Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Boilermaker (20)15k

When you get to do a fun race that also is a check-mark on the bucket list, it's double winning. A fun race, a PR, weekend with friends, AND bucket list check- epic winning. Boilermaker 15k 2015 will definitely go down as the latter.

Boilermaker has been on my list for a while now. It takes place in Utica, NY is known as one of the best 15k's in the country{which is odd, because...Utica}. Second Sunday in July, challenging course, and finishes with a HUGE party at a brewery. I like races, I like a challenge, and I certainly like a beer (or two)- kind of a no brainer. To say I was excited to do it this year, would be an understatement.

Race morning was pretty smooth. Heather and I were up early and went to Dunkin' then came back to hotel to finish getting ready. It was an easy ride to the start line. We concluded that I would be singing Pitbull songs the whole race (I was bib 305), Heather was going to be the snuffly one (worst luck of getting sick right before the race!), and her man was going to be the hall monitor (he recited us the rules in a funny fashion). We each had our roles, and it was going to be a good day!

We parked near the start (point to point course) and started with the usual pre-race routines. You know the excessive body glide application, bag check, bathroom lines, warm-up and strides; everything was going smoothly. I made my way to the corrals, and was happy to only be in the second one from the start. I had a good placement, and managed to find friends to chat with before we took off.

Heather had told me that there was a house, a tenth of a mile into the race that would make me laugh. Sure enough, on the right at a tenth of a mile into the race was a house yelling "only 9.2 miles to go". They were loud and rowdy and had everyone running and smiling. I knew I was going to like this race.
Photo source: Syracuse.com
My plan was to start conservative, no real shocker there as that is my go-to strategy. The first few miles of this race are rolling, with a large hill at the golf course around mile 4. I stuck true to my plan but was more conservative than I needed to be. Having not run the course before I wanted to make sure I didn't run it stupidly. I hit the first 5k in a little over 21 minutes, I knew right then it was too slow. Put it this way, my 40k split in Boston was faster than this split. Live and learn.

I knew I could make up ground on the back half of the course, but wanted to wait until after the hill. Before heading up I took 2 cups of water and a cup of ice at an aid station. 1 cup of water in the mouth, 1 cup of water on my head, and 1 cup of ice down my bra. My goal was to prevent myself from overheating as early as possible. I went up the hill around 7:10 pace, it's a good sized hill but I do think I could have pushed on the gas a little more without killing myself.

After that uphill, the downhill is like going down a ski slope. I was instantly hitting 6:15's without even trying. I focused on going with the descent but also controlling form not to kill my legs.  I hit the 10k mark in 41:48 so had made up some ground even with the 7:10 split in there. I was continuing with some ice, and water working hard on staying cool and hydrated. I also went through no less than 5 sprinklers and hoses that spectators had on course. I looked like I jumped into a pool, but the best part was that I felt like it too. Mission accomplished to prevent over heating.

Mile 7 was probably my least favorite of the day. It's slight incline, wide open road with no protection from the sun. I kept the pace under 7 still but definitely slowed. Once I got past that though, I felt wound up and ready to go. I was passing more and more people and knew that I could finish with a decent negative split. I was going back and forth with two guys, both were encouraging me and we just kept picking people off. I was excited and knew a fun finish line waited for me.

Love my "party shorts". Also happy I raced in the Fast Twitch for a little more support than my flats (for the elevation changes).
I got a nasty side stitch in the last 1/4 of a mile which made pushing through the chute slower than I wanted but didn't really affect the outcome of the race...maybe a few seconds, if that. I finished in 1:02:12, which is almost a 4 minute PR! Granted I hadn't run a 15k in 2 years, and expected a large PR. My old best was slower than my current marathon pace, so I was prepared for a good day- but a PR is a PR!

I will actually get an Age Group Award because a few of the people ahead of me took overall places which pulls them out of AG contention. 3rd Place 25-29, hell yeah!
Controlled execution.
The guys I was running with fist bumped me and we chatted walking through the finisher area a bit. I got my finishers pin, and found my way to water, bag check and then BEER. The finish area was very well organized and I had known where I needed to be, as we had planned our meetup spot. Finishing at a brewery is genius, just throwing that out there. Music was blasting, people filing in more and more by the minute, and fresh cold summer pils by the truck load.

My favorite part of the whole day was standing drinking a beer and seeing Heather walk towards me after the race. She had that big goofy smile on her face that told me instantly she had a good race. Loved seeing the happy face when she told me she PR'd despite being sick- it was time to celebrate! Great friends able to celebrate each others successes- something that can be hard to come by these days.
We chatted about our races, the fun things we saw/heard, and enjoyed the time as more and more of our group joined us at the party. I can see why so many people do this race every single year, you can bet I'll be back for more. It says a lot about how awesome a race is, that despite being very warm and a challenging course people keep coming back year after year. I would compare the spectators and race execution to that of Boston- but on a 15k scale. The community gets so involved, people love this weekend, and everyone has a good time runner or not.

Post-Race Thoughts
Of course I am incredibly happy with such a big PR, and I really don't have any complaints about this race. Sure, I KNOW I could have gone faster but it was less because I couldn't and more because I didn't. I felt it was wise to play it a little safe my first time on the course. I can look back and see where I could have given more, there are a few spots and I know for next time. Overall my execution went very well, fueling, pacing, and mental game were all on point. I ran about what I expected, based on where I am at in training, course, conditions etc.

Boilermaker, I'll be back for you next year.

Overall it was a great weekend, a well executed race, and a fun experience. Can't ask for much more than that!


  1. Congrats on the PR and a good race weekend.

  2. Nice race! Negative splits are the best feeling.

  3. This race SOUNDS fun! I want to end a race at a brewery or winery!!! I think it would just make a great atmosphere despite the fact my stomach doesn't drink with beer. I just love the people who go to breweries and factories haha! CONGRATS ON THE PR!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...