Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Beer Mile 3-Peat

It's official, I may have found my true running talent.  But sadly, it's clear in my year of working at this event, it becomes more painful as I get older.  I don't know how long I will be able to continue to prevail, but I pledge here to go down trying. 

Nearly a week late, but here is my Spring 2014 Beer Mile Recap.  I figured since the Beer Mile made the front page of today's WSJ, it was as good a time as any to pull this together. 

I've recapped my history with this event before, but in short:

I read this post about Amy competing in the event:
I wanted to do one here, so I dropped hints and kept my ear to the ground.  I found a group that has them twice a year:  once after fall races are done, once after Boston/spring races are done. 
One was held nearby in December 2012, but I was already home for Christmas.
May 2013, I finally competed.  Intimidated by the female field, but I won:
December 2013, I defended my title:

And last week, I went for (spoiler alert, and attained) the 3-peat. 

It blows my mind because while last week was my slowest win yet (adding 3 seconds to my Dec. 2013 time), I felt the most out of shape and the most intimidated, but I did it. 

Briefly, the beer mile consists of one beer followed by 400 meters (or actually, more like 397 meters, since you get to drink the beer over about 3 meters), repeated 3 times for a total of four beers and one mile.  If you vomit at any point before you finish, you have to run one extra lap (even if you vomit multiple times, it's still just one lap).  I have never had to do a penalty lap (and yes, I just knocked on wood). 

The race had a delayed start of about 10 minutes, but I think that worked in my favor since I'd eaten a Lean Cuisine cheese pizza and more time to settle is always better when it comes to an evening race. 

As the reigning female champion, I was given bib number 1F.  The first arrivals got busy setting up our beers on some bleachers on the infield.  I chose Bud Light Platinum again, which is 6% alcohol.  The beer of choice for most was Coors Fat though. 

When everyone else showed up, I'd had some time to tap the top of my first beer can in hopes of minimizing the foam before opening it (you're not allowed to open any beer in advance).  It was finally time to start.  The countdown happened, I hit the timer on my watch and popped my first tab to begin with beer one.  I was again, first female out of the gate.  Beer one went down easily, but unfortunately, my timing on finishing it wasn't great and there weren't any guys near me to chase on lap one.  I was pretty much running solo.  By the time I was at about 300 meters, I could hear someone who sounded female coming up behind me.  I was pushing hard on the first lap, knowing later laps would be tougher, so I did not get passed by her, but when I grabbed beer 2, I realized that it had been 4F right behind me. 

I was most intimidated by 2F.  She just ran a full in Wisconsin and she was trying "just to get back in the 3:20s" after doing lots of easy running.  That race was about 2-3 weeks ago.  Her marathon PR is not in the 3:20s.  It's in the 3:10s.  Yikes.  Uh, suffice it to say mine is not.  And as I've made very clear, I'm not anywhere close to PR shape right now.  Oh, and did I mention she loves beer? 

So it was a scary surprise for me to have 4F on my heels since I'd totally counted her out based on her past performances.  And also kind of scary, I didn't even know where 2F was, though I knew she was not in front of me.

I'd been trying to get in and stay in my racing head all day.  Now that I have all the extra free time in my life that comes from not doing a 30 day yoga challenge, meaning I have 2 extra hours every single day, I've had more time to read blogs when I'm eating lunch at my desk.

I had texted my husband at lunch on Thursday that I had two mantras for that night:
  • Hold nothing back.  Taken from Christina's post-Boston recap she posted that day.  This was the quote that resonated with me:  Every other race or marathon I run, this is the point where it hurts so bad that I’ll come up with any reason to slow to a more comfortable pace (a walk seems preferable). My reason, usually is, “Oh there’s no reason to kill yourself; it isn’t Boston or anything.” But today, I did not have that one.  “It is Boston,” I tell myself. “Hold nothing back.”

  • I can do hard things.  Taken from Janae.  I think she started using it when she first separated from her husband, but it's worked well for her in races. 

So I just took the beer before me.  I saw 2M expel liquid from his mouth.  He claimed it was not vomit, but foam that spewed out during a belch.  I didn't get involved in the controversy (I think one of the timekeepers was discussing whether a penalty lap was required).  I just drank the beer before me, not easily, but I emptied it, I held the empty can over my head, I threw it toward the trash can (and totally missed), and took off.  I was "blessed" (that's for you Michael) to have two guys also start lap 2 near me.  I hung with them for about 200 meters, and at that point, I was falling behind a bit, but I could see the drinking station, so I shifted my attention there to attempt to calculate my lead.  And I saw 2F starting her run.  If I'd had another beer in me, that might have been the cue for a total breakdown.  2F is fast.  She's a bad@ss.  She's a drinker.  She registers for Boston on the first day.  She hasn't gained 5 pounds in the last 6 months.  She makes it look so easy.  She's younger.  This can't hurt her as much as it hurts me.  Her mile time is probably at least a minute faster than mine.  I could have so easily started thinking all that and simply quit. 

But instead, Amy's comment from my first beer mile race recap came back to me:  "yeah, it's always that 3rd beer that separates the drinkers/chuggers from the non drinkers."  So I told myself I had a 200 meter lead but I was coming in to the part where my lead was sure to grow decisively. 

I tried to keep that and my mantras in my head.  I got into the drinking zone for beer 3 and yes, it was smoother than beer 2.  I had to stop chugging a few times to catch my breath, but 2F was still out there running.  And then I noticed 4F set out on a run -- a full lap behind me now!  Score! 

I finished beer 3 and went out strong.  By 200 meters, 4F was in my sights -- and even better, I could see 2F was still on beer 3.  And then I couldn't tell you what happened.

It was a crazy 200 meters. 

The mantras were going full force in my head.  A guy was coming behind me, and I used that as more of a reason to push.  It was all the magic I needed. 

I passed 4F and didn't get passed by 3M, the guy who it turned out was behind me, right on my heels at one point. It turned out to be a solid lap that was almost even with my split from lap 1.  Insanity! 

But oddly enough, in that magical 200 meters, I also didn't get passed by 1M.  I remembered very clearly from my last beer mile that I'd been passed by the lead male about 300 meters into my third lap (when he was finishing his final lap). 

I got into the drinking zone, opened beer 4, got the first solid third of it down, and realized 1M was just standing there.  Yeah, he was done.  6 minutes flat.  A new PR for him.  He must have passed me in a drinking zone without my realizing it. 

Then the other realization hit -- 2F was heading out for her lap 3.  Indeed, that beer three had been decisive, Amy was right, it separated me from the others. 

I was untouchable.  Well, untouchable unless there was vomit.  At this point, I realized "hold nothing back" didn't sound quite as good when I was trying to focus my mind on the idea of not vomitting.  Beer 4 was a bit of a blur.  Splits were being called to runners entering the drinking zone, but I was having trouble with the math.  And then it was done.  I was going bottoms up, confirming it was empty before I held the can above me head and tipped it.  Pitched it toward the trash and set out for lap 4.  I was again solo.  The guys who had started beer 4 just before me were still drinking.  2F was on the track ahead of me but out of reach.  But it didn't matter to me.  I just had to keep it all down. 

Resounding victory.  I finished the lap, crossed the finish line, took some celebratory photos, and took a seat on the bleachers to watch the rest of the race play out.  4F had a big crash and burn.  She really one had one good beer and one good lap in her.  2F was more than 2 minutes behind me.  4F was in disbelief at my time.  She'd seen me hold the empty over my head and I put her hand on the top of my head to prove it was dry, not even foamy.  She was amazed...

I am indeed untouchable.  Beer mile 3 peat.  Done. 

We all went back to the organizer's house again for snacks and more beers.  My husband came to meet me there since I knew I wouldn't be able to drive home and had planned well enough to get a ride to the race.  We hung out until about 11 and headed home.  Needless to say, there was no boot camp for me on Friday morning.  The alarm went off at 5:00 and I got up.  It lasted about 3 minutes, and I went back to bed.  The thought actually crossed my mind that I could possibly get a DWI on my way to boot camp.  I didn't do a BAL calculator, but 4 beers in quick succession 8-9 hours ago, and then 1.5 beers more finished about 6 hours ago, it just seemed like a risk not worth taking.  And I was just soooo tired.  I went back to bed with the victory smile on my face...

There will undoubtedly now be even more pressure when I compete again in December, but hopefully by then I'll be back to close to peak shape and maybe I can go for a PR. I don't have the exact numbers handy, but I think last week was about 10-20 seconds off my original PR from May 2013. I should be able to do that with laser-like focus and spot-on hard-core training.

And hopefully this works, a shot of the WSJ story about the sub-5 world record. 


  1. This is pure win. Congrats on defending your title and the most enjoyable race recap to read.

    Any time you can say "separates the drinkers/chuggers from the non drinkers" in the post-college world with a straight face, you know you're doing something right. I must find a local version of this race, too much fun.

  2. OMG!!!!! So pumped! Congrats! I sadly, lost my beer mile crown last november. But, I'm proud that you're still kicking ass. I loved the 1F bib number! I hope you saved that.

    Since you are an elite now, I might have to fly you in to compete against the girls (yes, plural!) that beat me. They were legit. The winner set the TN state female record.

    Anyway, congrats again!!!

  3. haha - thanks for the well-placed shout-out, cracked me up!

    You are a total badass - I am definitely not a drinker, couldn't imagine even trying that!

  4. You are a rock star!! Congratulations. I was on the edge of my seat! I love how diverse your running goals are; keeps it fun.

  5. congrats on your 3-peat! i wish Austin had a beer mile, i'd love to do one, just to see what it's like