Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Hot Chocolate 15k: Philadelphia edition


I've been wanting to run a Hot Chocolate race for awhile, but none of the locations/ dates were that convenient. This year, the Philadelphia one worked out perfectly. Sarah, Pam and I could visit with Megan and Chloe (the cutest 18month old ever!) and get a race in. We drove down Saturday morning and went straight to pick up our bibs. Seeing that it was in a running store, I was expecting the worst. Yes, it was a tad crowded, but all in all, it went a lot smoother than I was expecting. 

The Race Marshall. . . Mallow

The next morning, we drove to Megan's and hung out at her apartment until the race started. Her apartment is ridiculously convenient to the start; it's about a 5 minute walk to the Philly's Museum of Art (which is where the majority of races start/ finish in Philly. How nice is that?!). We left around 7:45 for the 8AM start and had plenty of time for a last minute portapotty stop. Surprise, surprise- there were no lines! It was awesome.


After seeing the course, I was a little concerned. It happens to be the last part of the Rock-n-Roll Philly course and I'm not that big of a fan of that part of the course. I'm usually ready for the race to be over and the Museum looks closer than it is and that drives me insane. But it's also flat and along the water, so life could be worse. Plus, a major positive of it being an out and back was I got to see Sarah and Megan speed by, which was a great mid-race boost!

Originally, I thought it was a little weird that they had the 5k start 45 minutes before the 15k, but I think it was logistically perfect- the 5kers could enjoy their post-race party and probably be on their way home by the time the 15kers were finishing. Smart. I never felt the area was over crowded.


Surprisingly, my race went really well. I knew I didn't want to race it, but I did want to push myself a bit. I've been running races just to get through them since before marathon training (for fear of injury if I pushed too hard) and since I'm trying to get faster, why not see how my progress is going? I was a little perturbed that I was over dressed (I switched out of my costume because it was freezing at 6am when we were leaving the hotel. At 8:15 when I started running? Not so much.) but it turned out to be really beautiful race weather. I decided to run how I felt and apparently I was feeling good. At the 5k mark I noticed I was only a minute off of my PR, so I decided to see if I could hit my 10k PR (since the ultimate goal is to 10k PR).


Then there was chocolate. Sadly, I couldn't stomach it at the time, but saved it for later. The volunteer handed me a handful, so I started giving the volunteers some as I passed them. Did I mention the volunteers were awesome?! Because every one I passed was cheering like no one's business. It was great. There weren't that many spectators (I'm assuming because of where the course was), but the volunteers enthusiasm definitely made up for it.

Once I got to the 10k mark, I realized I was about a minute behind my PR then, too! (sidenote: I later discovered that my PR is actually 3 minutes slower than what I thought, so I was ahead of pace! SCORE!) I decided I would continue to push myself to see what I could do. I had just run the Ted Corbitt 15k in December, but I wasn't running for time (just to finish without being a popsicle!). Even though I had no clue what my time was (note to self: you should probably check that before you run a race!), I just continued to run harder than I normally would've.

Which is of course when my knee started acting up (note to self: strength train. Seriously). I stopped to stretch a couple of times but not for very long. I started to do some math (note to self: mid-race math is never a good plan) and I figured I could try for a sub-2 hour finish. That sounded fun, right? Not to my knee! I laid off of it as much as I could, but pushed to the finish (who puts a hill at the finish, seriously?!) I finished in 2:01 on the dot. I'll take it! The plus side of being the slowest runner of the group? Having your own private cheer section as you cross the finish line!


Finally got my own finisher's mug!

One suggestion: More things to dip in the chocolate! One marshmallow was not cutting it for me and the airline sized pretzels didn't work very well with dipping either. I ended up eating the rest of the chocolate with a spoon (no shame!) which was DELISH, but turned out to be a terrible plan. I can't eat a lot of chocolate at one time because it actually makes me sick. Add that to warmer weather running plus a sensitivity to getting car sick and you have the perfect equation for a not so pleasant unscheduled stop on the side of the road on way back to the city.



With that aside, I really loved this race! From the easy packet pickup to the no line portapotties to the after race celebration, it was a great way to spend a Sunday- or weekend visiting with friends in my case. It was extremely kid-friendly, I saw a bunch of space walks and families hanging out. It was a tad pricey, but for everything you got, it was well worth the price. The hooded fleece lined jacket was enough! On top of that, I got a 9 minute PR- and who doesn't love PRs?! Hopefully I'll get another chance to run one of their races and I would definitely recommend the same to you!

9 comments:

  1. The chocolate fondue was amazeballs here as well. I was expecting some version of watery chocolate syrup, but it was so good! I agree, though, they need more items to dip. I ate my left over chocolate with a spoon, too. I'm glad you had a good time and congrats on the PR!

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    1. Thanks ma'am! Glad you enjoyed yours as well!

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  2. I'm running the Minneapolis version this Saturday and am super nervous for this distance. Thanks for sharing your experience; makes me a little less nervous for the race...a little... ;)

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    1. Don't be nervous, you'll totally rock it! Enjoy!

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  3. Congrats on your PR, that's awesome ( and a big one too). I have never ran a hot Chocolate race but I have read many reviews of the series and yours is the first positive one I have come across! Glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. I know they had issues the 1st couple of years, but it seems like they fixed them- at least in Philly!

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  4. Congratulations on your awesome PR! That's great! And this race sounds absolutely DELICIOUS!!!! Sorry the trip home wasn't as good as the race itself though :/

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  5. Woot!! You are a rock star! I totally ate my chocolate with a spoon too! :) Race math is so overrated as are hills at the end. I'm really over hills at the end of races.

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