I struggled with my training through late January and February. Call it winter malaise, or the fact that our family was hit with the flu/colds hard this winter. Either way, it absolutely and completely sucks. The kind of suckiness that had me second guessing my goals and fitness level, and my approach to training. We all experience these lulls at one point or another, and I think I’m starting to come out of it, but I just hate being in it. Did I not take a thorough enough break after my last fall race? Is this par for the course when you’re upping mileage and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone for new goals? I’m tired, my legs have felt sore and heavy on an almost regular basis for weeks, and it’s hard to find the motivation to lace up and get out the door. I’ve been having a hard time differentiating if it’s normal training weariness (and thus part of the process) or if it’s because I’m still getting over being sick, or something else completely. Plus my gung-ho winter running perspective starts to wear thin after a couple months. I always feel like such a bad-ass on those first really cold, or icy/snowy runs. But around this time of year, I am over it. I want warmth, spring, sweat, vitamin D.
To help me try to change my mindset, I’m writing about something fun, crazy, and outside of the realm of ‘normal’ training: the great 2015 Beer Mile “race” recap. It’s long overdue, and the husband has been hounding me to officially state that, yes, he did indeed crush me at the Beer Mile. And a crushing it was.
Six brave souls piggy backed off of a Body by Parkway group run on New Year’s Eve. The husband and I showed up for the group run, because I needed to get my real run in, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to even be able to make it through the beer mile. I got in 4 well paced miles with some speedy guys, and felt better about any potential DNF in the next event. We all gathered nervously at the beginning of the trail we planned to use. Pat Woodford, our ringer, had brought out two cases of Factory Girl IPA, and placed them each 400 meters apart on the trail. A small group of onlookers huddled by the “starting line” and one person stood at the other end, to make sure no one cheated or wandered off accidentally, and to document the whole thing. We made sure we each had our BYO bottle opener handy, and we were off!
Everyone was fresh and happy downing that first beer. This didn’t seem so bad! Then the running started. And the sloshing. The second beer also wasn’t so bad, but it definitely didn’t go down as smoothly. Plus there was just that one guy and the other beer milers on that end of the course, so the comfort level was higher. We all started feeling it during the third beer, notoriously the most difficult. It was hard to get down, and we had a small crowd of people watching us and getting a lot of entertainment out of the whole ordeal! A light-headed airiness colored everything, so even though it was painful, there were a lot of endorphins floating around that made for a very surreal series of moments. Our friend Ed had just witnessed the national Beer Mile championships in Austin, TX a few weeks earlier, and he was full of insight as to how that elite race unfolded. The third beer is when you make the pain face, and apparently we were all on cue. At this point in the race I knew I had been bested by the husband. After the third beer, I ran the lap to drink the last one and Pat was already running toward the finish all gazelle-like, as if he hadn’t just chugged four hoppy beers. Then, to my surprise, the husband is running toward me in his last lap as well (in 2nd place, no less!) He was done with the drinking part, and I knew no set of circumstances could make up that much of a lead. Now it was just about finishing.
The last “lap” really got me. First, I ran down and forgot my bottle opener. Luckily, another runner was still down there and let me borrow one. The fullness is what really took a toll. I held it all together while running, though that part of the endeavor seemed like a complete blur. It was drinking that last beverage that did me in. Let’s just say that I would’ve had to take the dreaded penalty lap if we were following the Beer Mile rules firmly. I finished somewhere around 16 minutes, with the husband crushing my time with a 10:08 finish time. The fastest time was close to 8:00 mins, and the range went all the way to around 30 mins. We had some of Roanoke’s fastest, elite male runners at this event, so needless to say, the Beer Mile is no joke. It slapped us around and put us in our place.
- Funny things said during the Beer Mile:
- “I can still see my six pack!”
- “Me too! And I’ve had two kids! Wait, no I can’t.”
- One person still at the other end, and we all take off to run that person in: “Camraderie!” Runs 15 feet. “Oh, wait, nope, I cannot run another 400 meters.” Then walks slowly back to the start.
- “When is the next one?” followed by groans.
- “Why did we choose an IPA???
- “I can still see my six pack!”
The funny thing about the beer mile, and something I hadn’t fully considered, is how surreal and sort of awkward the after hang is. A few of us grabbed another beer, but for the most part we were stuck in a brewery all beered out not really wanting to even look at another beer. You have to wait around for quite a while so you or someone you’re with can drive home. And you’ve just gone through this unique bonding experience with a group of people you may not know that well. So you’re chatting, but no one is really their best self because, well, you all just did a beer mile. It was really fun and also really weird.
The beer mile was probably the most unique way the husband and I have ever spent New Years Eve (except maybe that one time in Japan when we ended up in some local 50s-throw back bar and Japanese business people kept buying us whiskey – I really don’t like whiskey, but couldn’t say no). We just barely made it to the ball dropping, and learned that next time we need to focus more intensely on hydration. Will we do it again? I’ll give an affirmative maybe. The husband says definitely. We’ll see where and how it fits into 2016’s race schedule, but for now I’m just pleased to be able to check it off the ol’ bucket list.