This information is based on a series of experiments conducted in 2008 and 2009 on runs on 5-8 miles, each time utilizing a different alcoholic beverage as the variable. I’ve only gone running on these beverages. Other forms of exercise may bring out unique advantages or drawbacks for each listed booze. If you know how, let me have it in the comments.
- THE GOOD
WINE - Not enough is said about how good red wine is on a long run. The buzz comes on nice and clean, and there’s no carbonation or fizziness to bother your stomach. White wine is also nice, but gets slightly funky as it warms up.
WHISKEY, SCOTCH, VODKA - These are very good ‘adrenaline’ liquors. They may burn on the way down, but are generally not that noxious once they’re in your stomach.
- THE BAD
CHAMPAGNE – The fizzy carbonation is not going to help you at all, and the high sugar content can lead to upset stomachs or headaches. Mimosas are less toxic, but still have the same fundamental issues.
JAGERMIEISTER, OUZO, FERNET - These anise-based liquers — the ones that taste like licorice or black jellybeans — will give you horrible, unpleasant burps. Your stomach will never feel OK. I do love these drinks, but I tell you they are not good for exercise.
- THE CHRONIC
MARIJUANA - Several of you have noted in the comments your deep enjoyment of reefer on multiple-mile runs. I am going to go into a lot more detail on this once Proposition 19 passes.
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.
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
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.
Nothing new here since Bay to Breakers, so I’m compelled to just gin up random new reasons to mix exercise with alcohol consumption.
I’m signed up for this Sunday’s San Francisco Half Marathon. To make things way more awesome and interesting, I’m going to down a beer every single mile — 13 beers over 13.1 miles — and blog the effects of this. There will be photos and, if I can figure out how within two days, video.
I would have to expect that I’m going to vomit at least once. I don’t frankly recall the last time I drank 13 beers in a row. I would also imagine that I will black out, which poses a challenge — how can one accurately blog what one experienced blacked out drunk?
I know quite a few of you just adore the vomit anecdotes, so I will make special efforts to capture this verite as accurately as possible. I will actually try to self-photograph while vomiting, as some skeptics will believe I did this stunt only if they see the documented suffering.
Surely there will be large sections of the race of which I have no memory, predictably in the later stages. I’ve studied the Half Marathon course for where each mile marker is located, and will record a video or voicemail at each. Does anyone know this Mel Gibson scandal technology where I can post voicemails up on the internet?
There is the possibility that I’ll get arrested, but I imagine I that can just talk my way out of it and dump the beer compliantly and then just buy more.
I do not entertain the possibility that I will be busted by another tattletale runner. My beer concealment and handling schemes, I don’t mind telling you, are ingenious. Handling a tricky, carbonated beverage such as beer on a run will be discussed in a post tomorrow. Beer concealing methods will be revealed Monday morning, when the stunt is safely already done.
I am sure I am not alone in having experienced the sheer hell of being well-deep in the thick of one’s Bay to Breakers run and not being able to find a liquor store for blocks, even miles. At that point you know you’re not the only one running low on your stash or supply… there is a palpable sense of anxiety building among the crowd that fewer and fewer people possess a dwindling, finite number smokes, beers, and liquor beverages until the next far-off corner market. Golden Gate Park is especially high risk in this regard. Once again I fight this syndrome by equipping you, my drunken comrades, with the advance warning system of a Bay to Breakers Liquor Store Survival Map. Each liquor store occurring along the route is duly noted and numbered, with its name and cross-street detailed in the text below. Hope this helps!
Both the starting and finishing stretches of the Bay to Breakers race course are badly barren of liquor stores, but with a healthy abundant patch basically on Hayes Hill and in Western Addition. There are actually no more liquor stores along the course after the New Star-Ell at Divisadero and Fell. You are already entering the Threshold of Despair! It also happens to be just shy of the halfway point also, so it really makes sense to stock up there.
Once you’re in Golden Gate Golden Gate Park and feel you need to break from the race to buy booze, you really want to have a strategy to get to a certain liquor store of which you actually know the location. Do not just leave your friends and wander and figure you’ll see one. They are really rare out here. Oh, and you know what else is hard to find? AT&T reception.
If you’re at or before the Conservatory of Flowers, best advised to break North to Arguello and Balboa for beer runs and such. Once you get to DeYoung territory, you’re going to instead want to break south for Irving and Judah options. Generally speaking, the Sunset is more favorable for liquor store options and the Richmond way bleaker.
The 19th Street option is your last genuinely good option before the Safeway on LaPlaya at the end — but getting off the race course path and up on to 19th Avenue passing overhead requires navigating through a crazy, challenging little forest trail. You have to really want your alcohol to be doing that. Once you’re past the Race Photo station and Footstock turn-off, any attempt to go off course and get booze or cigarettes and then try to find your friends again will surely take longer than just gutting it out and finishing the race course. Even if you’re just walking. You’re almost at Mile Six. Beach Chalet will be having a rocking after-party where you all can at least get a drink, regroup, and figure out where it goes from there.
Each liquor store occurring on the race course that will actually be open Sunday is morning is marked on the map with a number, corresponding to the list below. Beware that some of them are labeled as False Hope — places which are not yet open, or do not sell alcohol.
1 – The Gold Club – False Hope! – (Howard & New Montgomery) They’re totally not open until 7pm tonight. They shouldn’t even be on this map! I just know that when you walk by, you can’t resist woot-wootin’ and hollerin’.
2 – Yerba Buena Market – (Howard & Sixth) FINALLY! Your first open liquor store on the race course! Expect to wait in line.
3 -The Chevron/Andretti Speed Mart/Burger King/Starbucks Blight – False Hope! – (Howard & Ninth) You can see it coming from far away, and it really looks like it should have beer! But you get there, and it doesn’t. Happens to lots of good people every year. Useful only for cigarettes and their dynamite array of blinky toys.
4 – Go Go Market – (Mission & Ninth) Only the course’s second liquor store open on a Sunday morning, and we’re already nearing the two-mile mark. Shocking, huh? They’ve been open since 6.
5 – Civic Center Market – False Hope! – (Market & Larkin) You won’t find them open unless you’re already trailing the race by a solid hour.
6 – Anna’s Market – False Hope! – (Hayes & Gough) Also does not open until 10 a.m. If you’re running, or even managing to walk forward, you’re long gone by then.
7 – Nabila’s – (Hayes & Laguna) This is your last one before heading up Hayes Hill.
8 – Haye’s Market – (Hayes & Buchanan) Now there’s a liquor store every other block.
9 – H&W Market – (Hayes & Webster) Now there’s one on every block and it’s like an embarassment of riches.
10 – Tim’s Market – (Hayes & Fillmore) Now you’re on a block that has two.
11 – In & Out Market – (Hayes & Fillmore) This being the other one.
12 – Divisadero Farmer’s Market – (Hayes & Divisadero) Runners will have just completed Hayes Hill, so it’s surely Miller Time.
13 – New Star-Ell Liquor -(Fell & Divisadero) This is actually the last liquor store directly along the race course route. That’s just astonishing to me. There are still more than four and a half miles left!
14 – Faletti Foods – (Broderick & Fell)
15 – Nimer’s – (Fulton & Lyon)
16 – Parkside Market (Hayes & Lyon)
17 – Home Service Market – (Hayes & Central)
18 – Fulton Food Shop – (Fulton & Mason)
19 – Deli Plus – (Hayes & Ashbury)
20 – Cindy’s Market – (Hayes & Cole)
21 – Lucky – (Fulton & Masonic) I’m recommending you skip off the course in the middle of The Panhandle (at Masonic) and venture up to the Lucky Supermarket at Fulton St. You should seriously stock up here. You’re about to enter Golden Gate Park. Any veering off the race course to buy booze once you’re in that open, pastoral park will involve a 20-minute minimum round trip, and who knows if you’ll even find your people again. You should buy however much here you think you need to finish the race, and devise some way to carry it all.
22 – Parkview Market – (Frederick & Stanyan) Now you’re in Golden Gate Park, and you’re heading way out of your way. Can you make it to 8th Ave.? It’s a much shorter time investment.
23 – Safeway – (7th Ave. & Cabrillo) This is THE easiest way to get liquor once you’re in Golden Gate Park! Just turn left out of the park at 8th Avenue.
24 – 828 Irving Market – (9th Ave. & Irving) You really should just turn around and go back to Safeway, but if you feel the need to be making forward progress there will now be a string of liquor stores in the Sunset.
25 – Sun Valley Market – (10th Ave. & Irving) Can you make it to 19th Avenue? You should really try instead of doing this. This involves cutting off the race course at the DeYoung Museum, picking up MLK Drive and taking that down to until it turns into 9th Ave., and then cutting up to 10th. The 19th Ave. option involves a lot less extracurricular travel. This is way more trouble than it’s worth, but you do have the option
26 – Eddy’s Discount Liquor – (11th Ave. & Irving) See above, add one block of pointless extra travel.
27 – Andronico’s – (Funston & Irving) There are some serious bull in a china shop possibilities here for you all hammered-ass drunks in this high-end gourmet grocery store. They have beer and wine.
28 – Arguello Market – (Cabrillo & Arguello)
29 – Balboa Bi-Rite Market – (26th & Balboa)
30 – Balboa Liquor & Deli – (36th & Balboa)
31 – Balboa Produce Market – (37th & Balboa)
32 – Richmond Market – (41st & Balboa)
33 – Freddy’s Ocean Beach Deli – (LaPlaya & Balboa)
34 – Europa Express – (LaPlaya & Balboa)
35 – Better Food Market – (32nd Ave. & Balboa)
36 – Safeway – (LaPlaya & Fulton) – You should just finish the race and then come here. You have, like, four more blocks!
37 – 9th Avenue Liquors – (Judah & 9th)
38 – Al’s Market – (Irving & 9th)
39 -The 19th Avenue & JFK Drive Non-Intersection – (19th Ave. & JFK Drive) It’s right at the waterfall! The oasis of available cigarettes, beer, and liquor for which you are currently so jonesing is only blocks away! But these streets do not intersect, you need to be going south on 19th Ave. which is the overpass going above you. There is no walkway. You need to dash into a well-worn trail to the immediate left right before the overpass (yes, you are now on a dirt trail) and take that up to the Boating & Refreshments cabin. Take a right onto their driveway, and then there’s a paved path to the immediate right which will take you down to 19th Ave. That takes you smack dab into civilization. 19th Avenue is also technically Highway 1 at this point… how ’bout that? Do the reverse of this process to return to the race with your hard-earned haul.
40 – Handy – (19th Ave. & Irving) Last chance for liquor until 25th Avenue! And do you know for sure you’re even going to make it that far?
41 – Sunset Super – (25th Ave. & Irving) If you somehow miss the turn-off at 19th and manage to make it through all the heavy brush and chain link fences, there’s another beer-only option a little further down the Sunset. They have regular domestic beer — but every single grocery there otherwise is full-on Chinese. It’s all Pocky and sea animal-flavored fried chip snacks. On the plus side, you can score rice wine and Chinese liquor.
42 – Judah Mini Market – (Judah & 28th)
43 – Sunset Strip Liquors – (Judah & 31st)
44 – Charlie’s Market – (41st & Irving)
45 – Your Market, My Deli – (48th & Kirkham)
46 – Beach Chalet – (Fulton & Great Highway) A great place to regroup once you’ve finished the race is the Beach Chalet and it’s notorious after-party. They’ll have no cover, Bay to Breakers drink specials, and live music from Manicato. Let your people come together and devise further party plans after you’ve all finished the race.
47 – Western Sunset Market – (46th Ave. & Judah) This one has liquor! This is your Finish Line-area liquor store with liquor!
48 – 7-11 – (46th Ave. & Judah) This one does not have liquor. It is a 7-11. It has beer and cigarettes.
49 – 76 Food Mart – False Hope! – (Lincoln & La Playa) Yes, that big orange 76 will look awfully alluring. But they don’t have beer, just snacks and cigarettes!
A full size of that graphic good for printing is available by clicking on the map.
So I’ve conditioned myself to smoke both weed and cigarettes when I run. Yes, there are mountains of clinical data explaining what an awful idea this is. But almost everything I advocate doing on this blog is an awful idea from a clinical standpoint.
Let’s just say you already smoke cigarettes and/or weed… what if, while running, you stop to smoke a bowl or have a cigarette, then run another couple miles?
Your heart rate is going to go up, but it’s not like that never happens. Your lung capacity will diminish, so your stamina will suffer some degree of a slump.
Let’s say I’m running and I just stopped for a cigarette or a big bowl of grandaddy purp. Right about the ninth step, I’ll get that “Damn! I don’t feel like doing this right now at all!” feeling. But just keep striding through it, and it passes, and you’re fine. I don’t think smoke breaks will significantly hurt the exercise regimen of a smoker.
Plenty of everyday smokers have been great athletes. I’m told Mario Lemieux, Vlade Divac, Keith Hernandez, and John Elway all smoked at the height of their career success. Bay Area hockey fans will note that the Sharks’ Dany Heatley smokes. And you know that more than half of the NBA smokes weed.
Smoking is unconditionally bad for you. But if you exercise, you are an inherently less-unhealthy smoker. “If people can quit, that’s the best thing,” Dr. Robert Sallis, director of sports medicine at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fontana, tells the L.A. Times. “If you can’t stop smoking, exercise will mitigate some of the effects.”
Smokers who run know that nothing beats a cigarette while you’re walking in your “cooldown” period after a multiple miles run. Plus you hack up a ton of garbage while you run, clearing your airways. And you sort of thwart the pulmonary diseases that the smoking is giving you.
Stoners who run know that the iPod plus some Northern California skunkweed is a stellar combination. You can just zone out on the music and forget you’re running. But please do pay attention to traffic.
I watched “Splash” again just to get that screengrab above, and really recommend you treat yourself to a repeat viewing sometime. It is really a magnificent film. One of the things I was taken by was a line from the late John Candy, not about smoking, but resonant to readers of this blog:
“Drinking is really a matter of algebraic ratios. How drunk you get is dependent on how much alcohol you consume in relation to your total body weight. You see my point? It’s not that you’ve had a lot to drink, it’s just you’re too skinny.”
Never forget John Candy.