247117_10100432698740233_4371667256859496672_nShortly before I noticed the bursitis that had developed in my right hip, the Orioles clinched a playoff berth and, while watching the clinch game, I saw an advertisement for a 5K run benefiting KidsPeace, a nonprofit organization that serves children and teenagers, particularly those in foster homes, with mental and behavioral healthcare. It was being sponsored by none other than our very own Buck Showalter.

For those reading who aren’t Orioles fans, Buck’s our manager and one of the most brilliant minds in baseball. The Orioles have been on the strugglebus since I was about 9 years old, the last time we made it to the playoffs, and this year was the first time since I was a little kid that we could call ourselves AL East champions, hugely thanks to Buck’s leadership and the great group of guys he put together that really play as a team. It’s been a joy to watch.

Our quiet, mild-mannered, fearless leader Buck Showalter.
Our quiet, mild-mannered, fearless leader Buck Showalter.

So when I saw there was an opportunity not only to run a 5K that finished ON THE FIELD at Camden Yards (y’all remember how excited I was to run Angels stadium and how bummed I was there were no pictures? Multiply that excitement by a bazillion that it was going to be the field I went to countless times over the years as a kid), I was all in. The bonus of a run supporting a cause I’m terribly passionate about – mental and behavioral healthcare for kids who needed it most – and the possibility of meeting Buck? No brainer. I signed up and got my two friends, Ali and Jescie, also occasional runners and huge Orioles fans, to join Team Machado Like It’s Hot, in honor of our very own Manny Machado.

I was feeling pretty optimistic after my hip held out so well during the marathon and didn’t hurt any worse than the rest of my body after the marathon that I could handle an easy-pace, no pressure to PR 3 mile run a week after the marathon. Marathon recovery plans all advocated for easy paced short runs starting the Thursday after the marathon. But when the rest of my bodily pain wore off, my hip started to make itself known. Not only that, but my left knee felt oddly bruised and the top of my left foot kinda hurt too. And my left butt cheek (remember, all the bursitis is on my right side) felt pretty tight. I dutifully did my strength exercises and the recumbent bike starting Tuesday or Wednesday, stretched out my glutes against the wall Thursday and Friday to work out this left buttcheek thing, and went to sleep Friday night after a short, sober stint at a Halloween party feeling optimistic.

Screen shot 2014-11-01 at 5.05.53 PM

Then I woke up finding I’d slept on my back wrong and THAT was hurting. Pobre broken Nevie.

Not only that, but the morning was cold and rainy. I put on a warm black Varsity-type jacket and trekked over to pick up Ali to meet Jescie in Baltimore. Ali was doing race morning sign up and was pretty much only going at this point because I showed up at the door. She went a little harder for Halloween than I had. 😉 Plus the cold, rainy weather was really off-putting.

I was still, in any case, really excited to step foot on the field at the Yard however I needed to, so we made our way out to the ballpark and found a sweet parking spot (stadium lots were free this morning!) near the start line/packet pick up. There was free coffee for those inclined, and we did our best to stay warm.

Cold Orioles fan runners.
Cold Orioles fan runners.

To kill time before the 8am start time, we milled around taking pictures of our favorite street in America, Eutaw Street, and listened to Buck give the opening address.

Our ballpark > your ballpark.
Our ballpark > your ballpark.

The most exciting part happened before we even began running – my eagle eye spotted Buck behind the podium after several other speakers took over the blah blah blah and we made a beeline to try and get a picture with him. After I maybe sort of willfully encouraged a young girl of about 10 years old to push her way in front of all the grown men trying to get pictures with Buck because momentarily I cared more that she get a picture with Buck than if I did, I did my own “GO AFTER WHAT YOU WANT” move and said “Buck can we get a picture!?!” and he smiled and beckoned to us and said “well come on now!”

Ali: [jabbered to Buck about her lifelong fandom] Me: [too excited to form sentences] Jescie: [unimpressed with fame and offered to be photographer]
Ali: [jabbered to Buck about her lifelong fandom]
Me: [too excited to form sentences]
Jescie: [unimpressed with fame and offered to be photographer]
Eventually though the run did start. There were no timing tags on our bibs and no official start line track so the race was not going to be chip-timed, only gun-timed, but it did do a good job of being an actual, well-measured 5K distance, unlike the last time I ran in Baltimore, which was for the Baltimore Color Run which dicked out around 2.8 miles.

Mile 1 in Federal Hill

Did I mention it was cold and rainy? I did my best to balance my stride but I could tell something was off. My cardio was in slightly better shape than it had been for the marathon so even though the course was slightly hilly, our splits were pretty even. The three of us ran at a conversational pace — though Ali and Jescie did most of the talking while I focused on my form and trying not to hurt — and took a 1 minute walk break after about 15 minutes.

Mile 2 after the turnaround to head back to the stadium

There were two fairly challenging hills, one shortly after the 2-mile mark that we powered up while I cried out “it’s not a hill, it’s a beastmaker! Beastmaking in progress!” and another one over a bridge that is a common walking route after one parks and begins to the trek to a game at the Yard. We took one other walk break just before this second hill (thanks to the girls for acquiescing to my need for intervals) and then powered through to the end.

1505298_10100432699284143_9186026051601086362_nArriving on the field just after the mile 3 marker! I somehow found some rockets in my tank and shot through the last tenth of a mile at an 8 minute pace – otherwise averaging around 11:12-11:15. My Garmin tells me that last .17 was an 8:03/mile pace which I’m pretty excited about.

We finished with an unofficial Garmin time of about 35:24, so definitely one of my slowest 5K’s, but not nearly as bad, in neither experience nor time, as the famed Clarendon Day. Instead of pinching, wincing pain in my hip, it more felt like everything was tight and made it hard to extend my stride, so I tried instead, as my PT told me to do, to take shorter, quicker steps instead of longer, heel-striking strides. I was definitely in some pain at the finish but did my best to stretch out safely on some slippery stadium chairs as we made our way off the field — but not before some photo opportunities I absolutely insisted on getting.

Gah! 7-year-old Nevie would be GEEKING OUT! 26 year old Nevie WAS geeking out!
Gah! 7-year-old Nevie would be GEEKING OUT! 26 year old Nevie WAS geeking out!

Had to get a shot with the factory in the background. Such an “I’m home!” moment. I absolutely love our team, Baltimore, and our park.

Screen shot 2014-11-01 at 5.29.53 PMI hope you enjoy my Halloween hairdo. I dyed it red to be Red from “Orange is the New Black” and it came out more orangey-auburn, so that plus not washing it after the Halloween party and running with a hat on it made it stick up for this picture kind of like a faux-hawk. It makes me tempted to try a faux-hawk one day.

I’m so glad Jescie, Ali and I decided to stick out the miserable morning weather and the fact that all of us are not in our peak pace shape. Jescie’s been focusing on spin, Ali on strength work and speed-walking as a part-time New Yorker, and me on, well, healing.

Tomorrow (I’m writing this on Saturday after the race) I’m getting a deep tissue massage financed by a Groupon deal and I’m really hoping that works out some of the kinks in my lower back, hips, and butt. I would just really love to be able to run pain-free again, even though I am super-super-thankful it’s so much better than it was 6 weeks ago, believe me. All I want is to be able to continue to run several times a week without causing permanent damage to my body, even if it means sticking to shorter distances. So, fingers crossed.

Have you run a race with sponsored or centered around your favorite sports team?