Morning fog mixes with city pollution, the heavy haze filters the sun through white and brown.
Eager surfers wade into shallow water, others stretch, meditate, and welcome the sun.
A woman who each morning wears only a one-piece suit, no matter the weather, has already finished her routine swim.
Car park attendees tote florescent yellow striped vests over three layers of winter garb, waiting simultaneously for the heat of the sun and for the first patrons to arrive. Mercedes, BMW, Toyota and Ford. For me, barefoot in shorts and a T-shirt, this is a warm day spring day in Colorado.
On the beach, my bare feet press into the soft sand where the high tide delivered seaweed and shells hours before. Poorly paid employees of an unseen entity will labour in dress shoes and slacks to remove the undesirable debris.
I bend forward, barely able to reach my ankles, let alone toes. I welcome the pain that cascades through muscle in my back, shoulders, and lower legs. Heavy eyelids yet sleeping are flushed of excess blood, made lighter and more awake.
I commit to a half dozen simple moves borrowed from yoga, wondering if those who never stretch feel more or less ready for the run. As though my arms grew longer, or my legs less, I reach my toes, even press fingers into the sand.
In response to an invisible gun, I turn East and run.
Quick, light strides. The cool breeze at my back, my chest is a sail.
The front of my feet displace the quartz crystals, heels seldom leaving a mark. Head up, shoulders back, chest out. I look forward and around, the view compelling.
To my right the waves tumble over one another, competing to reach the shore. A half dozen attempts and then one spills over the others and well past where they had arrived before.
Feet, ankles, and lower legs now wet with salt tell me if the current comes from East or West, the temperature this day relatively warm.
I reach the first estuary outlet. Surface ripples the colour of tea reflect its depth. Soft waves of sand mirror those on the surface, the water only knee deep this time. I recall stream crossings in Colorado, Alaska, and Washington State, face upstream, and shuffle side to side to keep my balance.
Picking my way through the sharp shells deposited for a dozen meters on the other side, I again drop into my runner’s pace. Hard packed sand gives rebound to my mass for as much as it softens my stride.
The path before me is the one I have taken many times, and yet it is rebuilt twice with each orbit of the Moon around the Earth. I feel selfish, the labour of unseen hands prepare for me a totally new route for every run.
Perhaps someone will notice I have not renewed my membership to this facility, yet this morning I am unchallenged by those who claim payment due. Another kind of runner yet lies dormant in narcotic slumber.
Nearly four kilometres finds me at the second estuary outlet, a deeper, wider channel I have not yet attempted to cross. Its odour is strong, deep red from the natural oils of the local fauna or pollution I do not know.
I pause to enjoy the way in which the dunes have been reshaped over and over again. What was a meter high wall of sand just at the ocean’s edge is now a hundred meters wide, sickle shaped inlet whose serpentine channel moves brackish water in both directions.
Turning, I scan the dunes for potential confrontation, lean forward and begin the return. Conscious of my form, I open and close my hands, roll my shoulders, and make arcs with my arms. When my feet grow weary, heels again contacting sand, I emphasize the arc of my legs, draw knees higher, and increase my gate.
After the water crossing I am but several hundred meters from the bath house. More surfers have arrived. Instructors in pink and blue shirts over wet suits lead students to beach-side instruction. Lying on their belly they practice strokes.
I learn forward to pick up my pace, nearly double what was. Two hundred meters later I shift to my highest gear, pumping arms at my sides with knife blade hands slicing air. Bare feet force water to spray which soaks my shorts and lower shirt. Tender skin warms on the bottom of my feet. My lungs are pleased to meet the challenge and inhale larger, rhythmic volumes of moist atmosphere. My concerns for the day vanish as I am momentarily given the freedom of flight.
As the water moves from left to right, forward and back, the apparent speed at which I fly doubles then stalls and resumes.
Homeless men and women who have just finished bathing stop to look as I drop back to a jog just shy of their morning, temprary abode. I consider the luxury I have in my health and time to afford such a thing, knowing a warm shower awaits me behind locked door, key, and dry room.