It was the best of times and the worst of times....oops wrong blog post. It was a hot and hazy Sunday and about 15000 runner gathered to run 15K, because they could...or thought they could.
Last year I watched Neale run the Boilermaker in Utica NY and I decided then I wanted the chance to run it myself, so we registered for this years race. A week before the race our B&B called, they had a flash flood and we could not stay there; we ended up in East Syracuse, 45 mins way from Utica which meant we had to be up at 4am to eat, get ready and be there by 6am before the roads closed. It was already hot at 6am and when we started at 8am it was even hotter and humid, not ideal racing conditions. Security was on high alert, checked bags were searched, lots of Police and Army personal on the course and people were being extra cautious. Just before 8 the bugle/trumpet belted out the Star Spangle Banner and the crowd sang on-mass, it was quite moving.
The race started slowly, there were a lot of people ahead of us, a quick kiss to Neale and he was off, way faster then me and he quickly disappeared into the crowd. I was at the top of a small rise and ahead of me was wall to wall runners, it was quite inspiring until I hear a spectator shout..."Only 9.2 miles to the finish line", that was not inspiring. Did I say it was hot, really really hot and I was sweating before the first mile marker. They had over 20 water and ice stations on the 15K course, good thing too as I think I stopped at 17 of them along the way. I would drink a cup of water and put the ice in my top (front and back) to cool down. At one stage I reached in to grab an ice cube and the guy next to me did a double take, I smiled and said it was my ice chest and ran on laughing to myself. There were a few hills and totally enjoyed the downhill on the other side. As we came down through the golf course I saw a runner in a bit of distress, I asked her how she was and did she want to run with me. Patty from Albany was having leg cramps in the heat so I shared my e-load tabs with her and we ran together for a bit before she had to stop, I hope she finished the race.
I had a really really bad mile at mile 6, I was totally zoned out and over heating. For the first time in a race I thought I might need medical attention at the end, if I made it that far. I focused on the next landmark in front of me, one step at a time, counting my footfalls to take my mind off how I was feeling. I was scheduled to have a gel at this point and as much as I did not want to, I did. My mind said yes you need it but my stomach said no way but after a stop at the next water station and a run through the shower provided (heaven) I perked up and started to run faster. I passed the 8 mile marker and though I might be able to make my goal time of under 1:45. I had my Garmin on time, not training so I had no idea of my pace but I eventually switched over happy to see only 3K left to go. That is 3x1K sprints, let's do this I said to myself. I guess the sugar in the gel had kicked in as I did 2 of them at 6:09, the last was slower, that I know but I do not know how slow, I just focused on finishing. I finished in 1:46 and am really happy with that given the conditions.
I zombie walked through the finishers area looking for more water and food at least food I could eat. Someone put a finishers pin in my hand and I remember putting it in my fuel belt pocket so I would not lose it, good thing I did that as I was dropping everything I touched at this point. The crowds were huge but I eventually made it to bag check to get my bag and my melted recovery bar and went to the place Neale and I had arranged to meet. I was so wet with sweat and the water I had dumped on myself, you could have wrung me out and made a very large puddle, except it would have evaporated in seconds. The change of clothes and sandals I had in my checked bag were wonderful, so glad I packed them.
It was not the best run I had ever done but given the heat, I was happy I finished it and so close to my goal pace and time. Neale had a great race as well finishing 4 seconds off his goal time. It was a great event, the crowd support was fantastic and if you get a chance it is well worth the trip to do this race. Did I mention it was sponsored by the local brewery and there is a party after with all you can drink beer...need I say more?