Corporate Challenge 2007: Hot Stuff!

The annual JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge was last night. After a day-of cancellation due to high heat and humidity, the race officials moved the race up about 5 weeks from the 1st Tuesday in August to the last Tuesday in June. Ironically, the temperature yesterday was quite high (mid 90s in the afternoon) and prompted many rumors that the race would canceled again. Fortunately, the show did go on.

I parked at Carousel Mall and took the shuttle bus over to the starting line. Figured it was better to endure a few short bus rides with some stinky people then spend hours in my car trying to get out of Liverpool after the race. The tent city was a hive of activity as usual, but not quite as buzzing as I’ve seen it in the past. I wandered around for a bit and then headed over to the Purplewire tent and chugged down a few waters. I thought I was doing pretty good on hydration, but just sitting around waiting for the race to start was drying me out like crazy. Chit-chatted around with the rest of the team for a while, suited up and wandered my way over to the starting line.

Standing around waiting for the gun, I was starting to get a little dose of just how hot it was out there. I parked myself just ahead of the 7 minute per mile mark. Normally, there’s a little trapped heat from all the bodies lined up. This time it was like an oven. Could hardly wait to get moving for a little relief. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much relief to be had; the roadway was reflecting heat like crazy, despite the race crew cooling it off with water from spray trucks a few times during the day.

My starting position worked out pretty good. I was able to get a good start and not be too tripped up by slower folks in front of me. About a quarter mile, I was still passing folks, but the crowd was starting to thin a bit and I could get a tiny bit of breeze. After what seemed like an eternity, the end of the 1st mile marker loomed in the distance. I clicked the split at 6:47. Whoa, that’s the fastest mile I’ve had in a long time, if not ever.

New this year is a second spray house in the middle of the course (usually, there’s just one at the end.) Unfortunately, it was aimed only the return side of the road, so you didn’t really get any of its benefit. The water running across the out side of the course was quickly turned to steam by the sun. It was kinda like running right into a wall of humidity. I think this weeded out a lot of the runners near me as attested by a chorus of groans.

I was starting to run a little hot and the sweat is starting to pour straight into my eyes. I tried in vain to try to find a dry spot on my shirt to mop my forehead a bit. I can start to see the turn around through the hazy heat distortion coming up off the road. Thinking to myself, the leaders must be pretty slow this year or I’m really blazing along; normally, they’re quite well on their way back by the time I can see the middle. Must have been a little of both. Soon enough, I see them screaming back to the start.

After fighting some slow traffic around the second water stop, I clicked the split for mile 2: 7:11. No as fast as the first, but pretty respectable considering my lack of speed work lately. The heat is starting to become pretty oppressive at this point. I’m half considering yanking off the shirt. I’m still making pretty good time, so I guessed it was better just to leave it on rather than get myself all tripped up trying to get it off.

I clipped the edge of the spray in the middle of the course on the way back. It felt nice for about 10 seconds, then the coolness was turned to just plain humidity again. Man, where’s that marker for the end of mile 3? It fills like I’ve been running forever when it finally comes into view. Clicked in the split at 7:39.

By now the sweat is pouring off me like crazy. I can see it arcing off my swinging arms. Normally, I’d feel sorry for the folks around me; but, its so hot that everybody else is in just about the same shape. As I rounded the final bend, a bunch of people started close in on me and then pull ahead.  I tried to keep up until the last quarter or so. I was just too spent to gun it all the way in. I dropped it down a gear and skipped across the line at 25:23.

Would have like to have gotten in a little under 25, but with the brutal heat and humidity, I was pleased none-the-less. I was a little more happy when I realized that my bum knee didn’t give many problems through the whole race. Keeping my fingers crossed that the worst of that is now behind me.

I briefly contemplated running another 20 minutes easy to round out my training time for the day. After sucking down a couple of 24 oz waters and cooling down, I figured I was better off hanging it up for the night. So, I celebrated with some fine hamburgers and hot dogs with the rest of the Purplewire crew.

Update: here are some pictures of the post race festivities. Thanks to Karen for passing them on!





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