This weekend I “ran” my 2nd ever marathon. I say “ran” because it was actually four 6.5 mile loops of snowshoeing up a 1,900 foot mountain (7600ft of climbing). Eight hours later we finished the race stumbling across the finish line but victorious nonetheless. I’ve done this race (although the half marathon version) for the past two years with some friends from Tufts. It’s usually an epic weekend of partying before (for some people during) and after the race. We’d bring six-packs of local Vermont beer and celebrate around the fire watching the racers who haven’t finished yet. There are five races at the same time, the 6.5 miler (1 loop), the 13 miler (2 loops), the 26 miler (4 loops), the 100 miler (16 loops), and the winter death race (inexplicable torment, see here for details www.youmaydie.com). It’s the only time in my life I’ve heard someone say to me, “Oh, you’re ONLY doing the marathon?” I’d respond, “Yes, I’m ONLY doing the marathon.” Unbelievable.
Watching the racers and toasting to victory is among one of the only things you look forward to during the unavoidable pain found during the last loop of the run, “Just keep your feet moving and in less than 2 hours you’ll be drinking beer by the fire with your friends.” We ran completely out of energy despite shoveling down food every hour at the checkpoints (two pb&J sandwiches, 3 cliff bars, 2 gu shots, lot’s of cookies, lots of salty chips, and 3 liters of water). Despite having no gas left in the tank it was somehow still possible to put one foot in front of the other. It was weird to think that my celebratory beer would be more like a celebratory Gatorade and a dry pair of socks. It’s fun to sit around the fire drinking beer and sharing stories with the race’s two founders. They’ve both done just about every adventure race in the world including countless ultramarathons and even a few triple ironmans (yes that’s right, 7.2 mile swim, 336 mile bike, and a 78.6 mile run). These guys are absolutely legendary so to drink beer with them is an honor and a privilege. It’s not that often that you meet such total maniacs so we keep coming back year after year.
There were eight of us who ran the race; five did the half marathon (one of them winning the race) and the other three of us did the full marathon. The big difference this year was that none of us were hungover, a first for 7/8 of us. We did double the distance of our friends so it was safe to say that they had about four hours of drinking beer and telling before we finished the race. I may have missed having a celebratory beer a little bit, but honestly I was more concerned with putting on dry clothes, eating food, and falling asleep. It was about to get dark so we left fairly quickly after we finished.
We stayed at our friend’s house on a lake in NH about an hour away from the race. We spent most of the evening eating pizza and drinking beer in the hot tub with a view of the snow-covered lake, really an ideal scenario. Part of me felt weird about not drinking. It wasn’t because everyone else was doing it (it was really just a casual scenario) but because I was used to the celebratory beer. There’s some primal urge to have an ale after performing a feat of strength. Having a hot tub, a frozen lake, and great friends only made it more appropriate for a crisp, local, craft brew. Honestly though it was fine and I didn’t feel like I was missing out in the least bit. We didn’t have much of a party because we were all exhausted from the race. Had there been more people or drinking games I may have felt out of place but because of the heavy exertion from the day, most of us crashed by 10:30pm, I found a place to crash on the rug by the fireplace.
It felt great to run a race not hung-over and I didn’t even feel like I missed out on the celebratory beer. Would it have tasted like sweet, sweet, victory? Yes. But it was fine not having one. All in all, sober weekend #1 was a great success. Future sober weekends will have a lot to live up to.