing sand every which way. Considering that the ol’ wind is usually a bit more significant along the coast line, one might ask why I would have chosen the beach as the backdrop for today’s run in the first place. I would reply by affirming that your question is indeed a valid one, and then point out that I have never made any claim as to being smart when it comes to my running (or to any other arena of my life for that matter). I would, however, further appeal that at least I was not attempting to fly a kite on the beach today. Seriously, everyone seemingly dusted off their old rickety kites today and attempted to have them take to the sky. Most ended the morning with new-found knowledge that a little bit of steady wind is good for kite flying, but a lot of swirly and strong wind is not.

For me, today was supposed to be a 4 mile pace run, though I decided to turn it into a 5 miler as I’ve been semi-slacking as of late. With the aforementioned frigid temps and kite dodging already setting up as obstacles for the day, the outlook was less than ideal. Throw in the fact that it was “leg day” yesterday at the gym and my lower limbs were certainly feeling it this morning and you’ve got yourself a possible disaster on your hands.

Even my shadow was cold...and wearing pants
Even my shadow was cold…and wearing pants

With that in mind, I set off on my run, trying to keep my tight quads and achy hamstrings off my mind and instead quietly singing along (in my head) with Brian Fallon (who wasn’t running with me but who was singing his heart out in my ear buds). For the first 2.5 miles, I felt great. After I wove my way through the kite death chamber and the beach gloriously opened up before me, my pace quickened, my breathing evened out, and I felt as though I was gliding oh so lightly just above the sand. I passed a couple strolling the beach right before the turnaround point, and I’m pretty sure they looked at me with admiration and a bit of awe as one asked the other if they thought I was an Olympian. I hit 2.5 miles on my Garmin and made an about-face to dominate the second half of my run.

Well, the thing about wind is that it doesn’t change direction when you do. Thus, when running in windy conditions, you have a friendly wind at your back going in one direction and an evil wind in your face when running in the opposite direction. Guess which way the wind was blowing on the first leg of my run. You got it! It was at my back and essentially pushing me down the beach for the first half of my jaunt on the beach. I’m not sure if I was more runner or kite for that first half of the run…

In any case, the once friendly wind had an abrupt mood change and slapped me in the face as soon as I made my U-turn. Immediately it felt as though I was running through some sort of quick sand and my once even breathing was now jagged and forced. That couple that had been planning on snagging my autograph on my return trip? Oh, they were now conferring with one another as to whether they should call for an ambulance.

Still, once I got my breathing down and perfected an optimal squint of my eyes that allowed me to see just enough while minimizing sand trauma and wind annoyance, I opted to treat the second half of the run as an exercise in “resistance training”. I forgot about my pace and the fact that the wind was preventing me from running in a straight line, and I just ran.

And you know what? I made it back to my car and felt pretty darn good when all was said and done.

I can take the wind, but I’ve only got so many pairs of running pants so let’s calm down on the dipping temps, huh? I’d hate to think about needing to break out my running tights…