The 35th Boilermaker 15k (Utica, NY)
Boilermaker is this crazy large race (17k runners) in the rust-belt city of
Utica. It’s sponsored by a company that
makes boilers (hence boilermaker) and the FX Matt Brewery (They make Saranac!).
The whole city basically comes out and crowd support is insane. I use
to do it in High School but since living in Buffalo this is the first year I’ve
gotten out there to run it. In addition
to being huge, it has quite the large purse ($60k+) so it draws big names from
across the globe. We got into Utica
Saturday afternoon, got out packets ,checked out the expo, went to target to
get snacks and went to our hotel (a couple blocks from the finish line). Dinner was at this amazing restaurant called
the “Tailor and the Cook.” We were in
bed at an ok time.
My training, the course, and the weather: My training has been going good with my track
club but I still have a lingering right abdominal pain that’s quite rough at
times (Doc says is a bad pull) which is, I think, making me favor that side causing
some issues with my hip. My goal for the
race was to hit 59 but I definitely wanted to beak an hour which would be a 30
second PR. The course is definitely not
what I’m use to. It was hilly (see
profile below), especially the first half.
It’s all about being conservative and then making it up later, if you
don’t negative split at this race then you’re in pretty rough shape and hanging
on for your life. The weather was cooler
than is has been recently but still hot and humid (high 70s/low 80s with 60%+
humidity). The sky was overcast in the
morning and breaking out Sun in the afternoon.
The Start: We got up
and caught the bus to the start and made it there with about 45min until race
time. Because the race is so huge they
have a pretty strict corral system and luckily my seed time got me into the
corral (of about 500 runners) directly behind the sub-elite corral (sub 55min
15k) so I was quite relieved about that. I found a fellow runner from my club and I
knew he was a little faster than me so my goal was to stick with him like glue. Something concerning me was that my stomach
was very sour, not sure if it was nerves or dinner or what but I was a little
worried. The gun sounded and we were
1st 5k (20:16, pace 6:31): Despite the people rushing past me I did my
best to start conservatively. The first
2 miles are relatively flat but the road really starts going up at mile 3 to
the largest hill in the race. I had a
cup of water and my stomach seemed to calm down and I felt real good
otherwise. I knew with the heat and the
hills that my best bet was to shoot for under 60 today and was pumped to see I
was only 16sec off on the hardest part of the course.
2nd 5k (19:44, pace 6:21): Mile 3 to 4 is the worst part of the course
(mile time was 6:50!) but then it turns downhill and I followed it up with a
sub-6 mile (my slowest and fastest mile back to back). I didn’t want to blast the downhills to help
save my quads. It was getting hot and
sunny at this point and at each water station I’d dump a cup on my head and
drink one. I don’t think I ever drank so
much in a race before. My club buddy was
running about 15 sec in front of me so I felt good and the hard part of the
race was way behind me now. Not much
passing going on from the 5k to 10k mark.
Cumulative time was 40:00, right on target.
3rd 5k (19:48, pace 6:22): Just need to push it to the finish and keep my
5k under 20min. From miles 6-8 I was passing
people like crazy, all the people that blew up from going out too fast. It was quite the boost I needed and was glad
I held back on the start. This section
is kinda roll-y so it’s hard to get into a good rhythm and it was rather hot and
sunny out which zapped what little energy I had left. Hit the 9 mile mark and it’s straight
downhill to the finish. Pushed it as
best I could and I knew that I had an hour beat pretty good.
Thoughts and postrace: I was pretty pumped with my time on the pretty
tough course and with hot weather it was time to start the best postrace part
in road racing. There’s a live band,
tons of beer and fun food. Probably
drank a little too many beer (7!!) after running so hard but that’s the fun of
the race. Watched the awards and waited
for my wife to finish before heading back to the hotel to shower and head back
Despite not hitting 59 minutes I was happy with how I ran, I
forgot how tough the course is especially when it’s hot out. I was only about a minute off my equivalent time
but that’s based off flat/fast Buffalo races so I think it bodes well for me. I think a 18min 5k and 30 min 8k is definitively
going happen this fall.