Corporate Bonding

Last night over 12,000 people lined the Boston Common b/c they wanted to feel the effects of heatstroke firsthand. At least some of them did. The rest just wanted to shoot the shit with their colleagues. Hence the insane number of walkers who lined up at the 7 MINUTE MILE MARKER. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The JP Morgan Corporate Challenge came to Boston last night. There’s a special spot in hell for the brainiac who thought scheduling a race in the middle of sweltering July was a good idea. And that hell includes an awful lot of spandex-clad folks who prefer pizza over pilates. Kinda like last night (I mean, I prefer pizza over pilates, too. But I’m covering up my pizza gut in lose-flowing cotton, not stuffing it in spandex).

Last year I was somehow roped into being the team captain, a role I’m now stuck with flourishing in. It’s really not that bad. Just a lot of emailing the team to see what kind of shirts they want to order. And then ordering the same thing as last year b/c no one responds to my emails. And then dealing w/ all the complaining about the shirts b/c they aren’t what people wanted. I imagine this is what Walt Disney ran into when he was trying to get his employees’ opinions on the Disneyland uniform. B/c he’s such a people-pleaser and wanted to make sure his employees knew he listened to what they had to say. And then there was too much dissension so he shoved ‘em all in a Mickey costume and called it a day.

It was a brisk 83 degrees yesterday. Fortunately the race wasn’t until 7:15pm. Plenty of time for the temps to drop. In theory, at least. The temperatures dropped about two degrees while the humidity rose by about ten percent. If you’re a runner - or just someone who enjoys being outside in the summer- you know that it’s the humidity that kills you.

My goal was to beat my time from last year, but as I stood in the boiling heat waiting for the race to start, I was beginning to doubt myself. Last year’s race was early June, and pretty much ideal running conditions. This year I had sweat through my shirt on the walk to the starting line.

Our company’s team was a mixed bag of runners/athletes and non-runners. The race is very walker friendly and encourages you to just get out there and bond with your colleagues. But as we walked past the 8 and 9 minute mile markers, I was getting a little nervous. I remember dodging people in the beginning last year, but that’s to be expected. I didn’t want to line up with these elite 7 minute milers and risk getting trampled.

Oh, Brig. So naive.

The race started and we were off. The corral moved slowly but surely to the starting line, and after crossing the line, I was ready to go. Apparently, no one else was. Immediately after crossing the starting line, the crowd slowed to a walk. A WALK! We just crossed the starting line, people, our timechip is going. Pick up the fucking pace. At least pretend, for my sake. High knees, short breaths, something.

I weaved through the walkers and was finally able to secure a good pace. The route ran down a nice street lined with trees, so at least there was shade. It was pretty much a giant loop; you ran down the street, turned around, and then finished right back at the starting line (finish line?).

Last year I ran it in 35:37. It’s 3.5 miles, just over a 5k, so I was thrilled with that time. I had just started getting into running, so a solid ten minute mile pace was fine with me. This year I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with that time. I wanted to shave at least a minute or two off of it, considering how I ran my half averaging 9:28 miles.

But I was training for Broad Street and the half in the winter/spring. Running in the heat is entirely different. And with the sun and humidity last night, I knew I would be okay with clocking a ten minute mile again. But I didn’t want to be okay with my time. I wanted to be proud of it. So I put on my game face (covered in sweat) and picked up the pace. For the first two miles or so. After the turn-around, I was beat. People were passing me left and right. So when we turned down the street with the finish line, I kicked it into high gear. Passing all those suckers who passed me moments ago. Until I realized that there was still a good quarter of a mile until the actual finish line. And that sprinting was never my thing.

I don’t remember the gun time when I crossed the finish line; I wasn’t seeing clearly from the sweat and sunscreen mixture that was dripping into my eyes. Luckily I made B sign up for a text alert on his phone so he’d know when I finished. He texted me that my time was 32:25. Averaging a 9:16 mile. Holy cats!

3.5 miles isn’t far by any means. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to span shorter distances with an easy 9 minute mile pace. But with the heat, humidity and walkers last night, a 9:16 mile made me happy. And the ten four packs of fruit snacks I snagged after the run made me even happier.


Michele said…
YYYYYAAAAAYYYYY!!!!! So proud of you!