Two races, one day: The perfect challenge

“Hey, did you know the Charles Street 12 Miler is happening the morning of Sept. 1? The same day as the Glow Run?” Kree asked me earlier this summer. “Do you want to run both with me?”

Um, obviously!

The Glow Run is an annual nighttime 5K fun run that Rip It Events hosts every year on Labor Day Weekend, and it’s become a tradition for our 5 Peaks Martial Arts Academy family. This year, both Kree and I are in the middle of training for the Baltimore Marathon, and I had 14 miles on my schedule for this weekend’s long run. So the idea of running a 12-mile race, plus the 5K later that day, sounded like a great idea to me!

Plus, I’ve never raced a 12 miler before, so I knew it would be an automatic PR. 😉

The Charles Street 12 Miler begins in Towson, just north of Baltimore, and ends at Under Armour headquarters in the Locust Point area of the city. I enjoy point-to-point races, even though they can be a bit of a logistical pain in the butt. We boarded buses at the finish line and rode 12 miles north to the start line, just outside of the Shops at Kenilworth. (Fun fact: Sept. 1 was the 11th anniversary of my move to Maryland. I actually lived in Towson until early 2011, just a few streets away from where the race began. Everything felt like it was coming full circle!)

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At the start

Honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect for my time for this race. Twelve miles is kind of a weird distance for a race– it’s almost a half marathon, but not quite — and I thought the course was pretty hilly. Still, the weather was pretty good — not nearly as hot and humid as the previous few days — and I felt like a time in the 1:30s was probably doable. So I lined up with the pacers leading the 1:35 group.

The race started out almost immediately on an uphill climb, then leveled off, then went downhill….. and kept going downhill. We cruised down the hill past Towson University and I finished the first mile in 7:50-something. That was pretty much how the first four or five miles of the race went — there would be an uphill push, then you would get rewarded with a sweet downhill. It was fun to run through the Rodgers Forge neighborhood in Baltimore — when I worked at what is now WMAR2 News, I would often run through that area after work, and miles two and three went right through some of my old running routes. Memories!

The pace group got ahead of me when I stopped briefly at a water station, but I wasn’t too far behind, and was holding onto a sub-8 pace pretty easily. (The downhills helped with that for sure.) The long downhill stretches continued once we turned onto Charles Street and into some of the historic neighborhoods in north Baltimore. I can’t be totally sure, but I think I finished the first 10K in under 50 minutes. (I’ve raced three 10Ks this summer, and not one of them has been sub-50!)

Everything continued to feel really good until I hit the uphill climb toward the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon — running downhill can feel awesome and effortless, but it’s still tough on the quads and they started to feel the effort at that point. But after I got over that hump, it was all downhill from there. OK, not really — but the last three miles of the race were nice and flat.

One of my old coworkers from WMAR2 News in Baltimore snapped this photo of me! (Brian Tankersley photo)

As an aside, I’ve run many races in Baltimore and this was the first time I’ve noticed drivers getting angry that intersections were blocked off and roads were closed. Once we got downtown, there were so many drivers honking and yelling at the police officers who had the misfortune of doing traffic control for the race. Rude. Hoping people are nicer during the Baltimore Marathon.

Once I hit mile 11, I couldn’t see the pace group anymore, but I knew I was going to be in the 1:30s, and probably under 1:38. I crossed the finish line with a final time of 1:36:51/8:04 average pace. That would have been around a 1:45 half if I had continued on that pace for another 1.1 miles, so I’m happy with that! And yes, the downhills made a difference, but there were some significant uphills in the first half of the race, too. In any event, I’ll take it! It was the best race I’ve had all summer!

Kree was hoping for 1:50 and she ended up finishing in 1:49:57! And our friend Chuck finished in under two hours, per his goal. We also ran with a bunch of other Rip It ambassadors …. though we were the only ones crazy enough to run the Glow Run, too!

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The 2018 Glow Run 5K

I’m not the biggest fan of splitting up long runs during marathon training, but I think every now and then it’s fine. The good thing is, you’re still practicing running on tired legs during your second run of the day, which is excellent training for a marathon. And I think this double header race day was a perfect example.

I knew going into the Glow Run that I was going to take it easy. This is the third year I’ve run the race, and I was the first female finisher the last two years. Which is cool and all, but it is an untimed fun run …. meaning there’s no prize or anything, and I may have come in first because I was the only one actually racing! 😉 The whole run is really more of a dance party than anything, and this year I decided to really glow it up with a light up unicorn headband, light-up leg warmers and a bunch of glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces.

 

Kree and I decided to stick together, and we both felt the impact of racing earlier that day pretty quickly. The Glow Run is hilly, as are all races in the Columbia, Maryland area — and our quads were screaming at us.

“Ugh, this would have been a lot easier if we had just kept on running after the race this morning,” she said.

That’s definitely true, but that feeling of fatigue is why this was solid marathon training — we’ll be feeling tired and achy in the later miles of the Baltimore Marathon, after all.

One irritating thing that happened to me during the race — one of the glow necklaces I was wearing flew into my face and knocked out one of my contact lenses, so I ran most of the final mile half-blind. (I’m the most near-sighted person I know.)  The necklaces looked cute and fun, but they are not practical for running — they started to slide around my neck and annoy me almost immediately. So I have to remember not to wear them next year.

We ended up crossing the finish line in 28 minutes and some change. Kree’s husband Matt, who was badly injured in a triathlon earlier this summer, was the first place finisher with a time somewhere in the 22-minute range!

Finish strong!

Afterwards, a group of us went to IHOP for a late dinner, which has become a post-Glow Run tradition. I don’t actually think I’ve been to IHOP since after the 2017 Glow Run! I only wish IHOP served drinks, because you all know how much I love to have a drink after racing, and I didn’t get a chance to grab my freebie beer after the 12-Miler because Kree had to leave shortly after finishing the race (she and Matt were my ride home).

Honestly, when is the last time I went a whole Saturday without having an adult beverage? Marathon training makes me so healthy, you guys.

And — I’m totally burying the lede here — but Kree and Matt found out two days later that she’s pregnant! So she had a surprise running buddy with her during both races — she just didn’t know it at the time. Congratulations to both of them! He/she will be an awesome companion during the Baltimore Marathon.

 

I relayed a beer mile — and I didn’t puke

I like running. I like beer. I think these two things pair nicely together — as long as the beer comes after the running. (It’s not uncommon for me to drink a recovery beer after a long run! It counts as hydration, right? Right…..)

So I’ve always been pretty curious about trying to run a beer mile — where you chug a beer, then sprint a quarter of a mile, then repeat this until you’ve chugged four beers and run an entire mile. I’m much better at running long distances than I am at sprinting, and while I can easily down four beers in an evening, I like to enjoy them, not gulp them down as fast as humanly possible.

Still, when my friends Danny and Suzy, owners of Rip It Events, announced they were organizing their third annual beer mile, I definitely wanted to give it a try. Especially when they said it was a neon beer mile, and participants were supposed to wear as much neon clothing as possible. I mean, I’ll jump at any chance to wear obnoxiously bright clothing and accessories that glow. (Side note: This was just a fun run and was not an official Rip It event.) 

My friend Staci was visiting for the weekend, so I asked her if she wanted to run, too, and she said yes. We were both unsure of our beer-chugging abilities and decided to relay the race — meaning we’d each chug two beers and run two laps.

The beer mile took place on a paved trail behind a quiet neighborhood in Columbia, Maryland. The race began at the bottom of a small hill, where about two dozen or so runners gathered to line up our beers and prepare to chug and run. This was in a wooded area, and the race began around 8 pm, which is why we were asked to wear as much neon as possible — it got pretty dark down there.

As I carefully placed our beers (two Dogfish Head Seaquench for me, two Sam Adams Porch Rockers for Staci) on the ground, Staci looked skeptical. (She gave birth to her second child about four months ago and hasn’t had much to drink since.)

“I’m not trying to puke,” she told me. “I’ve already been through two rounds of morning sickness.”

“I think we’ll be OK,” I told her. “If you can’t finish your beers, I’ll finish yours …. but you’ll probably have to drive us home.”

(Did I mention that if you puked, you had to run an extra lap? Those were the rules!)

Since we were relaying, we took turns chugging and running, and I volunteered to go first. I cracked open my Seaquench and started guzzling as fast as I could. Which, turns out, wasn’t very fast. There were runners that chugged their beers in like five seconds flat. I was probably one of the last runners to start my lap, and I was trying my hardest to get it all down quickly (and I looooooove Seaquench.) Once I took off, I started belching uncontrollably — gross! But everyone else was burping, too. Seriously, I never heard so many burps at a race. We sounded like a bunch of frogs.

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I ran my quarter-mile — which was up the hill and back down again — as fast as I could. (Real talk, it took me longer to drink the beer.) Then it was Staci’s turn. She downed her first beer like a champ and took off. Meanwhile, some of my fellow runners were on their third beers. Some were holding strong, others were barfing in the weeds.

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“Oh God, this is terrible,” I heard one guy say. (He may have been boozing up beforehand. Not sure.)

“Worst idea ever,” another one said.

Staci finished her lap and I started on my second Seaquench. I choked it down, turned the empty can over my head to prove it was totally empty (per race rules), and started my second lap. I still burped a lot, but I was able to sprint the quarter-mile while keeping everything down.

When I got back, Staci started on her second beer, but didn’t get very far! She drank a few sips and then handed it off to me to finish. I think it was kind of against the race rules, but it wasn’t like it was the most formal event anyway 😉 She took off for her final lap and I, quite literally, took one for the team and drank the rest of her Porch Rocker.

I’m not actually sure what our final time was — 15 minutes? Even though neither of us barfed (thank goodness!) we both decided to run an extra lap anyway. Lots of other runners were heading to a local bar after the race, but I live about a half hour away, so we decided to head home. (Staci drove, as she’d only had a little more than one beer — safety first!)

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Rip It friends Brittany and Stephanie

It was a lot of fun and made me even more curious about attempting a beer mile all by myself at some point.

I can’t guarantee I won’t vomit, though.