Friday, June 25, 2010

Race Report: Chase Corporate Challenge - Boston

In 2008, I worked at BMW Financial Services in Dublin, Ohio. That spring, the company sponsored a 5k to benefit the local YMCA. I did that race more to be with friends than to add a race to my calendar. I was just starting my spring training at that point, and wasn't really looking to set a good time on the course. Races are always more fun when you have people to do it with or talk about it with after. Especially at BMW where a good many of my friends are long distance runners, and some are now even getting into triathlons.

Flash forward to yesterday, the Chase Corporate Challenge in Boston. It's funny, I worked at Chase two different times in my career, and I wasn't involved in a Corporate Challenge race during either of those stints with the company. But I was only too happy to take part with REIT M&R yesterday and race with and against several folks from my department and about 60 people from our affiliated companies.

The race started and ended at Boston Common, and the course was an out and back with a turn around point in Kenmore Square, about 100 yards from our apartment. I guess you could say I had a bit of a home field advantage considering how many times I've walked or run this area of the city. The race was so close, we walked to the starting area down the race course itself. Had it not rained on the way to the race, getting Rach and I both pretty soaked, it would have been just about a perfect event.

The weather was hot and humid as forecast, but following the thunderstorm that preceded the race by about an hour, the rains held off. The team met and hung out on the common prior to the race until it was time to line up. Rach got to meet a bunch of my co-workers who she'd only previously heard me talk about. Plus it lets me prove that Rach isn't just the girl whose photo came in all the picture frames on my desk.

We made it to the line and I was several thousand people away from the starting line when the horn went off to start the race. The biggest race I'd previously done was the Feaster Five Thanksgiving Race (around 9000 people), and there were at least that many people between me and the starting line with a couple thousand more behind me. In fact, the race sold out at 12,000 runners and walkers. To say this was an amazing sight is an understatement, and certainly added to the excitement. 

The horn sounded and we were off and runningstill standing in the same place because no one could move. With that many people in a non-wave start, it takes a while for everyone to get past the line. Especially because a lot of the walkers and slower runners don't understand they should make their way to the back of the pack so the faster folks can get by without having to dodge through a significant part of the course. It's a natural consequence of a race that attracts a ton of first time or very occasional racers, but it could have been handled better.

With the severe threat of rain, I didn't bring my phone to track the race with, as I ruined an iPod at a rainy fall race last year. I didn't think to check the race clock as I crossed the starting line. So without electronics and with no idea as to how fast i was going or even when I started; I just ran.

I started out at what felt like a good pace. What makes a race like this interesting is that you have to accelerate or slow down pretty frequently in order to get around slower folks in front of you. It's an advantage for an experienced slower runner like myself. I got to start near the back and pass a bunch of people at my normal running pace. Most of these folks were walkers, people alternating between running and walking, and a few really slow runners like myself.

Except that yesterday I was not so slow. With the exception of a single climb out from under an overpass, the course was almost totally flat. My running has been slowly improving and last night it went pretty well. When I passed the first mile the clock said 17:20 but I knew I had started several minutes following the starting horn, so my guess was that I was about on my usual pace. I saw several of my teammates along the way, some that I passed and some that passed me. In fact, I actually finished with one of my co-workers from our HR department.

The heat and humidity on the course got to be pretty oppressive, and it slowed me down a little in the 3rd mile. I dumped some water over my head and soldiered on. In fact, other than a few seconds of walking at a couple of the water stations, I ran the entire race. I even had enough juice left to sprint through the last 100 yards or so. It was definitely a fun run, and one that I wasn't really looking to make any real headway with.

Of course, that changed when right before the race, Rach told me "Your goal time is 45 minutes." Evidently, because she couldn't run (BU didnt field a team), I had to run faster than normal. As I said, the finishing time said 52:05. And when I looked at the results online, that's what my results say as well. However, the co-worker I finished with had a finishing time of 47:41, and I know they started at least 30 seconds if not more ahead of me, because I passed her about a minute after I started the race. It seems likely that my chip did not get recorded as I crossed the starting line. 

Knowing I started after Karen, and finishing with her means the slowest I could have been was 47:41. Those 4 minutes might seem trivial but to me, it means something; progress. If I did 3.5 miles in 48 minutes, that means I averaged 13:37 for the race, which is pretty good for me across that distance without any walking breaks. Further, I know I was faster than that because of starting after her.

In the end, I guess it doesn't really matter, because I had a good time at the race, and I did it with friends. Plus, I decided i was going to keep myself in the spirit of having fun and at the post-race party for our group, I even had 2  beers (Ok, a beer and a half; one of them was a Mc Ultra). Maybe not the best "daily basis" kind of decision for my weight loss, but definitely helped with the whole stress relief and increased enjoyment aspect I promised myself I'd start working into the whole process. Rach had a few drinks too, and we got to enjoy our time with some of my friends from work.


- Today is a rare off day from training, and I was thrilled to weigh only 315 this morning. I know it's back up from earlier in the week, but it's transient weight from the beer and snacks last night. Plus, I'm already feeling a bit more rested and recharged before the long bike this weekend. We're supposed to go to a BBQ event tonight, but Rach is feeling the effects of her drinking last night (lightweight!) so that might not happen. Either way, I'm going to use this weekend to train and de-stress from a long week of work.

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