Friday, July 15, 2011

My last PR, Utica Boilermaker, July 15, 1991

Twenty years ago today I was nearing peak (for that year) fitness in preparation for the Utica Boilermaker 15K. The year before Tamara had run an astounding 54 minutes to place in the top 5 overall. I was on the sidelines with an injury, but enjoyed the event and decided I wanted to do the race in 1991.

I came in with a little bit of caution, because I had been alternate for the Empire State Games 10000 meters. Just a few days before the Boilermaker, I got a cryptic postcard from the Empire Games organizning committee saying that regional winner Brian Clas of Cornell had opted out and that I was expected to run in Albany. I was excited about that, but the race was only 10 or 11 days after the Boilermaker; at 33, running only limited mileage at the time (40 to 50 miles per week) could I bounce back in time?

We stayed with friends at old farmhouse near Utica, and enjoyed pasta and a beer the night before. I don't remember a whole lot about the race. The start scene was memorable, as I was lined up next to Steve Spence, Ed Eyestone, and Bill Reifsnider, all who were on a tear that summer.

It was fairly warm and muggy, but overcast. I took it out conservative and remember Reifsnyder's girlfriend, Jill Hunter of Great Britain take off at 5:10/mile pace up the long gradual uphills. No thanks!

I ran conservative until about half way. Right ahead was top CNY (central New York) runner Tom Carter of Binghamton, and I was running in a pack with Olympic Nordic skier Joe Galanes. We flew over the gradual downhill section, and I think we were well under 16 for the final 5K. Carter pulled away fairly soon, and over the last mile Galanes was right there, but I couldn't respond well enough to get ahead, and finished 7 seconds back.

49:41, 46th overall, agains a real good field. I hoped new PRs would come, maybe even in the 10K. I figured I'd be back the next year, and hopefully Tamara as well.

Official card from the Boilermaker

Newspaper clipping of top finishers; several Olympians and Olympic marathon qualifiers in the top 100!

Bonus clipping: how the leaders, Eyestone, Reifsnider, and Spence duked it out for win place and show. Eyestone already an Olympian at 10000 meters won the race, Reifsnyder was probably at his peak that summer just missed an Olympic berth in 1992. Spence ran in two more Olympics and a month later won Bronze for the marathon at the World Championships in Japan.

Finally, how did that 10000 meters go at Empire State Games? I was pretty washed out after the Boilermaker but recovered just in time, and ran nearly even splits to take 6th in 32:11. A few weeks later I took it to New Jersey and the USA road 10K championships at Asbury Park. I felt ready to go under 32, but faded in the stretch to run 32:19 on a muggy day.

Those were good days, and I remember them fondly.

ANd with mixed feelings there was no next year, as we moved to the Outback of North Dakota, where I would pursue graduate studies in wildlife biology.


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