Asheville Chamber Challenge 2012

Photo Credit Olivia Marone

I’ve done this race annually since I started running. It’s put together by the Chamber of Commerce with the goal to promote physical health within businesses. While some people sign up as individuals, this is mostly a group race. Teams sign up and while there is a Female and Male winner overall, the rest of the awards are given to teams only. But this is not about who runs the fastest (well only a little bit). This is about everyone, from the fast racers from the local running stores (I’m pretty sure they went home with all the top prizes) to the  stroller running mom and dads. This is about having fun and gathering at the end of the work day.

It’s both a blessing (early work release) and a curse (it’s hot!) to have the race starting at 4:30pm. The course starts at the parking  lot of the Chamber of Commerce, goes down one hill and then the uphill starts into the Montreat Historic District. There are a few downhills, but the last mile of the race is all uphill on Montford Avenue. It’s always a tough finish.

Thankfully this year we were greeted with rainy and cloudy weather. Temperatures in the high 60’s made this race perfect for once. The sun broke through the clouds right at the end, but not early enough to make it too hot.

I started somewhere towards the front. I new I was starting fast, but I still tried my best to find my pace once we passed the first downhill. I was still shocked to hear a volunteer reading 7 minutes as I passed the first mile marker. With the few seconds it took me to step on the start line I knew this was fast for me. At that point I decided that what the heck, if I’m going crazy, I might as well go for it. Now mind you, that first mile was the one with the most downhill, so I did not go any faster than that. Actually I slowed down after it.

Past that first mile I could tell that a lot of runners around me had started way too fast as I started to pass them. We hit the halfway point before I even knew it, then headed on a slight downhill towards Montford Avenue. Suddenly it was mile 2 already. Wait how did that happen? Oh yes, I know I’m used to do longer runs now 🙂

Montford Avenue… I love hills, but this one is tough, and long. This is not a course to break records! As we started on Montford Avenue I found myself with a group of runners going about the same speed as I was. There was this guy in particular, wearing a grey shirt whom I would pass and who would pass me again. It was annoying me a little. I could hear his breathing, I could tell that he was struggling, so why did he insist on passing me every time? He couldn’t stand being passed by a girl? At least I managed to leave him behind in the section of the hill and I raced to the finish. I knew I would not pass anymore girls in front of me.

As I saw the clock, I knew I would not beat my last 5k time. However… I have doubts that my last 5k was really 5k and it wasn’t chipped. Which makes this my new Official 5K PR and on a rolling hill course as it is. Not to mention it’s a big course PR for me by close to 2 minutes. The Half and Marathon training have paid of.

I waited for my colleagues at the end. We all gathered up and cheered. Then I took a few minutes to go get some (free) beer from the local Highland Brewery. If you ask me it’s one of the best perks of this race… Other co-workers came in, including a new dad with his daughter in the stroller, the mom came a few minutes later. Good moments.

One of the best parts as I waited for my co-workers was when grey shirt guy came a few seconds after me and came to shake me hand to say thank you. It’s always so special to me when you know you helped someone push beyond what they think they could do. He told me he tried to keep up with me (I should have told him my husband learned better, HA!). I said you’re welcome and told him the thought had crossed my mind that he didn’t want to be passed by a girl in a skirt. He said that was part of it, but mostly he just tried to keep up. I feel very happy I was able to pace him.

We all hanged out a little longer to see how we did. You see, girl teams from our company have had a habit of placing in the first three for the last three years. They started the award as we got closer and suddenly we hear a name. Only two of us from the team were still there and we’re like, wait is that us? We didn’t know which name we had been registered under. And yes it was. We placed 2nd female group overall. Not bad at all. We finished just a minute ahead with out total time of the 3rd group but a good 20 minutes behind the first group (all from a running store). Not bad right?

Chip Time: 22:53, 7:24 pace
85th Overall
15th of the Female Overall
2nd of the Female Team

Photo Credit: Olivia Marone

Big thumbs up to the organizers this year: they had the water in the cooler (unlike last year). Nice cold water and bananas were awesome. I also grabbed some healthy goodies such as a 15 day free YMCA membership and two free pilates class. What a great way to inspire local businesses to be healthy. One of those years I want to do it in a costume.

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