The Steamboat 15K: the race I love to hate (encore)

My dear friend Lynnor won’t be doing the 15K this year due to an issue, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t use her to tease about this issue. The steamboat 15K: it is held the 3’rd Saturday in June (Father’s Day weekend). It is part of a festival of races, which traditionally included a 4 miler and now includes a late starting 2 mile event as well (sort of a “fun run” event). The race starts downtown along the 4 mile course and goes up a long, gentle incline. Then the 4 mile course turns off and the 15K people encounter the first of two punishing uphills, which goes from the bottom of Glenn Oak Park to upper Glenn Oak Park. This is the first of two 2.65 mile loops which take you up the hill…sort of level park road (with hairpin turns) and back down it.

Then you scream downhill to rejoin the 4 mile course which is now a gentle decline. Problem: by now my thighs are pudding and I am talking myself out of giving up and never doing the race again.

More than once, I vowed to quit running forever after this race.

Race weather is often hot and muggy, even though the start time has been moved from 7:45 to 7:00 am. 70-75 F with 80-90 percent humidity is COMMON weather, though from time to time, we’ve had a cool day or two.

And I ALWAYS end up doing worse than I’d hoped; typically, my pace is slightly slower than my half marathon pace.

Here are my medals through 2016 (with “w” meaning “walking”); this excludes my 2017 and 2018 races.

The good: well, it is often a reunion of sorts, with my getting to see many that I like all in one place.

Here are a couple of photos from 2008 where Barbara’s son Mark did the 15K. Can you guess which one is the “after” photo?


So, this will be a collection of my Steamboat posts (15K only; a few years I walked the 4 with B) from my old blog.

My history (includes 4 mile events) :

1998: 15K 1:08:22 183/844 (sticky) Was running just under 20 for 5K in those days. 22:50/23:05/22:27, 29/71 AG 167/603 men
1999: 15K 1:07:53 187/725, place was a bit worse; roughly 20:40 for 5K in these days 22:38/23:01/22:13 39/76 AG, 170/511 men
2000: 4m 27:51 After a 10K/half marathon double and 1:35 half a few weeks earlier.
2001: 4m 29:13 Lake Geneva Marathon 3:40
2001: 15K 1:11:16 (126/381) Fall 15K 23:20/24:04/23:51
2002: 4m 43:15 (walk)
2002: 15K 1:14:33 (run; fall) 167/405 24:10/25:07/25:16
2004: 4m 33:10 (two 24 hour walks in May; 101 and 88)
2005: 15K 1:23:13 (26:40/27:39/28:43) McNaughton 100 in April, Marathon on Memorial Day.
2006: 4M 42:10 (walk), FANS 24 in June (83 miles)
2007: Walk with Barbara
2008: Walk with Barbara
2009: run 1:27:23 (9:22 mpm) Place: 519/726 29:21/29:49/28:43, 34/43 AG
2010: walk 4 miles 39:32.
2011: walk 15 km 1:48:02 37:12/36:24/34:26
2012: run 15 km 1:36:55 29:26/33:54/33:35 679/835
2013: 15K 1:29:04 (29:34/29:53/29:38) 40/50 AG, 552/866
2014: 1:29:57 (29:22/30:46/29:49)
2015: 1:34:28 (30:49/32:49/30:50) (2 weeks after FANS 59.9) 579/804, 376/461 males, 173/219 male masters, 36/43 AG
2016: 1:41:57: 31:40/34:37/35:40 667/822, 413/458 male, 196/221 master male, 30/33 AG.
2017: walk 1:55:52: 37:04/39:41/39:07 Just not in very good shape.
2018: 2:15:55 walk/jog…gave up after 2 miles and mostly walked (22:15). 39:20/48:19/48:16

There are basically 3 eras: “performance” from 1990 to 2002, “transitional”: 2009 to 2015, and social: 2016 to present.

Pre-blog era:
1998: I had trained with a training group prior to this one. In that era: I had run sub 20 for the 5K (19:53) and sub 42 for the 10K (41:27) and felt I was ready. I had just come back from a Texas trip and so had some heat preparation. But the day came up very muggy. It took me about 9 seconds to get to the start and, though I paced myself well, I was deeply disappointed to find my first mile over 7 minutes; I was hoping to crack 7 minute miles.

To my credit I stuck with what I could do and ended up beating several people that I don’t normally beat. Still, I really suffered in the final down slope miles and almost cried from disappointment when I finished. My lifetime PB was 1:04 (Quantico, 1981) but that was a different course in different weather. But…that was to be my best performance.

1999: I had injured myself that winter (Achilles) and was on my way back up. I had lesser expectations. And my place WAS worse than the year before. But the day was much cooler and, by my watch, I broke 1:08, though my official time was just over. This is my course PB and will remain so. I almost said “my current PB” but I doubt I’ll be breaking it. I still remember racing a guy who had beaten me the year before..I almost got him but couldn’t hold the lead. Also, I wore new-ish shoes and blistered the living hell out of my bunion; I finished with a bloody shoe.

2001: this year, the 15K was held in the fall (as it was in 2000, but in 2000 I skipped it due to an upcoming marathon,..3:38 my masters PB). The weather was fine, and I had swam my first Big Shoulders 5k the week before. Still, 7:40 mpm was disappointing, given what I expected of myself (I had run a 1:37 half earlier in the year). I consider this to be my last “good” year of running. Of note: this was just after 9/11 so it was a bit somber. After the race I gave blood and was put on TV after doing so. The next week I attempted the Quad Cities half and started to fade badly after 2 miles and didn’t understand why..then a runner came up along side of me and said he had seen me on TV..then I understood.

2002: Again…not impressed. But this is the year I started to walk a bit due to an Achilles injury. I ran this race and averaged right at 8 minute miles; perhaps just a tick below. And yes, this is the last year I averaged sub 8’s for a half. Not a coincidence.


Conditions: mid 72 F, 81% humidity at the start to 80 F, 70% at the end.

Course: gradual uphill for the first 1.5 miles, then two loops consisting of a brutal half-mile climb, gradual incline, then a decline and a deep drop. The last 2.3 miles are a gradual decline.

I came in with minimal running training; most of my miles were racewalking miles. So I started off easy with a 8:10 mile. I was tracking Shevaun Fennel, Larry Jefferies, and Jack Stone.

The 4 mile runners split off just prior to mile 2 and we took it uphill. I tried my best to yoga breathe and relax on the uphill. The 5K mark came at 26:40. Shockingly, that was to be too fast for me today!

I more or held place on the next 5K; one interesting aspect is that I got lapped by the first 3-4 15K runners; the leader hit 10K in 32 flat (remember this was a net uphill split!)

I was trying to bide my time and turn it on at 10K which came at 54:30 (27:49 split) and I thought “hey, now I can pick it up”.

That idea held up for another mile and I started to push the downhill. At mile 7 I felt miserable; my foot was burning and my legs were like lead. I walked for two very brief periods trying to get back into it and even set my watch for a 4-1 run/walk interval. I followed one of those and realized I had recovered enough to “just run”. Mile 8 came at 1:01.

The last mile was a death march (28:43) and I got nailed 3 more times in the last 100 meters. Shevaun got me with 1/2 mile to go.

So my finish time was pretty bad (1:23:13) but strangely enough, I am not at all upset as I know that I wasn’t prepared to race a running race. Also, racewalking the Andy Payne marathon (5:25) a couple of weeks ago didn’t help. πŸ™‚

Oh, yes, Governor Blagojevich ran the 15K and kicked my butt by two minutes; on TV he said that this race was harder than any of his three previous marathons.
I hope he runs the state as well as he ran this race!


We pulled into Peoria last night; this morning came up humid and a bit warm. Race weather: 70 F, 96 percent humidity; not an exaggeration! The humidity actually got much better by the end of the race.

Olivia and Barbara walked the 4 mile race together (1:13 roughly) whereas I had signed up for the 15K.
I wasn’t ready as I have mostly rested after this year’s FANS 24 hour race (two weekends ago) so I lined up at about the 10 minutes per mile sign and eased into it. I lined up with Barbara’s son Mark and his wife Deborah.

Barbara and Olivia: 1:13:22 (37:23 first 2, 35:59 last 2)
Mark: 1:31:39
Debbie (Mark’s wife): 48:03. (4 mile run)

Mark and I stayed together during the first mile (very congested) and I more or less just kept it nice and easy; I was to keep this effort for most of the race.

Much to my surprise when we turned off of the 4 mile course there were still people around me; I had visions of being all by myself by this point.

Up the hill we went; I made very little effort at all; the hill lasted about .7 miles and I hit the first 5K in about 29:21. I kept the effort down as it was warm and I had no running conditioning to speak of. We started to get lapped during the first loop; the 15K leaders were really getting after it.

Down the hill we went and then back up; mile 5 was unacceptably slow but it did include a big uphill mile. But then mile 6 was slow too; it turns out that I was slacking so I attempted to pick it up; my left knee bothered me a bit as did my right “behind the knee” area. My knees don’t like this “humid/rain/change” type weather and I haven’t built up my running conditioning.

This other gray bearded guy passed me and so I picked it up. But I couldn’t say with him for too long.
Mile 7 was a bit better and I more or less held position on the down hill at up to mile 8. I passed Elaine Lagota and she was to get me back in the last 200 meters as did many others.

I was trying to keep my stride compact to keep my knees from barking at me (sticky weather stuff and I had no desire to take an anti inflammatory pill).

Afterward, someone said that I didn’t look taxed or tired at all; I really wasn’t. I just wanted to finish with some dignity (even if with no speed at all).

Yes, I carried Froggy and Smoochie in my fanny pack.

Afterward, Olivia was none the worse for wear; Barbara was limping and I was walking a bit gingerly as my legs weren’t used to the longer runs.

Just the numbers:
1. 9:27
2. 9:17
3. 9:39
4. 9:13
5. 10:19 (uphill)
6. 9:46
7. 8:28
8. 9:07
9. 9:13
9.32 2:57

5K splits: 29:21, 29:49, 28:14
Total: 1:27:23 (9:22 mpm)

Place: 519/726

yyyyy xxxx M4549 519 34/43 383/481 1:27:23 59:56 28:14 1:28:09 9:28

Notes: 2824 finishers in the 4 mile: median time 38:37 (9:39 pace)
726 finishers in the 15 km (9.32 mile): median time, 1:21:33 (8:45 pace)
Interesting, no?


Background Last month I developed some left hip/butt/piriformis issues. Evidently there are lots of interconnected things going on; the upshot is that I’ve had gluteal pain AFTER my workouts and some “false sciatica” that tingles to my calf and foot. I think that the piriformis, gluteus minimus and the psoas muscles are all involved. So I’ll be either taking some time off or at least cutting back drastically for about a month.

The event

Finish (faster 4 mile runners)

But I wanted to do the Steamboat 15K as it is the largest “sporting oriented” race in the area. It draws about 4000 runners and walkers with about 800 in the 15K.

The make up of the field is interesting; the 4 mile race has decent prize money, hence it draws Olympic athletes, world record holders (in the marathon) etc. It also draws some college level runners who want to challenge the elites; hence the competition at the front of the pack is intense; the men’s winning time usually ranges from 17:50 to 18:10 (4 miles, or 6.4 km) whereas the women’s winner is usually under 20 minutes or perhaps barely over.

But the 4 mile race also draws a ton of slow walkers, “once a year runners” and noobs who haven’t a clue as to what they are doing (e. g., if they get tired they will just come to a complete stop without warning).

The 15K, while not drawing an elite field, draws many of the tough club runners (e. g., those who run under 40 minutes for a 10K), some near-elites and some ex-elites. The variation in pace is much smaller in the 15K, though the entry of some of the millennial generation is adding some slow runners to this event.

The course

The 4 mile race is called the “world’s fastest 4 mile race”; there is a gradual incline followed by a gradual decline; if one doesn’t kill themselves on the “out” part one can really pick up steam on the “back” part.

The 15K course is a different story:

Yes, it has over 500 feet of climb. Basically: you start out on the Steamboat 4 mile course for the first 3K or so. Then as they turn right you go straight and up the first of two rough climbs (about 500-600 meters long; maybe 100 feet or more?). You loop through a park and eventually go down the hill, and then back up again. This is draining; but this is how you spend the next 8.6 km (5.3 miles). Then you return and finish the 4 mile course; IF you didn’t kill yourself on the hill loops you can make up time on the long, gradual downhill finish.

Upsides and Downsides to the race
Upsides: organization (including packet pick-up), traffic control (blocked off streets), splits (every mile plus 5K, 10K) and the people (at least in the 15K). Among the 15K racers there is a healthy, friendly but competitive spirit that I really enjoy. Also, the 4 mile course is perfect for the FASTER RUNNER to get a PR (perhaps a bit too crowded for a slower runner) and the 15K is NOT a PR course.
Downside: The race is really a bit more geared toward the front of the pack; for example awards (even age group awards) are based on gun time. I understand that (it is about racing) but this puts some of the slower age group runners at the front of the pack. Also, there have been some years when only the gun time was posted (in my case, that is 1:25 slower than my chip time) and the race director didn’t seem to “get” why chip time was important for the middle of the pack runner. I don’t know if they will post chip times this year; gun times are already available (a remarkable feat).

Also the 4 mile race has many, many clueless noobs (e. g., the ones who come to a complete stop without warning) and is crowded at first. This could affect older runners and faster walkers.

My race Note I am a walker and for this race I used a “soft knee” powerwalk technique; my hip/piriformis was sore and the steep hills made following racewalk technique all but impossible. So, on the uphills I bent my knees and I did so a bit on the steep down hills. Still this wasn’t a total creep-fest; I would have used this technique in a “B-standard judging” race without worry.

Just the facts Chip time: 1:48:02 (11:35 mpm, or 7:12 m/km); my splits were these:

11:35, 11:48 (23:24), 12:31 (35:55) (37:12 5K), 11:08 (47:04), 12:49 (59:53), 11:54 (1:11:48) (1:13:36 10K), 10:56 (1:22:44), 11:11 (1:33:55), 10:51 (1:44:46), 3:14 (1:48:01)
5K splits: 37:12, 36:24, 34:25 (which 5K was downhill? πŸ™‚ )
Place: (based on my gun time of 1:49:25) 798/837.
Note: my gun time pace (11:45) would have placed me 2547/3382 in the 4 mile. That is, my pace put me in the 5’th percentile in the 15K but that pace would have put me in the 25’th percentile of the 4 mile. This drives home my point about the variations in the respective groups.

My race story
I warmed up by walking the 2 (downhill) miles from my house to the course (3.2 km); along the way I saw some other runners who were also using a “commute” as a warm up. Along the way I saw a Big Al’s stripper wearing short-shorts squatting on the sidewalk (just as a resting position) while some young guy was smoking a cigarette and talking to her.

I also saw a middle aged “pregnant” male finishing up his cigarette and flicking the butt away; all of the runners going by him appeared to make him uncomfortable. I gave myself a smug inner smile; then I remembered that one of my local friends lost 80 pounds prior to taking up running; he worked himself to a 1:30 half marathon, 3:17 marathon and a 4:20 50K. So on occasion, one of these types will get the bug to join us…and will even leave me in the dust (eventually).

I lined up between the 11 and 12 minute per mile signs; I noticed that on the whole, the runners and walkers policed themselves reasonably well. My friend Tracy saw me and lined up with me; we started out together. She was doing the 4 mile race and ended up finishing in about 49:00 (chip, 50:25 gun).

Aside from dodging the occasional noob, the first 2 miles were uneventful. Ok, I did notice two younger black spandex tights clad women who had, well, wide butts. So I followed them for a while; I didn’t know that they too were doing the 15K. One had on a blue top and the other a white top with some designs on it (flowers?). I was to see them again. I was cruising at about 11:40 mpm.

Update: This photo shows the crowd at close to the 2 mile mark. In the forground on the right are the two women I was talking about. In the crowd on the right you can see me in a white ball cap (UT) and a turquoise top; as usual I have a forward lean. Remember that I was walking. πŸ™‚

On the way out, a lady complimented me on having trail gaiters (“dirty girls”) that matched my turquoise race t-shirt; note that I wore a shirt from a 1997 Baglefest 10K run in Mattoon, IL. Yes, I ran this 15K race in the 1:07-1:08 range in those days…sigh.

But the matching was unintentional; mostly I wore this shirt because it was a singlet and I wanted to see my arms in the race photos (“is my weight training showing up?” πŸ™‚ )

I was keeping my effort well under control; part of this was my not wanting to aggravate my butt muscles and part of it was my trying to save something for the hills; the day was NOT hot but it was humid.

Then came the 2 mile mark and the hills; I was just over 23 minutes. But given that this was the start of the first loop and that we were closing in on the 5 mile mark (second loop); that’s right; the front runners of the 15K were just starting their second loop! More on that later; I moved a bit to the side to give them the “tangents” of the loop.

By then I had caught them; in fact I caught many as this was the first steep uphills and here, a walker has an advantage. They were to pass me again later.

I heard a “hi Ollie” and there zoomed by Pat Arnold; his 5 mile slit was just over 28 minutes (reasonable for him). I yelled encouragement.

Then we went to the upper part of Glenn Oak Park; here you could see some of the “just ahead of me” stream snaking back after a hair pin turn. I saw some of my yoga buddies, a triathlete who is just coming off of Lyme disease (normally, she’d be running a 1:10 for this distance) and an older gentleman who regularly runs through our neighborhood. This was a real “get together!”.

I tried to maintain a reasonable pace but that hill ALWAYS trashes me for a bit. I tried to focus on posture; more upright but NOT sway-backed. Getting that right will be a chore.

More of the faster 15K people passed me and I heard many more greetings. Some of the leading women passed me too; a couple of them were wearing tiny cropped shiny spandex (one was royal blue; the other purple) and I could do nothing but cheer “way to go”. πŸ™‚ The leading lady thanked me for cheering for her. I started to grumble internally that I missed running with them; then I realized that these types would be hitting 10K in 40 flat and I never could run that sort of split …and least on this course.

Toward 4 miles the “front part of the bell curve” started to get me and I heard dozens of “way to go Ollie” cheers from the runners who were just blowing past me. I recognized some of them but they came up behind me and I didn’t see them for long. This was the crowd destined to finish in the 1:00-1:06 range. Here I was back in the mid 11’s after a slow 12 mpm uphill.

I was able to pick it up just and bit and then we went out of the park, down the big hill and up it again. This time I was caught by the “wide shiny butt” couple and passed them again. But I noticed that the one in the blue top was tiring and the other one pulled ahead of her. I never saw the blue one again (at least ahead of me) but I did see the other one; she got me at about mile 7.5 and stayed ahead of me the rest of the way.

(It turns out that the faster one was to finish about 1:20 ahead of me; the slower one (in blue) about 4:30 behind me. They were together at 10K.)

So I thought that after the rough mile 4-5 (down the hill and back up it) I could pick up the pace..but no. I was still recovering. 10K came at about 1:14; I was averaging 37 minutes per 5K. But I felt good enough to pick up the pace and so I did.

On the second downhill there was some emergency vehicles and an ambulance; that worried me as these sorts of things are unnecessary for routine runner problems. I did have to go around just a bit, but obviously they needed to get the injured/sick person to treatment as soon as possible so I understood.

But then I was off of the hill again and ready to make my finial push; only 2.3 miles remained. But surprisingly (to me anyway) I really didn’t catch anyone; just yet.

I did play “leap frog” with a couple of runners and eventually got away from them; I tried to increase my turn over. I could see the mist moving toward us. I chased a pack in the distance. Also, I got a cheer from a triathlete who was working the race.

FINALLY I began to gain on the pack ahead of me and actually caught them; I wasn’t moving that fast (10:51 mpm) but they were burned out.

The final turn runs though downtown and toward the water; you have a gradual downhill here and can really get going. I more or less held place (people HATE getting passed by a walker! πŸ™‚ ) and turned into the finish; Barbara was there and yelled “My grandma can walk faster than that!”

Before the race, I had told Barbara that I anticipated a “1:48”, but “1:45 if all goes well and 1:50 if it doesn’t”. So my chip time: 1:48:02. πŸ™‚

Afterward I ran into Theresa and her husband got some photos of her with me, and Barbara with me.
Then we ran into Barbara’s son who had run a 1:34 (for training) and her ex husband who had run the 4 mile (her son’s father).

The butt was a bit achy afterward but stretching and ketoprofen creme helped a great deal.

Overall: though I knew that this would take something out of me injury wise, I am glad that I did it. I noticed that I really wasn’t that tired afterward; I stayed well within myself the entire time; my body is still in an “ultra marathon” mode in which it is difficult to push for speed.

Updates As photos and chip time results come in, I’ll post updates here.

Note: though I like the photo with Barbara and Theresa, I included the solo photo to show how far my upper body has deteriorated. This is a result of my not being able to lift or swim for many months and I started my lifting program “from scratch” late last year and swimming about 6 weeks ago. I am improving, but do I have a ways to go!!!

Just the facts: 75 F at the start, 75 percent humidity.
9:12 mile 1
9:20 mile 2
10:53 (29:26 5K)
(37:41 4 m)
(1:03:20 10K)
(1:11:42 7 m)
11:13 (1:22:55 8 m)
10:27 (1:36:55 15 k)

splits: 29:26, 33:54, 33:35 (10:24 mpm average)

What happened: my opening mile (with Mat) was simply too fast for me today, in these conditions. I felt tapered and I felt fine, but I had not trained to sustain such a pace.

I deliberately went up the hill slowly and Mat got away from me. Ms. “cropped blue spandex” was to stay in sight longer (10K). I didn’t feel that bad at 5K. Even at 4 miles, I felt ok except that my running muscles were shot. At mile 4.5 someone passed me and said “I don’t see how you can walk that fast”…and I was trying to run!

I said “bleep it” and started to walk and walked about 80 percent of the rest of the way. I’d run for about 1-2 minutes, have to stop, walk, after 3-4 minutes repeat the process. I wasn’t just strolling when I walked; it was a deliberate pace.

The good news: EYE CANDY….wow. I wish I had a camera.
Seriously, I knew that I was in trouble when Larry Jeffries passed me; I had to business being in front of him at all.

There is a big disconnect between my running the 5K/4 mile and anything longer. Ironically, my 15K pace turned out to be…my usual 8-10 mile training run pace. Go figure.

My regret: not walking 100 percent of it. I would have been 8-9 minutes slower…at most, and felt better about it.

Steamboat Statistics:

Median pace for the 4 mile: 10:07
Median pace for the 9.3 mile (15 km): 9:02

Where I placed: 676 out of 832 (bleah)
My age group: 38 out of 40 (yikes!)

Where my 4 mile split would have placed me in my 4 mile age group: 59 of 119
Where my 15 km pace would have placed me in the 4 mile: 79 out of 119

Moral: don’t start off too fast if it is hot. Take it VERY easy. VERY easy.

Some photos

Me, at the finish

My department chair between mile 4 and mile 5

Mat (my department chair) and I were still together here, just prior to mile 2. That was a big mistake for me.

I just want it to be over. πŸ™‚

T finishing the race

Bob pacing a friend in. Bob has run a 90 minute half marathon in the past; he often just runs races to pace a friend.

This is the 14 minute per mile group that I worked with in the Building Steam program.


I got to do this with my daughter who walked/jogged the 4 mile in about 55 minutes; we don’t know the chip time yet.

I attempted to run the 15K again, and failed, yet again.

Time: 1:29:04 (9:33 mpm); the 5K segments: 29:34, 29:53, 29:38); note the final 5K is downhill and is usually my fastest.

Official: 1:29:02, 558 of 934, 397/550 male, 40/50 age group. Yep, pretty sorry. πŸ™‚
Note: after weeding out those who didn’t actually run the full 15K: 552/866; evidently there were a few no shows.


slightly sticky, but it has been worse. The cloud cover kept it reasonably ok (70, 73 percent humidity)

I decided to see how my “Steamboat 15K time” versus “good 5K time” compared:

As you can see, the second year (first year it was very hot) my time for the 15K was 3.25 times my 5K time. Then in 2004 it was 3.58, in 2009 it was 3.63 and 2013 it was 3.57. So most of my slowdown ….in fact almost all of it, can be explained by my 5K slowdown.

9:24 (18:48)
9:58 (uphill 28:37)
9:07 (37:44)
9:11 (probably not marked correctly) 46:56
10:59 (some uphill) 57:55
8:55 (hmmm) 1:06:50
9:23 1:26:15 (dying) 1:16:13
10:02 (dying here) 1:26:15

The race itself

Olivia and I left the house and found a place to park near the Hooters restaurant. (yes, Peoria has one)
It was an easy .5 mile walk to the start, where we mingled….I got in a jog of about 10 minutes.
We walked to the line up spots; Olivia lined up next to Ms. Vickie and I lined up near Mark (Barbara’s son)
There was some crowding near the start but I took it as an opportunity to hold back a bit.

The first uphill was a struggle; I tried to keep it as easy as possible. I felt ok going to mile 4; it was at about that time the leaders of the 15K lapped us! That is so frigging embarrassing.

The fun part is the part in the park where there is a hairpin turn; you can see your faster friends on their way back, and you’ll almost always see someone that you know.

I passed Bill at mile 3; he said something and I said “I hate this race”. He was to catch me at mile 7 and hold his lead.

We went down the hill and I tried to not hit any of the faster 15K folks who had lapped us; unfortunately I caught one with an elbow earlier. It wasn’t on purpose, but I don’t have eyes in the back of my head.

Going up the hill the second time I told myself that I would pick it up at 10K but that was a lie!

I knew that I was just under an hour and I was feeling it; I decided to just attempt to maintain.

The second uphill is a bit cruel; when you are over the biggest part you feel you should be done, but there is a long, but tiny upgrade to the hairpin turn.

Then, down the bottom of the second hit a long straight away. You think you should just fly, but your legs are shot. Then just prior to the long downhill from 8.8 to 9.3, you have a tiny rise that you only notice because you are fatigued.

I had a tiny kick…not enough to pass anyone but enough to get under 1:30 by the gun.

Quip I was attempting to run. Someone complimented me on my “racewalking form”; in fact more than one person said that I looked like I was walking. One even told me that they couldn’t see a bent knee. OMG.

So, where I was, where I am now, and my goal for next year. Move to the next column or bust! πŸ™‚

Theresa is the attractive one.

I am smiling as I broke 1:30, which was one of my goals. My “A” goal was 1:25 (wasn’t close), “B” goal was to go under 1:28 (one bad mile ruined that), and “C” goal was to break 1:30 (did that).

9:02, 9:30, 9:54 (28:27) 29:22(5K), 9:19, 10:32 (uphill), 10:18 (no excuse), 1:00:08 (10K), 10:03, 9:25, 12:49 (1.3); last mile was 8:49.
29:22/30:46/29:49 (1:29:57)

I’ll never do well at this race. It wasn’t warm; it was about 59 F at the start. It was perfect running weather.

But I had been training for the 1 mile/5K so I knew this would be trouble for me.

So I knew that I should start slowly.

Mile 1: 9:02 (too quick). I saw Mardi and figured that I should not get in front of her (she is slender); I needed to take it easy on the hills.

There was a long line of people going up the hill. It didn’t feel that bad; I was trying to keep the effort under control. But the park, though it is mostly flat, has long, very slight inclines that are deceptive. When it appears that you crested the big hill (up, flat, up), you are still going up.

Right close to mile 4 we got lapped; the lead runner was at 6.7. I knew that I was getting close to midway when we did the down the hill and up it again.

I just wanted to die in the upper Glen Oak part. Someone yelled “OLLIE, SUCK IT UP!!!”. πŸ™‚

So mostly I tried not to walk and finally, we left the park for good; I was at mile 7 and figured there wasn’t that much more left.

DOWN the hill; quads were killing me and we hit “2 miles to go”; it was just over 70 minutes. I could see the “1 mile to go” banner in the distance as we hit the long straight away. It was about mile 8 (1:17:08) where I gave up and walked a bit. Some who were jogging it out shamed me into picking it up and I noticed I was 1:21:10 at “1 mile to go”; no way I could break 1:30.

But I had recovered just enough to pick it up and with .5 miles to go, I gave it a shot.

Bob and two friends passed me but it didn’t matter; I barely got under 90 minutes by my watch.

I don’t feel that bad; it is just that I don’t have long run conditioning.

Denial: “ok, this year will be different” (68 F, 78 percent humidity…reasonably good for this race, though the 59.9 miles of walking 2 weekends ago did leave me a bit tired)

Bargain: “well, if I take it easy on the two large uphills I can push it on the straight away.” Yeah, right.

Acceptance: “well, running slower than 10 minutes per mile isn’t too bad” (Ok, it sucks.)

So here are the facts: (5K splits) 30:49, 32:49, 30:50 for 1:34:28. No walking. (really) I tried to keep an effort which allowed for steady forward motion. I was chasing a woman in purple spandex leggings and couldn’t quite catch her at the end; I have no “kick”. I had a “back and forth” with a short haired middle aged lady between 5 and 7.5 miles. We complained about the downhills.

I was able to gain some places back on the final straight away, but I never do as well on that stretch as I think that I should.

Steamboat photos:


I ran with the lady in yellow for a mile or two; she then tucked in behind me at mile 7 and got me when I went to the side of the course to give T a high 5. Hey, when you are as slow as I am now, a few seconds is like adding a year or two to the age of a mountain (in a geological time scale)

Nipped at the line..though my chip time was a few seconds faster than hers. I checked. πŸ™‚

Resignation. I was happy that I didn’t have to walk and that I stayed more or less steady, but am a bit depressed my abilities have deteriorated so badly. Yes, the ultra cost me a few minutes. But hey, all of that cute spandex gave me eyestrain. πŸ™‚

My targets

I had thought about trying to catch her..she thought about her kick. Look to the right of the photos, way behind those cones.

I also chased the woman in the purple tights and her friend in the bright orange shorts. Those around those two are people doing the “2 mile” event which was designed to be accessible to those with special needs or physical handicaps.

My Building Steam group (Run to walk group) :

Vickie pacing Ellen who finished the 4 mile in 55 minutes, 5 minutes under goal.

Cathie pacing Katherine to a 51:41 finish; also well under goal.

Bradley (in the blue shirt) finishing in 50:31.

His wife Julie crushed her goal by running 48:13, but she was obscured by other runners; I could find no photo.


Jason. He beat me by 31 minutes (not an exaggeration) but..when we swim together; I eventually lap him. At least that was true last semester. Go figure. If he improves his form a bit, it won’t stay that way.

My department chair (Mat). He beat me by 9 minutes and then gave me a ride home.


Well, this was my worst Steamboat 15K ever.

But socially, well, I enjoyed running “with the group” and I enjoyed the interaction with many. And it was a pleasure that Barbara was there; she walked her first Steamboat 4 miler in 7 years; a year ago she thought that her foot would no longer allow her to do these (1:18:29 was her time, or a 19:38 pace).

It was muggy at the start; 67 F with 66 percent humidity and it was to get to 76-77 by the time I finished. Time: 1:41:57; my worst as a runner. The wheels came off on the start of the second loop, after the second climb. I was just under 41 minutes at 4 miles but fell apart prior to the 10K mark.

What lead to this debacle:

1. Too fast of a start for the conditions: 9:50, 9:50 were my first 2 miles (slight incline). I am not in shape to sustain that.
2. I weigh too damn much. No, I don’t look fat and I don’t think I am. But 191-193 is too heavy for me to run long effectively. I can do lots of pull ups though. πŸ™‚
3. Heat; it was sweltering out there. This wasn’t the worst I’ve endured, but it was a factor.
4. 36 mile walk two weeks ago/
5. I accidentally made decaf coffee this morning. Yes, the one “bad” long run attempt I had this year came when…I had decaf by mistake. I think that I didn’t interpret my “feeling bad” correctly.

The race itself: I lined up close to the 10 minute per mile pace sign. I took it out at 9:50 per mile and was already feeling it. I tried to ease it up going up the first hill but I think that I was spent by then. While my first 5K was not horrible, (31:40) it took too much out of me. So while I was just under 41 minutes at mile 4, I was shot. I tried to hang in there on the second loop but started to walk just prior to the 10K mark; it was pretty much over by then.

I did the old “walk/jog” until there was 1 mile to go. Then I tried to pick up the pace (downhill mile): 10:35. Goodness gracious. I could tell that I was merely shuffling.

Athletic lesson I really wonder if my legs have become too weak for me to “run” longer distance and if I am not simply better off walking them instead. I do have two marathons on my radar screen: Quad Cities on September 25, and the PNC Peoria on October 16. I did the latter last year as a walker and made the 6 hour time limit with 11 minutes to a walker.

I had set a goal of running one of these in under 5 hours that possible? I know that I’ve been able to maintain 15 mile training runs at about an 11:15 mpm pace or so and do so comfortably. But that was in cool weather conditions. And 15.x is NOT 26.2. I wonder if I am better off focusing on walking training and walking these or perhaps walking one, running the other.

I really have some thinking to do; I suppose that I can sign up for these marathons right now and drop to the half marathon if my training doesn’t go well. Time will tell.

Social This was by far the best part. The Steamboat 4 mile/15 km is THE community race in Peoria. The 4 mile race attracts Olympic caliber runners (genuinely) and both races attract the hard core “club runners”. The 4 mile attracts many newbies and casual runners and fitness walkers.

I jogged a warm up from my house (and felt a slight headache; now I know why). In my usual “restroom/mill about” activities, I saw Tracy (my “bestie”), Mat, another Bradley person..and I exchanged head butts with Stephanie (my Facebook persona is a goat). And yes, I got a hug from T, who is out with an injury but worked the course. One female said “you got to quit hugging all of those men” and both T and I replied “no way, I like it” almost at the same time! I also got to see “shirtless Bob” who was running with..yet another female (as he always does).

Later I walked with Mat to the start line and we saw Tracy bending over to tie her shoes; I told her that I was “checking out her legs and butt”..and Mat whistled. All in good fun.

Then I saw Barbara who drove to the start line; more hugs all around.

During the first mile of the race, I saw a very fit, slender woman running with her grade school son; it was Peggy, someone who won the women’s 15K division multiple times in the past. I joked that I never dreamed that I’d pass her in a Steamboat race. Yes, she was jogging easily to help out her young son. πŸ™‚

There were the usual kudos and cat calls during the run (someone told me to quit sandbagging) and I got to yell at Cassie during the second switch back. I had been following her from a distance early but accurately figured her pace was too quick for me today.

I’ll post some photos later; as you can probably tell that I had fun, despite my…well, simply horrible performance. Basically, this was a “long run with friends” for me.

I’ll admit that I had bits of anger when it became clear that the wheels were going to come off yet again. But there was some acceptance too; I did things like chase Melody (didn’t ever catch her and stay ahead), chase one person or another, and that “last mile challenge”. And yes, some of the bad mood was about the coffee, though I didn’t know about it at the time. Realistically, that probably made a 1-2 minute difference; I was far more hurt by starting too fast for the conditions.

Next year, and yes, I’ll try yet AGAIN, I’ll line up with the 11 minute folks and try to take it out in 10:30 or so (if it is this warm again).

And I can’t stress this enough: I really enjoyed it that Barbara did building steam (the training program) and finished this race; this is an unexpected bonus. I think that it lifted her spirits to be able to participate again.

So, emotionally I have mixed feelings. I thought that I was in better shape than that. I was grateful that I can still “run with the group” (if you can call what I did “running”). But at times, I felt that I was just “getting in the way” of the more competent people (when the fast runners lapped us) and that I no longer belong “out there”.

We wore our Steamboat shirts to the Chiefs game last night. It always feels good to go out wearing the race t-shirt when Barbara also has one.

Barbara’s finish. The thing to remember is that she thought that her days of even doing these were over.

My finish. Seriously…34 minutes slower than my PB? That is what happens when I go out too fast for the conditions. And yes, I had long, slow runs in my background, and short, “fast” runs. But no longish “sustained effort” runs.

Does this shirt make my butt look big? T took the photo.

Here I am with Cassie; she beat me by 10 minutes or so. I saw her early and had sense enough to let her go; I did see her on a switch back and yelled..she responded.

When I looked at the paper to see the results…yes, I remember that I stated off in the first column. 4-5 years, later..second column. Now: last column. There were times during the race where I felt that I was merely in the way (as the faster runners lapped me in the upper part..2 2.65 mile laps) and I remember during my first couple of 15K races, *I* was one of the ones lapping people. Sigh…

But hey, it was a long, community run and I don’t know how many of these I have left.

I do have one thing to say about finisher’s medals (yes, Steamboat gives them) but that is for another post. Dinner calls.

Though my legs felt sore (from that sissy leg routine I did yesterday?) I decided to go outside and turn back when I didn’t feel good. I ended up running my Cornstalk 8.1 mile course 1:27:21 (44:11/43:10) plus a 1.23 mile lower loop (13:18) to get 15K in 1:40:39, or 1:18 *faster* (less glacial?) than my Steamboat 15K, which was run on a course of comparable difficulty in similar conditions. Note: I gave platelets effect at all.

The differences:
1) real coffee this morning and
2) I went out fairly slowly (10:48 for the first 1.03 miles) so I had a heck of a lot left.

Yeah, that wasn’t a race but it made me feel better. And while it was a workout, it wasn’t bad; I feel fine.

Steamboat gallery of friends:

Herb; math department member.

Larry (sans shirt): 70+ years old; crushed pelvis 3 years ago, STILL under 8 minutes per mile for the 4 mile.

Stephanie, Bears fan..gave me a head butt prior to the race. She’ll be back in 4:30 marathon shape soon.

Cassie finishes the 15K with a kick…10 minutes ahead of me.

Mat (my department chair..sans shirt) banging out a 1:25 15K

Tracy (my bestie) taking 3’rd in her age group in the 4 mile.

Powerful Jason (religious studies professor) smoking a 1:02 15K

Andreas from Bradley running a 1:23 as a Clydesdale


T was injured for this one (note the boot) but will be back, strong. She worked the finish line.

More of me:


How this post is organized: intro, race itself, social, photos, past races.

Introduction: Basically, the Gompertz Mortality Law states that the rate of decline as we age is an “exponential of an exponential”; the proportional rate of decline year by year increases exponentially with respect to time; that is: \frac{\frac{dD}{dt}}{D} = be^{at} where D can be thought of as a “failure rate”. How it applies: I walked the 15K about 48 minutes slower than my best running time, and almost 8 minutes slower than I walked it 6 years ago. There are some caveats there though; I was better trained in 2011, it wasn’t quite so hot, but there is no getting around that my 5K run time was about 1 minute faster too..and my half marathon was about 13 minutes faster (albeit on a much cooler day).

But never mind that; getting to spend time with a friend that I had mostly communicated with on social media really helped make this one special for me.
There was a downer too: Barbara had worked toward finishing the 4 mile, but was laid low by allergies and the heat; she couldn’t start the race. She did join in for socializing afterward though.

The race itself:

As you can see, the weather was suffocating: 73 F with 90 percent humidity at the start, rising to 77 F with 84 percent humidity at the end. And, I did NOT do myself any favors going out as fast as I did; in fact, I went out faster than I did in 2011 which was a big mistake. 5K splits: 37:04, 39:41, 39:07.

I warmed up by walking 2 miles with Lynnor and then took it out way too fast. At 11:28, I was sweating too heavily. My form: we’ll have to see the photos. I was not breathing heavily and my legs never went dead, but in the final 5K, I had no “gear”. It was “same old, same old”.

I bent my knees going up the steep hill; it was at this point Lynnor let me go and I passed T. I wasn’t serious about racing at this point; I wanted to get to the first 5K and I was still averaging under 12 minutes per mile; in fact, I got to mile 4 in 47:47. But the fade had started and while I knew better than to pay attention to my 5 mile split (it is long); I was creeping up to the low 13’s. At least I didn’t have to worry about getting in the way of the faster runners in the second loop.

And yeah, my “plan” to push the final 5K was a big fat bust. I did a back and forth with about a half-dozen ladies and talked to a few of them. The steep downhill mile cheered me some, but my dreams of going sub 11 in the final stretch didn’t materialize; I haven’t done enough fast walking. Ok, and I am slower. Period.

Mile by mile:

11:30, 11:48, 12:37 (steep uphill) 11:51, 13:16 (mile 5), 13:45(?), 11:41 (?), 12:24, (final mile: 12:51)

Looking forward: lots of work before that fall marathon. I have half marathons in July and August to perk me up.

Social: this is what I posted on Facebook:

I did my first Steamboat 15K in 1998 as a runner; I ran 1:08:xx and was somewhat disappointed in my time. 2017: did it as a walker in 1:55:52 (12:26 mpm) I was ok with my time. I was over 7 minutes slower than my fastest walking time (2011) but it was 70 F with 90 percent humidity at the start. And I STILL went out too quickly.

But I’ll be honest: the highlight of this experience for me was getting to know Lynnor better. We walked from the Bradley Campus to the start and, after the race, walked back to Campustown to have coffee.
Barbara was suffering mightily from allergies and couldn’t do her 4 miles as planned, but was a good sport and had coffee with Lynnor and I afterward.

I think that, for me, Steamboat is a reunion of sorts. There are longer races, and there are harder races (though the 15K is a bear to try to run hard). But I see many of my friends all at one place.
I missed Barbara being there, but I got to meet up with Tracy, Theresa, Vickie, Cathy Rupert, Cassie, Herb, Andrew McGlothlen.and my colleague Mat (who ran the 15K) went back on the course to jog a few steps with me. Also, Lori, a math colleague who I did not see at the race, finished her first Steamboat 15K in fine fashion.

It was fun to hear my name from the volunteers AND from some of the faster runners who lapped me in the “2 loop portion” Yes, my 1998 and 1999 self would have lapped me today!
And mid race, I got in a conversation with a woman my age who longed from the days when she was top 25 (she ran 1:11, I think…”in the day”) and it reminded me that time indeed takes its toll on EVERYONE. But I can still beat the cut off and I should savor that as long as I can. Even if Lynnor didn’t want to stay with me today.


Here, we had just come down off of the big hill for the last time; we had about 2.1 miles to go. My leg is not that bad. The lady in back was to catch me, and we went back and forth the rest of the way. She won.

I am where the red arrow is. I am still holding walking form; the woman in the camouflage tights is passing me.

Cassie and Lynnor together.

Cassie and me.

Herb Kasube, a math colleague

Lynnor finishing up

Lynnor, Rich and me.

Mama T and me before the start.

Theresa, Cathy and Vickie (3 yoga teachers)

Tracy…in her cat shirt and no, she was not “the last one”, as she always says that she will be.

Lori, one of our newer math professors finishing up.

My posture and leg do not look that bad.

Another good one of Vickie.

Mama T finishing up…yes, that is me in the background (Lynnor was about 1 minute back).

Toni from our walking group driving it home.

Evan from our walking group.

Barb finishing her race.

Evan and Brian from our walking group.

About 2.1 miles to go; I was to pass this lady and stay ahead of her.

Here, we had just come down off of the big hill for the last time; we had about 2.1 miles to go. My leg is not that bad. The lady in back was to catch me, and we went back and forth the rest of the way. She won.

Though this woman passed me, my “chip time” was still just a tad faster. Note that I kept walking.

Here I am getting lapped by Jason. For some reason, I love this photo


I first did this race back in 1998 (as a runner; did the 15K) and have participated in the event every year, except for 2003 (in Utah) and the fall 15K in 2000 (marathon the next week). For a few years, they split the 15K and 4 mile into a summer/fall event and for 2 of those, I did both races.

I’ve walked the race with my wife, walked both events for time, ran both events for time. Obviously, I’ve never been near the “front of the pack”, but I’ve experienced the race as a “just under 28 minute” 4 mile runner and a “just under 1:08 15k runner”, and yes, as a back of the pack person (walks with my wife, and well, the two times I walked the 15K).

I’ve always been pleased with the traffic control, aid stations, the course, etc. There was one year (2016) where some 15K aid stations were staffed by untrained volunteers and they ran out of water; I wasn’t affected as I typically only drink every 5K or so.

This year featured a “funnel start” instead of the usual “wide start”. I worried about that a bit, but given that age group awards were based on chip time, people were well behaved, lined up more or less where they were supposed to, and the first right turn was easy; no crowding. The crowd had been “lengthened out” and you really were with similar pace people.

In the past, the turn was hectic.

But there is something else: (I got data from “finishers”, not “starters”)

year 4m 15K 4k/2m big 2 all change 2 % change change all % change
2013 3124 866 98 3990 4088
2014 2613 776 111 3389 3500 -601 -0.150626566 -588 -0.143835616
2015 2443 805 156 3248 3404 -141 -0.041605193 -96 -0.027428571
2016 2347 822 157 3169 3326 -79 -0.02432266 -78 -0.022914219
2017 1781 666 151 2447 2598 -722 -0.227832124 -728 -0.218881539
2018 1860 660 122 2520 2642 +73 +.028 +44 +.018

Though there was a big decline from 2013 to 2014, there was a massive drop from 2016 to 2017. Note: the short distance was either 2 miles or 4 km. I compared the drop in all three races and the drop in the total of the “big 2” (15k and 4 m put together). I show the absolute drop, and the percentage drop.

I can’t say for sure what the cause was. I can say that in 2016, there was a big change made in the “Building Steam” programs (designed to prepare people for the race” and in 2017, the Building Steam program was eliminated completely, with the local running store offering a couple of programs.

I also note that there are other events 90 minutes away (one in the Quad Cities); I stayed with Steamboat as I just love seeing everyone.

One irony: I actually, well, I don’t want to say it, but…”liked” the smaller race as there was more room to walk and no n00bs just unexpectedly coming to a complete stop right in front of you (slow, out of shape beginners are prone to doing this and it is maddening).

But I wonder if these are healthy numbers for the event.

Ok, I complain about this race every year (MY PERFORMANCE, not the execution of the race, which is always stellar). And today, I did far, far worse that I’ve ever done; more than 20 minutes slower than my walking PB, and I actually ran parts of it.

I’ll get into the reasons a bit later in this post; some are on me (the excess weight I am carrying) and some are unavoidable (injury earlier in the year, age, and the suffocating temperatures)

But I got to spend time with a friend that I don’t see nearly enough of and that made it MORE than worth it. I enjoyed the morning, even with my comically bad performance.

The race itself: I jogged out of the gun easily (so I thought) and was 10:55 at mile 1 and 22:15 at mile 2. Yes, I would have loved to have maintained anything resembling that pace. But I was already sweating and knew I wouldn’t last much longer, so I basically slow walked it (mixing in a bit of jogging here and there) the rest of the way. My 5K splits were a complete joke:


I did talk to a few fellow stragglers. I saw Tracy and Jason before the race, and Vickie handed me water just past mile 7.
But the highlight of the race was the social aspect. Lynnor met me at our house at 5:35 am; we visited and walked 2 miles to the start. We started together; I got ahead, she passed me just prior to mile 3 and it was “see you later”.

We had an ongoing “war of words” on Facebook and she (good naturedly) rubbed it in when she crushed me (2:01). We visited afterward and then walked 2 miles back, stopping at Starbucks for coffee and refreshments (my breakfast).

Bad performance on my part, but a good time nevertheless.

Usual: my feet sometimes hurt; it feels as if there is a rock in my shoe at times, even when there isn’t. But mostly, I kept the effort below the “risk getting sick” threshold. My left heel ached a bit afterward but really didn’t affect me during the race itself.

Reasons for my poor performance: too heavy (199, that is MY fault), too hot (I never did well in heat and I am getting worse), and I didn’t start running (and seriously walking again) until March. Even then, it was short stuff and my longer stuff has been “easy intensity” (16-17 mpm). If I am serious about a fall marathon (7 hour time limit), I need to lose 10 lbs. and to do some walking speedwork ..get comfortable with a 14 minute pace again. And I need to choose a race where the weather is likely to be cool. A day like last year’s Quad Cites: I’ll just drop to the half. I cannot handle heat for any length of time.

Photos: (more will follow)