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So far this is my summer of early rising. I’ve discovered that getting out the door by 5:45 am is the perfect time for slow and cool 10-mile runs. Not only do I get to see the sun rise, but most mornings have full cloud coverage for the duration of my run. Here’s the sun peeking out over the ocean on Monday morning – taken with a crappy camera phone.

sunrise

I’m getting a feel for how long a cloud blanket will block the sun: When it almost touches the horizon to the east and extends over my head to the western tree line, I usually have 1.5 to 2 hours before the sun breaks through. Sticking to this window saves me from carrying extra sun screen. The biggest advantages are the cooler temperatures, empty boardwalks and watching these small NJ shore towns slowly come to life each day. Sometimes the clouds are drizzly, but I’ll take looking like a wet rag doll over baking in the sun any day.

This morning a man in an over-sized stripey shirt caught my eye because he was showering on the beach in his clothes with a bar of soap. His shirt made him look like a cartoon kid and he was humming to himself never minding his shopping cart of possessions parked behind a bush. He gave me my biggest “Good morning” of the day. Later I passed happy surfers dragging in their boards and sleepy couples hauling their chairs  over the sand for a cup of coffee by the water before the gate keepers  start charging.

A group of kids flew by me and I realized I am probably twice their age! It seems like just a few years ago I was putt-putting around in my silver super-used Saab from a summer job at the corn farm to meeting friends at the beach. After they disappeared in the distance I passed a fellow who was about twice my age looking content and strong.

lighthouse

My biggest discovery is how much fun 10 mile runs are when I take my time. There’s a tiny lighthouse a few towns over that happens to be just over 5 miles away, which makes for an irresistible loop. You can see the black lookout of the Sea Girt Lighthouse just behind the concession stand in the picture above. There’s a better shot of the building below:

lighthouse

And a little closer:

lighthousePossibly the shortest lighthouse I’ve ever seen, but it’s a handsome little building. Knowing it’s here keeps me going back and as a result 10-mile runs have become my new weekday default distance. Thanks, lighthouse. Thanks, early morning clouds. I love eating my banana pancakes with blueberries for breakfast knowing I’ve already run 10 miles for the day.

*I use this awesome recipe on Hey That Tastes Good for gluten free, vegan banana pancakes. The only changes I make are using coconut milk instead and cutting out the sugar since ripe bananas are sweet enough.

 

 

 

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