I had the best weekend – not gonna lie. It was completely self-indulgent, both kids and hubby free….and I spent it with my Dad.
Ok, I spent some time with Dad, and lots of time in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland with various siblings and cousins – and some running. I love Dear Hubby, but he seems to have been traveling non-stop this spring. And I love my kids, but it was time to get away. At least 3 times in the last month, the Frederick Running Festival has come across an e-mail, website, or was mentioned by a friend. They had a whole weekend of fun races, 5K, and a half-marathon. I didn’t even know the thing existed until April – and now, for some reason, I couldn’t escape it. Frederick, MD, is about 45 minutes outside of Baltimore, and my brother lives there now. Somehow, I felt the Universe was telling me to go – so I did.
I didn’t want to fly 1,000 miles just to run one race, so I signed up for the “Nut Job” part of the festival: entrance to the 5K on Saturday night, and the 13.1 on Sunday morning. Anyone who reads this blog (ahem, maybe 5 people… ) know that as of last July I couldn’t even run through one entire song on my iPod. But I kept trying, and now I have a few half-marathons under my belt.
Saturday night was a blast. When I landed in Baltimore, I found out that my sister-in-law and one of her friends had also decided to run the 5K. In fact, it was their first 5K ever. My brother, Jeff, brought all 3 of the kids to the racetrack to cheer us all on. It was a huge race, with more than 1,300 people. I had a personal record of 33:31, but really I didn’t care. I had a friggin’ blast with my brother and sister-in-law, nieces and nephews, and a few of their friends. We all went out for sushi and checked out some of the local street bands playing downtown. I haven’t hung out with my brother in years – and we used to be really tight, so it really meant a lot to be able to just hang and have a good time.
Sunday morning came rather early. Luckily, the race didn’t start until 7 a.m., and I was only 15 minutes away. The field was huge – more than 3,500 runners. The course ran through some historic parts of Frederick, including past the cemetery where Francis Scott Key is buried. If you know me by now, you know I’m a cemetery geek – so this was fun to see. I would like to take this time to personally thank the people of Frederick for being so damned cool. I’ve never had so many spectators hanging out in front of their house, banging pots and pans, and cheering on total strangers who like to run. They were cheering from their bedrooms, on the way to church, and just hanging on the street. I think I want to run through small towns more often.
I worked it out with my brother to meet me somewhere around mile 11 with a beer. As a hasher, I’ve manned beer stops for marathons, and in the past 2 runs I’ve managed to
sucker convince the other half of HELLAgoodTIME to meet me with a cold one around the 10th mile. My brother – younger by 2 years – doesn’t have the reputation for being the most reliable guy in the world, and I have to admit that when he kept texting me about not being able to find a place to park, I got a little nervous – especially after I turned down a beer at mile 10 that someone was handing out from their driveway (the guy in front of me, however, couldn’t have been happier for the Budweiser.)
But my fears were abated when I saw Jeff, and 2 of the kids cheering me on – and with a cooler full of juice boxes and one, ice cold Miller Light. Pretty much, all the crap that my brother pulled in his teens was erased when he cracked that beer for me. I chugged about 1/2 of it, gave high fives to the kids, a big sisterly hug to Jeff, and took off. This was, by far, the coolest moment in recent brother-sister history.
I finished the race with another personal record, even though the last 1/2 mile uphill was just downright cruel. I got 2 medals for being an official finishing Nut Job, drank a few beers, and headed for a hot bath and comfy bed.
Dad and Babs were out at the theater, so I decided to hit up some other family members while I was in town.
I managed to hook up with my cousin, Jamie. He and I are the same age, and used to play together quite a bit as kids, so literally I have known him my whole life. We played with his kids, and then had some adult conversation over a cold one (or two) after dark. His brother, Adam, also came home after work, and just sat around the table talking about cousin-things. By the end of the night, I think that we had decided to hijack the Light Family Christmas party this year and move it to Fort Lauderdale, buy my Dad a chemistry set, let all of our daughters’ future boyfriends know that we own guns, put one Aunt on the show Hoarders, give the other one Facebook lessons, and finally, that Strange Brew is, in fact, the most awesome movie about Canada — ever.
All of the cousins will get this – and the rest of you wont. That’s ok — that’s what family is for. And nights like this need to happen more often.
The next 2 days, I decided to be a tourist. You never really appreciate your hometown while you live there. I feel like I always have to wait until someone comes to visit SoFlo to go do the touristy stuff, and I never did it in Baltimore. I went “downy Avenue” and played around at Cafe Hon, and some of the other artsy shops. If you have never experienced a “Bawlmer Hon” – well, imagine the movie/musical Hairspray in real life. Take out John Travolta, and re-insert Divine with less tact.
Kitsch is the word of the day. Apparently Gordon Ramsay came and tried to do a makeover on the cafe — really? Why? Hons don’t do upscale or class. But it was fun to shop and listen to the downtown accents. We ended the day with steamed crabs from Bo Brooks – which was downtown on the water. We could see the Orioles stadium off in the distance, event though they lost that night. Tuesday morning started with a hunt for some Berger Cookies, a big helping scrapple with breakfast, and a 1979 baseball signed by the entire Orioles team.
I had a fantastic time being daughter, cousin, sister, and runner for the weekend. Now I’m ready to get back to the wife, mommy, professor, rockstar that occupies the rest of my time.