I am not even sure I can find the words to describe the race yesterday. I traveled with friends to Utica for the Boilermaker 15K. Yesterday’s 33rd running of the race held its largest field ever and the largest number of finishers. This makes it the largest 15K road race in the United States, although the field was very international.
The winners – both the male and the female – set course records. The male winner had a time of 42:46. For those who do not know, 15K is 9.3 miles. That is one fast runner!! The female winner had a time of 47:57. I am amazed as this is not a flat course in the least. These people were flying.
We arrived in Utica about 6:25 am on Sunday for an 8 am race start. All three of us still needed to pick up our packets and then warm-up. Hydrating while we were waiting was high on the list also. With hydration comes the natural need to relieve one’s self. Well, plan ahead.
The start line is amazing. I could not even get on the main street that the race started on for start position – not that it mattered. I was still surrounded by people. There was a trumpeter who played “The Star Spangled Banner.” The audio on the speakers kept going in and out along with some issues on the musician hitting some notes. Not a problem as we sang along and the tears came to my eyes. Then, there was an invocation. Then, once the gun went off, it took the people I was near and myself eight minutes to get to the start line.
There were some hills in the race but I have to say none were very big. The profile that is on the web site scared me more than the actual course did. I had no issues with the hills. The downhills were great as they were more sloping than I usually run. I could easily let loose and really get moving on the downhill. Unfortunately, I am still not use to running on flats. I do not have a lot of flat places around were I live to run so I tend to loose time on flats. Give me rolling hills anyday.
I ran almost even splits at 5K, 10K and the finish. When I looked at the splits on the web site, I was impressed I didn’t seem to get a lot more tired at the end of the race. My first 5K was in 37:37; the second in 37:44; and the final in 38:09. The final 5K could have been faster. There were many reasons for the slowdown. All of these could have been prevented but I wouldn’t change them at all.
What amazed me most – other than the shear number of racers – were the crowds. I can remember back decades when Utica was a booming city. It has suffered a lot in that twenty years. Yet, there were crowds everywhere. I do not recall a single spot along the entire 9.3 miles where there was not someone on the edge of the road cheering for the runners. There were at least 20 bands, dj’s, musical acts along the course so there was no need for mp3 players. The music was live and varied. The Utica Zoo was out about mile 5.5 (not totally sure of where but that seems about the right spot) with animals you could pet – a little alligator I think it was but I was not touching it….LOL!
Kelly’s Popsicle Stand was amazing! These people had family and volunteers along the race and they handed out more than 3,000 popsicles to runners. It had never crossed my mind that I would want to eat a popsicle as I ran but … Boy! was that lime green popsicle good in the humidity.
The Military Mile, starting at mile seven, had me in tears. I frequently will cry at various points during longer races. The tears can be brought on by lots of things – realizing I am going to do it – finish, a sign along the way, someone else slowing to my pace to keep me company for a while. Seeing those who are serving out cheering on us runners brought me to tears as much as “The Star Spangled Banner” did prior to the start.
I ran with a girl – young woman – about mile 6 who had slowed considerably. She had a blister on the bottom of her foot causing her considerable pain. When I left her, I wished her luck and hope her foot heals quickly.
I ran, towards the end, with a man who had a pulled tendon/ligament – I can never remember which – in the bottom of his foot. I know the pain having stretched mine last August. He was excited to be finishing! So was I!!
At mile 9 – yup, just three-tenths of a mile from the end – I saw EMTs loading someone onto a stretcher and the a golf cart to get reach more medical attention. The person looked out of it, totally, and so close to the finish line. I pray he is okay.
The downhill finish is something I think all races should have. I had evidently not given it my all as I hit the downhill finish hard and went by many people. I loved it!! I was also totally prepared for the winding way to pins, water, lunch, oranges and goody bags. I needed these city blocks to compose myself. I was in tears upon finishing – not because it was hard though it was, not because I was hurt because I was not – because I had done just that. I had finished. I had finished strong. I had finished in under the time I was reaching for as a time.
After getting all these items, I made my way to the beer line. I called my friends who had already finished. They were just about to call me as they were concerned. I got my beers and went in search of them. They were next to the massage tent. No, I did not wait for a massage. I changed out of the sweat soaked sports bra and tech shirt and we headed to the party. I ate my lunch and drank Saranac beers while listening to Nik and the Nice Guys.