Sunday, March 26, 2017

2017 Corporate Cup Half Marathon Race Report

The Corporate Cup race has been around for a long time. 37 years the website says.  I had always heard of it but never ran it. This year, after the Sunbelt Meet, I just kinda felt like doing it. I usually do a early spring half marathon.  I didn't last year, so this year I felt like it would help with a little bit of the winter training motivation.

The race starts and finishes in downtown Charlotte. It is basically the Thunder Road (now Charlotte Marathon) half course.  So I had kinda done it before.  I picked up my race packet on Thursday since it was at that Run for Your Life over on Kings Street.  Friday packet pick was downtown, and I didn't want to have to deal the parking downtown and Friday traffic.

I've done some packet pickups before at this RFYL. Kinda on my way home, although the traffic afterward is not good.  Basically fight the traffic back up Morehead so I can fight the traffic on I-77. Hardly anyone was in there so it took like 2 minutes to get the packet and get out of there. More time to fight traffic.

Race morning, I fixed a bagel with cream cheese and I headed out around 6:30am.  It was nice not to have to fight traffic on I-77 for once.  Found the parking deck easy enough. Just took College up and then left onto 2nd street (well MLK Blvd now).  The parking deal for this race is pretty sweet.  Free parking in the Two Wells Fargo deck.  It's like a 1/2 block from the starting line. I parked on the first ramp so it just took me a second to get out and onto the street. But I didn't leave right away, I just hung out in the car.  I had a banana and a gel and chilled for a bit.

I just wanted to make sure I was parked.  I left the car around 7am and checked out the situation.  I found the start and then walked back over to the atrium where most of the people were hanging out since it was in the 30's.  I found Justin and Amanda and hung out with them for a while. I really didn't see anyone else.  Eventually I took another gel and headed out for a warmup.
Staying Warm
I just did a mile to get the body a little warm.  I did do some pickups and sprints to get the feel of the quicker pace.  I had grabbed an old long sleeve shirt out of my bike cleaning pile to keep me warm. I did run into my buddy Nathan and Matt, and their friend Christian.  They just kinda take this race as a training day and have some fun with it. Nathan asked me if I was going to race hard. I said, I don't know how else to race.  So I stood near the front, second row.  They played the national anthem and then I threw off my shirt, and we were ready to go.

At the gun, everyone went out pretty smoothly and quickly.  I didn't want to start out way too fast, like the 5:30 opening mile I put down at Charlotte Racefest a couple of years ago.  So I glanced down at my watch to make sure I was over a 6 min pace.  Honestly the first couple of miles were pretty flat and the pace of the first couple of miles felt relatively easy as I came through in 12:14 at the 2 mile mark.

The next couple of miles however, seemed a LOT tougher.  My breathing got a little out of control and I started thinking I would not be able to hold this pace.  By mile 4 you get out of downtown and start heading down the longer stretches.  I split over a 6:30 mile in mile 5, but started feeling a little better. I was still averaging 6:15's at that point.

By mile 6 I started to settle in a bit.  I would struggle going up the hills, but then make up some time on the downhills and flats.  I kept going back and forth with a guy who was really good at climbing the hills, but my pace on the flats was faster.  We went back and forth like this all day long.

I fell into a pretty good rythm after 5 miles. I got my breathing under control.  The hills were taking it out of me. However, as I crested them, I was able to push and catch back up.  I had brought 2 gels with me and had planned to take them at 4 miles and 8 miles.  I never really felt hungry, so then I didn't eat either gel.  I did take water at about 5 or 6 aid stations.  I eventually warmed and took my gloves off, and then later my head band. I had the intention earlier of throwing the gloves away.  Then I thought I may need them again if I make a turn and suddenly the wind was at my face.

Over the next 6 miles I averaged 6:22.5/mile to bring me to mile 11 and an overall average pace of 6:19.2/mile.  Now: The Morehead Climb.  It took a little bit, but the guy racing me finally caught me again and started to put some real distance between us.

So over the last 2 miles, when I should have been dropping the hammer, I slugged up the hill.  I mean, I didn't blow up or anything. It took me 13:07 to go from mile 11 to mile 13.  My racing buddy kept his 6:22 pace, but my 6:33 pace per mile put me 20 seconds behind him at the finish.  And of course he was in my age group. So I walked away with the "First Loser" award.

I came across the finish line pretty spent.  I shook hands with the guy who beat me, grabbed some bananas and water and then found a place to sit.  I sat there for a few minutes, not getting cold, even though the temps were still in the lower 40's.  A guy walked up and introduced himself to me.  He recognized me from my Big Sexy Singlet.  We talked about tri for a while.  Then I was ready to head back to the car.
I was finally starting to get cold, so I put on some warmer clothes and did a cooldown run.  That felt pretty ugly.  I just did a mile to try and loosen things up.   I then wandered around back toward the finish line to see if I saw anyone else I knew coming through.  I did see Heidi (from swim) but that was about it.  So then I just went to the atrium to see what kind of place I came in.  They had the little kiosks setup so you can punch in your bib number.  So then I saw I was second.  The awards ceremony was just for first place finishers.  For 2nd and 3rd placers you just picked up your award at the kiosk.  That sped things up quite a bit.
What is this thing?
I grabbed my 'glass' and just headed out.  It was nice to have a really close parking spot.  The attendant was just letting everyone drive right out, not even checking if they had bib numbers or not. So I was home relatively quickly.

Overall pretty happy with being able to hold the pace. I mean I didn't run super fast, but for the first week of March, not too bad.  My overall Garmin average pace was 6:20.5, but my slowest mile was only 6:34, so I never really died so that was good.  Official Results Here.  Those hills just get me.  It seems no matter how much I do hill repeats, in my old age those things just zap me.  We'll definitely have to work on that in the coming months.  But we'll get there.