Friday, June 12, 2009

Cheaters Never Win . . . Except for When They Do

Let me recap the week a bit for you before I start throwing accusations around . . .

Monday: Rest Day.

Tuesday: 10 min. warm-up + 6 x 800m (1:30 RI) + 10-min. cool-down -- My legs still felt a little tired from Sunday's 20-miler going into the workout; and during the warm-up period, I contemplated allowing myself to continue running easy for six miles instead of tackling the repeats. But I ultimately decided to give it a shot, with the hopes that I'd be able to complete at least four of those suckers. Well, wouldn't you know, the repeats somehow seemed to get easier as I went along. It was like my legs were slowly rising from the dead. I ran the first five at a 7:53/pace, and picked it up to 7:41/pace for the last one. I was SUPER happy with the way this went--my legs were basically DEAD for a week and a half following my 20-miler during training for L.A. So yay.

Wednesday: I gave myself another rest day to recover from the repeats and rest up for the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge on Thursday.

Thursday: JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge - AKA the most annoying race on the planet.

Here we go. First of all, let me remind you of what happened at last year's Corporate Challenge race. To sum it up for you, I swore off racing with co-workers. That year, I had accompanied a new runner and helped her make it to the finish . . . and when we went to turn in our times, I was met with a chorus of "I beat the marathoner! I beat the marathoner!" Never again, I decided. Well, apparently I forgot about that . . . because I signed up for this sh*tshow again this year. Will I never learn?

Anyway, I left a bunch of work sitting on my desk yesterday afternoon in order to get to our team tent nice and early (last year we got to the tent way too close to the start of the race and had to line up behind 10,000+ walkers--annoying). I got there an hour before the race was set to start and was good and ready to head to the start line to get a good starting spot; but there was a slight problem: our team captain--the person who's supposed to stay in the tent and watch our bags--was nowhere to be found. In fact, not a single person from my workplace had shown up yet. I hung out in the tent for 30 minutes before our team captain finally showed up. Shortly after she arrived, the rest of our team started showing up. I was all set to run off to the start, but was basically told I needed to stay at the tent until more people arrived so we could take a photo together. GRRRR.

Annoyed, I waited for everyone to arrive. One of the men I work a lot with showed up and greeted me with, "Wow, Bailey. You run? I wouldn't have guessed that" . . . and I almost lost it. I get it, I get it. You think I'm pretty large to be a runner--not like those Kenyans, right? Ugh. Annoying. I prayed with everything I had in me that I would smoke him. Finally, we took our stupid group photo--long after a bunch of people (including Mr. Insult) had apparently snuck off to the start. With 15 minutes to spare, a friend and I headed towards the start. It was a disaster area. I had to push and shove my way up just to get to the 9 min./mile pace marker. Once I got to that point, it was clear that I wouldn't be making it any farther up. I took some time to look at and listen to those around me. There was khaki shorts dude. There was 300-pound dude. There was "wow, they're even playing the national anthem? This is a lot of pomp and circumstance" girl. There was stretchy-pants/Keds girl. I remembered right then and there why I had promised myself I would never run this race ever again.

Oh well, too late now . . . I was already standing smooshed up against 15,000 of my best friends--there was literally no way I could escape. The gun went off and five minutes later, I passed the start line. I kept waiting for the folks in front of me to start running . . . but, um . . . a lot of them kept walking. The ones who DID start running seemed to be in slow motion--which is fine and dandy--but not when you're lined up at the 9:00 min./mile marker. I spend the first mile just trying to find a way--any way--around the bazillions of slow people swarming around me. At three separate times, I was stuck so badly that I actually had to stop completely to avoid crashing into the people in front of me. It was a nightmare. I finally hit the 1-mile mark at 8:58--almost a full minute slower than I was aiming for. Well, at least I didn't go out too fast!

Mile-2 was still ridiculously crowded. It was--how do you say?--oh right, annoying as f*ck. It had thinned out a little bit, but there were a whole ton of people who were just getting to the point where they HAD to stop and walk. And of course, these people didn't motion at all or try to move off to the side . . . they would just stop suddenly in the middle of the course. Not at all dangerous. Still, despite these obstacles, I manged to pick up the pace and do a decent job of dodging. I completed Mile-2 in 7:56.

During Mile-3, I was really starting to fatigue mentally. My legs still felt good and strong, but I was just so sick of weaving around people. I wanted nothing more than to just run in a straight line. Thus, I would get stuck behind someone slower, and would just kind of hang out there behind them until there was a clear and easy path around them, rather than weaving back and forth across the course like a crazy person, as I'd done in the first two miles. I have to say, I was really shocked by the large number of people I saw walking during this mile! At any rate, my Mile-3 split ended up being 8:10.

After I hit that 3-mile mark, I knew I had just a half-mile to go. I was tired (mentally more than physically), but I picked it up BIG TIME, and I'm sure the fact that it was mostly downhill helped out as well. I finished that last half-mile at a 7:41/mile pace. I crossed the finish line, stopped Gertie, and looked down to see a 29:27 time looking back at me. Eh, not bad, I guess . . . although I had a sneaking suspicion I had held back a little bit much for that last half-mile. Oh well. 3.5 miles is a stupid distance anyway--it's not like I ever race that distance except for in the Corporate Challenge. Whatever.

I followed the long, steamy sea of finishers back to the team tents, expecting to be the first chick back . . . but hot damn, there was already a female co-worker sitting in the tent. I sat there for a minute, trying to figure out if she had run the race or not. I finally concluded that she must not have run the race, seeing as how she's not really an athletic type of person. I gave my finishing time to our team captain (you have to keep track of your own time. There aren't chips or anything) and hung out for a while before heading to the bar with some co-workers.

Fast-forward to this morning. We receive an email about the race from our team captain who proudly reports the male and female "best finishers". You guessed it, that girl from the tent was listed as the top female finisher for my place of employment. Okay, fine. So she beat me . . . I can accept that. Let's see . . . what was her time? WTF?! 25:03?! A 7:09 min/mile pace?! No f*cking way! Okay, now I'm way too competitive, I know . . . but I decided to pull up Athlinks (nothing but love, Athlinks!) to see if she'd ever run any other road races. Lo and behold, there she is. She ran a recent 4-miler in 54:00. WAIT. She ran a 4-miler in WHAT?! Wow. That extra half-mile was a killer wasn't it? So now I'm just annoyed beyond belief because I'm pretty sure this girl TOTALLY cheated . . . and who does that?

Blah, whatever. I'm not going to lie, I'll probably torture myself with this race again next year . . . because it's a free race. But seriously, this is the most annoying race on the face of the planet. And can they please, for the love of god, just use chips so shizz like this doesn't happen? The whole thing is a g-damn free-for-all because there are some people using Garmin/watch times, some people using clock times, some people subtracting random numbers of minutes from their clock times, some people just making random times up, etc. It's just a mess. Oh well, let's try to be positive for a second:

-I ran the race at an 8:15 min./mile pace (Gertie showed a total distance of 3.57 miles) despite a super crowded 9:00 first mile. Considering my 5K PR is a 7:59/pace, that's actually not so bad
-I felt SERIOUSLY strong on the hills
-A lot of times--when I actually had a clear path to run on--I'd glance down at Gertie and see a 7:20s or 7:30s pace looking back up at me . . . which makes me think that I could have run the race A LOT faster if it wasn't for all of the dodging and weaving
-I finished 7th out of 31 runners at my firm (well, 6th if you take out little miss cheater pants), and was the 2nd place female finisher (again, possibly 1st)

I'll take it :)

Up next, I have a 12-miler scheduled tomorrow . . . followed by a HUGE BBQ block party in Manhattan! Should be a blast!

Happy weekend, everyone! :)


EmLit said...

First of all, promise me you won't do this race again next year! Seriously, you are so much better than this. Second, you did a really great job, especially considering all the crap you had to put up with to get there! Those mile splits while weaving through crowds are something to be proud of :) And I never knew Athlinks existed. Hi, new obsession.

Running and living said...

Awesome job with the training, Irish. You are in great shape for the marathon. As far as the "race", you did awesome. Just try not to let "that girl" spend more time in your mind - I feel sorry that her world is so small and she is lacking not only social skills but also morals. Ana-Maria

lindsay said...

nice job on the 800s!

that race sounds wayy annoying. DON'T LET YOURSELF SUFFER THRU THAT AGAIN! you don't need it and your co-workers aren't cool enough to help them earn extra points. maybe if it was fun but it just doesn't sound that way?

i looovvve athlinks. i'm a stalker.

Melanie Tait (Mel Tries to Run) said...

Well done with your 800s!

If you go in that race again, you have to be one of the sneaky-offs-to-the-start-line-before-taking-the-pic.

That colleague of yours sounds like a jerk. Next year you need to win the whole thing outright :)

Lisa said...

LOL. I'm sorry... it probably wasn't too funny to you. But it still made me laugh. Don't hate me. ;-)

I would react the same way you did. Karma takes care of cheaters... at least I hope so.

Nice speed work (both the intervals and the race). Now, try to take it easy while you taper. It is not long now!

Anonymous said...

Wow. I guess 15,000 other people were lucky to be in this race with such a sophisticated, polished runner. Maybe next year King Jaffie Jafer will lend you his handlers so they can spread rose pedals along the course for your pleasure.

Do everybody a favor and don't accept your employer's entry next year. Whether you choose to acknowledge or not, this race is more for "Insult Guy" than someone like you.

Train for the Olympic Trials. That's more your speed, Paula.

Heather C said...

"It was--how do you say?--oh right, annoying as f*ck." this cracked me up!! This is also why I'm not the biggest fan of larger races. I HATE the weaving! I want to just Run, just Go go go and not worry about people walking/slowing down/stopping etc. But, I do like the "flow" of a lot of runners around me.

either way - wow, a cheater in the mix?! Your time is great, just take that and ya know, beat her next year ;)

Marathonman101108 said...

Great time considering all the obstacles. I HATE races like that. Either stick to your plan next year of not running it, or if you do follow the cheater and blow her away during the race! By the way, I LOVE your race reports.

Marathonman101108 said...

P.S. Hey Anonymous...get some guts and identify yourself.

chris mcpeake said...

I avoid races like this like the plague. Just way to competitive to deal with that kind of crap. Only way I could do it is if I ran it as a recovery or fun run and that isn’t happening as its a race.

Really go back and read this blog before you run it again next year. Is it really worth it?

As for the year before you should have invited the "I beat a marathoner" person to join you for a 20 miler right there and then. You could have had fun watching them backpedal and squirm.

Great comments by anonymous hiding out in cyber space. Wonder how this person is related to the first place finisher... boyfriend, mother... herself.

The Laminator said...

Hey! Sorry for being MIA a bit...I was gone running with the president this whole week...

On that's so annoying for every reason that you mentioned. That's why I've never run it even though they always ask. I expect it to be crowded, i expect there to be cheating (how can you put business people in a competitive atmosphere out of their element and expect them not to, and i expect it to be a frustration all around...

Oh, and don't let anonymous frustrate...that's why he/she is anonymous...

Have a good weekend.

X-Country2 said...

I'm equally appalled on your behalf and highly entertained. (Sorry, but that is EXACTLY how I would have reacted and your writing is too dang funny. :o)

Unless there is a killer free dri-fit shirt and free booze involved, I'd skip the race next year. No good can come of it.

X-Country2 said...

Annnnnd, I just read your 20 miles report, and that too was AWESOME. I can see I'm getting nothing done today at work. I have archives to read!

sRod said...

Oh man. I am pissed off for you! I don't know what I'd do, but I'd be livid.