tom lowe photo
fine art • fine art portraits
tom lowe photo
fine art • fine art portraits
One second. That’s what it came down to. After six months of training, shin splints, podiatrist visits, massage therapy, ice packs, experiments with shoe inserts, calf support, knee braces, dietary supplements and a vast library of motivational reading for my psyche, I stood on the other side of the finish line with full confidence that I’d won!
The annual seven-mile race in Davenport, Iowa is called the Bix 7 and the day began very early. Up at 5:30am. I’d put out all of my race gear the night before. The anti-chaffing ointment goes on first. After running in the California heat I’ve learned not to attempt anything over 5 miles without a little anti-friction assistance on the nether regions of my body and believe it or not my nipples. The stuff prevents a lot of post race discomfort. This application is followed by putting on the shorts, then the breathable shirt, knee braces and a compression shin support for my left calf. I’d decided to run the race in the Vibram slippers – basically barefoot! It was the only way I could guarantee myself not to have post race shin splints.
The socks are the funniest part of this portion of my race gear. They mimic the shoes as they also have toes in them and other than the muscle soreness associated with early barefoot running they’ve been the strangest items to get used to. They take forever to put on as toes tend to want to share spaces instead of sliding directly into their individual positions – pinky toe shares the fourth toe spot so you have to forcefully separate them, etc. Once the socks are on the slippers slide right into position.
Then it was time to mix the Heed energy and Pinole concoction. Since reading “Born to Run” I’ve been drinking Pinole before and sometimes during running. Pinole is powdered corn and very grainy. It doesn’t dissolve but tastes good. Once I got over drinking grainy water the energy the stuff provides is fantastic – a slow steady burn. I saved the mix and would drink it just before the race. Found my hat, looked myself over in the mirror and out the door I went.
My brother-in-law, Brian, is a great guy. He takes me skiing on the now rare occasions I get to visit my family in Utah. He’s a good father and is nothing if not competitive. He can turn the most mundane events into a battle of wits or physical endurance. I’ve watched him turn a simple margarita – how much tequila is the perfect amount? – into a competition. Earlier this year when I’d signed up for the Bix his was one of the first emails responding to the announcement to say he too was running. From that point on, I knew the event would be fun but that it’d also be a race!
I should point out that Brian is one of those guys who push people to be better through competition – he never quits! It’s in his DNA and its what I love about the guy. His prodding, pushing and pulling keeps us all on our toes in a fun and family oriented way that only few of us have the ability to master. I knew he’d be there the whole race – no matter his condition.
My parents had trained for a while to run in the race but had decided to be spectators instead. My brother had also come to Iowa. And my cousins Beth and Erin were running again. Beth has run the race for 15 years and this was Erin’s second go around. Her son, Collin (10) decided to run too. Also watching were my sister and two nieces, two aunts an uncle and the remainder of Erin’s family. It had become a family event!
We all were to meet at a parking lot at the 1.5 mile marker of the race. The idea was to be at the meeting place no later than an hour before so we could make certain to be at the starting line on time. Beth knew the back roads and could take us down there in her car leaving all of our ‘fans’ behind to take their positions along the course route.
It was a glorious morning for Iowa in July. The temperature was cool, barely any humidity and just a few wispy clouds in the sky – remnants of an amazing thunderstorm the night before (story for a later time). I’d had a good night’s sleep and all was shaping up to be a perfect race. I had butterflies in my stomach. Nervous that I’d choke on the route or trip over another racer during the event or that maybe the whole barefoot thing was a mistake. Then disaster struck. Beth called to say her car was smoking and that she was stranded on the other side of the vacant building we were parked in front of.
We all gathered our stuff and walked over to see what was going on. When we arrived there were two police cars and a motorcycle cop surrounding the scene. It looked like a major bust. The car had stopped smoking but wasn’t going anywhere. Soon a fire engine arrived and we all burst out laughing. Davenport knows how deal with an ‘incident.’ Beth was upset about her car but also intent on getting to the starting line and convinced one of the officers to take us there. After a few short conversations, we jumped into the back of the squad car and off we went – looking like convicted athletes.
We met Erin and Collin around the corner from the starting line, got our photo taken, stretched a little and went to stand with 18+ thousand people on Brady Street.