Monday, July 28, 2008

Race Report: 2008 Bix 7

As I've mentioned before, the Bix 7 is my hometown race, and one that I'm extremely proud of. Incredible turnout, elite runners, and a course packed with spectators. Every once in a while, someone will find out that I'm a runner and will ask if I'm going to run the Bix. Please: there is no way I could live in the Quad Cities, call myself a runner, and not run this race.

Looking back on this year's run, I have admittedly mixed feelings. I finished it in 1:06:58, which is a PR for me (as far as I know - I have no idea how fast I ran the race back in high school). But honestly, I know I could have done better. My times for a 10K and a trisko definitely indicate that I can keep up a faster pace than I did. But I started in a slower pace group than I could have (which I'll explain), and that definitely cost me. I looked at my Garmin splits after the race and discovered that I ran the first mile in 12:something and the last mile in 7:40. That's not what I call a negative split, that's what I call clear evidence that I wasn't running hard enough in that first mile. Next year, my goal will be to finish in an hour or less. My goal for this minute is to keep my race experience in perspective.

My Bix experience started on Friday afternoon. Several of my co-workers were also running the race, so we walked over to the race expo to pick up our packets and check out the expo. I ended up buying a Bondi band, which I think I like, and a totally cute t-shirt. It's brown and says Marathon Girl in pink. The buzz and excitement were definitely building.

Friday night, Steve and I took Jack to run the Junior Bix, which for him is a 70 yard run. Jack was really, really excited about the race. He was excited to run his fastest, to see the other kids, to wear his race number, and on and on - the kid talked non-stop about how cool it was going to be.

Because Jack's mommy is a runner, unlike most of the other kids there, he was not wearing his 2008 Junior Bix t-shirt. We runners all know that not only would that be lame, but it's bad luck to wear a t-shirt for a race you have not yet finished. Instead, he had the cachet of wearing his 2007 Junior Bix shirt, making it clear that he is a sophisticated veteran runner. I won't go completely crazy and have him wear a technical fabric until he graduates to the half mile distance.

Jack opted to have Steve be his race support, so I waited on the sidelines to get pictures. There were more people crossing the finish line in tears in the two-year-old division than you'll probably see in any marathon. When it was finally Jack's turn, he tore off down the street, leaving Steve in his dust. He had a look of absolute joy on his face that made me incredibly proud. Jack spent the rest of the night showing off his finisher's medal. There's no doubt about it: my boy is a runner.

My other boy - that is, my husband - is less emphatically a runner. Steve likes running, but it's something that he doesn't have a lot of time for, thanks to his many other interests. Leading up to the race, he really didn't feel adequately prepared. In the two days prior, he must have changed his mind a dozen times about whether he'd go the full seven miles or just do the Quick Bix, a two mile version of the course. On Saturday morning, minutes before the start, he made his decision: he was going for it. As Steve explained later, "I'm not a devoted runner, but I love the Bix."

I am at the (obnoxious) point in my running where a seven mile run - even on a hilly course - is not a big deal to me. It is a big deal to Steve, and it makes me proud (a word I seem to be using a lot in this post) to know that even though it was going to be difficult, he wanted to go for it.

So, on race morning, I was feeling good. The streets were packed with runners. Steve was ready to make a bold move. And what could make me feel even better? Meeting up with Amy and Tom of Runners' Lounge, of course. The four of us chatted, enjoying that delicious pre-race anticipation.

When it was time to line up for the start, I opted to join Steve, even though he was in the start group behind the one I was slated for. He made the tough decision to run a really challenging race; the least I could so was start with him. And as a bonus, Amy started with us, too! (Tom left us in his dust to hang with the Kenyans and Ethiopians, I think.)

The gun went of and... nothing happened. It was probably a good 10 minutes before we actually made it to the starting line. But there were so many people there that I lost both Amy and Steve before the race even started.

My first mile, as I said, was slow. I was stuck in a giant wall of humanity making its way up the very steep Brady Street hill. I couldn't have run faster if I tried (and I did). By the time I hit the second mile, I'd woven around enough people that I was able to pretty much hit my stride.

Mile three brought with it some of the worst hills. But I was also able to engage in some excellent people watching as I saw other, faster runners headed back to the finish. It gave me quite a lift to see Tom, huge smile on his face, give me an encouraging wave. On the way back, I was happy to see Steve in around the same place where I saw Tom. He and I cheered for each other and gave each other a high five.

In miles four and five, the hills, of course, continued. I was still feeling pretty fresh, so I started picking off runners who were more tired. In the last two miles, I was able to really turn it on. I'd focus on a runner about 100 meters ahead of me and take her down. As in, "I'm coming for you, Pink Hat." I kicked it to the end for a strong finish.

And then, it was time for the post-race party! First things first: I grabbed a popsicle, root beer flavored, and among the finest creations on God's earth. Then, I headed to our designated meeting spot, the flag pole. The first to join me was Tom. I was happy to see that the smile I saw before hadn't left his face, and he vowed to never miss another Bix again. Yay, a new convert!

A few minutes later, a tired looking Amy joined us. She glared at me at first, but once she got talking about the crowds, the great running t-shirts she saw along the way, and the ample junk food, she perked right up. Steve joined us next, drooping at our feet and eating chips for energy, followed by fellow Lounger Dennis and his brother Devin.

Running the race was fun, but hanging out afterwards with friends was even better. We all took advantage of the post-race junk food buffet. I went to get a second popsicle and learned that they were all out of root beer, so I had to settle for grape. "It's a motivation to run faster next year," explained the volunteeer. "We had a new flavor this year, raspberry, but those went fast." I now have a fabulous mental image of all of the Kenyans and Ethiopians crowded around the truck scarfing down raspberry popsicles. And then there was this.

Amy: Do you know what they have here? Twinkies! When was the last time you had a Twinkie?
Tom: About ten minutes ago.

Amy and Tom promised to come back for more Bixes in the future, which made me very happy. And I told them before, and I'll say it again so the whole Internet can hear me: if you guys do a Runners' Lounge booth at the expo, I'll take the day off work to help.


tfh said...

Entertaining report! I especially chortled at the popsicle and twinkies bits. Go Jack! He's lucky to have a running mommy. :)

Laura said...

LOVE that you wouldn't let Jack wear this year's t-shirt... that's awesome :) I'm also totally jealous that you got to meet Amy and Tom, and I love the twinkie conversation. Great race report!

newsjunkie said...

A PR is a PR! Good for you!!

Lexiloo said...

My boyfriend is from the QC and his sister runs the Bix every year!

Kent said...

I am sorry I missed your run and the party with Tom and Amy. I completely understand seeing the good and the bad, but seriously if you are in blue corral you are stuck for the first mile. I was in yellow and still was slowed down by at least a minute by runner congestion. Congrats again on the PR!

Heather said...

Great race report. Love the twinkie comment.

Ovens2Betsy said...

Great race! But I totally understand your frustration with the crowds. That's one of the reasons I don't run many 5Ks any more since they're too darn crowded.

And your love of rootbeer popsicles is yet another indication we're twins separated at birth!

suzee said...

So cool about Jack.

Sounds like a great race! I need more excuses to go to Iowa...(family is from Cedar Rapids). Popsicles are as good an excuse as any. Maybe next year!

Nat said...

Sounds like a good race. :) And like you had fun. There is always next race for a PB.