Long-time readers of this blog, as well as long-time knowers of me, know that several years ago I took up endurance sports. Now, at 6'4" and, errr, well over 250 pounds, I don't exactly look the part of an endurance athlete. Yet, I have completed a pair of duathlons (that's a triathlon with two running legs and no swimming) and numerous road races including three half marathons. I enjoy the challenge and ever since I was a kid, I've always possessed naturally high endurance and stamina. So, after a couple successful (re: completed without injury) races this year, including the Baltimore 10-miler, I decided to sign up for the Baltimore half marathon on October 15.
I started training for the half a little after my birthday in July. Training plans are straightforward; the idea is that on a weekly basis, you increase your mileage (through running/walking 4-5 days a week) until the last couple weeks before the half marathon, when you tail off and relax so your energy builds up in the waning weeks. The idea is to train yourself physically and mentally for the task of completing 13.1 miles.
And so for three months, I trained. I didn't comply with the plan completely, but enough so I was hitting my long weekend mileage totals with plenty to spare. So I was overall, exceeding those goals and so within the last week before the race, I was resting and gearing up for the race. I'd gotten pretty excited.
On Thursday, October 13, my workplace offered their annual flu shot. Which, I always take my flu shot, so I did. Never had a reaction to one, after all.
Until, around 2pm Thursday, when I left to go home early, feeling feverish and achy in the joints. And after getting home, I never left the sofa except to go to the bathroom and to eat on Thursday. And, Friday until lunch time. The flu shot worked! I had it. Or at least, a mild form of it. Thanks, heat-attenuated virus!
I could barely concentrate on my work, much less think about run or walk 13.1 miles. Still, if I was to do the race, I needed to get my butt down to the Baltimore Convention Center, to the Baltimore Running Festival Expo, and get my race materials. And so I did.
That was a classically bad decision. I parked two blocks from the Convention Center and walked to and from on a beutiful, dry, sunny, 65-degree day. By the time I got back to my car I was drenched in sweat and felt like I was trying to breathe under water. To say it sucked would be insulting to things that suck.
I spent the rest of the day on the sofa, at least was well enough to go to bed, and slept 10 hours the night of the race. And woke up on race day, with sore legs and a fever and my head spinning.
I was a number of things. Sad. Angry. Embarrassed. This was far from the worst thing that ever had happened to me. Frankly, it was a pretty first world problem. But several friends texted or sent me their well wishes, which I needed to graciously accept and explain.
As things would have it, Sunday I woke up feeling-- well, like I could do 13.1 miles. So, after an especially disappointing Ravens game on that Sunday afternoon (then again, haven't most Ravens games been especially disappointing this year?) I went out and did seven miles. I started to get tired towards the end, but by the end, I made a decision. I was going to do the Baltimore half after all.
I decided to train hard for a week, take a rest week, and do the course of the Baltimore half on Saturday, October 29. Because I needed to know I could do it. And because I made a promise to myself and to others. I received encouragement from many friends and one friend, a former co-worker from Baltimore, offered to go with me.
No doubt, in many ways this was going to suck. There would be no water stops. No cops holding up traffic. No running or walking on the streets-- sidewalks only (a true choice of dooms if ever there was one!). And no one cheering or holding up signs or offering encouragement. But I did have a friend. Which was invaluable.
And so, at about 7:20am last Saturday, I set forth. And followed the Baltimore half marathon course to the letter. Except for the stop at the Walgreens by Johns Hopkins Hospital and the 7-11 on 33rd Street between Waverly and Charles Village, for water. And, about three hours and forty minutes later, I finished.
Therefore, I am a four time half marathon finisher, and three-time finisher of the Baltimore half marathon. The fourth half I did was the Washington DC Rock and Roll half marathon.
I didn't get a finisher's medal, there are no cheesy photos, and if you go to the Baltimore Running Festival website, you won't see my time listed. But, in a literal sense of the saying, I stayed true to myself, held the faith and finished the race. And taught myself a lesson about the importance of continuing to be the person I say I am.
Let's be careful out there.
#bmorerunningfestival #baltimorehalf #hoco #fatguywalking #howfardidyougoSaturday