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A Runner’s Diary: Drinking Before A Race

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Last Sunday, I ran with my husband, Brian, in the Ted Corbitt 15K Race hosted by the New York Road Runners (NYRR) in Central Park. The night before, my husband and I went out to dinner.

“Should we order a bottle of wine?” he asked me.

“Well, we’re really not supposed to drink before a race,” I said. “Isn’t it going to dehydrate us?”

We both looked at each other and decided to order the wine. A week prior to this, we were both talking with a couple from our hometown who are marathon runners. They were telling us a story about how they ran better having a hangover from the night before. I was told though that when you are training, you shouldn’t drink. But I didn’t know why.

When I was talking to one of my employees, Lori Alexy, she told me that you don’t drink during training because it’s healthier for you. “But does it interfere with your training at all?” I asked.

She shook her head and said, “No.”

So, my husband and I shared a bottle of wine. After that, we went back to the hotel room—we stayed in Manhattan overnight—and went to sleep. That night I was up all night from the alcohol. Every two hours I was up. At 5 a.m., the alarm went off. I had the worst headache, felt nauseous and was in no mood to run 9.3 miles.

But, my husband convinced me to run. “You have to practice for the half marathon in Disney,” he said.

We drove uptown, parked the car in a lot and walked over to the park. It was 30 degrees out, but felt much colder. When we arrived at the starting line, the race was moments away from starting. We could hear the National Anthem and as soon as the announcements started, we were in line ready to go.

I set up my iPod to set the Nike GPS. Then, we were off. Brian and I were right in the pack this time, except it seemed like we were running backwards instead of forward. Everyone was passing us.

As always, the first 2 miles were tough. After the 3rd mile, it got easier. And, after that, the miles seemed to just fly by. Before I knew it, we were at miles 5, 6, and 7.

At that point, I didn’t feel anything. All I focused on was the music playing on my iPod and the amazing Manhattan scenery. I looked up and saw the Dakota, where John Lennon lived. On the east side, I saw the frozen over lake where I went boating in the summer, and the Guggenheim Museum. And, I saw the statue of Fred Lebow, who was the founder of the NYC Marathon and President of the New York Road Runners. It was an amazing experience.

Brian ran faster than me at some points, and I ran faster than him at other times. I didn’t feel nauseous and I didn’t have a headache. I just ran. My shins were hurting a little, but I was determined to reach our goal. I knew I had to do this no matter what.

Did the alcohol affect our run? Probably. However, after the run, I felt amazing. At least it knocked out my hangover!

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About Hilary Topper