Today we have another guest photographer (my wife) bringing you images from my second race of the year. More importantly, I have an action shot PROVING that I indeed ran this race (in case there are any doubters out there…hmmm who could that be?). Last Saturday was the annual running of the Steamboat Classic in Peoria IL. They actually have multiple options to participate in. They offer the “World’s Fastest Four Mile” race and “Illinois’ Toughest 15K.” This race has been somewhat of a nemesis for me having initially injured my hamstring in the 15K race a couple of years ago which eventually led to a major injury during the following Bix7 race. Due to the rehab, I was forced to go with the 4 mile option last year, but this year I was back to defeat the 15K! My training went well and I was already at 10 mile runs before the race date. To cut to the chase, I man’d up and got me another medal for my slowly growing collection and another check on the Life List.
This was actually a pleasant surprise considering I almost pulled out of race 40 minutes before it started. To set the stage, I have a fairly regular routine the week before an actual race consisting of a nice taper down and a steady diet of bland food. For this race, I closed out my last 10 mile the Saturday before and reduced it to a 6 mile run that Monday. That Wednesday was my 3.5 mile easy run to complete the training program. For some reason the mechanics felt off on that last run even to the point I stopped and took my shoes off and put back on hoping something was amiss. That didn’t help much, but it got me through the remaining miles. While in the cool down my left hamstring developed a twinge that would not shake out. Panic set in (well, actually anger first and then panic). I went home and tried my best to rest it hoping it would disappear – to no avail. The rest of the week was spent trying to rub the strain out with a steady diet of a foam roller and anti-inflammatory cream used during my rehab. By Friday night it was feeling pretty good, but I was not about to test it until the race. On that same Friday I decided to go with a conservative hamburger lunch at a downtown street vendor followed up by the traditional home cooked carb loading spaghetti dinner that night. All was good until some pains started showing up in my stomach around 10pm. At midnight this turned into an all out evacuation on the hour until it was time to get up around 5. So there I was carb-deloaded and questioning whether I could actually keep anything in the stomach. Not wanting to throw the towel in yet (hell, I trained my ass off for this) so Linda and I headed down to the Peoria riverfront cautiously eating a couple of Eggos and gingerly trying to drink some Powerade. If there is one bright side in this, I really wasn’t thinking much about the hamstring. Eventually it came time to do the traditional pre-race picture. That would be a look of serious worry by the way.
Now, some of that worry was due to the upcoming 15K with limited fuel. The rest of that concern was the resulting composition for this shot. “Not that there is anything wrong with that”, but that guy in the poster .. the one with the shirt off and staring directly at me .. was creeping me out.
Hit the jump to read more about Steamboat Classic 2011
It came time to stage and more importantly time for me to commit. To date, I have never missed a race (or training run for that matter) and decided defeating Illinois’ Toughest 15K sounded a lot better than sitting on my ass watching others competing. Some last cautious sips of the Powerade and I was off to join my fellow masochists. Here is a shot of the starting line just before the gun. They had a record 5K participants this year which sounds a lot until you compare it with the 17K of the Bix7 and the 23K of the corporate Chase. As we were walking up to the staging area we overheard one teenage girl telling her friend how they will be staging everyone and having them enter shoots to get them to the starting line and that it might take a long time to even cross the starting line. If she was trying to win points for being the super cool runner she just made a fool of herself – you self lineup and at worst case you are looking at 1-2 minutes max for that small of a crowd to get moving.
I noticed Linda out of the corner of my eye as we started our departure. I figured I’d make sure she saw me. Hint, I was wearing my traditional racing orange tank. Can you find me?
Alright, I’ll crop it in for you. There I am. Linda continually makes fun of me for doing this, claiming I was the only one not focused on the task at hand. See those serious looking dudes with the yellow bibs on to the left and right? Here’s a hint guys, you have 9.268 miles left in the race, why don’t you just enjoy the moment. Focus smocus, I’ve got my peeps to say hi to and thank them for coming out at 7am to help cheer me on. Actually I ended up seeing a bunch of people I knew and yes, I made sure I greeted each and every one – this included a number of strides convincing one friend to join me in the race next year. A big shout out to Roger Owdom and Ron Stalter who kept me going with their very appreciated shouts of encouragement during the long race.
So for those skeptics out there (and you know who you are), I figured I better include an action shot. That’s me putting in the big ending kick to the finish line. A wave of relief came over me as I realized I’d push through the pre-race issues and chalked up another victory over a tough 15K. In case you are wondering, I held off those two 20 year olds trying to run me down – yeah, it was a moral victory.
Another race and another successful ending. I don’t let health concerns dampen my race day fun. There are always things that can go wrong an any given day. You might get in a wreck heading to the race or fall victim to an undiagnosed defect, but if you let that worry you, you’ll miss the enjoyment of doing something you love to do. Besides, I train very hard for every race I enter and confident that I know my body enough to take it easy if I have to (word has it the medics were pumping on some guy at the 8 mile mark, but no word yet of his fate – Ron Stalter also told me someone dropped from exhaustion by him as well). Knock on wood I’ll never need to use this pole!
That’s my good friend Ron Owdom on the left. Ron took the 4 mile course (we actually ran together until the 4 mile course broke off for home) this year, but plans to be wearing the yellow bib next year. It’s becoming tradition now that we take our post race picture next to ambulances in tribute to another successful race. By my expression, the fatigue must have been starting to set in or I was annoyed it was starting to rain.
Well, folks, that’s a wrap. The gun time was in the neighborhood of 1:19:25 and a supposed chip time of 1:19:13, but my personal timer had me at 1:18:59. Either way, I’m elated with the results and looking forward to the upcoming Bix7 race at the end of July… if you are just sitting there on the couch reading this, how about lacing those shoes up and breaking a sweat – there’s plenty of time to join Linda and I in Davenport IA.
A special thanks to Linda for capturing some great memories from the day.