Weight I have lost

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Baltimore Half Marathon 2015

So awhile back D and I were looking to add a half marathon.  This was last December.  We knew that my pelvis was cracked, and there was a possibility that I wouldn't be able to run any spring ones, so we thought about fall.  We picked the Virginia Beach Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon and Beer Festival.  Running and beer, 2 of our favorite things.  I talked it over with running buddy, V, and she didn't really seem interested, but wanted to do the Baltimore Half.  So it was settled: the Baltimore Half.  I booked D and myself a room last December, and then was told I had to stop running.

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.

I posted about it once in April on Facebook, but didn't really talk about it.  It's kind of like where I live now.  I get frustrated at ignorant statements and questions.  No, I don't run with a gun.  No, I'm not afraid of getting shot.  Yes, I see black people (you'd be amazed how many times this stupid (it passes ignorance) question comes up.  Basically, the every day questions of running (or actually living) in my neighborhood all transferred into running the HM, and I was no longer willing to joke the answers to ignorant or stupid statements off.

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
Pratt Street Ales was where the beer festival on Saturday was going to be, but when we realized the race was at ~10am and the festival was at 12, we realized logistically, it wasn't going to happen for us.  After lunch, we walked back to the car through Camden Yards.

Walking through Camden Yards
Next up we drove to the Hampden Area of Baltimore to go to The Wine Source and to Royal Farms.  RF had Gatorade, water and Coke Zero.  The Wine Source had a lot of beer.  We got all of our provisions, wondered how we were going to get the beer home to Atlanta, and went and checked into our hotel.

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!

We charged all the Garmins and iPods and watched TV until we fell asleep.  Of course I woke up at 4AM.  I pretty much didn't fall back asleep. Around 8 we started getting ready.  It seemed really odd to be getting ready so late.  It was 50 degrees, so I decided on shorts and my Atlanta Half Marathon Shirt.  It was the last shirt I could remember wearing in 50 degrees and being comfortable.  Got the Camelbak ready, saw I forgot my Clif Blocks (which I found in my suitcase this morning).  Finally we were ready to walk .8 miles to the start.  We weren't completely sure how the start was going to work, considering we had to cross the marathon course.  But it did.

It didn't seem too crowded.  D and I hung out for 20 minutes.

Finally everyone started getting corralled, and we were off.

We started running up Light Street, crossing Pratt.  We ran to the Battle Monument and turned, running toward the War Memorial, then turning onto President.  Around here was Mile 1.  It was really tiny hills and I felt good.

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
 And finished.  And didn't cry.  We went and got some water, and then I found the medal people.  D hugged me.  I was very proud of myself.

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
My times
D's Time
Then we went to Of Love and Regret in Canton, Baltimore.  It was a cool little place that has mostly Stillwater's beers.

Across from Of Love and Regret
D's friend from the late 90s met up with us.  When he left, so did we. He told us 2 places to go. Of course we didn't listen.  We went to Jester and Thieves.  I was not enamored with the place.  They had 16 taps and the bartender gave us a list with 9.  We asked about the other 7, and he walked away.  We had to press another bartender, but by then we had already ordered a style we didn't like.  It kind of killed the mood.  Still we ate dinner.  Then we decided to get an Uber closer to our hotel, like across the street.  We ended up at an Irish Bar, and got Old Reliable Guinness.  D also got the hiccups.  He ended up leaving the bar to go find peanut butter at the 7-11.  He came back with Gummy Bears.  After finishing the bag for him, I ended up on a sugar high.  So we went home, and went to bed.

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
His family left and so we went to the Pub Dog and had some more beer.  The manager, Jake was a really nice guy.  He is from Catonsville.  I wasn't a huge fan of the PD Raspberry Dog, but their Stout (Black Dog) was very easy to drink.  Before we left, Jake had the whole bar to a shot of Grand Marnier, which led us to Metropolitan.  There we had a few beers and watched more football.

Beer at Metropolitan.  I come to Baltimore to get beer poured in an Atlanta Beer glass.
 The bartender, Alice was from Cincinnati.  She was winning her fantasy league.  She put on Cake (the band, not food), and I was easily entertained.  My friend G asked if we were still there, and if they had the Ravens game on, (Y and Y), so we met up with him. I haven't seen him since 1988, when I was in 8th grade!  It was good to see him.  We talked a lot (we talk on FB, so it wasn't like we had to catch up).  Finally, he had to go help put his kids to bed (he lived in the neighborhood).  So D and I decided to Uber back to Fells Point to eat dinner (more Cheese steak Pizza) and then to get a few beers.  I got through most of 1 slice of pizza before I had to say I was done for the night, and then he got a box, and we took the pizza home.

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.

1 comment:

Carolina John said...

Fantastic! That looks like a great time was had by all. Tons of running and beer and you had a blast doing it all and didn't cry. that sounds like a good time to me.