Ok so it wasn't that bad. And since it was my 7th time running it in the last 8 years I knew what was coming. Except that I had this idea in my head that it would be easy. I thought to myself days before the race "I can run this race just as fast as my PR from last fall" but I was just ignoring the facts.
This race is hilly and my PR was from a pretty flat course. I tried to reason with myself that I had run a 1:09:16 back in April during marathon training so I thought I could at least do better than that, but a PR would most likely be out of the question.
Below is the elevation chart from the HILLY 15k I ran in April during marathon training.
And this is the elevation chart from the Boilermaker on Sunday.
Hills = Death. Downhills = fun.
Anyway, just wanted to prefice my race report with those details. Now onto the rest of it.
Saturday around noon we rolled into Utica, NY and arrived at my college roommates parent's house. There were a total of 18 people staying in one little house with one bathroom. 13 runners and 5 spectators. It was a little insane. It wasn't long after we arrived that we piled back into the car and went to get our race bibs at the expo. Every other year the expo has been outside, but this year it was inside at a local college. It was cramped and crowded and just not as fun as it used to be.
We arrived at the area to pick up bibs and I wandered over to the correct letter for my last name. I told the guy my name and then he proceeded to look and look for my bib. I was slightly scared because they changed the bib colors for the corral starts and I didn't see the color I was expecting. But the guy finally found it and I was excited to see that I was a teal bib. I wouldn't learn what this truly meant until the next morning.
Then we piled back into the car and headed to the Brewery that sponsors the race. In all the years of running this race, I had never been inside the brewery and the tour was tons of fun plus the 2 free beers post tour was awesome. The brewery has a bar inside it and you can taste any beer and drink they make! I shared with Brian and we got the Blueberry Blonde beer (also the beer served at the post race party) and a Shandy (Lager and lemonade!). I also got a water - had to stay hydrated for the race.
By the time we finally got out of there it was close to dinner time and I was starving. A home cooked pasta dinner with meatballs never tasted so good. After inhaleing dinner, I had my fair share of cookies and then settled in to relax the rest of the night. We watched a few TV shows and then set up bedding arrangements. Brian and I were in the living room on the air mattress. Soon everyone was asleep - I woke up twice to use the bathroom which wasn't ideal but good that I was hydrated.
5am came too soon, actually 4:30am came too soon when my bladder woke me up. After using the bathroom, I settled back into bed to try and get a few more minutes of sleep. By 5:20am I was up and in line for the bathroom. Shortly after that I was dressed and ready to go. I heated up my pre race breakfast of maple brown sugar oatmeal and waited for the rest of the runners to get ready. We headed out around 5:50am with the spectator crew leaving shortly after that.
This was most likely the earliest we had gotten to the shuttles in a long time. I remember the last time I ran this race I was worried we wouldn't make it to the start in time. We parked at the finish and took the shuttles to the start. The start area was so deserted and there was no one around. No lines for porta potties or anything. We were definitely early. All 13 runners settled in our usual spot (in the last corral by the stop light) and waited and waited. Slowly the area around us began to fill with runners. At 7am the announcer started to talk and count down the time until the race started. At 7:15am I did a little warm up with one of the other runners (this was a first for me, I usually never warm up for this race since there is no room), hit the bathrooms one more time and then said good bye to my friends.
The boilermaker is so packed with runners (14000+) that they have a pretty nice corral system set up. This year they changed the color system, but from my experience with times for the race, I think it goes like this:
White/Pink Bibs - Elite runners (white for men, pink for women)
Brown - Fasties but not elites, running fast than 60 minutes
Teal - Runners who will take longer than an hour to run, but less than ~68 minutes
Purple - Slower than 69 minutes but faster than ~73 minutes
Navy Blue - Slower than ~74 minutes but faster than 79 minutes
Golden Yellow - Everyone else
In the past I have always been in the Navy Blue corral (formally the yellow coral) and I thought I would be moved up in to the Purple corral (formally the Green coral) so I was very surprised to see my teal bib. I don't even know what the teal color bib used to be because I never even looked that far up in the starting area. I never thought I would get there.
So I was pleasantly surprised and also felt really special. Especially when the officials pointed me in a special direction for getting to my coral. I walked and walked and walked and finally was near my teal corral. And then off to the side I saw a glorious site. There were special porta potties for the fast people! I had no idea! there were no lines. You could just walk right up and go! 20 minutes before start time and no porta potty lines for the fast kids. I was impressed - too bad I had already stood in line and gone in the other area. And on top of that there was an big open area to do strides and warm up! I had really been missing out all these years.
Being in the fast corral also was nice since I saw a lot of my running club teammates who happen to be faster than me. It was great to see a friendly face when I was slightly nervous about this whole running fast uphill. Soon it was time to go, and the cannon sounded. 30 seconds after the cannon and I was on my way to finishing my 7th Boilermaker.
I had forgotten that the first 4 miles are up hill. My pace hovered right about 7:25 for those first miles. My legs felt tired and I was dripping in sweat by mile 2. Awesome. Only 7 more hilly miles to go. We reached a slightly flat area just after mile 2 so I picked it up and tried to recover a bit of my breathing before the next hill. Mile 3 and 4 were brutal and I dumped water all over myself at the water stops. Once I got to the top of the hill and mile 4, I just started going faster and charged down the hill. My pace was picking up and I was still feeling good (as good as you can for a hilly course). I took my Gu chomps at mile 3, 4.5, 6 and 7.5 and I think this really helped to keep my legs moving.
The crowd support really picked up during mile 5 and 6 and I was happy about that because it has seemed really sparse during the first 4 miles. As I rounded the S curved area before the 10k mark, it was exhilarating hearing all these people shouting and cheering for the runners. There were still 2 hills to go.
The mile 6 hill is pretty deceiving - you think it goes on and on but you just have to get to the stop light and the turn and its pretty much over. So I kept my legs moving and happily maintained my pace and reached the top. Mile 7 was right there and then I began flying down the downhill. This was the point where I wanted to go faster but my legs wouldn't. I don't think I am a good down hill runner, I am better at the uphills. I took my last chomp here and hoped that it would help propel me through the torturous mile 8 hill.
Mile 8 is the absolute worst. You start mile 8 continuing on the downhill and then as you reach the bottom you turn the corner and see this steady incline stretching in front of you. It can't be more than a half mile of uphill but after 8 miles its the toughest thing ever. This is where I want to QUIT every single time. Every time. I hate this part. I just want to never run uphill again. But I made it and I didn't quit and once you finish this hill you are just waiting to see the mile 9 marker. Its always hiding and when you finally see it, you think you are almost done. But that last 0.3 miles is long. Thankfully it is down hill. This is where I see Brian every year and he always makes me smile. Although he usually catches pictures of me before I see him so he catches my death faces.
This year I guess my death face wasn't as bad as previous years. I didn't feel too too bad coming down the hill to the finish and I was happy to be done. My secret goal was to come in at 1:07:59 but I missed that goal by just a little bit. It was tough race with lots more hills than I remember but I am happy with how I ran it even if I didn't meet my time goal.
Chip Time: 1:08:08 (7:19 pace)
Age group: 23/965
And the post race Beer, cookies, coconut water, and Popsicles never tasted so good!