Thursday, July 24, 2008

Boilermaker 15K

On Sunday, July 13th, the 31st annual "Boilermaker 15K" was held in Utica, NY. Over 10,000 runners were registered for the race. As with most locations around the country, mid-July can be hot and humid. The weather forecasts in the week leading up to Sunday were indicating temperatures into the 90's. Even though I train in Florida, I know that at high temperatures you must slow the pace. So, I was prepared to run the race as a training run if necessary.

On Sunday morning I awoke at 4:00am to find the temperature at 81 degrees! What wasn't in the forecast was the rain that started at 5:00am. We drove most of the way to Utica in a rain storm. I had my large trash bag with me to keep the rain off, or hopefully provide a dry place to sit if the rain stopped. At approximately 7:15am, 45 minutes prior to the start the rain stopped. The announcer kept asking the crowd to pray for sunshine. I knew what the conditions would be if the sun started to heat the humid air. We lucked out and the official start time temperature was 75 degrees with the humidity at 75%, not as bad as it could have been. Several areas along the course are open and there was a nice breeze blowing. All in all the conditions were OK.

For a 15K race the spectators from the community are out in force. Water stops are plentiful and bands are dotted along the course. At about the 8.8 mile mark they had a bagpipe band that gave me the extra boost for the final one-half mile. Crossing the finish line I realized I had set a new PR for the distance at 1:21:20.

The photo is of my niece Eileen who ran the 5K and set a PR and my nephew Jim, who to bloggers is "Runner's Anonymous". He too set a PR for 15K. Quite the family event.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Just Another Runner?

Last weekend I was in Utica, New York, for the Boilermaker 15K Road Race. How many of you knew that the "National Distance Running Hall of Fame", is located there? On Saturday, I attended the race expo where Kathrine Switzer, Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter were speaking at the "Runner's Forum". That is quite the collection of "Hall of Fame" distance runners in America.

As you can see from the photo, Kathrine Switzer was gracious enough to pose for a photo or two as well as sign an autograph and chat. The same was true for the others. I have not spent much time around athletes from other sports, but running "superstars" are the most accomodating people. I have had the opportunity to meet many others at expos and at work and they talk with you as just another runner.

In NYC last November, I got to meet Grete Waitz, the 9 time winner of the NYC marathon. Many people stood back and watched her from a distance, some approached for an autograph. Those of you who know me, I'm not shy! I started a conversation and it was like she wanted someone to talk too. She inquired about my running, was curious if I was running the NYC marathon the next day. I told her "no" as I had just completed the Marine Corps Marathon. She congratulated me, read that again, she Grete Waitz, congratulated me for running a marathon. When we finished chatting she took a hat she had under the table and autographed it for me. Needless to say that is a prized possession.

So to Deena Kastor, Joan Benoit-Samuelson, Jim Ryun, Jeff Galloway, Brian Sell, Keith Brantley, Kathrine Switzer, Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers, "Thank You" for being so gracious to me, "just another runner."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Watermelon 5K

What would the "Fourth of July" be without fireworks and a 5K road race? This morning the 18th annual Watermelon 5K was held in Mead Gardens in Winter Park, FL. Close to 3,000 runners participated in the event. The morning started off comfortable, but by race time the temperature had approached the "hot" zone.

The photo is of Shirley, Geezer, Sheri and "Sponge Bob", as we awaited the start of the race. The race winds through the neighborhoods of Winter Park. Winding is an accurate definition as it seems you are always turning. It is a relatively flat course with only a few small rises along the way.

The highlight of the after race party is the abundance of sliced watermelon. Who wants a banana when there is iced watermelon! Walking through the crowd after the race, I spotted Maddy's pink bandanna. I haven't seen Maddy since a 10K in March.

It was a fun morning and a great way to say, "Happy Birthday America".