Monday, June 17, 2013

Race Recap: 2013 Steamboat Classic 4-miler

I was traveling for work again this week, which means lots of driving, some crappy food, minimal exercise, and very long work days.  It was fun working with a new client this week, though - lots of new problems to solve, puzzles to work out with my team.  Good stuff.

Friday we pulled anchor about 3pm and I started the 3-hour drive home... except I needed to go past home, to Peoria, to pick up my race packet for Saturday's race.  Technically, I could have waited until Saturday morning for pickup, but they had a mandatory Friday weigh-in for the "Athena" division... and after my third-place showing in the "Foot-Pounder" division at the Lake Run, you bet I'm signing up for the weight class.  Mandatory weigh-in the night before seems a bit much if you ask me, but what the hell.

So I picked up my packet, and headed back home.  I had a nice evening with the hubby, packing my race gear, listening to too-loud music and had a couple of adult beverages, and off to bed, just a little too late.  Summer has arrived here in central Illinois and the races are starting earlier.  The 40th running of the Steamboat Classic was set to start at 7am.  I got up a little before 5am to run through the shower, get dressed, locate coffee and hit the road.  MAN, I hate getting up that early, but I really enjoy my races!! 

Here's what I noticed before I headed out:
I get to ask them for a Large shirt this year (NOT an Extra Large), and they give me a shirt with "XL" plastered across my chest!  What the HELL, people??  
I've run this four-mile race several times (last year's race recap is here).  It's fun, it's flat, it's fast.  It's HOT.  Last year I started out way to fast and did a lot of walking, finished at 54:29.  The time before, I was on a run/walk interval program and not yet running continuously, and even then I finished in 54:09.  I'm still dealing with some pain in my hip and calves so I wasn't sure how much running I should plan on today, but I dared dream up a goal of finishing under 49 minutes.  I didn't have a plan for a run/walk interval or anything, just "take it as is comes" and walk if and when it felt necessary.  

I met up with Joe and his brothers with about 45 minutes to spare; we chatted it up for a while, and I decided to hit the restrooms while there was still time.  What I found was a line for separate men's & women's restrooms (of course the line for the women's was about half-mile long).  I passed that up in favor of seeking out the porta-potties.  What I found then, was another line about a half-mile long!  Twenty minutes later and I realize there are actually TWO lines, fanning in opposite directions, BOTH of which were about a half-mile long (explains why the line was moving so s l o w l y...)  
Five thousand runners. Twelve porta-johns. Yeah, that math works.
Potty issues aside, I made it to the starting line just before the gun.  It was threatening rain, but all I saw were clouds.  It was a bit hot - about 70 degrees - and super humid.  I ran for about 5 minutes and then checked in:  how are my calves?  How's my hip?  My ankles were feeling weird yesterday after driving all afternoon, how's that going?  I felt GOOD.  I decided to just run by feel, and keep checking in along the way.  If I needed to walk, I'd walk.  

They have quite a few water-stops, especially for such a short distance, but with the heat, that's usually a blessing.  I got to the first stop a little after the 1-mile mark - and NO WATER!  After the whole wait for the bathrooms, I was annoyed about this.  But it was early yet, and I wasn't desperate for hydration or anything.
I made it to the second water stop at mile 2 without any issues.  My Garmin notified me I'd finished the first mile in 11:30 - on pace for my goal - and I was still feeling good. My hip was fine, my calves were starting to loosen up, so I happily kept on going!

After the 2-mile mark there was another water stop - this one WITH water - and I took a break to walk a bit, drink up, and assess my situation.  I was still feeling good so I revved up and got back to it.  I had finished mile 2 in about the same time as mile 1 - 11:35.  With that 90-second break, mile 3 was a bit slower, but I must have sped up a little because I only lost about 40 seconds.
I was feeling great. This is awesome - I feel like I could do this all day!  Only one mile to go!  I could FLY if I want to.  There's no stopping me no---OUCH! What the hell just happened to my hip?!? Oh, Jesus that hurts.  Yup.  Thirty-seven minutes in; Stopped me dead in my tracks.  I walked for another minute, massaging that thing in my hip... right where the PT works on it every week, that thing felt like it was just a little bit on fire.  It hadn't burst into flame but it was definitely smoldering.
OK, so I walk a bit.  Maybe I walk the rest of the way - it's less than a mile to the finish line, it's not that big a deal.
Who am I kidding - only a mile to go, I'm NOT going to walk all that way. This is a race!  For crying out loud, I train for this!  I PAY to do this!  The pain in my hip eased back a notch and I decided to run another quarter-mile and see what happened.  I figured one of two things would happen:  1) it's fine, works itself out in a minute or two, a minute of walking was all that I needed; or 2) it's not fine, and it's not going to be fine, and I'll be walking again within a minute or two.  But I wouldn't know unless I tried running on it again.
And you know, it eased up even more after I started running again.  I was able to run the rest of the way in, and even managed a sprint in the last 30 seconds - the Garmin says I got up to a 6:30 pace in that last burst!!

Overall:  2450 of 3124
Females 35-39: 161 / 229

And check out the Athena Division results: 
Again, it's a REALLY small field and my chances were pretty good to place!  Sadly, I did not.  But I'm happy with 5th place.  I'll take that.

Post-race, the poor organization continued:  this is definitely a theme for this year.  I remembered from last year, they keep the water stowed away about a mile from the finish line - last year I gave up before I found the damn water!  I did find it this time, and stretched for quite a while before I found Joe and his brothers again.
We went for food & snacks and found lines even worse than the porta-john lines.  And don't even get me STARTED on the line for free beer.  Ugh.  We chatted for a while and decided to skip the whole thing.  The guys had a golfing date, and I decided I could probably get myself a free beer at my friend Heather's house.  (She understands the occasional need for a beer at 9am... you know, after a race of course!)

All in all I'm still a fan of the Steamboat Classic.  The weather makes it a very challenging race every year, even though it's flat.  And now, I've got a new personal best to try and beat next year.  (But I may bring my own snacks and a cooler of beer for afterward.)

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