Mike and I have found that many of the run clubs in the Raleigh area are associated with breweries. Running and craft beer seem to be big around here, so may as well combine them! Because it’s a little tricky for us to get to downtown Raleigh after work on a weekday for a run club, we decided to try out Big Boss Brewing’s Sunday afternoon run club in Raleigh. Big Boss Run Club’s Facebook page is very active (about 1,500 followers!) and full of info, such as the on-site food truck and general announcements. From mid-Nov to mid-March, the Tuesday evening run club shifts to Sundays at 1 pm. A cool thing about this run club is that after you complete 15 runs (you check in online each week), you receive a Big Boss Run Club tech tee. And after 25 runs, you receive a Big Boss beer mug! Gotta love incentives and free stuff!
Week One – 6 miles
A little over a week ago, we ran our first run (only 14 to go to a shirt!). The Tap Room conveniently opens at 12:45 pm for runners to use the bathroom before the run begins at 1 pm. It was an unseasonably warm December day, even for North Carolina, and a big turnout – maybe about 40 people. You can check in by scanning a QR code posted by the check-in table or typing the web address into your browser – got to keep track to get the shirt and mug! There’s a big water cooler with cups set up as well as a binder with the various routes – maps and descriptions. We decided to run the longest – 6 miles – since we hadn’t run in awhile. There are running routes for 3, 4, 5 and 6 mile routes. Because of this and differing paces, there’s not a large cohesive group running together. After the 1.5 mile point, it was just me and Mike running together as others either turned around, were ahead or behind us or turned the other way to go for 5 miles. Luckily, Mike had grabbed a little sheet with directions – kind of complicated! – so we also used the RGreenway app.
We ran from the brewery about .75 miles to the start of the Greenway where we ran along Crabtree Creek for a ways. It’s crazy to think we’re actually in Raleigh but feel completely submersed in nature. At the 1.5 mile point, we were at the end of the Greenway and turned right, running alongside a road. We then ran through VERY hilly but quiet neighborhoods. Although I love the Greenways, I enjoyed running the neighborhood portion (minus the hills) because there was more to look at and distract myself from my legs on fire. I was struggling. I felt completely sluggish and unmotivated. I was really regretting our choice to run 6 miles. Although the sun was warm, the air was a little chilly and I kept coughing, even having to stop a few times. Not my best run.
Anyway, I was glad to loop back to the Greenway and then finish at the Brewery! Each run club Sunday, Big Boss offers a different beer for $3. This week it was pumpkin – delicious! Since it was gorgeous outside, we sat out front at the picnic tables with many other runners. Everyone we met was very friendly and shared recommendations of other run clubs and races around the area. Because of the free shirt and mug incentive, there seems to be many return runners. We plan to be regulars! It’s nice to have the option of different length runs and motivating to know you have a beer waiting for you when you’re done!
Week Two – 5 miles
We dialed it back a bit for our second week (down to 5 miles), plus we were curious to check out a new route! We noticed many runners just started running once they arrived and others started much earlier, getting in a long training run before finishing with run clubbers at the Tap Room. We stuck around to hear the announcement by the run organizer and to perhaps run with a larger group.
We ran with a larger group for the first mile, running with one other person almost the whole time since he wasn’t sure of the route. We turned left at 1.5 instead of right for the 5 mile loop and soon realized it was just, if not more, hilly than the 6 mile route. But since we knew what to expect this time and since we were just doing 5, we pushed ourselves. Actually I really had to push myself to keep up with Mike! I usually don’t bring my iPod shuffle for run clubs because I feel like I’m being anti-social but since Big Boss runners kind of do their own thing and don’t run in a big group, I’ll definitely bring it next time. I hate hearing myself breath heavily up the hills! There was one massive hill but then a really nice and long downhill for the end of the route. We lucked out with the weather again – Mike was wearing shorts and a t-shirt!
Back at the brewery, we drank some water and then checked out the special $3 beer – Belgian Blonde. Not my favorite type of beer, so I splurged on a $4 brown ale while Mike got the special. We relaxed outside and chatted with some other runners.