Goodbye City Sports-Harbor East

I had thought about writing this for Thinking Out Loud last week, but I wasn’t ready.  I thought about starting to write it earlier this week but I wasn’t ready.  Now there is no time left, so it is time to write about City Sports Harbor East closing their doors.  It is a bit sad to write about, I just ran with them for the last time before they close on Aug 23rd.  For my running friends who read this I am sure they will tell you though I put up a tough facade, I’m the ‘sappy’ one of the group…you may agree after reading 😉


In Feb of 2013 I was going through a rough patch and running was a way to take my mind off things, I still think running is a great form of therapy.  I had run with several groups around the city but couldn’t seem to find one where I felt like it fit in.  Then one cold evening in February I tried City Sports in Harbor East.  That Wednesday night it was just Tim (the run coordinator), Theo, and myself.  We quickly struck up a conversation during the run and even though they knew each other pretty well, they made me feel included.  After the run Tim asked me if I wanted to go to Whole Foods with them and get a smoothie, I said sure then quickly realized I didn’t have my wallet.  Tim said not to worry about it, he would cover me and I could pay him back next week.  I still don’t think I’ve paid him back.  I continued going to City Sports on Wednesdays; Tim, Theo, and I became good friends and we started running together quite often and hanging out.  As the weather warmed up more people started coming to run club, it was great to meet new people.


City Sports Run Club growing!
City Sports Run Club growing!



In late July or early August of 2013, the perfect storm seemed to happen though none of us knew it until afterwards.  The new residents and fellows came to Hopkins and other hospitals in the area and many were runners who started coming to City Sports Run Club.  Many of us quickly struck up a friendship when we all figured out we were training for the Baltimore Marathon.  We started running together more frequently than just Wednesday evenings and then we started doing more things together.  There were eight of us who became really great friends.  We became, as we called ourselves, the core of City Sports Run Club: Tim, Theo, Lizzie, Cat, Stefany, Rich, Camila, and myself.

Theo, Tim, Stefany, Camila, Cat, Me
Theo, Tim, Stefany, Camila, Cat, Me


Patapsco State Park Saturday Morning Run Theo, Tim, Rich, Camila, Kristen, Me, Cat
Patapsco State Park Saturday Morning Run
Theo, Tim, Rich, Camila, Kristen, Me, Cat

I can remember when and how I met each one of them.  We didn’t just meet and gel instantly, but it happened pretty quickly.  Over the next year we got to know each other pretty well and we weren’t in each others lives just because of running.  There are so many stories I wish I could share, but some times special things like what we had are better left in our memories.  My individual friendships with each of the other seven means so much to me and was/is unique in it’s own way.  I used ‘was’ not because we aren’t friends any more, but some have moved away because of work.  We don’t talk or see each other multiple times a week, but we still text, email, and chat from time to time.  Some of us do still run together.

Run to Remember 5k, then we ran another 12 miles Tim, Firefighter, Me, Theo, Richard, Camila
Run to Remember 5k, then we ran another 12 miles
Tim, Firefighter, Me, Theo, Rich, Camila

It was a perfect storm because I don’t think you could ever replicate how we all came together for that year.  As I said most of us ran the Baltimore Marathon that year, I had my worst finish ever (let’s just leave it at that).  I wasn’t prepared to run a marathon, but that didn’t matter, that night we had a Marathon Party at my house and it was one of the best times I’ve had with friends.  That was the first of many gatherings at my house, we would watch football games here, had a holiday party, a spring party, birthday parties, and my graduation from grad school party.  We would pretty much come up with any reason to have a party and bonfire at my house.

Marathon Party 2013 Theo, Me, Lizzie, Cat, Camila, Tim
Marathon Party 2013
Theo, Me, Lizzie, Cat, Camila, Tim

My friendships with the core eight took me all over and opened up my mind to things I had never thought about.  I traveled to Africa on a missions trip with Camila, went to Mexico for Cat’s wedding, ran a bunch of races with everyone, and Lizzie even opened my mind to vegetarianism; though she didn’t deliberately try to.  I wanted to see what it was like and couldn’t be happier with my dietary decision.

Zoo Zoom 25 degrees! Stefany, Rich, Laura, Cat, Me
Zoo Zoom 25 degrees!
Stefany, Rich, Laura, Cat, Me


Richard, Cat, Me, Darrell The City Sports Run Crew
Richard, Cat, Me, Darrell

Through the winter in addition to traveling and having random parties we continued to run together every Wednesday at City Sports.  Regardless of the weather we would all show up because we knew the other seven were going to be there.  We ran in the frigid cold and even in the ice, I’d say we enjoyed it on some level because we were doing it together.  After every run we would normally go to a local restaurant or bar and make plans for later in the week or catch up on what everyone had been up to. Great times!

Pretty sure it was like 8 degrees this night!
Pretty sure it was 8 degrees this night!
Teavolve after a run! Theo, Me, Stefany, Darrell
Teavolve after a run!
Theo, Me, Stefany, Darrell

As the summer of 2014 approached we knew things would be coming to an end.  Rotations at Hopkins and the other hospitals were ending and some of the Core Eight had taken jobs in other cities.  Tim had given up his position as run coordinator because he had gotten another job and didn’t have time, plus his focus was elsewhere.  Camila was the first to move, a few weeks later Rich left.  People’s schedules became more hectic and it was harder to get people together after that.

Random Saturday Run Lizzie, Theo, Stefany, Me, Cat
Random Saturday Run
Lizzie, Theo, Stefany, Me, Cat

I still see some of the Core Eight on a semi-regular basis, some more than others.  I look back and cherish that year we had together.  I left a lot out of our story, because some of it is private and personal to us.  We know what we had and we know that we will have that forever in our hearts and minds.

Saturday in the rain and 40 degrees Cat, Lizzie, Me, Phil, Camila
Saturday in the rain and 40 degrees
Cat, Lizzie, Me, Phil, Camila

Two weeks ago City Sports announced they were closing for good, due to their lease expiring and they would not be relocating in Baltimore.  Tonight (Aug 19) was the final Wednesday City Sports Run Club, it was a bit sad to walk in and see the store practically empty.  I thought about how many times I had been there on Wednesday evenings to run.  It was a small group tonight, but some familiar faces were there.  As I ran, I thought about that what City Sports Run Club had done for me since I had discovered it and all the great friends it has brought into my life.  These friends have changed my life forever, and without City Sports Run Club I would have never know them.  Tonight was a farewell to City Sports Run Club but also a fond walk down memory lane.


My advice to you, if you’re fast, if you’re slow, it doesn’t matter find a local run club and give it a try.  You never know who you are going to meet!  Who knows you could be part of a perfect storm.


Thank you City Sports Run Club Harbor East!

-Veggie Fueled Runner

Re-cooping after the long run.


Through the Winter…end of the streak?

After setting a PR in early December it was clear winter was on it’s way.  I bought a new winter running shirt from Lululemon, made from their Rulu fabric, it felt really soft and when I used it for the first time I knew it would keep me warm even in the coldest of weather.

The year before there were about 8 of us that ran together all through the winter, it really helped to keep each other motivated and in shape for when spring arrived.  We became known as the ‘Core 8.’  This year the Core 8 wasn’t around, some had moved away, life changes didn’t allow them to run as much, and this winter seemed to be even colder than last so people seemed a bit more reluctant to run, even though the year before we had ran in 7 degree weather!  That being said, this winter I had a lot of solo runs, which I don’t mind but on some of the days it would have been nice to company.

Winter has arrived
Winter has arrived

The run group I run with on Tuesdays, Tin Roof Runners, continued to run through the winter, but the numbers dwindled.  (Sidenote:  Do you know there are only 3 words in the English language that begin with the letters ‘dw’, do you know the other two?)  I managed to keep the run streak alive, but it wasn’t easy.  I like to run when the sun is still up and with daylight being shorter during the winter, that meant I had to run at night sometimes, this year there seemed to be a few more storms than the year before.  On day #130 of the running streak we had a winter storm that left snow and ice, I was sliding all over the place trying to run.   I knew I had to do something so I wouldn’t fall, I went to City Sports in Harbor East and one of the people I run with sometimes recommended Yaktrax.  Yaktrax are basically crampons for runners, they worked great, didn’t change my stride, and I could barely tell I was wearing them on my shoes.

Great gripping power!
Great gripping power!

The rest of the winter continued and so did the run streak, pretty uneventful.  As the weather warmed up I started to incorporate some hill training in preparation for race season.  This year I had picked four races I wanted to do; Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15k, Frederick Half Marathon, Baltimore 10-miler, and the Baltimore Marathon.   Though the Hot Chocolate 15k was a relatively flat course I was already looking past that to Frederick and some hills, hence the hill training.

Hills of Patterson Park
Hills of Patterson Park

In the beginning of March, I started to feel some pain in my right knee.  During the run streak I have had pain on and off in different areas of my legs from running so much, so I figured the knee pain would go away in a few days.  It didn’t it only got worse, it became very hard to start a run without limping or wincing with pain; it was time to make a doctor’s appointment.  I asked Sarah, who her Sports Medicine doctor was, she has had to deal with injuries before and I remember her telling me she had a really good doctor.  She recommend a doctor from Johns Hopkins, I made an appointment, but would have to wait a few days to see the doctor.  I really contemplated ending the streak because I didn’t want to jeopardize my race season.  I decided to cut back on the miles, run easy, and wait to see what the doctor said before making any decisions.

Trying anything for support
Trying anything for support

March 24th, after a physical exam and getting some x-rays I waited for the doctor to come back into the room and give me a diagnoses.  When she did, she told me I had Patellar Tendonitis, runner’s knee.  She said I would need to go to physical therapy twice a week for a few weeks and I should be alright.  She recommended the physical therapist that was right down the hall.  I asked about running the 15k on April 4th and she recommended talking to the Physical Therapist to get their opinion, but she did say I could keep running but stop if the pain became to much.  The earliest appointment I could get at the Physical Therapist was April 3rd.

April 3rd came and after an evaluation from the Physical Therapist, he told me I couldn’t race the next day, I pretty much figured that was coming so it wasn’t a huge disappointment.  He was worried it could do more damage and set me back, putting the run streak in jeopardy.  When I asked him about running everyday, he said I could still run, but no hills and I was limited to a mile a day for now.  I asked about the Frederick Half and if he thought I would be ready?  He said he thought so but he didn’t want to rush my recovery, so we needed to wait and see once the race was closer.  Over the next 6 weeks, I went to physical therapy twice a week and did exercises at home, hoping my knee would get better.  Several times I thought about ending the streak, in hopes to expedite my recovery, but I did not.  Each week the therapist said I could run a little further if it felt comfortable and the pain started subsiding around week 3.  By the end of week 6, the physical therapist gave me a clean bill of health and the okay to run the Frederick Half Marathon, which was in about a week.

Like new! (Yes, I realize this is my left knee)
Like new! (Yes, I realize this is my left knee)

My knee felt strong and ready to go, but I wasn’t sure if I was race ready.  My longest run since the beginning of March had been 7 miles and I only did that once.  I couldn’t do a long run now to see where I was at, it was to close to the race.  I would have to rely on my base of running and pace myself a little more than I may have if I hadn’t been injured.  I was really happy to be able to race and that I didn’t have to end the run streak!  My next challenge was in front of me…the Frederick Half Marathon…

How was your experience running last winter?  Have you had a running injury, what did you do?

-Veggie Fueled Runner


Making it to a month in Mexico (#kittyfunk)

The first few weeks of running had been going well for both the run streak and as a vegetarian.  The cleanse had not been as difficult as I thought it would be, though by day 17 or 18 I had to stop taking the vitamin pills you are suppose to.  There were just to many and they were to big.  It was hard to swallow them and my throat was getting sore.  I had also learned a few lessons about how I would need to run to make sure the streak would keep going.  First, if you think you are going out in the evening, run in the morning or afternoon.  There were a few times I was pounding the pavement at 1 or 2 in the morning to keep the streak alive…not the best idea.  Second, I would need to make sure to ‘rest’ a few times a week by only running one mile.  Third, make sure that I stayed hydrated.

With those lessons in hand, I was off to Mexico!

First time getting an airplane drink, actually not as expensive as I expected!
First time getting an airplane drink, actually not as expensive as I expected!

Two of my friends were getting married and having a destination wedding.  I had met them through running about a year and a half earlier and became really good friends with them.  I met Cat first, at City Sports Run Club, and through her Eric (he doesn’t run).  It was a great opportunity to go to the wedding and take a vacation for a week.  On day #23 of the run streak I landed in Cancun, Mexico!  It was the perfect time to go, the weather in Baltimore had started turning colder, so running in warmer weather would be nice.

Hurry up luggage, I have to get to vacation started!
Hurry up luggage, I have to get to vacation started!

After checking in at the resort, which was all inclusive, and having a welcome drink it was time to run.  I looked at the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort map and planned out a loop that would be about 2 miles and I was out the door and running.  I ran along the roadway around the resort and along the beach for a little while and back to the hotel lobby.  Just as I was getting back Cat and Eric were walking out to begin greeting other guest, it was a welcomed surprise to see them.  I hadn’t seen them in over a month since they had been busy with wedding planning.  We chatted briefly and Cat informed me of the wedding theme #kittyfunk and the dinner plans.  We were going to a steakhouse.  Cat was worried I wouldn’t be able to find anything I could eat on the menu, but I assured her I would be able to.

Barecelo Maya Beach Resort
Barecelo Maya Beach Resort

After showering I met up with everyone at the hotel bar and we went to the steakhouse, which was included in the resort package.  All-inclusive resorts are amazing!  After looking at the menu, I quickly realized there wasn’t an option for vegetarians and not much I could eat.  When the waiter came I told him, I would just be eating the bread.  He asked why and I explained, he left, went to the kitchen I assumed, and came back and said the chef would be able to prepare a plate of steamed veggies for me!  Yes veggiefuel!  Most of the week was like that when we went to dinner, for the rest of the meals it was buffet-style so things weren’t an issue.

At dinner these little peppers came with some of the meals.  The waiter told us they were very hot and spicy.  Someone tried a small bite and confirmed they were hot.  I decided I would eat the whole pepper at once…what a bad idea!  My whole face was burning from the inside out, I could feel the heat inside my ear canals.  I couldn’t believe how hot it was, everyone had a good laugh, even the waiter who eventually brought me some milk and bread to tone down the heat.  Oddly the milk is served warm in Mexico, but I was glad to have it!  (I laughed too once I didn’t feel like my face was when on fire)

Before the heat!
Before the heat!
This is a 'trying' picture.  Trying to recover from the heat and the waiter trying to be funny
This is a ‘trying’ picture. Trying to recover from the heat and the waiter trying to be funny

It was a great first day in Mexico and the rest of the week was shaping up to be the same way, I was going scuba diving (I have been a diver for over 20 years), the wedding party had rented a catamaran, the wedding itself, a week of relaxation, and of course running!  After dinner we went to the hotel bar and had a few drinks and those of us who run agreed to meet up the next morning and run together.  We pretty much did that every day of the trip, we would all run different distances and stop when we wanted to, if running can be relaxing, that is how we were running.  I always got my mile in and most days I ran 3.

Richard, Cat, Me, Darrell  The City Sports Run Crew
Richard, Cat, Me, Darrell – The City Sports Run Crew

On day #26 my legs were really starting to hurt, they were aching all over and when I would get up after sitting I would need to wait a few seconds before walking or I would be hobbling the first few steps.  I think my legs were trying to tell me running that many days in a row was not a good idea and they wanted to rest.  There was a spa at the resort and I thought about getting a massage, except I don’t like massages (or at least I thought I didn’t).  I’d never had one before and I don’t like strangers touching me, just a weird quirk.  So after asking tons of questions to my friends who have had them and another day of aching legs and running I decided to make an appointment at the spa.  I was really nervous, I wasn’t sure what to expect even though everyone had told me what to expect and that I would enjoy it.  I arrived at the spa and explained I wanted a Sports Massage, whatever that meant, it sounded like what I needed after all I was running everyday.   They explained that a Sports Massage stretches the muscles and helps you relax, so it was what I needed.  They escorted me to the locker room and told me to put my clothes in a locker, where I would find a robe and then meet them back in the hallway.  I was feeling more tense now that I was actually going through with this, but trying to be optimistic.  After getting ready, I was escorted to the ‘relaxation’ room.  Basically a waiting room before the massage, it is dimly lit, incense is burning, soft music playing.  It actually did relax me, but it seemed like I was in there forever, which annoyed me.  Then another person came in, I didn’t know whether it was okay to talk in the relaxation room so I chose not to say anything to them.  Finally the masseuse came to get me, after explaining the massage and going over the aching areas she left the room so I could get under the covers.  She came back in and started the massage, after a few tense minutes I started to relax and realize…this was awesome!!!  The 60 minutes had gone by really quickly and I was bummed I didn’t go for a 90 minute massage or longer!  When the massage was over my legs felt rejuvenated and ready to go!  My advice to anyone who is unsure about a massage is find a reputable place and get one!!!  The way I look at  it is, that it is a medical procedure and there isn’t anything to be nervous about.  Since that first massage, I’ve gotten several more to help keep my legs and muscles relaxed.  I actually became a member at Massage Envy and go once a month, it has really helped.  Getting a massage is one thing I wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t for the run streak, thank goodness for the run streak and trying new things!

Swimming during the Catamaran trip!
Swimming during the Catamaran trip!

On day #28 Cat and Eric got married in the afternoon on the beach, it was beautiful ceremony!  Between the ceremony and the reception there was about 2 hours, so I got my run in!  I had gone scuba diving earlier in the day, so this was a great time to fit it in.  At the reception when dinner came they brought me chicken, I had RSVP’d before becoming a vegetarian.  I didn’t think I would be able to eat, but once again the hotel staff and chef were very understanding and prepared a vegetarian meal for me.  After dinner music was playing, tequila was flowing, we were all dancing, we danced for hours, and at the end of the night Cat and Eric changed into ‘wedding’ bathing suits and jumped in the pool, pretty much everyone followed fully clothed.  We had a blast!  One of the most fun weddings I have been too!


On day #30 it was time to head back to Baltimore.  I ran that morning, the last time I would be able to run in nice weather until the spring.  While running I tried to soak in the whole week, it was a great week, just spending time with new and old friends, scuba diving, sailing on a catamaran, and being on the beach.  A great destination and a great way to round out the first month of the running streak!


Unfortunately, I didn’t get to run with the great El Caballo Blanco.  You have to have a Born to Run reference in a running blog!

-Veggie Fueled Runner