Corporate Cup 10K Recap

Several years ago I learned that there was a running club at work, so I joined the email list. Aside from running on one of the corporate teams for the Brooksie Way Half Marathon a few years ago, I haven’t really participated. When I received the initial email about this year’s upcoming Corporate Cup Relays, I was definitely interested. I had been interested in the past, but always had something else going on that day. This year, I decided to make it a priority. I have to admit that aside from representing GM, one of the biggest draws was the cool Chevy Running Club shirt!

I love this shirt

I love this shirt

The Chevy logo on the back

The Chevy logo on the back

The Corporate Cup Relays started back in 1987 and take place at Southfield Lathrup High School in Lathrup Village, MI. This year’s event occurred on Saturday, June 20. The event includes 5K and 10K road races, a 5K walk, field events (like long jump, high jump and shot put), and track relays. Teams are divided into three divisions based on the size of the company. Division I includes companies with 10,000 employees or more (GM, Ford, and FCA – formerly known as Chrysler), Division II ranges from 1,000-10,000 people (Autoliv, Valassis, Shinola, and ThyssenKrupp), and Division III has less than 1,000 people (AVL, Nissan, Takata). Teams also raise money for charities, which included the Dearborn Animal Shelter and the Special Olympics.

I have been able to improve my 5K and half marathon times by quite a bit over the years, but my best 10K time was from back in 2011. I rarely race the distance and it’s always kind of tortured me. Maybe that’s because I’ve never specifically targeted my training for a 10K. I decided to sign up for the Corporate Cup’s 10K road race to see if I could finally reach my potential and improve my time. After the Glass City Half Marathon on April 26, I had about eight weeks to prepare for this race.

Based on my time at Glass City and my 5K PR, Greg McMillan’s calculator said I should be capable of running a 7:12 pace for a 10K. McMillan’s calculator has been incredibly accurate for me when I train appropriately. I wasn’t sure what kind of workouts I should do, so I searched for 10K training plans and found McMillan’s eight-week plan. I was worried that it might be a bit ambitious for me, but I wanted to give it a shot. I didn’t follow the plan 100% since I needed to ease back into training after the half marathon, plus I threw in another 10K race a couple weeks before the Corporate Cup. I stuck to the plan for the most part though. When I successfully pulled off some of the harder workouts at 10K pace, it gave my confidence a huge boost. Maybe I could master the 10K after all!

Despite running some solid workouts, I was still pretty nervous about actually pulling it off on race day. The 10K was the first event of the day, starting at 7:45. It was a beautiful morning and the course was flat, so I hoped for the best. I knew I should be able to improve my 10K time, and I also aimed to place first in my age group. The scoring for the Corporate Cup’s 10K is based on age and gender, so the goal was to rack up age group wins. Other events included all divisions, but the 10K was just for Division I – GM (Chevy), Ford, and FCA. Between the three companies, 151 people participated. I was lucky that Matt was willing to come out and take photos during the 10K, and he got some awesome action shots.

Waiting for the start of the 10K

Waiting for the start of the 10K

The 10K started and finished on the track, with neighborhood roads making up the majority of the course.

Starting on the track

Starting on the track

It was fun to see a bunch of people I knew from work and talk about running with them. I’m sure many of us hadn’t realized before that we shared a love for running. It was also fun to encourage people in Chevy/GM shirts out on the course since we were pulling for each other as a team. Lathrup Village was a great place to run, with peaceful neighborhood roads and nice houses for distraction.

The 10K route

The 10K route

I was still smiley because this was early on!

I was still smiley because this was early on!

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Enough people ran this race to always have someone fairly close by. That always helps keep me going. When my pace slowed down by the third mile, I worried that I was starting to fall apart. I sped back up though, and I felt pretty good the whole time. In the past, I’ve almost always felt miserable when I’ve raced 10Ks. Running 10K-specific workouts during training sure made a big difference. By the time I hit the track for the final 300 meters, I was feeling pretty drained, but I still had enough energy for a final push.

Finishing strong

Finishing strong

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I had no idea how I had placed, but I knew I had a new PR! My official time was 45:16, shaving over 30 seconds off my time from my “practice” 10K on a difficult Mackinac Island course a couple weeks earlier, and nearly a minute and a half off my 2011 PR.

My splits

My splits

McMillan’s calculator had estimated that I was capable of a 7:12 pace, and I hit 7:13 – pretty close! Someone gave out small cartons of chocolate milk as we exited the track, and the GM tent had bagels, cookies, and some other snacks.

I went back to the track to cheer for teammates and took a few cell phone photos. It was definitely a friendly and supportive environment.

Lots of people in blue shirts cheering on GM finishers

Lots of people in blue shirts cheering on GM finishers

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this Chrysler dog prior to the 5K.

Representing Chrysler!

Representing Chrysler!

Some of the 10K runners also participated in the 5K, but I gave everything I had and was done for the day. I enjoyed watching the start of the 5K run.

5K runners

5K runners

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The 5K walk began five minutes later. It’s always fun to see the truly competitive walkers, who somehow manage to walk a 5K faster than many can run one. The GM guy in the front of the following photo won with a time of 22:18!

5K walkers

5K walkers

I stuck around long enough to see the first 5K runners finish, but left soon after. Although it would have been fun to watch the other events, the track events didn’t start until noon and were scheduled to run until 4:00.

A few days later I found out I was the 5th female overall and had placed first in my age group! That helped my team, who wanted three first place age group finishes for the women. Although the Chevy team had three top women, Ford did as well. Ford’s fastest woman placed 7th while Chevy’s was 18th, so Ford took the win in the 10K Women category.

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Ford took the overall win for Division I in the Corporate Cup, and Chevy placed second. I really enjoyed this race and the whole experience, and hope to participate again in the future.

Happy with my new PR and a successful 10K!

Happy with my new PR and a successful 10K!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography

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Mackinac Island Lilac Festival 10K Recap

In both 2011 and 2013, Matt and I really enjoyed running across the Mackinac Bridge during the Memorial Day weekend. Although we’ve been to Mackinac Island several times, we’ve never actually run on the island. We finally made that happen on Saturday, June 6 when we ran the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival 10K.

If you’re not familiar with Mackinac Island, it is located in Lake Huron between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Aside from the awesome fudge, the main charm of the island is that it does not allow cars. Bikes and horse-drawn buggies are the main modes of transportation.

Just under a four-hour drive for us, it’s a perfect weekend getaway. We left after work on Friday and made it to our hotel in Mackinaw City by 9:30 that night. Although we’d like to stay on the island one of these days, Mackinaw City is nice as well and offers more reasonable rates.

On the morning of the race, we caught the first ferry to the island at 7:30. Ferries were scheduled to leave every half hour, and we wanted to play it safe in case the boats filled up. The bottom of the boat was full, leaving us to sit up top in the open air. It was a beautiful morning, but it was no warmer than 50 degrees. Factor in the wind chill of the moving boat and it was pretty chilly. I was distracted by a nice view of the Mackinac Bridge at first, but then it was a long, cold 15-minute trip to the island. I think it took about 45 minutes for one of my fingers to thaw.

The Mackinac Bridge

The Mackinac Bridge

Approaching the island

Approaching the island

Arriving so early allowed us to see the island in a way we hadn’t before. It was very peaceful before the bikes, horses, and swarms of people hit the streets. I really love the old-fashioned vibe of the island.
A calm street before all of the tourists (and runners) arrived

A calm street before all of the tourists (and runners) arrived

From the ferry docks, we walked a half mile to the school for the packet pickup. With such beautiful sights along the way, we enjoyed the walk.
A nice boardwalk along the water

A nice boardwalk along the water

A beautiful morning for the run

A beautiful morning for the run

Because so few people live on the island year-round, only one school building is needed for all of the kids in grades K-12. The packet pickup took place in the gym, and we hung out on the bleachers there for an hour or so since the race didn’t start until 9:30.
Mackinac Island Public School

Mackinac Island Public School

As we got closer to the start time, Matt and I headed out for a warm up. Like many other people, we posed for a picture together first.

The Mackinac Bridge is off in the distance behind us

The Mackinac Bridge is off in the distance behind us

After warming up, we ran back into the front of the crowd, giving us prime placement for the start. Between the runners and walkers, over 800 people participated. The start was in front of the Windemere Hotel, about a quarter mile from the school.

Gathering before the start of the race

Gathering before the start of the race

The race started out running through town, but it seems like we turned out of the main part of town in no time. Just over half a mile into the race we hit “the hill.” I was aware of the hill when I signed up for the race and knew it would definitely affect my time. Being aware of it didn’t make it any easier though! I started to huff and puff as I worked up the first part of the hill. I looked to the top and told myself I could do it. However, I didn’t realize that the part of the hill I could see at that moment was only the beginning. After a left turn, I could see that we had even more to climb. It was pretty rough. The hill was a mile long and beat me up pretty good.

The course elevation

The course elevation

Once we got past the hill, I started to enjoy the course again. It sure helped to hit a downhill segment next! We spent about half of the race running through Mackinac Island State Park, where the paved paths feature lots of trees and shade. We ran past the small airport’s runway as well, then came back around to the road that runs along the shore. I was excited to run along the water and enjoy the view. Trees lining the road separated us from the water at first, but soon enough the view opened up. However, no trees meant no protection from the wind. We ran right into the wind for the last couple miles, and that really made me struggle.

A satellite view of where we ran

A satellite view of where we ran

I didn’t have much left in me by the end. Nonetheless, I had a new PR of 45:52! I haven’t raced many 10Ks, and my old PR was several years old. My 5K and half marathon times had improved quite a bit in that time, so I knew I was due to improve my 10K time as well. This winter I made it a goal to finally “fix” my time. Starting in May, I concentrated on 10K pace workouts, something I’d never really done. With my target 10K race coming a couple weeks later, this race was kind of a practice to see how things were going. I had improved my time by 45 seconds or so despite the hill, so I knew I could do even better on a more forgiving course.

My splits

My splits

As my splits show, I was all over the place when it came to pacing. I flew along pretty good for the first half mile, but the hill slowed me down a lot after that. The hill continued into the second mile, but that’s when it leveled out a bit and the downhill started. The third mile was all downhill, so I felt great! I settled into a more reasonable (but probably too fast) pace by the fourth mile, then I hit the wind and gradually fell apart over the last couple miles. Still, I was happy with my time, finished first in my age group, and was the fourth female overall! Matt was third in his age group, so both of us earned a cool plaque.

Posing with the age group award

Posing with the age group award

Matt displaying the medal

Matt displaying the medal

I love how the medal shows our route through the island

I love how the medal shows our route through the island

The tech race shirt and medal

The tech race shirt and medal

The post-race treats included bottles of water, fruit, and granola bars. We wanted to spend some time on the island after the race, so we cleaned up a little bit in the school’s small locker rooms before they got too crowded with other people doing the same. It was nice that we could collect our awards without waiting for a ceremony. Though the temperature was great for running, it was a bit on the cool side for walking. Still, the sun was shining and the island looked beautiful. We took in the typical sights of people riding bikes and horse buggies roaming the streets. We did actually come across a few buggies during the race and had to make room for them!

White picket fences, beautiful homes, no cars...such a cool environment

White picket fences, beautiful homes, no cars…such a cool environment

Horses are everywhere

Horses are everywhere

With only a granola bar each to refuel after the race, we were starving in no time. We grabbed lunch then walked through town a little bit more, browsing through the t-shirt shops. Of course we had to get some fudge too. Sanders had fun flavors like dreamsicle, bumpy cake, and salted caramel fudge.

Great fudge selections (and other treats) at Sanders

Great fudge selections (and other treats) at Sanders

Eventually we’d had enough of the shops and I kept shivering in the cool breeze, so we headed back to Mackinaw City. I was happy to get a seat in the bottom of the ferry on the way back instead of freezing in the open air again.

After showering and resting in the hotel room for a bit, we grabbed dinner and walked around the stores in Mackinaw City. The city itself has plenty of stores with t-shirts, fudge, taffy, ice cream, and other treats. When we got back to the hotel for good that night, my legs were extremely restless between the race and all of the walking.

We had a 10-mile run on our marathon training schedule the next morning but knew we probably wouldn’t go that long. We ended up running six miles along the North Central State Trail. We’ve stayed at the same hotel a couple times in the past, and I was always intrigued by the trail that starts right outside the hotel. I was excited to finally check it out this time. The rail to trail runs 62 miles between Mackinaw City and Gaylord. It’s paved for a brief stretch in Mackinaw City, then turns to crushed limestone. If you go far enough south, you can catch glimpses of Lake Huron. We could see resorts and campgrounds through the trees for the first mile, then we kind of grew tired of the long straightaways. I think our legs had had enough for the weekend. Still, it was a nice trail and perfect that it was right next to our hotel.

The Mackinaw City trailhead for the North Central State Trail

The Mackinaw City trailhead for the North Central State Trail

A nice tree-lined rail to trail

A nice tree-lined rail to trail

Overall, it was a great weekend getaway. It was fun to finally run around the island, and the race gave us a good excuse to refuel with plenty of fudge and salt water taffy!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography