On Thursday July 12, Rich and I ran the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Boston, MA. The Corporate Challenge is a 3.5 mile race held in Boston (and other cities across the globe) for the last 29 years, and this year was their 18th consecutive sell-out. The purpose of the event is to promote health and fitness in the workplace, foster goodwill and camaraderie, and show commitment to the community. Portions of the proceeds are also donated to a local not-for-profit organization in each host city. How’s the for philanthropy? (Forget about all that other bad stuff you hear in the news for a moment.)
The Corporate Challenge is a big event. Well, bigger than big… Huge. And they shut down Boston Common, Tremont Street, and Beacon Street all the way down to Fenway Park for this event. It’s kind of a big deal. And it’s also probably a good day to not drive into the city for work.
We and 12,000 of our closest friends represented 630 companies from Boston and the surrounding areas. There was a sea of colored t-shirts and not a free patch of grass available for you to snag for a good stretch. Somehow my company’s team of 30 runners/walkers nabbed a prime spot at the Soldiers and Sailors’ Monument, but I have no idea how. They must have been there for a while…
There were people of all ages – young and old – and all sizes – small (like me), medium, bigger than medium, Amazon. The crowd was a sea of rainbow-colored t-shirts, many custom-designed by individual teams, but I didn’t spot one costumed or denim-clad runner. I guess maybe that’s frowned upon as unprofessional?
There was a good mix of runners and walkers, but there were definitely more runners which isn’t much of a surprise given that Boston was voted one of the top 10 fittest cities in America by Shape Magazine. There were signs for split times, but with an event as big as this one, it’s nearly impossible to enforce waves, so everyone pretty much started where they wanted.
Most teams stuck together, but I guess nobody wanted to run with Rich and I because we found ourselves alone with no one we knew in sight. Kind of sad, but also good because I didn’t really want people to see my snail-like pace. Let’s pretend results aren’t posted on the internet. OK?
We knew the course would be flat. Boston generally isn’t a very hilly city until you get to the outskirts. I love me a flat course, especially when I get to run it sans monsoon. Not only was it flat, but we were also going to run in a straight line for most of it!
The first runners were off around 7:15. For us 10:00+ minute mile runners/walkers, it was a slow, arduous walk/stop to the start line. About seven minutes after the first wave of people left, we finally crossed the start line and began a slow, molasses-like “jog.” For half a second. Then we came to a dead stop and had to wait another couple minutes before we got going again. It was a good thing I didn’t set any goals for this race.
Once we got past the Charles St / Beacon Street bottleneck, we were officially off and running. I was feeling good for the first couple of miles. Not great, but good, and I was happy enough with that. I was passing people who were running. Miracle? This has never happened to me before! We were zigging, we were zagging, we even went slightly backwards around the 2 mile mark when I was in desperate need of water and realized I had just missed the water stop. (It was hot and I needed it.)
Then the side stitch hit around 2.75 miles. The dreaded side stitch. I had to stop for a moment, take a breather, and drink some water then we were away again. The good thing about having 12,000 other people with you is that there’s always a pacer near you, whether they know it or not (creepy?), and I was able to recover a little bit of the time I lost poking my stomach on the sidelines.
Here are my splits from the night. Nothing too impressive but definitely not my worst performance to date. (I stopped my watch when we were stopped at the start unaware that we had technically already started. That’s why my Garmin was slightly off.)
Overall, I was satisfied with how I’d done. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. This was definitely the longest and the further I’d run to date so I couldn’t be disappointed with that. The only thing I’d change: I probably could have concentrated more on my breathing to prevent the side stitch, but it’s kind of hard to do that when you’re focused on not running into people or getting mowed down by some crazy lady with her illegal jogging stroller.
The event: JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge
The location: Boston, MA
The date: July 19, 2012
My time: 39:30 (11.20 pace)
The cause: Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Horizons for Homeless Children
The swag: Grey tech t-shirt
The grub: Bananas, fruit snacks, water — Not enough goodies if you ask me…