Friday, June 21, 2013

Two very different races...

I ran the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge last night and the Special Olympics Summer 5K at lunch today.  I throughly enjoyed both races, but they couldn't have been more different!

Corporate Challenge
I honestly have a love/hate relationship with this race.  It's 12,000 runners and walkers (Oh my, there are walkers!!!).  12,000 people.  It starts at Boston Common, goes down Comm Ave to Kenmore Square, then you turn around and head back to the Common for a flat 3.5 mile round trip.  For comparison's sake, the BAA 10K has roughly the same course from the start and to the finish (with an extra 2.7 miles in between) and they cap the race at 6500.  About half of the mass of bodies during the Corporate Challenge.  A walking coworker took this picture under the Mass Ave Bridge

The Mass Ave Underpass. Runners on the return route, walkers heading out to Kenmore. To give you an idea, the woman in bib 2126 finished in 45:32, so it's not as crowded as it was when the 35 min finishers were heading out to Kenmore. Also, check out the snazzy Biogen Idec shirt!

The race starts with 2 lefts and a right to get from Charles St to Comm Ave. This stretch is walked. With a bunch of cranky runners who thought they'd be running and are watching time tick by on their Garmins.  Then, you run a slalom course around the walkers (who always seem to be walking 4 or more abreast), or you jump to the sidewalk and the volunteers then direct you back to the street (sorry! I knew I shouldn't but THE WALKERS).  It all comes to a crawl at the Mass Ave Underpass Pinch Point.  The joy of being pressed shoulder to shoulder with sweaty, stinky people is just awe inspiring (or is it nausea inducing?).  Then finally, you hit 3.1 miles and you can hear the crowd cheering, from the other side of the Common.  This is the point when you remember its NOT a 5K, it's a 3.5 mile race.  And now you need to figure out how much you have left to go, how much you have left in you, and if any of your coworkers are going to be watching you finish.

That being said, it really is a fun evening.  Everyone is wearing their company's shirt, and its fun looking to see who got the best quality shirts. My company did great this year with a simple design on light weight tech shirts in BAA Blue and Yellow.  Last year, navy and white were the main colors, this year, everyone was in BAA Blue and Yellow.  Makes it a little harder to find your coworkers, but it was really nice to see the Boston Solidarity this year. There's always some cheesy shirts ("Keep Calm and Novartis Strong"? Let's just work with one catch phrase at a time!)  It was more crowded than last year even though every year I've run it, it's been a sell out.  I think its because this race typically has a high number of DNS'ers, but because of the marathon, more people showed up.  There was a noticeable Boston Police presence at the Common and along the route, but not an intimidating show.

The highlights this year include the kids at the water stops, especially the ones on the return trip.  They kept yelling "Splash, who wants a splash", and finally I stopped, took my head phones out and said "Just don't get the phone".  I then got an entire cup of water right in my face.  Technically, I did ask for it!  Also, the Yasso Mango Frozen Greek Yogurt Pops at the finish line were awesome. Whoa, just looked up the nutritional info: 80 cal, 6 g of protein, 15 g of carbs and no artificial sweeteners!  Hmm... not that far off from chocolate milk... I may have just found a new recovery treat food.

Special Olympics Summer 5K
Today was a small town 5K at lunch.  All proceeds went to Special Olympics MA and the start/finish was at their headquarters and training facility.  There were maybe 30 people there, and a lot of walkers (who all started at the back of the pack, Thank you!).  It was a hot and hilly course, but they were ready for it.  Water and flushing bathrooms at the start, a mist tent that got the most use post race, and a water stop halfway through.  For t-shirts, you could take your pick from any of their other race shirts or a regular Special Olympics shirt (they had long sleeve, but not in my size! I really liked that shirt, so I got it in short sleeve) The best part was the sunblock sitting on the sign-in table for open use! My ears would have been burnt to a crisp otherwise.  I had a good start, saw my sister standing outside her office and cheering for me about 1/4 mile in (and scared a few runners when I yelled "Dana!!!"), but just around mile 2, I got the "hot chills" and had to take it down a notch.  I walked a good chunk of the last 1/2 mile (which was up hill, big hill, lots of hills!) but managed to run across the finish line.  I'm hoping the turn out was enough for them to make this to a series, especially once the weather gets cooler.

Last night, I averaged right around an 11 min/mile and today, I was cruising with a 10:45 until mile 2, and I ended up with an 11:30.  Not too bad, but not great either.  I'm still hoping for a PR on the half in September, and for that I need under an 11:42.  But I'm aiming for 11:25 :)

I'm thinking there will be speed work this summer...

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