Boiled Over

Ok, I think the saying is actually “bowled over,” but just go with it.

The Boilermaker 15K is by far my favorite race ever and my love for this race goes beyond the popsicles at mile 5 (although you know that’s definitely what I was thinking of running up the ginormous hill at mile 4). Its a local race with a lot of spirit, friendly competition, a pretty tough course, and a distance just far enough to feel like you did something awesome, but you can still have a lot of fun. Its pretty big for a “local” race, too — 13,000 ran the 15K. It also ends at a brewery, so the faster you run, the more free beer you can drink.

My med school buddy, Courtney, is from the area where the race is held, and she schedules her summer plans around the Boilermaker (seriously). She’s going for 50 in a row. This year was year #11. Jess (another med school buddy) and I came along with Courtney this year (my 2nd, Jess’ 1st Boilermaker).

Courtney could serve a dinner party with her collection of Boilermaker cups (what you get instead of another shirt).

Let me give you a little intro into who Jess and Courtney are in relation to running. FYI: both are much much much much much faster than me so I am the one slowing these two down. Both have marathon PRs of like 3:36:something, both at Boston. And Courtney’s Boilermaker PR is 1:09:something.

Courtney: Highest pain tolerance for running of anyone I’ve met. She also enjoys “puppeteering” me (read: manipulating) me when I run and I go with it because it makes me run faster. And faster is better.

Jess: Happiest runner on the planet. Hands down. Even if its 90% humidity and the rest of us (read:me) are whining.

Imitating Asian tourists at the Expo, except that Jess is actually Asian. Anyone recognize my shirt?

If you happened to read the last post, you know I had no time goals for this race. Or so I thought until the night before until Courtney and I started constructing a plan of how we were going to approach it. Our planning went down like this:

C: “So, we’re going to try to run around 1:16 to 1:17”

M: “Umm, no, that’s too fast for me.”

C: “No, its not. You’re such a headcase.”


C: “Fine, we’ll start out slower than that at like an 8:30 mile and then speed up after the first 5K.”

M: “Ummmm, fine. But you have to be ok with me throwing up at the end.” [actually thinking, ok so I will be running the first 5K with them and then they leave me.]

C: “Please do. So entertaining.”

And, Jess just said she’d do whatever we were doing.

Before picture. I was actually cold here because I'm used to the TN heat. And, yes, we matched.

So, yes, I was anticipating running with C and J for a bit, dying, and then waving them on to leave me as I double fist my popsicles. That’s actually not what happened.

I RAN 1:16:06!!! 

My last year’s time was 1:18:36, so let’s just say I was really happy. Sorry to boast, but I’m very, very happy, so just deal with my boasting. We (all 3 of us) actually stuck to the original plan. The first mile was 8:44, the 2nd 8:30, and then I stopped doing the math from there, but apparently we sped up.

Along with good doses of encouragement from both coupled with extra fear based methods from Courtney, I’ll tell you what helped me not give up (and believe me, I was tempted.)

I thought of my thoughts as a balloon.

Don't judge, people. My crazy method worked for me today.

Once you’ve (ie: Courtney, Kim, and Autumn) stopped laughing at how weird this sounds just hear me out. So, let’s just face it, pretty much an entire race thoughts float into my mind of “this is too hard” or “why do I feel like I’m dying” to “why on earth am I doing this” to “I would like to stop running now, thanks” to “mommy, help, too far!” It just came to me during, umm, like mile 2, that I somehow had to get rid of these thoughts if I was going to make it to mile 9 while still having a [relatively] good time. What worked for me today was to think of each thought as it came as floating out of my head like a balloon floating towards the sky — and thats the mental image that I had in my mind — a balloon (it was blue, fyi) floating towards the sky (which was also blue in my vision).

I know, I know, it sounds completely stupid now, but it worked for the rest of the race, so who am I to judge my mid-race mental tactics I invent?

The BEST part of the race was crossing the finishing line with two great friends and, yes, we went all cheesy and held hands, partly in hopes of making it in the paper or getting a cool picture on Brightroom.

Happy Finishers. No, I did not run in Ray-Bans.

Courtney and Jess made a beeline for the beer while I used whatever sprinting ability I had left to get as quickly as possible to Freihoffer’s cookies.

The real reason Courtney loves the Boilermaker. Free unlimited beer.

A little reticent as I actually don't really like beer. I know, I'm strange. Too bad its not hosted by a vinyard.

Courtney made a pretty good assessment of my running by saying, “Meggie, you’re actually a pretty good runner, but I don’t know what goes on up in your head.” I guess the whole bad running mental game is my cross to bear. [This is your cue to bust our your violins for me.]

All in all, an A+++ day. I wish I could run, eat, and nap every day as my job because I can rock a post-race nap like nobody’s business. And by eat, I mean eat about 8 cookies, a cupcake, and a brownie without feeling guilty. (FYI: in my world, if you finish a race, calories don’t count that day, and even more so if you PR).

364 more days until next year’s Boilermaker. I can’t wait.

So, tell me people, what’s your fave race?!?

Until next time…


33 thoughts on “Boiled Over

  1. Congrats! So do you keep running, or pause to eat the popsicle, or what??

    I like the 15K distance, though it’s hard to find races that cover it. I’ve done three, all NYRR ones at CP.

    And ditto on the beer. I’ve been going on a group run on Tuesday nights here that’s sponsored by a local pub, and this week will be my 10th run, meaning I get a free beer after my run. I will probably pass haha.

    • Its actually easier to run and eat a popsicle than you would think. They hand it to you in the wrapper so I don’t hold it by the stick, I just keep the wrapper of part of it that I hold. Also, you can’t eat it too fast — brain freeze. You have to eat a little part, let it melt, then take your next bite. Also, makes it last longer. Yes, I have spent far too much time analyzing proper popsicle strategy.

  2. Congratulations on the great time! Nice pic of the three of you representing the Y. I guess my favorite race would have to be the Fifth Avenue Mile. The pain is intense, but the race is over so quickly. Grete’s Great Gallop would have to be a close second, simply for the bagels, smoked salmon, and cream cheese after the race.

    • Oh, we repped the Y like nobody’s business.

      I was ambivalent on the 5th Ave Mile bc I kind of wanted to do the marathon tune-up the next day, but now that there is a CONTEST for free shoes…gahhh

  3. Meggie!! WAY TO GO YOU EFFING ANIMAL!!!! I woke up in France a minute ago, turned over to check my phone, read your blog feed and I’m so PUMPED. Your balloon thing is awesome and a stroke of genius, and your race exceeded your workout fitness which means you are breaking through mentally. If you are an over-thinker, there is nothing you can do to become a non-thinker, (which is a lot easier apparently, I wouldn’t know), but you CAN turn those over-thinks into good thinks with some skills. And the coolest part was how you took control at mile 2 because you recognized that it was sabotaging the fun you wanted to have; you ended up having a blast! Way to go MBS. Put this day on your calendar with an enormous circle around and and like 116 star stickers.

    • Thanks so much, Lauren! I’m hoping my stroke of genius, as you so nicely put it, doesn’t fail me the next time (which would be Saturday, 4 miler). I pretty much had to let go of about 116 balloons yesterday in my head, so, yes, maybe 116 stars are in order! Courtney actually yelled at me at mile 5 “You’re not even breathing hard, why are you contemplating giving up?!?” Apparently, she can read thoughts, too. But, seriously, why do I do that. WHY?!? Start the violins…

      And, yeah, if I’m not having fun, what’s the point. I mean, I’m competitive and like to do well for myself, but not at the expense of enjoying it. Most days, at least, when I’m not in psycho mode.

  4. Congratulations on a new course PR! That is great! However, I believe we require an update on the popsicle situation. One or two? Two in one hand, or double fist scenario?

    Love your thought balloon technique. I have done similar exercises, e.g. pretend you’re sitting next to a river and throwing in your thoughts one at a time and watching them float away on the current…whatever makes them go away 🙂

    • Unfortunately, only ONE popsicle. I know, lame. At that point, I was more concerned with running fast than the popsicles, which, I realized was a mistake about a half mile later when I wanted another one. Don’t worry, they give them out right at the finish, too. So, I got my 2nd one at the end!

  5. Duude, nice work!! Maybe not thinking so much and just running is the trick – but I totally get it, I’m such a head case sometimes too! You must have felt awesome crossing the finish line. I’ve never run the Boilermaker but want to one of these years. My favorite race, hands down, is NYCM. And it will be yours too, when you run it!

    Also, i am jealous that Lauren Fleshman commented on your blog – homegirl is awesome 🙂

    • Thanks! I’m pretty excited for NYCM just for the “experience.” If I weren’t a tad competitive, I would run it with a camera and take lots of pictures and videos. I ran half of it last year with a friend and it was really fun, which is half of the reason I signed up to do it this year (plus didn’t want to race my 9+1!)

      Def get yourself to the Boilermaker. My fave race EVER. So worth it.

      • Forgot to answer your q, but NYCM has been my favorite as well! I got in through 9+1 both last and this year. The plan was to do it again for 2012, but then I ended up moving a lot earlier than anticipated. I will for sure be entering the lottery for next year!

  6. So you did read the article I sent on Friday — the philosophy of letting go of negative thoughts? Works right?! You are NOT nuts for the balloon thing. What I do during races to get rid of negative thoughts is to open my hand, like I’m setting a butterfly free. OK, now you must think I’m NUTS! Hey, whatever works, right?!

    CONGRATS on a super awesome PR!

    My fave race is the Marine Corps Marathon.

    • I did skim the article (I was seriously back at home for about 5 secs and then left straight for syracuse), but what I skimmed must’ve stuck! I’ll prob go back and re-read this week in prep for my next race, Sat! I like the hand opening thing – an action to go along with a visual. And, as Dr. Phil says, “is it working for ya?” If the answer is yes, keep it up, I say!

      My good friend (an ex-teammate) is running Marine Corps Marathon this fall, so we are training a lot together, too. I think MCM is the one Oprah did, if I’m not mistaken. My goal for my first marathon was to beat Oprah’s time and, if things went well, P.Diddy’s, too. Or Diddy or wtv his name is now.

  7. I so enjoy your blog Meggie!! Glad you had a good race yesterday and a huge CONGRATS on your finishing time. You girls are WAY faster than me!!! But then again, I’m way older….
    I’ve only done races in the Dallas area since I just took up running (well doing races, I ran before but mostly only when someone was chasing me, ha ha). My favorite in our area is the DRC (for Dallas Running Club) half simply know as The Half. It is early November, which I think is perfect timing. Still somewhat mild in Texas and a few weeks before the holiday season kicks in. A good way to burn some calories before all those parties start. It’s also the tune up race for the big one here, The White Rock Lake Marathon (and half marathon). I’ve only done the White Rock half once. The timing is bad for me. A couple of weeks before Christmas on a Sunday and right in the height of holiday parties. And yes, the holiday parties win out over the race for me. The Half also always has a nice New Balance tech shirt and cool finishers medal. This year it is on Nov. 6 and it’s the 35th Anniversary……come do it with me!!!

    • Thanks!!! Glad you enjoy it. I think running halves and playing tennis is awesome – at any age, any pace, and any USTA level!

      I def need to come run a race in Dallas. Unfortunately, Nov 6th is the NYC marathon this year!!! There are some cool races in Boston – maybe I could get Kaitlin to join me on one!!!

      Can’t believe Chandler is going to college…crazy!

  8. amazing race meggie!!! seriously awesome job – it’s ROUGH running in this heat! i’ve never run a 15K race but this one sounds great. i’d run fast for popsicles 🙂

    love your blog – so glad i found it!

    xo, christine

    • Thank you very much! 15K is great – not too far that you feel like death the next day (although I am pretty sore), but not too short either so you feel as if you can indulge (at least I do) yourself. But, I’ve only done two 15Ks (both boilermakers) and had great experiences so that probably has something to do with it!!!

      I see you went to Holy Cross— my college roommates family all went there (well, except for my roommate) — big massachusett-ians (sp? I don’t want to say massholes bc I love them) and big HC’ers.

      Glad you like the blog! Yours is pretty great, too.

  9. My USTA team is going straight to City Championships!! We came in first!!! So the rest of the month is hydra -dying and tennis…see you running in a few…….

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  11. i just realized I forgot to come congratulate you for your race! So….CONGRATULATIONS!! That’s awesome – especially because you started off slow and ran negative splits. Very smart and awesome race strategy 🙂

    The Boilermaker sounds like such a fun race and I really want to do it next year! I wish more races were 9 miles…seems like a perfect balance of distance but still being over relatively quickly.

    And I completely agree that calories post-race don’t count. If you PR, that pretty much extends into the entire week! (okay, maybe this is pushing it just a tad…)

    • Thank you so much! I love the 15K distance, although I may be biased as I’ve only ever done a 15K at the Boilermaker and both times I’ve had good races. I agree though, far enough to feel very, very accomplished, but can still be relatively “fast.”

      And Courtney deserves all the credit for the race strategy. She can do math as we run, which is a helpful tool (I can’t seem to do that well when running! ha!)! Both C and J were good motivators!

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