Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hot Chocolate 15K Race Review

Last week's workouts:
Mon 2/6: Power yoga class
Tues 2/7: 3 mi run
Wed 2/8: 3 mi run (social run) + strength training
Thurs 2/9: Rest or yoga (Walked to and from work, ~2 mi)
Fri: 2/10: 3 mi run
Sat: 2/11: Race day! 9.3 miles

I was a little nervous going into the Hot Chocolate race for a couple of reasons. First, the race in Washington, DC got terrible reviews. But I have done other RAM races before so I was hopeful that the organizers had learned from their mistakes. Second, the weather took a turn for the cold on Friday and overnight lows were predicted to be about 25 degrees. In the early morning hours, Hot Chocolate even sent out an email encouraging 15K participants to switch to the 5K if their pace would be under 12 miles an hour. In addition, they added, the wind chill was about 19 degrees. Yikes!

But, hey, I've run in worse weather conditions (White Rock 2011 and Wounded Warrior come to mind), so Michael and I decided we would bundle up and still race. I wore my Athleta Streamline pants, a short-sleeve t-shirt and my favorite New Balance half-zip top with foldover mittens. I wore a Lululemon headband that is pretty wide so I could pull it down over my ears.

Our race morning started with a snafu that was completely my fault-- I thought I had set the alarm for 5:00 but had actually set it for 6:15. Whoops! We had planned on leaving at 7:00 so this did not leave much time to eat breakfast, drink coffee and digest but luckily we were able to get ready and hit the road by 7:15. We are pretty familiar with Fair Park so we took a shortcut that we knew of and didn't have to sit in any traffic to get to the race site. Parking was quick and easy (and free!) and we found the start line right as the 5K started.

We didn't get into our assigned corral because people were already moving and it didn't seem like the corrals were very strictly enforced. No matter, we got in with some L's and M's and it was no big deal. We were lining up in the same spot we had at White Rock but there were more entrances to get to the corrals, so no bottlenecks. The MC was great, he kept the crowd pumped and we started right on time!

The first couple of miles were super crowded and I was weaving in and out (walkers to the right, please!). No worse than any other big race I've done, though. Michael and I lost each other pretty quickly, which was fine because we hadn't planned on running the whole thing together.

The course was great, we went through the Fair Park area, up Swiss Avenue, through East Dallas and then back down Lindsley. It was surprisingly hilly; I know Swiss has a slope, so I knew we would have an incline there but I didn't realize how hilly some of the other sreets are! That coupled with the wind made it quite challenging, but it was still enjoyable. There were water and Gatorade stations every 2 miles and mile markers with the gun time at every mile. I took water and Gatorade at mile 4, then Gatorade at mile 8. I brought some Honey Stinger chews but didn't end up taking any. Not a lot of spectators were out, but this was the first year for this race and it was cold!

One last big hill (this one was a bridge) and we were back in Fair Park! There was good energy at the finish line, the MC was keeping the crowd lively and one of the officials was standing in the finish chute high-fiving everyone who came through.

Finish time: 1:25:46
5K split 28:07 (9:04 min/mile)
10K split 28:49 (9:18 min/mile)
Finish 28:49 (9:18 min/mile)

So you can see where I started out fast (which I knew I was doing) but the last two 5K's were exactly the same so I found a good pace. And since it was my first 15K, it's an automatic PR!

After I crossed the finish line, I got another small cup of Gatorade and a bottle of water, then headed for the chocolate party. The only thing I didn't like about the race was that the finish line was by where we had parked, but the afterparty was in the Automobile Building, on the other side of Fair Park! So it was at least a half-mile walk to get to our chocolate! I'm sure that was how it had to be done because of the way Fair Park is set up, but my legs were tired by this point! But I was determined to get my chocolate, so I headed to the building and got a platter of chocolate fondue. It was a plastic tray with apple slices, half a banana, two marshmallows and a pretzel rod. Somehow, I got a tray without a pretzel but one of the volunteers was nice enough to give me two. Then I got a scoop of chocolate sauce from another volunteer. The fruit was a little sad looking (cut fruit doesn't look too pretty after a while) but all I cared about were the marshmallows and pretzels anyway.

Around this time, Michael started calling my phone because he was ready to leave. He had finished just a couple minutes behind me and he found me quickly (shoveling chocolate covered marshmallows into my mouth, ha!). I saw some people with Ghiradelli squares, but Michael was anxious to leave so I just grabbed a hot chocolate (No lines! This is my kind of post-race party!) and we hiked back to the car. Now that we weren't running, the wind felt really cold again so the hot chocolate was great!

Sorry that was so long, but I was really impressed with everything about this race. I thought it was really well organized, great volunteers and I loved the post-race goodies!

Next up: Rock & Roll Half Marathon March 25!

This week's plans:
Sunday 2/12: Yoga for Runners podcast (25 min)
Monday 2/13: 3 mi run
Tuesday 2/14: Upper body strength training
Wednesday 2/15: 3 mi social run (I've heard rumors of a massage therapist afterwards!)
Thursday 2/16: Rest or yoga
Friday 2/17: 3 mi run
Saturday 2/18: 7 mi run

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