Last week I competed in my first 15k race, The Boilermaker. The Utica, N.Y., race is said to be the largest 15k road race in the U.S. and attracts elite runners from throughout the world.
This is a very large and well-organized race. In its 35th year, there were more than 15,000 runners. It took Bill and me more than 11 minutes from when the starting gun went off to when we crossed the start line. But we were off, not knowing what to expect for the next 9.3 miles.
I hadn’t trained as well as I would have liked, especially with the Florida humidity, rain and flat terrain making training difficult. I had never run 9.3 miles before, only getting to about 7-something before the race. This was my longest and least-prepared race to date. Luckily, even if I wasn’t fully prepared physically, I was mentally and the people who put on the Boilermaker and the city of Utica were more than prepared.
The race was fun and the time passed because it was a new course with scenery much different from what I’m used to in Florida. And the race committee and city came out for the event, providing bands, music, dancers, supporters, water and popsicles along the entire route. It was really fun to watch and see so much involvement and support along both sides of the streets the entire 9.3 miles.
I felt pretty good overall except for one spell of light-headedness around mile seven or eight. I had been running long enough I think I needed some food, so I would bring a gel pack next time. I had about the right amount of water, not too little but not too much to cause a side ache. But unfortunately both Bill and I realized we needed new shoes too soon before the race, and I felt it in my right foot and knees a few times. We ended a few minutes before my goal and I felt good at the end, so I was proud.
We walked to the after-party. Since the Boilermaker is put on in large part by Saranac Brewing Company, the party is behind the brewery and a post-race beer is in order. The blueberry white ale really hit the spot after a run when the sun was coming out. There was food, a band and lots of booths, but even though it was a large space, it was still crammed with people, which made it slightly less enjoyable. But it was fun to be a part of such a large, well-organized event for my first large race.
Short-term running goals
I wouldn’t rule out another 15k or longer distance at all, if I were more prepared. But for the rest of the summer my goals are to maintain running in the South Florida heat and humidity and work on improving my 5k time. I hope to add some weightlifting to my routine, too. When the weather cools in a few months I will focus on distance again.