The alarm clock goes off. Internally, a debate. Should I go? Should I stay? Somehow, for some reason, I muster the strength.
Many, many times in the 2017 calendar year, this experience was mine and perhaps some of yours. And nearly every time I had that debate, I ended up on the Seaside Promenade, often around 5:30 a.m.
I have been running the Seaside Prom since I was in Middle School, when our track coach used to have us run the length of the prom and sprint intervals using the light poles as our start and finish line. After our family got a new puppy last year, I figured the best way to get a little workout and get the puppy some exercise, was a nice run to start the morning off right.
When I first started, running in the dark proved challenging. I began on the streets of Seaside and Gearhart, where sidewalks are a luxury and flat sidewalks are nearly nonexistent. The Prom was a perfect solution; a flat, well-lit path, with a measured distance and a beautiful scene.
There were other challenges that surfaced over the course of the year and weather was probably the most significant. Rain and cold don’t bother me much but wind is the worst experience for a runner (or a non-runner like me) to have to endure.
As Hood to Coast approached late in the summer, I often stretched my runs out, incorporating the Prom as a portion of the necessary miles to prepare. Occasionally, particularly in the summer, there would be good-sized crowds on the Prom and dodging the onlookers sometimes proved difficult for an energetic dog.
As 2017 draws to a close, I have reflected often on the habit that I’ve formed. I’ve made the trip around 200 times over the course of the year. My pace is similar to when I started, although the run seems a tiny bit easier each time. I still find the first few hundred yards the worst, partly because that is where my dog often stops frequently to handle his business.
Speaking of my dog, he’s become accustomed to the tradition as well. He hears my alarm clock and waits impatiently at the foot of the stairs for me. He gets particularly excited when he recognizes my running shoes.
The value of movement is not to be understated. The U.S. Department of Health recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week, or an average of about 21 minutes per day. Coincidentally, the Prom is about the perfect distance (three miles roundtrip) for a great runner to finish in 21 minutes. And if you’re not a great runner, you can just turn around at one of the many landmarks on your way, or make a loop on Holladay or Necanicum drives.
My morning run helps me set the tone and direction of my day. Post-run, I feel better able to be mentally and emotionally sound and to be a source of strength to others around me. Physical activity, to me at least, is one main difference between a good day and a great day.
I can’t begin to explain the beautiful scenes that I’ve witnessed. During certain times of the year, the sun will break beautifully over Tillamook Head. In the clear and crisp days of winter, the stars and moon over the Pacific produces an inspiring scene. I’ve gotten to recognize the other like-minded early risers of our community and feel a kinship with those folks. Who knew that recreation and physical activity can help a town feel more like a community.
I challenge you to find a way to move more, be more healthy and challenge yourself in 2018. It’s never too late to start a tradition of your own, or you are welcome to join me on my morning run!
Skyler Archibald is the executive director of the Sunset Empire Park & Recreation District.