Back in July of 2014, I was working as an editor for a startup called Blood, Sweat and Cheers — a daily email newsletter focusing on fun, active and social things to do. It was my dream job out of college, and had it been profitable, would still be my dream job today. Our audience mainly consisted of the kind of people who wanted to be active, but wouldn’t deny themselves a beer after their workout (i.e., me), so when I heard about Shoes & Brews — a specialty running shoe store with a joint taproom-slash-brewery based in Longmont, Colorado — I was immediately excited and featured it in our newsletter the following week.
Since I’m a digital hoarder (and every other kind of hoarder), I still have the email.
“Combining two of our favorite activities, a group of (uncertified) geniuses in Colorado have married running and drinking together under one roof.
And the result is Shoes & Brews—a running shoe with a taproom.
Shoes are upfront. Beer is in the back. It’s basically the retail outlet equivalent of a mullet.”
Flash forward over two years later, and I finally had the opportunity to visit Shoes & Brews during a trip to Colorado this past October. The flight to Denver was partly a post-Ironman present to myself, and I didn’t have much on my ‘agenda’ except to visit the brewery, check out Red Rocks, and climb a fourteener. (Side note, did you know fourteeners were hard? More on that, later).
My friend Jason was actually running a 5k at Shoes & Brews the following weekend, so he was able to register in person after we checked out the running gear in the front of the store and retired at the bar to sample what beers they had to offer. I don’t remember every beer we tried, but I do remember that we got eight different kinds in a round, rotating flight. I also remember one of Jason’s picks was a Curious Cricket Cucumber Basil Kolsch (from Horse & Dragon in Fort Collins, CO) which was interesting to try, to say the least.
So, before we ventured there I had done a little bit of noodling online and found out they have an ‘800-meter Road Challenge.’ Basically, you run 800 meters, or a half mile, (yep, right there on the street) and if your time is good enough to get on their leaderboard, you not only get your name and time displayed on said leaderboard, but your next beer is the price of your time. So, say you ran a 3 minute and 30 second 800 — you get a $3.30 beer. Not bad!
I had mentioned the 800-meter challenge to Jason earlier, but of course the idea that we might ACTUALLY want to try it didn’t dawn on us until after we had started sipping our beers. But since his general attitude towards life is ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen?’ and mine is this emoji ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ we figured we’d give it a try. Jason needed to book it to get on the men’s leaderboard (breaking 2:30) while I just needed to run under 3:30.
It was the middle of the day on a Tuesday, so the bartender (who was also the running store cashier) grabbed a stopwatch and ushered us outside. She described the “course,” which was a simple out-and-back to the second pothole in the cul-de-sac on the road the brewery was on. Supah fancy. We took a ‘warm up jog’ out to see the pothole for ourselves, confirmed the positioning of said pothole with our ‘timer,’ and then counted down to start our half mile sprint. When I crossed the “finish line” (which was literally a crack in the sidewalk) and was told I had run a 2:10, I knew something was off. His time was even more incredulous, breaking two minutes.
Jason and I exchanged confused glances and jogged back out to where we had thought the pothole had been — only to realize that another pothole lay behind that one, but had been hidden by a fire truck. D’oh.
I make these kinds of mistakes all the time, so I wasn’t completely surprised that the instructions had somehow gotten messed up. But it was nice to know that at least this time, I wasn’t the only one who misunderstood directions.
We contemplated what to do next — run another 800? Fess up? Take the expedited times and each be #1 on the leaderboard inauthentically? — and decided that while it was best to ‘come clean,’ we really didn’t have another race in us at the moment. The day before, we had climbed two fourteeners and then completed a track workout a few hours later. With the elevation, I was completely and utterly spent. Did I mention we had already started drinking, too?
Our bartender/race timer/new friend was understanding and still gave us a break on the bill, anyway. Our names will remain missing from the leaderboard until further notice though.
While I would love the chance to go back to Shoes & Brews and redeem myself, that probably won’t happen for awhile. So it was nice to do an 800 workout in Austin to remind myself what a ‘true’ 800 really felt like.
Anyway, that was Shoes & Brews. If you are in Colorado, give yourself a go at the 800-meter challenge BUT BEWARE OF FALSE INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING POTHOLES.
Until another time,
SIDE NOTE: Another thing that is great about the brewery/running store: I emailed them the following week and asked for help on an order since their online store was down, and they were SUPER nice, fulfilled my order/mailed me my package AND gave me free shipping. A++.