Jeepers, its been a busy week. Pretty sad that I’m just now getting around to filing my Boilermaker recap, over a week later.
After a busy few weeks of training, various commitments, and holiday visits, I was able to draw the line and I arranged to take it easy the Saturday before the race. Training-wise, I did a little teeny tiny taper; I kept up normal daily runs (60 minutes) until Thursday. Friday, I did 45 minutes; Saturday, I did a nice easy 30 minutes. I got a little nervous as I went out about about the same time of the Boilermaker start and it was already quite warm and humid. Yuck.
Sunday morning, I my alarm went off at regular wake up time, 4:45. Still kinda hazy I snoozed it until 5 and then pried myself out of bed. I wandered over to the computer for a while to let my guts try to wake up for a while then headed off to the shower. After a quick run through the decontamination unit, I rounded up the last of my stuff (which in a fit of brilliance, I laid out the night before) and headed out the door. The plan, as usual was to meet up with my running buddy Larry and the Thruway ramp at 5:40.
About 5:45 my cell phone rang. It Larry and says he’s coming up on the exit and he’ll be there in a few minutes. I told him that nobody else from the crew was there, so it really wasn’t worth stopping. We agreed to just meet up at the Utica Thruway ramp. I beat Larry by a few minutes, so I parked in front of the Utica Visitors Center right beyond the toll booth.
Soon after backing in, someone tapped on my window. “Excuse me sir, can you please move your car, this is governor’s parking spot and he’ll be showing up soon.” I resisted the urge to say first come, first served and just pulled over to the other side of the lot. Larry showed up a few minutes later and we were caravaning off to the race parking area.
The lot was a lot more full than I remembered from previous years (I think it might be because one of the other lots in the area that Boilermaker parkers normally used was closed off) but, there was still a bunch of open spaces. As I was doing my final suit up, MikeV happened by. Without any prior planning we ended up rolling up and parking right near each other.
I did my final checks: right shoes, check. right socks, check. number, check. chip, check. hat, check. car key, check. With that, we started up the block to hop on the shuttle. The line seemed a little longer than usual, but it was moving right along. A few minutes later, we were on our way to the start.
At 7:25, the lines to the portapotties were only getting longer, so we thought it best to hit them earlier rather than later (or get stuck using the green room, hehe.) Larry, Mike, and I hung out for a few more minutes while stretched, joked, and adjusted shoes and other various clothing items. Right as we were about to head to the starting corals, Larry darted off into the crowd mid-sentence. Mr. Eagle Eyes caught Mark and Joe from the 1st Marathon crew. We wished them luck and then did the same amongst ourselves. A personal record is always the best, but making it safely to the finish line is always my first priority!
For the first time, I took the left on Culver Ave (instead of the normal right) and lined up about 100 feet behind the Elite runners. Wow, I remember thinking; I might not be tripping over people for the first few miles like I normally do. I did a few more stretches and fought one more time to try to get my right shoe laced up just right. When I stood up again, I spotted Bob from the 1st Marathon crew. He was so in the zone, I almost didn’t wanna say hello.
The standard Call to the Races trumpet trill started the pre-race festivities. Still amazed how the crowd goes almost silent as the National Anthem echoes over the 12,000+ people at the start. This year was the last year for the current race director. To pay him tribute for his 7 years of service, the announcer led the crowd in 7 choruses of ‘Thank You, Bob!’ A quick blessing, and they call out 30 seconds until start. Boom! We’re off!
- Mile 1
Starting a lot further up this year, I was a little distressed when it still felt like there were a lot of people in my way. Thankfully, that lasted for only about the first quarter mile or so. People started to thin settle into a pace comfortable for me and there were a lot of openings for me to slide around folks that were a little slower than I’d like.
Surprisingly, even though I felt kinda warm waiting around for the start, I’m was feeling pretty good temperature-wise. I think that the light breeze that was churning up from time to time was gonna be my savior.
I quickly glanced at my watch as I prepared to click in the split. Hmm, that’s pretty fast for me; hope I didn’t blow the race in the first mile.
- Mile 2
Yep, the leprechaun guy is out doling out his Irish Luck at the start of Mile 2 as usual. Man, he’s gotta be kinda warm with that costume on.There were a couple more performers in the International Mile this year. Unfortunately, I was concentrating on passing a few folks rather than enjoying the tunes.
At about the 3/4 mark in the mile I caught up with Bob again. I warned him that he was in trouble now, as we were just passing the Polish entry in the international mile, with all of its festive polka goodness.I kept ahead of Bob until the water stop right before mile 3 began. I hit a little traffic and he slipped by and began to pull away.
Jinkies, that can’t be right? Second mile faster than the first?
- Mile 3
A bunch of folks were starting to slow down on start of the real hills. True to form, I can always find a way to get stuck behind a bunch of folks who all slow down at the same time.
I kept Bob in sight until the turn on to Valley View Road. Right before I was about to hang the left, somebody lit off a huge noisemaker of some sort (an m80?) It was loud enough to make me jump.
- Mile 4
New this year was mats for timing the 5k (and 10K) splits. I made it 23:16. Whoa, that’s only about a minute of my PR for 5k.Phew, the sun is starting to get a little hot. I was cruising down the right shoulder when it seems that everybody wanted to be in my space to make the impending right turn into the golf course; crunch. It wasn’t too bad though.
Everybody seemed to slow down right before the turn and I was able to work my way back the middle.
Argh. I think everybody in the entire race stops to get water before climbing the biggest hill of the course. I tried to stay as close as possible to the middle to avoid the people slowing down for water (on both sides of the course.) But, I still lost a few seconds stepping around folks who couldn’t figure out which way they wanted to go. Outta my way, people!I was able to get a line for my ascent. I’m not gonna say that it was like the hill wasn’t even there this year, but I will say that its definitely a lot less daunting after all the 1st Marathon hill training that I’ve done in the last months. I chugged right up, and only felt the slightest bit out of breath at the tippy top.
I definitely felt a little slower this mile, but, its the 2nd hardest on the course, so I was really pleased to see that I clocked it under 8.
- Mile 5
Ok, new strategy for ’07. No more of this pussy-footing my way down hills. Again, relying on my new 1st Marathon running experience from the backwoods long runs at Green Lakes, I opened up my stride and just let my natural form take over. I’m still not 100% comfortable in this area yet, but I felt a lot a faster on the way down. Far less people were sailing past me than in recent years. My legs felt a little weird when I returned to level pavement.
I stuck like glue to the middle of the road trying to avoid the popsicle fall out. I’m so paranoid I’m gonna slip out a discarded pop or wrapper. Maybe its because I made it through the minefield a little earlier this year, but there was a lot less fall out on the roadway.
I had to wipe my eyes to get a second look at my watch when I clicked in the split.Split: 7:00
- Mile 6
As I approached Oneida Street, I moved my car key and water bottle to might left hand. I was trying to keep the right hand free for a quick high five from my Mom. I slowed up my pace just a little so I didn’t miss her. Unfortunately, she wasn’t right at the curb, so I figured it was best not to mow down a bunch of spectators to slap hands and just yelled that I was having a great race. Ok, back to work.
Hmm, that nice breeze that I was enjoying seemed to have dried up. The sun was also starting to blaze pretty good. I was starting to get a little warm again. And maybe, just a touch tired.A left on Genesee Street and another quick right on Shepard Place and I spotted someone dressed as Santa Claus handing out ice. I asked him for a new pair of running shoes for Christmas. I’m sure wouldn’t hear that another couple of hundred times that day. Another couple quick turns and I was back on Burrstone Road and headed for Heartbreak Hill.Split: 7:32
- Mile 7
They don’t call it Heartbreak Hill for nothing. Its a slow, steady climb on concrete, with little to no shade. I was feeling pretty good at the bottom, but my internal thermometer was rising fast.I break it up into 3 stages. The first is from the beginning of the mile to the top of the bridge over the arterial (York Street). Stage 2 is from there to the turn on Champlin Ave. The final stage is from the there to the end of the mile. Depending how hot it is, its a toss up between 2 and 3 being the nail biter.
This year, the third felt worse. For some reason, I thought the downhill part started a lot sooner after the turn than it really did.I was slouching a bit a pack of folks when tooling on by me. I couldn’t exactly see where it was coming from, but there was some very loud techno style music blaring right before the next mile marker. It was ramping up in temp and was the perfect spring board to speed me up. I floored and caught back up to the pack who recently sailed past me.Doh, I thought as I saw that my sub 8’s record was toast…
- Mile 8
Phew a little level ground, then (even better!) some downhill. I gave the freewheeling approach another shot. It seemed to work pretty good, though I was finding a little more challenging this time, probably because I was starting to get a little tired.
A couple of more nice little flats and down hill sections and I was all ready at the mile marker. Nice to see that I was back under 8.
- Mile 9
I noticed I was getting a little dry, so I chugged a few mouthfuls of water. I contemplated hitting the little street side shower in this mile, but opted against it at the last second. My shirt was already pretty soaked through and heavy. No use in piling on more weight.
Soon enough, I made the right onto the home stretch. Phew, I quickly moved over to the left side of the road to snag some of the shade from the old Dunlap Tires factory.
For about 30 seconds, I felt really crappy. Not sure what that was about, wasn’t a respiratory cramp, don’t think it was a GI cramp either. Just felt strange. Maybe it was just nerves? Thankfully, it went just about as quickly as it came.With my water bottle about 1/2 empty, I figured that I really didn’t need to carry it for the last mile or so. I took another couple of swigs and gently laid it in some grass in the side of the road.
As I looked up again, I thought I caught a glimpse of Chub Bailly. Oh geez, I’ve done all this training this year, and I’m still gonna get beat by my Uncle-in-law? Crap.
Nuts, that heavy rock band that brought me home last year was between songs. Guess I’ll have to be my own motivation.
- The Final .3
The crowd seems to be extra deep and loud this year. I used them to pull in. One more downhill to go. I freewheeled it down and only a few long legged milers were able to pass me on the way down.The guy who I thought was Chub was about 20 yards ahead of me at the bottom of the hill. Geez, I really don’t want to lose to him again. What the hey? So, I gunned it. I got within 2 yards of him when he sailed through the finish.
Oh well, I gave it my best and threw my arms up and yelled my fool head off as I crossed the line.
So, that adds up to 70:57! My lofty goal for the race was to break 70 minutes. So, I was pretty happy to miss that only by a little bit. This was a new PR besting my previous effort by almost 8 minutes.
As I was getting my chip taken off my shoe, I realized that I was in the wrong half of the finish chutes. I told Larry that I was heading left and wouldn’tcha know it, here I am on the right side. So, I shuffled my way out around the back, picked up a few cups of water and headed toward the other chute. As I approached the end of the chute I get yelled at by some race officials that I couldn’t go back through the chutes. I wasn’t even trying, I was actually trying to get on to the sidewalk next to the chute so I watch the finishers coming in.
A few minutes later, I spotted Brian (from our Mountain Goat training crew). I was able to catch him at the end of the chute and we hung out waiting for Larry. A few minutes later, he showed up. He looked a little tired, but said he felt good.
With that, we grabbed some more water and began the crawl down to the party. I grabbed some vitamin water and skipped the rest. My stomach was just a little topsy turvy and nothing else looked good. I just wanted the turkey sammiche in my runner’s lunch bag. After picking up our bags we were able to find a spot in the shade not far from the lunch truck. We all voted that it was better just to stay there, than to fight our way into the crowd. After scarfing down my turkey sandwich and a banana, my stomach seemed to calm down a bit.
All of the sudden I heard a familiar voice. I leaned over and sure enough it was Aunt A and Chub. I leaned over to say hello and was about to congratulate him on a good race when he asked me what my time was. I said about 70, and he said he clocked in about the same time as last year. Wait a sec, he was around 72 last year. Guess that wasn’t him that I trying to chase down that last half mile. Phew. I told them that I was tired, but satisfied and was looking forward to the Rochester Marathon in the fall.
I hung out for the second rendition of the national anthem, the f-14 fly by (only a single pass this year) and the fireworks. After that, I was feeling kinda hot, tired, and super stinky, so I said my goodbyes and enjoyed a nice slow walk back to my car. I sat down to loosen my shoes a bit and let out a big sigh of relief; another Boilermaker down!
Here’s are some pictures of me and some friends, courtesy of Brightroom:
- Me. Despite the fact that in 50% of the photos my eyes are closed, I’ll assure you that they’re normally open during runs (races at least). At least these are better than the ones from the Mountain Goat earlier this year, where I appear to be floating.
- Larry. Looking a little sweaty, but otherwise fresh as a daisy.
- Bob. Hmm, he was so fast, the Brightroom folks couldn’t catch him.
- Joe. What’dya mean this race is only 15k?
- Mark. Man, he looks so relaxed mid frame. (I just look constipated.)
- Chub. Winner of the whitest legs competition.
- Brian. Another guy too fast to be caught on film.
And finally, the thank you’s:
- To the Boilermaker race folks. Thank you for another awesome race.
- To the volunteers. Thank you for keeping us all organized at the start and finish and well hydrated through out.
- To the fans. Even if you’re only a running fan one day a year, you picked the best day to be out cheering everyone on.
- To the medical support team. I thank my lucky stars that I’ve never had any problems at the race, but its comforting to know they’re at the ready if I ever did.
- To the City of Utica. They do a fantastic job keeping the entire course perfectly manicured.
- And lastly but most decidedly not leastly to the 1st Marathon crew. Its great to have the challenge of running with such dedicated athletes each week. Thanks Kevin, Larry, Bob, Mark, Joe, and everyone else I’m forgetting; You turned me into what I am today.
Looking forward to ’08! See you there!