Boilermaker Blog

The Last Leaves

August 23rd, 2012

“Give mother a hug
Father a kiss
The time has come
We have talked about it
Many times before
But the time is now”
From the poem: Leaving Home by Janice Andrade

My youngest leaves for college next week- there is an uneasy feeling in the Reed household; especially with Mama Bear.
So I take stock of this new experience.
Good things when there are just two of you in the house:
Less trips to the grocery store
You now know for sure who left that empty water bottle on the table.
Three drivers, two cars; enough said.
No more TV set blaring ESPN with no one in the room.
The washing machine/ dish washer will no longer be constantly on.
Worrying about that late night/ early morning phone call when they aren’t home.
Bad things when there are just two of you in the house:
Who will be there to show me which of the three TV remotes I need to use to record a show?
Ditto on issues with the cell phone
The work crew has been severely reduced on the mowing the lawn, washing the car, shoveling the walk, and moving the heavy stuff front.
Worrying about that late night/ early morning phone call when they are in college.
The silence…
In our twenty four years of marriage my wife and I have had at least one kid in our lives for over twenty two of them. That means we have only spent 8% of our time together as just husband and wife.
I’m dreading the drive away from the dorm looking at my son in the rear view mirror and the inevitable crying spouse on the drive back.
Looks like more than one young man will have major changes in their lives.

The Women Win

August 8th, 2012

I was pulling together a bunch of facts about this year’s race and rather than ramming them all together on one blog thought I’d spread them out. This is the first of interesting findings I came across.
For the first time in Boilermaker history woman runners outnumbered the men as participants. While men were 51% of the 15k women were 61% of the 5k. As a result the women squeaked out the win at 51%. In 2009, a mere four years earlier, men constituted 54% of the combined 15&5k field.
In 2009 if you were a woman between the age of 20 and 39 you represented 26.2% of the 15k field. Fast forward to 2012 you now represented 28.2% of a much larger number.
The ladies have had a hammerlock on 5k participation for years. In 2012 if you listed the top seven age/ gender categories they would all be women!
This reflects the national trend of the growth of female running participation.
If you look at participation at the half-marathon distance (13.1 miles, the closest published comparison numbers to the Boilermaker 15k) in 2011 women represent 59% of the field. In 2004, that number was 49%.
Just to give you a perspective of the growth of U.S. distance running, in the year 2000, 420,000 runners were finishers of a half-marathon. In 2011 that number skyrocketed to 1,610,000!
What does this mean? Well if we follow the national average one would surmise the women will soon represent the majority of runners for the 15k.
Frankly I’m convinced that women in general have better organization skills and as a result get signed up earlier than the guys who find themselves shut out of the race!

Looking Back

July 16th, 2012

The 35th running of the Boilermaker is over. I’ve had the privilege of being Executive Director for 5 of them. Certainly some major high points- record numbers of runners, some fantastic finishes, and outstanding weather. Then there are those not so great moments- timing problems, the loss of a presenting sponsor, and some not so outstanding weather.
While I do not consider myself a philosopher (heck, I need spell-check just to spell the word) I do have some ‘north stars’ (I know, I know- there’s only one) that I have tried to follow.
‘We can do better’-
While I love the complementary emails we see at the conclusion of the race, I probably spend more time looking at the ones that are critical of some aspect of the race. While we’ll never create the perfect weekend in July that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
This one is related to the next belief which is….
‘Let’s change’-
While I think (hope) the Directors of the race like working with me I think (know) that I drive them crazy with changes. I know the move of the Expo from the Masonic Care Community to Mohawk Valley Community College after a fifteen year run was initially greeted with a bit of anxiousness. In general we like routine and predictability in our lives- I get that. I also feel we need the new stuff to push both ourselves and the event beyond our comfortable borders.
‘It’s all about the fun’-
How do you get volunteers to show up at the crack of dawn? Why do soldiers run the burning desert of Iraq or the dust-swept mountains of Afghanistan to mimic our 15k race? There must be some sort of internal joy or self satisfaction to drive these people! When we talk about new initiatives the ‘fun factor’ will always play a role.
‘The Boilermaker is a change-agent’-
Over the past thirty five years over a quarter million people have run the Boilermaker. For some it was an easy sub-hour race, for others it was a grinding, tortuous, two mile excursion to Hell. For some this race has literally saved their lives as they have decided to run down the path towards a healthier lifestyle. If a fraction of the runners continue an exercise regimen after that second Sunday in July we have accomplished our purpose.
If we expend our focus beyond that of the runner I know that we have a pretty strong impact on boosting the local economy. I smile a little when I see the long traffic lines Boilermaker weekend- people have come here!
Finally, if the race in some manner makes we who live in this community feel a little better about where we live and what we can accomplish that is a very, very good thing. We sometimes are a bit to critical about this place we call home. If we are living on rocky ground we can either build something with these stones or throw them at each other- it’s our choice.
Opps, there I go starting to sound like a philosopher!

If I Was You

July 4th, 2012

With the race just a few days away I thought I’d put together a ‘top ten list’ for Boilermaker runners, walkers, spectators, and volunteers. It is in not order of importance.
Hey, we’ve moved-
Remember the Expo has moved to Mohawk Valley Community College.
We’ve been shouting this from the rooftops for months but I still fear that people will be showing up at the Masonic Care Community thinking they got a great parking spot only to realize they are a couple of miles away from the Expo. I formally deputize all of you to spread the word of the Expo move to everyone.
Have patience-
Remember there are tens of thousands of you picking up your racing bibs, signing up your children for the Kid’s Run, participating in the walk, etc.. The roads are built to normally handle a fraction of this traffic. I have found that blaring the horn, cutting people off, or making explicit hand and arm gestures rarely makes the other driver think “Gee, thank you for pointing out the error of my ways; I’ll never do that again.”
Likewise at the Start line, use those good listening skills. Security is there to make sure everyone has a safe experience. Your job is to run; their job is to make sure you can run.
Enjoy everything-
The addition of Leon Etienne and Robert Channing performing as well as the Induction Ceremony (all free) all take place on Saturday at the MVCC Theater. Hands-only CPR training by the American Heart Association, ‘Beef up Your Heath’ offering health screening or just sampling Chobani yogurt offers something for everyone, not just the Boilermaker participants.
Be an ambassador-
This weekend we will have people from nearly every state in the nation as well as from all points of New York; be helpful. Remember the old maxim ‘there is never a second chance to make a first impression’? You never know who you are talking to; it could be the CEO of an out of state firm looking to expand operations somewhere.
Everyone can help-
If you are not participating come out and cheer on the runners. One of the common themes I read in emails I receive from participants after the race is the 9.3 miles of encouragement they have experienced- a rarity in distance running.
As the biggest event in this community all of us, not just Boilermaker volunteers and staff, have a collective ownership of this event.
Use your head-
While common sense often isn’t common please use a bit of thought. Simple practices such as keeping hydrated, getting good nights sleep, and running ‘your race’ (not a friend’s or some dreamed of goal) will help insure you don’t visit with medical staff somewhere along the course.
Get to the start early-
You can’t get to the Start Line too early but you can get there too late.
If you are planning on parking near the Post Race and shuttling over figure out where you are parking before Sunday morning; remember there is no formal parking spots.
Have a plan-
If you are planning on meeting someone at the Post Race Party use a specific landmark as a meeting place. With tens of thousands of people milling around the back of the brewery “I’ll see you at the finish line” just won’t cut it.
Say thank you-
This race only occurs because volunteers and sponsors support it. A simple thank you goes a long way to remind that volunteer that getting up at dawn to help people they don’t even know is a good thing.
Have fun-
There is for everyone (hopefully) involved a joy that makes this second Sunday in July special. Celebrate this thing we call the Boilermaker. I lied; I think this one is the most important!

A Walk in the Park

July 2nd, 2012

‘Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more’
In My Life (Lennon/ McCartney)
While the Committee Run took place, held the Sunday before the Boilermaker for those who need to work the event but want to get their finisher’s pin, I was on the course. Well, sort of.
Actually I was down at Boilermaker Park (located behind the brewery next to the Polish Community Center) cleaning up the brick Boilermaker Course.
For those who have never seen there was put together a miniature Boilermaker course (sorry, it’s flat) comprised of thousands of individual bricks. For $30 people can buy a brick and leave a message that will probably outlast their time on this planet. Check out under the Boilermaker Store tab.
Back to being in the park-why do I do this?
Let’s jump into the time tunnel!
Two years ago I received a rather irate email from an out-of-towner who stopped by the park to view the brick she bought in memory of her Mom and found the writing nearly unrecognizable due to encroaching weeds and upswept grass. Down I went and sure enough the park was a mess, the grass that had been cut seem more akin to hay.
As I wielded my trusty ice scrapper to drive back the greenery the names slowly emerged. It became a task that was mixed with laughs and tears.
I encountered names of people involved with the race that I had forgotten about.
Some notable bricks:
Near mile 1 4/5ths from Nora Romero- ‘Meet us right here!’ So I wondered was I supposed to meet Nora at this brick or 1 and 4/5ths along the course?
At left corner near the one mile marker ‘Walk on me now, But see us run over you-CFMD’. This was one of the ones that make me laugh.
At the half mile mark ‘Peter Fraser 9/54-9/93, Meghan’s Dad’. Peter was one of my best friends growing up and was felled by Cancer at 39 years old. Meghan currently works at the brewery, multiple connections. This was the one that brought the tears.
I checked out the block of bricks located near the start representing ECR (Utica Radiator in the old days). I found the names of my deceased parents as well as my immediate family.
In the end the bricks are a hodge podge of memorials, self congratulation, honors, and pure fun.
It’s sort of a shame that the day the park will see its greatest amount of visitors, the Post Race Party; the bricks will be obscured by people standing on them.
So after a couple of hours of work the Boilermaker brick course was looking pretty good. There is a certain amount of self- satisfaction when you look back and see the work you have done really made a difference; sometime in the office it’s tough to tell.
This has become my tradition.
This is truly hallowed ground.

Magic, Music, and Fast Movin’ Jets

June 25th, 2012

Announcements about what’s happing Boilermaker Week seem to multiply as we move closer to the big event.
Last week was our last Full Committee Meeting where all the coordinators (over 150) who deal with all aspects of Boilermaker Week from food to finish line, expo to elite athletes get together. The meeting serves two primary roles:
-To pass along important info that involves changes or news of note.
– A chance for the various groups to network which is critical because with an event of this size we only succeed as a team.
This blog deals with the recent news:
Magic- We are fortunate to have two of the most recognized performers in our community giving shows at the MVCC Theater on Saturday of the Boilermaker Expo (July 7th); Leon Etienne and Robert Channing.
Leon Etienne’s show begins at 10:00 a.m., shortly after the Kid’s Run has concluded. I caught Len’s show last year and it was tremendous! You may recall Leon successfully predicted the male and female finishers of last year’s race.
Robert Channing, the mentalists, show will take place at 11:30 a.m., right after Leon.
Robert totally stunned the crowd at the Committee Meeting when he successfully guessed the amount of change in a volunteer’s pocket (26 cents). We are extremely lucky to catch Robert as traditionally he is traveling throughout the U.S. giving shows.
Both of these shows are FREE!
Seats will be available on a first come, first serve basis. Doors open at 9:30 a.m..
Music- Earlier in the year we had announced that we were going to add an opening act to the Post Race Party focusing on a local band/ artist. Some Boilermaker volunteers took on the audition efforts and picked the winner; recording artist Beth Zaje. Beth hails from scenic Gloversville New York and I’m confident will keep the Boilermaker spirit running at high octane. Maybe she’ll have Nick and the Nice Guys looking over their shoulders!
The Flyover- Clearly one of the things that has made this race stand out has been the jet flyover that traditionally occurs after the singing of the National Anthem at the Post Race Party. Our Boilermaker Facebook page ‘blew up’ after this announcement with over 160 ‘likes’ and numerous positive comments. Thank you to Special Metals (the sponsor) and the Genesee War Birds and Senator Joe Griffo for turning me on to these guys. It should be a great show!

Supporting the Troops

June 16th, 2012

The e-mail came near the end of May. The gist of the message was an infantry group based out of Utica, currently deployed in western Afghanistan, has decided to conduct a Boilermaker ‘shadow run’ overseas. A shadow run is running 15k (9.3) miles the same day as we do. You will note that I didn’t say the same time because the runs that were conducted in Iraq (2008, 2009, & 2011) had to start before 8 a.m. because as soon as the sun rises there the temperature quickly hits 100 degrees in July. The Iraq runs were run pre-sunup.
But anyway, back to Afghanistan…
Traditionally when we get these requests we ship out gear to support their race such as running bibs, running shirts and start/ finish line banner. What became a bit of a challenge was how the heck we were going to get all this produced and how to get it overseas in time for their run? No problem; we have some truly great people in this community. I quickly called Jack Seifert at Seifert Graphics and by the end of the call was guaranteed the banner would be done on time and, by the way, for free. Next I spoke to Gar Grannell CEO of Mohawk Global Logistics, his message was simple; get me the gear by June 15th and I’ll get it to Kandahar before July 8th, again at no charge.
We will be selling a limited number of the same Boilermaker Afghanistan 2012 shirts at the Expo being held at Mohawk Valley Community College July 6th and 7th. . A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Central New York Veterans Outreach Center. By the way, the Executive Director of the Outreach Center is currently deployed with the 108th Infantry, the group we are sending the running gear to.
It appears that on race day 150 American, Italian and Afghan soldiers will be ‘toeing the line’ thousands of miles away. With an eight and half hour time difference between Afghanistan and Central New York as 1st Lieutenant Ruso (my military liaison over there) said: “We may not be as fast as the elites but we’ll finish hours ahead of them!”

Did you hear what Chris said?

June 10th, 2012

On Saturday Chris McDougall, the bestselling author of Born to Run, was in town and he left a last impression on the nearly packed house at the MVCC Theater. For those that didn’t make it I’ll give you the Cliff Notes.
Mankind with the gifts at first glance should never have lasted long as a species. We had no claws or fangs, couldn’t swim fast enough to catch fish, couldn’t fly, and yes we were slower runners than all the animals we wanted to eat. Also at this point of our evolution we still hadn’t figured out how to make projectiles (arrows) to take down prey.
However, we had one trait that would define us vs. every other creature alive and ultimately make us their master; we could sweat providing us a built-in air conditioning system giving us the ability to run a very, very, long time. So long in fact that on the savannah plains of Africa tribes could literally run to death animals such as the gazelle.
This ability which transformed the human from a plant gathering creature to an omnivore provided the protein (primarily from meat) to ‘feed the engine’ of our brains.
While men in general are faster than women in short distances (short in Chris’s world is less than 50 miles) as you lengthen distance women quickly get to parity as proven by their winning many ultra marathons.
Chris is a huge proponent of barefoot running that has sometimes piqued the traditionalists of the running world. It’s tough to argue with Chris who at 6’ 4” and 220 pounds (therefore, according to doctrine, not built for running) yet runs for 4 to 5 hours at a stretch. A lucky few had a chance to run a few miles of the Boilermaker course with Chris and didn’t he at least talk a couple into shedding their sneakers and give barefoot running a try.
At the end of the presentation Chris took questions. The funniest one: ‘Do your feet have thick calluses from being barefoot all the time?’ A young lady in the front row had the ‘privilege’ of touching the bottom of his feet. The verdict; it was a smooth as anyone else’s.
It turned out to be a terrific weekend. Chris had a chance to experience a bit of Boilermaker fever and we had a chance learn a little bit more about ourselves.

A Memorable Memorial Day

May 31st, 2012

This year Memorial Day was special for me but not for the reason you might think. It marked the first time in nearly two years I have run. Some might be a bit struck by the seemingly strange disconnect between some in charge of a rather large road race and not being a runner.
Well, our parents give us all kinds of stuff some of them before we’re even born! One of the gifts I received was bones and cartilage that are a bit more fragile than most. In January I had an experimental procedure done that if successful would combat some of the damage I’ve incurred over the years.
For the past few weeks I’ve felt very good and the siren song of warm temperatures and sunshine whispered in my ears: “Tim, remember the good old runner’s high? Come on back, you’ll love it!”
The plan was to employ the Jeff Galloway technique of training which basically has you start running for a predetermined time/ distance, walk to recover, repeat running, walk… As you gain strength the intervals of walking (theoretically) become less.
I slowly stretched, pushing against the fence. My calves said: “Hey what’s going on here; haven’t done this in awhile.”
Prior to running I tool a warm-up walk around the track the anticipation building as I reached the start line. Normally I hated track running (pretty boring) but its advantages of a flat, cushioned surface were overwhelming.
I took my first tentative steps. The knees were not the first to complain; it was the lungs. I felt like a lawnmower being cranked up that’s been sitting around for a couple of season with old gas and unchanged oil.
While I have not led a sedentary lifestyle, frequently using both elliptical equipment and stationary bikes, running seems to put a much, much heavier demand on the old breathing. Soon I felt like I was breathing through a straw which would be bad enough if you were sitting down, downright awful when in motion. Clearly it was going to take some time for me to get my second wind back.
I reached the walking point and strolled along the course eventually coming to the point when I was to resume the run.
As I again began a slow jog my legs screamed “What; you’re doing this again?” Restarting a run is clearly harder than beginning. The second rep was worse than the first and the third was worse than the second. When I was done I was sweat-drenched and exhausted.
The good news the knees seemed to weather the experience well with no need for any pain meds.
Let’s see what happens….

Start Spreading the Word

May 28th, 2012

Forgive the mixed sports analogy that I’m notorious for but we are reaching the homestretch for race preparation.
I gave some thought to what we need pass along to our visitors. While we’ve tried to get the word out I guess we can’t over communicate. Here’s a focus on two changes for 2012 that represent major departures from the past.
The Expo move:
I’ve been shocked on more than one occasion speaking to someone and they are unaware that this year’s Expo will be taking place at Mohawk Valley Community College. In the next couple of weeks we will be featuring an ‘all things Expo’ button on the website that will layout both graphically and in words spell out what’s going on.
While I’m very excited with the ability of our guests having more parking options and somewhat ‘weather-proofing’ the event I fear the guard at the Masonic Care Community (our former Expo venue) will hate us by the end of the weekend telling people where to go (hopefully nicely).
The transfer policy:
Seems like there are still many questions about how it works or that it even exists. The ability to legally transfer a number from a runner who can’t participate to one who wants to went live at the end of April. While the Boilermaker does not want to become the eharmony of running, our Facebook is a good place to find a person who may want to dump/ receive a racing bib. June 22nd marks the end of the ability to transfer so find that special someone!
The process is pretty simple go to and click on the icon that says Boilermaker Transfer Policy.
As an outside observer it looks like a number of people who got shutout of the 15k and ended up signing up for the 5k are finding 15kers (my word) who are having second thoughts about the 9.3.
So I have a favor to ask, tell your friends about what’s going on. We are but one voice; you are many.