Yesterday was my second race of the year - the Hot Chocolate 15k. This is one of those giant, theme races that travels around the country that, truthfully, I generally try to avoid. Just a personal preference - the more I race, the more I appreciate smaller, locally run races. BUT - this one was raising money for the Ronald McDonald House, which is dear to my heart, so I signed up. I had originally thought about doing both the 5k and the 15k, but the price was a little steep - something like $45 for the 5k and $64 for the 15k, with no discounts for doing both. So...nope. Just one race for me. Which worked out fine since I'm still working my way back from being sick.
Hot Chocolate Baby!
The 5k started at 7:00, but the 15k started at 7:55. Being that parking was going to be somewhat limited, we (me and Kathy) decided to get there with the 5k runners. Which meant I had to pick Kathy up at 6:15. That. Was. So. Early. Ugh. It was painful. However, it did allow us to get total rock star parking for the race. Win!
Kathy and I decided to go cheer for the 5k runners as their race started, rather than sitting in the car for the next hour. While, in theory, this would have been a good idea, the reality was that it was FREEZING cold and standing around for an extra 50 minutes probably wasn't the best idea. The temperature was in the 20s, but the wind chill made it feel like it was 12. TWELVE!! And it was that bitter, bone-chilling cold that just hurts.
I've asked myself this almost daily recently.
My feet hurt, my legs hurt, my fingers hurt, my face hurt...it was bad. We didn't even try to find any of our friends that were running the 5k. Not that we would have been able to find them anyway, since everyone was so bundled up they were unrecognizable. Instead, we huddled up in the swag tent trying to stay warm. We weren't the only ones with this idea.
Finally, the race was about to start. We met up with some of the regular Saturday running crew, Sara and Alicia, as well as one our FTP teammates, Jan.
Sara, Jan, Kathy and Alicia - all smiles even though we were all freezing.
There were about 6,000 people total, though I don't know how that was broken up between the 5k and the 15k. I will say there were a lot more people running the 15k than I thought would be. We kind of started towards that back and it took us 6 minutes to get to the start line.
Finally. The start line.
I don't have many words for the course, other than it was 9.3 miles and hilly. VERY hilly. It was another one of those courses that seemingly has more uphill than downhill. How does that happen? But since I didn't really have any time goals for this race other than just finishing, I wasn't too stressed about it. Unfortunately, it was so cold that I never really felt like I was running. It was more of shuffle-walk kind of thing. My form was terrible. I was so cold that I couldn't pickup my knees or do any kind of kick. It was so bad, that I actually tripped on some uneven pavement coming out of Centennial Park. Fell right in front of a ton of people. It was awesome. Fortunately, I'm not injured, but I did ruin my best pair of running tights.
Yeah...these were expensive.
I had about three more miles to go after I fell. They were the longest three miles of my life. I was still really cold, and my endurance is only good for about 5-6 miles right now, which is really frustrating considering I was running 11-12 miles before I got sick. But what are you going to do? I shuffled-stepped through the rest of the race. Those last few hills about killed me, but I ran the entire thing. Hazzah!
After the race, we all went to get our giant mug of hot chocolate and chocolate fondue, which is the main selling point of the race.
Who needs a medal when you can get chocolate?
With all the fixin's.
The chocolate was good, but really messy. They didn't give us any napkins and that chocolate just got everywhere. Seriously. I was like a grubby, little kid. My face was so frozen that I couldn't feel anything either, so I had it all over my face, but couldn't tell. Fortunately, that's what friends are for. They were kind enough to tell me I was a mess.
So happy it's over! Nom Nom Nom!
Unfortunately, any warmth that was created by running almost immediately left because of the bitter cold. We hung about for about 10 minutes and then decided it was just too cold to chat, so we left. By the time we got back to the car, I could barely feel my fingers to open the car door. It was that cold.
Overall, the race was fun. It would have been more fun if it was about 5-10 degrees warmer and if I didn't fall. I was pleasantly surprised at the organization of the race. I had friends who ran it in DC and it was a cluster, but this race was very well-organized. I am having an issue with their timing system, as it looks like they gave me my gun time (1:38) rather than my chip time (1:32) in the official results, but I've registered a complaint so hopefully that'll be settled soon. I ran OK. It's still frustrating that I was running about 30-45 seconds per mile faster before I was sick, but it'll come back. At least, I hope it will!
My next race is March 2nd. It's the Little Rock Half Marathon. It's only two weeks away, so hopefully, I'll have a bit more strength by then. We'll see.
Happy training, y'all!