The day of the Boilermaker 15K road race begins the same way: a 2 mile run with the dogs about 1 1/2 hours before race start. That has been the routine for my 4 consecutive Boilermakers. The legs felt good but then Zoey was pulling me along. At that time in the morning, Culver Ave. is beginning to awake with the energy of the impending race.
*Due to storms in the area, runners were to check in after 5 am on social media or news stations to see if the race was cancelled. The race was on but the post race party was to end an hour earlier at 11 am. This would have been the first cancellation in the 37 years of Boilermaker history. Sure glad we didn’t “make history” today. It’s on!
Ted dropped me off at the starting area at 7:10 am. I got in one of the porta-john lines which took 4 – EV– ER! By 7:40, I was thinking it might be the first time I’ve had to run for the bushes before a race. When I finally got in one of those blue torpedoes, the Sports Beans I intended to eat before the race fell out. No chance of picking those up…there is no “5 second rule” in porta-johns. Anything drops, pull out the hazmat suits or simply DON’T TOUCH.
In my corral by 7:50 … running tail ready…
The weather was breezy. Temperatures quickly rising to 77 degrees and it was humid.
Mile 1: 8:14 pace – the start line on Culver Ave to almost the corner of Albany St. A slight incline and a little dip then flat.
I was in a good starting corral which allowed me to cross the timing mat within 1 minute of gun time. The original plan was to go slow this first mile or two since it takes that long for the crowd to loosen up. Not the case on this day. The runners were loose, not packed tight. Got to race pace immediately. Since I didn’t have time to go for a warm up before the race, my body struggled with the pace. Running with the dogs earlier didn’t seem to help.
Water stop at the 1 mile marker.
Mile 2: 7:53 – straight road to just past MVCC. The crowd support along this International mile was amazing this year. I think they were 3 deep! Since we live very near the two mile mark, I saw many a neighbor and gave shout outs. It helped me forget about struggling to loosen up and keep up the pace. The Happy song played as runners, still smiling, went along this road.
Mile 3: 7:56 – this mile also has tons of support, both sides of the road. The water stop is just as runners turn up Valley View Road, slightly before the 3 mile marker. Great place to take an energy gel.
I noticed a tall well chiseled guy running ahead who looked at his watch as we went into the third mile and shook his head. I said “You’ve got plenty of time to make up the pace.” He said he …”yeah but the hill in the golf course”. I suggested that the tougher one is turning up Valley View as it’s the first significant hill of the course. Maybe it’s because it’s hill number one or maybe it is in fact steeper than the golf course hill but it’s always tough. Many take their first walk break at this point.
As we turned onto Valley View, I took my GU gel then heard my name, turned and it was the Bike Support Crew! Bob, Gene and Ted! Motivation to get up the hill.
The first stop with ice available upon entering the golf course. There is always a DJ playing a funny song and I have no idea of the name but the lyrics are amusing. I took ice and put it in my shirt and into my hair. My face felt very hot by this time.
Mile 4: 8:08 – The marker is upon making the right turn at the crest and where the view opens up to overlook the reservoir.
It always feels so good to crest that hill and begin the down hill speed session, being careful not to push the pace but allow gravity to take you to the bottom. Typically a wheel chair athlete will pass us, not this year. I was well ahead of the one struggling up Valley View Road. I was still taking water at every station but not stopping, either drinking a little or pouring it on myself: head, shirt, wrists.
Mile 5: 6:59 – along the Parkway, turn on to Genesee to Sunset then to Burrstone Road at Faxton Hospital. This was my first time ever hitting a pace under 7 min/mile. It was the downhill out of the golf course. Upon turning out the gates at the bottom, I saw our friend Mary Ellen and gave a shout out.
The road had been re-paved along this mile in the past two weeks and I could still smell the new tar. It bothered me. The heat and the smell didn’t help my stomach.
Mile 6: 7:31 – the marker can be seen as you pass Faxton Hospital and takes the runner up to the corner for a right turn onto Champlain Road. I prepare myself for the absolute worst part of the course, the long, gradual, shade-less climb. The crowd is still amazing along here. On this race day Sunday we were lucky because it was overcast and even though hot and humid, the sun wasn’t a factor. I wanted to walk a little of this hill but no one around me was walking and if no one else was then I certainly wouldn’t. Keep pushing, it’s a hill and we’ll get over it. Still, I didn’t know if I could keep running at this pace. My quads were starting to feel a little tight and my legs had that lactic acid build up burn.
I heard my name called out again. Whether is was for me or another “Joanne” I used it as a push. It was needed because as runners turn onto Champlain, after the ascent past Utica College, we all want the downhill to begin. It doesn’t. At the water stop, I saw a gal in my age group who is very fast and typically comes in about 2 minutes ahead of me every year. She was stopped drinking water. I wondered at what point she would zoom past me and used this to try to hold my pace, pretending that she was right on my tail and I had to keep going. She never passed and in the end, finished seconds after me.
Mile 7: 8:03 – the marker is near a bench across from St. Lukes Hospital and Utica College. You know you’re nearing home and up ahead is where the road slopes down hill. There are sprinklers for runners as we pass through. These feel SO good on hot days! I think I hit all hoses and sprinklers this year, about 3 to 4 in total. I was soaked!
Mile 8: 7:21 – Along this mile,which will turn onto Whitesboro Street, the crowd is loud. Runners are beginning to turn to walkers or stopped to stretch out tight, cramped muscles. The road has a gentle grade. There are cow bells, more music, food cooking, it’s a fun mile if you can take your mind of your exhausted body. I looked for friends who might be along this area, close to the finishing mile.
Mile 9: 7:46 – stay the course on Whitesboro Street. It seems so long. I know this from previous years thinking it always feels like it’s the longest mile. There is no walking during this last mile even though my body SO wants to stop. I know it won’t be long. Hold on. I start to think about elite athletes and how it must be hard for them at this point in a race but they don’t stop. They don’t walk. If other runners are that mentally strong, I will be as well and I urge myself to try to keep pushing.
Mile .3: 6:43 – we can hear the finish line announcer and can see the arch, decide which side to finish on left or right. It’s almost over so I dig deep and run at my best for the finish. It was my best, another portion of the race under 7 min/mile.
I forgot to look at the finish clock for gun time but stopped my Garmin right away for a time of 1:12:34. Official NET time was 1:12:30 (7:47 pace), 5th in my age group out of 388. A PR! (my previous best was in 2011 at 1:13:01 net.)
A Boilermaker PR by seconds, but still not reaching my goal. So my love-hate relationship with this race continues. It’s the only race where I will push myself until it hurts, where I truly challenge my ability. It makes me enjoy my beloved marathon distance even more.
Waiting, watching the finishers pass by
The “bike crew” arrive and Ted and I take selfies
Great Jack Daniels’ Tool: The Running Calculator Check it out for your next race!
A few sips of beer and it’s off to Connecticut for a quick mini vacation.
Walks in a beautiful park with a little rock climbing
Scenic bike rides
Don’t know how I do it but I can get so dirty riding a bike. Didn’t fall, just have that knack.
Cleaned off then spent the rest of the day in Mystic
Draw bridge goes up about every 45 minutes or so it seemed on this day. We got caught in a temporary down pour but simply had to wait it out.
Ted wouldn’t let me go in this store alone … as if I was a little kid…FREE PUPPY?!!! Awe!
What a wonderful weekend. Way too short.
How was your weekend? Did you race? Run? Bike? Eat good foods?