Monday, July 11, 2016

2016 Utica Boilermaker 15k

Post-race party at Saranac Brewery in full swing. (7/10/16)
Weather: Showers followed by clearing, 65°F, 90% Humidity, Wind: W @ 8 mph.
Route: Utica Boilermaker 15k
Time (Pace): 1:26.31 (official), 9:17 min/mile.

Pre-Race Observations: Heading out very early this morning to participate in my fourth(!) Utica Boilermaker 15k. Despite being the fourth time I've run the course, and the second consecutive year, I come into this run with my lowest personal expectations. As previously shared, I committed two weeks ago to following through with running it "with" my son. While my son, Jack, has been diligent in training toward this race (as part of a larger effort to complete this first marathon in September), after too many weeks away from formal training, I needed to choose an alternate path to competition.

I have in the past two weeks followed through on my "get fit(-ish) quick" scheme consisting of multiple run-walk "workouts" ranging in distance from 3 to 8 miles with the occasional 3 to 4 mile ez runs mixed in for good measure. As one might expect, there are some challenges with run-walk, th most significant being the necessity of disciplining oneself to adhere to the 3 minute run-1 minute walk schedule, even when feeling as though you could continue on through the entire thing at the run pace after suitably warming up. The need to honor my plan, while maintaining my breathing and mantra has been challenging to do when running alone, and will be even more difficult in the context of 11,000 other folks running the race. I am embracing both the challenge of the new race plan (whcih means accepting a slower finishing time than in years past) and finding the joy in simply participating with my son (who will only be held back if he chooses to stay with me).

An unanticipated added benefit is that my brother happened to be in town this weekend (he lives and teaches in Monterrey, Mexico) and will be making the two-hour drive to Utica with us...

Post-Run Reflections: This was the fourth Boilermaker I have "run," and despite being the slowest time I have put forth, it was the best one I have been part of. Beyond my finishing the course it was great to have have my son run the course for his first time (and doing well) and to have my brother make the trip with us. The logistics of meeting up aside  (FYI: it is not easy to find one person among 13,000 of your closest friends at the post-race party!), celebrating having finished with your family is definitely the way to go.

While waiting in our assigned pre-race starting coral, my son and I talked quite a bit about how incredibly well organized the Boilermaker weekend is. The Utica community once again did a fantastic job making what could have been a nightmare (and what I have experienced as a hug pain in the butt in races of significantly smaller scale), very easy. From parking at the finish to picking up post-race swag, the entire experience was very smooth... and dare I say it, enjoyable!

My run-walk approach, at a ratio of 3 minutes running followed by 1 minute walk, worked well. I did vary slightly at the beginning however. Given the 11,000+ participants, I did need to run the first two miles at a pace of about 8:50--to stop to walk would have been much too disruptive to those around me. By about two miles in, it was much easier to find my way to the outside lane without impeding others. from that point forward I faithfully fell into my desired pattern. (My son, ever the optimist, suggested at the beginning that I could run the whole thing; while true, I reminded him that I needed to "trust my process" despite the impulse to attempt to hang on.) I did need to ficus while walking to resist the cheers from spectators to "keep going, you can do it!" because I sensed to do so woudl result in my ultimately having to walk at the end. In the end, I finished 3,670th of 11,359 15k finishers, which was good enough for 216 of 562 in my 45-49 Male age group, with an official time of 1:26:31 (9:17 min/mile).

Complete results for all Boilermaker Weekend events are searchable HERE.

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