Last time I wrote a blog post, I was covering our early stages of training leading up to the Boilermaker 2017. As many of you know, my entire family ended up transferring our bibs and registered our first (unofficial) DNS.

Coming to the decision to drop out was not easy. The Boilermaker is one of our favorite races because all along the way, the entire city of Utica comes out to support the runners. People run sprinklers, hand out Freezepops, have coolers of beer, and play music over the entire length of the 15 kilometers. Seeing my grandmother at mile 8 is also a very special addition that makes the Boilermaker very difficult to pass up. Unfortunately, this year, we simply weren’t prepared to run it, and we made the difficult decision to pull out. 

Shortly after our decision to withdraw from the Boilermaker, our trainer, Carley, asked us each to pick our next fitness goal. Ellie set her sights on a new race in Buffalo, Run 716. This, like the Boilermaker, is a 15K hosted by a brewery, so it seemed like a pretty good replacement. Fun fact: Saranac and Flying Bison (sponsors of the Boilermaker and Run 716, respectively) are owned by the same parent company, so that’s interesting!

Training for Run 716 went a bit better than for the Boilermaker. Ellie met her long-run goals, and for the most part, we hit our short runs during the week. We opted to not push our pace much, focusing on just getting the runs in, which I think kept us a bit more mentally happy. We’ve learned approximate distances for our neighborhood, and have quickly realized the routes Ellie despises (like running on Englewood and Starin). We also found out that the Ashker’s juice stand in Delaware Park offers free ~infused~ water. That is clutch.

As luck would have it, my Bike MS event and Run 716 were scheduled for the same weekend. My bike event went smoothly (thanks to everyone who donated!), despite 20+ mph winds directly into our face the whole time. It was the most exhausting 30 miles of riding I have ever done—and the first time I’ve ever really felt the benefit of drafting other riders. The second you got out in the lead position, it was kind of a nightmare. Overall, though, it was actually a good time spent with some great people.

On my way home from my ride, I called Ellie before picking up her bib. After talking with her, she and I came to the conclusion that I would also be running the race the following day. Although she was more than capable of running it herself, we are just so crazy in love that she wanted me to do it with her. Or something like that. After paying the $75 cash same-day registration fee, we were locked in.

The race went incredibly well, and we are both happy to report we set a personal record for a 15K: 01:37:03! This beat our previous Boilermaker best and was a full minute-per-mile pace faster than our best training run leading into it. After every mile, Ellie would check our pace and say, “Whoa, do we need to slow down?” But we just didn’t feel like we needed to! Despite my legs feeling beat up from the bike ride the day before, we felt really good. Ellie ran incredibly strong and did not struggle at all. It was probably our best race ever.

That race really boosted our confidence and reignited a desire to constantly improve and do better. Ellie has set her sights on a race at Fort Niagara during the winter, and I am narrowing down my choices for what I want to do next. Stay tuned as we ramp this operation back up!