The Surfside Beach Half Marathon was my first race in almost a year. It is a fun race on the packed slopping sand along the Texas Gulf Coast.  It was my first race since the initial Pandemic restrictions.  It was a race with several narratives.

First and foremost, the Surfside Beach Half Marathon would be in support of a friend, Allen. We knew each other through our respective work with the Balloon Fiesta. His calm and reassuring “hey Buddy” would put anyone at ease.  His focus was public safety, mine was media. We both understood how the two were intertwined.  He talked about his family and corvette. His recent work had him focusing on streamlining logistics (medical supplies and food) in the war against COVID. Allen’s love language was helping others.  He was in the midst of a courageous battle against cancer. It was a fight resulting in his final promotion less than a month after this race.

The other narrative was a fast approaching and unforgiving artic polar vortex that would soon blanket the entire state of Texas. The early fingers of that cold front reached out just as the race was starting. No reflective walks on the beach.  A layer of clouds muted the sunrise, a brisk north wind was announcing the front’s impending arrival.

The course was simple: run south 1.5 miles, turnaround, run north 8.5 miles, turnaround, return to the finish. While most of the participants liked to be high on the flat sand, I opted close to the shore for a firm footing. This kept the windward run fresh, dodging the surf and getting into a nice running rythem.  On the way back, I found some pack sand. Plus, all of the water stops were on the high side.  The finish was nice, medal was good. I wore it for a brief time  before sending it to Allen. 

The race organizers had a nice spread in a sheltered area. The food was hot and the spacious room was warm.

A friend of the race provided hand painted oyster shells with an inspirational saying.  I picked up one that read “Hope” with an appropriate hashtag for Surfside Beach, Texas #SBTXLOVE. Today, it is an ornament that hangs on my Christmas tree as a great reminder of a fun and cold race.