Running for Beer? Yes, please!

The absolutely FREE, no cost to join “social running group” Running For Brews has been on my radar for a bit now, but until last night, I never joined in the frivolity.

My excuse reasoning for not sticking with my original plan of swimming serious laps at the pool was that I didn’t know if I could jam in the laps after work AND make it to downtown St Pete by 6:45 and I just HAD  to see if these drinking and running folks were truly as happy and fun-loving as their online photos would indicate. (Clearly, one of the true mysteries of the universe after Facebook.)

I arrived at 6:45 so that I could use the loo and make sure I wouldn’t be ostracized for showing up to a social event solo. I wasn’t. There were plenty of other folks that hadn’t done this run before and didn’t bring a buffer buddy. Whew. Social catastrophe averted.

Running For Brews-St Pete map

Time was spent studying the map and I even snapped a pic and made it my home screen on my phone. (Still managed to mess up the course, though.) The group leader dude recognized my deer-in-the-headights-look newbie status and cheerfully guided me thru the only official part of the night: digitally signing the waiver. We stood around for a few minutes and the group grew to include some wicked serious looking but not-trying-to-intimidate-you dudes and dudettes, some people that were trying their best not to betray the fact that they were dragged along by a spouse or significant other (EXACTLY what I planned to do to my very own husband, if all social catastrophes were averted) and some normal non-elite runners that appeared to be fun-loving people testing the waters like me.

Aforementioned group leader dude stood on a chair, with his beer, and delivered the obligatory shout-out to sponsors, Sierra Nevada and Fit2Run, and then very nonchalantly told us “runners” to go run and there would be beer when we got back. That was it. No shouting, no National Anthem, no jockeying for starting line position, no running at all really. Everybody just kinda moseyed down the sidewalk thru the first intersection and then slowly the group, with no real organization or sense of time, starting running. Everyone at their own comfortable pace along the waterfront. (Running the waterfront area of St Pete is FANTASTIC! I don’t know what you think you know about St Pete, but when we moved here a little more than 2 years ago, we were ridiculed by a few of our friends for moving to where people “go to die.” Well, while the rest of the country was wallowing in the bad economy, St Pete was rebuilding, rebranding and generally becoming a kick-ass city. Great food, breweries, art, indie music and fashion and mom-and-pop enterprises are plentiful now and it feels like this city hasn’t peaked yet. And, I read somewhere recently that the average age in St Pete has dropped from 46 to 36 in the past 10 years. ANYWAY, the waterfront is AMAZING and probably one of the reasons that the St Anthony’s Tri is so popular. Come running with me if you make it down here.)

The map CLEARLY indicated a 1.75 mile course and a 3 mile course.  All you had to do was run/walk/stroll (their words, not mine) and then decide if you were done or if you wanted to continue and then run/walk/stroll an additional 1.25 miles. Simple enough, right? Not for me, apparently. I only intended to run the 1.75 miles as it was 92 degrees and about a thousand percent humidity and I wasn’t even supposed to be racking up more running miles today. Remember, I was “supposed” to be swimming? (Two points for anyone who was thinking Clerks-“I wasn’t even supposed to BE here today!”) I was caught up in the beauty and ease of it all and honestly, there were people in front of me running, so I followed them. I realized my beer-delaying mistake, headed up the ever so slight incline back to MacDinton’s (the bar that hosts the RFB Thursday night festivities) and was happy to find that I’d run 2.5 miles. (Before I get judged for my lack of miles…I wasn’t even supposed to BE here today!)

A cup of water (or two or six) later and I was ready for a cold brew and some company. I ran by myself, but not truly by myself, as there were smiling brew-inspired runners out there with me. I passed a few and got passed by a few and there was a lovely non-competitive camaraderie in it. Once we were all comfortably settled into the social part of this running club with our beers in hand I set about to test my theory that THESE were my people.

Ya know what? They WERE  just as jolly and fit and FUN as they appeared on the interweb. They really could be my people.

Running For Brews-St Pete spend their Monday evenings running the waterfront and enjoying a couple of beers at The Ale and The Witch which happens to be one of Greg and I’s favorite live-music and craft brew-centric hangouts in St Pete. Probably a total coincidence, but our combo first date/wedding anniversary is Monday. So instead of having an undoubtedly super divine dinner at Salt Rock Grill like my husband suggested, ’cause he’s good like that, we’ll be getting all stinky in the Florida summer heat  running and drinking with strangers. Sounds about right to me.

Totally unrelated: it’s pretty epic to witness the mounted police get serious with the riff raff when you’re legally enjoying a beer on the sidewalk. Built in entertainment, people.

Full disclosure folks: not sure how or why, but apparently I didn’t add this post on June 21 when it was originally posted on (I usually create the post there and then copy-and-paste it here. I know….the delay was killing you. Ha.)

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