Charles St. 12 Race Recap

I’ve been trying to do at least one race per month and was searching for an August race around my birthday when I came across info about the inaugural Charles St. 12 race in Baltimore. Hmmmm. August in Baltimore. The thought wasn’t too appealing, plus the info was a bit sketchy initially. No race course yet published or many race details at all. So I put the race on my tentative calendar, ‘liked’ their Facebook page, and checked in on their website from time to time.
Bit by bit, more info was given. The race was point to point, with busing provided to the start. There would be an awesome premium of an Under Armour hoodie, embroidered with the race logo, and the course had a decent net downhill elevation. So finally, I registered. The weather had been exceptionally mild in the weeks leading up to the race, but the eventual forecast was calling for a high of 91 degrees on race day. Eeek!
The morning of the race, I left my house about 3:30 am to head down to Baltimore. Packet pickup at a Towson, MD shopping center was open at 5:30, and I arrived there about 5:45. Due to lack of parking at the start, the runners were encouraged to park in one of the many parking garages near the finish, and take the provided busing. However, the last bus was scheduled to leave the finish area at 6:45 am, so I felt pressure to quickly get my packet and get down to the Inner Harbor area. I easily found space in the garage closest to the bus pickup and was directed to get in a quickly moving line for a bus. The whole process was well-organized and painless. Even the bus was comfortable and well appointed. When we arrived back in Towson, our bus driver called out with a smile “how was your ride in a $500k bus?”
I looked for the porta potties to make one last pit stop before the race and was initially surprised to see no lines at all. A minute later, I realized how wrong I was. There was actually one single file line snaking around and around all through the parking lot. After 20 minutes in line, suddenly the dam broke and the single line became multiple lines, one per door. Fortunately, I made it through with a little time to spare.
Shortly before 7:30, announcements began, the national anthem sung, and we were off, right on time.
The first couple miles, I was running pretty easily at a 11 min/mile pace, which is fast for me. In mile 3, we hit a pretty decent uphill and my pace definitely slowed. I think I walked for the first time in the steepest parts. We were going through some nice neighborhoods and passed by Towson University.
After that first uphill, I really expected the course to be all downhill and while it certainly was a significant downhill overall, it seemed to make the little uphills that much harder for me to run. Around mile 4, I started getting some stomach discomfort. This is the first time this has happened to me and I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I was drinking water from my hydration belt but it seemed unclear whether water was making it worse or better. I saw a couple porta potties around mile 4.5 but there was a line so I decided not to stop. Fortunately, it wasn’t too disastrous of a decision, but I never did see another porta potty on the entire course.
The police presence during the entire race was awesome. From the very start when motorcycle cops accompanied us (although I could have done without their exhaust!), to multiple cops at every intersection, and considering we were running through downtown baltimore, there were plenty of intersections. I would guesstimate that several hundred cops were working the race. Even at the busiest, largest intersections, runners always had the right of way and I never had to stop.
I really started feeling tired heading into mile 9 and running became more of a struggle. My walk breaks became more and more frequent and I stopped caring about posting a decent time, I just wanted to finish. The very last mile, we headed along the promenade in Baltimore’s inner harbor. That was interesting because now we were no longer on a closed off running lane, but competing for space with shoppers and diners out walking around. I had to dodge families a few times.
Finally, I could hear cheering around the last corner and I came around the bend and crossed the finish line. My legs were screaming and my time was an un stellar 2:36:18, or an overall pace of 13:02. Definitely not the time I had anticipated. I think I partly ran out of energy because I was afraid to eat many of the sport beans I had brought as energy food, due to the ongoing stomach problems. Also the lack of sleep the night before was definitely not helpful. Still, I really enjoyed the race overall.
Especially for an inaugural race, it was exceptionally well run. It’s one of the few that I hope to run again next year. And yes, I plan to crush this years time. 🙂

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