Boilermaker 15k: More Than A Race
A world renowned road race, the Boilermaker 15k on July 8th in Utica, New York was held under hot and challenging conditions last weekend, but still lived up to rabbitELITE Nicholas Klastava expectations in more ways than he could have anticipated.
This year’s Boilermaker 15k was a goal race for me when I signed up 4 months ago, but I ended up going through a bunch of issues in the 10 days leading up to the race. However, when you plan a run-cation with the wife and it’s the longest time you’ve had together with just the two of you since your daughter was born, you roll with the punches.
Leading up to the race my June had been plagued with some sickness and other factors limiting my races and having me miss a couple workouts, but with two weeks to go I felt I was hitting my stride again. However, then 8 days out from the race I ended up spending an entire weekend with a raging fever, landing me in the hospital just 6 days out from the race. It was first diagnosed as pneumonia and then downgraded to a bacterial infection, but between giving 2 pints of blood, missing several days from training, being fatigued and on antibiotics and lying in bed for an entire weekend my hopes were tempered. I managed to get two runs under my belt before heading off to Utica on Saturday morning not sure what would go on with this race.
In the week heading into the race however I had learned some fun news that one of my rabbitELITE teammates (AnnMarie Kirkpatrick) was also running so we planned a meet up and shakeout together on Saturday. Then later in the week leading up to the race, Megan DiGregorio my Falls Road and rabbit teammate also told me she was going to be racing, so it was going to be a rabbit filled event. Even if I wasn’t at my peak fitness I was very excited to have some friends I could be rooting for and invest in their achievements. Saturday morning we arrived at the expo and I met up with AnnMarie Kirkpatrick. The thing I love about meeting other runners is whenever I go on a run with a new friend I can never run out of things to talk about. It usually feels like the run flies by and I have so much more to say! I also love meeting new teammates and getting to know the people I am sharing an exciting new journey with. I felt really good on the shakeout run and strides so after heading to the expo and grabbing my race bib I told my coach I wanted to still run the race and we came up with a game plan.
Something I constantly struggle with is self-compassion and being way too hard on myself. Since running is an individual sport that constantly challenges me to want to improve from previous races a lot of the times I end up getting way too caught up in the details or the results. If I run 10 seconds slower than my goal time – failure, run a PR – success. Sometimes I am so black and white with everything that I lose sight of why I do this. Obviously, everyone has a reason why they run, I can’t tell you what yours should be, but I can tell you I am constantly putting way too much stress on myself and unnecessary stress is a recipe for poor results. I also imagine I am not the only runner who is constantly too hard on themselves.
I think a lot of the time we lose track of how far we have come to get to this point, we lose track of the journey we are on, and we idealize these results so much that there is no way we can ever achieve our goals. There is always a faster time we can run ultimately; will we ever be happy?
So, my game plan with my coach for this race was to just enjoy the amazing environment the Boilermaker 15k offers. Smile when it hurts, thank volunteers and always encourage other runners. This is not to say I don’t have goals I want to achieve, but if I'm able to start with the most basic of concepts the harder stuff (like pushing through the last 10k of a marathon) becomes easier to overcome. When we are not stressed out, our body can handle more. So, my goal for this race was to make it an amazing experience and I was easily able to accomplish that regardless of my finishing time.
From start to finish the fans were amazing, the course was hard but also at times forgiving and the weather was perfect. I had such fun running past so many screaming fans and seeing some runners I knew. As I strolled through the course I took it all in, I smiled as much as I could, I cheered and thanked fans; my body obviously still recovering from sickness supported me the best it could. The climb at mile 4 around the golf course is no joke, but the subsequent downhill mile was so much fun. Even as you weaved through the town during miles 7, 8 and 9 there was a ton of energy.
As I came down the home stretch I knew I had accomplished my goal of having fun and I also had a great view for most of the day of fellow rabbitELITE AnnMarie as she ran a fantastic race placing near the top of her field and not too far after Megan DiGregorio finished 33rd in a deep field.
A run-cation with my wife, hanging out with several friends, seeing two teammates run amazing races and enjoying myself for 15k through the crazy crowds of Utica. Amazing memories I will take away from the weekend that will inspire me to become a more well-rounded runner, learning to appreciate events regardless of the cards dealt my way.
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