From Afar: Stumbling Home


Charlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s just relocated to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

I have stumbled onto a new hobby known as the 5k race, which is where I stumble 3.1 miles in the name of charity and at the expense of my knees.

I could never get into running as a kid. I always needed a ball to chase or a racquet to swing to distract my body from realizing what I was really doing: RUNNING. The progression from “Running is so boring” to “Let’s Google the next 5k” was an organic one evolving out of the following steps:

1) I had a job for a long time where I sat; a lot.

2) I got fat from my marathon of sitting.

3) I left the job and elected not to be fat anymore, so I started exercising.

4) Scheduling my preferred group cardio activities such as tennis and golf were hampered by Los Angeles rush hour, which goes from January 1st to December 24th.

5) I was forced — by default -— to acknowledge running as a positive change of pace and my ticket to reentering a lighter fat bracket.

I completed my first Martha’s Vineyard stumble this past weekend, the 21st annual Oak Bluffs Memorial Day 5k. Proceeds went to Hospice — amazing cause, and the route circumnavigated East Chop — can’t beat that.

I was seriously impressed with the caliber of athlete in this draw. The starting pace out of Ocean Park — if you want my honest opinion — was egregious. The winner finished in just over 16 minutes, which is faster than my first car’s chop speed. It took 10 additional minutes for my worn out sneakers to make it across the finish line. I did set a new personal best for myself, but now I need a fresh excuse for my relative slowness besides “worn out sneakers.”

My favorite part was not the run itself because I was too busy wallowing in thirst and the embarrassing horror of small children lapping me. What I most enjoyed was the personal history at every turn. Other runners at the starting line (notice I didn’t say during the race) included friends, classmates, and Jason Lew who delivered me eight years before this race was even a gleam in our eyes! The course also went right by my old house, which would look a lot better with shutters on the windows and a brown cocker spaniel in the yard if the owners happen to be reading this.

The next day I was surprised to learn that I was in fact continuing a long family line of participation in this race. I spoke with my dad who told me that for years he would post out on our porch on race day and eat a big bowl of ice cream as everyone went by. All races have water stations, but only on Martha’s Vineyard does a hilarious man set up a jealousy station!