I always compare the Herkimer, NY DARE 5K favorably to the Utica Boilermaker. It is, perhaps, an unfair comparison. Herkimer is a village, Utica is a city. The Boilermaker is an international event, the DARE 5K is a local fundraiser. Of course I love the Boilermaker. Just look at how many posts I’ve written about it — even last year when I didn’t run it.
But there is no denying the Boilermaker puts on the pressure, and not only because it is three times as long. To pick up my packet I had to drive to Utica two days before the event, threading my way through an intense amount of traffic on my way to a HUGE running expo. At least by driving I would be sure to have my driver’s license with me, because you must show ID and ONLY pick up your own packet (actually, I think this year there was some provision to have somebody else pick up your packet for you, but that didn’t concern me).
Showing up for race day itself is something of an ordeal. I was dropped off, so I had no parking worries. Others were not so fortunate (neither was I, two years ago). 14,000 runners is certainly a lot. We were herded through a field around to the end of the starting line (instead of easily walking there by the most direct route), where the enormous number of porta-potties was yet not enough. And the crowd at the end of the race. Yikes! I just managed to find my way to where I was meeting my ride.
Of course the Utica Boilermaker is a wonderful thing in which to participate. There is even a kind of a fascination in being part of a crowd that large. But crowds are not and will never be one of my favorite things.
Compare all this to the Herkimer DARE 5K, whose starting line is conveniently located about three blocks from my house. I realize they did not do this as a personal favor to me, but I certainly enjoy it.
My schnoodle, Tabby, and I walked down to pick up my number and goody bag the morning of the race, leaving early enough to be one of the lucky first 200 who received a t-shirt. I knew it would be all right for Tabby to walk into the social hall of Christ Episcopal Church, because she has been there before. Last year I picked up my nephew’s stuff, too. It was most convenient.
I brought Tabby back home, because this year I did not have a cheering section to take charge of her while I ran. I walked back down shortly before 8:30, when the Junior Fun Run began. I wandered around, taking in the scene.
Lots of runners were stretching, chatting, drinking water. They all looked more athletic than me. Well, now how could that be, I reasoned with myself. I ran the Boilermaker, for heavens’ sake! Of course, I have slacked off on my training since then. And, let’s be honest, I did not exactly run the Boilermaker. It was more of a middle-aged shuffle.
I don’t know why I have to freak myself out this way before these runs. I know perfectly well that I am going to run slower than most yet faster than a few, and that I will handily run the distance without walking yet give myself a VCD attack by sprinting it out at the end. These things are not unpredictable. Just run your run, I tell myself.
That is also what other runners tell me. I got into a nice conversation with two young ladies before the race. I told them I was going to mention them in my blog, but I don’t imagine they will actively seek it out, which is just as well, because I’m not being nearly as descriptive as I had imagined I would be.
A lady from the Herkimer Telegram was looking for somebody to say something she could use in the paper. I told her we were there because it was fun.
It was fun. And, dare I say, relaxing. The run was on familiar streets, and afterwards I walked myself home with a minimum of fuss. What’s not to like?