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Running the Boilermaker

July 16, 2009 - John Stack

This weekend I ran the Utica Boilermaker Road Race. It’s a 15K (9.3 mile) race on the streets of Utica. I’ve been running this race since the early 80’s, when there were 1000-1500 runners. In high school, I might train a few weeks and run it in under 60 minutes. In college, I would often train as little as 2 weeks and run well. That was me at 145 lbs and 18. Now, the race has 12,000 runners. I’m not 18, and I’m no longer close to 145lbs. While I had run many ½ marathons in Placid, even a marathon and the Ironman in 2005, I had hardly run in 4 years. So, I trained for over 6 months to have my slowest time ever, but probably my most fun ever. Rather than starting near the front, it took me 9 minutes to get to the starting line!! But I talked to a lot of people. 2 sisters in their 40’s were in Livestrong apparel head to toe, and running for their mom who died of cancer years before. Another guy with a t shirt proclaiming running saved his life. I parked my car, ans saw a 50 something guy next to me with his son, with the same Livestrong shirt I had on. I told him ‘Nice shirt! I’m wearing mine so my family can pick me out.’. He says with a smile ‘I’m in remission, and I just hope to finish the race’. Made me feel small, but also what a skinny Texan on a bike has done to change lives and attitudes of probably millions of Americans.

                Running with the ‘masses’ was a race like no other. Most were just trying to finish, not break any records and have fun along the way. People from every shape and size. 2 guys who must have been 6’8” running side by side. 8 year olds. People with full running suits (obviously not training in Saranac Lake) . People walking in the first mile. People non-stop talking. The most memorable moment was near the 5k point. There is music all along the course, from radios blaring, to bagpipes to heavy metal teenage garage bands. At the 5K point was someone’s boombox playing Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’. I do believe it will be the only time in my life where I joined in with 100 other people spontaneously singing ‘Sweet Caroline, Good times never seemed so good’. This never happened when I was up with the sub 7 minute milers, but seems to happen a lot with the 10 minute per milers…

My wife ran her first real race ever, running the 5K with 2,000 runners. I can’t imagine my first race with 2000 other people. She did much better, finishing 13th out of 139 in her age group. I finished 546 of 664 in my age group. (Compared to 105th of 800 in 2005). The after party is always incredible, with 30,000-40,000 people showing up for the post race party with free food and most importantly free Saranac beer. The highlight is when the F16s fly over at the end of The Star Spangled Banner.

Also, I am here in Ithaca at Cornell University at the NYS Assessor Association summer conference. In my class, I am the only NYS Office of Real Property Services (ORPS) employee surrounded (literally, as I sat dead center in the room) by 50 assessors and staff. It almost feels like a logical open minded democrat in a Rush Limbaugh taping. Ha ha ha. Not really, I wouldn’t put the assessors down like that. I get along real well with most, but they don’t all get along well with my agency. So, anything that has to do with ORPS, be it trend methodology to hyro plant appraisal reports to commercial valuation, its thrown at me. Plus, the worse ‘Do you guys even get training’ comments.

Anyway, it’s a great time here. Had dinner with 4 assessors last night at Simeon’s, with the best steak I’ve ever had in my life.

and a shout out to Andy, Trev, Greg and Nancy who also ran the Boilermaker with me...


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