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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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