Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Boilermaker 15k 2015

Hey Guys!

My wounds have healed! I can now speak about the
delicious suckage that was my goal race. The Boilermaker 15k Road Race. The largest 15k in the world with 14,000+ runners. Still my favorite race! I can't wait to do it again!

This is the BoilerMaker Start
Same photo blown up to show me a few rows behind the eventual winner. I didn't have the wheels I wanted that day, but I had GUTS!

The hill is still there!

So, I was invited back to the Boilermaker again this year. It was by far my favorite race last year. It's like going back to your hometown and seeing family and friends. It's super exciting. And then running a race up a hill. Uh, yes please! All my favorite things!
This is Tuan. I met him last year. A great ambassador for Utica. A super great guy and Boilermaker Volunteer.

I arrived Friday at noon. Fran was there to pick me and 2 other athletes up at the Syracuse airport and take us to Utica. It's a 1 hour drive. I got to the college where we would be staying and went to my room and slept. Then, waited for my friend Yonas to arrive. And then we went to dinner. I met him last year. He is on the brink of nailing a 61 minute half. A dedicated, talented athlete and great person.



The Boilermaker is sometimes called the African Olympics. The field is stacked with some of the best talent from Ethiopia, Kenya, Eritrea and Somalia. Someone had just flown in from Dubai that morning, as well as 3 from Japan. American represents equally well with amazing talent. Fernando Cabada took 1st American this year. Lindsay Scherf, Ahmad Osman...Just sick talent from everywhere. When I'm old and gray my dream will be to sit in the media truck and scream my lungs out!

The Master's women are equally competitive. It's almost like age is just a number. The wheels just keep turning and ripping the pavement off the street like it's sand. It's such a great feeling of family and togetherness among the Master's Women. But you know we all state our age and do our individual "holy fuck's" when we see who we are running against.  Jen Rines won the Master's division last year. Clearly, a monstrous talent. She was possibly going to run this year but didn't. We did a collective, noooo upon hearing that news. It's that type of vibe.

It's very cool to see women just like me. They are running doubles during car pool. Up at 4am on Sunday to run long. I'm like, phew, I'm not crazy...this is normal.

So we hang out, run, eat, nap for 2 days and then wake up and race.

My Build Up:

It was dicey this year. I was training slightly off pace due to the swamp like conditions here in NC. The grind was based more on effort than the watch. This is something I had a hard time with. I tried very hard to hit the intended splits and 90% of the time I did. But the wreckage post workout was exhausting. I thought I fractured my leg a week prior to the race. There were some ups and downs. But I weather stalked and figured if I could get a good day I would be ok. That training at effort would translate into pace with cooler conditions and lower humidity. Bingo.

Race Day:

It was around 60 degrees at 6am on race morning. I was ecstatic! This was my day, finally! But 6am is not 8am. At 8am we were loaded onto the start line and the sun just baked on us through a cloudless, humid sky. So much for my ideal day. But whatever. It's Boilermaker. Just run hard. How bad can an hour be?
UGH! Not part of the plan.

This was taken at 6am. I see you!

It can be hard! I ran for the 1st time ever without looking at my watch. I focused on getting mile one under control (6:24) and then maintaining that pace without looking for the race. I knew there would be some variation as it's very hilly. But given race day conditions I was probably looking at a 58-59 minute finish. About 6:20 pace. But hoping the hammering could get me 57.

So after mile one I did not run even splits. But I didn't know this. I kept my breathing hard and my effort easier on the uphills and hammering the downs. Without a watch I guess I ran the uphills too easy. And downhills slightly off as well. I started to feel better after the 5k. I felt good. Probably because I was running too slow. But it felt harder because of the sun and humidity. I was pouring water on my head every mile. Eating the ice chips. Anything to cool down. Mind you, I don't even drink during a marathon in the winter. I hate water. But my core temp must have been hot because I felt like I was going to combust.
Probably mile 2

This was maybe 2 steps after cresting the top of a mile plus hill. Falling apart, but trying.  

I stayed strong and kept the effort. After I hammered a long down hill at mile 5 my legs didn't feel so well. The snap was not there like I wanted. It was like my mind wanted to keep hammering but my quads were just about done helping out. Thankfully, there was plenty of course variation left to let the hamstrings play along.

So I kept on thinking I had a 59 at worst in the bag. Mind you, this is still unacceptable, but I had to be real. I was telling myself to just get to mile 9. The last .3 is the treat, the cherry on top, the amazing part of the course. It is a slamming downhill into hoards of spectators.
The Finish

So I run what feels like 5:30 pace at mile 9 because I'm dead. It was really 6:10 pace. I got closer to the clock and my jaw dropped. I'm like shit! I'm late! I should have been here by now. What the what?! It said 1:03. I thought, well maybe that was the wheelchair start? After .00003 nanoseconds I confirmed with my Garmin 18 times that no, I really ran a shitty MP at the Boilermaker. My goal race. My favorite race. Ugh.

I was shocked.  Just shocked. I was afraid to look to my splits. However, I put my time aside and checked in on everyone else. The elite tent had your average collection of DNF's, PR's, cramping, wincing athletes, joy, sorrow, news reporters and USADA in full effect trailing half of them. It brings it back to the reality that racing is an adventure. Shit can go wrong or shit can go epically right. We all put ourselves out there on the line for the adventure and the experience. Hoping it's less pain and more elation, but accepting of either.

If racing were a string of PR's we would probably quit and play tennis after a year or so. The bad days always make the good days so rewarding. Yada, yada.

Back at the Hotel sipping purple chongos...

Or Gatorade. It was time to shower and get on the greyhound back to the airport. I was sad. As an invited athlete you tend to feel like a kid in 3rd grade that wants to bring home a perfect spelling test and wave it in the air! You want to get the bonus word right as a token of appreciation. Well, my spelling test sucked. I felt horrible. I deserved to be in corral F. I hugged the amazing people that invited me and said good bye. I slept on the bus ride back.

Time always helps put things in perspective. Again, I am honored to race among such amazing talent. To make new friends and memories. That is what life is about.

Caveat: This is my 2nd race where I have been underwhelmed. Boston 2015 (3:02). While this is great in learning what I'm made of, seeing my mental strengths, motivating myself to try harder....this is ending! This is BULLSHIT! I want more! I will never give up. I work my ass off. I will push pine needles with my fucking nose if it makes my body stronger.

To avoid this disaster in the future I may make a few adjustments:

1. Not avoid all racing for 4 months prior to my goal race.

2. Not DNF a race the weekend before said goal race and have to carry that mental baggage to the start line.

3. Not plan on conditions being ideal.

4. Check my watch more often for a reality check.

Thanks for reading. As always, thanks for your kind words and encouragement. I am dying to wave the happy flag after a race very soon! After signing up for another marathon the week after Boston and then changing my mind I have a self imposed ban on redemption races for 2 weeks. No just yet. But My next big goal is an October Marathon!! WOOHOO!



  1. I for one am in favour of racing a couple of races on tired legs in training for a big race!!!

    I sorry your race didn't go as to plan, but as we all know we can't win every time out!

  2. I totally get that. You are suffering from your own expectations, I have the same problem right now.

    at my 2 mile open water swim race on saturday I had the expectation of finishing in 58 minutes at worst, 53-55 minutes at best. My 1:03 finish had my head hanging down for days. Can't stop to check the garm in while in the water, had no idea what my effort level was (because it felt like 55 minutes), just led to nasty stuff mentally. In reality, I still took an age group award, and you can't compare swim times year over year because the water and conditions are so different.

    You took what the day gave you and had the best day you could. Stick with that and you'll be fine.