Several of you told me that I was “going to die” if I drank 13 beers while running the San Francisco Half Marathon. I did not die.
I puked three times, blacked out for miles 11 and 12, and needed five hours to finish. This is my story.
This blog declared its intentions to drink 13 beers over the 13.1-mile SF Half Marathon. Realize that it is not possible to run a half marathon while carrying a 12-pack of beer. Sure, you could try… but the beer would get shaken up and explode upon opening each can. And then no one gets to drink any.
Perhaps even more problematic are the goddamned do-gooders and paramedics onhand in case of medical emergencies. They will take your swerving, stumbling, and vomiting as signs of delirium or fatigue, and then get all interventionny and try to take away your beer. That can not happen.
So I bought three beers at a time, and poured each 12-ounce bottle or can into a 36-ounce water jug. Holding the jug while I run, I can keep that fucker pretty steady — far more so than water bottles strapped on to my belt. (see pic above)
I studied the course map in detail to plot each beer stop, which is critical because miles 5-10 are on the Golden Gate Bridge and its on-ramps. Christ fucking knows there’s no liquor stores on that bridge.
And to avoid the do-gooders, I made like Mayor Newsom and blew off registering. Then I started the race at 1pm, instead of the proper 6am start time. That way I wasn’t trouble on the race course, I was just some random afternoon jogger with an open container. I’m not aware they even prosecute for that in this town.
I arrive at the start line at 1pm, and figure I need to pound that first whole beer during some warmup yoga stretches. I can only carry the equivalent of three beers at once, and face a 5-mile liquor store gap later. Logistically speaking, I need to drink more than five beers over the first five miles, because during miles 5-10 I will only be able to carry the equivalent of three beers.
So after the first can of beer (Tecate, 4.55% Alcohol content) I’m just refilling the jug again and again, noting that 12 fluid ounces counts as one beer. I will need to drink 156 fluid ounces over this race to hit my goal.
I am quickly gifted some other runner’s used bib. The name printed on it is “Sarah”. This will fool law enforcement if there’s any trouble.
I begin the half marathon at 1:10pm. Already I have to pee at 1:12pm.
The first four miles are fantastic and my pace is quite good. Beer is great for running, the exercise combined with alcohol gives you a crazy fun euphoria. You tend to really blast the iPod the drunker you get, or at least I do. You’re sweating a lot of the alcohol out, so you’re not getting too weighed down by it. Yet.
Beers 2-4 are Hoegaardens (5% alcohol), and we’re flyin’. At the Fisherman’s Wharf 7-11, I deduce that a standard 40-ounce beer will fill my jug (plus provide me a big bonus sip!). So that Miller
High LifeGenuine Draft (4.2% alcohol) will get me through Fort Mason and the Marina.
And is that Pope Ratzinger up there on the Wax Museum billboard? Next to Eminem? Really? If I’m Carlos Santana, my attorney is serving their ass a cease and desist for putting me next to those two.
There is no fatigue or suckiness yet, and being a guy I can pee just about anywhere at Crissy Field. I’m way ahead on my beer pace and running great. I refill the jug with Modelo Especial (6% alcohol) at a liquor store near Palace of Fine Arts, but I waste a half hour trying to find said liquor store. Not many of them there. “Fine Arts” indeed.
The trouble begins on the Golden Gate Bridge on-ramp, because I am in a place where pedestrians aren’t supposed to be. These areas were closed to traffic this morning during the real marathon, but now this highway is properly crowded with speeding cars. I have to occasionally do some Frogger kind of shit to make sure I stay step-for-step on the exact half marathon course.
Running on the bridge sucks. I am now on Beer 9, and it’s beginning to taste quite gross. It is insanely cold and windy up there on a suspension bridge over the ocean. I’m just in a tank top here, and even the running is not warming me up. If you’re a pedestrian walking the bridge, you’re dressed for this. If you’re running a marahon, you’re not. The people who did this at 6am must have been hating life.
And you just can not meet any girls up on that bridge. Especially when you are wheezing and spitting upchuck and they all have their boyfriends with them.
The walking breaks are becoming way too common. The beer is definitely affecting my energy level in a negative way now. But yes, it is very very beautiful up there.
You know how they say alcohol affects your judgment? After the bridge, I decide to run across eight lines of highway traffic because the view on the other side looks nicer. I am fortunately not flattened by oncoming traffic. Nor am I nailed by any authorities for being on foot running across a highway obviously carrying an open beer. Turns out the view is the same on the other side.
Back on land again, the Presidio component has lots of hills. I’m too much much of a wreck at this moment to run if there’s any uphill grade. So unacceptably high amounts of walking are happening here. The view is incredible and all, but most cities’ footraces don’t occur partially on a mountain. Plus I am on my tenth beer. The beer consumption is slowing way down, and I really have to force myself to swallow it.
I have my first dry-heave on this beautiful windy mountain road in The Presidio, but cannot get myself to vom. I wish I could, I feel awful.
But I am about two miles from being done! I don’t want more beer and I am nauseous. But as you can see in the photo to the left, beer number eleven is about to be polished off. I am only 24 fluid ounces away from my 13-beer goal. In the Richmond, I nab the very 24-ounce Tecate which is depicted in the photo below. But then I experience a crazy loss of direction snafu that costs me an additional 45 minutes.
My intuition tells me that Golden Gate Park is to the East of 27th Avenue, and I stubbornly trust this intuition. I’ve lived here 14 years and I should know that it is completely wrong, but I convince myself to head in the incorrect direction for quite some time. I just have this inexplicable rock-solid feeling that the streets I’ve known for years go the opposite directions than they actually do, and all the maps are wrong, because I’m sure the park is right over there. It is at this point that I black out.
God fucking knows how I end up at Golden Gate Park, but I eventually do. I remember none of this. I remember not a thing until I see the sign for Stow Lake. Holy shit, I’m finished! I somehow snap into immediate coherence, chugalug the last disgusting sip of beer, and go to see if someone will take my picture.
Two cute Asian girls comply. At first, they think I’m hilarious and we’re chatting it up. But as you can see by clicking on that photo, my mouth suddenly fills with about a gallon of vomit while they are taking my finish line picture.
They are repulsed at me. They don’t even ask if I’m okay, the one puts down my camera and they both scram. I pick up my camera, and then immediately puke hard again two more times in a row. I tried to photograph myself vomiting, ’cause I know some of you love that kind of stuff. But that’s not really a solid vomiting picture.
My final time is five hours, seven minutes. Probably an hour of that was confused wandering, but time is time and that’s my time. It’s funny how I un-blacked out right at the finish line, and all three vomits also came there at the finish line. You gotta wonder how much of blacking out and vomiting is psychological.
But beer is a very good thing for a run of six miles or less. After those six miles, it slows you down too much and it begins to taste completely awful.
You will not “die” if you drink a beer-per-mile while running a half marathon. But unless you’re cool with swallowing your finger, there will be times when you wish you were dead.
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