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Ocean City

The Seaside 10 Miler

Ocean City has a running club and they are sponsoring the OC 10 miler.  If that’s too much, there are other options.  The last date to register is October 22nd.  You can check out more information on the event here.  This is the 23rd running of the Ocean City Seaside 10.

While you are deciding if you want to run or watch, here is an essay first published on OceanCity.com in 2016.

I made the turn from 33rd Street back onto Baltimore Avenue and for the first time in seven miles snuck a glance behind me. There was a runner turning from Coastal Highway, closing. I was clocking six and a half minute miles and while I was trying to pick up the pace, to kick it these final few miles, my legs were telling me otherwise. There were seven runners ahead of me but the closest was too far for me to catch. All I had to do was stay ahead of this guy who was quickly gaining on me.

‘How many of you have run a hundred miles?’

The clear sky belied a chilly but perfect running morning as the runners for the Seaside 10 Mile run gathered at the starting line at the inlet parking lot in Ocean City last Saturday morning. I was nervous. I hadn’t really trained for this race (since last year my training has been sporadic at best), and I had signed up for the race with the expectation that I would run with a jogging stroller. But my son woke up with a fever in the morning, and my wife and I decided that having him out in the cold and wind for an hour plus might not be good for his little runny nose. Without my training pacer I knew I would try to run hard. I just didn’t know how hard.

medal and award
A goal became clear as I settled in and began coasting along the coast at around a 6m40s per mile pace: to finish in 70 minutes.

Chris Klebe, the race director and co-founder of OCTriRunning Sports, stood in front of us giving final race instructions. “Shoes tied? Watches reset and ready?” he asked. I was in the second row of runners. In front of me a racer knelt down to double knot a shoelace. “Jeff,” Chris said to me. “What are you thinking for a finish?”

I hadn’t expected to be called out like that. Chris and I met several years ago (about a week before my second 100 mile race), and though our paths hadn’t really crossed since, we had talked on the phone a few weeks ago for an interview and hit it off well. He’s an amazing guy with a penchant for organization and a strong desire to see families and this community running together.

I shrugged. “I don’t really know,” I replied honestly. I don’t think much about times before a run or a race. I just go out and run. “I’ll be on the podium,” I boasted.

Chris laughed. But he wasn’t done with me. “How many of you have run a hundred miles?” he asked the racers hopping around me. Everyone looked around. I alone raised my hand. In front of me someone said, “Did I miss an extra zero?”

There was laughter all around. Then the starter said go and we were off.

The Long Middle Miles

Ten or twelve of us started together, with a small pack of leaders who went out first and fast. I didn’t think about competing, not yet. My first task mentally was to settle into a pace and see if I could hold it for the first half. By the time we got to the first and only mile marker (I liked that; mile markers get too much into my head) the field had begun to spread. I heard footsteps behind me, another tall guy with a beard. We stayed together for the rest of the boards, but he slowed down when we hit 27th Street and by the time I was on Coastal Highway I was running by myself.

I could see runners ahead bobbing along the cones that protected us from traffic. They seemed so far away. There was no headwind, which meant I knew I’d be hitting it on the way back. But I felt good. I wasn’t thirsty, my legs felt strong, my pace steady. A goal became clear as I settled in and began coasting along the coast at around a 6m40s per mile pace: to finish in 70 minutes.

I made the turnaround and joked with the volunteers that this seemed like it was a lot longer than a 5K. And then I was on the return. I lowered my head and tried to ignore the wind pushing against my six-foot-three frame. By 40th Street I had passed the runner in front of me. I told him I had hoped to draft off of him but he was too short.

img_4301The Final Push

I stripped off my long sleeved shirt when I hit the boardwalk. I was slogging now, the final two miles slipping by slowly. I knew there was a runner on my tail but I didn’t know if could hold him off. No matter, I told myself. If he was going to come, then let him come. With one mile to go I heard his footsteps behind me.

I felt helpless as Nate breezed past me; my legs were too tired to respond. He pulled away as we made the turn up the Jolly Roger pier and I resigned myself to being beaten in the final half mile. But then as we made the final turn around the pier, past some pedestrians who gave a cheer, he seemed to falter. The finish line was in sight, and though I felt spent I knew it was now or never.

I kicked with everything I hadn’t thought I had left. We made the final turn and with the finish line just ahead I pushed harder still. “Come on,” I said as I came up beside Nate. “You’ve got better legs than me. Let’s go!”

I ran, gasping for air, gasping for power, gasping for a victory I’d only have in my own mind. Somehow in the final stretch I edged Nate out by about one second. I came across the finish line and nearly stumbled over myself trying to slow down. Doubled over, hands on my knees, I sucked in air.

Nate fell against me as breathless as I. “Great run,” I told him. “I would not have pushed that hard if you weren’t there.”

“I thought I had you,” he said. “But I pushed too early and I had nothing left.”

Someone put a medal around my neck, and later I received an age group award. Nate got one, too. He’s ten years younger than me so we weren’t technically in competition at all. After I regained my breath I found my way to the beer tent. That EVO Pils tasted darned good just then, a well deserved beer after a hard fought finish.

Jeffrey Smith
Jeffrey Smithhttp://www.rustlingreed.com/blog
Jeffrey Smith started writing at fourteen on a Smith-Corona electric typewriter he borrowed from his father. His most recent book, Mesabi Pioneers, tells the story of the immigrants who turned a remote area of northern Minnesota into America's greatest source of iron ore. Jeffrey lives in Berlin with his wife, daughter, and three cats. He can often be seen running along the streets, boardwalks, and trails of the Lower Eastern Shore. That's probably him there, in the orange.

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