The problem with being a slow runner is that you’ve always got this nagging fear in the back of your brain asking, “Will there be any beer left by the time I cross the finish line and arrive at the after-party?”
That thought started to horn in about 3 miles into the 5 miles Super Sunday run this past weekend hosted by the RACE Cancer Foundation. The nonprofit foundation aims to fight cancer though action and prevention and raises funds and awareness for organizations “dedicated to kicking cancer’s ass” by putting on… you guessed it: Kick-ass events. The Super Sunday Run did not disappoint, as hundreds of runners showed up in Kendall Square just a day after a snow storm to run 5K or 5 miles and then party for a great cause.
I was there mostly for the beer, and also because although I’m slow, I do enjoy a nice 3- to 5-mile trot a couple times a week. It’s good cross training, after all, and means I can justify drinking beer afterwards. I went into the run knowing I’d be bringing up the rear; I always do. But this time, I had excellent company—my friend Kellie who was happy to lope along in everyone else’s dust with me, if only for the promise of a cold brew at the end of the run.
But the question remained and grew in urgency as our time on the race course extended: Would there be any left?
See, we’re swimmers. We specialize in long, cold distances and in all honesty, gravity is not our friend. We’re clumsy on land and would generally prefer to be submerged most of the time, but as a land-based species, we generally have to spend more time dry than wet. C’est la vie.
But we like to run, wanted to support a good cause, and knew our Mighty Squirrel friends would be there. The pull to hang out and drink tasty beer with them was strong, so we signed up for the race.
Heading into the run, we strategized a bit. Kellie and I are signed up and raring to go on a new run-swim event happening this summer, the Casco Bay Islands Swim Run race in Maine. This was going to be our first time running together, and the idea was to stay side-by-side and step-for-step the entire way, despite the fact that Kellie has almost 8 inches in height on me, and I’ve probably got 30 pounds in weight on her. A Mutt and Jeff situation if ever there was one. But, if we could manage to stay in sync the whole way and still be friends at the end, we figured we’d be taking a first, encouraging step toward being successful at the OTILLO race in August.
So we talked honestly about our speed: When I’m trying hard, I can muster about 11 minute miles. But a steady, humane, 5-mile per hour pace would allow me to breathe and maybe even chat a bit with this lovely human being (who also happens to love Mighty Squirrel Hopstonian beer!) beside me who’d agreed to get up fairly early on a Sunday in February and accompany me for 5 miles on land. So we agreed: 12-minute miles or as close as we could muster for the whole thing. Not faster, not slower.
And to my surprise, we did it! We finished in almost exactly 1 hour and had the most pleasant time trotting along chatting the whole way. The course was clear of snow and ice and the other runners were super nice (if a good bit faster!). And we were thrilled to find a robust party in full swing just waiting for us to join in at the end. We sampled brews from Mighty Squirrel, Lagunitas Brewing, Anti-Villain Ale Company, Independent Fermentations Brewing, Samuel Adams, Downeast Cider House, Clown Shoes Beer, Victory Brewing Company, and Brewmaster Jack, and had a blast making new friends at the party (Hi, Gail!). What a treat to be able to enjoy a sunny, warm Sunday in February—how often does that happen in Boston? And the best part for me was seeing that other people are just as excited about Mighty Squirrel as I am. (The video footage of the impromptu dance party and pushup competition for swag that sprang up next to the Mighty Squirrel tent says it all.) There’s a lot to be said for kindred spirits.
So although Kellie and I clearly weren’t “in it to win it,” I think it’s safe to say we won an even bigger prize than the $1,500 winner’s purse that day: Plenty of honest exercise in the fresh air, quality time with great friends, and as much really good beer as we could handle.
Now, that’s a moment mighty enough to celebrate!