Maggie Rusch

Professional Triathlete

That Time I Ran a (Sober) Beer Mile

I rarely run on Friday nights—or Saturday nights for that matter—and try my best not to. However, when one of the most unusual workouts I have ever seen popped up in my TrainingPeaks nightly email, I knew this workout couldn't be relegated to one of my normal week-day morning sleepy-eyed workouts. The workout called for intervals, alternating between time on the trainer and time on the track. Between each descending track repeat (1600m, 1200m, 800m, 400), I had a tough HR to hold for a set time on the trainer.

That's right, I set up and rode a trainer next to a track. My outlook shifted between "I am a total bad-ass; woo hoo look at me!" to "I'm certified strange—those people are totally staring at me."

So when people started filing into the track for some sort of event, I started getting worried. They were all lingering around, not starting to run—although a few were doing some jazzercise-style bounding and stretching (think Richard Simmons). I was getting really self conscious and completely confused until I started spotting the coolers. At first I thought it was some sort of picnic... or maybe a running club were they brought thought concessions...but only when a jeans-wearing bystander pulled out a tall-body, did I realize what was up.

I was about to witness a beer mile. No, scratch that—I was about to be (inadvertently) participating in one (albeit sober). Let's just say I started to question how close I parked my bike and trainer to the finish line.

They were still setting up when I ran my first interval, the 1600m. It was nice and easy—although I did push the pace for a 6:25 split. Not too shabby. I hopped back on my bike, clipped into my shoes and started to pedal again. As I worked through my interval, they started to fill up those red solo cups and line them up (6-per-person) alongside the edge of the track. You can't tell it from the photos but they are scattered everywhere.

There was some yelling, some chants that I couldn't quite make out and almost everyone was decked in some sort of crazy costume that must be conducive to beer-miling. The race director lined them up, shouted a bunch of crazy rules and sent the group running.

Almost immediately after, I got to work on my 1200—and ended up running with some of the top males for their second lap (to of course pass them as they chugged their beers between laps two and three) and then got to pass some of the stragglers.

The beery smell was strong enough to keep my from lingering too much around any of the running beer milers. I finished my 1200m in a respectable 4:44 and then hopped back on the bike for round three and a front row seat to the aftermath of the beer mile finish.

The race ended, the drinking continued and I pedaled until it was my 800m interval, during which I ran around someone who was apparently doing a beer 3-mile (I didn't dare ask how many) for a 3:02 800m split. At this point I was fading, but was also entertainment for the group of runners/drinkers on the sidelines, so of course I tried to keep the tempo up.

After the final bike interval (other then the cool down, of course), I had my 400m to finish strong with. At this point, the beer and vomit stench (not to mention the intervals before) were starting to get to me and I was really feeling it. While my 1:21 split isn't that brag-worthy, I must have looked pretty rough because I got a rousing standing ovation of "PUKE! PUKE! PUKE! PUKE!" from the finished beer milers as I finished my last painful lap.

Thankfully, I did not "puke" but did get a kick out of my rowdy and entertaining audience. I later found out that the group was the hashhouse harriers, which would explain some of the crazy chants and general shenanigans of the crowd.

From a more technical perspective, I hit my paces on the run and my HR on the bike. I didn't dog the bike portion, meaning that I went into each run interval without a ton to give. Overall, this may have to be my best and/or most entertaining workout of the season to date. Maybe even one of my wildest Friday nights... and that's saying a lot. :)

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