It’s June, the temperatures were cresting the 90’s once again and the humidity, well let’s just say it was another fine example of Midwest Summer. What does all this mean? Yes, once again I found myself standing in the starting gates at the 39th running of the Steamboat Classic Race held in Peoria IL. This race actually has a 15K, 4mile and now a 4K walk event. Like last year I went for the 15K because it’s considered Illinois’ Toughest 15K and I’m going to spend the time to train why not go big…. and what does that hard work get you? One of these and a big dose of pride.
Unlike last year (link here) I didn’t spend the night before in the bathroom and was basically feeling pretty good about my chances before the race. Sticking with my tried and true routine, I had my spaghetti dinner the night before, normal breakfast, pack of Stingers, hydrated up as usual and put on the race orange. Clearly a better pre-race picture than last year!
Hit the jump to read how the race went
Admittedly, my timing was a little off in the morning and we didn’t get downtown as early as I wanted to. My hopes was Linda could make up the time on the road, but all the construction happening down there caused some issues getting parked and we ended up further than usual from the start of the race. It didn’t turn out to be a big issue, I basically got there and headed to my start gate (after the pre-race picture of course, you always want your wife to have something to remember you by if things go horribly wrong). As a result, there really wasn’t much time to really fret before the start – I do not know anyone who doesn’t question themselves at least a little bit before the start of the race whether they put enough training time in. My main concern was the lack of good heat conditioning runs – a lot of the running temps were in the high 60’s and low 70’s through most of the runs up through May, and only a few of them really crested into the 90’s. If you have ever run Steamboat you know the first part of the title is aptly named – just ask the Kenyans after their run). Soon the starter horn was sounded and we all dug down deep, put our game faces on and took to the serious business of pounding the pavement – just look at all those serious faces (in fact, a race volunteer in the lower right looks terrified).
Well, let’s just say MOOOOST of the competitors had the proper mindset… If you look closer there are always those “Shiny Object” people that are too busy prairie dogging it and happily taking in all the festivities… “Hey look, there’s Linda – Hi Linda.. see ya in 80 minutes or so!”
At that point in the race I was still feeling pretty good. It was 7:00am and it didn’t feel too bad yet even though it was projected to be the hottest day of the week. 15 minutes later I was nearing the two mile mark and preparing to ascend (correction – make) the first pass on the big hill. That is when things started to change. They had water for us at the top and I could tell the heat was starting to ratchet up so I decided to take some in which was a littler earlier than I like to. From that point to the next water/Gatorade station the water just kind of stayed with me rather than processing – this brought on some interesting internal discussions. Wondering if it was just a salt/sugar issue I opted for the Gatorade at that station and continued on… again, didn’t seem to be processing. At mile 6 things changed dramatically. I starting to struggle and for the first time wondering if I should stop – I’ve never had a race where this dominated my thoughts like it did here. Good things come from just keeping one foot in front of the other so pulled the pace back and tried to recoup but stuck with the race. Now mile 6-7 includes the second pass of the hill and if it wasn’t for the large amount of hill training in Jubilee it probably would have taken me out – the watch gave me the bad news with an 11 minute time for that split which made me feel even worse than the heat was. Eventually my feet carried me out of the hills and on to the final flat two mile stretch. It was still a struggle, but the pace was picking up and the thought of being done soon gave me a little more life. Next thing I know I’m making the turn for the final stretch. It was time to dig deep, find my inner cheetah and pass those elite runners in your lower left.
I probably shouldn’t make fun, but trust me, that is the last thing you expect to see after 14.9K (guessing they were coming in on the 4miler and kudos for making the effort to get out). Both eyes on the finish line now.
Another year in the books. That is race time shown in the picture below. My time (which should match chip time when those results come out) have me at 1:17:56 which is over a minute faster than last year’s chip time and for the third straight run this year, a Personal Race Record. It has also kept a Steamboat 15K trend going with this being the 4th time in a row I’ve beaten my previous year’s time)
Put that time in context with my struggles during the race and one awful split and I can’t help but give myself a big pat on the back. This race took everything I had. For some asinine reason the race coordinators put the first post finish water station about .3 of a mile away. Having unloaded everything to get through the last stretch of the race my body was officially overheated and it was a struggle to really stand, much less walk to the water table. Linda poured water over me to help cool me down but it wasn’t looking too good for awhile there. Some more water and badly needed shade led to recovery leading to the most accurate traditional post-race photo to date.
There was a self-imposed one week break in the training after that which is officially up today (plans are to catch a 5K today if the rain will stop). The problem with the water processing still remains a mystery. For a couple of days after the race, my sides and lower back were aching so it might have been a hardship on the kidneys. All this means is more dedication, more weights, more pavement training and definitely more heat runs for the upcoming BIX7 race. Thanks again to Ron and Tim Owdom for coming out to watch me race – unfortunately, Ron got hurt this year and was not able to race, but hopefully next year we’ll be lining up side by side to take on Illinois’ Toughest 15K. Why not come out and join us!!!