I participated in the Boilermaker 15K in Utica, New York on July 10, 2011. Notice I did not say that I ran the race. I did not. Despite my best effort, I knew as soon as my foot hit the pavement that I didn’t have what it took for the distance. Although this was somewhat disheartening, it was not surprising to me. Several weeks prior, I had set out on the roads around my house on a seven-mile run. The longest distance I had ever attempted. I ran the majority of the distance with small walk breaks only occasionally. I pushed my mind and my body very hard and finished in two hours and fifteen minutes. It was not pleasant, I hurt in places I didn’t know I could but I was satisfied and felt that I could do the 9.3 miles necessary for the Boilermaker.
The race was a 50/50 proposition for me; I either “had it” and it would be a good race or I didn’t and it wouldn’t be so great. I didn’t have it. There was no particular reason for this other than the fact that I had too much time to dwell on it. I run well when I just do it. No standing around waiting, fretting, etc. Anyone that has ever participated in the Boilermaker knows that the crowd is large (this year the largest in race history) with a lot of waiting involved. Not a good scenario for me. I did try. I tried all of my usual mind games and tricks to coerce myself to find my groove but it just never happened. And I realized quickly that I was fine with this. Relieved even! The stress of training, trying to fit in hill runs and workouts after work when I was tired, hydrating, etc. all seemed to fall away as I cruised the course. The people of Utica were MOST supportive with many still cheering me on even as I heard the crickets chirping in the rising heat. I got to really see parts of the city that the runners never do even though they had just been down those very same streets. I didn’t get to appreciate all of the entertainment that the runners got. By the time I rolled through, many of the infamous bands, dancers, etc. had packed up and left. I took water and ice from almost every child that offered it and I did get to see the clean-up efforts of the volunteers. They do an outstanding job of dispatching all the cups, Popsicle sticks and assorted gel wrappers and other debris that we participants left in our wake. BRAVO to the volunteers and THANK YOU!
I finished second from the last in a field of approximately 11,000 runners. 2,000 did not finish at all. They either dropped out of the race or pulled themselves out via one of the medical aid stations. I hope they are OK regardless of their reason. Finishing was my goal and I did that. What I got out of the race was much more however. I realized after attempting it that I am NOT a distance runner. I much prefer puttering up and down the roads around my house, at my own pokey pace. I do not have a competitive nature and organized races are not for me. I do excel at being a spectator and will continue to cheer on my running family and friends as they run their hearts out and their feet off. I will continue to “run” when the mood strikes me but I have no inclination to attempt a long distance again. This has given me a new appreciation for getting fit and being active and I will continue to do that. I can check this race off of my Bucket List and move on to the next thing.
Sky-diving, anyone? 🙂