Packet pickup went easily enough and then we checked into our hotel before going out to dinner. We spent the rest of the night getting ready for the race and relaxing.
Since our hotel was about 20 minutes away from Utica, we woke up at 5:45am the next morning. Other than Mike almost leaving his watch in the hotel room, we didn't have any issues getting ready (although I was a bit tired from not sleeping well since some guys in a room near ours had set off their fire alarm during the night). The three of us had decided that we would park near the start of the race and take the shuttles at the finish back to the start (it is a point to point race). We didn't have any issues finding parking close-ish enough to the start and we made the walk over to where the corrals were set up.
Rob and I were in the red corral (the last corral before the general corral) and Mike was in the tan corral, one before ours. After going to the bathroom, getting some water and chilling out for a few minutes we made our way to our respective corrals. Rob and I did stand next to each other at the beginning, but I knew that we wouldn't be running together.
We struck up a conversation with this woman next to us, she heard me talking about racing a triathlon the day before, and she told us she had just raced a 50K the weekend before. She also was talking about how she has done a triathlon on each of the Finger Lakes (that has a tri) and I now have a new goal!
The wheelchair racers started at 7:45am and then after the national anthem the elites went off at 8am. It took us a few minutes to start our shuffle and then slow run to the starting line (we were close to 2 minutes after the start).
I was right behind Rob for the first half mile and then I saw that we were only running 9:05ish pace, so I started to pass some runners. The first few miles are usually pretty uneventful but I could tell that my hands were so sweaty. It was really humid out, but luckily it was cloudy so we didn't have to deal with the sun beating down on us like the first time Mike and I ran this race.
I felt pretty good, considering we had raced hard the day before, but I still wasn't sure what I was going to do. I knew that I would/could PR (my previous PR was from this race two years ago, and I ran it at 9:18 pace), but I wasn't sure by how much.
I broke the race up into three 5Ks (even though I knew that the fourth mile was the toughest). My first three miles were 8:36, 8:30 and 8:44. Right before the turn for the golf course (close to mile 4), I saw Rob pass me.
The golf course is one of the toughest parts of this race, I struggled with it the first year, and I just had to tell myself that there would be a nice downhill once I made it to the top. Luckily, it is hard to get into your head during this race since there are so many distractions, people cheering, other runners and people playing music.
Mile 4 was my slowest, expected, at 9:24 pace but I made up for it on the sweet almost 1 mile downhill portion during mile 5 coming in at 7:50 pace.
Once we got back with all of the crowds, I could tell I was getting a little hot but there are plenty of water stops along this course (more than double per mile). At one point I saw a guy a little bit ahead of me with a shirt that said, "the body achieves what the mind believes". I took that as a sign that I had to keep pushing and even though my legs were tired the 6th mile came in at 8:27 pace.
I ended up not taking any nutrition during the race, just water (there wasn't any sports drink on the course, I don't believe, Mike's one complaint about the race). By the time I thought about needing it, I was already running the 7th mile and I knew I had enough left to get me to the finish. The 7th mile on Burnstone Road is another tough section for me. I struggled with it the first year we ran this race and this year was no exception. There is a slight incline and my pace dropped to 9:14.
I was able to pick it back up again, maybe seeing a cute Bernese Mountain dog on the sidelines helped, and mile 8 was 8:23 pace.
I knew I didn't have much more to go and I thought for a moment that I might be able to come in under 1:20, but I gave in to my legs hurting during the 9th mile for a 9:08 pace. After a slight incline, the run to the finish line was downhill.
I pushed as hard as I could, hitting 7:59 pace for the last little bit (funny how that happens), and crossed the finish line.
I finished in 1:21:25, which is just over a 5 minute PR!
Crystal said that I looked like a grape, instead of my usual watermelon
After finishing I made the long walk to the post-race party (seriously why is that walk so long??!) and grabbed some water before I spotted Mike. He wasn't with Rob, even though I knew that they had both finished before me, and after searching for quite a while we were all finally reunited.
I'm too short, I need a selfie-block to stand on!
Both Mike and Rob had great races, Mike ran a 1:15:40 which was about a 3 minute PR for him! Rob had never raced a 15K before so he automatically PRd, not a bad day for all three of us!
So proud of him!
We didn't stick around the post-race party for very long, and they had cut it a bit short in anticipation of some bad weather coming that way, and we got on the shuttle bus to take us back to the start.
Overall, I am really happy with how this weekend of racing went. I was really close to achieving both of my goals (placing in my age group at Mini-Mussel and PRing at the Boilermaker) and I know that I am just going to keep getting stronger and faster!