Wednesday, July 30, 2014

BIX 7 Race Recap

Growing up in the Iowa I was no stranger to hearing about the Bix 7 mile road race that happened every year in Davenport, IA just a short distance from my hometown.  Yet, I never ran it until I was well in to my adult years.  With a few exceptions, I don't like races with huge crowds, so it never seemed like a big deal to miss this race.  It seemed to be more hype than anything.  And really I wasn't into longer distances so it just didn't appeal to me.

I first ran the Bix in 2004, back when I only had a 4 pack of kids.  I honestly don't remember why or what motivated me.  Other than I wanted to be able to say I've done the race.  When people knew I was a runner that was a common question asked,  Have I ever run the Bix and I always said no.  I do remember that 03-04 is about when I mentally began to think about long(er) distance running.  Thinking I was capable, but just wasn't sure since I hadn't actually done it yet.  But I wasn't doing anything about that.  I kept with my 3-5 mile runs and called it good.  My husband was down with the idea so we agreed to run it together.  I agreed not to leave him behind and we'd finish together.  We finished in 1:04:52  Also worth noting that I ran in a full homemade Statue of Liberty costume with my torch held up the entire time!!

Fast forward to 2010 and by then I had my full 6 pack & I decided I wanted to run the Bix again.  Dear husband also ran, but this time it was each runner for themself and I finished in 58:42.  This year was the year Ryan Hall ran & won!  I was just beginning to hit the longer distances and really pay attention to those type of runners.  I was a Ryan fan by then, but it totally slipped my radar that he'd be there and I didn't know about it until just before the race started.  That morning it had rained and poured like cats and dogs.  So I couldn't run with my camera (this was before smartphones with cameras and I literally used to run with a camera in my hand to catch those race memories.), but saw him run by me & went wild, screaming like a hormonal teenage girl.

Here we are in 2014 and I was kind of thinking about running, especially since I knew Meb was going to be there and didn't want to miss that opportunity.  It sealed the deal when my 13 year old son also wanted to run the Bix.  So we signed up together and looked forward to the date.  I went to the expo the day before for packet pick up.  I desperately wanted to see and meet Meb, but couldn't seem to find him.  I was distracted with drama over my cat that I had taken in to be put down that morning and just wasn't willing to hunt him down.  I guess I went expecting it to be easy to find him, his table, his booth, whatever & for some reason didn't come across it.  So I left.  Totally bummed out.  I knew he was specifically signing autographs again later in the day, but I wasn't going to be there & some (not me!) didn't think it warranted a second drive over there.

On race morning we lined up with the over 18,000 other people running the race.  In addition to the 7 mile run there is also the Quick Bix that is 2 miles long.  We all start together and head up Brady Street hill.  This is what it looks like:
An overview of what it looks like.

What it looks like on the ground.

Craaaaaaziness!!  But I knew this & was strategical with my running.  If you even want to call it that.  I mean, most people know that you do not run the Bix to run a personal best.  There are just too many people and too much craziness to be able to get out there are run a solid 7 miles.  Not only with the factor of that many people, many of whom do not line up as they should (so annoying the amount of walkers I have to run past & around when they are clearly instructed to line up in the back!), but there is also the factor of the race course.

This is what we are running.  This is no flat & fast course.  So, you go in with the attitude of running/racing for fun and the experience.   Although the Bix is now the spot of the national championship 7 mile race.  So some people are there to go all out & win.  Those elite people are put right up front and have the advantage of being ahead of everyone else.  That is not your average man/woman racing the Bix.

So I told myself, just go run.  Have fun.  Don't worry about time.  I mean, under an hour is always nice, but not going to stress over it.  My son said I didn't have to stick with him, but I told him I would see how things went.  Once the gun went off and we survived the run up Brady St. hill we stuck together until about mile 3.  I was hanging back with him & we watched for the leaders to pass us.  I stopped long enough to snap this picture:

I cheered and screamed madly for Meb and figured that was the closest I was going to ever get to him.

After that I picked up speed and began to run a little more intently.  My son seemed to be doing fine & I was in the mood to push harder.  I continued to pick up my pace and really began to run as if my finish time was going to matter.  Well, it always matters to me, but really my competitiveness began to creep out and I could no longer just run for fun.  I most definitely wanted to run a sub 1 hour and I knew my previous time & wanted to beat that too.

I finished in 55:56

Not too bad.  Especially considering I didn't really turn on the speed until right before the half way point.  It's a PR for me and I was happy with it..  Here are my mile splits:
Mile 1:  8:51
Mile 2:  7:54
Mile 3:  8:11
Mile 4:  7:29
Mile 5:  7:22
Mile 6:  7:36
Mile 7:  6:45

Here are my finishing stats:
1,396/10,790 overall finishers
260/5,355 female finishers
19/609 female finishers in my age group 35-39

Not going to lie.  I'm already thinking that I want to find out how fast I really can run this race.  I can seed myself faster to get in a start coral closer to the start and I can run  like I mean it from the get go.  That's where I can start, the rest would be up to me & my speed.

My son John also ran very well.  He finished in 1:02.  Super awesome for it being his first ever 7 mile race.  And for being 13 and honestly not training a lot.  I mean he did train some, but not in any serious manner.  I think he's got some of his mommy's natural speed.  Here we are after the finish:

And then we made our way in to the after party.  I found my Muscatine Running Friends and chatted with them.  Started to bust a move, with some dancing and just plain having fun.  When the awards were presented they had Meb giving out the awards.  I didn't know how the race went for Meb, but he finished 12 even though he was in the lead when I saw him.  So I moved right up to the stage to get as close to him as possible.  I snapped this picture:

Again, thinking that I wouldn't get to actually meet him.  I at least wanted a selfie with him in the background.  After the men's awards were done I kept hanging around....yeah, like a creeper & I saw someone getting their picture with him so I lurked a little bit closer and when he was done with that person I walked right up and asked for a picture with him:

I was over the moon.  I told him congratulation on Boston and that I'd see him there next year!  He was very nice & polite & shook my hand.  I was completely star struck.  By then a line was forming to greet him.  In the mean time they were announcing the female winners and I heard that Sarah Hall, Ryan's wife, had won second place.  I was so wrapped up in Meb being there that I paid no attention to the females that would be racing.  I kept a close eye on her because I was wondering if Ryan was there too.  No such luck, or if he was, I didn't see him.  I was too chicken to approach her or make it seem like I didn't really care about her, but rather her husband.  So since I didn't see him around I didn't approach her.  Kinda kicking myself over that one.  She does seem like a stand out person!!

There was still a line of people to meet Meb.  He was also signing their bibs and I hadn't even thought about getting his autograph so I joined the line and waited again to meet him.  This time I had my son go talk to him as well.
Such a proud mommy moment, watching my son meet this legendary runner.  They chatted for a few moments (Meb is so casual and at ease) and then he asked my son, John, if it was his first time running this race & when John answered yes Meb stopped and with a big smile on his face gave John a high five.  I was not fast enough to catch that moment, but it's sealed in my mind forever!  Meb seemed so happy and proud of my son!!

I stepped up and had Meb sign my bib as well and got a more up close & personal picture of us:
 Yep, a selfie moment!!

This was definitely a very memorable Bix for me.  I plan to be back next year.  I can always keep my fingers crossed that Ryan will be back, although I'll take any race & any chance to meet him even if it's not the Bix.  For the first time I'll be running the Bix with a bit more seriousness.  I can't change the mass of people there or the hills we have to tackle, but I can run all out and do my best.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ah, ah, ah, ah....stayin' alive....stayin' alive.....

A few weekends ago I made a quick trip over to my hometown of Muscatine, IA.  I was only gone for about 14 hours as I only went over for 2 purposes, 3 if you count sleep.  I had spent Saturday morning taking it easy, sleeping in, relaxing out on the porch, getting caught up on chores, etc.  I should've run much earlier in the day, but I kept putting it off.  I finally decided that I would just run when I arrived at my parent's home.  They have a nice trail right by their house and I could catch an easy few miles.

I left home much later than I expected, but that was the nice thing about a day that didn't have a lot of demand.  (Those don't happen very often and are nice from time to time!!)  When I was about 20 miles away from Muscatine I saw the sky darkening and just a hint of lightening way off in the distance.  Oh no!  Suddenly I was filled with visions of bad weather once I arrived & being unable to run.  *gulp*  I drove a few miles, weighing my options and playing out what ifs and worse case scenerios.  As I drove closer it became more evident that I was heading in to bad weather.  I did not want to run the risk of ruining my streak due to this.  (Although honestly if I was unbelievably desperate I was run in place for 10-15 minutes if I HAD to).  Not wanting to resort to drastic measures, I did what any other insane runner does.  I parked the car......

and I ran.  Yes, I turned on my gps, ran down the road a little over 1/2 mile and then came back.  It was humid as all get out and I was practically eaten alive by bugs, but I did it.  I was actually dressed properly since my original plan was to run as soon as I got to my parents anyway.  I made it all the way to the outskirts of New Boston, IL

and then headed back.  The spot where I ran was right on the edge of this storm system.  As I ran away from my car it was bright and sunny, as I got back to my car it was cloudy, overcast and beginning to rain with the lightening in the far distance. You can see the lighting difference in my pictures.  I took the bottom one first and the top one second about 5 minutes apart.  Phew....that was close.  Running streak is STILL alive.

Thankfully so because as suspected the weather & storms only became worse as I approached Muscatine.  I arrived at my parents just in time before a complete downpour, heavy winds and the tornado sirens going off.  Funny thing though, we sat and visited as if it was a bright sunny day.  (When you've lived in the midwest your whole life "bad" weather doesn't always faze you.)  I was at my parents long enough to inhale a plate or two full of my mom's delicious tacos and then we went to bed.
(My dad with his personalized Coke and my plate full of tacos.  I wanted to instagram the moment)

The next morning I had a 3:30 a.m. wake up call.  It's what all normal people do on Sunday, right?!?!  After a quick check of the weather (thankfully the storms had moved to the south as it would have ruined my plans) I got ready to meet up for a long run from Muscatine to West Liberty.  I knew for sure my Muscatine Running Friend Tony was going to be there to run.  We threw out an announcement to others to join us, but it ended up just being us two.  Three, if you count my dad who was nice enough to drive sag for us.  (Quick running lesson: sag stands for support and guidance.  A person who is willing to drive along or ahead to help us on longer runs.  It allows us to put all of our equipment in the vehicle and stop every so often to fuel up, take a break, etc.  They can also drive ahead and then alert us of any danger or changes to our route that we don't know is up ahead.)  A few years ago Tony & I ran this solo.  On one hand it is "only" 17ish miles, in the big picture that is doable to sustain on your own.  But it's always nice to ditch all the extra stuff and run light.

We took our start picture before we headed out at 4:30 a.m.
Soon, we were running down a dark, pitch black country road.

We took our time and made our way to West Liberty.  The run was pretty quiet and uneventful.  We both enjoyed each other's company with talking and long moments of silence.  My foot held up pretty well (will need to update soon on my plantar fasciatis  and how that is coming along.) as long as I stopped and stretched it out every so often.  Typically we stop and the big brick West Liberty sign for a picture.  I told my dad where to go ahead & wait for us, but instead I found him pulled over before that spot.  I yelled (as in shouted so he could hear me...I never have nor will I yell at my father in a disrespectful manner) at him to move ahead, but that's when he informed us that the road was covered with water.  The rain and storms from the night before had the creek overflowing and making the area un-reachable.  The road itself was barely passable, but getting a photo op with the sign was not going to happen.  We improvised, got as close as we could and took a selfie with it in the background.

A few more miles in to West Liberty and we were at our destination, a 5k race that was being held at the fairgrounds.
My gps had us at 16.5 miles, I wanted to round that up so I ran around the fair grounds to make it an even 17 miles.  Tony stayed and ran the race, but after visiting with lots of other Muscatine Running Friends, I headed home with my dad.  I'm big on tradition and this seems to be a little something that I do each year and look forward to doing it again and again.  So for another year I was able to keep it alive!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Runner's World Cover Contest

Recently on vacation I entered the Big Splash contest.

So it's fair to say I'm ok with entering contests.  Maybe because I'm really competitive and I can't pass up a chance to succeed at something.  Or because I like to have fun and am willing to go out of my comfort zone to take advantage of all that life has to offer me.  Although, I'm not sure I've ever entered a contest of national magnitude.  Nothing like trying for a spot to be on the cover of a internationally known magazine.  Like Runner's World.

Photo credit:  Runner's World Magazine

I have a lot of thoughts and insight to the whole idea, but for now I really want to get to word out there that I have entered this contest.  I'd really, really, REALLY appreciate all the votes I can get.  I'm a few weeks behind of getting my entry submitted, but I have a lot of faith in the many people in my life who will vote for me and help spread the word.  You can find a direct link to vote for me HERE or you can go to the Runner's World webpage & click on the upper right corner to find me amongst the entries.  

Here is the picture I submitted:

I seriously LOVE this picture of me running!!  If you would be so inclined to spread the word all over your social media I would certainly enjoy that too.  Make sure you include my hashtags #6packmomma #sherunseverywhere and the contest one #RWCoverContest  

I thank you much in advance & can't wait to see what happens!  I believe that anything is possible if you are just willing to go after it!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The show must go on!

I know I don't have to give you an explanation, but I will.  And it will be brief because I really don't have a lot of time to spend on here.  But life is so busy spinning out of control.  In a good way, for a good reason.  And I'm almost to the end of the tunnel where there is a big bright light, a spot light it seems like since that what I'm seeing a lot of recently.

For the past several summers I have been involved in the summer production, a musical, that is put on by the community theater.   Yes, ladies and gentleman I love to sing and dance.  While I do it probably every single day in one form or another....mostly in my kitchen or living room, but just about anywhere you can catch me belting out a song and moving my feet to the music.  It's especially fun to put said talent on the big stage and add my bit to a larger part of a show and perform it for other's entertainment.

So, that is my big time culprit right now.  In the last 2 weeks I've had rehearsal almost every single night.  This last week especially has been from 6-10.  Then by time I get home I have to unwind.  So I've had a lot of late nights and then turn around and have some early mornings.  Oh and throw in a day of birthday-ness this past week (Tuesday was my birthday) and I am stretched thin and exhausted at the same time.  Now, I really REALLY do love what I'm doing in the show.  LOVE.  IT.  But it is wearing on me and I'm ready for it to be done.

I'll have to show you some pictures and video after it's all said and done.  And hopefully, keeping my fingers super crossed, things WILL slow down after my final show on Sunday and I can resume a little bit of normalcy.  My running has not suffered too terribly much, but it's hanging by a thread along with other areas of my life.

Until then, the show must go on and it's opening night for my musical:

I wanna hear from you, comment below and tell me:
Do you like musicals?  I am very much a musical lover, but am especially fond of Guys and Dolls since I saw it on Broadway many years ago.  It's always been a favorite of mine and now I get to be in it!!

What other talents do you have?  I often hear the comment "is there anything you can't do", well.... underwater basket weaving is something I've never tried, but I'm sure I'd be horrible at it, so we'll leave it be.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Can't catch my breath, lack luster running and how I benefit from it all

We arrived back home late Sunday evening from vacation.  A very wonderful, amazing vacation!!  And we hit the ground running on Monday.  So it's been a pretty rough week with me feeling like I can't seem to catch my breath.  So luckily the first part of my title doesn't relate to my actual running, which is going ok considering my foot issues.

My running has been lack luster this week, mostly due to getting back in the flow of life and sheer exhaustion from such a great week away.  Mentally, emotionally, spiritually I was completely well rested.  Physically though I was drained and I felt like I was hanging by a thread so it resulted in short easy runs.  If I did manage a decent distance it was feeling very slow and disjointed.  It was frustrating, but I took the time while running (I do a lot of thinking, analyzing, pondering, etc. when I run) to think of a positive that can come from this type of running.  What I came up with was that having my body run through this helps it deal with the later stages of ultra running.  In terms of Howl at the Moon I always hit a point where I really slow down and kind of shuffle along.  This often happens in the later stages of the race, after the 50k mark and the temperatures are pretty high.  I need to work on keeping my form, stride and pace at a more even consistency.  Or at least aim to hit no lower than a certain pace.  If I can work on that now, hopefully it will benefit my race performance.  

This also brought to mind how this correlates with my Christian life, which is also my everyday life and a vital part of who I am, and how I need to persevere through tough times and hold on to my faith when I'm completely exhausted and/or things are just not flowing like I want them to.  I don't want to talk too much about vacation in this post (one is coming just for that), but last week a lot of chapel time was spent on hearing messages being preached on the topic of running.  Or running related things.  The preaching itself was great, but then to have running tied in to all of was like a big ole cherry on top!!  So I shared some of my own thoughts with the speaker, an old friend of mine, and how I often connect my running to my every day life and faith and walk with God.  After all, my running is a direct gift from God and it is woven into every fabric of my being from Him.  So it makes sense (at least to me and that's all the matters) that one reflects the other.  I've always maintained that my blog is about my running and not a platform for "preaching" about God and Christianity.  And I still stand by that, however I was challenged on vacation last week about finding and utilizing opportunities to tell others about God.  And when I wasn't even expecting it I was also challenged (indirectly) by another blogger, Adam Condit, to share my faith more and to show exactly how God has woven running in to every fabric of being.  After all, God does get all the glory and I know that, but I'm not particularly good at expressing it so I often keep it to myself.

I'm still pressing forward in my training for Howl at the Moon, which is less than a month away (insert freak out here!!).  No, it's not going like I would like it to be, but it's going.  I did finally get a few days to physically rest up and feel a little more back to "normal".  I feel like it takes a more consecrated effort to get rested up.  I have to force myself to sleep in and take it easy, which I really hard for me to do.  But sometimes in order to move forward I have to take a few steps back.

I'm looking forward to getting you all up to speed on my happenings these last few weeks.  Have a great weekend!!