Traveling 240 miles out of New York City to experience a race is not much of a feat when it comes down to marathons, but for a 15K? There better be some damn good explanation or real great incentive to run this race. And there was.
Hearing about this Boilermaker Classic from one of my teammates, DG, after a group run, he highly recommended it. He stated that this was the best organized race there was around. I looked the race up, found that the Utica Boilermaker 15K was the largest 15 K in the United States. Hey, I have done some huge races and this one seemed like it was going to be a marathon-equipped event…and it was! But that was not the only reason why I had done this race. There was a more personal reason, my best friend MF, lived close by, in the Syracuse region and since I had been so close, I could catch up with her for the day.
Treating the Boilermaker like it was another marathon race, anywhere exceeding 5 miles (anywhere exceeding a radius from my house to anywhere in NYC region, which runs from my house to the Staten Island Ferry or my house to the very tip of Central Park = exactly 5 miles give or take) you need to prepare for and get up early to “travel” toward the day of registration, since you don’t live in that location of the race.
So traveling by train to car at a total of 5 hours with a gas break and a potty break, JT and I had finally made it to the OUTDOOR expo. Usually for marathons, these “expo’s” are indoors, I have never seen an outdoor expo before. Where we found ourselves getting our souvenirs, they gave out a pint glass with a Saranac logo, which took the place of a souvenir shirt. WHAT? NO SOUVENIR SHIRT? HOW CAN THIS BE? After writing about my shirts experiences, I did not take this “switch” lightly. I was actually quite annoying and JT let me know about it. But I was intrigued by yet another thing…my race number that they had given me. IT WAS ORANGE! The race officials had colored the bib according to your expected finish time. Each color (white, orange, blue, green, yellow, & grey) represented the different corals that seeded people. Orange meant that we were in back of white, which was the group that ran under a 1 hour total time, where white was behind the race elites! It was insane!!!
I am jumping ahead of myself here…So let me tell you about game day early morning. Since my friend lived about an hour and a half away, she lived in the rural districts of Syracuse, where there are cows. Never in my life have I woken up on race day to the smell of cow manure, which is almost like coffee, but has more of a punch! So, I had been right up at 5am, leaving at 5:30am and getting into Utica at 7am for the 8am start. It had been a cool early morning, but later not the case. There were lots of parking all around town which facilitated for the 15,000 15K people + the many that did the 5K and many more other races and volunteers that had coordinated this event. Being from NYC and having our mass MTA subway system, the car parking phenomena only occurs at marathons for me. Buses facilitated people from the finish of the race to the starting line, where you see masses amounts of port-o-potties to facilitate the 15K racers. DG, did not disappoint at all, it was a very well organized race for the amounts of people that had done this and I was really impressed.
Ok…so now back to the race starting line. The race had a certain presence to it. Maybe it was because I was with some of the very elite starters or maybe it was because I had not done a race in about a month. As the start came closer and closer, the trumpet of the Start, blared out the famous Kentucky Derby theme, many people had laughed. The national anthem had played where it really got into you…well at least it really got into me. Maybe it was the large American flag or maybe it was because the race was so close to July 4th. Then, the final arrival where the race started off with a bang, and I really mean cannon BANG!!
Crowds of people cheered along the sides, as you cruised along the first mile. They called this the “international mile” where they had many flags from different nations, cultures were represented, dancers were dancing and floats of different nationalities such as Polish, belly and Scottish bagpipers. All along the course there were live bands playing their hearts out at 8am in the morning. Usually neighbors would be screaming at these hard rocked kids screaming their hearts out to the masses amounts of people running, but not today. Today they were thumbed up, but masses amounts of runners showing their appreciation for the music along the way. Maybe it was the hype, maybe it was the crowds just cheering you on, but I went out FAST and I suffered from it. The coolness of the morning air soon turned into the humidity of the BOILING air of the BOILERMAKER, actually the boilermaker was taken from the Boiler plant that the race starts at that boils the BEER?...but really not. After 3 miles into the race, you wonder why you had signed up for the 15K race, rather than the 5K race. After all, it’s the tradition of the 30 year old race that encompasses the title of the largest 15K race in the nation. The course was a very challenging and hilly course, very beautiful, scenic and has amazing crowd support. Although there was a spot where you go through a golf course, which really looked like a park, which I had thought it was and later told it was a golf course. But that had the bulk of the larger hills. Then you pass by the Utica Zoo, which showcased a lama? Is this right? Because I was told that there was a lama, but I didn’t see any lama on the course…maybe I was going too fast?
The volunteers did an amazing job with the well needed water stations. They facilitated people with water on sometimes both sides, one side (left, which is the more preferable side), the other side (right, which is a little less preferred). They had water and ICE at some of the other stations. WHAT DO YOU DO WITH ICE? I have heard runners crunching the ice with their teeth, but they gave it to you in a cup. I have also heard that some runners take the ice and wet their hands with it. I don’t know. I used it for the water, when I didn’t know from the water cups to the ice cups. BUT LATER FOUND OUT AS A JOKE THAT YOU CAN PUT THE ICE IN YOUR PANTS! I think that was a joke from JT, but maybe I’ll try it next year. There were various water contraptions along the race (showers?), some people brought out hoses to hose down the runners from the Boiling heat.
As the race slowly became closer to the finish line, the 15K is probably the most difficult race to gauge for NYC runners due to the vast amount of 6 milers that we have within the park races. You can barely get the sense of a 15K event and mileage, but in all…it was a very well run race.
After thinking I was going to die of heat exhaustion after 3 miles, I had slowly recovered, ran my race and came up strong. Well not really. Thinking that it was a 9 miler, I used a lot of energy at the 8.5 mile marker and forgot that we still had another .3 miles still to go. Maybe next year I will remember that it is a 15K which equals a 9.3 mile race!
I ended up with a PR and ran an average pace of 6:43 min/mile. Total time of 1:02:07, and yes, I had forgotten, it was suppose to be a fun run…and I had a great time.