Confession: I ran a beer mile on a Monday night.
I have always been fascinated by ridiculous and seemingly crazy challenges. Spontaneous last-minute planning isn’t off limits either. I have no problem saying “yes” to committing to participating in, say, a last minute canoe trip, a weekend at a campground for an ultimate frisbee tournament, or even something as simple as registering for my first triathlon. I enjoy the training for these different adventures. The moment right before execution is the scary part.
On a recent Monday evening, I was in that scary moment as a stood beside Toronto’s RunTOBeer co-founder, Dan Grant, with a bottle of Amsterdam Blond in one hand and a bottle opener in another about to chug four beers and run 4 x 400m.
The beer mile has been in the news a lot recently with the new record set by Canadian runner Corey Bellemore (4:34), but it’s been on my radar for a while. I’ve always been really good at chugging beer. In university, I became the go-to team mate to join my friends in the ever-popular “boat race.” I was quick and as time went by, I got faster. Throughout my twenties (OK, I only turned 30 a few weeks ago), it became a fun party trick to challenge people to a beer chugging contest. I think I’ve only been beaten once.
When I started running in 2013, it was purely to stay in shape. In the past three years, I’ve gotten faster and running is now a big part of my life. When I first heard about the beer mile, I knew it was only a matter of time before I tried it myself. I didn’t put my skills to the test until this past March. The month previous, I had eagerly told everyone how I was finally going to run a beer mile. “I’m a good runner, and a better chugger. What could go wrong?” Well… the weather. On March 2, I ran with the RunTOBeer crew around a track which we had attempted to shovel by hand as the wind whipped making us feel its -20 degree chill. Despite all this, I somehow managed to run the fastest female time in 10:30. We were all frozen to the core, but it was hilarious. I couldn’t wait to try one in bearable weather.
In July, I was desperate to try another beer mile– this time, in the summer. I managed to convince some very supportive (albeit dubious) friends to run their first beer mile so we took to a local track in cottage country. I managed to run it in 8:05 to better my time by nearly two and a half minutes.
So, cut to this recent summer evening: I had a plan to interview Dan Grant and Tej Sandhu, the co-founders of RunTOBeer, for the podcast that I’m launching this September. Grant had suggested we run a beer mile afterwards. I agreed without hesitation. I shared the news with my co-workers who eyed me with mild worry as I left the office to go pick up my beer. After our interview, Dan reappeared quite quickly in his RunTOBeer singlet with a six-pack in hand. The time was upon us and I was slightly hesitant. “Maybe I’ll just do a half beer mile,” I weakly attempted. In reality, I knew I was committed.
We arrived at the track and got set up surprisingly quickly. Before I knew it, I was holding my first beer, opener in my other hand, and Tej was shouting “GO!” As I downed my first of four beers, I couldn’t help but laughing at myself: What was I thinking on a Monday?
While the second lap felt brutal, the third and fourth were bearable and despite the day’s high of 33 degrees, the sun was setting and there was a nice breeze. I coasted across the finish line around 8:30. Not my best time, but certainly a memorable experience. I can’t wait to run another one.