Figured I’d be nice and give you a little break from the Henderson shoot (trust me, we have a ways still to go with those). But today, I hit the road for the first run in a long week. Why the long layoff you ask? Good question which is best answered with a visual.
I always take a week off from the annual running of the Bix 7 up in Davenport IA and this year was no exception! Usually the last post of July is earmarked for a recap of the results, but in what has become a rare occurrence my quota was met early last month. No worries, time is an unstoppable entity and August will do just fine.
Before the gun ever went off this year I was part of a record. A record that has stood for 38 straight runnings of the Bix race. Cursed by every Globull Warming pundit, this year was the COLDEST in the history of the race. Take a guess at what the temperature was when I entered the staging area…keep in mind this is the last Saturday in July in the Midwest. If you said 58 then you are right (and a damn good Google user). Linda and I were talking through chattering teeth all the way from the car. Linda had already opted for her new running coat (admittedly pretty cool seeing as how the sleeves attach by magnets) and somehow convinced me to go back and grab my running rain/wind breaker. Oh yeah, I remember how – she offered to carry it for me during the race (big thanks for that by the way!). This allowed me to save some tooth enamel on the trek to our secret pre-race bathrooms. By the way, I was reading last year’s Bix recap and noticed that a) I was definitely not feeling the best before that race and b) Linda was even complaining about the cold last year – not sure what that was off the top of my head, but you already know it was colder this year. I was feeling significantly better than last year, but truthfully not at 100% – felt like a cold or something was trying to dampen the day, but nothing really came out of that so guessing it was just some pre-race butterflies. Note, to address getting sick at work like last year, we opted for a vacation the week before. We’ll save the details for that vacation for another post, but the week before that it was over 100 for heat index – that somehow turned into a rainy 61 when we arrived at our destination spot at the Dells.
Expecting another hot one, I went ahead and took a 7 mile training run in the morning before we left for the Dells. Heat index was pretty wicked, but made it through so felt comfortable there wouldn’t be any issues finishing the race. We returned that Wednesday allowing me to catch a cooler (75 degree) final ~6 mile tapper down. That went excellent with split times coming in ahead of plan. I remember noting in the post race summary notes that I was ready for the Bix!
Hit the jump to see how the race turned out .. and read about some of our friends that also made the trek to Davenport this year
Eventually it was time to leave the warm building and brave the cold. Yeah, I took the path that took me through another two building so I could delay the shivers as long as possible. For the first time in my personal Bix history I purposely found a patch of sun to stand in while in the staging area. For the next 20 minutes to race start I tried to push out images of ripping a cold hamstring going up the big hill at the start. To help prevent that I brought along a container of Bio-Freeze and put a bunch of it on my hamstrings and calves after entering the shoot. Sure it smelled a bit minty fresh, but at least the legs were retaining some of the heat from my quick pre-race stretch – it cost me a half empty bottle of Bio-Freeze, but a small price to pay to protect the muscles I rely on to get me to the finish line.
A few formalities, a nice live rendition of the National Anthem and bang! my 11th running of the Bix 7 race was on. The hard training and new running style was paying off – the first hill was gobbled up with little impact. So much time was spent trying to find the fastest path through the people labyrinth that I didn’t even realize it was over. Having run the race so many times now, I have a real good idea of where my splits should be based on physical landmarks (I always have problems finding the mile markers so stick with more visible landmarks that are easy to find no matter what state of delirium I happen to been in. Looking down at the watch I was waaaay ahead of expectations. At this point figured I’d go ahead and push as much as possible and see if the body would hang on enough to finish vertical. Second split still way ahead, third split (at the turnaround) was also really good and two of the toughest parts were behind me. The split landmarks are the same going back. The next one was not ahead as much as the previous ones, but still looking good. Mile 5 was my suffering mile. Carrying all that speed was catching up with me and the legs and lungs were laboring (keep in mind miles 4 and 5 are uphill). This is when you gently remind yourself of all the hard work you put in training in the hills of Jubilee. When you get to mile 6 you can let out a great big sigh of relief – that big hill you start the race with is a gift from heaven on your way back down (although due to a sad moment a few Bix races ago, I always give a mental shout out at this point to a fallen runner). Unbelievably, the final split before the last dash to the end also looked good – time to give it everything I had and finish strong.
.. and as you can tell by the traditional post-race shot, I made it through – another year of staying on the outside of the ambulance. To be honest, this is the first time not one but TWO people asked me if I was okay while winding down from the finish line. Must have looked a little worse than I felt, but I was vertical and just trying to get as much air in my lungs as possible. A shout out to the race volunteer and another runner for caring enough to make sure I was alright. In reality I was feeling elated having just CRUSHED my personal best by over 2 minutes. The official race time 54:04 (SWEET). The weather certainly helped, but the hard work changing my running style is definitely paying off.
Congratulations go to Linda as well. She completed her 12th running of the Bix. This year she convinced some of her coworkers to join the festivities. I think they made the decision to go the night before and signed up online that night. The Bix is one huge party. You can choose to delay some of that enjoyment and race competitively or opt to take in all the fun along the way. Linda’s friends were definitely enjoying all that the Bix had to offer. Somehow I missed it, but a military unit had set up a climbing wall at the top of the Quick Bix turnaround and were busy offering racers the opportunity to take a mid race climb.
Awesome! Linda opted to be the photographer to capture the moment. Believe they got a shirt and a water bottle for their extra effort. Pretty sure they’ll be back next year – need to work on them and convince them that the full race is faaaar better (I’ll leave out the suffering part of my story). Linda wasn’t the only one who successfully convinced friends to join the festivities. Remember Rhonda? She was on my Screaming Pumpkin team (link here) and kicked butt on this year’s Steamboat 15K Race (link here). This year she took on the the big hills of the full Bix and “owned it”. She opted to start back a little further in the staging area forcing her to really work to get through the pack. Knowing that and having been back there myself during the early years I can assuredly tell you her time was damn impressive – way to go Rhonda! — hope she comes back next year and shows me how it is done (got to get her moved up further at the start). Her husband Ron -who also participated in the Screaming Pumpkin race – also took on the Quick Bix with Linda. Not sure I ever heard how it was from his perspective, but he made it to the Bix post race in good shape too. Here is our post race picture. Sorry for how bad it turned out, but the person we talked into taking our picture didn’t exactly execute. Oh well, not bad considering we had just conquered another Bix and did I mention it was COLD!
I should call your attention to the young woman between Ron and Rhonda. That is their daughter Paige. She also has the distinction of completing the full Bix 7. We had quite the chuckle when she told us she had intended to only do the Quick Bix (2 miles) but somehow missed the turn off. Still not sure how she did this since they do have a big sign over the road and someone with a bullhorn telling all the Quick Bixers to shift to the right for the jog over a block to make the trek back down. I know this spot well since it always brings a smile to my face when I think of my running joke that is called the Bix SEVEN. Same pleasure I get when the 4 milers at the Steamboat Race in Peoria peel out from the crowd to head back while us 15Kers prepare to take on the hills. I think she might have even called her dad during the race to inform him she might not be on the right route. She didn’t let that bother her, she simply finished the entire 7 miles! (and still sporting the biggest smile in the picture). I sure hope they all come back with us next year – maybe they will even have real Twinkies for us a again – note to race organizers, Zingers are NOT A valid substitute for Twinkies. If that isn’t enough incentive, they will all get a pin for competing in their 2nd Bix race and since it will be the race’s 40th running, we should all get a nice anniversary medal. If only we can keep the same race time weather – as long as it warms up a bit AFTER the race so we can enjoy all the food and drinks they have to offer without sucking it through chattering teeth.
Congratulations to everyone who participated this year – Hope to see ya’ all next year!