Oak Bluffs Memorial Day 5K

The last time I ran a race in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, it was Thanksgiving Day morning this year.  That race was noteworthy for its lack of course markers (or volunteers on the course to let you know where to go), port-o-potties, and designated time-keepers other than a guy with his Timex watch (my mother-in-law ended up volunteering 2 minutes before the start to note incoming times).  Oh, and no safety pins for the race number.  With that in mind, I was hoping the Memorial Day 5K would be a little closer to what I normally think of for a 5K experience, and I was, mostly, not disappointed.  The race’s base of operations was the Wesley Hotel, one of the bigger hotels in Oak Bluffs.  There, I picked up my number and a pretty sweet teal race t-shirt.  The drawback of this hotel was that although it provided readily available bathrooms, there were only a couple, and they were also used by guests for the shower within them, which caused a long line especially right before the start.  This line forced me to jog around town to find the public restrooms, which then led to jogging to the start line about 1 minute before the start, barely having time to pin on my number and pull my flats on.  Oh, and did I mention it was already hot?  When I say “already,” I mean at the start time of 11 a.m.  Seriously, who starts a Memorial Day weekend race at 11 a.m.?

The race started at the public park in OB, which is right on the water.  I’m sure it would have made for a nice start if I wasn’t so focused on actually getting to start.  Not really having a chance to catch my breath, the siren of the lead police car sounded and the race was off with the course going through the heart of OB and past the Wesley before beginning a long incline.  Here are a couple pictures taken by Mrs. R/Yeti as I passed the Wesley, which you can’t see, and the harbor, which you can (note I’m the one in the neon green Brooks outfit):

I had heard before the race that the course was essentially uphill, then downhill and so had it in my head that I would try to take it easy at the beginning.  As usual, I failed at that.  The problem, I think, was that hill wasn’t all that tough, but there nonetheless.  There were no mile markers so I had no clue what my pace was, but I have to imagine that based on my later pace I would have gone through the first mile somewhere around 6:40, far too fast for me.

After winding through the back streets of OB, the course turned onto a secondary road which looked, and felt, like it hadn’t been paved since 1948.  That road slowly climbed to the high point of the East Chop lighthouse, which really barely came into view when you reached it.  At one point on the road there was a water stop, supposedly at the half-way point.  At this point I was around 11 minutes, having labored up the hill and feeling rather unspectacular in general.  By the time we began the descent, I was thoroughly dragging ass, though I did manage to pass some people on the downhill simply by virtue of knowing how to run it with less effort.  Still, when we reached the flat I just felt like I had no energy left and had resigned myself to a lousy time.  It was at this point that it would have been especially helpful to have mile markers so I at least could have known where I stood and maybe tried harder to find that extra gear.

The race finished on a curve before reaching the final straightaway, meaning that the finish was concealed until there were roughly 100 meters left.  When I finally saw the finish line, and the people ahead of me I might be able to catch, I started a kick, which Mrs. R/Yeti captured nicely.  Here’s the start of finish:

After I’ve passed one guy:

About to pass this woman right before the chute:

Final time?  21:47, good for 47th place and 7/24 in my age group.  I have to say I was pretty surprised with the time given how I felt at the half-way point (and how I ran after that as well).  With a much hillier course, warmer temperature, and hurried start, I’ll take it being 32 seconds slower than my BAA 5K time.  All in all a good race experience and a nice way to spend the morning, after which we went and got some well-deserved ice cream at Mad Martha’s in Edgartown.  Reese’s Cream, in case you were wondering.

Plus, I got a teal t-shirt, and what beats that?

p.s. Thanks to Mrs. R/Yeti for her support at the race and for the pictures!


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