No lamb, no garden, no immaculate conception but there IS something about me.


My favorite races: The Boilermaker

The Boilermaker is the country's largest 15k and takes place in Utica, NY at the Saranac Brewery which is pretty close to where I spent my formidable years living with my parents. Because of this a lot of people I know from growing up (and myself) view this as "the" goal race to run someday. In Oneida county your goal isn't to run a marathon, it's to eventually run the Boilermaker. Everyone knows about it if for no other reason than to avoid being anywhere near downtown Utica on that sultry day in July when 14,000 people brave the hot pavement to satisfy their personal goals. It's notorious for being extrememly hot as it's run on a lot of roadway with no shade and having some pretty awful hills (which I was pretty disappointed to find out didn't least not after training for the Mountain Goat in Syracuse which I'll talk about in another post). Two of the men who work at Fleet Feet in Syracuse have run every single Boilermaker since it's inception which makes them somewhat of a legend. I grew up not just knowing about it because it was relatively close to where my dad lived for quite a few years but because my uncle and cousin used to run it when I was in high school. I remember them talking about the race itself, talking about training, looking for their names in the special edition of the Observer Dispatch, the paper in Utica that publishes every runner's name and time, and being so proud of them. It was always a pipe dream of mine to run it but NEVER thought I would do it someday.

I know that some of the people who read this blog are people who went to high school with me and I know that it will probably come as somewhat of a shock to some of them that I used to run in high school. I had this weird dream of being on the cross country team but had no idea how to break out of my little nerdy music kid group into the world of the athletes so I used to run on my own at the high school track every night of every summer from my senior year of high school to my sophomore year of college. That's the year I got sick and stopped running but until then I was pretty diligent about it. I learned a lot about myself on those nights when I would run around the track in the pitch black trying to avoid stepping on the frogs that would be all over the track (they were gross when I couldn't miss them and that's all I'm going to say). I don't think I ever ran more than a mile but in my own head I was running and that was enough. It's probably when my running addiction started although I didn't know what it would eventually turn into.

Running has always been personal to me so the second thing that may come as a shock is that my normally attention seeking self has run most of my races on my own without anyone there. I like to just show up, run the race, and then go home. My best friend from high school is amazing and comes to my big races or if I run one that's close to her but for the most part it's all me and I kind of like it that way. I do like when Beth makes me signs, though :)

Look at my guns. No really, look at them. I miss them *sigh*

I ran the Boilermaker in 2010 but not in 2011 because I was in the midst of cardiologist appointments last year at the time of the race (I was registered and literally didn't decide until that morning that I couldn't run it and it was heartbreaking). I was ridiculously excited to run this race because I had been looking forward to it pretty much my entire life and it was a huge milestone for me. My running friend did it with me as well and she had never run 9 miles before so I spent most of the race getting her through it (something I rarely do, I'm a selfish runner :P). It wasn't that hot that day and it was a pretty easy run considering what I went through at the Mountain Goat. The only part that I hated was the Parkway because it was so straight and flat, I live for hills. At one point a guy yelled at me for passing people on the "hills" :P I saw SO many people that I knew and it was incredible. It's the only race I have ever run where I personally KNEW so many people around, usually it's just casual aquaintences from my running club (Syracuse Track Club, btw).

The Boilermaker is like a big party and to date I still have never run a race with so much support. There were bands or DJ's at every mile and people sometimes 5 or 6 deep cheering us on. There were bells and whistles and signs and ecouragement and good natured heckling and just straight up 9.3 miles of awesomesauce. Seriously, it is I race that I think you could run on pure crowd spirit alone. Well, until you get to the back hills of the golf course where you're in no man's land and just want to get to the party that the end that all the signs keep promising.

I think I cried more in that race than I had cried in an entire year. I cried because I had always wanted to run it and never thought I'd be able to. I cried when I ran past my mom outside the hospital because she was working that day and dragged all her employees outside with signs to cheer me on (ok, so maybe I told her she'd better have signs). I cried when I went by my childhood babysitter (aka my second mom) and her husband (he's a paramedic so he volunteers) and she started screaming my name and jumping around when she saw me and ran in the middle of all the runners to hug me. And I cried when I crossed the finish line because I was just so happy with how far I had come and to see my best friend there with a sign for me.

And when the magic ended. I went over to the brewery to meet with my best friend and wait for my running friend (I had to abandon her with 2 miles to go because I mentally switched into my normal auto-pilot). When she came through the chute we started walking to the after party and I immediately felt like I was going to pass out. I vaguely remember sitting right on the side of the road to pull off my shoes and put my head between my legs. I remember a guy asking if I was ok and my best friend telling him I was. I remember her forcing me to eat a popsicle and drink some water until I felt better enough to go to the after party but I didn't feel great at all so I drove an hour home to lay on my couch for the rest of the day.

I was extremely restless the rest of the day and felt really off but was finally able to fall asleep. At 3am I woke up because my heart was beating so hard that I couldn't catch my breath. I was extrememly dizzy and lightheated and had awful vertigo. It was so bad I thought about going to the emergency room but I had to be on a plane at 8am to go to a sales meeting in Boston for work and I didn't want to be stuck there (I don't always make the wisest decisions...ok, I rarely do when it comes to my physical health). I managed to fall asleep but felt awful the next day, so much so that when my flight was delayed for 4 hours I called around trying to get a dr's appointment in between but no one could see me. I contemplated going to the hospital when I got to Boston but sucked it up instead and did the best I could and finally felt better around the time I left my sales meeting. Of course.

In hind sight I am 99.9% sure I was suffering from heat exhaustion and severe dehydration. I had felt so great during the race and was so focused on helping my friend through it that I literally only drank one small cup of water in 9 miles. I definitely learned my lesson during that race that no matter how great you feel you need to make sure you're taking in fluids, especially if it's hot and you're sweating (which I wasn't because I had no fluids in me, I can't drink anything before a race because of stomach problems so I have to rely on what I had the night before and what I drink during the race).

Overall the Boilermaker was by far one of my most memorable races and I can not WAIT to run it this year. I have heard of so many people I know running it for the first time and I can't wait to see them! If you're reading this you are all going to do GREAT! It's such a fun hometown race and it's such a great memory. AND you get a collectable beer glass and awesome food after the race, how awesome is that??

BTW, if you are thinking of signing up for the Boilermaker I would do so fast. For the first time ever they capped the race at 14,000 people last year and even though it's still quite a few months away it's already at over 9,000 people. So what are you waiting for? SIGN UP and I'll see you there!


  1. I LOVE the pic at the end. Pure ecstaticness...(is that even a word?!) :)

    1. Thanks, that's why I love it too! One of my favorite pictures of me ever :)