I both love and hate running downtown. I love it because Baltimore, for all of the issues it has, is a gorgeous city first thing in the morning. It’s truly enjoyable to watch the city wake up. I hate it because, well, where do I begin – it’s super far away so I have to wake up super early, it’s flatter than a pancake, and there’s brick. So much brick.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to run on brick, I can’t honestly endorse it. It’s hard. It hurts. And sometimes bricks heave and create a tripping risk – and lends to you spending more of your run looking at the ground than the scenery.
Saturday was a rather perfect day for a run in Baltimore. Upper 60s/low 70s, a nice breeze, a gorgeous sunrise. As I drove from the countryside into the city, all of the farms were covered in a gentle fog, which flowed across the road to the next field like a thin veil.
This was to be my longest run to date – 18 miles! Whoa!
We started off nice and easy, knowing the trek ahead of us. Our first “landmark” was a spin around the Under Armour campus and Domino Sugar facility (which had a rather unsettling smell…), then we headed for the Inner Harbor, running past the Ritz Carlton, the Science Center, the Constellation, the Torsk, and the Aquarium, meandering up and down every pier to squeeze in as much mileage as possible. We were up and out so early even the ducks on the harbor were still curled up and asleep!
After a quick water stop at the Aquarium, we headed east through Harbor East, past my b-school haunts, and Fells Point, through the Fells Point Farmer’s Market, and on towards Canton.
When we reached the end of the Promenade at the Canton Waterfront Park, my Garmin read 6.98 miles. That’s it?!?
So we started back, past the sleepy dog walkers clutching their coffee and early-bird tourists. Through the upscale waterfront homes, past the Pirate Ship, and back to the Farmer’s Market we went. Up and down each pier, arms stretched out like wings on the tight turns.
We were told the Aquarium water stop would still be functional when we returned, but alas, the well had run dry. As our water supplies dwindled, we aimed for as much shade as possible, hugging the west sides of buildings and running perhaps a bit too close to the folks sitting on the benches (hey, it’s where the shade was). One more lap around Domino and Under Armour and we made a pit stop back at the store to refill. Despite all of the running, we still had 3.75 miles to go!
So back out we went, heading west for Fort McHenry. The last time I had been here was almost exactly 15 years ago to the day, and I was really looking forward to seeing it again.
We ran down Fort Avenue, enjoying all of the shade from the trees lining the road, saying hello to the old men sitting on the benches. A bridge loomed in the distance, mocking our tired, achey legs. And then the Fort. We ran through the gate, as others ran out, and followed the path around the Fort – a wonderful, 360 degree view of all that is Baltimore.
As the sun blared down on our shoulders, we made our way past the visitor’s center and back out of the gate, over the bridge, and past the old men on the bench.
My feet were screaming, my shoulders ached, and my mind tried every coercive method it had in its bag of tricks to get me to stop, but I kept going. No matter how much I hurt, I was not about to stop this close to the goal.
Yes, we looked silly, and yes, we thought about stopping more than once, but we kept going, back and forth, up and down Fort Avenue as the Garmin slowly crept closer towards the goal. After the third pass, we turned in towards the store, and it finally beeped. 18 miles. 18 miles!!!
We stopped running, and our walk was as slow as a crawl – a horrible, painful crawl – but we did it. 18 miles.
There wasn’t a spot on my body that didn’t hurt, but my mind felt nothing but pride. 18 miles!! The girl who used to come up with every excuse in the book to get out of gym class voluntarily woke up at 4:45am on a Saturday and ran 18 miles.
Damn straight the runner’s high is real! 😀