Archive for July 5th, 2009

The Privilege of Being Fit

West Meadow Beach, Long Island Sound

West Meadow Beach, Long Island Sound

Not too far from my house is a beach – West Meadow. It’s a small town beach on the Long Island Sound, which offers rocky shores and calm waters. There’s a great playground and when my children were small, it was the perfect way to spend a summer day.

The cool thing about this area though was not so much the town beach as the mile and a half stretch of road just past it. That was dotted with about 20 beach cottages positioned right on the beach. They didn’t even have running water. As a young girl, my aunt’s parents owned one of these cottages and I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of weeks living on the beach, sleeping on a screen porch and fetching fresh water from the well up the road a piece. Salt water ran through the pipes.

Two years ago, the town took the land back and razed the cottages amidst outcries from the owners and those of us who while we didn’t live there, loved the step back in time that little stretch of road offered. I know as an adult, whenever I was having a bad day or just needed a break, I’d take a drive down the little road to the end where there was a jetty and a glorious little inlet and tiny island in the sound. When the county took over the land, it promised that there would be no building there (we were all worried about condominiums) and it would be turned into a nature preserve. So far they have kept their word.

For me though, this created a dilemma. The road was closed. I couldn’t get to my favorite spot anymore. I wasn’t in any shape to walk the mile and a half and then back again, on the beach or on the road. I’d attempted it a couple of times, but could never make it the whole way.

Since the beginning of summer, since I’m now in good enough shape where this would be no problem, I’ve been wanting to walk/run on the beach and on the road to this little spot. The weather has not cooperated in the Northeast. At least, not until today.

This morning, I had planned to swim, but I got up a little late. It’s a perfect day here on Long Island: sunny, not too humid, low 70s. I decided to drive up to the beach, walk to the end and jog back. As of this morning, I didn’t know how far that would be. Some kind soul on roller blades let me know that the stretch was about a mile and a half. Cake.

I walked along the beach, past the piping plover nesting sanctuaries, watching the boats in the sound and just listening to the lapping waves and the birds. When I found a path, about a mile in, I scooted up to the road. I didn’t bring my iPod today, which allowed me to just embrace the sounds and smells of this now peaceful nature preserve. I made it to the end of the road, and I was greeted by the gorgeous inlet, soft breeze and incredible views that I remembered from three years ago. I felt like I was on vacation and could have stayed there all day. I stayed for a bit, sat on the jetty and considered how fortunate I am to have the strength and fitness level to get there.

I jogged back. By then, lots of people were walking, biking and rollerblading on the path.

It was the perfect way to start the day. I am so grateful that I’ve finally embraced a healthy, fit lifestyle and that I’ve been able to come as far as I have. I will keep that with me when I don’t feel like exercising in the future.  Think of what I was missing before.

Headed up to the Path

Headed up to the Path