This was the third straight year that I’ve done this race in Ocean City, NJ and the third difference course that I’ve run. The boardwalk has been under construction so they’ve had to change things up. This year they moved it back onto the boardwalk, however it was my least favorite layout by far. They started the race at 5th street. We ran up to 10th street, turned around, then ran past the start/finish line down to 1st street where the boardwalk ends. We then turned around and ran up to 10th again where we made our third 180 degree turn and ran the half mile or so back to the finish line. While it was nice to run on the boardwalk (we are in OC after all), I was not a fan of the back and forth. Hopefully, they’ll have the boardwalk fixed next year and we can run just one out-and-back.
It was pretty cold at the start and we ended up starting a couple minutes late because of late registrants, which was slightly annoying. But I run this race just for fun with the family so no big deal. I inched my way towards the front and end up about six or seven rows back. And then we’re off. I hadn’t done any speed work since this 5K last year and virtually no training over past 3 months so wasn’t expecting to set any PRs. I went out comfortably hard right from the start. I kept glancing at my watch to check my pace and it was a little above 7. I was breathing pretty hard so didn’t want to push it much more than I already was. Heck, everyone else around my seemed to be out for a morning stroll, while I was heaving and gasping at every step. Not good.
The pack had spread out a bit so it wasn’t too crowded when I hit the first turnaround. I was a little surprised to see my son only about 30 feet behind me. Looks like he was having a great race or was taking after his dad by going out too fast. I hoped for the first. Not too long after I saw my nieces, brother-in-law, and wife who were all running the race. It was nice to give and receive encouragement throughout the run from family. I hit the end of mile 1 right before the start/finish line with a split of 7:20.
The course isn’t closed so between the two-way traffic of runners, spectators, and random people out for a walk; the boardwalk can get a little crowded. It wasn’t too bad as I made my way below 5th street where the boardwalk narrows, but it wasn’t open running either. By this point, I had found my spot in the race and wasn’t passing or getting passed a whole lot. I do remember hearing a rumble at one point and then getting passed by a guy pushing a baby stroller. Really? OK, it was now my goal to keep this guy from dropping me like a bad habit. He was about 10 feet ahead of me as we made the second turn at 1st street and started heading back up to 10th.
My watch finally chirped mile two (7:12 split) and I was very happy to see I had picked up the pace a little bit. The stroller guy had stretched his lead on me by another 10-20 feet, but he wasn’t pulling away from me. And slowly I started to pick off other runners. Not a lot, but I probably passed five or so over the last third of the race, which is a bit of a change for me. Typically, I’m the one getting passed left and right. The plan when I rounded the last turn and started down the home stretch was to kick it into another gear and go all out. As is typical in these shorter races for me though, I was already “at 11” from an effort standpoint and was just barely holding things together. It was nice to hear the other runners finally wheezing and grunting as loud as me at this point. Misery does love company after all. I was able to push the last hundred yards and come in seven seconds over 23 minutes or about 100 seconds slower than last year. The course measured 3.2 miles and with all the U-turns it was probably closer to 3.25 miles. Adjusting for this, I was probably only about a minute slower. Not too shabby. Given the cold temperatures, I accepted a ride back to the house where we were staying instead of getting in a couple extra miles like years’ past. Overall, a fun time was had by all and I’m sure we’ll be back trotting next year.