Ah, Boilermaker. It’s been 11 years since I last saw you, and you were just as awful as I remembered.
Let’s start with the course:
It’s a point to point course with four miles generally uphill, and five miles generally downhill. There are two major (steep) hills in the first four miles, and one steep/ mile-long hill after the 10k point. There is also a smaller hill in the last mile (which feels worse than it looks). But the last 0.3 is downhill. Yipee!
My race plan was to run the first four miles conservatively (around 6:30 pace), and the last 5.3 miles aggressively (around 6:10 pace). My recent workouts indicated that I would be able to run about 6:15 average on a flat course, so I figured anything between 6:15 and 6:30 would be okay. I really wanted to get under 60 minutes, which is a 6:26 average.
And now… my splits. Get ready for it.
Mile 1 6:33
Mile 2 6:39
Mile 3 6:37
Mile 4 7:06
Mile 5 5:48
Mile 6 6:13
Mile 7 7:08
Mile 8 6:24
Mile 9 6:48
Last .3 1:40
When I saw my fourth mile split, I was worried that the heat might have been getting to me, but we had just reached the top of the biggest hill, so I just figured I could get that time back on the downhill. Unfortunately I completely blew my load on the fifth mile. I felt really good until we started running that very mile-long uphill (just after 10k). I went from feeling very positive about my race to suddenly feeling like I wanted to walk, but I quickly shoved that thought out of my mind and trudged up the hill.
The last 5k was really rough. My only saving grace was seeing everyone else around me looking pretty beat up as well. On the last uphill I was passed by two women, but I saw one woman ahead that I was able to catch. I was in survival mode at this point, but I hate being passed so close to the end. One more woman passed me near the ninth mile marker, but I was able to catch her before the finish line. I actually think I should have started my sprint for the finish line sooner, but I guess I’ll have to remember that for next time.
I have run hundreds of 3k/5k/6k races but only a handful of 10k/15k/half marathon and above, and my inexperience with these distances is apparent. I have so much trouble pacing, expecially when it isn’t a flat course. I keep thinking that if I had stayed a little more relaxed in the middle, maybe I would have been able to run closer to 60 minutes, but I’m not really upset over it. I’m definitely looking forward to some shorter races for the rest of the summer. I have a 5k coming up in July, a mile in August, and a 4k cross country race in the beginning of September.
I do want to mention that the entertainment and spectators along the course were fantastic. There were 20 water stations, which was incredibly helpful on such a hot day. And the post-race party was one of the best I’ve been to, especially for such a large race. There are no beer tickets- you just walk up to the table and take whatever you want. It made for a very fun cool down.
Have you ever run the Boilermaker? What is your favorite race distance? Are there any distances you’ve really struggled with?