Have you ever run the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge? If not, have you ever watched a colony of 12,000 penguins waddle slowly down a crowded ice shoot? Well, visually, it’s pretty much the same thing.
This week, I ran/penguin-waddled the most crowded road race I’ve ever experienced in my adult life. Don’t believe me? Just ask this photo I borrowed from the JP Morgan website.
As I lined up in my corral Wednesday night alongside thousands and thousands of my closest friends, it became immediately clear that recording a new personal best amid a sea of bodies was going to be a real challenge. I’ve been a bit spoiled recently with my consistent week-after-week PRs, but with every New Yorker and his mother participating in this week’s event, I quickly understood a race of this magnitude was not going to afford me the opportunity to run quickly (or perhaps even forward).
And oh, was I right.
A proud owner of a new Garmin watch that lets me track my speed, I was able to observe – and cringe – as my pace hovered around 10:00 for my first mile of the 3.5-mile course. Don’t get me wrong – 10-minute miles are nothing to scoff at – but after my 7:40-pace during last week’s Mini 10K, I felt a little like a caged animal as I tried to weave my way through the crowds.
Fortunately, caged animalism is a good quality to have as you’re trying to pull ahead. While Mile 1 left me nothing but frustrated, Miles 2 and 3 thinned out and allowed me to make up for lost time with some surprise sub-7:00 splits. (Plus I raced by my favorite running blogger ever cheering on the sidelines and felt immediately star struck.) I was able to make up just enough lost time to cross the finish line at 26:43 for a 7:38 pace and No. 2 woman on my company team. Can’t help but thinking I could have done better, but considering the spooning-like circumstances on the race course, I’ll take it.
I’m now off to DC for the weekend on what is already proving to be a cookie-filled road trip. Does running two races in the course of five days justify the eight cookies I just ate for dinner? This traveler says yes.
I’m taking the weekend off from racing, but I’d like to live vicariously through you. What are you running in the days ahead?