Corporate Challenge 2011

Whoa, I can’t believe this is the 4th year that I’ve run the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge with my company. Time flies, I suppose! Every March I sign up with grand thoughts of co-worker bonding and a fun evening race. And every June, I am reminded of how crowded and disorganized this event is (30,000 runners divided into 2 nights). However, things are improving – we finally got chip timing in 2010 and this was the first year that they instituted a corral system. Although I was assigned to the second corral, actually getting there was quite difficult.

I headed to the starting line about 20 minutes before the gun went off and I needed every minute to travel the approximately 400 meters. The walkers and slower corrals completely clogged the West Drive of the Park (15,000 runners is A LOT of people) so I had to leap fences, crash through brush, and climb up the side of a rocky hill just to make it to my corral in time. Actually, as much as I complained, that part was kind of fun!

For an urban area, Central Park has an awful lot of trees and prickly plants –

Once I got to the starting line, I didn’t have much time to think about my race plan. I haven’t been doing too many track or tempo workouts (oops), but my mileage has been hovering around a respectable 40 mpw and I have posted some good efforts in the last month (Brooklyn Half-Marathon and Clinch River 5.5k trail race). I didn’t have many expectations beyond giving myself a good, hard workout. The new corral and wave start system reduced the crowding dramatically and I was able to start off at a solid pace. I covered the 3.5 mile distance at about 6:55 pace (miles were pretty even, a little slower on the uphills, faster on the downhills). I felt uncomfortable during the race, but it wasn’t an “all out” effort. I suppose it was somewhere between tempo pace and race pace. The time was also over a minute faster than last year, BUT I couldn’t help thinking 6:55 pace was awfully slow for a 3.5 miler. At some point (maybe in 2012…) I’d like to run sub-7:00 miles for the half-marathon, so I’ve got a ways to go.

I ended up finishing 39th out of 7,488 females, so that was kind of cool! I was also the first female for my company and the second finisher overall (I was about 15 seconds behind our #1 runner). This isn’t a very serious race, but it’s always a good workout, and it’s fun to hang out with co-workers that I wouldn’t normally interact with. Next June, you can bet I’ll probably be toeing the line again….

2008 – 26:02 (~7:20 pace) (Race effort)

2009 – 30:27 (~8:42 pace) (Injured and out of shape, booooo)

2010 – 25:15 (~7:12 pace) (Tempo effort)

2011 – 24:13 (~6:55 pace) (Somewhere between tempo and race effort)

Company uniform! (a.k.a. a t-shirt that was two sizes too large)

During last night’s race/tempo run/whatever you want to call it, I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I actually raced somebody. Usually the races I run are big enough that place doesn’t matter – it’s more about beating my own time and setting a PR. But yesterday evening as my co-workers and I congregated before the race, a middle-aged executive lamented being beaten by a woman on the “administrative staff” last year. For some reason the way he said it rubbed me the wrong way and at that moment, I put a target on his back. I ended up catching middle-aged exec (herein referred to as MAE) around mile 1 and then pulled my signature intimidation move – small talk. My theory is this – if I can sidle up to my competition and ask them a few questions such as  “what are you training for?” or “brutal humidity, eh?” they’ll think I have a ton of energy and will get scurred. Once they start to lose confidence, I make my move (increase the pace for ~400m), and put some distance between us. Luckily, this tactic worked like a charm last night! And I chatted MAE early enough in the race that I was still able to spit out a few sentences. That wasn’t happenin’ after mile 2. Administrative Staffer – 1, Middle-Aged Exec – 0


When you race, do you do it only for time? Or do you try to beat specific competitors? What are your tactics (unless you want to keep them secret, hehe)?

  • I love your race recap! I just wrote about the same exact congestion and overcrowdedness in my recap … unfortunately, I was unable to make it to my corral. I wasn’t even near the people who were leaping over fences, climbing over brush, etc. I could see it happening from far away but sadly stood where I was, not crossing the start line until more than 15 minutes after the gun went off.

    I had to battle more walkers than I’ve ever seen. I didn’t write about this much in my recap, but I was a little frustrated at a group of walkers who actually linked arms and were walking, because they were effectively a giant wall against anyone trying to run by. Awful! Anyway, I like to pick people off as I race, so this was definitely … a strategy … of sorts … last night. Mostly I was zigzagging and thinking that I would be going faster if only I were going in a straight line.

    So cool that you finished 39th!! You are a super speedy girl 🙂

  • Haha!! I love it!! Your racing tactic is awesome – initiating the “small talk” ensures that they see you when you pass them. Love it – you go girl. Great time, by the way!
    I did the CC in NYC in 2008 and was so overwhelmed with how crowded it was! Glad to hear it’s getting better.
    Usually when I race I just focus on women in front of me and try to pass them one at a time. I think it’s more to keep my mind occupied. I also try to pass people in ridiculous costumes 🙂

  • I really just race to beat my “previous self.” Sometimes, thought, to motivate myself as I’m racing, I try to pass certain people or make sure certain people don’t “beat me.” Not that I have any idea who those people are, they just serve as motivation.

    I’m jealous you can run 40 mpw easily. Thats the most I’ve ever done! (well, 43, but same thing). I need to start getting up to run so I don’t delay or shorten it due to afternoon fatigue! What time do you run the am? How early is too early?

  • Hahaha I love everything about this post from you jumping fences and enduring the Central Park wilderness to beating MAE! You rock!
    Even if you don’t think so 6:55 is super fast, congrats! 🙂

  • The corrals made a HUGE difference, even starting in the one behind you, you just needed to know where that secret entrance was on the far right of the path heading north on West Dr. 🙂    Great job and spectacular move, I need to try and use that one myself.  

  • man-friend

    man-friend can easily do bad things to MAE, just say the words. also, great run

  • Nice!  I’m running tonight.  I could only dream of such great results.  

  • you.are.hilarious. yes, i needed to separate my words for emphasis. 

  • Bahaha, love that anecdote about MAE. Go you! Congrats. 🙂

  • OHMYGOODNESS i LOVE the story about “MAE” 🙂 that is tooo funny! I personally like to smile a lot and pretend like I’m having a good time….even though I might be dying inside…it distracts the other runners from focusing on their own efforts. They get confused by this girl with a giant grin on her face and then they run off into the curb…or a bush… 🙂 works every time! haha

  • Mj

    I like to get up close to the person I am trying to beat and start breathing very heavy to pretend like I am hurting.  Then when the time is right throw in a huge burst and they are done.  Its just that easy 🙂

  • Hooray for your proletarian victory! Worker bees unite!

  • the best part was after the race – i said “nice race” to MAE and he started
    talking about his bum knee and how he hasn’t been running that much lately.

  • You should have interrupted him with something to the extent of “you have a small penis and your trophy wife is knocking boots with your intern while you make excuses.”

  • Liz Colanto

    I love this!! I captained my team in boston and got us tech ts this year…you should do the same next year! Great job on your time and beating the exec!

  • OMG!!! ROTFLMAO!!! You go girl… Great race! Would it be apropos to send MAE a sympathy card – sorry for your loss ;o)

  • Anonymous

    I <3 when my dad comments on the blog.

  • You’re the best…

  • HAHAHA you go girl!!! WOOP! In MAE’s face! super pumped for you. Bet they were so pissed haha!!

  • Pam

    Good going…sounds like a good run…:o) 

  • During races, I’m really only thinking of beating my time. But it sometimes helps to pretend to be in a competition with a person ahead of me… 😉

    That sounds like a fun race! I wish more coworkers would be into doing stuff like that…

  • Eileen

    You? Totally rock. I love the MAE story so much. His comment would have rubbed me the wrong way, too, and while I couldn’t pass a sub-7-minute miler, I’m glad you did!

    I do like to pick people off in races, but I’m pretty sure they don’t know I’m doing it. Things are less intense here in the middle of the pack. 🙂

  • Ada

    I did the Corporate Challange too and almost went exactly the same pace as you! Too bad I didn’t see you:( The humidity was crazy brutal. Glad you had a fun time:)

  • hooray for kicking some douchbag’s arse. You are my hero. Sometimes during a race I’ll pick people that I want to pass, but I’ve never had a target on a specific person. That sounds like fun 🙂 

  • J (morning runner)

    Congrats! So lucky your CC has chip timing.  We still have to record our own times.  This year was the first year it wasn’t raining or deadly hot out.  I have run this race so many times, but only two years with my company – other years I just used to sneak in!

  • HAHAHAHA!!! Love it!

  • Nice job!  I am sorry I missed the race, it seems like a great one!

  • Dana Coyle

    I did the CC last night too! And had similar thoughts about race organization. It made me appreciate NYRR and their logistics all that much more!!

    Unfortunately, I was trapped in the middle of the blue corral, which was still incredibly crowded, contained rogue white bibs that refused to line up properly, and way too many people who clearly put down a faster time but had no intention of running (Hello! Walking 5 abreast in the first mile? Really?)

    I was hoping for a <30 minute finish, but the crowds killed me. Lots of bobbing and weaving and sudden stops. Still managed 32:05 and was the fastest woman in my company, so that's something.

    Love that you burned the MAE. Rock on!

  • Corey @ runners cookie

    Nice job!! Top 40 is awesome! If I’m racing and I see that someone is pretty close to me for a while and we keep passing each other, I definitely use them as motivation and as a guide. It’s kind of fun and can help you push more than you otherwise might.

  • VanessaG

    U r a speedy girl. Im the age as u and i ran xc incollege. I ran around 19min. However, i can no longer do that. u still r in incrdible shape. U inspire me to get back to where i was. Although i never quit running after college, i just dont train like i did. Im working on it though. Thanks 4 keeping me inspired. Now, about your question. some races i run to only compete with myself(when im out of my league), another one i run to beat this one girl, and another i run to win if i stand a chance. Every race is diff and exciting! 🙂

  • You ROCK.  Getting faster every year! I never really race for time.  I know my last race I kind of did and ended up injured.  So now I just chill out and enjoy it.  I also don’t really race under marathon distance anymore (my next is 50 miles) so speed isn’t exactly part of the regime anyway.  I do have a girl I would LOVE to beat in the area, but realistically it won’t happen and that’s OK…. I hung with her for 20 miles of a 30 mile race then my knee swelled and I fell apart :/