Monday, July 9, 2012

Shhh....don't tell Molly I stole her blog!

Since Molly is on vacation in the ADK's, running and biking hard I assume, I have stolen her blog to do a "guest" post. In case you don't know me I am Stephanie.  

I have been a stalker of Molly's blog since we started HFM training together back in January. I begged Molly to do a guest post, mostly so I could just be featured on the blog more, but really to do a post race report of the 2012 Boilermaker 15k Road Race.

But before I talk about how amazing it was, let's back it up just a bit. I have been a reader of the Skinny Runner blog for quite some time. Basically, you can see I have no life and like to read a lot of running blogs. A few months ago she had "man up week", you can read about it here. Basically SR did 3 different marathons in 3 different states and an ultra relay (30-40 miles) in about 8 days. Over the past couple of months I have been signing up for races here and there that sounded fun, exciting, challenging or all of the above. I very quickly realized I got a little too excited and signed up for for 3 races and pace leading all in an 8 day span. I dubbed this week "mini man up week". My weekly mileage was set to hit about 34 miles which would be my highest ever. Unfortunately, we all know that my "mini man up week" did not start out too well, you can read about the rough start here, but you probably already did. The week continued to get better for me and ended on a high.

Growing up in Syracuse and being pretty close to Utica, I had heard of the Boilermaker Road Race and even had family friends run it. I also have a faint memory of driving around Utica as a kid, most likely visiting Florentine's Pastry Shop for a cannoli, and seeing the famous gate at the finish line. Now that I am a runner, the race took on a whole new meaning. Did I just call myself a runner?! I signed up after some light convincing from a yoga friend and am so glad I did because it sold out a week or so later. I also decided I would take the bus that the GRTC sponsored because with 17,000 runners and 6,000 volunteers I didn't want to have to worry about driving, parking and logistics at an out of town race.

The bus left the St. John Fisher park and ride at 4:30am so I was not a happy camper setting my alarm for 3:00am. I got there a bit early and met up with some fellow Fleet Feet team members. Little did I know that included in the fee for the bus, came a plethora of bagels, animal crackers, trail mix, cold and room temp water and Gatorade, sweet! I would recommend this service to everyone, what an amazing experience to meet new fellow team members and new runners in general. I sat with my yoga buddy who convinced me to do the race and we headed East. I had a feeling that I would probably not sleep so we talked and I enjoyed watching the sun rise on the horizon.

We got to Utica around 6:50am and headed directly to bib pick up. The crowds were crazy. It was awesome to see the variety of runners, everything from elite and wheelchair athletes, to veteran runners and newbies like me. Even though I tried not to drink too much on the bus, I inevitably had to go to the bathroom when we arrived. The lines for the porta potties were LONG but there were a lot of them and the lines seemed to be moving fast. Unfortunately, when I jumped into the line I lost the runners I was planning on starting with.
The photo doesn't really do the scene justice but I waited in line for about 20-25 minutes. I was nervous I would miss the start. I followed the crowds to the intersection and listened to the loud speaker telling me where to go based on bib color. I weaved in and out of the crowds to head towards the back of the pack and saw some brides/grooms, superheroes, television characters and lots of "will run for beer" shirts. Oddly enough the spot I chose was exactly where my original running mates had ended up.

That tiny American Flag in the background, to the left of the trees was the starting line! After the announcements, the national anthem was performed and the gun went off, along with the theme song to Rocky. And then we waited. It took almost 13 minutes for me to get to the start line. Needless to say I heard the theme song play three times and then stop. I don't have many photos during the race because I really wanted to take it all in but I'll do my best to describe the highlights.

There were so many spectators, I didn't even think Utica had that many residents!! The start of the race was up hill and I felt it, but the sky was cloudy and the temperature was comfortable. My biggest fear about this race was the heat. The best sign on the course was right in the beginning, it said "at .1 only 9.2 more to go". Funny, real funny! It took me about 2 miles to get comfortable, I think I was a little overwhelmed at the beginning and even got a little emotional about being there. There was constantly music, I don't know why so many runners ran with ear buds. If there wasn't a DJ blaring a sound system, there was a live band or spectators playing music from their cars or homes. There were people EVERYWHERE! At about 2.2 I heard people cheering my name, it was my mom and dad who drove out to watch me. They had planned on meeting me at about half way but had a hard time navigating in traffic. I paused, hugged and kissed them, and kept on going.

There were water stops every half mile, I felt like I was always at one! The water stops had to have about 30-40 volunteers at each passing out water and ice. Even though I carried Gatorade, I always stopped for ice and kept a piece in my hands which seemed to keep my core cool. I got to about three and a half miles and realized the "big hill" was up ahead. Oddly, enough there was my dad again, even though originally they were only going to be able to see me once they were able to keep moving around and I wound up seeing them four times. Time to tackle the hill! I just made sure I kept moving, I ran into an old high school friend and even passed a decent amount of people. By the time I got to the peak (at the polka band) I realized I had run up the whole hill and felt great, so I ran down it too!

At the bottom of the hill I noticed my yoga buddy off to the side. He is a much faster runner than me so I was surprised to see him. He was injured and was going to try to walk the rest of it, bummer! I felt so bad about leaving him. The miles ticked away and at every mile marker they had a clock and a person calling out the splits. There were lot of interesting sights along the way, belly dancers, zoo animals, Irish dancers, bagpipers, a man on stilts, and lots of people with noise makers and signs. This helped the race to fly by. I also enjoyed that a lot of the course seemed shady and even though there were lots of water misters and garden hoses, I stayed away because I didn't want to be soaked the whole time. One of my favorite parts were the "flavor icees" along the way. Spectators were handing out popsicles and orange slices and I enjoyed them, although running and eating posed some challenges.

I felt very strong for the majority of the run and even heard some spectators saying how good I still looked, hopefully this was a compliment. By the time the last mile came along I was ready to be done and did a little walking. When I could see the finishing gate in the distance I picked up my speed and ran across the finish line as my name was called by the announcer, what a great feeling. The clock said 2:04 but my time was actually about 1:51 since it took so long to get to the start line.

At the finish line I received my pin and was corralled to the post race party. Along the way I enjoyed more oranges and popsicles, bumped into running buddies and called my parents to let them know I finished.

I picked up my goody bag which contained the infamous pint glass and walked around the party taking it all in. It was wall to wall people and I was glad I was by myself because it would have been difficult to meet up and stay with people. They announced the winners, since I am not from Ethiopia or Kenya I was not up for any prize money, and sang the national anthem again. When it finished a fly over from the local air base happened over the brewery. Today the Boilermaker FB page posted an amazing photo that one of the pilots took of the party:

This is what it looked like from my angle:

The race included a free lunch but they had run out by the time I went to claim mine. Luckily in the post race party area was a Polish community center and they had opened up the center and were serving traditional fare as a fundraiser. I saw the word peirogi and I knew what my lunch was going to be. The center was air conditioned (slightly cheesy) and offered lots of seating. I was able to skip the crowds, find a comfy seat, stay out of the sun and have a yummy lunch. I think this will be a new tradition.

After I enjoyed my lunch I headed back out to the crowds to locate the buses. Once I found them I changed into some non smelly clothes and went back out to enjoy the party. I caught up with some fellow runners and enjoyed the shade and the nice breeze, maybe a snow cone or two also :)

If this race was next weekend I would do it again in a heartbeat and I would do it all the same, but maybe a little bit faster.

As for my "mini man up week" according to Daily Mile:

It was EPIC!!! 26.4 miles total, phew.


  1. Hey Stephanie, it sounds like you had a great time, Congrats!!! So glad to read your post.


  2. Good report! I so have to run the Boilermaker for the first time next year!

  3. Thanks to both of you! The race is a must Doug, challenging but very rewarding. -Stephanie