Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hot Chocolate 15K

Well, it appears that I haven’t been good at updating my blog on a regular basis; nor have I been good at picking races that have warm weather.

When I did the Chicago marathon in October, I saw lots of advertising for the Hot Chocolate Run. I thought it sounded pretty interesting. You got a cool windbreaker jacket in your packet instead of the normal t-shirt and the goodies at the finish line included chocolate – lots of it. What more could you ask for? The only problem was that there was not a Hot Chocolate race near me. Or so I thought.

I got an email one day and noticed that Dallas was offering a Hot Chocolate Run this year. Hmmm. We have volleyball tournaments in Dallas. I checked the calendar and believe it or not, the Hot Chocolate Run was scheduled for the same weekend my daughter and I would be there for volleyball.

We never know the actual time of her games until 2-3 days prior to the tournament, so I asked her if she would mind if I signed up for the run knowing that if she had early morning games I might have to miss one or two. She was ok with that, so I signed up.

It turned out that she had afternoon games the day of the race so there was no issue of missing her games. The issue was the weather. I woke up on race morning to find that it was 20-something degrees outside with a wind chill factor of 17. Good thing I brought lots of layers. I dressed myself in Under Armor tights and shorts on the bottom and 2 Under Armor long sleeved tops, a short sleeve top and a sleeveless fleece vest on top. Of course I had the gloves for my hand and a headband to cover my ears. I also had the runners secret – a garbage bag – for the starting line. I got in the car and headed to the start.

Once I got there I sat in the car for quite a while. I just couldn’t bring myself to get outside in the cold and wind. The thought did cross my mind to just start the car and head back to the hotel, but I paid my money and I was going to do the race.

When it got closer to the start time, I ventured out. Luckily the “expo” hall was open and people were allowed in there to stay warm before the start. I used the bathrooms in there instead of going out to the port-a-potties and waited until just before race time. When it was time, I headed out to the start. BRRRRRRRR!!!!

Luckily the race started just a few minutes after I got into the coral. It was hard to run at first because I was so cold. I had the garbage bag over me to protect me from the wind, but my feet were numb and my face was numb. At this point, I didn’t care about time at all. I just wanted to get moving and get warm.

By mile one I was at least warm enough to ditch the garbage bag, but I was still somewhat cold. The sun had started coming out so that helped.

Mile 1: 9:38
Mile 2: 9:44
Mile 3: 9:39

Since this was a 15k, I was practicing my long run strategy of eating 2 shot blocks every 3 miles. At mile 3 I squeezed the shot block into my mouth and knew right away I’d have to let it sit there for a while to warm up some so it would be soft enough to chew. It was pretty hard from the cold.

Not knowing the course I had no idea if there were any hills or not and, if so, how bad they were. I just kept chugging along at a pace that felt comfortable to me. After all, I would obtain a PR today no matter what since this was my first 15k race.

Mile 4: 9:29
Mile 5: 9:08
Mile 6: 9:30

The was a bit of a hill between miles 5 and 6 as you can see from my slower time on mile 6. Oh well. At this point I knew I had just over 3 miles to go. That meant 30 minutes or less. I felt good so I picked up the speed just a little bit.

Mile 7: 9:06
Mile 8: 9:07
Mile 9: 9:09

Just before mile 9 there was an uphill on an overpass. I pushed through it and finished the final .3 miles in 3 minutes flat for an overall time of 1:27:29. I was happy as I had wanted to do this under 1:30:00.

I walked through the finisher chute and grabbed some water. Then I realized how far of a walk I had to get back to the “expo” are and inside the warmth. I started jogging again. I didn’t care that I had just run 9.3 miles, I wanted to be warm.

Once inside the building I grabbed the “goodies” that awaited me. A container with half a banana, a pretzel stick, a marshmallow, several slices of apple and lots of warm chocolate to dip it all in. Yumm!!!

I found a spot to sit down and eat my goodies while I warmed up. Then I braved the cold back to the car so I could get back to my daughter.

When I checked the official results I was happy. I was 117th in my age group and 1116th overall. I’m not sure how many people ran. But the thing I was most happy about was that I negative split the whole race.

My first 5K was 30:03 with a 9:42 pace
My second 5k was 29:01 with a pace of 9:22
My last 5k was 28:25 with a pace of 9:10

My overall pace was 9:36.

This is definitely a race I would do again if I had the chance and it worked with my schedule.