Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bix7 2015 - from the observer's perspective

Not racing, but wearing one of the shirts from previous years & one of my Bix7 visors

Sometimes, it's not all about me. Shocker, huh!

Do you have a race that you have done a few times, but just keep going back and doing it again (and again)? Case in point-The Quad Cities Times Bix7. Except this year, I didn't lace up and pin on the race bib.

Granted, the thought crossed my mind (several times, actually). I have run this race three times, most recently last year (here's the blog post LINK), and it's a grand event.

Imagine, if you will, a race course that not only involves constant hills...but starts out with the biggest grand daddy of them all at the start line (we're talking most of the entire first mile feels like you're going straight up). The distance is unique....seven miles, kind of a long distance to sprint, but not so far that you need a super conservative pace to sustain yourself. Did I mention this happens in July? In Iowa? And the weather (almost) always ensures very hot and humid race day conditions. And this event draws upwards of 10,000 racers, enticing the top finishers (male and female) with a $12,500 cash prize.

The finish line...except this year I crossed it in sandals.....

Having just come off my first-ever ultra race, I'm in the throngs of recovery. The first couple days post-race had some major stiffness and typical aches and pains. All of that has ended, though, and I probably could have registered onsite and toed the start line of the Bix7....but I elected not to. This race is always tough, even under ideal conditions, so I know it would have been even more challenging considering what I just put my body through a week prior.  I'm experienced enough in running (and recovery) to know one's body is never as "fully recovered" as it may appear to others (or feel to oneself), and I have learned to respect the recovery process. Although the residual aches and pains are minimal this go-round, I am choosing to let them heal completely before I dive back into another training cycle.

My friend, Barb, had registered spur-of-the-moment for the Bix7, but didn't decide until a couple days prior whether or not to actually run it. I decided to go along and cheer her on (and also several other friends). I've never actually watched the Bix7, so I was eager to be a spectator and take it all in from an "observer's perspective."

So, there we were, downtown Davenport, Iowa on another hot and sticky July morning. The excitement in the air was almost as heavy as the humidity. There was no denying the constant, nagging envy I felt in seeing all the racers walking around with race bibs, but I knew I was doing the right thing in sitting this one out.

Almost ready for the start line, AJ (Barb's daughter), Barb herself & me

Also on tap for the day was meeting up with our oldest daughter, who is currently doing an internship in the Quad Cities for the summer. She had a couple friends running as well, and her and I (and some of her friends) were going to hang out after the race was finished.

With the daughter

Barb took off to get in her corral, and AJ (her daughter) and I began the climb up a nearby street to get to a viewing spot on the course.  I purposely left my running shoes back at home so I wouldn't be tempted to register onsite at the expo (or even on race day morning), so I was high-tailing it (at a rather fast "speed walk" pace) in less-than-ideal shoes (cute, sparkly sandals). We heard the National Anthem, and saw the flyover airplanes, and then heard the starter gun. We made it to Kirkwood, and were positioned right near the 1-mile mark (which is also near the 6-mile mark, on the opposite side of the boulevard, for when the racers are making the return trip from the turn-around).

It really was exciting seeing all the runners!  The first mile of this race is probably the most challenging, due to the intensity of the hill, so several of the runners were already walking. We had to wait for quite awhile before there was a big enough gap to allow us to cross the street and stake a place on the boulevard dividing the two lanes of the road.

We saw a group of US Army guys, walking the course in full gear. Seeing military personnel at events like this always gives me a lump in my throat.

These guys all received a round of applause

 It was around the 30-minute mark when we spotted the cluster of lead runners coming towards us. Since I had not planned on running the race this year, I had not paid much attention to any of the pre-race press. Last year, Meb Keflezighi (the 2014 Boston Marathon champion) was one of the featured elites at the race. Imagine my utmost surprise in seeing him at the expo again this year! I had not heard if he was actually racing or not, so I scanned the group of lead racers.....and didn't see him.

I'm not sure if he's in this pack, but the 2015 Bix7 champion was Leonard Korir, with a fast finish time of 33:06

 A short while later, though, there he was! He makes this running thing look so easy! Go Meb!

I was close enough to give Meb a high-5...but I didn't want to break his stride. He finished 8th overall, with a time of 34:01. YOWZA!

We waited, and kept scanning the runners, looking for Barb. We were approached by a trio of Elvis impersonators, though. We told them we were looking for Barb.....and they took off walking into the crowd of approaching runners, shouting "Barb? Is there a Barb out there?" (Seriously, I'm  not making that up!) A short while later, we spotted her coming towards us.

Way to go, Barb! Only one mile left, and it's all downhill!

Eager to get back to the finish line, we headed back towards downtown. Let's just say the downhill jaunt went much quicker than the uphill climb earlier.

Barb had finished by the time we got to the finish area. It was roped off, to keep the non-runners out of the crowded after-party area. It didn't take us long to find her, though.  We congratulated her on her finish, and chatted for a few minutes. She said the race had been tough with the high temps and extreme humidity. Her and AJ needed to clear out, so I headed over to the meeting spot where my daughter was stationed.

Just after finding the daughter, I also found Tammie! She's a gal I have known through Facebook and recently met her in person at another race. This was her first Bix7 and she also thought it was difficult in the heat, but thought the event was fun.
Glad I gt to see Tammie again!

Also happening that morning, a few blocks over from the Bix7 finish line, was Street Fest, and the street was lined with numerous vendors selling craft items and food.

Wow! So many colors and patterns!

Our first stop was a booth that had numerous colorful braided bracelets. The art geek in me was in heaven! So many choices! We snagged a few bracelets; a couple for the daughter, and one for myself. I probably won't actually wear it on my wrist, but plan to tie it onto my race belt, so I'll have it with me for some of my future races.
What do you think? Pretty cool, huh! A great momento from the day!
We also bumped into my cousin, Jessica, and some of her family. I had not spotted her on the race course, so it was great to find her in the crowd of people at Street Fest. This was her second year running the Bix7, and also wasn't too happy with the weather conditions (do you see a pattern here?)

It was great seeing Jessica and family!

Later, we spent some time at the Figge Museum (also down near the all the activity). They had free admission, and several floors of art to peruse (in a beautiful, air-conditoned setting).

at Figge Museum

The daughter, like her mother, also has an appreciation for all things art. We were especially intrigued by the Corn exhibit.....several hanging glass ears of corn, in multiple colors. Hmmm, how's that for an Iowa-themed display!


Posing in front of the multi-colored corn.....one of the new headbands already put to use (we also found some funky headbands)

Not certain how many miles I walked in the fancy sandals, but apparently too many. I have never had both soles of a pair of sandals come off before...and this happened with my being totally unaware of it. No wonder my shoes were making so much noise in the quiet museum.

Seriously, what's up with that?

All in all it was a great day. I got to watch a great race, with lots of speedy runners. I had a small brush with fame in seeing Meb (though I didn't get his autograph this year). Time spent with the daughter is always great, especially since she's not living at home this summer. I got to cheer on a few friends as they ran, and I was able to meet up with the ones I missed. And, I'll never turn down a tour through a museum.

After my 4-miler.....hot & humid, the new headband thoroughly broken it! (Can you tell the daughter and I have very similar taste in hair accessories?)

Although I was a little bummed to sit this one out, I do plan on running the Bix7 again, several more times in the future. I went for a 4-mile run on Sunday in very similar weather-line conditions as the Bix7 racers endured the day prior. The run wasn't difficult, but I could tell my body still needs a little more time off from longer distances (my left foot is still a little wonky from the plantar fasciitis issues earlier in the summer). And that's all fine. I have nothing to prove to anyone, and nothing to gain from doing too much too soon. I have some half marathons coming up in the fall, and I'll be rested, recovered and raring to go!

How do you feel about hot & humid runs? Got any big races on tap for the fall racing season?


  1. I love the headbands! I've been looking for some like that everywhere! Looks like i"ll have to hit up a craft fair or something.

    It's fun to spectate--sometimes--isn't it?

  2. Well, good for you holding back from registering, I'm sure that was hard. Looks like a tough race. And how the heck does Meb run a small town race like that? That's pretty awesome!