Miracle Miles

February 28th, 2015

No I’m not talking about Vernon Downs, I’m talking about the Boilermaker Charity Bib Program.
On March 3rd we open registration for the 3rd annual Boilermaker Charity Bib Program on boilermaker.com.
While there is much I am proud of concerning the Boilermaker, the Charity Bib holds a really special place in my heart. I am the #1 cheerleader of these folks as they run alone, yet together.
If the core role of the Boilermaker is to change people’s lives (and I think it is) then a program like this is simply a natural extension.
So much new this year…
More bibs (60 bibs over last year) and more charities (21 vs. 11 in 2014). Charity bibs are over and above the official race caps.
BTW, the most charities and requests for bibs making the judging committee’s job this year very, very tough.
We have a new fundraising platform, CrowdRise, to support the effort. In the running space they are simply the company of choice, just ask the Boston, New York and Chicago Marathons.
This year we now can have Boilermaker runners who aren’t charity runners become a part of an organizations fundraising team. Imagine if we could get 5% of our regular runners energized to support one of these causes- that’s 925 people! In fact I think it will be critical to enlist the support of these folks who would be willing to fundraise for no other reason that it’s the right thing to do. Which leads to the next new thing- setting an overall fundraising goal.
The past two years we have never set a goal; we just sort of declared victory and celebrated success. I’m a big believer having challenging goals. Without them it’s like running a race and there’s no finish line, or simply residing, inertly, in our comfort zone.
So drum roll please, and the goal is(gulp) - $250,000. We hit this number and the Boilermaker will have generated a half a million dollars for local not for profits since the inception of the program.
We will be having some pretty cool prizes for our top affiliated runners (charity bib folks) and unaffiliated runners (people are regular Boilermaker runners who join a charity team).
Finally, what I guarantee will be a series of inspiring stories from runners lacing up their running shoes for the right reason. Over the past two years I have had tears in my eyes a number of times reading the stories of folks feeling honored to raise money for a specific charity.
I will, with permission, share them with you.
Hey, running is great for your personal health - running to help someone that you probably will never know is (in my opinion) pretty good for the health of the soul.
Become a miracle worker…

A Digital Facelift

January 26th, 2015

No doubt those who embrace social media are Boilermaker folks.
With 55% of Boilermaker participants are between the ages of 20 and 45 they are a facebooking, instagramming and tweeting bunch!
It was feeling like boilermaker.com needed our web host and site developer
Besides offering a responsive website, meaning the site will automatically resize for mobile/ tablet use, the landing pages look has taken on a much more exciting feel.
However, perhaps the most dramatic change you will encounter is on the Boilermaker facebook page.
When we met with the Quad folks, they proposed a radical departure from where we had been. Prior the vast majority of facebook posts were about some specific aspect of the Boilermaker.
What they proposed was a stronger focus on the community with the Boilermaker interwoven. The Boilermaker has been nurtured by this community and most of our runners call ‘the 315’ home: it made perfect sense!
So every week you will see a different theme that will, hopefully, spur interest. Over the past few weeks we have highlighted the good work of our communities not for profits, offered some great recipes (nutritious and taste good) and give athletes the opportunity to ask questions of medical professionals.
Once a month we will have a segment called ‘You are my hero’ featuring an individual who has represented the ideals of the Boilermaker.
Liberally sprinkled throughout the site are running tips, inspirational quotes and photos.
Well something must be working because our numbers have dramatically improved.
A big thank you to Kandi Humpf at Quadsimia who both compiled the stats and acts as our chief facebook guru (unsure if that is on her business card).
So here is ‘the tale of the tape’ over the last eight weeks:

11/30/2014

1/22/2015

Change (#)

Change (%)

Facebook Total Likes

16,016

16,273

257

1.60%

Facebook Average # of Users Engaged Daily

12

189

177

1475.00%

Facebook Average # of Users Engaged Weekly

87

1,139

1,052

1209.20%

Facebook Average Weekly Reach

1,095

10,980

9,885

902.74%

Instagram Followers

233

284

51

21.89%

Twitter Followers

4,293

4,365

72

1.68%

Twitter Total Impressions

2,400

52,300

49,900

2079.17%

Twitter Daily Impressions

81

986

905

1117.28%

Twitter Engagement Rate

0.90%

2.00%

1.10%

122.22%

Twitter Link Clicks

6

244

238

3966.67%

Twitter Retweets

0

53

53

100.00%

Twitter Favorites

0

157

157

100.00%

Twitter Replies

1

44

43

4300.00%

Thank you to all who like, comment, retweet and share!

Kilometers of Kindness

January 19th, 2015

There is so much the Boilermaker should be proud of.
Inspiring people to conquer goals they thought they could never achieve (physical health).
Generating literally millions of dollars that gets pumped into the local economy (economic health).
In a way the Boilermaker Charity Bib Program does a bit of each.
This year marks the third year of the program: in two years we have raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars for charity.
Last year thirty one participants raised over a thousand dollars.
What is priceless are the stories of the runners who laced up to do the right thing.
What’s the same as last year?
Charities chosen most have a presence in our community. This area built the Boilermaker, we can do no less than give back.
A runner must commit to raising a minimum of $500 for one of the charities of choice. Folks can participate in the 15k, 5k or 3 Mile Walk. A reminder, the Charity Bibs are over and above the standard race caps (14,000 runners for the 15k and 4,500 for the 5k): Charity Bibs are not ‘stolen’ from the general field.
Similar to last year we will be offering charity bib signups two weeks prior to the opening of preferred registration.
So you if you really, really want to be guaranteed getting into the race here is your chance.
We will be announcing the charities at the end of February via the media and of course on boilermaker.com.
Charity Bib registration opens on March 3rd. This gives our charity bib folks literally months to hit their number.
So what’s new this year?
Plenty!
We have raised the amount of Charity Bibs from 200 to 250.
We have limited the amount of bibs an organization can receive so hopefully we give more charities the opportunity to participate.
Perhaps the biggest change this year is partnering with CrowdRise.
So what is CrowdRise Tim?
Glad you asked Tim!
CrowdRise is simply the biggest fundraising platform in the sporting space. Marathons such as Boston, New York, Chicago and LA all utilize CrowdRise.
The most exciting change is for a Boilermaker runner who is not a Charity Bib runner to join a charity team. We are hoping these ‘unaffiliated runners’ decide to raise funds for one of these worthy organizations.
Think about if: two hundred of these runners raise a $100 for a charity simply because it’s the right thing to do and a quick $20,000 flows to our local charities of choice.
We are going to inject a bit of fun into the charity campaign this year offering prizes to inspire and motivate. The individual charity runners will find CrowdRise a fantastic ‘big megaphone’ to hit (and hopefully surpass) their fundraising goals.
This simple quote says it all about those I dub ‘The Champions of Charity Bib’. Those folks who run the roads in honor, memory or to help someone they don’t even know.
“I run because I can.
When I get tired, I remember those who can’t run, what they’d give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them.
I know they would do the same for me.”
-Anonymous

Yearend Musings

December 29th, 2014

The end of the year invariably brings with it a look back at what has transpired over the previous twelve months. We will be bombarded with 2014’s biggest stories, sexiest men/ woman; who was born and who died.
Time awards it’s Person of the Year; Ebola fighters. Meanwhile in Russia Vladimir Putin has been named Man of the Year for the fifteen straight year- such a surprise.
I am usually a bit reticent in looking at the race from an end of the year perspective as the cycle we work in doesn’t necessarily fit the format. Sponsor meetings are well underway. We have already established and announced the registration rules, dates and revealed the 2015 logo.
But as the end of the year is a time of thoughtful reflection, a point when we look in the rear view mirror of the past and begin to imagine peering through the front windshield of the future.
This was my seventh Boilermaker as president and 2014 turned out to be a doozey.
This year was both our fastest sellout and largest field in Boilermaker history. Our move to West Utica and the slow rehab of our new building. We rebuilt the website and have reenergized out social media presence. Our biggest year helping organizations raise money via charity bib.
Oh yeah, a potential weather event that put the race at one point in doubt of happening!
For me personally 2014 was a year of highs and lows.
Biggest High- Middle son entered the world of work with an accounting firm in Boston. One more to get through college, getting to the final mile of college payments!
Halleluiah!
Biggest Low- Forced to putting down my dog of 14 years; Buddy’s birthday would have been on Christmas. Still having problems with this months later.
Turned 60 this year; unsure whether this belongs in the high or low category. I don’t feel like I’m 60 or what I assume 60 is.
Some feel don’t act 60- unsure if that is a compliment or complaint.
Looking ahead:
Will be interested to see the new registration process in action. We really have bent over backwards to give runners numerous opportunities to run the race.
Perhaps most excited with seeing the Boilermaker championing new efforts to help bring genuine change to our community; more on that later!
Hoping you have a fantastic 2015.
‘Here’s a toast to the future, A toast to the past,
And a toast to our friends, far and near.
May the future be pleasant; The past a bright dream;
May our friends remain faithful and dear’.
-Anonymous

Up in Smoke

December 14th, 2014

‘Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette
Puff, puff, puff and if you smoke yourself to death
Tell Saint Peter at the golden gate that you hate to make him wait
But you got to have another cigarette’
From the song Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette
Merle Travis/ Tex Williams 1947
Let me start out that I absolutely hate the new anti-smoking commercials on TV featuring a woman named Mary who has suffered through the ravages of lung/ throat cancer and rendered to looking like a stand-in for The Walking Dead TV series. Invariably I am in the process of eating and quickly lose my appetite. I guess they also serve as weight loss aid!
I am in no way a defender of smoking, my Dad started smoking at the age of 14 (the year was 1930) working himself up to 2 packs of Camels a day. His smokers cough in the bedroom next door would wake me up in the morning followed by hearing the click of the lighter. Although he had quit (cold turkey) decades before his death he ended up at one point losing part of his lung.
Certainly the national stance on smoking has dramatically shifted from when I was in the military in the early 70’s where inside your c-rations was a 4 pack of cigarettes, vintage World War II.I always traded mine, usually for powdered hot chocolate.
The issues swirling around smoking are as complex as the list of ingredients in a cigarette (of which there are over 500). I don’t want to touch on the health issues; they are a given. Let’s talk about money.
New York State currently has the highest cigarette tax in the nation coming in at $4.35 a pack ($5.85 in New York City). So stop by your local convenience store and you’ll be paying around $10 a pack.
There have been some interesting by-products from this.
CNN estimates that 60% of all cigarettes are smuggled in from out of state (primary culprit Virginia who only has a 30 cent tax) depriving New York of over one and a half billion dollars.
Certainly the nicotine addiction cuts both ways when you have a habit that pours vast amounts of cash into the state coffers. I’m unsure how much of these ‘sin tax’ funds are earmarked for smoking secession programs or just get funneled into the general fund.
Secondly I am struck by that it appears that those that are least affluent are the core of the smoking ranks. A study by RTI’s Public Health Policy Research Program showed that wealthier puffers spend on average 2% of their income; for the poor it’s 25%- Wow 1 in 4 of a persons dollars are literally going up in smoke!
The medical and human costs for smoking are massive. The American Lung Association pegs the costs for New York State at north of fourteen billion dollars and over thirteen thousand lives a year.
Some perspective on the human toll, we are currently losing twice the number of our fellow New Yorkers from tobacco than we have lost in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (2001-2014); and that is just in one year!
Thanks a lot Sir Walter Raleigh…

The Hazards of the Holidays

December 5th, 2014

The hazards I speak of aren’t the ones like a Christmas tree falling on you which has happened to me. Or as a child touching the metal part of an electric socket as you plug in the tree lights; again guilty as charged (electrically as well).
No, the dangers of that I speak of are the catastrophic calories.
We have entered the official perfect storm of weight gain. Too many parties, too much food, too much snow which can lead to too little exercise.
Even the Sun works against us as we go to work, its dark we leave work and it’s guess what –it’s dark!
We are offering every opportunity to go down the trail of bad health. While we all love Santa we certainly don’t want to look like him!
I am not educated as a professional personal trainer. Nor do I have Dr. written in front of my name. I’m just a guy who has been around awhile and is involved in the sport of running. So take my comments with as many gains of salt as you like (but watch your sodium levels).
Let’s keep it simple.
Think of your body as an engine with a gas tank (your stomach). Put lousy gas (unhealthy food) into the tank and the engine doesn’t run well. Keep filling the tank with gas while not running the engine and the tank keeps getting bigger and bigger.
An easy equation; the amount of time involved in an activity multiplied by exertion equals calories burned.
Try and strike a healthy balance between the amount of time you exercise and the level of that exercise.
Please, please, use good common sense! Remember it took you a bit of time to get in the shape you are in; likewise to be the person you want to be.
What gets measured gets better!
Start by writing down what you ate/ exercised being as specific as possible.
This will do many things:
You will tangibly see what you have consumed in a given day; you might be surprised.
It will act as a small blinking red light to eat stuff you know isn’t good for you. If you know you have to write it down (which demands honesty) perhaps you won’t open that bag of chips or the refrigerator. BTW, eating directly out of the refrigerator is usually never a good idea!
Buy a pedometer that measures steps or one of the latest activity bands. Have an internal contest with yourself to top the previous daily/ weekly activity.
Easy exercise
For some getting to the gym can be a problem.
Think about ways to burn calories in everyday life.
While the shortest distance between two points is a straight line that might not be the healthiest. Try walking to class or to a meeting along a different, longer route; mix in stairs if possible. Obviously build in time so you aren’t late!
Do you really need to park at the closest spot next to work or the store?
Get up from behind that computer every 45 minutes or so and move around; it’s better for both brain and body.

Final thoughts
Always remember a healthy lifestyle, or healthier than where you are, is a continual journey not a destination.
Sometimes it’s nice to make the trip with someone else; everyone can use a good support system.
This is the season of hope; let’s hope our bath scale doesn’t become the Grinch that stole Christmas!

Kilometers for Kim

November 25th, 2014

I am always drawn to offbeat stories, throw in a running aspect and I’m all in!
The Kim in question isn’t Kim Kardasian but Kim Jung-Un the ‘Dear Leader’ of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) aka North Korea.
And no, this isn’t a new charity bib program (but maybe it is).
For those of you that don’t qualify for the 2015 Boston Marathon perhaps you are interested in the Pyongyang Marathon? The running of Boston is April 20th, Pyongyang April 12th.
Not surprisingly in the history of the marathon is classic North Korean.
The marathon has been in existence since 1981. In its history according to Wikipedia:
It was not held 6 years.
Five of the years it’s unknown who won.
In the last 14 years, on the female side, a North Korean woman has won every time (such a surprise). The North Korean men have only won 7 out of 14, but hold the course record (2:10:50).
This might be one of the race’s that beats the Boilermaker for spectator participation (and there aren’t many like that).
The marathon begins and ends at Kim Ill Sung Stadium with 50,000 folks in the seats.
Likewise, expect a great spectator presence along the entire course; there’s something about a guy who routinely throws his people in work camps to get the crowd out.
If you aren’t up to running a full marathon a half marathon and 10k are also available.
Interesting time limits, for the marathon and half marathon, 4 hours; for the 10k 2 hours.
Although this is a relatively flat course, it means you need to run an average pace of slightly over a 9 minute mile every one of the 26 (and .2) miles to beat the clock cutoff. However, run the half marathon (and no, running a marathon is not just 2 half marathons; ask someone what mile 18 feels like) and you are allowed 18 minutes- only in North Korea!
The only way to sign up for the race is to go through a travel agency that includes either a 4 or 8 day tour.
The itinerary includes a fascinating tour of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum (where you will learn from your’ impartial’ guides that the Americans and South Koreans actually started the Korean War and the North Koreans won).
Expect a tour of the USS Pueblo, captured in 1968.
The do’s and don’ts are an absolute hoot- a few examples.
-Do Behave with respect to the regime and more importantly to its leaders, this is crucial for a good relation with the tour guides.
-Don’t insult the leaders publicly, this might not only get you in trouble but it will for sure ruin your relationship with the guides who are the gatekeepers of your visit.
-Do take some luxury goods (cigarettes, shampoo (a luxury item?), cosmetics, etc.) to present as gifts to the guides as gratitude upon arrival. Tip your tour guides and drivers at the end of the trip.
Don’t Go to North Korea if you are a journalist or a photographer, this can seriously mean trouble for you and your guides.
This is the second year the DPRK is actively promoting foreign participation in their marathon. It certainly feels like a way for them to get some foreign currency in their coffers.
Finally it has been announced that every foreigner arriving, regardless of nationality, must be quarantined for 21 days due to Ebola fears.
Again, only in North Korea!

Surviving in the Desert

November 18th, 2014

One of my daily rituals (at least until the big snows fall) is to pick up the various litter that gathers around the grass and sidewalk of our new office. Our old habitation, 114 Genesee Street, would gather the occasional debris, primarily cigarette butts, near the front door. The irony of cigarettes being dropped in front of an office that focuses on running and health was not lost even on me!
805 Court Street is a whole new matter- lots more sidewalk, lots more people and (unfortunately) lots more trash. Our hedgerow currently is very popular as a living garbage can.
I am struck by the nature of the discarded items- lots of plastic (non-deposit) drink containers, beer caps and candy/snack wrappers.
The apparent number one food group in the neighborhood is Slim Jims as there is never a time I don’t discover at least one of these tubular wrappers lying on the ground. I have yet to come across a discarded apple core or banana peel.
So it was during one of these cleanup efforts that it really hit me what a ‘nutritional desert’ we inhabit in this part of town. There are no major grocery store chains within miles and transportation around here for many is a real issue. I’m assuming the months of winter will just make things that much harder.
It seems like we have a public health situation where those that can least afford it, are offered the least nutritious food options at noncompetitive prices.
Hmm, that’s not a good formula!
No doubt we need a garbage container somewhere along the street; trash blowing through the neighborhood certainly doesn’t cast us in the best light. Just because we are not the most prosperous neighborhood does not mean we can’t have a bit of neighborhood pride!
However, and certainly more importantly, we need to lessen the amount of ‘nutritional trash’ that is getting consumed around here, particularly by our youngest folks.
While I’m not trying to sound like a captain with the vegetable police whipping people with a celery stalk, I do know that a diet heavily skewed towards, sodium, sugar and oil is not a game plan for success (unless you’re looking for high blood pressure).
‘Cheap food’, and I use the term with a double meaning, in the end will have a profound cost on our community as a whole. As a very, wise friend told me ‘if you want to go fast; go alone. If you want to go far; go together.’
Hey, it’s easy to point out problems, a whole lot different to come up with fixes- I get it.
I suppose the first step towards a solution is a simple awareness of a problem and it’s literally lying at my feet.

Comets for a Cause

November 13th, 2014

The meteoric rise of the Utica Comets (space pun intended) has done far more than renew a sense of community pride. The return of the AHL, after an 11 year absence has spurred economic vitality, a massive Auditorium upgrade and, perhaps less known, incredible charitable support.
The Save of the Day Foundation, created by Comets President Rob Esche, has funneled more than a million dollars towards youth needs.
In fact this quote from the Save of the Day website highlights what Rob feels is ‘mission critical’.
‘Promoting a healthy and happy lifestyle for local youth is among our most important attributes.’
It is our belief that every child, regardless of economic condition, deserves the opportunity to have a healthy life. This belief is built into the DNA of the Boilermaker. From the Youth Olympics and Kid’s Run during Boilermaker Week to the Boolermaker Halloween Run, we celebrate what kids can do!
So President Esche, ever the competitor, has issued a challenge to the local not-for-profit community; get a minimum cumulative total of 250 people to a Wednesday night game and you can be in the running for a $10,000 grant from Save of the Day.
The Boilermaker’s office move to west Utica is more than being closer to the Finish Line. It is a commitment to a neighborhood in need. These funds would jumpstart the ability for us start to become the change agent this area yearns for.
So how do you help us skate (or run) to the cash?
There are two Wednesday games left; November 19th and November 26th. Come to one, or better, both and please bring lots of friends!
People need to sign up via Ticketmaster http://www.ticketmaster.com/Utica-Comets-tickets/artist/1909732 and type BOILER in the offer code.
BTW you end up with a slightly discounted ticket ($12) - love it when everyone wins!
If this race has taught me anything about this community is that it is inhabited by countless angels in human form.
I’m hoping we can get 250 angels to fly to the Aud!

Costs of a Super-sized America

November 2nd, 2014

We certainly are aware of the epidemic of obesity in the US; it is literally right in front of us on the streets. In this case more is most certainly not better.
‘The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.’ The Center for Disease Control
The U.S. Military has identified obesity as perhaps our greatest national security risk with 3 out of 10 17 to 24 year olds simply too heavy to pass the physical fitness test.
Yet beyond the obvious medical and national costs are a number of little known realities that society is dealing with.
Ambulance stretchers and in some cases the ambulances themselves have become large to deal with heavier folks. In Boston an ambulance was retrofitted with a hydraulic lift (at a cost of $12,000) to deal with patients weighing up to 850 pounds!
Downstream hospitals have had to refit their beds, bathrooms and waiting room chairs to deal with this new reality.
Then there are the test crash dummies; no not the band, those lovable guys we enjoy propelling at high rates of speed into walls.
It seems Vince and Larry (the dummies names in TV ads) may have packed on a few pounds.
The original dummies, dating back to the 80’s weighed in at 170 pounds. The company Humanetics, a manufacturer of test crash dummies has developed a new human stand-in weighing in at over 270 pounds.
Larger passengers may exert different challenges to seat belt safety.
At this point the government has not mandated any changes to dummy guidelines.
To be fair, the car manufacturers are looking at getting away from the ‘one size fits all’ test dummy performing more research on specific subsets such as teenage drivers.
Will gas mileage be the next topic under obesity scrutiny?