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July 15, 2012 / fionarwbl

Boilermaker 15k Race Recap

Last week I drove 499 miles to run 15k. I know we drove 499 miles because zip car charged us for extra mileage. Thanks zipcar for being more expensive than a rental. I was traveling with Katie, Zack, and Ori, who was about to run his first race!

The Boilermaker 15k bills itself as America’s largest 15k. The 15k is not exactly a classic distance, so I’m not sure how much of an achievement it is, but 15,000 runners swarm on the pretty tiny town of Utica, NY to race.

We didn’t get to see much of Utica, as we arrived about 5 minutes before the expo finished, and then went straight to our hotel. We were exhausted by the drive, and headed out for an early bird dinner at 6.30! It seems like the rest of town had the same idea, as the restaurant we headed to was packed with large tables of people ordering pasta.

We headed back to the hotel and were in bed by 9.30 ready for our 5am wake up call. The race didn’t start until 8am, but the whole shuttle from the end to the start thing meant we had to be at the race finish by 6am-ish. Yikes. This turned out to be a little on the early side and we had over 90 minutes to hang around. Pretty sure that’s longer than I had before the NYC marathon. I’m prett sure that it was at this point that Ori realized that people who run race are weird and he was never doing this again.

For being America’s largest 15k, there was remarkably little in terms of corral. There appeared to be 5 for pretty speedy people (the first 2,000 or so), and then everyone else. Combine that with no one actually getting into the corrals until 2 minutes before the start of the race. They could have done with more volunteers shepherding people into the right place! Prior to the race we sang the national anthem, which was so much nicer than having it sung to us, and then we were off!!

Or we went. It took a good 10 minutes of shuffling to the front before we crossed the start line, and then it was still pretty crowded. We weaved a lot in the first mile, and ended up with a 9:16 for the first mile. I had checked the elevation profile, and it looked like the course was uphill for the first 4 miles, and then the rest was downhill. After my Nashville experience I wanted to be sure to pace myself a lot better, so was comfortable enough taking it slow for the first couple of miles.

The crowds gradually started to thin out. The course was through a pretty residential area and there were lots of crowds out cheering. The four of us ran separately but kept fairly close together, which was fun. Mike 2 was ticked off at 8:20, and mile 3 at 8:19. I stopped of water at mile 3 and lost everyone. A mile 3 we entered a park and were straight up a steep hill. I am a notorious bad uphill runner and really good downhill runner. The downhill running comes from all those years playing tennis and field hockey which was given me strong quads. Anyway, hills are my nemesis in races, and this one I just made myself stay calm and keep going. One uphill mile done in 9:06. At the top of the hill I had some drama – some guy threw a cup of water over me by accident, and then my iPhone dropped out of my pocket, and then someone smacked me in the head while I was grabbing my phone. Fun! At this point I sort of gave up on the racing aspect and decided to have fun, which included chomping on a strawberry Popsicle while running. These should be included in all summer distance races please.

The next part of the race was a long downhill which I loved! And ran in 7:26 – one of my fastest miles in the last 6 months! I ran the next mile in 7:41 and caught up with Ori. This was such a highlight that I was literally grinning from ear to ear. I ran with him for a few minutes, and then lost him.

The 10k mark left me confused. Only 5k to go! Only two thirds done! It was starting to get pretty hot and the course had very little shade. The water, ice, misting station, and random shower setups along the course helped, but I was suffering. My running high had worn off and mile 7 was done in 8:36. I then thought that the mile 7 sign said mile 8, so when mile 8 came around, I was pretty angry at myself – I thought I was done. I ran mile 8 in 8:07. The last few miles of the course were through town, and there were lots of people cheering. I saw some NYRR shirts along the way which was awesome, but once I got to mile 8 I was, unsurprisingly ready for the race to be over. At about 8.5 I saw Katie and she inspired me to keep pushing a little bit further, even if my legs and lungs had other ideas. Eventually, the finish line was in sight and I finally made it over. Mile 9 was 8:12 and the last 0.3 in 9:03 (struggle!). Overall my final time was 1:20:40.

As soon as I was done I felt pretty weak and woozy, so I must have been working pretty hard out there. I made my way through the finish area picking up bounty – water, Popsicle, snow cone, and waited for the rest of us, and then grabbed an early morning beer. We earned it! After it was shower, IHOP (so much food!), and back to NYC.

I had a great time running this race, but I don’t think I’ll do it again. It was just too far away, and not in a good enough place to make a weekend out of. I realized after I finished the race that I had a good time partly because I had no expectations – I hadn’t any idea how fast I wanted to run, or what time to run in, so the race itself was as stress free, run how I felt place. Next time I run a 15k I’ll want to run it faster than 1:20. So instead I’ll have to find ever more obscure distances to conquer. The 8.2 mile. The 6.76. And so on. Or just get my head out of it. 🙂

No more races planned until September! This is not a good thing. Any race suggestions? Travel possible.

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2 Comments

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  1. Laura / Jul 15 2012 2:45 pm

    I ran Boilermaker a few years ago – this was a great race report to bring back the memories! Congrats on a great time – i think 1:20 is pretty darn awesome for all the uphills and crowds I remember.

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