What is it about a beach, especially an early-morning beach, that draws ordinary people to exercise as if they are Rocky Balboa preparing for a championship match? If they are, they have a long road ahead.
Many mornings I start my day by bringing up the website of Boca Raton, FL, that shows their beach in high definition (pick your view and scroll to zoom in). This is out of nostalgia because my parents had retired nearby, and I have spent many hours on that very beach. I now see the beach shortly after sunrise, earlier than I ever did in person. A group of about eight people stand in a circle, trying, with varying success, to follow the lead of an exercise instructor. A stray jogger or two runs by. Several people are scattered along the shoreline, sitting alone on their beach blanket, gazing out at the rising sun. (They must be tourists. Watching the sunrise gets old fast.)
At the far left is a pavilion overlooking the ocean. Several people, more social than those on the beach, are chatting at the railing. They seem to be strangers just sharing the same morning routine.
Now that we are approaching summer, I also look at the many live webcams along the Ocean City boardwalk. Anytime in the morning after dawn the boardwalk is alive with cyclists, joggers, and brisk walkers, all with a strong, new-found sense of purpose. (I watch all of this sitting at my computer in my jammies as I drink my morning coffee, but did I tell you I recently turned 80? Most of those I am watching will never make it to 80.)
I was once one of them, and wrote a posting about early morning on an Outer Banks beach. Even then, I did not understand why I was up so early. At the time, it seemed normal, something about the combination of the beach and sharing a vacation cottage with many family members.