Yesterday unloaded another running challenge. This time, it was the Egmond Half Marathon.
Well, it wasn't so much a half marathon as a quarter marathon, because I decided that my aching knees deserved a break. And it wasn't so much a quarter marathon as an obstacle course.The run began on the streets of the tiny "coastal village" of Egmond aan Zee. So tiny, in fact, that we were forced to park 15 minutes away and be bussed to the starting line. I had my hood pulled over my ears, four layers covering my midsection, and my iPod poised and ready to crank my favorite Podrunner mix (I LOVE Mad Dash, dj steveboy!). I jumped in place to warm my legs and tried to surreptitiously hide my running number, which clearly stated I was supposed to run the "Halve Marathon" later that afternoon. How embarrassing.
Then we were off! We spent a few kilometers meandering through the streets of the village. Many residents cheered us on, but some were seriously pissed about the inconvenience. I saw sullen faces, stalled bicycles, and roped off cars. Amusing indeed.
Then the beach section of the run began. We veered towards the surf and I realized with horror that yes, the sand was of the loose, deep variety. I was sure it would have been hard packed. About five minutes of major struggle, the crew finally made way to a narrow stretch of packed, wet sand near to the sea's edge. We all gasped with relief and plowed on.
Then suddenly, whoosh! The waves tore towards us and runners scattered like poorly-organized dominoes. I was almost knocked over by a combination of sea foam and other participants. The water was out of control with wind fever; never before have I seen the North Sea in such turmoil. I gritted my teeth and thanked myself again for not taking on the longer run.
Then it was a hike straight uphill into the dunes. Impossible to run, we all climbed through the deep sand until we came out onto the bike path, gasping and gritty. There we encountered hills, but the firm ground was a blessing to us all, and it carried us back to the finish line, full of cheering spectators.
Next up? Paris, March 11. That is if I train well and baby my creaking, aging joints.