Corporate Cup 5K/10K Recap

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The Detroit skyline in the distance from a beach on Belle Isle

On Saturday, June 16th I represented the Chevy Running Club in the Corporate Cup Relays. GM competes in Division I against Ford and FCA (Fiat-Chrysler) every year in 5K and 10K road races, a 5K walk, field events including the shot put, high jump, and long jump, and track relay events. Autoliv, Nissan, and Shinola competed in Division II, and AVL made up Division III. It’s a fun chance to get together with fellow employees, raise money for charities (Special Olympics Michigan and the Dearborn Animal Shelter), and literally have a healthy competition. Despite being a contract employee, I’m eligible to participate along with co-ops, interns, and retirees.

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I ran the 10K at the 2015 Corporate Cup and had a great time so I knew I wanted to do it again. The events took place at a school in Southfield in 2015, but that school closed and the events shifted to Berkley. Unfortunately, the 5K and 10K races were cancelled in 2016 when the city of Berkley decided it didn’t want to deal with the road races. The same thing happened in 2017, so while the track and field events occurred in Berkley, the road races moved to Belle Isle in Detroit. I couldn’t participate in 2017 because I was out of town, but I was excited to get back to it this year. I’ve only been to Belle Isle a couple times and was glad I had an excuse to get out there again.

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I got there just before 7am as it started to rain for 20 minutes or so. I put a raincoat on and went to the GM tent to get a new team shirt and my race bib. We were lucky that the rain stopped before the 10K started at 7:45, but humidity hung in the air and it was around 70 degrees.

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Overlooking the Detroit River

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Looking over to Canada

I signed up for both the 5K and 10K races. When I browsed through last year’s results, I thought I might stand a chance at winning my age group in both distances. Teams are scored based age group placings and I thought I’d do my best to help GM by aiming for age group wins in two events. I’m very loosely following a half marathon training plan right now and it actually had a 15K race listed on the training schedule for the weekend, so that was all the more reason to do the double!

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10K start

The 10K race was only for Division I, so GM, Ford, and FCA runners participated. I didn’t know what kind of pace I could expect to run since I haven’t done much in the way of speed training lately. I started with a 7:33 mile and slowed down after that. It usually takes half a mile or so before the heat and humidity affect me, but then it hits me hard. My body doesn’t handle those conditions very well. The weather combined with my lack of speed training made it feel like this 10K dragged on forever. The island is about as flat as it gets, so at least that helped. It seemed like we were constantly winding around curves which made it a bit tricky to run the tangents. Even though I tried my best to run the shortest path, it seemed like the course was running a bit long. The end of this race couldn’t come soon enough, and I spent most of the time wondering why I had thought it would be a good idea to run the 5K next. I made it to the finish eventually, then shook my head and muttered about how it had been brutal. When I realized that my watch said I had run 6.52 miles rather than 6.2, it’s no wonder it felt extra long! I may not have run the tangents perfectly, but I couldn’t have done THAT bad of a job. Talking to several people confirmed that the course was probably long.

2018-06-16 - corp cup 10k stats

I had about 25 minutes to kill before the start of the 5K. I got some water, paced around for a little bit, chatted with some GM people about the race, then walked to a shelter building that had actual bathrooms. I was pretty soaked and tried to get some relief by drying the sweat off of my face and neck.

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With the 5K run due to start at 9:00 and the 5K walk shortly after, the crowd had grown quite a bit. Some people were still wrapping up their 10K, so we got started a few minutes later. As soon as I started running, I could tell right away that the downtime between races hadn’t magically refreshed my legs. I started with a 7:38 mile then naturally settled into the 7:40s for the next couple miles.

The sun had broken through the clouds a bit but not enough to make the temperature jump much. At least I noticed a little breeze at times, which I hadn’t during the 10K. Some of the route was the same as the 10K but a little bit was different. Having some different scenery and more people around helped distract me. I liked seeing people in wetsuits getting ready to swim when we ran past a beach on the north side of the island. Between swimmers, bikers, and runners, it seemed like plenty of people were out training or just staying active. I did a triathlon there once four years ago and it definitely seems like a good location for triathlon training. I really ought to make an effort to go there more often.

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When my mind wasn’t distracted enough by the scenery, other people, or trying to run the tangents, I thought about getting through the race whatever it took. That made me think of the song “Whatever It Takes” by Imagine Dragons, so that got stuck in my head for a bit. Lifehouse has a song with the same title, and that ran through my head next. This race wasn’t going to be one of my more outstanding efforts, but hopefully it would be good enough to help my team.

It became clear to me that the 5K was going to run a bit long too. I didn’t have much to give at the end of the race, but managed to drop my pace to 7:11 for the last quarter mile. Instead of 3.1 miles, my watch came up with 3.26. Double that and you get the 6.52 that I ran for the 10K, so I guess at least the courses were consistently long for me?

2018-06-16 - corp cup 5k stats

I wasn’t as wiped out as I was when I finished the 10K, but I was glad to be done for the day. I walked over to the GM tent where I grabbed a bagel, granola bar, and bottle of water. I chatted with several GM people who I had never met but whose names I recognized thanks to Chevy Running Club’s online community. Part of the fun of participating in the event is getting to meet some new people who are happy to talk about running!

Around 10:15 we gathered for a group photo. Then some people headed out to Berkley for the track and field events that would run through the afternoon. On my way out I saw a table where initial results were posted. I had placed first in my age group in both events! I talked to another GM woman who had done the same. Regardless of how the races had gone for me personally, my top goal was to help the team and it looked like I had achieved that goal.

20180616 AM Chevy Team Picture

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For 9.78 miles total, I’m pretty happy with my 7:42-7:43 pace. I’m surprised that I was so consistent between the two events. Double my 5K time and I was just one second over my 10K time! Typically my 5K pace should be a bit faster than my 10K pace, but I couldn’t pull that off this time. Knowing that the weather really dragged me down, I’m satisfied that I managed to do as well as I did. As much as I try to train through warm and humid conditions, my body never really acclimates to it. I definitely do much better on cooler days.

Official results came out a few days after the race. I placed 45/135 overall and 1/4 in my age group for the 10K with my time of 50:13. I placed 69/210 overall and 1/5 in my age group for the 5K with my time of 25:07. The highest placing four women in the 10K and five women in the 5K counted toward the team scoring. Chevy placed second in Division I for the women in both the 5K and 10K, third for the men in the 5K, and second for the 10K. With the afternoon events factored in, Chevy finished third overall. I’m glad I did my part to contribute and wish we had placed higher, but it’s really about the camaraderie, having fun while being active, and raising money for charity.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz




Island Lake Triathlon Recap

On Saturday, June 2nd I did my second triathlon of the season. The Island Lake Triathlon took place at Island Lake State Recreation Area in Brighton, Michigan. I did the Olympic distance there in 2014 and 2017 and enjoyed it enough to do it again. The rolling hills make it a good challenge and the park is a great place for a race. I knew that I’d need to do a long bike ride during the weekend anyway, so why not sign up for the race and get a good ride in there? Although I had just done an Olympic triathlon six days earlier, I was anxious to do another. I recovered quickly from the other race and the weather forecast looked cooler and more enjoyable for this race.

I left home at 5am in order to get to the park at 6am. That gave me a little over an hour to do everything before the pre-race meeting. Since we’ve had a heatwave with highs around 90 degrees for the past week or so, I was relieved that rain had come through the night before and things cooled down. It was overcast, in the mid-50s, and pretty chilly with a little bit of wind. My biggest question was whether it had cooled down enough for us to use wetsuits. The water temperature had been 79 degrees the day before the race. That’s one degree too high for wetsuits according to USA Triathlon rules. I was thrilled when I saw a sign at the packet pickup area that said the water was 75 degrees and the swim would be wetsuit legal! I was glad I’d be aided by the buoyancy and speed of the wetsuit. Who would have thought that there would be concern over the water being too *warm* this early in the season though?

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Kent Lake

I love the design of the shirt and was happy that the packet included a couple of goodies from Clif.

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I set things up in transition and thought getting into my wetsuit would help keep me warm, but I still continued to shiver.

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At 7:15 the transition area closed and the pre-race meeting began. Nearly 500 people participated between all of the events – Olympic, sprint, super sprint, duathlon, relays, etc. The Olympic distance had 133 finishers and we got to start first. An email sent a couple days before the race let us know that seaweed had been a big issue in the lake. There were several paragraphs about the various benefits of seaweed, reminding us that it was a good thing. I appreciated the sense of humor about the situation. As a result, the swim course was altered a bit to help us avoid the worst of it. Instead of two loops, the Olympic athletes would swim three 500m loops. Last year we had to get out of the water and run around a marker on the beach between loops, but thankfully we didn’t have to do that this year.

The Olympic men started first at 7:30 and the women followed a few minutes later. The water was warmer than the air so it felt great. I’m in the middle of the photo below, keeping my body down in the water to stay warm.

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The group spaced out eventually and I didn’t get kicked or beaten up despite some initial crowding. I grabbed a little bit of seaweed and got a piece in my face at one point, but it really wasn’t bad and it was mostly close to the beach. I felt comfortable during the swim and was always distracted as I looked for the next buoy and made sure I didn’t run into people. Thanks to Epic Races and Greg Sadler’s team for the free photos. Sometimes race photos can cost $15 or more a piece, so it’s a big perk to get some great shots for free.

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I didn’t practice swimming in the open water this year before jumping right into racing. Fortunately, I seem to have the hang of it after several years of doing triathlons and it has naturally come right back to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that my new wetsuit would rub my neck. When I showered after last weekend’s race, I felt pain shooting from the skin on the back of my neck. I didn’t feel anything during the race, but it was clear that I’d done something. I thought my wetsuit sat lower on my neck and couldn’t be the cause. I realized pretty quickly during this race that I was wrong. Once I was in swimming position I felt it rubbing the area that was still raw. I’ll have to try Body Glide all over my neck next time in hopes of solving it.

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Eventually I started to catch a few of the men during the swim. Before the race I was concerned that some of the faster men would swim over me by the time I hit the third loop. I thought the other waves of swimmers started late enough that I’d avoid them, but that became the biggest issue. As I finished my second loop, it was congested enough by the buoys near the beach that some people stood up and walked around them, so I did too. I didn’t want to keep swimming and crash into people. After I rounded the buoys and started to swim again I got caught up in a crowd of at least one other wave. As seen in the picture below, there were people from the red, pink, blue, and purple waves all mixed together.

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It really turned into a mess when I approached a set of buoys where the purple wave needed to turn left while I needed to go straight. I was caught in a sea of purple caps and had to work my way out. I thought I’d push harder during the final loop, but I kept getting stuck in groups of people. There would be three people swimming side by side, and I either had to squeeze between them or hesitate, give them room, then work my way around them. I was a little frustrated because I wanted to finish strong, but it just wasn’t possible with so many people around. After the race someone mentioned how he did an Ironman where 1,700 people all had to run into the water at once, so obviously this was nothing compared to that! I was happy with my time of 29:04 for 1500m, but it left me wondering how much better I could have done if I could have really pushed through the end.

The transition area was right next to the beach and it was a quick walk/jog up from the water. It was still in the mid-50s and it would only feel worse while I was wet so I figured I should wear something warmer on the bike. After I got out of my wetsuit, I tried to get into a quarter-zip jacket but I couldn’t get it on. I kind of wiped off, but not enough to keep me from getting tangled up. I looked around and saw that most everyone else was leaving the transition area in just their tri suits, so I decided to ditch the jacket. I had debated wearing gloves but left those behind as well. After all of that screwing around, I managed to spend too much time in transition as usual – 3:01 this time.

I knew what to expect from the bike course since I had done the race a couple times before. The road surface is good and I like that the course keeps us on the roads within the park. There’s a nice mix of rolling hills to keep it challenging. Some of the uphill stretches slowed me down to a crawl, but I could make up for it on some of the fast downhill stretches. Olympic athletes had two loops of the out and back course. Watching the people who were riding on the other side of the road provided a good distraction.

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I did the best I could, which really wasn’t all that good. I spend more time running and swimming than I do biking, simply because I enjoy them more. As expected, that means my bike skills are lacking. I lost plenty of ground that I’d gained during the swim once people flew past me on the bike. I’ve been informed at both races this season that I could be faster if I got a better bike. Maybe one of these days, but for now I’m not up for investing a minimum of $2,000 for a new bike. One guy informed me that I might be able to get something decent for that low. Of course most of the athletes have even pricier bikes.

The air felt crisp during my first loop, but I think I had enough adrenaline flowing to stay warm. I started to get cold by the second loop. It was manageable, but I wished I had gloves. I finished the 40k bike in 1:28:31, which averaged out to 16.8 mph.

I probably could have made it through the second transition faster if my hands hadn’t been so cold. I really struggled to get my thick ponytail through the hole of my running hat since my hands were half numb. Still, 50 seconds was decent enough.

Onto the run! Now the overcast sky and mid-50s felt PERFECT. It was nearly 30 degrees warmer during my run at last weekend’s triathlon so this felt nice and refreshing. I knew that the run started up a steep, grassy hill, and that part is always tough. Once I recovered from that, I felt pretty good. Aside from a stretch of grass at the beginning and end of our two loops, we ran on a paved path with a few little climbs, but nothing too bad. Part of the run was through Island Lake and the other part was through Kensington Metropark. Like on the bike, watching the people on the out and back route provided a good distraction.

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My first and fourth miles were around an 8:00 pace, probably thanks to climbing that grass hill. The rest of my miles were somewhere in the 7:40s. I was really happy with that pace since I haven’t been running very fast lately. I’m sure the cool temperature played a big role. I was surprised that I felt so good and wondered if that meant I should be pushing harder. I just kept rolling with it and enjoyed it, deciding that I’d try pushing harder during the last mile. There was a steep, grassy downhill stretch on the way to the finish where I picked up a lot of momentum. I was probably pressing my luck there and was lucky that I didn’t wipe out!

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I finished strong with a time of 45:59 for what was supposed to be 10k. When I heard people at the end questioning the length of the course, I checked my watch. It said that I had run closer to 5.9 mi rather than 6.2 mi. If it had been a true 10k, that meant I would have run a 7:25 average pace. I doubt the run would have felt as enjoyable or that I’d be smiling so much if I had actually run that pace!

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2:47:26 was about a minute and a half faster than my time last year. Factor in a shorter run this time around and I was probably in the same neighborhood.

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I enjoyed the post-race food options, especially the pancakes. They also had little cookie bars and brownies, bags of chips, bananas, and a freezer with ice cream sandwiches. Before I left I ate the little Clif bar we received in our packet, and I also bought a smoothie from a coffee/food truck that was set up in the parking lot. Plenty of good options for refueling. They talked about a beer tent, but I never made my way over there.

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They had computers set up so people could check their results. Since I was third in my age group (out of six) and they gave awards to the top five, I won something. I thought it was pretty cool that I could pick from any of the things on the table.

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Since I had won a glass last year and didn’t need a duplicate, I chose a hat.

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I had a great day and hope to keep returning to this race in the future. It’s challenging enough to keep things interesting but enjoyable enough that I finished with a smile on my face. I’ll take a couple weekends off but will probably try to get one more triathlon in later this month.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz