Ross Eberhart

Ross Eberhart

Sports Editor

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.

Bad dog.

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.