Thursday, June 17, 2010

Corporate Challenge

I took part in the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge and now I'm reflecting back on why I volunteered, how I prepared, how I performed and how I feel about doing it again.
I did the race two years ago and I found that it really motivated me to train my running more, which I really need to do as I've always been a pretty lousy runner. Last year I passed on the race and figured I would just train on my own. But I found that I never committed that thoroughly.

When I offer came up this year a work buddy encouraged me to do it with him and I thought that would be cool as well as motivating me to train harder. But then he left the company so I was sort of on my own.

Fortunately I was still motivated and a few months ago I started training a fore-foot running technique that is supposed to have a lot of benefits. What I found is the technique eliminated strain on the shins and knees, but increased the strain on the calves. This was an acceptable tradeoff for me as the calf strain seems like purely a matter of muscle development.

With this new technique I had to reduce my pace to acclimate to the difference in the stride. But over the past few months I reduced my 3.5 mile time from 40 minutes to 32 minutes.

Recently I started having a problem where my left calf would start cramping after about 20 minutes. This was strange since it's my right calf that has always been weaker as a result of a car accident from a long time ago.

I knew there would be a lot of differences between my training, which mostly was on the treadmill, and the actual race. The treadmill is obviously less impact and zero wind resistance. On the other hand it's much harder to change pace on the treadmill. In the race I would be more motivated, but the hills would be steeper and the crowds would take much of my time out of my hands.

I went and bought some new running shoes from Westchester Road Runner. After an hour of trying on different sneakers with a very helpful Steve, I stuck with his initial recommendation: Asics M2140. They definitely cushioned the forefoot running impact.

The day of the race I hung with some co-workers while we waiting for the race to start. Some people I knew and some I met for the first time. That was cool.

While we were waiting a lot of people were stretching and warming up. I thought this was pretty funny since we would all wind up waiting at least 20 minutes in a packed line for the race to start. We must have looked like people going out drinking on St. Patrick's Day to all the regular runners.

Once I crossed the starting line a hit my own stride and was feeling really good. I was passing the vast majority of the people around me.

Then at about 2 miles my left calf started to cramp. That was pretty much the end for me. I was able to keep running down hills and on some straights, but I had to walk uphill, which was a lot of the time. I had absolutely no ability to step off my heal ankle flexion. It really sucked since I didn't feel winded at all.

At one point during the race some smelly runner was close to me and no matter what I did I couldn't shake them. They stuck with me. Eventually it occurred to me that the smeller runner must have been me.

When I finally crossed the finish line the time was 45:00. But I thought it must have been between 5 and 10 minutes before I had crossed the starting line.

Update 6/23/2010: I finally got the race results (a week later) and my time was 36:46. Certainly nothing I'm happy about in general, but not too bad all things considered.

After crossing the finish line they herd everyone into this compartmentalized area. I presume it is for crowd control, but I found it pretty aggravating at the time.

I was surprised to learn that the event doesn't raise any money for charity. The purpose is apparently as a team building community event. But I didn't find it to be all the effective to that end. After the race I was dripping and wasn't feeling like heading anywhere to socialize.

With all that in mind I probably won't do the race again, but of course that could change.

Update 6/23/2010: I went to the doctor today and confirmed that I tore some muscle in my calf, so it was never a cramp after all and I probably just kept making it worse.

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