As my Summer of the Short Stuff continues, I find myself in Utica, NY this weekend. As anyone who follows running to some extent, the name of Utica should automatically make you think of the Boilermaker 15k and 5K Road Race.
Started in 1978 with just 800 runners and a minuscule budget (seriously- the budget might just cover your full Ironman registration fee- maybe) this event now brings nearly 13,000 finishers in the 15k alone to the finishline! How does a race go from such an inauspicious beginning to being one of the premiere world-class 15ks in the world? Well, it helps when Bill Rodgers pays your race a visit (as he did in 1983) and win in a time of 44:38.
I have been asked by Tim Reed, the race director of the weekend’s race and festivities to be a presenter at this fantastic race and it is with great honor that I do so. In addition, I get to see good friend Dick Beardsley (as well as Miki Gorman) get inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame! At the expo itself, I will be partnering with the New York Beef Industry Council to talk about the benefits of protein not only for recovery after running, cycling and swimming but for helping to build a stronger athlete from the very beginning. But don’t take it from me alone about the power of beef. Bernard Lagat, who has set numerous American records said in Runner’s World in 2008:
"I love steak, and I have to have steak the day before I race. Some people are afraid to eat steak before a competition because they think it'll make them too full and slow them down. But in Osaka [at the 2007 World Championships], before I raced, I went to Outback and ordered the biggest steak I could, and I won. You have to do what works for your body."
I have told as many people as possible that it matters not what works for anyone else but only what works for you and I am glad to see Lagat feels the exact same way! My steak prior to my Lunatic Triathlon last week sure did power me through and felt nowhere near as heavy as my big fat bike did on the cycling portion!
As I continue to try to get my fast-twitch muscle firing again, I have stated my goal for this race is to beat a 69-year old man’s time. Sounds like I am setting the bar low until you realize the man I am speaking about is Ed Whitlock, the Canadian Uber-runner who currently holds the record for 65-69 year old men at the Boilermaker. His time? 55:04! Or for those who that doesn’t impress, that is an average of 5:54 per mile for 9.3 miles.
To equal Mr. Whitlock’s time would be an honor and I am hoping I can do so. As I have only run two other 15ks in my life with a personal best of 1:00:12 (and the last one was over 5 years ago), to knock five minutes off my time on an unforgiving course would be a huge PR. (How huge? Well, I would have to set a 10k PR by 75 seconds just to maintain that pace!)
But the Boilermaker is the place to do it, even if the course doesn’t seem fast (nearly 300 feet of climb in the first 4 miles before another 100 foot hill around mile 7!) First, the competition is ridiculously fierce. If I had run a 55:00 last year I would have placed 152nd! Holy mackerel! Second, the crowd support at this race is compared to that of Boston and New York’s Marathon crowds. Finally, with 20 official water stops along the course, and lord knows how many other unofficial aid given to runners from the cheering throngs, this race is bound to get the best out of runners regardless of hills, heat or humidity.
There is a list out there of races every runner should do and if it doesn’t include the boilermaker than there is something wrong with it. After years of hoping my schedule would coincide with the race date, I finally decided to simply make it happen this year.
I am already getting excited. See you there!