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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?

Scaring Up A Good Time

October 9th, 2014

It is simply amazing to me the rise in popularity of Halloween in the U.S.. It seems the grocery stores mound the shelves with bags of candy earlier and earlier in the year (I spotted a Halloween candy display this year pre-Labor Day).

You know the smaller bars of delight that taste so good you eat five!

Sometimes it feels like Halloween is simply built around excess and frequently excess of a poor nutritional nature. From that reality, the Boolermaker was born!

The Boolermaker Kid’s Run presented by Adirondack Bank will again be haunting the grounds of the Masonic Care Community on Saturday, October 25th.

Children between the ages of 4 to 12 will run age-appropriate untimed runs that will begin at 10:00 a.m.. The Expo opens at 8:00 a.m..

True to its tag line ‘where getting fit isn’t scary’ our little ghosts and goblins will be treated to a variety of healthy snacks that they will actually eat! Thanks to the generosity of: Chobani, Price Chopper, Peter’s Cornucopia, North Star Orchards, McDonalds, Freihoffer, Walmart, Dole.

Bagel Grove, Utica Coffee and Edible Arrangements will be providing sample products at the Expo.

Finally Granny’s Kitchen will provide doughnuts (hey, what goes better with cider?).

Believing in the old proverb ‘a clean mouth is a happy mouth’ every one of our participants will receive toothpaste (from Zalatan Dental Services) and dental floss (from Excellus Blue Cross/ Blue Shield). The commemorative cinch bag, courtesy of our sponsor will be brimming with goodies that are good for them.

Our eerie Expo (no, it’s not really that scary) will offer activities and education for the entire family. Face painting, child ID, photo area and contests.


Signups will take place at Sangertown Square, Center Court, in New Hartford on Friday October 17th from 5:00-8:00 p.m. and Saturday October 18th from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m..

There is a $5 registration.

There is a race cap of 600 participants.

There will be no run day registration.

We will be selling a limited number of Boolermaker shirts in both children and adult sizes (new this year due to demand).

More info available at boilermaker.com; just press the Boolermaker Jack O’Lantern icon.

Our New Neighborhood

September 26th, 2014

Slowly but surely we are settling into our new building.
Some initial thoughts…
I now (obviously) take a different route to the office. The majority of my drive formerly would be along a high-speed expressway, now my trip is nearly entirely through residential neighborhoods. Encountering more stoplights (which always seem to be red) has given me more time to observe our city. I’ve noticed a new phenomenon; people riding their bikes going against traffic. While this is standard practice for the running community traditionally it’s not for cyclist. On a different note; what the heck is the story with the legions of pigeons and seagulls that populate the far corner of the parking lot of Hannaford Supermarket on Mohawk Street? I’m not sure what creates this perpetual reunion as food seems scarce there.
Our new street is much busier than that of our former home. A total different experience moving from a third floor office (with no window) to a first floor office watching the flow of humanity. If you ever want to appreciate the diversity of Utica simply look at the kids waiting at the bus stop or the people walking by. A boy from the Karen community gliding along on his skateboard, a Somali girl in a long flowing dress intently tapping away at her smartphone. A mother with a headscarf walking with her children towards (I assume) school. An elderly gentleman shuffling towards (I assume) the local bodega, or perhaps food pantry, returning back clutching a plastic bag.
We certainly have some folks who have powerful sound systems in their vehicles that love to share their music with people in their zip code.
The DOT arterial project adds to the cacophony of noise as dump trucks and heavy equipment rumble by. That’s noise I enjoy- the noise of progress!
While we are near the finish line; we are looking forward to starting something special into this neighborhood we now call home.

Food Fight

September 18th, 2014

We are in a fight for food; or rather we are in a fight to get more food (of the nutritious variety) to our upstate community.
Wal-Mart has committed to split $3,000,000 equally among 50 food banks ($60,000 each). One of the food banks in the running is the Food Bank of Central New York.
Selection is based on facebook voting, you can vote once a day until October 5, 2014.
While I tend to not love campaigns like this that seem a bit like a popularity contest; I really, really do love the idea of money floating into upstate to feed our folks.
The Food Bank of CNY covers a wide territory spanning eleven counties. This footprint represents where the majority of where Boilermaker runners live. I’ve had a chance to see first hand the Food Bank of CNY’s operation as they have been a Boilermaker Charity Bib partner- it’s a first class operation.
If the Boilermaker is to be a positive change agent then it’s a natural we get shoulder (or rather our voting index finger) behind this. Many have been the time we have made the impossible possible.
What can you do?
Simply vote and tell friends and family to vote.
Currently the Boilermaker has close to 16,000 friends on our facebook page; if everyone voted just once we are solidly in the hunt. Get at least one of your friends to vote- you get the picture. At the time of this writing we have dropped out of the top 50.
Let’s show the country what Boilermaker spirit is about.
Imagine if we could get to number 1!
The link to the Food Bank of CNY is: http://www.foodbankcny.org/
Click the Fight Hunger Spark Change icon and you will be on your way to making our community a healthier place.

Less is More

September 14th, 2014

So the less in question is in fact not a unit of measure but rather a man- Les Diven who passed away at the age of 85 on September 11th. Another sad event added to a national day of sadness.
Les was a newspaper man, a reporter with the Observer Dispatch (Daily Press) for 40 years. I guess Les was like the Derrick Jeter of the reporting world; stayed with the same organization the entire length of his employment.
Les looked like a reporter, or at least what in my mind an ‘old school’ reporter would look like. I can imagine him interviewing someone furious scribbling with a pencil in a notebook with perhaps another pencil in back of his ear in reserve. He was simply THE sports reporter in our area. Les saw both the uniqueness and potential of the race and no doubt spurred its popularity in our region. The Boilermaker, recognizing the skills of Les, created the Les Diven Award annually recognizing a media person who best represents the craft of reporting/ writing particularly when it comes to the Boilermaker. Many of the reporters and writers that you’re familiar with have been bestowed with this honor.
Les formally came into my life in the early 1990’s after his retirement when I was working at Utica Boilers. At the time I was in charge of manufacturing and my office was across the hall from a small conference room. One morning Les and his wife Pat walked into the conference room with bundles of envelopes held together with rubber bands. Les and Pat were officially the Boilermakers registration processing volunteers!
At the time the Boilermaker was fielding around 5,000 runners so while there was much smaller participation than today virtually everything was being processed by hand. Payment was in the form of checks or cash if people dropped off their applications to our office. There would generally be a deluge prior to when the registration fee would increase. Like clockwork Pat and Les would walk past my office, offer a good morning greeting and get to work. On occasion I would hear a chuckle emanating out of their ‘office’ no doubt produced by some runner’s foolishness that would be corrected without complaint.
While automation eventually rendered this process extinct Les and Pat remained loyal volunteers. They were those ‘just tell us what to do’ type of folks that are the backbone of successful organizations.
What I remember about Les; that he always had a smile on his face. I can’t testify that he was that way in the newspaper biz as I wasn’t there, but as an unpaid worker he was a very happy guy.
The local paper, the race and the community were made a better place because of you.
We really could use more of people like Les.
Les, you often wrote about the Boilermaker- I consider it an honor to write about you. God bless you!

Leaving Home

August 29th, 2014

This is the final week in our old building located at 144 Genesee Street. We have boxed and moved everything out, swept the floors and vacuumed the rugs. The walls sit barren, I see areas of the floor that prior I had never seen; it is eerily quiet as I put my keys to the doors on the front desk, set the alarm and walk out for the last time.
So much has changed in our neighborhood since the establishment of our offices in 1999. On our block there was a motorcycle gang clubhouse, five doors down a vicious German Shepherd would pound against a storefront window, furiously barking, saliva flying, as you walked by. His owner was known as ‘crazy Joe’-enough said. Three buildings sat vacant and a strip club was the primary ‘magnet of commerce’.
Fast forward fifteen years later, the same block now sports a coffee shop, pizza joint sporting loft apartments, a high-end restaurant, a ‘THinkubator’ a student-led think tank established by our local collages. The block still has the strip club, although their hours have been severely curtailed (the building is for sale). The ‘development bug’ has struck adjoining streets stretching to the Utica Auditorium.
In spite of the three flights of stairs I trudged every day to reach my office, the challenges with finding parking and dodging the flocks of crows that inhabited the trees at Commercial Travelers in the winter with their foul ‘messiness’-I will miss this place!
While it’s not like we’ve moved to a different state; we are less than a mile away ‘as the crow flies’ (those crows again!) I realize that my interactions with my old neighbors/friends will certainly be less frequent. Need to make new friends with our new neighbors!
Our new neighborhood is clearly different. We now sit on the edge of both a residential area and commercial area. While we now have a lawn to mow, areas that will need to be plowed in the winter; we (finally) have our own parking lot!
It feels a little like being a freshman arriving at college, starting over.
Looking back with a little sadness, looking forward with a great deal of anticipation.

Where Did The Time Go (Part 2)

August 7th, 2014

Where Did The Time Go (Part 2)
So in the previous blog I spoke about the slowing of the field in 15, now let’s look at the 5k.
Attached are the median times over the last six years:
Year Overall Men (winning time) Women (winning time) Temp.
2014 33:40 31:36 (15:55) 34:58 (18:01) 68 degrees
2013 33:16 31:24 (16:09) 34:25 (18:28) 66 degrees
2012 32:36 30:21 (16:11) 34:04 (19:18) 65 degrees
2011 31:35 29:26 (16:38) 33:06 (18:16) 58 degrees
2010 31:43 29:53 (16:28) 33:01 (18:59) 64 degrees
2009 31:08 29:09 (15:21) 33:41 (19:34) 55 degrees

Unlike the 15k, which saw a slight quickening of average running compared to 2013 the 5k ended up posting a slightly slower time.
I posted a category in parenthesis indicating respective winning times for men and women. I had surmised that winning times would be quicker. In 2012 we had changed the designation of the 5k from a run to a race-in a race you recognize at least the top three finishers in the male and female category. In addition I suspected that we would see a faster winning time as runners who were capable in running the 15k may have found themselves on the outside looking in when that race sold out so decided to sign up for the 5k. It sort of follows that trajectory (although I’d love to know what the male winner was eating who won the 2009 5k).
Temperatures posted are those taken at 8:00 AM, the start of the 15k, logic dictates that temps at the start of the 5k were cooler. Prior to 2011 the 5k started at 7:30AM; currently it begins at7:15AM.
There may be other factors at work here, perhaps we are seeing older or perhaps much, much younger runners. I do wonder if some people running the 5k figure ‘hey, it’s not the 15k, so I don’t need to train’. That is an ill-advised way of thinking; we saw a number of 5k runners in the medical tent this year. Lots of need for the kitty litter at the finish line (I’ll leave that to your imagination why).
Bottom line, the average runners of the 5k is 8% slower than their predecessors 5 years earlier. Guess what; that 8% number is nearly identical for the 15k also. Must be in the water!

Where Did The Time Go? (Part 1)

July 29th, 2014

I was an English major in college; took math and science classes only when I had to in order to graduate. I realized to my horror that Astronomy was a heavily physics-based course and managed to squeak through!
So saying all that I do get a kick out of looking at the yearly Boilermaker stats and compare those to previous years and see if they tell anything. I just got them and here is what I see.
For the first time in the last six years we actually got faster in the 15k; but that must be taken with a few grams of salt (or sodium substitute product). In 2009 the average time overall to run the 15k was 1 hour 25 minutes 53 seconds. For females it took 1 hour 31 minutes 43 seconds, males 1 hour 21 minutes 28 seconds. Fast forward to 2013, our slowest Boilermaker ever. Average time 1 hour 34 minutes 23 seconds with females clocking in at 1 hour 39 minutes 50 seconds, males at 1 hour 29 minutes 31 seconds. In 4 years the women had lost 8 minutes 3 seconds; the men 8 minutes 7 seconds.
So now I have set the table for this year. In 2014 the overall time was 1 hour 32 minutes 46 seconds, 1 hour 38 minutes 15 seconds for women, 1 hour 27 minutes 52 seconds for the men. We reversed the trend from the previous year by 1 minute 37 seconds overall, 1 minute 35 seconds for the females and 1 minute 39 seconds for the men.
Below is where we have been since 2009:
Overall      Female    Male        Start line temp in degrees
2104    1:32:46    1:38:15    1:27:52    68 degrees
2013    1:34:23    1:39:50    1:29:31    66 degrees
2012    1:31:17    1:36:45    1:26:22    65 degrees
2011    1:29:28    1:35:06    1:24:41    58 degrees
2010    1:28:40    1:34:32    1:23:59    64 degrees
2009    1:25:53    1:31:43    1:21:28    55 degrees
So why did we get faster this year compared to 2013; one word- weather. While the temperature were slightly warmer in 2014 the humidity levels in 2013 were significantly higher. This year the runners were blanketed with cloud cover from the beginning to the end of the race. In 2013 roughly an hour into the race the clouds burned off forcing runners to deal with the sun and humidity. The result was, at times, the medical tent was filled to the brim. Finally, our 2014 runners were greeted with a moderate breeze; last year the air was simply dead.
Certainly a bit (and I think a very small bit) of the slowdown over the years could be due to the increased participation level/start line; we had over 1,300 more people cross the line in 2014 vs. 2009.
At some point I’ll look at how we stack up to one of the early years. Far fewer participants and at start time of 10:30 in the morning. Amazing to think the early Boilermaker runners were starting at a time today the race is essentially over!
A huge thank you to John Pittarresi, from the Observer Dispatch, whose love for research has always been a real asset to the race. Also thanks to Pat Leone, from Leone Timing, who keeps track of important demographics/ statistics.
Part 2- the 5K

Thoughts on Boilermaker 37

July 23rd, 2014

Well the 37th running of the Boilermaker Road Race is over, albeit with a touch of drama. While the spotlight shines brightly on Boilermaker Sunday, there are so many other success stories from the weekend of events. The 3 Mile Walk, Kid’s Run, Youth Olympics, Expo, Volunteer Party, Induction Ceremony and the Robert Channing/Classified Show. This year’s Expo, held at Mohawk Valley Community College, fielded the most vendors we have ever seen.
Disappointments, a few, the Community Mile Run was cancelled due to lack of public interest and the Shadow Run taking place in Kuwait not run because of extreme temperatures.
And then of course there are the events leading up to the Sunday 5:00 AM announcing that the races were a go that were well chronicled. Pulling the plug on this year’s Boilermaker would have stood as the hardest decision I have ever had to make. Clearly if I had to I would have received far fewer Christmas cards this year. I owe a special thanks to those who met with me on Saturday afternoon pre-race who offered some very wise council.
This year I was in the Unified Command Center, established last year after the Boston Marathon Bombings. While it was clearly not as much fun as being at the Start and Finish Lines (would you rather watch the game in person or on TV) I learned an incredible amount about the race. High-def cameras provided a unique perspective, while a real time Doppler radar with two hour forecasting capabilities was projected on a wall. In one room we had federal, state and local organizations working together for a common purpose of protecting our community and our runners. Sometimes out of great tragedy comes benefits we could not have imagined.
While I’d love to kick my feet up on the desk there is still much to do. I must write up areas where we struggled this year prior to it floating out of my brain only to come back and haunt us again next year. Also, thank you notes-in our hyper-fast, digital world a simple handwritten note has become more scarce, and so, more powerful.
Speaking of saying thank you, I send a very special one to all the volunteers who showed up in spite of the potential adverse weather. I knew the runners were coming and, God bless ya, you did too!
Post-race events include a series of awards ceremonies (School Challenge, Corporate Cup, Police/Fire Competition, Charity Bib Finale and various check presentations). Planning will begin for the 2nd annual Boolermaker Kid’s Run that will take place in October at Masonic Care Community.
Finally, we need to start getting our moving boxes packed up for our office move at the end of August.
West Utica, here we come!