364 Training Days Left

It’s another one in the books folks!  Yesterday was my 8th running of Bix7 and probably one of the toughest ones yet from a couple of perspectives.  I am still nursing a leg problem I have been trying to get resolved for a number of months and if that was not tough enough to deal with, the weather god decided to unleash on us.  As in previous years, Linda and I went up with some friends of ours.  Ron O. and his son Tim are pictured here BEFORE the race.

I emphasized before since it looks like we already ran the race and now soaked from sweat.  In reality, it was raining from the moment we arrived at the course (7:00am).  The day before the race, the Quad Cities was hit with a major thunderstorm that dropped power lines, tore off tree limbs and even took some roofs off.  The city crews were busy most of the day and night trying to get everything cleaned up for the big race.  Apparently another flare up occurred in the early morning causing even more scurrying around.  The local news were telling everyone to hold off a little longer before coming to the race location in case they had to delay it due to lightening.  I was wondering how they handle lightening due to the dangers involved with 15,000 runners massed in such a tight location.

So we decided to head downtown and hope for the best.  By that time, it was raining pretty good and we were soaked as we made our way to the starting chutes.  It was bearable temperature wise (~low 70s, but when the wind blew it would bring out the goose bumps).  The picture above was actually taken inside while we were making our last visits to the restrooms.  Around 7:40 we made our way to the staging areas and proceed to stand in the rain for the next 20 minutes as they prepared for the start.  Luckily the lightening was holding off so hopes were still on for an official start.  Linda snapped this shot as she waited in her start area.

Gray, gloomy and terribly WET.  I think from a conditions perspective, this was the worst I had ever run in.  Sure, runners like the cool temperatures, but a constant downpour tends to get on your nerves.  At race start time, they lined up the elites, completed the requisite introductions and sang the Anthem.  About 3 seconds after the last notes, a huge lightening bolt flashes across the sky followed by an impressive rumble.  I actually relaxed a bit thinking they would delay the race because of it, but there were no other bolts coming after it.  Sure enough, the gun went off and the mass of humanity starting making its way up the steep  Brady Street hill.  Here is another shot she took at some point after the gun went off.  Note, there is a significant delay before the start ripples down to those in the back staging points.

A couple things of note in this picture.  First, it is still raining (and not just a drizzle).  Second, you can get a feeling of how many people there were if you follow the mass of people up the picture and lastly, some people dress up for this race in various costumes.  Linda wasn’t sure exactly what the individual was wearing in the lower left, but she thought it looked like a giant round of cheese on their head.  Well, at least his head was dry and the cheese looked like it could double as an umbrella.  Linda was doing the 2 mile Quick Bix option (as opposed to the 7 miles for the full race).  This was why she was able to take pictures along the way.  Unfortunately, she was on the move and in the rain, so a lot of her shots were a blurry mess.  She did get a shot of the most important competition out of the entire race field.  This is the one individual that every Quick Bix competitor must beat or forever face humiliation.  Who is this nemesis that puts so much pressure on us (well, the Quick Bixers) every year…..

Sorry for the blur, but it’s the Oscar Mayer Wiener.  You can probably imagine what if feels like to lose to a hot dog.  Guessing this costume was horribly heavy due to the foam soaking up all the water.   Now, coming clean, I was passed at the halfway point by a Where’s Waldo dude, but he was moving pretty darn fast.

As mentioned, the race was pretty tough for me.  I made the first turn up the hill and found myself running through a small lake due to a low point in the road.  Immediately my shoes filled up with water making them feel like boat anchors.  This sucked, but not as much as feeling the squishy slosh every time my foot hit the ground.  At mile two, the left leg hamstring started tightening up as expected, forcing me to concentrate pretty hard on watching the stride length and ankle flex to help compensate for it.  The split times were okay up to the turnaround.  I was not on any PR pace so kept it controlled trying to save the leg for the hard climb back.  About mile 4, the rain subsided a bit which started raising the heat index to an uncomfortable level.  I decided to partake on a couple more water stations than usual to to keep the demons at bay.  About mile 5.5, the rain started up again which felt good at first, but quickly turned annoying as I approached the left turn back to Brady Steet.  Remember that lake I hit there at the start… well, I hit it again packing on all the water weight I had ran out of the shoe since the last dunking.  By now, the leg was hurting and the water on the road made me more cautious than usual as I made it down the steep incline.  When I passed over the finish line, I had nothing left in the tank.  I had given it my all which is all I expect out of myself in every race.  I came in around ~61:04 which is significantly slower than my previous (healthy) year of 56:41, but faster than the 66.24 the year before.  All things considered, with my leg problems and the hampered training schedule that caused coupled with the rain, I’ll take the time.  I have 364 days to prepare for a better run next year.  In retrospect, I guess any vertical finish is better than having to go home in one of these….

Ironically, we look about the same as when we started.  Oh, by the way, Tim came in just under 46:00 (he’s 21, give me a break) and his dad Ron came in with an impressive 64:09, surpassing his pre-race expectations.  Reminded by this picture, I need to point out a sad situation that occurred during they race.  Running is an athletic event that can stress your system.  Your training can have a definite influence on how your body handles that stress.  There are also health issues that may be aggravated by running and quite honest those things that just happen for one reason or another.  I am sad to say that a 41 year old male collapsed at mile 6 and passed away.  He was a wrestling coach in a city about 15 minutes North of us.  Our deepest sympathies to his wife (who was also running) and family.  Let’s all be careful on the road!

Also, congratulations to Ryan Hall for a tremendous performance to take the ribbon.  I always appreciate it when an elite runner comments on just how tough the Bix7 is and he even congratulated all the runners who competed in the race.  Everything looks good for him to have a great run in the Chicago Marathon and quite frankly one of the true bright spots in our Olympic Running program.

Now time for me to plan out this week’s training schedule.

What Is This (WIT)  ANSWER:

As you may know, the last post was the first WIT.  I thought it would be harder, but two of our readers nailed the quiz.  It was indeed a scaled model of a Wankel Rotary Engine.  They were pretty common in the Mazda RX series of cars, but I don’t believe they really caught on in domestic cars.  Apparently there were some issues with maintenance of them – See Skid’s great comments.  Congratulations to Skidmarks (who was first) and my brother for identifying the mystery object.

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