Feel free to call me Curly, because with as many miles behind me, I’m feeling a bit like a globetrotter. Somewhere around 10,000 miles traveled overseas only left me with a 4 day travel hiatus before heading out on a 5,000 mile round trip road trip. The last few weeks has seen about as many time zones as fingers on both hands (more if you don’t count thumbs as fingers) and enough coffee consumption to be of concern to most medical professionals. But alas, I’m back in my home state and enjoying a bit of RNR along the coast before amping things back up for the season, and more importantly gaining the courage to drive across the country to get back home. All in all, everything up to this point has been a major blessing.
Not fully aware of what capabilities I had, I felt the wheels finally starting to turn at the USA Championship 5k in late June. Followed by a relatively successful European tour, the Bix 7 was simply icing on the cake. Anything that brought me across the finish line would’ve been ok in my book. But I feel that I got much more than what I anticipated. With it being my first appearance at the Bix 7, along with the added dread of the hill heavy course, I wasn’t aware of what to expect.
Given that the warm-up went well and my body was still feeling pretty solid given the amount of travel, I figured I may have something to offer at this. Lining up for the start, we had an added 10-15 minutes of unexpected announcements and procedures before the race got underway. However, I don’t think I could have been more relaxed if I had been enjoying a nice brunch. And there’s not much more relaxed I can get than at brunch. Lining up next to Meb, I thought of all the talent in the field and was excited to show off what I may be able to do.
With the sound of the gun came the first uphill. Knowing that we went through the first mile in 5:12, I understand why the dreaded hill felt relaxed. Yet, the pace quickly picked up after that, coming through the 2 mile in 9:41. I was surprised to be up in the front and feeling so good, even taking over the lead at a few spots, surprised by the overall ease of the pace. With a few more rolling hills, I elected to fall off the pack to conserve for later in the race. Around half way I counted out to 10th place or so and figured if I didn’t start moving up the ladder soon, the race was going to get away from me. So I found guys falling off and moved up to them, while others caught me and helped me move up as well.
Mile 4, and I was top 10, but not happy with an 8th place finish so I kept fighting. I knew there wasn’t much room left in the race, and made for the next group of guys in front of me. Final uphill through 5 ½ felt surprisingly good, considering I almost took myself out of it earlier in the race.
Final few strides to the peak and a top five finish was in my reach. Reaching the downhill I simply let gravity do its work and let ‘em rip. Meb stepped aside halfway down the hill as I passed him, which surprised me, but I was feeling great and going for a new downhill speed record, showcasing the speed hands. I was in the fifth place spot and gaining on fourth when I turned the final corner onto the home stretch. Had the race been a tich longer, fourth could’ve been mine. But the race only called for 7 and I was pretty happy and a bit surprised by my placing along with the overall ease of the second half of the race.
I don’t regret the controlled effort I put forth on the day. Could I have done better? Possibly. But it was the overall feeling of the race that I was most happy with and even more so, gave me some affirmation as to the fact that I belong in such races. And while I forced myself into a short break from running, I look forward to gearing up for the roads again this fall, starting September 1st at the 20k Championships, which is another entirely new distance for me. In the meantime, I’ll be doing much the same as my car and simply putting in more mileage than most would care to fathom.