After an injury hampered her marathon training under Coach Fleshman, Sarah thought it might be time to hang up her running shoes from official road racing. But some unexpected inspiration hit in Kona, and a new Mid-Packer dream was born…
Yup, that’s me, running my first ever beer mile in Kona last month, and my first race since the marathon in May. You might be wondering how I got here.
(If you’re wondering whether I was in Kona to race Ironman championships, I most definitely was NOT. Mid-pack, mean it.)
Quick pause for a Beer Mile briefer:
Drink a beer, run a lap (.25 mi). Repeat until you’ve consumed four beers and run a mile. Don’t puke. There are official rules and everything because this sh*t is serious.
After the first Mid-Packer project wrapped and I was excused from Fleshman’s training plan I cut way back on running - like way, WAY back - opting instead for casual recreating and informal exercise. My schedule was an anti-schedule, ready for whatever hike, bike, or happy hour might arise last minute, and I was pretty unbothered by my mediocre marathoner dreams swirling the toilet while I swirled my apres-[non-running-activity] pint glass.
Yet somehow there I was in my neglected running shoes, nervously tying up a ponytail while we drove out to the old airport where a group of athletes waited to tackle Kona’s second most grueling sporting event of the weekend.
This underground’ish, unofficial race has become a bit of a tradition on the island during World Champs. At some point during the week it was brought up and I was immediately and very aggressively obsessed with the idea of running it. I threw my anti-racing caution to the wind and my hat in the ring.
I HAD to run that race.
With a background in “ball sports” (D1 college softball, Junior Olympic volleyball) I have some athleticism and competitiveness in me, but far from any real running talent. You can tell within a few strides that I grew up running cross-court, not cross-country, and chasing down fly balls, not mile PRs.
I’m an average runner at best, but what I lack in stride length and mechanics I'm hoping to make up for in beer drinking talent.
Definitely more six pack-of-beers than six pack abs
After a quick rundown of the rules a chorus of GPS watch beeps and beers cracking signaled the start of the race. As is customary in the mid-pack I watched as the leaders pulled away almost immediately, leaving me and my first 12 ounces to bring up the rear, belching all the way.
Four beers and four quarter mile laps later I crossed the finish line, successfully avoiding getting lapped and also not finishing dead last. Also real proud to report none of those bushes got fertilized with my vomit.
Not too shabby of a debut!
Role reversal from the previous day, Jesse cheering ME across a finish line
Later on as everyone recounted their races like runners and triathletes love to do, I started wondering what my beer mile potential might be. The endorphin high and PBR* buzz, combined with not even coming close to puking had me all jacked up to try again. With a little training, how fast could I go? Ahh, there’s that competitive spirit… It’s never long after a finish line we start dreaming about the next.
“What would you say is the four hour marathon equivalent of the beer mile?”
Matt and Jesse counsel the idea for a minute before arbitrarily settling on ten minutes.
“What’d you run today?”
“I’m not sure..” (I was the only one not Strava’ing the race)
“You must’ve gone around 10 minutes, if I went 7:15…” (This segues into Jesse reminding everyone of his winning combined Ironman + Beer Mile time.)
“You could go 8 minutes with a little training...” Lieto, donning his Mid-Packer hat, takes a swig of his beer.
And before we finished that round the sophomore Mid-Packer project was born.
A cool twist this go-round is that I’ll have company in my training! Coach and co-conspirator, Matt Lieto, is a pro triathlete but even cooler than that a really impressive beer runner. He has the third (unofficial) fastest beer mile time in Oregon behind fellow Picky Team athlete (and Olympian, NBD), Nick Symmonds, plus he WON the Beer Relay during XC Nationals this year totally solo. Like it's cool guys you can sit this one out I got this on my own.
He’ll be writing our workouts (of the drinking and running variety) and training for his own sub 5:30 attempt, while I try to remember what an 8 minute mile might feel like, let alone with 48 ounces of fizzy beer sloshing in my stomach. We'll be checking in with semi-regular updates on training, how I'm handling the volume (mileage and ABV), and whether this turns into an addendum to our Workplace Policies Handbook, so stay tuned.
Until then, for the next month, it's Beer Mile peak season...
Extra acknowledgements to the rest of the Humpy's think tank crew Curtiss and Devon - the proposed "aid station" should definitely be part of race day and I don't care if this sounds like an inside joke written inside a yearbook.
It's that time of year for new merch, big discounts + flooded inboxes. This year we've upped our BFS ante with a head-to-head community service challenge, and you can help.
A veteran to events but a rookie to triathlon, Sarah gives a glimpse into Ironman Kona. From sampling at the tent to racing a dying battery for race day social media coverage...