Been a hectic week trying to hold off all the flooding that is going in our parts. Looks like for the second time Serenity (link here) has been completely underwater. It is definitely taking a beating but fingers crossed it is still hanging in there. It will need some pillar work when the water subsides and maybe a couple more coats of protectant. At the moment I have it lashed to some large trees just in case something lets loose. You think you know power until you see the force of angry water. If you recall, last time I promised my next post would not be about birds. Keeping commitments is kinda my thing so sure enough, today’s post is not about our feathered friends but rather a recap of the latest event in the running season.
Last Saturday was the running of the Steamboat Classic in Peoria, IL. I’ve been running this race for sometime now and most of those have been of the 15K variety. Maybe a quick clarification there – the Toughest 15K in Illinois variety.
For those not familiar with the event, they have a 4 miler and a 15K interlaced in the course. We all do the first 2 miles of the 4 miles and then the weak ones turn back and the crazy ones head on up a merciless hill. Do some fairly flat roads up on top, come back down a steep hill and repeat back up that devil spawn hill again repeating that loop until we head back on the rest of the 4 miler course. No sugar coating it, that hill will test your will and your fitness. Fortunately, this Sung, Ryan and I eat this course for breakfast throughout the training season throwing in some Jubilee Park runs to make sure our legs are sufficiently tortured the time race day rolls around. Sung opted out this year, but Ryan and I toed the line on what turned out to be a perfect starting condition for the traditionally HOT Steamboat. To say a temp in the mid 60’s was godsend would still be putting it lightly.
The weather has been pretty kind to us this year .. so far .. which is a bit bittersweet. Training in cool temperatures is nice but sometime you have to pay the piper and get your heat conditioning up so you are prepared for race day conditions. This is especially true with me having experience “the incident” last year when the Heat Miser showed me what it meant to “melt in my clutch”. The goal was to run the race at 9 or under since training this year has been focused on distance at a cost of speed. Once again, my trusty UB was taking pictures for me. It never ceases to amaze me how serious people are at these races. No one forces you to show up.. enjoy it, you trained damn hard to get here
Hit the jump to see how the race turned out!
Did you find me? I’d be the ONLY one apparently enjoying the moment. You can also find Ryan right behind me and there are actually a few friends from work scattered around there as well. Lighten up everyone.. there is plenty of time for suffrage further along the course.
I noticed Ryan was keeping a similar pace at the start so went ahead and slid in next to him. I didn’t want to hold him back but we were both at a comfortable pace as we conserved energy on the flat 2 miles ahead of the hill. At the hill we pretty much attacked it together and owned it. All that hill training paid dividends. Ryan doesn’t take in water at this distance so he was speeding past the water points. I find it prudent for my condition to stay hydrated as much as possible so typically opt for the 2 mile intervals. Bad thing is this forced me use extra energy to sprint a bit to catch back up to Ryan at the various water points. Good news is he was pushing me to a very nice pace in the 8:15 range! The eventually winner ended up demoralizing us a bit since he passed us about a .25 mile from finishing up our first loop. Damn, I was going to give Ryan first and graciously take second – that plan just went up in smoke! On the down hill of the first loop I decided it would be prudent to make up some pay it forward time on the downhill. Bend forward and let the legs fly! Ryan ended up catching and passing me midway up the second hill. From that point he was beyond my energy level and he ended up turning on the turbos for the last 2 or 3 miles possibly throwing up some 7’s in the process – very nice strong run. I was able to maintain the 8:22 range through the second loop and on the run out to the end keeping the gains from the fast start. Based on Runkeeper it even looks like my second hill pace was faster than the first – cool. About 1 mile from the finish my clothes were soaking wet from the rising humidity and opted to take my hat off for a bit and try to give a quick cooling. Somehow the hat managed to slip out of my hand forcing me to double back a few steps to retrieve it. That really pissed me off but this has happened to me lately with water bottles on the training runs so unfazed, picked it up and headed on my way.
Soon the straight gave way to the downhill at the finish. The goal is always to finish strong – never letting a race beat me. Upon turning the corner for the final runout, I let it all go to an all out sprint to finish.
Compared to some of my finishing shots, the form looks really good. Lean forward, body long, arms not crossing the body – a little higher than I’d like to see it, but the feet were striking under me and the legs responded well. As a slight confession, I did see a young girl a ways ahead of me which help my motivation. I’ve had a lot of discussions about this with my brother, but I consider people ahead of me at a finish line as a personal challenge.
It took everything I had .. but for the record.. I beat her – part of that due to a premature celebration on her part about 2 strides from the finish. Not one of my fastest time ever, but ecstatic based on the time I had originally planned. Ryan gets a lot of credit for that. He ended up in the 75th minute timeframe which is a strong run.
Once again, a race finish on the outside of these..
Hehehehe – my traditional post race shot! Linda failed to get my shoes so I had to get another one done. This is my lazy way of telling what shoes I wore at what races – so much easier than writing it down.
A couple of interesting notes. Here is a shot Linda took of the river. As I mentioned in the beginning, we are in the midst of some continuous, multi-week rainfall which has brought the Illinois River to a very angry state. So much, that it couldn’t be contained. Thankfully, the city got the 4 foot retaining wall built that saved the race course (you can see part of it in the upper right corner of the shot. Not sure that is going to hold it for our latest crest due for this Sunday.
Linda also captured a scene I noted myself while running the last quarter mile of the race.
That is a police dog happily enjoying a bone of some sort. A little less chewing and a little more watching the crowd for people with ill intent please. Guessing his work was done policing the large crowds at the beginning but it still made me chuckle – a welcome change from the late stage pain I was experiencing at that time. Oh, almost forgot another interesting in a grrrr sort of way. I grabbed a cup of water at the halfway point of the second hill to help me power through the remaining portion. Standard approach is .. grab the cup (trying hard not to splash the volunteers), take a few paces while crimping the opening, a few more paces to calm the body and then consume the life giving nectar. EXCEPT THIS TIME THERE WAS HARDLY ANY WATER IN THE CUP!!! I was shorted and way to far to mitigate with another water grab. Talk about being irked. That meant another 2 miles before the next available water stop. If you are going to volunteer, I applaud your charity, but please understand that the task you have been given is very very very important. It should have been easy to tell that particular cup was short and replaced it before holding it out.
Not much else to really say about the race. The weather gods were gracious this year and although not a PR, very satisfied with my time.
race time: 01:18:26
Masters Men (damn, I’m getting old) 79/220
Male 45-49 18/43
Thanks to dropping my hat, it cost me breaking 18 (by 2 seconds) ugh! Patting myself on the back for that negative split pace run! 27 – 25 – 23 : getting stronger as the race went on.
Hope you can come run with me next year!