Sunday, July 13, 1997

1997 Utica Boilermaker 15k Road Race
Sunday, July 13, 1997

When I was first asked if I would be running on the AMAI team in the Utica Boilermaker (the main location for AMAI is located in Utica) my answer was a definite "No." At that point I had no intention to continue running once I'd completed the Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska in late June.

Once I'd run the marathon, though, I found myself thinking a bit differently... in particular, I decided to keep running a couple of times a week, about 12 miles at a stretch, and I realized that the Boilermaker really wasn't that big a deal, at only 9.3 miles (training to run 26 miles puts 15k's in perspective...) So in the end I signed up for the Boilermaker, and rode out to Utica with Don Brown very early Sunday morning to meet up with the rest of the AMAI team and run the race.

The Boilermaker was a very different beast from the Anchorage Marathon. There were approximately 9000 runners signed up that year (10 times as many as in Anchorage) - once the race started it took several minutes for me to walk to the starting line with the mass of other runners around me who had said they'd be running a 10 minute pace. Even once we reached the start, the course was so crowded that it was stop and go for the first two miles or so (it was probably somewhere in this packed stretch that someone bumped my disposable camera clipped to my water bottle holder, and I ended up losing it, along with all my pictures from the Anchorage marathon.) But once things cleared out a little bit, I picked up the pace, and worked on my goal to run this race significantly faster than any run I'd done previously.

I don't remember much from this race, beyond - aid stations every half mile; people everywhere; running up the hill at the golf course and thinking it wasn't bad compared to the mountains I ran in back home; bagpipes giving me a jolt of energy with about a mile to go; but most of all, the heat. Running through a city in the middle of July isn't the most comfortable way to occupy one's time!

In the end, I accomplished my goal, crossing the finish line in 1:22:18 for an 8:50 pace - more than a minute less than my marathon pace. (And my actual time from the starting line was a few minutes less than my official finishing time!) I remember drinking bottle after bottle of water and soda to rehydrate - despite drinking at every aid station, I was definitely low on fluids. While I enjoyed the challenge of running faster than usual, I can't say I particularly enjoyed running through Utica - though I did come back the following year, both to once again support the AMAI team and in an attempt to better my time (which I did.) Having run the Boilermaker twice, I can't say I'm expecting to ever run it again.