Sad news for me this past week. After resounding success for years, after winning the women's title and then defending it THREE times, I have lost my dominance at the local beer mile. Second place female last week. The 1F bib is gone. Out of my reach.
Sadder still? It was with a PR. But just not enough.
It's not surprising. I'm seriously out of running shape. I don't think I could run a 7 minute mile to save my life -- and I haven't even tried. It just sounds unattainable, so instead, I get out there and poke along. It's okay, I'm dealing with it. But when it comes to the beer mile, at this point, it's finally caught up to me. And given how the beer mile works, the bursts of speed are critical. You need to run hard for a short time, and then you get a breather. Even if you can't run an X minute mile straight, if you can run shorter intervals at that pace (or faster), it works in the beer mile. Can I go faster than a 7 minute mile pace if I only have to do a quarter mile and then get to breathe? Um, based on last week, I guess not though I don't have my splits broken out by running and drinking.
I've mentioned before that at least a few of the women who run the beer mile are much faster than me. One of them just pulled the trigger and is committed to running St. George in October. We have trained together for several years, but in the last year or so, while we start runs together, we never finish together. She has pulled ahead by leaps and bounds. She ran Boston this year about 5 minutes faster than my dream pace (and that was 15 minutes faster than my PR pace). Boston. This year. When it was rainy and got windy. When I heard last week that she was in for St. George (one of my favorite marathons), I asked her about her goal time. A very personal question, but we've run together long enough that it felt okay to ask. She's admitted she's going to target 3:15, which she'd tried to do a few years ago and narrowly missed (a goal I'd never undertake). That boils down to a low 7:20s MP. Honestly, I don't think I could do that for a 5k right now. We aren't in the same league. It was pure fluke (and chugging skill) that allowed me to beat her as often as I did in the beer mile in the past.
Before the race, I told her this was the year she was going to beat me. She replied, "you always say that." And in the back of my mind, I might have agreed. I might have been overly confident. I'd beaten her by at least 30 seconds all 4 times I've competed in this race, frequently by more than a minute. Little did I know, she'd switched to Fat Tire beer, which she apparently found to be more "chuggable."
I was first female to start running, but she passed me on the track. That's happened before on the first lap. But this time it was different. She passed me on the track every single lap. One of the three later chugs we started together (she didn't so much pass me on the run as caught me), but on the other two, she started chugging before me. And I finished chugging before her every single time. I can still beat her on the chugs. But no longer enough by enough time to offset the run pace differential. After each solid strong chug, I got out there running, and she'd pass me.
So disappointing, but it was inevitable. I cheered for her as she passed me on the last lap with about 150 meters to go. She pulled ahead and out of sight. I lost motivation and eased up a bit, reminding myself that if I ended up hurling and had to do a penalty lap, I'd have my worst time yet. Since the title was out the window, relax and hold it together.
After I finished, I told her she might have to fight me for the title in December, I might try to reclaim the title. But maybe it's time to gracefully step back.
Just writing that made me laugh. Nothing graceful about the beer mile. Lots of belching.
But maybe in December, when I have to wear the 2F bib for the first time, I'll be able to get back the 1F. I really should fight for it. Train, get serious, drop some weight, chug harder, chug faster, run faster, push, push, push.
And based on how the men's race unfolded, there might be one person who also fights hard in December. For the guys, the one who wins most frequently has been aiming for a sub-6 for a long time and he's getting closer. I looked back at my recap from my first beer mile, 2 years ago. He ran and won with a 6:15. Last week, it wasn't his race. He finished with a 6:07. So I could see him working hard to trim 8 more seconds in December.
I feel like I can relate to how Shalene felt in Boston last year now (overly dramatic much?). She trained to run a 2:22, which she thought should have been fast enough to win it. And she executed. She ran the 2:22. But a few women went faster than 2:22 so it wasn't enough. She executed perfectly and ended up seventh.
During the race last week, I felt like I was going pretty strong. I can't really look at my watch during the race because the idea of remembering splits is out of the question, it's hard enough to remember how many beers I have left. But it didn't seem slower than usual. The beers seemed to be going down pretty easily, and I felt like I was pushing myself.
In the end, I guess maybe just like Shalene, I had the wrong goal. Instead of targeting a time, I should have geared off the competition more. Easier said than done. I tried to run my own race, thinking in the end, the woman ahead of me would fall back.
I finally broke the elusive 8:40 barrier, getting into the 8:30s which seemed so unattainable before. I managed to get a PR by 10 seconds, but I ended up losing by 17 seconds. What now? I really do think I need to double down. Train hard for December. Hard!
Second beer mile: http://carinaruns.blogspot.com/2013/12/defending-my-title.html
Third beer mile: http://carinaruns.blogspot.com/2014/05/beer-mile-3-peat.html
Fourth beer mile: http://carinaruns.blogspot.com/2014/12/untouchable-beer-mile-iv.html
I can't even look back at those posts really. See that word "untouchable" in my last recap's title? So cocky, so confident. And now I wear the 2F.