Another Medal Earned… or What Was I Thinking

Start of Steamboat Race 2009

Apparently I did not learn my lesson from last year. Yesterday was the 36th running of the Peoria Steamboat Race (15K and 4M) and as planned, I was at the starting line.  The actual photo was scanned from the Peoria Journal Star so all credit remains with them.  Since they did not ask my permission to put my image in their paper I decided I did not need to ask their permission to use it in my blog.  If you are interested, that’s me in the orange and shades – I could say I was honoring my Illini Alma Mater, but the real choice was based on being the coolest fabric (temp, not hipness).  I made a pact with myself at the end of the last Steamboat that I would not let it beat me and I would attempt it again in hopes of not getting injured early in the race.  I rarely break a commitment to myself so there I was, although this time I was not sure if I was ready.

Unlike last year, we decided to move our vacation to the two weeks leading up to the race day as opposed to last year where we headed out immediately after the race which resulted in serious leg cramping.  Rather than repeat that, we changed the vacation dates which had its own challenges.  The first of these was finding time and places to train while traveling.  As best we could, we stayed at hotels with treadmills and although it was pretty cold out at night (see the other challenge), I did get one road run in.  I am now a big fan of Comfort Inns and Courtyards – both of those hotels had excellent treadmills in them and operating ours that fit my late night running preference.  Luckily, I did not have to compete for the treadmill even once allowing me to get my entire 1:10-1:20 hour training sessions in.  The other challenge was the fact we were vacationing in the Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park areas.  Yes folks, that puts me in the 9 to 12 thousand elevation level.  I had no idea how that elevation training would impact my performance other than I knew it was actually harder to run at that elevation than it would be in Peoria.  What I did know is I could not keep the same pace causing me to back off my pace significantly (was floating around 10 minute miles for a lot of it which is significantly off my preferred pace).  So I was running slower than I wanted, running less than the full 15K (due to the slower pace), reduced foot/knee impact from running on the treadmills instead of pavement, but had the unknown of the elevation benefits and it was significantly colder at that altitude over the steam bath that usually exists on race day. .   The reduced impact from the treadmill was somewhat of a blessing because my hip had developed a serious socket pain during the training runs before the vacation.  With the uncertainty, the decision was made to ease into the first two miles to give time to assess the body.

Some starting line number you mind find interesting:

  • 36th Running
  • 4,150 participants (total both 15K and 4M)
  • 480 15K participants
  • Race time – 7:00am
  • Time the alarm clock went off – 4:50am
  • Start Temperature: 68 (I personally think it was a lot hotter or it warmed up quickly during the time I was running
  •  91% Humidity (suckage)
  • 15K winner -48.23
  • 15K Last Place Winner – 2:15:08  (congrats to beating hundreds of thousands of people who decided to stay in their comfy beds)
  • My Finish: 1:20:35 (race stats have me at :49 but I am going with my watch over the timing chips)
  • My Ranking: 285

I did come in ahead of my time last year and pretty pleased with the results based on the thoughts going through me head at  the start of the race.  I attribute some of that to the spectators along the course.  There is nothing and I mean nothing more motivation that having a complete stranger clap for you and give you encouragement along the way.  A special thanks to the couple around the 6.5M mark that was calling out our bib numbers and spurring us on with personal words of encouragement.  I always try to thank them as I pass, but my small gesture never makes up for the large boost of adrenaline that results from hearing people cheering you on.  A few more miles and I was reaching for my medal at the finish line.

Steamboat 08-09

I used the same medal image to save some time (the latest one looks almost exactly the same but does not even have the date on it anyway, so no reason to really scan it again).  A lot of sweat and wear and tear on the feet got me that medal and I clutched it with pride as I headed over to the water station.  As I looked down at my watch those 35 seconds called out a challenge.  You guessed it, I plan to be back next year to break the 1:20 mark.  Nothing like a challenge to keep the rest of the 364 days interesting.  Next time you see someone on the road struggling to make it up the hill or pushing themselves to make it those final miles… give them a wave and smile.. we all need a little encouragement every now and then.

Time to put some ice on the legs.  Tomorrow starts another round of training cycles for the upcoming Bix 7M race.

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