Charles St 12 Miler: Looking Back and Forging Ahead

As I’ve recapped in training posts, these past 6 weeks or so have been all about the Charles St 12 Mile race. After deciding I wouldn’t be attending Rock N Roll Philadelphia due to a new work schedule/travel costs, this race became my “goal race” for summer training.

Charles Street 12 Miler revente

Unless you’ve been reading for a while, you may or may not know that the Charles St 12 haunts me. I ran the race in 2014, as my first long distance race. It was horrible. HorribleHorrible. Not the race itself – it’s wonderfully run, as Charm City Run races always are. It was me. My performance was abysmal. Running and my body were not friends that day.


I recapped this race in my early blog days, but this summer I have spent so much time on runs processing that race. I won’t recap it again (although the recap I wrote is horrible, lol), but I will summarize what was so bad about that race.

  • I misjudged the hills on a “net-downhill” course. Net-downhill doesn’t mean all downhill. Any hill I saw thoroughly intimidated me. This was stupid, because I totally ran hills while training in New Hampshire.
  • I ran this race with a sub-2:00 goal (10:00 pace) and also with a goal to beat my friend. Uh, why did I care about beating someone, especially my friend, and base my success of of hers?!
Pre-race with Beth!
  • My pre-race nutrition was horrid. I had beer and a crab pretzel the night before, and all I drank for the two days before was nuun. I was overhydrated (or mishydrated – is that a thing?), and I paid for it.


  • Due to my nutrition errors, my right hamstring cramped up real bad around mile 5/6 and I never recovered. I basically walked the last 4 miles of the race. 4 miles. WTF?!
  • I finished with my slowest race pace EVER, even slower than my slowest half marathons, with a time of 2:35, pace of 12:51/mi. Dreadful.
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    I only ran in because there were people watching…

What’s different this time?

  • I’ve run the course, backwards and forwards. I know where/how bad the hills are. And realistically, they’re not that bad. I’ve studied and studied those runs on Strava. Over and over. There will be no surprises.
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Elevation chart from 2014. The last mile is slightly different, but elevation remains the same. Those first two hills are not fun, then it’s really not that bad.
  • I haven’t completely set a time goal for this race. I’ve thought about it, but I’ve struggled. I know that when I set time goals I stress out and fail. I plan to run the first half with 90:30 walk/run intervals, and the second half with 120:30 walk/run intervals. Needless to say, I will set a course/12 mile PR. By a lot. Like at least a half an hour most likely.
  • I’m not stupid with pre-race nutrition anymore. Also, 12 miles isn’t that long and I’m plenty trained. I still drink Nuun, but not nearly as much. As long as I don’t get drunk the night before (which trust me, won’t happen) I don’t see nutrition/hydration as being an issue unless it’s stupidly hot. **knockonwood** The forecast looks perfect so far.
  • I love doing races with Beth, but no longer concern myself with anyone else’s perfromance but mine. She will probably run with me, and whether or not we finish together or apart could make no difference to me. I’m going to run my race this time! Although, I don’t think we’ve ever finished a race together, so that would be kinda cool.
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    Poor AK has a stress fracture, so it’s just Beth and I!

As I’m writing this on Monday, I am feeling so excited for a chance to redeem myself on Saturday; to put to use these summer miles; and to seek revenge on this course. Regardless of my pace or time, Saturday will be amazing. Charm City Run always puts on amazingly well organized races. I’m excited for the race to end with beers at the Under Armor world headquarters, and hopefully have Jake there for me at the finish (his house is only a mile from the finish – talk about convenient!) Oh – and the premium! CCR is also known for their premiums. The hoodie for this race looks glorious – almost as good as the B3 race series premium.

I’ll also earn an extra medal for completing the B3 race series!

Have you ever felt the need to seek revenge on a race? 

12 miles is a weird race distance…What’s the weirdest race distance you’ve ever done? Seriously…why not make it a half marathon?

Charles St 12 miler training: 8/21 – 8/27/17

And just like that I’m done my last “long run” and tapering for the week for the Charles St 12 Miler! The last four weeks of running have been really solid, and I feel like I’m in a great place for the race on Saturday!

Charles Street 12 Miler

Monday: Rest day – Like every other Monday, I had the intention to ride my bike…but it didn’t happen.

Tuesday: 4.25 miles. Plan called for 7-8, but I was feeling dehydrated from the week/weekend before and it was still super hot/humid. Really, it was kinda sucky

Wednesday: 2.5 miles at November Project. The dehydration felt even worse today and my legs felt disconnected from my body. I left after the first workout to sleep, hydrate, and have some extra rest. I think my body was begging for it.

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Thursday: Rest day – switched with Friday to listen to my body!

Friday: 5 miles slow and easy. The heat and humidity broke and it was a perfect running morning! At night I biked about 10 miles at Baltimore Bike Party!

Saturday: 5.5 miles, slow and easy again. I was still feeling beers from the night before (oops), but I felt the best running than I had in a week and a half. I walked another 3.5ish miles that day!

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Sunday: 10 miles, the first 5 easy (60:30 intervals) and second 5 with 90:30 intervals. The weather was perfect and my heart rate stayed so low even as my speed and intervals increased! I was feeling so strong and like those hot running days paid off. I walked another 6 or so miles throughout the day.  My legs and hips are now begging for a rest day!

Weekly total: 27.5 mi. Considering how I was feeling for the first half of the week, I’m very satisfied with this!

This week will consist of an easy run on Tuesday, a double at November Project on Wednesday, and a shakeout on Friday before the race! What comes next is quite the adjustment…as my work schedule changes and I have to move my running days around. Thankfully it aligns perfectly to when I start following my Goofy Challenge training plan.

This week I’m linking up with Tricia at misssippipiddlin, Holly from HoHoRuns and Teresa from Finding Fabulous at Fifty  for the weekly  Wrap Up. Check out their page to see other bloggers’ weekly wrap ups!

Charles St 12 miler training: 8/7-8/14

Another week down and August is still going strong. I hit 700 miles for the year this week, which is a milestone I was hoping to meet by the end of July, but I’ll be able to catch up. Two-30 mile weeks in a row and I’m feeling pretty good (despite a desperate need to roll more!)

8/7: Rest day

8/8: 5 miles easy effort. Tried to make it a little more of a “super easy” effort, but humidity and hills killed that.

8/9: 2.5 miles easy effort around the Inner Harbor, and 2.28 miles at November Project. No “double” today as I slept for an extra half an hour! (Seeing as the workout wasn’t super cardio based, I’m happy with my decision)

8/10: Rest day – I had planned my speed work for Thursday, but I slept through my alarms. SHOCKER. Gotta switch up those alarm tones again…

8/11: 4.5 miles of speed work. 1 mi wu/cd (+ a little more), 8 x 400 with 1:00 walking recovery. Hit all of my paces with two of them being a few seconds fast. The last one felt hard, but I got it done. I’m loving some structured challenges each week.

8/12: 4 miles of crap. Seriously. It was supposed to rain so I ruled out the November Project Ravens stadium workout. Turns out, it didn’t rain, but it was seriously swampy. Slept in a little so I got a late start; pair that with tired legs and it’s a calling for a really crappy run. Went out for 6, cut it so Sunday would be successful.

8/13: 12 miles of wonderfulness. It was cooler and the dew point dropped, making the air feel so much better. Managed a big negative split and 4 of the last 5 miles were sub 11:00. I’m cool with it. For next week’s long run I’ll run the other half of the Charles Street 12 course!

Trivia playoffs after running long(er) = splurging for lunch!

Total miles: 30.28

I was aiming for 32-33, but with a run cut short and never knowing exactly how many miles I’ll log on an NP morning, it’s cool. I’m just happy to be back in the 30 mile range! Ready for a bigger week this week before starting to taper a little for the Charles Street 12 miler.

Charles St 12 miler training: 7/31-8/6

Last week, I shared that I’d no longer be participating in the Rock N Roll Philadelphia Half marathon. For a few days after I made that decision, I felt lost, especially with some other race plans for the end of the year crashing down as well. But then I signed up for the Baltimore Running Festival’s BaltiMORON-A-Thon (5K and 13.1 in the same morning) and felt slightly more excited and motivated. But before that comes the Charles Street 12 miler.

Charles Street 12 Miler

I’m taking it as a blessing that this can now be a race that I focus more on. I ran the 12 miler three years ago as my first distance race once I started to run again. It was a complete failure and I finished with a measly time of 2:35. I learned so much that day, especially now that I look back on it. I’m happy that I’ve been working on a half marathon training program that is more speed based than what I’ve done before, so not only can I set a course/12 mile PR come September 2nd, but I can also put up a time I”m more proud of.

This was utterly and entirely fake. I was doing 13-14min miles at this point.

The training I’ve been following for the last month or so is a slightly modified Hal Higdon Half Marathon Intermediate 2 plan. I’ll be following it until this race, have a couple of “down” weeks, then start Goofy Challenge training. I’ve made some weekday runs longer to increase mileage, as well as switch an easy run out with November Project. I’ve also continued my Galloway intervals. I have been doing most long runs at a 90:30 walk/run interval, do speed/tempo workouts either based on distance or at a 120:30 interval, and easy runs at a 60:30. My tempo, race pace, and long run paces were calculated using the McMillan calculator for a 2:08 half marathon goal (which I’ll share more about when I can…)

I slightly recapped July last week, but this was the first week in a few weeks that everything got done.

Monday: No running, “deck of cards” strength workout that got me supah sweaty

Tuesday: 6 miles – an easy day was scheduled, but I ran great doing 60:30’s in a light rain, and picked the pace up. I thought I was only going to have time for 4, but it took forever for Jake to get home from his new job, so I ran around in circles while waiting for him.

Wednesday: 5 miles for a November Project double. The workout was fun and cardio based. I ran fast (for me) doing suicides, and decided to count this as my speed work day, because I definitely did just that.

Photo cred: Gio Vargas

Thursday: Rest – it wasn’t planned, but I slept through my 5 alarms, and didn’t have time due to plans and work, then storms.

Friday: 4 miles super easy (60:30 intervals). It’s never easy to keep my HR in my SEE zone when I run around my house due to the hills but I do my best!

Saturday: 5 miles – 1 mi wu/cd (60:30 intervals), 3 miles at 120:30 intervals, nearing goal half marathon race pace (9:46). I definitely didn’t hit the 9:46, but was in the low 10’s and would have been closer if I had rethought my route. Speedy run on the Inner Harbor Promenade at 6pm on a Saturday? Bad idea.

Sunday: 10 miles on the first half of the Charles St 12 course. Last time these hills killed me, so I wanted to reaquaint myself with them. Realistically, they’re not that bad at all. Ran 60:30 on the first 5 to keep my HR low, then 90:30 on the way back. My heart rate stayed at a decent level with the longer intervals.

Total miles: 30. <– First 30 mile week since April!! Today’s a rest day and I feel great aside from some tightness in my glutes that I need to work on.

Have you ever had a season when your race plans just seem to fail you?

Charles St. 12 Race Recap

On Saturday, I participated in the race I had been looking forward to all summer, the Charles St. 12 in Baltimore, MD. I trained so hard. I was so confident that I could do alright. I flew to Maryland to enjoy an amazing weekend with my best friends. Here’s how it turned out:


Beth and I were up at 5:30 to get ready and drive to Towson for the race start. I felt good, but could hardly choke down half a bagel with peanut butter. But I was ready and excited. I decided to wear my knee brace just to be safe, but it ends up that my knee was the least of my problems.

We arrived at the start about half an hour before the race start. Our wonderful chauffer/best friend/Beth’s boyfriend Ben was able to park right at the start to watch us off. There was plenty of space to spread out, lots of porta potties (with long lines) and water. I was so excited to meet Sarah before the start! Her blog was one of the first ones I came across when I started blogging. If you haven’t checked it out before, you definitely should because she’s awesome!


The gun went off right at 7:30 and after about 1:30, Beth and I were off! We started off at an easy pace because the hills started right away and lasted longer than I expected. I originally planned to stay with her for the first few miles, then speed up for the rest of the race. However, my body had different plans. Around mile 4 I started getting awful leg cramps, like I’ve never gotten before. My gluteus medius (I believe) was so unbelievably tight. I started walking, and stopped multiple times to stretch it out. Nothing. Worked. I eventually started to get stomach cramps and a headache and Beth thought maybe I’d drank too much Nuun. I tried some gatorade and almost puked. From then on out I drank only water and it helped my stomach a bit.

Running down Kenilworth – I found Ben!

Around mile 9, I simply knew that my race wasn’t going to turn around. My legs weren’t feeling any better and I knew this race was a complete bonk. I told Beth to go ahead and she ended up finishing 10 minutes before me (YAY BETH!). I’m so glad I let her go on instead of holding her back. I eventually settled into a group of people that was walking/running and I stayed with them for the rest of the way. Around mile 8 the course finally flattened out as we were getting into the city. I ran walked the last 4 miles at around a 14:00 avg. pace (UCK).


After a sick joke of crossing Pratt St. and going all the way into Fed Hill, the last mile brought us through the Inner Harbor. I wish I was stronger at that point because it was beautiful, there were tons of people out, and I’d always wanted to run in the harbor. But I was struggling real hard and fighting off tears. I faked it for the photographers and hobbled the last .25 miles to the finish. My final time was 2:35:05 Sad smile (I projected a 2:00-2:10). I was so mad at myself that I just wanted to cry. I worked hard all summer. My 10 miler the week before went flawlessly, and my body had felt great. I just felt so defeated.


The finish line area was awesome! The festivities were not right at the finish line, which helped with crowding. There were clothes to purchase, lunch boxes (I only ate an apple), and of course free beer. I was quickly able to meet Lisa before she had to leave! I wish I would have been in better shape, I ended up leaving quickly to find a chair because I felt like I was going to pass out on top of her. After the apple and water I wasn’t feeling better, but I was dumb enough to stand in line for beer. While keeling over in line, I finally felt better after sitting, stretching and slowly drinking it. There was a great band playing that I really enjoyed!

Beer + a medal + music = a happy Sam
Beer + a medal + music = a happy Sam

In general: This race was fantastic. The course is challenging, but beautiful. It was so well organized and the volunteers and police officers along the course were great. We got a super cute Under Armour premium, and there were other awesome race shirts to purchase at the finish. I wouldn’t hesitate to run this race again. I won’t let my bad day ruin how great of a race the Charles St. 12 is. In fact, I plan to run it again next year

What went wong? I’m not trying to make excuses, just trying to look back on what could have gone wrong on Saturday morning.

  • Nutrition – My pre-race nutrition was awful. It was not my best decision to have two beers on Friday, along with a tiny lunch and only a crab pretzel for dinner. I hardly ate breakfast as well. As much as I love Nuun, I think I drank too much because I did start feeling better after I drank straight water.
  • Stretching – I didn’t spend much time stretching before the race. I did a few but I didn’t follow my normal routine.
  • Traveling I don’t think my legs liked the 2.5 hours of driving and the flight on Friday. If I travel to Baltimore again for a race, I’ll likely fly down a little earlier to avoid such tight legs.

Now, I have the chance to redeem myself. I have just less than a month to prepare for the Lake Placid Classic 13.1, and I’m determined to do better than I did in Baltimore. I’m taking a lighter week for recovery this week, then working hard for the next two weekends to get my long run closer to 13 miles.

However, my goals for the half marathon have changed. I originally was hoping to finish in 2:10, but after this race I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself and bonk again. Therefore my first goal is to beat my time for this race of 2:35. My second goal is to earn a 13.1 pr, by beating 2:27:27. If I could meet one more goal it would be a sub 2:20. My long runs tend to average about 10-10:30 miles so it may be attainable if I have a great day.

Tonight, I ran it off. I’m still a little sore, but the muscles that hurt the most on Saturday have clamed down. Those two miles left me refreshed and confident that Saturday was just a bad day. I’m fit and in shape, and I can run a half marathon!

Have you ever had an awful race?

Have you ever had cramps in your upper thigh/butt? I could not stretch it out to save my life. Help me!