I just ran part of a mile.
It was epic. It was horrible. It was a literal pub crawl.
I realize that running part of a mile isn’t overly impressive but, for me, it’s a major accomplishment. I’m out of shape, could stand to lose more weight than I care to admit and, in general, lazy. So what prompted me to try to run a mile today?
I’ve never been much of a runner but there was a time (one summer in high school) that I became obsessed with running a six-minute mile. In order to make the basketball team it was required that you run a six-minute mile and so I would go to my high school’s track in the morning and run. I may have accomplished the task once but I’ll never know for sure as I forgot to start my timer that day. I’d like to think that I succeeded that day but the truth is I never actually ran, before or after, a six-minute mile. This failure, ultimately, led me to stop running.
That’s what I do. I stop trying once I fail.
Life is easier that way.
So, some twenty years later, I tried to run again. I even trained a bit for this run though, admittedly, I focused more on one aspect of the race than the other.
A couple of months ago a friend of mine sent me a link to an event she thought I might be interested in: A Beer Mile. My mind focused on the beer and completely ignored the mile.
“That sounds awesome!” I responded. “I’m in!”
Then the reality sunk in as I read what the beer mile consisted of – running a mile in between beers.
I started to panic. I came up with a list of excuses to not go. I considered breaking my leg.
In the end I decided that I needed to do this. I should do this. This could be my way of redeeming myself for my high school failures. And so I started training. I bought running shoes. I thought about running. I considered getting up early in the morning to run. I put my running shoes on every now and then just to make sure that my feet hadn’t gotten to fat to fit in them.
I felt good about myself. I even ran two or three times. I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to run a whole mile, so I focused on the other aspect of this run – the beer.
The rules for the beer mile at Ecliptic Brewing Company, one of many impressive breweries here in Portland, OR, are to chug a beer (a beer brewed specifically for the race), run a mile and then chug a second beer – all within an 18 minute time-limit.
I’m not a fan of chugging beer – I like to savor it; taste it; enjoy it – yet I had no choice in the matter this time. And so I practiced. It was arduous. It was painful. It was…enjoyable. Much more so than running! So as my focus shifted from running to chugging I started feeling better about the run.
“I can do this!” I thought to myself.
I have no problem lying to myself.
As I stood at the starting line and was handed my first beer, I couldn’t help but be thankful for the fact that I had written out my Will the night before.
This is going to be bad.
I wanted to run, not the mile but away from this situation; a situation where I was certain to embarrass myself and my progeny for generations to come.
But I couldn’t.
I was ushered into the “chug zone” and proceeded to chug my beer. It was a light-crisp pale ale brewed for the race and went down easy.
The beginning of the run went down easy as well due to the fact that it was all downhill. I kept up with my friends and as we finished the downhill portion of the run and started back up the hill I felt an overwhelming sense of horror.
I ran approximately 10 steps uphill before I realized that I might actually die if I ran any further. Yet, I kept going.
The thought of another beer at the end of the run spurred me on.
The sight of my friends continuing to run kept me going.
The realization that the only other overweight and older than me guy was still running ahead of me made me try harder.
Alas, it wasn’t enough. I stopped running. I walked; my head held down in shame. I was in high school again and my friends, who had stopped running in order to make me feel better, had been dragged down with me.
As the muscles in my legs started to seize and my lungs began to collapse I did the only thing I could do – I asked my friends to carry me. The fact that I weighed more than all of them combined led them to, understandably, deny my request, which meant that I had to crawl the rest of the way.
By the time I crossed the finish line, approximately 16 hours later, I was lying flat on my stomach and propelling myself with my arms just like my youngest son did when he was trying to figure out how to crawl.
I was now an infant.
Regardless of how I finished the race the second beer went down easily and I was impressed that Ecliptic Brewing Company was considerate enough to put it in a sippy cup for me.
As I write this post several hours later I can’t help but feel a sense of pride for accomplishing a goal that I set out to achieve. I’m glad that I did it. I’m glad that my friends continued to talk to me despite the fact that I continued to belly crawl everywhere the rest of the afternoon. I’m glad that I had a booster seat in my mini-van which enabled me to drive home. I’m glad that I was so dehydrated that I didn’t have to use the restroom; changing my diaper would have been awkward – for somebody.