Last night was the Corporate Challenge in Chicago. I shared my tips earlier in the week for how to actually enjoy the event and not treat it like a normal race. And I’m happy to say, I followed my tips and had a very enjoyable time.

I changed at the office and walked over to Grant Park with some co-workers in my department. The weather was perfect – warm in the sunshine but a little cool in the shade. Knowing the course was closer to the lake and mostly shaded meant it should be pretty ideal.

Our team tent was in the “Purple Zone” (there are a ton of zones because there are a ton of companies running) and while it took us awhile to walk through Grant Park to find it, we were really close to the start corral. After taking some team photos, we left for the corrals at 6:30 – a half hour before the race started.

Company team

Fellow digital teammates

Lining up a half hour early was a good strategy. We all had Blue Bibs so we were able to line up together. (I’m not really sure what time you have to post to get a red or green bib, it has to be pretty competitive.)  And then wait. And watch thousands of people line up behind us.

View in front of me / View behind me / Catching a co-worker in my Instagram story

The corrals got moving right at 7pm, and I crossed the start line about 11 minutes later. I didn’t really have a goal, but wanted to beat my previous Corporate Challenge time from 2015 – when I was coming off of physical therapy and running roughly 1x per week.  (My time was 32:32, a 9:18 pace.) I’m certianly running more these days, but I have done zero speedwork and most of my runs have been at a very comfortable pace while I build up mileage again.

I ended up using my FitBit to pace myself. Every time I passed a mile marker, I checked my elapsed time on my FitBit. At mile 1, I was surprised to see that I was around an 8:30 pace! I don’t remember the last time I ran that fast! (Based on my race reports, I’m guessing it was the Turkey Trot I ran in 2013, before Emo Knee.)

When I ran in 2015, I waited for over 30 minutes in the corral before crossing the start line. Starting earlier this year (11 minutes into the race) helped a lot. I was still weaving a lot, but weaving around way more runners than walkers. I checked my FitBit at miles 2 and 3 and based on my mental math, I was roughly maintaining an 8:30 pace.

As we made the final turn toward the finish, I picked up the pace to as much of a sprint as I could muster (still weaving). I crossed the finish line in between two dudes and made sure to give a good Emily-esque final pose for the cameras. I hope they got a good photo!

Since I was using my FitBit to pace myself, I didn’t have my official time until I got the auto-email from the race.

I’m happy to say that I did PR! 29:38 (it’s 3.5 miles), an 8:28 pace! I was also the second female and 20th overall finisher for my company. And I beat two of the guys on my team, so that’s cool. I’m probably the only one who cares.

After the race, I enjoyed some beers (and a shot of whiskey, that’s a post-race first) and some food and some conversation with my team before heading to the nearest Divvy station around 9pm.

Did you run the Corporate Challenge? How was it? 
Do you do the Corporate Challenge in another city? How does it compare?