Monday, June 25, 2012

Race Report: The JPMorgan Corporate Challenge 2012

A little over a week ago on 6/14, I ran the JPMorgan Corporate Challenge. It's a little hard to believe, but this was the third time I'd run this race. In 2010 I ran it with my old company and in the two years since I've run it with a company I joined last February. In fact, here's my race report about it from last year.

I'm proud to say that there's been a steady upward trend in my time since I first ran it in 2010, when I finished in 32:14. That works out to an average pace of 9:13min/mile, which was actually pretty good for the general pace I ran around that time.

Going into the race, I forgot my time from the year before (and, shockingly, did not look it up in preparation). I remembered my pace being just over 8 minutes per mile. When I considered that, I hoped to run a minimum of 8 minutes per mile this year. Upon signing up for the race in February, I actually wrote down an expected time of 25 minutes. Only after I'd finished the application did I do the math on that and realize it would be just over a 7 minute mile, which is definitely not where my pace is now and would require some serious training to achieve. What I knew was that I'd be slower than 25 but faster than 28 (the vague memory of last year's race time). So I settled right in the middle and hoped (increasingly optimistically) to run right around a 26:30.

The beauty of this year's race is that I started in an appropriate corral. It was the second from the front and probably even less crowded than your typical NYRR corral. Once we started, I did not have to fight crowds of walkers and slower runners for the entire race. Nor was I shoulder-checked by an obnoxious runner. And although it felt like it only took 10 or so seconds to cross the start, I'd learn later that it was actually about 40 seconds into the race when I ran across the mats.

I find this race to be very disorienting because it starts at a place in Central Park that's not typically a race start and also runs clockwise instead of counterclockwise. For better or worse, my ability to foresee what part of the park lay before me was severely limited until we reached the 102nd Street Transverse, at which point I gained my bearings.

I almost certainly did a better job this year of keeping my pace consistent. Although I'd hoped to use my MapMyRun app to keep better track of my pace, I messed something up and found myself running without any certainty as to what my pace was. And make no mistake, it felt fast even though I worried that it wasn't. My flawed (remember, I assumed the wrong start time) mile-by-mile calculations were telling me that I was not going to hit my goal. But I tried not to let that knowledge impact my race.

I crossed the finish as the clock read a few seconds under 28 minutes. I was disappointed, as I believed I had run only a few seconds better than in 2011. I was heartened to return to my company's area and find that I was one of the first ones back. And when I looked up my time later in the evening, I saw that I'd actually run a 27:19. That was well over my goal of 26:30, but still not bad. While I was at it, I looked up my time from last year and saw that it was 29:15. I'd improved by almost 2 minutes and run an average pace of 7:48 minutes per mile! I felt redeemed. And maybe next year I'll hit that 26:30. Hell, maybe even 25.

Our race site

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