Hubs had a pre-race photo to make, so I dropped him by the start and then went in search of a parking spot. It forced me to park further away, but I was pleased to get in a pre-race warmup. I jogged the 1/2 mile up the street to my own pre-race photo with the Sole Sisters...
I literally stepped in the photo and then shot off to the bathrooms. Sorry ladies, I was really non-social that morning... highly unusual for me. By time I made it through the bathroom lines, the National Anthem was playing and I was cutting it too close for my comfort. I jogged up the sidewalk and slipped in by the 8 min/mile pace sign.
The gun went off and the crowd was slow to get going. Finally, I hit the starting mat and saw some holes in the crowd to shoot through. The first 1/4 mile is the toughest part of this race since it's super crowded and also the only uphill portion of the course. There are no assigned corrals thus lots of walkers and slower folks up front. I can normally get by with ease, but Steamboat is packed and it is tough to maneuver at the start.
I hit the first corner (nearly tripping on a couple kids who cut in front of me) and let out a sigh. Here we go... one long shot to Glen Oak Park and then a turnaround to come back downtown. Straightaways are great in races for speed - no crowded corners to slow you down, but it can also be mundane on the brain. The temps were nice this morning in the low 70's, but that summer humidity still hung in the air.
Mile 1 - 7:58
Mile 2 - 8:27
I didn't feel particularly fast this morning, but when I saw my first mile split at 7:58, I knew I should back it down. I do want to look alive in the last stretch.
Mile 3 - 8:29
I hit the turnaround and pushed into the third mile, which everyone agrees is the hardest of this race. Fatigue is starting to set in and yet you're only halfway done. It's always my worst mile split of Steamboat. I felt myself wavering; my chest compressing, searching for air. At one point, I slowed and caught my breathe. Then I started repeating the names of all my friends who were injured, on the disabled list. It's a long list right now. I focused on remembering every single one of them and just kept repeating their names like a roll call. It took my mind off the discomfort and helped to get me through mile three.
Mile 4 - 8:09
Shortly after crossing under the mile 3 banner, my friend Erin came up on my side. Her words were simple and short... but perfect. "Get that PR Jess... pick 'em off one at a time." I really didn't know how close I was to my 4 mile PR (33:54 at the downhill River Trail Classic), so I just focused on the upcoming turn... Reach it. Push to the corner. Once I made the turn, it was a beautiful downhill shot to the finish.
The past two years I've run Steamboat, I've always had a pile up of people in front of me that make it difficult to sprint that final stretch. This year it was still a busy street, but there was a perfect window of room for me to run. It was like they parted ways for me. Loved it! Perhaps my best finish yet.
I came through the chute exhausted. My secret goal was to get under 33 minutes and I missed that. I still didn't know if I had toppled my PR, but was pleased with my run regardless. I grabbed a couple bottles of water and headed back down the stretch to cheer in my hubby - who is on a streak lately, breaking his PRs at every race he runs. I guess it pays off to not train. Ha!
Official Chip Time 33:28
8:22 average pace
Overall #722 of 3495
Female #171 of 1809
Div F35-39 #16 of 260
In my third year of running Steamboat, I've managed to improve each year by at least a minute...
2011 - 35:55
2012 - 34:33
2013 - 33:28One of the most common questions I get is "How do you get faster?" In my mind, it's simple... Consistency. Get out there every day and keep on running. The speed increases naturally as you become a stronger, more fit runner.
Now the BEST part of Steamboat... the after party! Honestly, I run this race year after year just for the happy runner reunion afterward. It's likely the most popular local race in Peoria, so I get to see lots of my favorite people. It even calls back runners who have moved away to return for a visit. I simply love our time on the grass along the riverfront. Did I mention FREE BEER?!
And after the race beer ran out, we continued our shenanigans at the local Hooters.
After all, it was a long walk back to our car and we needed a bathroom stop...
CHEERS to happy running!