Where do I begin?
This weekend was to mark my second running of the fabled Boilermaker 15K in Utica, New York.
Danny, Anna, her Aunt Essie and I rode up Saturday morning making few stops and getting to Utica in nearly 4 hours. Anna’s Mom’s side of the family is from here and that night there was a decoy party for her Grandma Ruth. Sunday after the race the siblings had arranged a large surprise party at a local restaurant so we had to convince her that this night was her actual birthday party.
We were staying at the Hotel Utica which is quite a cool place. It reminds me of prohibition era NYC. (i say that like I lived that era… i did not, but I am a history buff). After checking in we had a few drinks with Uncle Josh, his wife Katherine, Sasha and Max. SIDENOTE: Anna’s family is awesome and I know a lot of them quite well. They welcome all people into their homes and it is always a pleasure spending time with them. Next, we went to Grandma Ruth’s house for a delicious meal orchestrated by Uncle Josh. As a gift I had brought Grandma Ruth Champagne Truffles from Teuscher Chocolates which I believe are the best things in the world. I think she liked them. If you ever need to bribe me for anything these would do the trick.
The following morning Anna, Danny and I awoke at roughly 6:30AM to gear up for the race. I brought my own Cafe Bustelo to brew in the room which I did. Its really the best coffee ever and a race ritual.
We all parted ways at the start and made our ways to our respective corrals. I happened to be in the orange corral. With 15 minutes to spare I was fidgeting with my ipod when all of a sudden my friend Kevin Masse appeared! We were both totally shocked that we A, were running the same race outside of NYC and B, standing next to each other in a crowd of 11,000 people. Earth gets smaller and smaller it seems. We gave each other a little fist pound as the gun sounded and we were off.
Boilermaker is a really fun time even though there are some grueling hills. The entire town comes out and they have bands and all kinds of craziness. Aside from all the chaos, there is just a totally positive vibe coursing through the air. Its awesome. I like positivity they say.
Miles 1, 2 and 3 happened rather easily. As we made our way up ‘Heartbreak Hill’ (which is a winding path up a golf coarse) I had a little acid indigestion. I attributed this to me not eating my standard banana or two pre race. Stupid Baker, very stupid. So! I started hitting the water stations like crazy. This alleviated the issue and by mile 7 I was cooking. Along the way I saw… Role Call! Uncle David, Gibby, Dave, Anna, Grandma Ruth, Bev, Uncle Stevie and a few others. My friend Raina was there at mile 8 cheering her other friends but I didnt see her.
I got in the habit, starting at mile 7 or so, of clapping at the crowd and yelling and then they would all cheer back. It really fuels you and totally rules out the possibility of me stopping to take a walk break. As we came close to the 9 mile mark I saw that I was still in contention for breaking a 60 minute 15K so I started really pushing myself. As we came down the final stretch I was flying but was in total overload. I crossed at 59:40 but would later learn my chip time was 59:23. I had done it! I broke the 60 minute mark. I had also shaved 11 minutes off my time of 1:10 from last year.
When you finish the race they corral you in to the backyard of the Saranac Brewery. What does that even mean?! It means free beer all day. Questions? Yes, we had beer starting at 9AM. Yes, it goes down easy. Yes, its hydrating. I was actually drinking a gatorade when I found Kevin. We did some high five action and then he said ‘um where is your beer?!’ Peer pressure, I tell you. After having a beer with Kevin we split to find our respective friends.
Danny and Anna came in and met me and we all did some more high fives, then got more beer. and more beer. and more beer. There are bands playing so we watched them and then found a spot on the lawn to sit. They did and F15 fly over which totally kicked ass Top Gun style. ‘Maverick!… You can be my wingman anytime.’
At around 11 we made our way to the Hotel Utica to change for Grandma Ruth’s party.
It was a fantastic surprise. There were 80-100 of her friends and family at a classy Italian restaurant. A few of the siblings made speeches and we ate some amazing italian food. It was basically a flawless good time. We all left at 4 and caught a nap back the hotel. It was so needed. We then headed over to Aunt Tracy and Quinn’s house… aka… the afterparty.
They have a litter of 5 week old boxer puppies! (if anyone wants one they have 4-5 left for sale) and they are so cute!
We stayed there til 11 or so and then went to bed as we had to drive back the following morning.
We had a quaint breakfast with Dave and Gibby at our board meeting oak table basked in morning light and then made our way back to my Rome. We will be back next year and for many years to come Im sure. Thanks to all the great hospitality we received while visiting!