This was the third year I have done this race. The first year I ran it four days after the Buffalo Marathon, and ran 8:35 pace. I spent much of the race passing people. Last year I was much faster. I lined up towards the front, and ran it in 24:24 or about a 6:58 minute/mile pace. I was hoping to be one of the four fastest men from my company, but I missed it by 2 seconds. After crossing the finish line that time, I sat down against a barricade to catch my breath, freaking out volunteers thinking they would need to call the EMTs.
This year I felt I was faster and stronger and thought I had a shot at improving my time. The weather forecasts called for thunderstorms. And it had been raining off and on all day. After work, I drove to Marketplace Mall to park my car, and catch the buses to RIT for the race. I had changed before I left work, and was wearing my company shirt. I had paid an extra $7 to get the tech shirt instead of the regular t-shirt.
On the bus I saw everyone else with their bibs pinned to their shirts. I had a horrible thought. Was my bib in the envelope that my shirt came in? I had thrown it away. If it had been in there, this will be a short race.
I got to RIT, and found our company tent. Fortunately, they were passing out our bibs here. I signed in, and got my bib as well as my Chase Corporate Challenge T-shirt. I pinned my bib to my shirt. I shed my nylon shell pants, and jacket. I changed into my running flats. After a couple trips to the porta potties, I headed to the start line.
I planned to start up near the front like I did last year. I went out a little fast last year, having run the first mile in 6:30. As we were waiting for the start, it started to rain lightly. The rain slowly picked up. They started the national anthem and speeches. It was starting to come down harder, and those guys were all under umbrellas. They gave us a 10 second warning. I turned on my mp3 player. When they said go, I started running, and started mp3 playing. The first song it played was The Eagles-Life In The Fast Lane…how appropriate. The father I got around the course, the harder the rain came down.
I passed a few guys from my company who had taken off at the start. I passed the 1 mile mark in about 6:40 or 6:45. A little slower than last year, and that was exactly what I wanted to do. There was a water stop here, but I ran passed. Last year, I dumped some water over my head to cool me down. This year, I didn’t need it. I kept running. I was soaked by now. Every now and then, I would splash through a puddle of standing water. I kept running.
I kept an eye on my Garmin 305 to make sure I wasn’t running too fast, or too slow. If you have ever had a Garmin 305, you will know that the pace display tends to bounce around dramatically. Mine was bouncing from around 6:05 to 7:05. I think I saw it flash a sub 6:00 minute/mile pace at one point. But I tried to keep it around 6:45-6:50 pace. I passed the 2 mile mark. Only 1.5 miles left to go. Just a little over 10 minutes I figured. I kept running. I passed another water stop around 2.5 miles. Only 1 mile left to go. Around .75 miles from the finish, I saw a guy from my company up ahead. I recognized his shirt. I wasn’t sure if I could catch him. I increased my pace subtly. I slowly got closer to him. In the last half mile, I caught up to him, and fell in behind him, trying to stay in his blind spot. This same thing happened last year. I fell in behind another runner from my company intending to pass him just before the finish line. But as we got there, he took off like a bullet, and I had no more gas. He had beaten me by two seconds, and filled out the forth spot on our company’s men’s team. So this year I planned to pass this guy earlier. In the last quarter mile or so, the heavy rain had caused the contact in my right eye, to float out of position. I was running, and rubbing my eye, to see if I could get it back into position. No luck. So I was running with one eye closed.
As we went around the final turn, I passed the guy in front of me, and sprinted with everything I had to the finish line. I crossed the finish line in 23:48. That was 36 seconds faster than I ran it last year. A guy in front of me has slowed to a stop at finish and I collided with him. I turned, and saw my fellow company man, cross the finish. I beat him by 2 seconds. And yes, it was the same guy who beat me by 2 seconds last year.
I felt okay. I had no need to sit down and catch my breath. In fact, I really didn’t feel too winded.
We made out way through the finish chute, and back to the company tent. We turned in our times. I got a couple burgers. I went back to check some of the recorded times. I found there were 4 or 5 guys with faster times than mine. And 2 or 3 girls as well. Geez. I got faster, but our company got even faster. Apparently we hired some fast young people, or some employees got much faster over the last year. Oh well. Hopefully our company teams will do well in the challenge this year.
Hopefully, I will be faster next year. Maybe I will crank up my intervals to faster paces. I wonder if I can get down to a 6:30 pace. That would be a 22:45 time. Or maybe a 6:15 pace which be a 21:52 time. If I can get down to a 6:00 pace (which I can run a mile in), I could get a 21:00 time! That would be amazing for me.
Here are some photos of the race that appeared on the local newspaper’s site. I am in photo #11 (bib #3051),