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Intel Perks: Pay-to-Play; what a concept!

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Living in Portland, Oregon, a running city, “Run a mile straight. And eventually do a half-marathon.” seems like an easy item to cross off my Life List. What you don’t realize is that the only running I do is running after ice cream trucks. Or, at least, that was the case until last year. Friends convinced me to join them for a 5k race—I was convinced I was going to die. (I even left a note on my bed the morning of the race, letting everyone know who would get my earring collection and more importantly, my unopened boxes of Girl Scout cookies.) Much to my surprise, I survived and actually enjoyed the adrenaline rush of completing a race. Fast forward a few weeks to a friend sending me information about entering a lottery to participate in the 2010 Nike Women’s Half Marathon* in San Francisco. The race sounded pretty cool (firemen dressed up in tuxedos giving out Tiffany* necklaces to the finishers in lieu of a medal) but figured there was no way we’d get in, so why not? Lo and behold, our names were picked. I guess I was going to be doing a half marathon.

Long story short, I trained, I finished, and I got my necklace. NikeWomens-thumb-300x253What made reaching this goal even sweeter was that Intel paid for my entry fee into the race! As part of the Great Place to Work initiative, this is a program where Intel will pay for employees to play in sporting events! Employees submit entries for team sports, such as softball, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, dodge ball, racquetball and tennis, or individual events, such as foot and bike races, golf tournaments, triathlons and swimming events, and winners are randomly drawn. What an awesome way to encourage employees to be active!

Like any good idea, the Pay to Play program evolved so that more people would be able to participate and benefit from it. Like the program, my goal evolved: not only was I going to do a half-marathon, I was going to run the entire thing. This year’s race of choice: The Pacific Crest Half Marathon*. As I started training for it, I realized that I didn’t want to do this alone. Using the Pay to Play program as leverage, I ended up recruiting several friends to sign up with me—and once our names were picked in the random drawing, I knew it was a sign.

The race was a few weeks ago and was definitely a more challenging race is it was a few thousand feet above sea level where it’s harder to breathe. My goals were simple: finish the race and run the entire time. Sure, it would be nice to beat my personal record of three hours and six minutes, but altitude was my biggest challenge. My running buddies had other plans: they were determined to finish the race in two hours and 30 minutes. End result: it was tough and I struggled, but I ran the whole time and finished the race and just barely met our time goal too.


Thanks Intel for supporting and challenging me not just in my cube, but outside of the workplace too!