When asked if I’d be interested in covering the Craft Brew Races 5k in Worcester, MA I eagerly agreed. An athletic event that ended with a craft beer festival? Count me in.
Then, after a beat, I looked down at the slight belly that had developed over the past few months — a holdover from a Boston winter of hibernating — and I began to second guess myself. The last time I participated in a 5k was when I was about 10 years old in my hometown of Cranford, NJ.
To be fair to myself I do try to run about two miles at least five times a week. That being said I felt the need to train. Running about three miles? I could probably do that. Finishing it off with a few IPAs? I needed to prepare myself.
Running about three miles? I could probably do that. Finishing it off with a few IPAs? I needed to prepare myself.
So in the weeks leading up to the race I finished some of my two mile runs with a beer. It was definitely tough to stomach a double IPA after running through the streets of Boston, but I wanted to be as prepared as possible.
Finally, on the big race day, I hit the Worcester Common ready to register. Unfortunately, I’m cursed with a very popular last name initial and had to wait on a line with the rest of the N-R crowd. As I neared the front, one of the race attendees assured us that the 5k wouldn’t start without us stragglers. About three minutes later the race kicked off as I scrambled to hand in my ID and attach my bib to my freshly acquired Hop Culture T-shirt.
I started off at a fast pace trying to catch up with the rest of the runners. I was pleasantly surprised to find the first mile pass quickly. The Worcester PD blocked off the busy streets and eager locals curiously looked on. No doubt they were confused to see so many people running on a sticky, hot day in the name of craft beer. I was full of energy.
I continued onward through mile two and hit something of a wall halfway through to mile three as I struggled up a steep incline. As I began to lose even more energy and felt the heaviness of my tired legs, I spotted the final mile marker in the distance. What’s more, I saw my faithful and wonderful photographer, Jessie Lyons, cheering me on and holding up her camera. Most unimportantly, “DNA” by Kendrick Lamar start blaring through my headphones and, like Popeye when he eats his spinach, I felt a rush of energy to end strongly. I crossed the finish line and snatched up a water bottle. After a few sips I trusted that my diligent training wouldn’t fail and made my way into the beer portion of the 5k.
I was tired and sticky, sweat mixed with the sunscreen streaming down my face. I sauntered from tent to tent sampling the delicious suds of locals like Wormtown’s Hopulence and Bone Up Brewing’s Key Lime White and stellar out-of-towners, like 21st Amendment’s El Sully and Allagash’s Hoppy Table Beer. I was happy to chat with some of the more athletic focused brewery’s like the protein-forward Mighty Squirrel and Medfield’s Zelus Brewing Co. Zelus, I found out after speaking with founder Geoff Pedder, was started with the goal of merging his passion for an athletic lifestyle and his love of quality beer. He keeps his beer at a low ABV and flavorful enough to be refreshing after a long bike ride or run. I was impressed with his Long Run, an Apricot Pale Ale, and Geoff is particularly excited about Zelus’ Dortmund Lager.
After enjoying my fair share of samples I was glad I had kept up such a rigorous training style. Much like the race itself, the festival was a marathon, not a sprint.