One of the longest-running (see what I did there) races in the Northeast Florida area is the Tijuana Flats Summer Beach Run 5 Miler. It’s part of the local Grand Prix series, and is, as advertised, five miles on the sand of Jacksonville Beach.
And before a few weeks ago, I had somehow managed to never run it.
My usual August race is Tour De Pain, but I was out of town when that rolled around, and the Summer Beach Run, rescheduled to the end of the month, was a suitable replacement. Even though I didn’t know anyone else running, and it was an evening event in the dead of summer, I went ahead and registered.
As race day approached, I considered blowing it off. I don’t know why I felt jittery. I’m generally fine doing runs by myself, and the distance certainly wasn’t an issue. I just wasn’t feeling it.
The day of the race was spent almost entirely standing outside manning a popcorn table with the Scouts, so my legs were certainly tired and I was probably not hydrated or fueled properly. As I was getting ready to leave the house, a nasty storm passed through, and I let Mr PugRunner and little man off the hook for coming with me. They opted in, however, and Mr PugRunner said that the rain would absolutely stop.
Which was good, because we all know how I feel about running in the rain.
Mr PugRunner let me out of the car at the Seaside Pavilion to collect my shirt and bib while he went to find a parking spot. I was able to snag my stuff and use the port a potty before they joined me. There was still some time before the start, so we wandered around the booths and listened to the live music. I tried to balance drinking my Nuun and not having to use the bathroom, but I wanted to stay hydrated in the heat and sun of the afternoon.
At the appointed time, I headed down to the start line on the sand.
There was some great music and Orange Theory was on hand to do a warm up. Mr PugRunner advised me to keep an eye on the tide: it was coming way up on the beach, and the boys got out of the way of the runners.
After the National Anthem, it was go-time.
Even though this race was comprised of all the things I don’t love (sand, evening, August heat and humidity), I really enjoyed it. The sand was flat and firm enough that I didn’t have any jangling in my hip. It was kind of interesting to have to dodge around the people who were actually there relaxing on the beach with their towels, chairs and umbrellas, but it kept me focused for the duration, and people tended to stay put and out of the way as best they could.
There was just enough of a light breeze to make the heat tolerable, and it remained overcast so the sun was never a problem.
I even got to run alongside the Navy for quite a bit, which was nice because they were running in cadence and made it pretty easy to follow.
The course was fairly easy: 2.5 miles south on the sand, then looping around to return. With about 2/10 of a mile to go, the course cut up through the softer sand and on to the paved walkway along the beach. While the soft sand was no picnic, that final sprint on asphalt was lovely.
It was one of the strongest runs I’ve had in a while.
The afterparty was rocking. Tijuana Flats was handing out tacos and chips and salsa. There was live music and free beer for runners, as well as ice cream trucks lined up for cool treats. The boys and I had dinner plans, so I grabbed a beer rather than a snack.
I loved scoring some bling again, too!
With all said and done, this was just the race event I needed. It was a bit of a confidence boost, and I loved feeling how all my summer training miles have paid off. I wouldn’t think twice about doing this one again in the future, but I also loved trying something new and being so pleasantly surprised.
Would you take on an August evening beach race?
Are you Team Taco after a big race?