This year was my 3rd Boilermaker, and I’ve come to really love this event! Even with 18,000 runners, I swear there’s a volunteer for every 10 runners. The event is well-organized and well-supported – not only by the staff and volunteers, but by the spectators and community that line the streets for practically the whole course. It’s like running a big city marathon at about 1/3 the distance 😉 The picture of the post-party gives you an idea of how big this event is – although it’s hard to tell that all of those little specs are runners!
It’s also an awesome experience to run with some of the World’s top runners – even if I only see them from behind at the start… I basically had 2 goals this year – first I wanted a PR. That’s usually a goal at any race you repeat, but since this was my first Boilermaker without training under a coach, it meant a lot to me to prove to myself that I am on the right track with my training. I also wanted to extend that goal a little further and run sub-58. Last year’s time was 58:38, so I figured this was obtainable. Although this was an important race for me in terms of building my confidence, once I was there I started doubting my training for this particular event. I have only done one race longer than 15k, and it was a trail race at the beginning of the year. My races leading up to this have been flat courses. I’ve been focusing a lot on speedwork at the track, and haven’t done any hill work. But I couldn’t let these doubts get to me now.
The biggest stress for me is always getting to the race itself. Even with the amount of times I’ve been to Utica – I still don’t know where the heck I am and where I’m going. The first year I was lucky to travel to the race with Becky Bader, and we found a nice secret parking spot that wasn’t far from the finish line, and is conveniently next to a hotel where we could take advantage of the plush bathrooms! I’ve parked at this same spot every year now. The first year, we found our way to the shuttle bus lines, only to find ourselves walking BLOCKS to get to the end of said line. Cue the anxiety! Last year, I decided to avoid the shuttle bus anxiety and “walk” to the race start. This would probably be a good idea if I had any clue where I was going. Anxiety quickly set in as I ran through the streets with my bag, trying to get to the start in time.
After the last 2 years, you think I would learn my lesson and have a better plan to get to the race start, but sometimes I never learn! I arrived at my private parking spot, used the fancy hotel bathroom, and started my walk, this time knowing which direction to go, but not having a better course mapped out. I came across a girl who was also trying to figure out where to go, and began talking to her since this was her first Boilermaker. We ran into 2 other groups of people, all seemingly confused about which way to go. Turns out they were all looking for the shuttle buses, and I decided I may be better off sticking with them and braving the lines. I don’t think we were at the bus site for 30 seconds before we were loaded onto a bus and headed to the start – they really have this system down to a science now! We arrived at the race site and I told my new friend that it would be best if we went straight to the port-a-pot lines, as they tend to be very long. We hopped into a line and I don’t think we waited even 3 minutes! Now I had so much time, that I didn’t want to check my bag yet, and was able to find a place to sit down and chill out. I decided to try to use the bathroom one more time before I checked my bag and begin my warm-up, and this time walked right into one where there was no lines – this was going way too smoothly! I was ready to race!
Standing in the corral I was more calm than I’ve ever been, and was happy to see a few familiar faces. We noted that even though we had perfect, overcast skies (I didn’t even wear my sunglasses), we could feel the humidity like a thick blanket. But we were lucky that we didn’t have the brutal heat that had been hitting the area the week before! I hit mile one at 6:00 on the dot, and was satisfied with this. I have a tendency to go out too hard most times – when you’re “chasing” the elites in front of you, and getting caught up in the excitement that unfolds during that first mile – it’s very easy to do. My plan was to have a solid first 5k, settle in for the 2nd 5k, and then run a strong final 5k. Last year I really faded during the last 5k, and I wanted to avoid a repeat of that this year. It didn’t go exactly as planned – my first 5k was 19:15, the second was 19:09, and…once again I faded a bit at the end of the race…my third was 19:26. For the last 5k the sun was out in full force, and I had already been throwing cups of water on my head at every stop and running under every sprinkler available, even if it wasn’t in my path. So maybe that had a little something to do with my slow finish…BUT…I was able to kick it in at the very end when I saw that clock and made it in at 57:50 – goals achieved!! 🙂 I was the 4th non-elite female finisher, 19th overall female, and 1st in the 30-34 age group. And now I’m already planning to work towards a sub-57 next year 😉
Yes I want to do it again next year. Not only because I love the event, but also because it gives me an opportunity to visit some of my wonderful Syracuse friends! I sure fit a lot of visiting, and eating, into my weekend! Who knows, maybe I would’ve been just a bit faster if it weren’t for all the pre-race dining I did at some of my favorite Syracuse restaurants! Mmmmm…