A Drinking Town With a Running Problem

That's a lot of people!  - Photo via Harry Scull Jr. / News file photo

That’s a lot of people! – Photo via Harry Scull Jr. / News file photo

There was a time when uttering the word ‘run’  in my presence would be met with the same gasps and sideways glances that mistakenly whispering ‘bomb’ too loudly in an airport might draw.  The thought of just…running…made me shudder.  I had played soccer in my youth and into my 20s, but I was always the goalie – despite my vertically challenged stature – if for no other reason, to avoid running as much as possible.  If you had told even 30-year old Erik that he’d enjoy running at 33, he may have punched you and spit on the ground.

Here we are, however, in 2014 and I am planning out my next few races.  How did this happen?   I have to wonder if teenage me would be more embarrassed by my stagnant office job or my love for running.  If I had to explain myself to teenage me, who was lithe in comparison, I might start with “Y’know, in your 30s, things…change.  Your body doesn’t process things as it once did,” and teenage me would toss his hair back from his face, offer his best Cobain sneer and scoff.  “Sellout.” That was really my only comeback then.  I wasn’t quite clever yet.

Superheroes run too!!!! - Photo via flickr.com user JulioGonzalez1

Superheroes run too!!!! – Photo via flickr.com user JulioGonzalez1

Teenage me would turn and slink away, his torn Chuck Taylors keeping time down the locker-framed hallway.  I’d call for me, “Come back!  There’s more to the story!”  But I wouldn’t even acknowledge myself.

If I had the opportunity, I’d tell myself that it feels really good to complete a run.  I’d also mention that runners are the punks of the exercise world – looked down upon because they like to do something everyone else hates.  I’d then mention that so much of running revolves around beer.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Beer.

In case you missed it, Buffalo loves to drink.  The booming craft beer and craft spirit industry that is setting roots right in our backyard may be the final shred of evidence that pushes this statement straight from theory to actual fact, so it should be no surprise that if you tell a couple thousand Buffalonians that there is beer at some designated place, (say, a finish line) they will literally run to it.  And they will do it again and again and again – several times throughout the year, and they’ll probably come back and do it the following year.

You’ve probably heard about a few of the races – the upcoming Turkey Trot (http://www.ymcabuffaloniagara.org/turkeytrot.html) is a big one that usually gets a lot of attention from the news.  The Shamrock Run – 5 miles through the Old First Ward – is another that you’ll hear about.  The fact is, though, that there is a race just about every weekend from the melting of the snow until the snow falls again, and even then, there are a few races.  Each of these races ranges from $10-$35 or so, and often, the money is being raised for charity.  Your investment generally nets you a t-shirt, pizza and beer.  Really, if you think about it, you are going to spend $35 on any given Saturday on pizza and beer, anyway.  Why not add in a run and get a free t-shirt?

If you’re reading this and thinking, “I hate to run,” you owe it to yourself to give it a go.  I also routinely think that I hate to run, but then I do it and I realize that in the end, it’s kinda great.  Soaked in sweat, out of breath, and crawling up the stairs I usually feel like I accomplished something, even if it was only 25 minutes of something.

Even Olympians drink beer after running! - Photo by isifa/VLP/Martin Divisek/Getty Images

Even Olympians drink beer after running! – Photo by isifa/VLP/Martin Divisek/Getty Images

If you’re thinking, “I am not good at running,” I promise you, almost no one out there is really good at running.  My best advice here is to focus on you and let everyone else do their thing.  I’ve been at it for 2 years and cracked the top 50 in my age group maybe twice.  But, most times, I end up faster than the last time, and so, I’m doing well.  It’s fun to compare your time to others, but the best feeling, in my opinion, is when you beat yourself.  The worst case scenario is you rocked out to your favorite tunes for a half an hour, surrounded by a bunch of other people who are doing the same thing.  And even if you’re the very last person to cross the finish line, you still get beer.  Celebrate!  You did it!

Of course, there are health benefits for running, and if you take your dog with you, they will love you forever – unless you one day choose to go without them.  No one on earth can make me feel more guilt than my pitbull does when I run without him.

This is my challenge to you, Buffalo.  In the immortal words of James Brown, GET UP OFF THAT THING!  Sign up for a race today, and keep your eyes on the frothy, golden prize.

For more information about running events in WNY, check http://www.buffalorunners.com/calendar_2014.htm


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4 Comments on “A Drinking Town With a Running Problem”

  1. Aaron Flow August 7, 2014 at 6:13 am #

    Im to the point where I get all weird and depressed almost if I get thrown off my running schedule. I don’t think ill ever quit, mainly because if i did, id gain lkike 30 pounds from the beer and food I like to eat. See I can diet, and lose weight, go for a run the next morning and get physically exhausted on a 5k. Or I can order a california burrito from Agave, have a few beers, and run 10 miles no problem. Id rather run more and eat!


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    […] A RACE!: You may be familiar with my previous post about running, “A Drinking Town With a Running Problem,” and I stand by every word. I have recently become a “runner.” I qualify that with quotation […]

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