I finally got cleared to run in March (Xrays and MRI), and Baltimore was on my mind, although D and I still hadn't signed up (yes, I typically book hotel rooms before signing up for any race). My doctor said Baltimore was hilly, but if I only ran 3 days a week and didn't go crazy, he was sure I could do it, just not to expect a PR. And I had to start from scratch (Couch to 5K). I could live with that.
So 2015 became the Year of Baltimore for me. There is no other Half Marathon this year. This is it. This was the race that would decide if I could continue running. This was the race to determine if my pelvis could hold up. It became THE RACE.
Then the "Baltimore" riots broke out. I put Baltimore in quotes, because it was not city-wide as CNN and Fox would have left you to have believed. Baltimore is the closest city to where I grew up, and I will always consider it my hometown (except for the Ravens, they're not my team, since they weren't there when I left). But despite not really wanting to run in Baltimore (since we always do a 5 miler here), D and I finally signed up. V had signed up previously.
So...3 weeks before the race, V decided not to run it, and go on vacation. To say I was vastly disappointed would be an understatement. I had really wanted her to be there. Still, I focused on the final few weeks of training. I saw that it was Baltimore Beer Week, while D and I were there. There was a possibility of going to a beer festival.
D wanted to see his parents, so after figuring out meeting up with them, work stressing me out, and Scuttlebutt being sick (could he go to daycare...let's find a back up plan, if not), I was spent. I have friends in Baltimore, but frankly, I was not worrying about anyone's schedule. If you saw where I was on Facebook, that was good enough for me. I was running or going to be at a bar, except when I was at a beer store or getting pizza. No more planning. We were leaving on Friday, and on Thursday, I just said, "Fuck it, I'm taking the day off." D and I went and had a few beers, some dinner, and packed.
And Friday, after dropping off the dogs, losing and finding my wallet, and finally getting on the plane, our journey began.
We landed, got a car, and went to MandT Stadium for the running expo (Blogger doesn't like ampersands). Now, Atlanta no longer does a running expo, which I think is stupid. So I took my time looking at schwag, other races (with coupons), more schwag, and then we got our numbers and shirts. There was so much stuff there. We finished and went and looked at the start line of the marathon (not the HM) and the finish line for both. (Another thing different...number pickup in Atlanta is 30-60 miles away RT in another city, depending on the day and store...it's why I will never run Atlanta again).
|Schwag I bought for the car|
So parking was free, and although I'm sure the race organizers weren't pleased, D and I walked to Pratt Street Ale House to get some beers and crab soup. This is my favorite crab soup (I think the recipe is from the side of the Old Bay Can because it tastes just like that one, which is the best).
|In Baltimore for 2 hours, and already found crab soup|
|Walking through Camden Yards|
|Beer we don't have in Atlanta, or that I'm too lazy to go find|
We dropped everything off, and then went to Fell's Point. We had a few more beers at Max's, and then went to Brick Oven Pizza for our Cheese steak Pizza dinner. Finally we got home. AWAKE!
It didn't seem too crowded. D and I hung out for 20 minutes.
Finally everyone started getting corralled, and we were off.
Mile 2 and 3 were around Patterson Park. At times the shadows of the buildings made it cold, and other times, the lack of buildings made it hot. I began wondering if I had worn the wrong shirt. I couldn't get comfortable. Still my legs felt good. My pace was a little fast, which I knew I couldn't keep up, but as long as I got to Mile 6, I'd be golden. After all, that's where the hills stopped.
Miles 3-6...the hill. I had looked on the elevation map and knew there was a hill that lasted for about 3 miles. I had practiced on hills during training, but not enough. Still I knew to just keep my feet moving. I was doing the 9 minute run/1 minute walk trough Mile 5. That was my plan. Just keep focusing. Oh screw that! Focus on not falling in a grate, or over pavement or over a dead rat. Now I'm used to running over dead opossums (hence the Possum Trot), but I didn't really expect to see so many dead rats. I stopped counting at 4 but still, it seemed odd. The shadows of the buildings were still keeping me cool. There were a lot of people out spectating. They were loud. They had cowbells, and yes, there is too much of a thing called cowbell. But still everyone was dancing and having a good time. Cops were out cheering everyone on as well. The sense of community almost drew you up the hills (Almost...). So anyway, we ran around Patterson Park and then North. Running on Washington (not sure how I got there), we turned off and did this crazy U-turn, like 100 feet after turning...like so crazy, couldn't you just move the start line and finish a few feet further back. But then back on Washington and into Clifton Park. Finally hit 6 miles. My legs needed a break.
I told myself that sometimes you just need to walk, and recoup rather than push it when your legs are that tired. I did run the flat out of Clifton, but then walked up Hartford to Hillen. Finally a down hill, and I ran all the way around Lake Montebello. I was doing the 4 minute run/1 walk, but the Lake messed that up. The first half I had energy, so I kept moving. I couldn't talk myself to be rational. The second half of the lake, there were photographers everywhere, so I didn't want a picture walking. That would come back to bite me.
Finished up Mile 8. Then somehow a hill I missed on the elevation map. This hill probably wasn't that bad but it seemed to go straight up. I couldn't get on a 4/1 or 2/1 plan. I was struggling. Finally, I seemed to catch the 4/1 and picked it up. There was a lot of people out still which was great. Banjo players, 2 guys dressed as giant cats, speakers on cars, etc. The community once again was wonderful. And finally I was over the damn hill (mile 9). The wind picked up some and I had to run for awhile without my hat. But I just stuck to the 4/1. I tried to remember not to run with anyone. That was the hardest part...if I liked someone's pace. But I had a few miles left, and I wasn't sure what my legs had left.
Around Mile 10, there was a bridge to cross. I sort of knew where I was, because we drove over the bridge to get to the beer store the day before. And it wasn't that much farther. I could run 3 miles. I could walk 3 miles. Then we got to another damn hill. By now I was completely turned around. The cops were telling me I was on Eutaw, and only had to go down hill. We were running past Lexington Market and everyone was screaming/cheering. I decided to go 2/1, because I was getting overwhelmed. I was going to do it. I had no idea in what time, but I was going to do it. My watch dinged 12 miles. 1 more mile. People were beginning to pass me. I started wondering how soon would I get to the #33 statue (Eddie Murray). I was getting nervous. I started to cry. I hoped D would be at the end. Then I passed person with a full length mirror. He (she...I wasn't paying attention to the person) had a sign for your lipstick. It just made me laugh. I pulled myself together (not using the mirror). I was going to do this. I got to the Hall of Fame Statues, and knew I had .2 miles to go. I wanted to walk. I did a little. Then I decided to run, and deal with the pain and tiredness in .2 miles. I was going to do this. I ran through Camden Yards.
I wondered if D was there. Then I saw him break through the gates. He said a cop looked at him, as I was looking at him, and pointed to me. Don't cry, Al. Don't cry. The cop let him go through. He ran with me and pushed me to the end. I finally crossed the line.
|D finishing the first time|
I beat my 2 goals.
A) To finish
B) To get a better time than my first half, which I did.
D beat his goal by 2 minutes.
After finishing, D and I got our pictures taken.
Then he wanted to know if I needed anything. I needed a good beer. As we were leaving, we saw the SWAT Team with a German Shepherd. They let us pet her. We talked to one of the guys, and told him how awesome the community and the police had been. Seriously, in a city that was supposed to be so divided, watching cops dance to neighbors' music, all while everyone was cheering on the runners was just fantastic. It's what you want to see in any community and especially in one that has been hurting.
We left to get that beer. We walked up the course (on the sidewalk) to Alewife. It was crazy crowded around the Harbor area because there was also an 11K people convention that seemingly let out all 11K people at once for lunch. But we found 2 seats at the bar at Alewife. We overheard the bartender say that food was taking an hour, so we just stuck to beer. At about 3 we got up and continued walking to the hotel. There were still runners on the course, so we cheered them on. Finally we got back to the room, and ate the rest of the pizza.
|Post run beers|
|My new medal|
|Shirt I can wear with pride for finishing|
|Across from Of Love and Regret|
Sunday we got up. The hotel had free breakfast, but it was really just food for the sake of eating. Neither D nor I were interested. We went walking to 7-11 because we decided roller food would be awesome, but they had none, at 2 7-11s. So I bought a sub and he bought a chicken sandwich. And we split a bag of Utz Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips. We sat around the room for awhile. At 11:30 we Uber'd over to Federal Hill to go to lunch with D's parents, one of his sisters and our BIL. Good food, and it was good to see them. We had just seen his sis and BIL (and his parents) in September for their daughter's wedding, but frankly, I think they were so rushed then, they barely remember who they saw. So it was nice to see them more relaxed. Abbey Burger Bistro had some good burgers and pickles. And beer.
|Beer at Abbey Burger Bistro|
|Beer at Metropolitan. I come to Baltimore to get beer poured in an Atlanta Beer glass.|
Monday, on the way to the airport, I realized I never had any crab dip. After dropping the car off, checking in the 43 pound bag of beer, and getting through security at BWI, we remedied this situation at The Green Turtle in the airport. I think we inhaled it, seeing as we sat down with 20 minutes before boarding and made it to the gate in time.
Overall, I'm glad we did Baltimore. And it was rather relaxing. Who knew becoming stressed to the point of not planning anything would lead to a go-with-the flow vacation? And a confirmation that I can still run 13.1 miles.