Last Thursday evening was the Chicago Chase Corporate Challenge. This was my 3rd time running this particular event – the first 2 times in 2012 and 2013.
The Chase Corporate Challenge is a 3.5 mile race – I think think it may now just be called JP Morgan Corporate Challenge…those banks are always eating each other up and merging and changing names. But Chase Corporate Challenge has a nicer ring to it, so that’s what I’m gonna go with. Anyways, it’s a 3.5 mile race on the Thursday night before Memorial Day weekend. Companies in the Chicagoland area can sponsor a team to compete and usually also offer hospitality tents and food & beverages for employees to just hang out at afterwards.
I was lucky enough to be the team captain for my current company. It was hard work and time consuming to get all the moving pieces together (registration, ordering shirts, ordering food, getting everyone pumped, etc.), but definitely fun and worth the hassle.
We left the office as a group around 5:15pm and headed over to Grant Park. Our company had a few volunteers who went to the park before us, after stopping at Jimmy John’s and Walgreens, to stake out a spot for us near Buckingham Fountain. We arrived with some time to social, stretch it, and take a few photos.
I went for a quick warm-up jog with my friend Steve – about 1.5 miles easy + 4 quick, short strides to get some pick up in the legs. After a few more team photos, I headed to the start line with Kristie and Jeremy. We had special red bibs that got us into the first corral, based on the projected time we each entered at registration time. Stu and Mitch joined us up there as well too. We had a little while to wait and mainly just commented on the other companies’ shirts and hot and humid it was. This was gonna hurt…
And finally, we were off! My goal was to run 6:40 average pace. I thought this was do-able given the speed of my first 5k during Shamrock Shuffle (about 6:43 pace.)
Well, I came through the 1st mile in 6:22. And could tell there was no way I was holding that in this heat. Why does the first mile always feel so easy?? Given that I ran a 6:18 mile race the prior weekend, which was an all-out effort, I should not be running the 1st mile of this race in 6:22. And so I paid for it hard.
I came through the 2nd mile in 6:55. Except I felt like I was still pushing just as hard. I guess not…
(Having cropping issues..but I’m there in lime green!)
Right after the 2nd mile mark, there was a water station. This was right after coming out from lower Wacker Drive (which felt like the equivalent of a sauna underneath there surrounded by other sweaty, hard-breathing bodies. I stopped and walked probably 10 seconds to get my water in and re-group my thoughts. But I basically decided I was just going to kinda coast in at this point because I couldn’t make myself go any faster. The weird thing was that everyone around me seemed to have slowed down just as much because I felt like I was still around all the same runners during the 3rd mile that I was during the 1st.
My friend Mitch (who ran a 6:08 mile in the Humboldt Mile the prior weekend) was slightly behind me and I was expecting him to catch up, but even he remained about equi-distant behind me the whole time. And a girl I know who I was right near coming through the first mile ended up finishing a minute behind me. So that’s me just rationalizing my extreme slow down. The 3rd mile was 7:48. Major yikes. At least I had that good first mile that was close to my 1-mile race time…I can count that as a speed workout.
I headed back to our base camp area and waited for the others while cracking open a beer. I got about halfway through the beer when Stu came back (after finishing 5th overall!!) and asked if I wanted to do a cool-down. So we ran about 15 minutes super easy around the park and back, where I finished that beer and scarfed down some JJ’s.
So kinda a disappointing finishing time, or rather a disappointing extreme slow-down…maybe wouldn’t have been as “disappointing” if I just accepted the heat before starting and adjusted my pacing/goals accordingly. Oh well, I’m not too concerned over it – it was a fun time with my co-workers! I did place 64th female overall, which I thought was still great given the size of the race (over 25k+, so I’d guess about 12k or so females.)
And then I walked home and got fro yo. That’s how most of my stories end.
Chicago friends – Did you run the Chase Corporate Challenge?
Does your company sponsor athletic events? I also play on a soccer team through work :) I declined the kickball and softball teams.