The Hot Chocolate 15k was my first race of 2014, and it was a great one!! I was excited not only because it was my first race since the half marathon, but also, my friend Christina came down from Charlotte to run it with me. We always have a great time together, and this was no exception!
We started by going to the expo the day prior, on Saturday. We actually had the second part of our Good Form Running class, so we did that before going to the expo (which is why we were dressed like runners like a couple of nerds…). Kim came too, even though she wasn’t running the race. The expo was downtown at the Georgia World Congress Center, and it was hard to miss since there was a giant, inflatable mug of hot chocolate outside.
I love hot chocolate!!!
Kim, Christina, and I
After we picked up our numbers and our sweet swag, we stopped for a couple of photo ops before shopping.
Ready to run “America’s Sweetest Race”!
Kim and I in front of the giant marshmallow man.
Teeny-tiny cups of hot chocolate!
The expo itself was pretty good, lots of vendors. I picked up a few more Sweaty Bands, a hat that has LED lights built into it to see the road in front of you, and a tee. Not too shabby!
After the expo, we had lunch and took it easy (read: we laid around all day) the rest of the day, and went to bed super early.
We had been checking the weather all day, and the forecast was a low of 23 Saturday night. When we woke up on Sunday morning, I did a little happy dance–it was only 30, and the sun wasn’t even up yet! You may not think that’s a big difference, unless you’ve ever ran in sub-freezing temperatures. We left the house before the crack of dawn, because the traffic in Atlanta can be horrendous, and Sunday was no exception.
We arrived close to Turner Field around 6:15, but the traffic was gridlocked, and we didn’t park until around 7:30. Luckily, the 15k didn’t start until 8:30, while the 5K started at 7:30. This was actually good timing on our part because the porta-potties and what not were relatively clear. We were able to take care of business and then stand around for only about 20 minutes before we started warming up. I brought hot-hands and since I was wearing my 110% compression pants, I put a few hot-hands in the pockets intended for ice. This actually worked out really, really well, since I was able to keep my IT band and hammies nice and warm before we got started running.
Now, Chrissy and I had already come up with a game plan for running this together. As you may remember, I recently ditched interval running…but Chrissy hadn’t. We said we would run the first two miles together in 2/1 intervals, then we’d run the remainder by “feel” intervals, and I’d help pace us, and we’d just walk whenever she needed.
As we’re lined up in the corral, Chrissy looks at me and says, “Let’s not do intervals. Let’s just run”.
“Are you sure?! I don’t mind doing intervals”
“Yeh, let’s just do it!”
Chrissy is ready. Beast. Mode. On.
I knew she was nervous so when we started, I kept us at a really slow pace. We did the first mile a little over 12 minutes. When we got to the first mile marker, Christina exclaimed “I just ran a whole mile! I don’t think I’ve ever done that before!”
Then we did 2. Then 3….and I knew we were going to make it!
We walked a couple of times around water stops, but overall, we ran the whole thing, minus a photo op here:
You’re probably wondering what that thing is in my hand. It’s my niece’s Flat Stanley that she sent me!
There were a few water stops along the course, but only every-other one had sports drinks. I read this ahead of time, so I brought my own, but it was really disappointing. Probably my only complaint about the race, I really wish there had been sports drinks at every stop.
Coming up on the Atlanta skyline.
Overall, the course was great. Pretty hilly, but that was expected. Big thanks to whoever decided that the last .25 miles should be downhill…that was AMAZING!! As we approached the finish line, Chrissy and I were both feeling great. So great, that when we saw the finish, Christina started sprinting–to which the guy running next to us said “Oh HELL NO” and started racing her. So there were the three of us, sprinting like maniacs to cross the finish. It was awesome! Official time: 1:48:20
Here we are, finishers and on a huge running high!
After we stretched out, we went around for our photo ops and of course….chocolate! One of the highlights of this race is at the end, you get hot chocolate and fondue and things to dip in the fondue. It was DELICIOUS. Seriously, OMG, delicious!
Enjoying my finisher’s mug of hot chocolate and fondue!
As far as my performance, I felt GREAT during this race. We were using this race as a training run, so we did a slow pace (around 11:15). I had a good dinner the night before, but something different than I usually eat before a race. I usually eat fish, but we had greek gyros and I think I’m going to do that again, I had a ton of energy. I was really nervous about the distance because it was the longest I’ve attempted since my IT band injury. The 110% compression pants helped, and I stretched out really good before and after. I didn’t have any pain, so now I have the confidence to keep training for my next half.
Overall, this was an awesome race. I thought the race was super well organized–it was clear that these guys have the race and all the festivities down to a science. The course was great and the lines were not at all as bad as I expected at the post-party. We’ll definitely do this race again!