Flax Pond in Brewster, MA.

In a few hours (hopefully) I’ll be off to meet up with Jon, Ellie, Adrienne, Mike, Suz, Mom, and Dad for the annual family trip to the Cape. So far I can’t think of any family institutions that have yet withstood the inexorable zealotry of our newfound quest for fitness, 2FNS-style, so why should our yearly camping excursion be any different?

Actually, the Cape has always been a place where our entire family has been able to break out of our daily routines and really be active: swimming, canoeing, biking, walks up and down the beach, and, of course, football on the tidal flats of Cape Cod Bay.

But this weekend will be different. We’ll all be striving to not break the chain, right? And Jon, Ellie, Mike, and Suz will be right in the middle of their training regimens for the B.A.A. Half Marathon — 8 weeks to go! So, I am looking forward (not sure if those are exactly the right words) to exercise and other activities that are a little bit more structured than usual.

So, what to expect? Well, here are a couple ideas:

Trail running at Nickerson State Park. Our home-away-from-home in Brewster, MA features an eight mile bike path and many more miles of paved and unpaved connecting trails that wind around kettle ponds, up and down hills of all kind, and through acre after acre of pine and oak forest. Not having to worry about traffic, sun exposure, car exhaust and other air quality issues, or any of the other irritations of jogging in the city will be a really nice change. Our four half-marathoners are planning on running six miles tomorrow morning… I don’t know if I’ll be up for that, especially with all of those hills, but I would like to throw down for a half hour or so in order to notch one of my workouts for the weekend.

Football on the beach. By my count we’ll have ten able-bodied adults on the Cape this weekend, which to me sounds like a perfect 5-on-5 oceanfront gridiron matchup. Our favorite place to play is Cape Cod Bay — beaches like Crosby Landing, Skaket, and First Encounter, where the water receeds for what seems like miles and miles at low tide, leaving incredible stretches of flat sand, which make for a great low-impact running (and sometimes diving and tackling) surface. We typically play two-hand touch, seven-Mississippi rushes, one blitz per set of downs, two completions to a first down. Actually, 5-on-5 might be enough to have a couple of offensive linemen… Jon, what are the AFP values per hour of tidal flat football? And, if you don’t like football, Ultimate frisbee works just as well.

Biking along the Cape Cod Rail Trail. The Cape is also home to one of the best bike paths in these United States. The Rail Trail has been extended quite a bit since we started our annual camping trips in the late 80s. Running 22 miles from Dennis to Wellfleet, the route also has a six mile spur to Chatham, and direct connections to the bike paths at Nickerson and the Cape Cod National Seashore in Eastham. Much of the route is quite flat, very accessible, and great for kids. It’s great exercise and, actually, also a pretty damn good way to get around. Ride in your swimsuit and cool off in one of the ponds in Harwich along the way. For more information, check out the official page on the Massachusetts DCR website.

Rent a canoe or kayak. This is another way I hope to score some AFP this weekend, and take advantage of the Cape’s lakes, ponds, marshes, inlets, and other aquatic environments. Lots of great places to do this… Jack’s Boat Rental on Cliff Pond in Nickerson State Park (and up in Wellfleet, too),  kayaks from Goose Hummock on Orleans Town Cove, and guided canoe tours of Salt Pond Bay and Nauset Bay from the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham. It’s not just for the arms, either — if you’re paddling properly, lots of different muscle groups get involved and you’ll really feel it afterwards!

And beyond all of that, there’s swimming in freshwater ponds or the ocean (just watch out for sharks), hiking, yoga on the beach (right Adrienne?), surfing, all kinds of great stuff that happens when you get the hell out of Dodge. Have a great weekend, 2FNSers, and let’s keep those chains coming!