Running a Beach 10K

Back in 2013, I set the goal to run fifteen 10Ks within the year. I reached that goal and learned a couple of valuable lessons:

  1. People who run are a kind, fun, interesting group of people.
  2. I really enjoy running, but will never be super good at it.

My experience through reaching this goal left me wanting to travel to different runs, meet my fellow runners, and just enjoy the overall experience– not be too concerned with results. While browsing the web one day, I stumbled upon the website for the USA Beach Running Championships in Cocoa Beach, FL. I love beaches and running so this is one I had to do. I signed up on the spot.

Pre-race

My flight arrived in Melbourne, FL a few days before the race. Melbourne is about a half hour south of Cocoa Beach so I took an airport cab to The Inn at Cocoa Beach, the hotel I was staying at for the week. Turns out the cab driver’s father, who was a military man, grew up within 30 miles of where I grew up. Sometimes while traveling you realize just how small of a world it truly is.

I arrived early mainly to just hang out on the beach. The nice thing about the hotel is that it was right on the beach so I could literally walk out of my hotel room right onto Cocoa Beach. And that is exactly what I did for the few days before the race. My daily ritual was to grab breakfast at the hotel (which was superb), hang out on the beach until around lunchtime. For lunch, I would usually walk up the beach to the Sandbar Sports Bar to grab some fish tacos. In the afternoon, it would be more beach time followed by hanging at the Riki Tiki Tavern on the Pier for a few Coronas, people and wave watching. Ah, the life!

Breakfast at the hotel

The Race

We don’t have real beaches in Wisconsin so my experience of running on sand is very limited. The few days prior to the race I tried both running barefoot on the sand and in running shoes. I was on the fence as to which one was better for the race. I enjoyed running barefoot on the sand but questioned whether I could do it for 6+ miles. In the end, I went with running shoes.

The day of the race was a lot of fun. There were lines of people streaming off of the boardwalk onto the beach. Music was playing and there was a sense of excitement in the air. It was slightly overcast with a strong breeze out of the north (the direction the race started in), but people didn’t seem to mind.

The “course” wasn’t your typical 10K course; it was simply run 5K north up the beach, turn around and run 5K back the other way. I knew the first 5K would be tough with the strong headwind, and the 5K coming back would be a breeze (no pun intended) with the wind at my back. And that was pretty much how it went. The first half was tough; it even rained for around 10 minutes after the start. But once I made the turn, the wind was at my back and I flew to the finish line.

Walking out to the race

Takeaways

  • Combining two things you love– beaches and running in this case– is always a good thing.
  • The Inn at Cocoa Beach is a fantastic place to stay if you are visiting Cocoa Beach.
  • Running barefoot on sand might be great for short distances, but anything longer than a few miles not so much.

Shells at the start




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