Monday September 20, 2010 | 08:04 AM

I've heard talk of something called a "runner's high" - that elusive burst of endorphins that rushes through the brain like a well-earned opiate.

Having never experienced it myself (it isn't called "jog/walker's high," after all) I'm instead compelled to tamper with the caffinated thrill of double-brewed coffee.

But following the 11th annual Trail to Ale 10K on Sunday, there was a runner's reward that didn't exclude those of us that are - ahem - less speedy.

The yearly race, a major fundrasier for Portland Trails, paired a 10K along the Eastern Prom Trail and Back Cove with an after party laden with Shipyard and Portland Pie.

And this year's crowd proved that people can be motivated by the beer at the end of the 10K tunnel.

The race kicked off at 9 a.m., the 1,500 racers charging along the paved trail like Black Friday shoppers.

Some folks donned costumes. You've heard the phrase, "Run like a butterfly, drink like a bee."

Cheerful volunteers directed the way, handed out water and "woo hooed" unabashedly.

Not long into the race, the crowd stretched out. My friend and I were just trodding onto the Back Cove Trail when our faster running cohorts were rounding the curve on the other side.

And by mile six - well, most of the herd was long gone. Or were we in first place? Only my timing chip knows for sure.

Maybe my pal and I are slower runners. Or maybe I spent too much time taking pictures of birds. Yea. It's probably the bird pictures that did it.

Inside Portland Company the afterparty had packed the room with sweat-coated racers, most already clutching a cup of chilled Shipyard in one hand and a slice of Portland Pie in the other.

And the folks behind the counters made quick work of the reward-passing.

It was a swell blend of effort, beer and pizza.

And pirates. You can't forget the pirates.

If you missed out this year, don't let regret consume you. It'll be back next year.

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Shannon Bryan, content producer for MaineToday Media, likes exploring Maine - from mattress races to cardboard boats, she's into the weird stuff.

Karen Beaudoin, online editor for MaineToday Media, likes knowing the important things - like who's just opened their deck for a sunny afternoon beer and what Portland's eclectic set of street performers are up to.

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