I grew up in Utica, NY from age 3, and not fond of it overall. In spite of this, I decided last year that I wanted to go back to do the Boilermaker 15K. I haven’t been to Utica since my daughter was a newborn 12 years ago. My mom was my last family member to move South with us in 2004, so there’s been no compelling reason to go back.
The Boilermaker 15K is the biggest 15K in the world, and takes place on the second Sunday of July (July 13, 2015 is the 38th annual event).
Training and Prep
I started the Hal Higdon training plan at the top of May, simultaneously doing T25 Beta round for the first 5 weeks. On July 4, I had nothing to do (I did the biggest 10K in the world last year, Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race) and since it poured all morning, I decided to make it a rest day instead of my usual long run day. I’ve never done more than 3 miles on a treadmill and didn’t want to then, either. So I spent the entire morning reading race recaps to add to the hype I was feeling about coming back home to run a race I heard about all my life, but never cared until I became a runner.
New York Travels
A few days later, I flew to NYC to hang out and visit friends before heading to Utica for the big race weekend. I had not seen these besties of mine in 9 and 18 years respectively! And my visit meant that they got to reconnect too (they are mutual friends and each of them also have very young children.)
It was awesome to run in the Washington Heights neighborhood in Manhattan–I did a quickie shakeout run a couple of days before my race. I would love to run in the park without crowds and street lights, so maybe next time I can plan better for that. (It was kinda cool to sleep in an apartment with a fire escape. I imagined I was in a real-life episode of Blue Bloods with Donnie Wahlberg.) I don’t know if I’ll ever get to run a race in one of the five boroughs. I prefer races under 10K anywhere, and when traveling, I like Saturday races better than Sunday–so we’ll see.
When I took the train to Utica, I spent some of that time editing a couple of my forthcoming episodes of my forthcoming podcast (next month!), Kickin’ It with Daree. I’ll talk about that more in another post soon.
A stayed with an old friend who bought my childhood home, and that was surreal to sleep in my old bedroom as an adult! We hit the expo at the local community college on the eve of the race. Bibs were distributed in the gym, and then we had to go to the expo area in a separate room (it looked like an indoor track) to get the actual packet, which came with the race info booklet and a pint glass. I bought a finisher’s medal and resisted the temptation to buy any of the fly Boilermaker merchandise shirts on display.
We took a pic with a lady who was wearing one, however, for iSpy. find and insert here – Courtesy of Utica OD. I also visited with a few friends that day and got plenty of sleep (usually I don’t on the night before a race).
My family came up from Virginia and dropped me off at the start area of the race. That morning, it was no more than 60 degrees outside and slightly breezy. It felt great. But as soon as we took off–before completing mile 1–I was hot.
The steepest hill along the golf course at Valley View was pretty rough (miles 2.5 to about 4.5), and it was where I really slowed down and walked the most. But once the downhill showed up, I ran nonstop for a couple miles to the next big incline at mile 6, which was supposed to be the worst by all accounts–the recaps I read a week earlier, and runners behind me making comments about how brutal it was going to be. I guess my Atlanta training softened the blow, because I thought the hill at mile 4 (Valley View/golf course) was WAAAAAAY worse. My daughter filmed the video below during that stretch on mile 6.
Upon finishing, it was a long walk to locate snacks and receive the finisher’s pin, and then another long walk to the post-race party area, at which time I saw another old friend from high school, who was an official photographer and snapped me up 🙂 The party area was uber-congested (really made me feel claustrophobic). I don’t drink beer, so I squeezed through the crowd to get my Chobani yogurt, and then I was outta there. My chip time was 7 minutes slower than my first 15K, 18 months ago at the Hot Chocolate 15K, but I expected my time to be more similar since I live in Hotlanta (accustomed to running with heat, hills and humidity all summer). This was the first race where I did not wear earbuds. Overall, it reminded me a bit of Atlanta’s Peachtree 10K, held annually on July 4 (except that the latter has 4x the runners!). because there was so much crowd support on the sidelines, cheering, signs, high fives, popsicles, ice, and hoses in addition to the volunteer water stations and post-race party sponsors. I’m so thankful to everyone who made this event special!
Would I do it again? So far, I don’t repeat races–I’m a one-and-done kind of runner, for the same reason that I don’t re-read books. There’s just too many interesting ones to choose from! Maybe someday I’ll fall in love with one and that will change, but for now, that’s the way it is. It’s also very expensive to fly anywhere close to Utica (Albany, Syracuse, etc.) from points South. If I do return, I’ll hit the 5K, since that starting point is after both of the big hills that end during the first 10K of the 15K. It was a great homecoming for me, running in my hometown–something I though I’d never do.