Taking On the Beer Mile

Last night, I made my first attempt at a Beer Mile, and it was a truly humbling experience.

I learned a few things, including:

  • That I can no longer drink like I could in college
  • I shouldn’t have chosen a beer that I already hate
  • That beer is like Goldilocks’s porridge – it can be too cold and it can be too warm, and you’ve got to make sure it is just right

First, for the uninitiated, the Beer Mile is an event where you drink one 12-oz beer, run a lap on the track, drink another beer, run another lap, drink another beer, run another lap, drink another beer, run another lap, so you have consumed four beers and run a full mile. The catch? The beers have to be at least 5% alcohol by volume and if you vomit, you have to run a penalty lap.

Anyway, leading up to the race, the workday was torture and went by so slowly. I was at a loss. What do you eat before? How much should you drink? etc. The race wasn’t until 9 p.m., so I had to balance hunger with the desire not to fill up my stomach too much.

Race time rolls around and we had enough ladies for a ladies heat, so we all line up at the perfectly measured out curved line to mark a true mile versus 1600 meters. The gun goes off and we crack our first beers.

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My first thought was, “Man, I HATE Heineken.” I thought I was being clever, choosing a beer to race with that I already despised, thinking that if things went terribly, at least I wouldn’t develop a learned aversion of something I liked. As it turns out, this was a terrible idea.

Still, the first beer goes down relatively easy (for me) – 0:31 (yes, I used my Garmin to lap split both my running and drinking) – and I’m off. The first lap was easy enough. I focused on trying to burp and trying to close some of the distance between me and the other girls. 1:32.

By the second beer, I’m really regretting the room temperature nature of my beer. It is too warm. As soon as I crack it, it’s super foamy. I’m feeling like my esophagus is full, but I get the beer down in 1:21. Not great, but not terrible.

In the second lap, there is a cop driving slowly on the other side of the fence around the track, and I get a bit paranoid. Public drinking is illegal in New York, after all. I console myself with the fact that you can’t really see what is going on on the other side of the track. 1:37.

By the third beer, I REALLY hate Heineken. I’m pretty confident that warm Heineken is what they serve you in the third circle of hell. I’m really struggling here and the first three ladies are in the transition zone also…drinking their fourth beers. That was pretty demoralizing. 2:08.

Getting lapped!
Getting lapped!

Running is a relief. Anything not to be drinking Heineken! I slow in the final 100 meters because that last Heineken is waiting for me. No!!! At this point, there is only me and two other girls still in this race. One DNF’d and the rest were basking in their sweet victory. (Seriously though, the top four all finished in <8:20ish, which means they all notched top 50 female beer mile records! Talk about a competitive field). 1:40

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I swear, the fourth beer was the beer that would never end. It just went on and on, my friend. I was the only one drinking, with you know, like 100 or so people watching just me. A totally normal Thursday night… I was feeling pretty self-conscious at this point, I was holding up the men’s heat all because I can’t drink beer like I used to. 3:08.

“Don’t puke, don’t puke, don’t puke.” That is all I was thinking that final lap. I was definitely starting to feel buzzed and I just needed to be done. If I had to run a penalty lap, it would destroy me. But I made it! I didn’t puke! 1:50, and sweet, sweet victory. Total time: 13:50 and my first last place race finish for a night full big firsts.

I’m proud of myself for finishing, but disappointed with my time and last place finish, so I will have to have my revenge on this race with a sub-10 goal. Until then, I need to work on my drinking and figure out a way to expand my stomach the day before the race. I’m thinking eating an entire bag of popcorn might do the trick?

Have you ever run a beer mile? What are your tricks?

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