Completing the Boilermaker 15k was a process and February of this year marked the beginning of the process for me. Prior to then I had not run more than 50 miles total over the last 8 years. It was an unseasonably warm Tuesday for February in North Carolina. I woke up, still depressed from recent events, and decided to go out and run. I did just that. I completed just over 3 miles in a walk/run fashion, it made me feel good. So good that when I woke up the next day I wanted to do it again. And I did.

2012 Boilermaker 15k BibApproximately 2 weeks later I had clocked in 30 total miles. Even though my times were well over 12 minutes per mile I did not care. My body was starting to feel better, energy levels were high and I had found something that allowed me to clear my head. I started thinking about having a goal to work towards. Remembering the Boilermaker from growing up it seemed to be the perfect first race, not only would I have the support of my family when I went home, it was an iconic race for central New York with over 13,000 participants.

I signed up and guesstimated that I would complete the race in approximately 1 hour 40 minutes. Fast forward 18 more weeks (20 weeks of total training) and I had spent more than 65 hours on the road training, completed 430 miles averaging 22 miles per week, burned 60,000 calories, and brought my overall average pace down to 9:18 a mile. I was ready. Two weeks prior to race day I completed  a similar run in terms of elevation and just over the 9.3 miles required for the Boilermaker. I finished in 1:14:08, a far cry from the 1:40:00 I registered for the race at, but I was ready.

2012 Boilermaker 15k Starting LineThe morning of the race I woke up early, somewhere around 4 AM and after a hearty breakfast I arrived at the starting line just after 6 AM. Having two hours to kill before the start mentally challenged me and my need to relieve myself. Soon after the start of the race it would become a learning lesson for me in terms of my next competition. As I listened to the announcer explain the color bibs and where to line up, I quickly realized my gold/general colored bib was going to make the race that much more difficult for me. I lined up with at least 4000 people in front of me, most planning to run a slower pace than I was capable of. Even with the chip timer, I knew I was in trouble.

8 AM hit and the gun went off, people were overjoyed with excitement and ready to begin the race. I was nervous but ready to make my way to the finish. Approximately 4 minutes later I crossed the starting line and my chip timer began. For the first 1/2 mile everything was a blur, between the crowds lined up along the street to running underneath the enormous American flags draped from the Utica firetrucks. My Nike+ app announced I had hit the half mile mark and stated I was moving at a 9:10 pace, I realized immediately that even though I was moving faster than the people around me, I was disoriented to how fast I was actually going. I continued on and weaved my way through the crowds and as I approached the hairpin left turn to enter the golf course/zoo I knew we were headed into the toughest portion of the course, miles 2.5 – 4. At this point I had caught up with the majority of the blue bibs and some teal colored bibs, I knew I was getting close to the group that would offer the best pace for me throughout the rest of the course. 2012 Boilermaker 15k Varick St. Post RaceI fought off some tough shin splints throughout the 300 feet of elevation we climbed in the zoo and pressed on. I knew I had lost some time at this point and was running a 9:15 pace, but I was okay with that as I had planned for the back four miles to begin my push.

Mile 5 hit and we continued down Memorial Parkway approaching Genesee Street, I began to up my pace and moved down towards 8:30 a mile. I was now starting to feel awful, my body needed a restroom bad, but being stubborn I kept going. Mile 6 hit and I tried to turn it up again, I gained a slight bit of pace dropping to a low 8 minute mile, a far cry from what I had trained for. The course temperature was starting to increase and I knew in front of Utica College on Burrstone Road that there was no way to hide from the sun. I began the downhill just past mile 7 and my energy level was gone. My paced slowed and for the first time in the race I began to maintain my position and no longer gain ground. I saw the clock and it showed the race time to be 67 minutes, I knew my chances of a personal record were gone. The only thing on my mind was to finish.

2012 Boilermaker 15k Post Race PartyI pressed on and survived through the last 2+ miles. Crossing the finish line was a feeling of pure bliss. I had completed my first Boilermaker at 1:23:07 with a pace of 8:55 minutes per mile. Respectable but not exactly what I had hoped for. Everyone has said it is not about time but about finishing. Now I have work to do for next year.

A couple of the things I learned:

  • Save my legs and don’t climb Mount Marcy 2 days before
  • Run more in the mornings and rehearse how the morning of the race should go (what I eat, bathroom, etc)
  • Register for the race with a more appropriate time
  • Train more

Going forward from here I am starting marathon training, but I can’t wait to complete next years Boilermaker and hopefully obtain my goals.