They say you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
Well… woof, woof, woof.
I apparently learned nothing from my previous experiences running the Bix 7.
And after a weekend full of sore muscles, I’m starting to feel old, too.
Let’s back up — all the way to last year.
This is how I concluded last year’s column:
“…I have a lofty goal for next year. Not only am I going to run the Bix from start to finish, I am going to run my best time ever.”
OK, I’ll give you a few seconds to finish laughing.
I hate to spoil the rest of the column, but, no, I did not run the Bix from start to finish.
And I certainly did not run my best time ever.
As usual, things started well. I went for a few runs in March and April, enough to shake off the winter listlessness.
Then things got busy in May — a state track meet here; a state golf meet there — and they have stayed busy ever since.
By the middle of June, I knew I had to hurry to catch up for all the runs I missed. By the end of June, I knew I was in trouble.
Early in July, I decided to go out and run. It did not go as well as I hoped, but I knew it could be the starting point for one last Bix push.
It was the last time I ran before Saturday.
Last year, I had deluded myself into thinking that maybe all of the work I had done — even if it was not much — would be enough to have a good race.
This time around, there was none of that.
I knew I was doomed.
Even so, I tried to look as athletic as I could when I picked up my race bib on Thursday, checking to see if there were any other Eberharts in the race — family champion for another year!
A day later, my parents hosted me for some carb-loading and promised to be in attendance on Saturday to watch me run.
For a split second on race morning, my brain could not remember why my alarm was going off at 6:30 a.m., it might have been for a happy reason.
Then I remembered, laid back in bed and groaned.
It would not be the last groan of the day.
I got dressed, ate a small breakfast — there might have been cookies involved — and headed to Davenport.
The walk to the starting line was uneventful and I found a spot with as much room as is possible in a race with nearly 10,000 runners and walkers.
A lot of competitors take pictures of the mass of humanity in front of them. I’m more concerned with whether I tied my shoelaces tight enough.
Finally, the race started, and a stream of bodies began to push up Brady Street. It remains awe-inspiring to see the hill filled top-to-bottom with humanity.
Less awe-inspiring is the actual climb up Brady Street. It is steep, it is crowded, and it seems to last forever.
By the time the incline flattened out, I was already a sweaty tired mess. Just over six-and-a-half miles to go.
The stretch after the Brady Street hill is always when I am at my best, and thankfully, my parents chose that stretch to find a place to sit.
I passed them and shouted out a joke — OK, yelped out a joke — and concentrated on the next mile.
By the two-mile mark, though, my body had had enough of running and I slowed down to a walk.
The one lesson that I have learned well from over 10 years of the Bix, is that once you start walking, you’re going to be doing a lot walking.
That was my case. I ran for spurts, but then went right back to walking.
I did not even try to climb my great Bix enemy — the McClellan Boulevard hill — but I did my best to run down it.
At the halfway point, my goal was to take it easy and not push things.
I walked up the hills and then tried to run as long as I could.
During one stretch of running, I passed a spectator who was shouting support. He pointed at me and said: “You’re looking good.”
That might be the nicest thing I’ve ever heard. It was also a huge lie.
So, I jokingly asked back “I am?”
He answered back, “Yeah, because you’re out here doing it.”
Inspired, I made it about two more blocks before I slowed to a walk again.
I was doing it. But I was doing it slowly.
The way back to the finish line featured a lot of walking and a lot of water — usually two cups at a time, one to drink, the other to dump on my head.
I ran past my parents and got back onto Brady Street and headed back down the hill.
I had just enough energy to run the final 400 meters across the finish line, nearly beating two young runners who had decided to piggy-back across the finish.
My time ended up being 1:30:33, a whopping seven minutes slower than last year.
A year ago, that clocking was enough to vow to run the whole thing and run my best time ever.
This dog is going for baby steps.
Next year, I want to beat this year’s time, no matter whether it’s by a little or a lot.
If I can do that, I will be happy.
Oh, and dog tired.
A note about results
Results for the Bix 7 and Quick Bix were given to me for all towns in Clinton County, but there is always a chance that they or I missed someone.
If I am missing you or have something wrong, please let me know and I will make sure you get the credit you deserve.
Because, like me, you were out there doing it.