Alright, rewind to the night before. I am sad to say that I left the camera behind as it was a whirlwind weekend and too tough to think about cooking, running, and visiting in all of 36 hours. This race sold out in a matter of four days and it is capped at 14,000 runners. This year was the fastest it ever sold out so I knew it would be a good time. Not to mention, my Dad's entire family lives in Central New York so of course I had to do a race in Utica!
I had planned on running alone since I have gotten used to that by now - and one is certainly not alone among 14,000 others. But lucky for me my sister had an idea up her sleeve and connected me with some friends who were Boilermaker veterans. I got some advice the night before and then hitched a ride to the start first thing in the morning. My sister volunteered to cart my stuff around, my post-race essentials: camera, dress, flip flops, coconut water, chocolate soy milk, wallet. ESSENTIALS!
Of course there was disorder and it was impossible to appropriately line up according to finish time, so we chose the first place we could find and stood...and waited....for what seemed like for. ev .er. This was my first 15K and I was a little concerned about the distance (9.3 mi), but more about how I would possibly find anybody at the finish.
The race started at 8:00 and we crossed the start at 8:04:29 ... woo, what a wait! This was the first time I had ever seen people just leave the course left & right to pee anywhere they could find. It was quite amusing and occurred for the entirety of mile 1. Mile 2 was the "International Mile" which I enjoyed, being a non-profit person and all. Mile 3 was my mental prep for THE HILL....and I obsessed about conserving energy for this monster. I think my photos found here were just after hitting that marker.
I had kept the elevation chart in mind so I knew that the peak of the hill was at the fourth mile marker. But with all of the people and beautiful scenery, I didn't notice how far along we were. So when we reached mile 4 I got a bit obnoxious yelling "THAT WAS THE HILL? WHAT? THAT'S IT?" Hahaha...tell me this elevation chart is not horrifying, I dare you! I did not actually read the numbers on the left-hand side...obviously.
I happily breezed down the hill with the excitement of "conquering the beast" and got to use that coasting form I have been trying to perfect. Both of the guys stayed with me for mile 5 then one took off, and the other took off at mile 6. And then mile 7 hit.
Did I mention how there was music all along the course? I swear either a band or a DJ played at half-mile intervals and it was SO FUN. People were cheering continuously on either side of the streets, the zoo brought some animals out to play, it was awesome! And then you hit mile 7.....all is quiet...you're on an overpass that is made of grooved concrete....and you're on the tiniest bit of an incline. I was alone, the road was wide, and spirits were low. IT SUCKED. I got bored and slowed down to a 10 minute mile because I lost interest.
In retrospect, I am disappointed that I let the atmosphere bring me down, but I came right back to life as the crowd thickened through miles 8 and 9 - both mostly downhill. Once I hit the 9 mile marker I was ready to sprint but panicked....where was the finish line?! I was looking for a big overhead clock and scanned the horizon, finding nothing. I even asked out loud and nobody responded. Then, with about .15 miles left, I found it and zoned in.
When my Dad prepared to shoot this picture, he said that he had me in the lens in front of him. Do you see me? No? Yea - that's because I flew! I had reserved energy to sprint the last .3 and was so bummed that I missed out. So I made the most of the time I had left and weaved in and out of those stragglers nearing the finish. Alright......that's an exaggeration, but I am unhappy to report that there was no competition as I neared the finish.
This race definitely lived up to its claim that it is basically a party through Utica. There were so many people and so many djs, water stations, and showers that you could run through. Food was decent, I pretty much shoved everything resembling food that was thrown at me (no meat in sight). Certainly grabbed my two beers then reunited with the group. When we went back over for seconds, the jets flew over and the National Anthem was sung once more.
Under no other circumstances will I willfully run a race in mid-summer heat then proceed to hang out with 40,000 people at an after-party drinking beer on a Sunday morning. But the Boilermaker? That's a different story. I am so siked to make this an annual race, and my family is pretty siked about that!
BY THE WAY: I finished in 1 hr 26 min - that's an average pace of 9:13. Not too shabby for me, the girl who melts in the heat and humidity.