Monday, July 27, 2020

2020 (virtual) Bix-7 recap


The Quad-City Times Bix-7 is yet another favorite race that succumbed to a virtual format.

To say this was like any other virtual race, though, would be a drastic untruth. But, hey, this 2020. We got to make the best of the situation...so that's what we did.

When I say "we," I'm referencing (1) the Bix-7 event itself (I was an ambassador, so I got to see things--somewhat--from an insider perspective), (2) the virtual race course I ran on on race day, and (3) my awesome virtual team of badass runner friends, Team On Fire.

A quick synopsis of the Quad-City Times Bix-7, now in its 46th year, is that it's a grand event that takes place on the last Saturday of July in Davenport, Iowa. The out-and-back race course is famous for its hills, especially the first hill on Brady Street, right outta the gate. That baby lasts for almost 3/4 of a mile and feels like you're running straight towards the sky. Being this takes place in the heat of summer, you can be guaranteed a warm and humid race day as well. 

Although I've only run this race four times prior (2009, 2010, 2014 and 2019), it's hands-down one of my absolute favorite events. Granted, not everyone is a fan of the summer heat; throw in an especially hilly course, and the Bix-7 is a tough sell. But, there's nonstop crowd support along the route, live bands, several water stands, a few Slip-n-Slides and several sprinklers to run through. And, there's a kick-buttocks after-party immediately following the finish line.

This year, along with all things #COVIDcrazy, the race had to assume a virtual format. Bummer for those of us who love the live course (with all its nuances), but that made for a great opportunity for many non-local peeps to take part. Enter Team On Fire, a group of bloggers we all know and love, and this virtual race had all the makings of a great experience.
Top row: Rene'e, Montana, Kim
Botton row: Zenaida, Cari, myself

In prepping for the big day, we exchanged ideas on a theme, including running gear colors. This race is typically a hot and sweaty endeavor, so I suggested a fire theme since we'd all be "on fire" from running. Let's not forget there has been a substantial heat wave engulfing most of us in recent weeks. it worked out for all of us to run virtually together on July 25th, which would have been the actual race date had the event not been "virtualized."

For myself, I wanted to run a hilly route to best mimic the Bix-7 race course. As with most of my running adventures, my ever loyal companion and fellow Bix-7 alumni, Barb, was along for the fun. I've mentioned the hilly bike path that goes out west of town, which is a near 14-mile out-and-back distance. If you do the math, you can see that running this path one way, as a point-to-point, would give us seven miles (or there about). Perfection!

my "starting line" pic
Race day arrived, and we had "ideal" weather to simulate a true Bix-7 race experience. The hubby even voluntarily got up early (at 5:30 a.m.) to drive us out to our virtual start line. Barb had set out some water near the halfway point of the path, and I had a handheld bottle with Nuun. We were ready.
ready to run!

Let's just say it was gonna be a warm day. The sun was barely above the horizon and the air was muggy already. 


can you say Heat Advisory?

Even though this wasn't the actual race course, I was excited to take on the bike path hills on foot. I know that sounds a little crazy.  Even though I had ridden these hills numerous times on my bike, I had never run the hills on the back part of the bike path. 

Similar to the Bix-7 race course, we had a decent-sized hill as soon as we started. Unlike the race course, though, it was just Barb and myself, so we didn't have a crowd of runners (or numerous walkers) to weave in and around. Also, the hill was big, but definitely felt much easier on foot than on wheels.

So, onward! We made it the near halfway point, which gave us a brief change in direction (going south for about half a mile instead of due east) and the smallest hill of the morning. By then, we'd already conquered four hills in the span of approximately three miles.

As we made our turn for the remaining 3+ miles, I paused to grab a quick pic of the final two hills that lie ahead. There's a good downhill that gets us there, but then a long steady climb. It levels off for about 1/8 of a mile, then there's a short (but very steep) climb up that final hill.


After reaching the top of the final hill, there's about two miles remaining. Fortunately, those final miles are on pretty level land for the remainder of the "race course." Whew! 

We had contemplated running a few bonus miles (to get to 10 total miles for the day). After all those hills, though, we agreed that seven miles were sufficient.

How'd we do? Our pace was decent, considering the heat, humidity and the hills. That said, we did not treat this as an actual race...we ran it strong and steady, but neither of us had any intentions of "racing" it. Our finish time was good, but not in PR contention. Had there been some crowds of people, or even a few other fellow runners, it may have been a different story. Not a big deal.


In comparison to the actual Bix-7 race course, though, I think our virtual route was a little tougher. The Bix-7 hills are tough, no doubt, but there are fewer of them. Also, with the exception of that first hill on the race course, the other hills aren't as long. As for the sweat equity quotient? We surpassed that! My shorts were practically sagging on me because they were so perspiration-laden (I know, #eew). 

  

All in all, this was a fun experience. Like any other runner, I'd much prefer a live race to another virtual event, but that's not our reality at the moment. Even though races are getting cancelled, running is not...and I believe in celebrating that. I'm really glad we were able to (somewhat) mimic the Bix-7 course. And, even though the hills were tough, it was pretty empowering running some "new" ones. There's a lot to be said about a change of venue, right? 

There was some nice swag for this. The shirts are cotton, but colorful and comfy. We received the commemorative "7" sticker, and the bibs were available by downloading (but I didn't wear it on race day). There also was a nice volunteer pin that came in my packet (which, BTW, arrived well in advance of race day). The pins would have gone to the race course volunteers, but instead were mailed out to the registrants, in hopes we'd give the pin to a special someone who has been a great source of support. I thought that was a nice touch!


So, that's my fifth experience with the Bix-7. It wasn't quite the same as in years past, but it was hilly, it was hot, and it was humid (LOL). And, I had an awesome team of gal pals, virtually, running it with me. Does it get any better?

Have you ever rallied a team of friends for a race, virtual or in-person? If you were running a virtual race, would you try to simulate the race course, or just run the distance? How many of your races have gone virtual this year?

I'm linking this with Kim and Zenaida for the Tuesday Topics Link-Up

I'm also linking with Debbie,  RachelDeborahLisaSandra and Jenn for the Runners' Roundup

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28 comments:

  1. Well done, Kim and Barb! I love how you planned and executed the Bix 7. Sounds like a tough run!
    Kim, I think the volunteer pin should definitely be awarded to your husband who got up at 5.30am and drove you to the virtual starting line. What a great supporter! :-)
    Also, I love the photo of the Team On Fire!

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    1. Truthfully, the hubby was my first choice, but I seriously doubt he'd wear it. He's not really a sentimental person, either LOL I am giving it to a special cousin of mine, who has always been a supportive cheerleader

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  2. This is so cool and I love the idea of the pins. I also love the square of pictures, and your coordinated outfits. I've only done three virtual races so far and no teams for any of them - one club 10k and two charity runs which I loved and were very well-supported and organised.

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    1. This really turned out to be a lot of fun, despite it not happening on the real race course. The power of running friends, local and virtual, is simply amazing ;-)

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  3. Love, love the FIRE colours (I may steal that for my next time trial event!), the awesome team and that you deliberately chose a hilly route to mimic the actual race course! This reminds me of a Setswana saying, "monate wa iterelwa" - loosely translated it means, "You make your own fun" - and this reminds me of that - we have so little control of what's going on at the moment, but we have the power to still have fun, to make our own fun.

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    1. Oh gosh...You make your own fun...total truth!!!!! You are right, we have little control of what is going on around us, but we do have 100% control of our attitude, thoughts and actions.

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  4. My small running group (which I don't actually run with now) started because of me, oddly enough. I asked some friends to go to Wineglass with me, they asked some friends, and so on.

    I wouldn't have been able to join in. Although thinking about it, I do have on red running skirt but otherwise no red in my running apparel!

    Glad you had your time, your running friend -- even your hubby in on the fun! Congrats, Kim!

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    1. Thanks, Judy! It was a bummer this race had to go virtual, but that is the norm at the moment. I'm glad we all could pitch in and make the best of the situation ;-)

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  5. I really enjoyed running this race virtually with you and the other bloggers - it was fun! Hopefully one day we can do a race together in person.

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    1. I am SOOOO glad you could run it with me, too ;-) It would be great to get you to Iowa next summer to run the real race...but, I respect the heat is not your gig. None the less, we do need a reunion!!!

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  6. Sounds like you made the best of the virtual race! And I love that they sent out those pins, that was a really nice touch :)

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    1. Thanks!! I agree, the pins was such a nice touch! I think it's great that they usually give them out to the volunteers, but this was a great way of saying thanks to others, in this crazy year.

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  7. Congrats Kim! Even though "real" racing isn't an option right now, I've certainly had real feelings from doing the virtual versions of some of my favorite races. As far as making the race course true to life, what I've done so far is to give myself a flat course for 5k & 10k, since I'm really focused on PR'ing those distances. I'm not anywhere as near experienced in the half, plus I don't want to run a mile loop 13 times, so for those I did a more realistic course. I runfess that I've picked good weather days for all of my virtuals.

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    1. That's the beauty of virtuals, YOU get to have a hand in playing Race Director ;-) I'm glad we had the typical hot & humid weather last weekend because that's exactly what the Bix is all about LOL

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  8. Great job! Sounds like you did a good job of making your race similar to the real thing. My half from May finally gave up and decided to go virtual, but we also have the option to defer. I haven't decided what I'll do yet.

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    1. I had a half, from late April, that finally decided to go virtual...we've been waiting forever for that decision. I also have a 1-mile race that is part of a "double" event with that half, so I'll have to figure out how to swing BOTH of those. The 13.1 route was through a hilly part of Des Moines (go figure LOL), so I might try to drive over there some weekend and run the route on my own....if I can remember it.

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  9. I love how you found a few ways to make this virtual race a memorable one. It's funny how running and biking on the same route does feel different. Sorry I had to bail out last minute. Nice job all of you!

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    1. I rode the hilly bike path last night (after work), and it actually didn't feel as tough as usual. Those long (and steep) hills are such beasts, though! I hope that hip is starting to play a little nicer...bummer to have that happening to you.

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  10. Such a fun experience!

    I've definitely rallied people to a race before, although most virtuals have been done on my own.

    Congratulations!

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  11. I think it's great that you got a group of runners to run virtually with you! It's a great idea! Nice job in a tough race.

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    1. This was a lot of fun, even though we weren't all side-by-side ;-)

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  12. Love it and love that I got to be a part of it! It was so much fun to coordinate and run together! Thanks for having me as part of the group :-)

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  13. I've heard great things about this race and know a few friends that have run it. Heat and hills are not my friends, but I might be able to make an exception and maybe run this race. :-)

    Hopefully there is another race we can all do virtually again.

    Thank you for linking up with us!

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    1. This is a tough course, no doubt, but that's part of the allure. Doing tough things in the midst of everyone else is rather empowering...and the crowd support is intoxicating!

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  14. This was so much fun to be a part of, and I love that another non-blog friend knew and championed the race. One day I'll get there. I don't have interest in running every state, but running friends' favorite races? Absolutely.
    In both the virtuals I"ve done this year, the syncing up and planning has been even more fun than the actual running. I might have to see whether NYRR's free Season of Light has a group option and I can "host" one for all of you.
    Hilly bike path makes me laugh -- that was a thing in Bermuda too. Way to go you two on finding a harder route than the course

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    1. It would be fun for a bunch of us bloggers to take turns "hosting" a favorite race-gone-virtual! Besides, so many races support a worthwhile charity and/or cause...that's a win-win!

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