This was my fourth consecutive time running the Utica Boilermaker 15k Roadrace. The last race I ran, the Airport 5k, wasn’t particularly fun for me. I took it too seriously pushing for a time goal. Many times I’ve said I want to keep running fun and avoid being so competitive. This race was a return to racing for fun for me.
Although my primary goal was to have fun I still had time goals but they were not overly aggressive. I wanted to break 1:05 and hoped to break 1:03. Various race time predictors said I was capable of breaking an hour based on my time at the Airport 5k but I felt that was aggressive based on the course (the boilermaker course is far more difficult than running on a runway!). I had a blast and learned some valuable lessons that day.
This year a new friend gratiously invited myself and my family (among others) to stay at his home (thanks Matt!). This not only saved a ton of money but also made things a bit easier. Matt has been running the Boilermaker for 10 years (his wife 13!). Tagging along with someone that’s participated for 10 or more years takes away the stress of getting lost among other things.
Before the race John and I warmed up. It was a pitiful warmup. We ran easy for 2-3 minutes, peed, then ran slightly harder for another 2-3 minutes. It was better than nothing but not really a sufficient warmup. I’m still not very good at timing warmups. I get nervous that I’m going to miss the start of the race!
This year I had an orange bib which placed me two corrals from the elite coral. I lined up at the back of this corral. I ended up being only 30 seconds off of gun time (in other words it took 30 seconds for me to reach the starting line). In a race of more than 10,000 people that’s pretty good.
I didn’t feel crowded and I was almost never boxed in. I felt a little sluggish but I didn’t push myself. My plan was to stay very comfortable until I crested the hill at about 4 miles into the race. To stay comfortable I really had to keep my pace down. I was rather disappointed with my mile splits and my first 5k split. I hit the first 5k at 22:17. During the race I multiplied that by three and wasn’t too pleased to come up with almost 1:07. I let the feeling go and continued with the race.
Shortly after cresting the hill things started to feel good — really good. Unconsciously I picked up the pace. The 4th mile is almost completely downhill as is the 5th mile. I ran the 4th mile in 6:10, nearly a minute faster than my previous miles, and I ran the fifth in 6:30. My second 5k was run in 20:42.
Except for a numb feeling in my left foot (I probably tied my shoe too tight) I felt incredible. At the 6th mile I was very disappointed. I didn’t want the race to end because I felt so good and I didn’t have much time to regain a time that I’d be proud of. I worked with what I had.
The last 5k felt amazing! I ran fast but felt like I was walking. I felt no physical discomfort, only euphoria. During this late part of the race I started to pass a lot of people. I finished the last 5k in 19:21 which is only 18 seconds off of my 5k PR! My overall time for the race was 1:02:19, a 6:42 average pace.
I learned at this race that negative splits really are the best way to run a race. It’s hard to convince yourself of that especially as the race distance increases but it’s true. My best races (GI Half in May, and this race) have had negative splits. I needed this race to cement that notion in my head for Vegas. “Banking” time is not the way to run that race or any other race. The end result is not only a great time on the clock but a great time overall (as in fun!).
Maybe next year I’ll be in shape to come in under 1 hour. But maybe not. Either way I’ll have fun.