As I embark on this year’s Bix 7, I have realized this will be my eighth encounter with one of the most challenging courses I’ve ever run. I’ve run the Bix in the best shape of my life and the worst shape of my life, and no matter which way you toss the dice, it’s tough. In fact, I’m convinced you’ll go through a similar range of emotions whether your pace is a 5-minute mile or a 12-minute shuffle.
Here’s the course, as I see it:
- Pre-race Corrals (“HOLY MOSES, is that smell coming from the port-o-let?!?”): Though it’s only a 7-mile race, you can’t treat the Bix like just another neighborhood 10K. It’s the largest non-marathon race in the country, so it’s best to come early, grab a parking spot and hop in a bathroom line. When there are about 15 minutes until race time, mosey to your corral and start meandering toward to the masses. They’ll funnel you to the starting line soon enough.
The Brady Hill (“OMG why are we still going up this GODFORSAKEN HILL?”): I have a love-hate relationship with the Brady Hill. Watching thousands of heads as they bob up to the skyline is truly an awe-inspiring sight. Use this momentum as long as you can because this hill is a big mother. It’s packed with people, and once you’re about halfway up, you’re ready to be done with it. Once you see the giant inflated cowboy-hat-wearing Twinkie, you’re done with it. You’ll see the Quick Bix 5K turnoff somewhere near the top. Don’t be tempted by this. Only pansies run the Quick Bix. They are mere mortals among a sea of badasses.
Kirkwood (“Wheeeee! I’m the king of the world!”): Just when you thought there was no way you were going to make it through six miles of this hell, suddenly, you feel amazing. This is one of the only non-uphill sections of the course, and it’s just slight enough that you can fly through it and gain the momentum you lost coming up the hill. Get ready to settle into your pace because you’ve still got a long journey ’til you’re home.
- McClellan Hill Part 1 (“This isn’t so bad, I can DO it!”): This hill is stupidly steep. It’s so steep that you really can just put one foot in front of the other and pray that you don’t fall backwards. It doesn’t really save you any energy to take a walk-break up this beast, so you might as well just suck it up and get to the top.
McClellan Hill Part 2 (“Wait, nevermind. This is BAD.”): The only thing that could make the McClellan hill worse is the fact that you’re forced to go over it twice. The second time, however, you’ve lost any steam you might have mustered to get over it the first time, and more than likely, you’ve lost the will to live. Once you’ve crested the top, it’s a nice time to watch all of the slower people who are behind you struggling up the hill for the first time. Haha, suckers.
- The Slow Climb (“I am never running this stupid race again. Not ever.”): What comes now is a long and slow climb that lasts a short lifetime. This is usually where I go to my ugly place, and the only advice I can give you is to try and enjoy the crowd, stuff ice cubes in your sports bra and wait for your second wind to come.
The Slope (“Chugga chugga chugga chugga…”): Soon enough, it’s time to kick it back down the Brady Street hill. You’ve still got a mile before you hit the finish, but guess what? It’s all downhill, baby. There’s no way you have any legs left at this point, but it doesn’t really matter. As long as you can put one foot in front of the other, gravity will do the work for you.
- The Finish (“I. Am. So. Close.”): At your final turn, you’ll see a beautiful sight: The finish line. Don’t be fooled, though, it’s still more than a quarter of a mile until you hit the blessed finish, so now is the time to dig deep and finish with your pride in tact. If you’ve got a “power song,” now is the time to crank it into full gear and push to the finish line.
- The Fun (“Move out the way. Momma needs a popsicle.”): Once you’ve finished, make a beeline to the after party. Personally I recommend the popsicles at the Whitey’s truck. They’re like the sweet nectar of the gods after a grueling race on an always sweltering Saturday. And please, save a purple popsicle for me, the slow pregnant lady, who’s really looking forward to the finish. — Aidz