Friday, June 20, 2008

JPMC Corporate Challenge "Race" Report . . . AKA Why I Will Never Enter Another Running Event With Co-workers

UGh. Huge warning to everyone thinking about reading this post . . . I'm mostly going to whine. So yeah, if you're not feeling like listening to a bunch of whining, feel free to skip this one!

I woke up yesterday morning feeling like I really wanted to race. Thus, I decided I would go all out in the JPMC Corporate Challenge that evening. I even brought along my racing flats to really seal the deal. But as the day went on, I eventually gave in and allowed a slower co-worker to talk me into running with her. Deep down inside, I really wanted to race . . . but I didn't want to look like some kind of anti-social, competitive running freak in front of all my co-workers! So I figured I'd treat it as an easy run, and try to enjoy some girly chat-time in the process. Little did I know that "easy" would mean "so slow my heart-rate never moved past its normal resting rate."

You see, co-worker was running a little bit late for the race . . . we didn't end up leaving until 6:20 (the race started at 7:00). Some guy in the elevator even mentioned, "Aren't you two cutting it a little close?" Thanks for the input, buddy! So we made our way over the Central Park. Luckily, our office is only three blocks from the park. Unluckily, neither of us knew where the hell the "team tents" were supposed to be. Finally, with about ten minutes to spare, we found the tent. I threw down my stuff, ready to sprint up towards the start . . . but co-worker, was in no mood for rushing! She chatted with our team captain, who was manning our tent, took her time pinning her bib onto her shirt, grabbed a few sips of water, took a few photos, etc. Again, I didn't want to be some kind of killjoy, but I was going absolutely crazy! I knew we were planning to run "easy," but I seriously didn't want to get caught behind tens of thousands of walkers!

Finally, we headed in the direction of the start line. When we got up there, I immediately came to realize that we were pretty much screwed. The 12:00/mile marker was so far up, I could barely read it. There were just hoards and hoards of people everywhere . . . most of them seriously out-of-shape. There was just no way in hell we would be able to sneak our way up to even that far off 12:00/mile marker! I couldn't believe I was about to spend the next 3.5 miles dodging walkers. Ugh.

The gun finally went off and people started moving . . . ever so slowly. Finally we crossed the line and I hit start on my Garmin. I remember thinking, "what's the point?!" But I'm glad I timed the run . . . because now I have proof of my slowest run EVER! I'm telling you, people, it was rough. There was nothing but walkers back where we were. And we're not talking polite walkers who stay to the side of the road . . . we're talking large, out-of-shape walkers selfishly walking six abreast, thus making it virtually impossible for anyone and everyone to get past them! I was so annoyed, I could hardly even concentrate on what co-worker was saying to me! Another dude came running up at one point, looked over at us, and we just gave one another a look that said, "holy misery!"

Finally, somewhere around mile-2, things started to clear up ever-so-slightly. I instinctively tried to speed up, but then noticed that co-worker's breathing was getting really labored. Thus, I figured I should be nice and slow back down a bit so that she wasn't struggling quite as much. We held steady somewhere around 11:00/mile, which kind of bummed my speed-craving legs out. But still, I have to admit that it was kind of fun running with a marathon newbie (she's training for her first marathon; NYC) . . . and imparting all kinds of "expert" knowledge! :)

We continued running and chatting it up until I saw the finish line, and I instinctively kicked it up a notch. Co-worker, of course, made fun of me for being too competitive . . . so I gave in and slowed back down to her pace, crossing the finish line just under 52 minutes. I immediately looked down at my Garmin and checked our time. 3.5 miles in 42:44. Yowsers. We headed back to our tent, where we had to turn in our times to our team captain. As I walked up to her to report my time, I suddenly realized everyone was listening. As soon as I'd spoken, a couple of my co-workers busted out with, "YES! I beat the marathoner!" I didn't even know how to react. Obviously, if I would have raced full out (like they did), I would have smoked all of them . . . but I didn't want to say anything like that, because I wanted to be the bigger person. Not to mention, it would hurt co-worker's feelings! Instead I just said, "Yeah, I took it easy today. Congratulations!"

I quickly enjoyed some post-race snacks, and immediately thereafter exited the tent area. I was just so frustrated with the whole event . . . and my co-workers' behavior . . . and the fact that my legs were disappointed that they never climbed above an 11:00/mile pace. I really wanted to head straight to the gym for some hard core speed training. But I knew better than to let such a silly event get to me. Thus, I hopped on the train, and headed home. And you know what? The strangers on the subway who generally do nothing but drive me nuts? Last night, they were a source of comfort for me. They knew nothing about my finish time in the JPMC Corporate Challenge . . . and they weren't about to compare themselves to me. And that? Was all I needed to move on.

Next up? An 8-mile long run tomorrow morning. I think I'll have more than enough motivation to get through that one ;)


Alex Gonzalez said...

You were way too nice.

If anything you should enter next year's race, and smoke everyone. With any luck, the one who said that he beat the "marathoner" will be on hand.

I have co-workers just like you. Two years ago when I ran the NYC Marathon, I did so with a minor tear in my right calf. Running with massive doses of pain killers, I somehow managed to finish in less than 5 hours. And rather than getting a "OMG! You finished", or even a "Nice job", my boss instead took the liberty of looking up other runners with my same last name and noticed that there was a 64 year old man of the sam surname. Here I am now, in the office walking with a limp, and all I got was "Hah! You got beaten by a 64 year old!". So imagine that.

Enter in next year's run, and don't make a point to beat your co-workers. Instead make it a point to crush them and send a message.

Laura said...

Wow, I'm really sorry - that totally sucks! I would say I can't believe your coworkers were such jerks, but I'm with Alex - after finishing my first marathon, my coworkers informed me that P Diddy beat me. Thanks, guys. I also agree with Alex that you were way too nice and should totally line up in the front row and kick their asses next year :)

This is why I usually prefer to run solo - I don't want to have to match pace unless I know they're going to be faster than me. But I feel guilty holding someone faster back, so that doesn't really work either!

The Laminator said...

Hey Irish - Please don't pay those co-workers of your any mind because any self respecting NY runner knows that the Corporate Challenge is always a zoo and won't try to use that as a barometer of how well you run. I admire you for taking the high road but truthfully, I think they were way beneath you to even give them the time of day.

I'm sorry you didn't get to race though, and it was awfully nice of you to accompany your co-worker on her run.

Rachel said...

I think part of our duty as runners is really to help out the new runners as well. While your time may have suffered, you really did get to experience a great race by helping someone else out. Every race is an experience...take what you can get from it :-)