My knee is an alcoholic

In Portland, the beer at mile 23 really perked me up, prompting Nitmos to ask, “Has anyone even thought to analyze if beer is good during a race? The assumption is no. But maybe that’s a false assumption…” Recently, Frayed Laces also did a post about how she was getting Tapped Out for her next marathon, meaning no more drinking. And all of a sudden, a lightbulb went on in my head.

I still drink, but I don’t go on the crazy binges I used to in college, and even having a drink has become a special occasion rather than a regular occurrence. This all started around August, when I really committed to being healthy… and when my knee started hating me. Coincidence? I think not.

Before this, I prided myself on the ability to get flat-on-the-floor (in the words of Carrie Underwood) and then run a race soon after. One of my best times in the 5M distance came after drunkenly signing up for the race at 2 AM the night before and still being slightly tipsy while running. Heck, on New Year’s, I ran a 5 mile race while taking shots of vodka at each mile marker. So maybe the secret to a good time and no knee pain is drinking?

I figure I have nothing to lose by trying, so tonight, as part of my “two nights before the marathon prep”, I’m cooking orange broccoli chicken stirfry with sesame ginger noodles for me and Boyfriend… and downing a nicely paired bottle of Fetzer Gewurztraminer. Wine has carbs too!

Oh, and as for my contribution to Runners’ Lounge Take It And Run Thursday post: this week asks, what kind of signs would you love to see while running? My answers, in descending order of preference:
1. Electric Gatorade Aid Station
2. Free mimosas (why oh why didn’t the mimosa drinkers at Portland offer me any?)
3. Race sponsored by Corona – free beer at the finish!

On a non-alcoholic note, my favorite signs seen at races are the classic “Your feet hurt because you are kicking so much ass!” and all the inspirational signs on the Towpath of the Akron Marathon. I don’t remember what they said, but they were all short, thought-provoking stuff reminding you that this was your day and you were succeeding at a great goal.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t include a picture of the signs my mom and friend Kristen made for me at my first marathon, back in May. This sign ROCKS!

And finally, if there is one thing that I wish could be a sign, it’s this post by Lana about triathlons. It’s way too long to fit on a sign or a t-shirt (and I’m not even going to quote parts of it here, because the whole thing is so good – just go to her site and read it), but I sent it to a lot of my friends and family yesterday to say, “Here. This is it. This is why I run marathons.”

For me, it’s the feeling of pushing the limits, of taking something that very few people can do and knowing that YOU can do it. You’re doing it right now and you’re going to finish. You’re not average anymore; you’re amazing and special, and people are cheering and calling you their hero.

Before I started doing marathons, my life was fine but mundane. I’d go home and flop on the couch to watch reality TV, cook, read, and maybe go to the gym. I work at a demanding job with hundreds of bright, motivated people who are so smart that even though I know I am smart, I feel pretty mediocre and dumb in comparison. I’m doing a perfectly adequate job, but I don’t stand out that much, and I’m certainly not extraordinary. Despite the long hours and tight deadlines, I know that I can get my work done – there’s no question of that, so in some ways it’s not a challenge.

But marathoning… that is something I never in a million years thought I would be able to do. It’s something that no one who knew me even just a year ago would ever have thought I could do. And then I run a race, and while I’m not first or second or anywhere even close to being the “winner”, I’m still accomplishing something amazing and impressive, and I am a winner, with a medal to prove it. Marathoning is my ticket to being extraordinary, and I’m going to ride the marathon train as far as it will take me.


  1. oooh, good study! I may have to join you for just a regular average workout, as my mileage isn’t quite up to marathon status yet. :)

    That last quote was beautiful! So glad you shared!

  2. ohhh i love your last couple paragraphs… those are so true and exactly why marathoning is so awesome!!

    did you see the people at SFM in golden gate park with the devil horns and the beer?? they were yelling beer is better than gu! :)

  3. “Marathoning is my ticket to being extraordinary, and I’m going to ride the marathon train as far as it will take me. “

    I love that line. You go Laura!

  4. I’m with you on the alcohol thing. The only time my ankle doesn’t hurt when I walk is if I’ve been drinking:-)

  5. I am becoming less and less convinced that not drinking helps. Just as long as I don’t go on a pre-race bender. Drink that wine. Enjoy.

  6. I love how this post ended…my thoughts exactly.

    Enjoy your dinner and wine tonight!

    (And wow, what a great new year’s 5-miler! Shots at every mile? Sign me up!)

  7. I second that notion wholeheartedly.

    Did you see the older lady with the “you people are nuts” sign? I’ve seen that at races before so it’s not really unique or anything but I thought it was pretty cute.

    Or the “Welcome to the WALL street” sign was pretty brutal too. Oye!

    Great post!

  8. I remember reading it somewhere that drinking in moderation does not affect running. Truthfully, I had quite a bit to drink a couple nights before my half marathon last month and made a PR. Maybe it does help to loosen me up for the race.
    I love the last paragraph. I drink to that !!!

  9. I only really like beer after a race-when it’s ICE COLD & FREE!! yum…mimosas would be good too ;)

  10. my knee is probably an alcoholic, too ;)

    Great post! A nice analysis.

  11. That sign cracked me up, and I’m totally feeling the whole drinking thing.. Amazing that you can drink and run, uhh sign me up for your plan! :)

  12. I’m willing to be part of that study too.

    And also, you rock.

  13. I’ve thought about the beer thing too, & except for the carbonation, seems like a perfect endurance race drink. It has long chain carbs for sustained energy, the alcohol is a simple sugar for quick energy… I know, because of the alcohol it dehydrates rather than hydrates. But if drank at the right time? Hmmm… On a similar note, during a marathon in Moscow, the “aid” I received in a cup from a homemade aid station turned out not to be water, but vodka! Other than the surprise, it wasn’t too bad.

  14. Congratulations on another marathon Laura. Hartford sounds interesting, can’t wait to read about it – and no cookies until you are done!

  15. Very interesting…I think alcohol probably does help in very short races…haha…oh and I tagged you! Check my blog for details…

  16. I loved that whole post. Summed everything up for me – drinking and all :) Sometimes I feel like the ‘outcast’ but then something reminds me why I enjoy running and doing triathlons so much. And that brings me back to a good place!!

  17. you know what, laura? you’re my hero.

  18. Thank you for putting this in perspective! I will keep your words in mind while I’m struggling through the NYC marathon!

  19. Beer = carbs
    Margaritas = sodium.

    I’ve had both during races!

    actually, I tend to like to go out and have several beers two nights before a marathon. You get the carbs (they say two nights before is the most important) and you’re extra vigilant the next day about rehydrating.

  20. The 1/2 I’m doing in 2 weeks in Healdsburg CA (which is near two different wine regions in Nor Cal) is offering wine tasting at mile 6 =).

    I’m hoping to PR at this 1/2 so probably no wine for me.

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