Monday, December 16, 2013

Hot Chocolate 5K Recap

I managed to drag myself out of my warm, cozy bed bright and early yesterday morning to participate in the Hot Chocolate 5K and I'm glad I did!  Luckily, the weather wasn't quite as cold as they predicted and it was a "balmy" 25 degrees when I got in my car a little after 7 a.m.  Race organizers requested that participants arrive at 6:30 for a 7:30 start, but it was far too cold to be standing around waiting for an hour, so I ignored that part of the pre-race e-mail.  I planned to arrive at the race site around 7, but the snooze button was calling my name, so I ended up not leaving my house until a little after 7.  Normally, that would have been enough time to get downtown and get to the starting line.  I forgot about the road closures, though, due to the 15K race that they were also holding that morning, so I had a little detour getting to the starting line.  I was supposed to start in the second wave of runners, but I just barely made it to the starting line in time for the third (and final) wave of runners.

Bundled up, somewhat awake, and ready to run!
I read a few reviews from years past that were a bit on the negative side when it came to the Hot Chocolate Race, but I was really impressed with the race and I would definitely participate again (although hopefully in warmer weather)!  Below are some thoughts on the race and cold weather running:

A good (albeit cold) morning in the Lou
  • Just as packet pick-up was, the race itself was very well-organized.  The starting corrals were clearly marked, the point at which the 5K separated from the 15K was well-marked (I have an irrational fear of missing a cut-off and running a much longer race), and the area where we received our finishers mug was efficient and fast (once you finally got to the tent).
  • The race volunteers were incredibly friendly and helpful.  I spoke to one volunteer at an intersection while I waited to cross the street as the first wave of runners passed and he told me he had been at the race site since 4:30 a.m.!  I thanked him for coming out in the cold so early and for being so friendly. I wouldn't have faulted him for being a little cranky due to the early wake-up call and the cold, but he never once complained and was so jovial!  All of the other volunteers I came in contact with were just as friendly and I made sure to thank all of the other volunteers that I saw that morning.  Races like this are nothing without the volunteers and I appreciate their time and the energy that they bring to a race! 
  • I had entirely too many layers on my upper body, but not enough layers on my lower body.  I wore a long sleeve Under Armour shirt, my Hot Chocolate Hoodie, and a light weight fleece coat.  I also had on my earband to keep my ears warm.  On my lower half, I had my compression capris.  I was practically sweating to death about midway through the race, but my upper thighs were frozen!  Interestingly enough, the few inches of my legs that were exposed due to the length of my capris were not cold at all, just my upper thighs.  As hot as I was during the race, though, I got pretty chilly as soon as I was done running.  I probably would have been fine with just a long sleeve shirt on top and perhaps I should have added some shorts over my capris to keep my upper legs warm, but at least I will know for next time! 
  • I ran "naked" (no, no, no. I, of course, had clothes on...see above)...electronically, that is.  I didn't have time to set up my AMR podcast ahead of time since I barely made it to the starting line to start on time, so I ran without a podcast or music and I also did not track my time and pace using my phone.  I ran electronics-free and it wasn't too terribly bad.  I did miss my podcasts, though!
  • My hoodie with the long-sleeves and the thumb holes was multi-functional in the cold weather.  I used one sleeve to wipe my nose and the other to wipes my eyes, which were running due to the cold wind lashing again my face.  
  • I let myself walk for about 45 seconds shortly after the first water stop.  I'm a little pissed that my brain won out over my legs, but I'm also not going to hold it against myself or beat myself up about it (at least not too much, anyway)
  • I really struggled through parts of the race and I'm not sure if that is a valuable lesson for me in regards to not running consistently or if it is just a reflection of my body working harder in the colder weather.
  • The finishers mug was amazing!  I wasn't sure I would be in the mood for hot chocolate after the race, but boy, did it taste amazing!  It warmed me up and it definitely hit the spot.  The mug also had chocolate fondue, a small banana, a bag of mini pretzels, a package of wafer cookies, a Rice Krispie treat, and a big ol' marshmallow.  I  immediately indulged in the marshmallow and covered it in chocolate and it was divine!  I decided to save the rest of my mug until I got back to my car, however, a funny thing happens on the walk back.  The chocolate re-solidifies!  It made for a nice snack later on yesterday though, after I re-heated the chocolate a bit.  I also loved that the race organizers offered plastic bags for your mug in case you needed to take it home with you.  There was also a moist towelette in the mug, which was perfect for wiping off my face and chocolately hands.
  • My official finishing time was 39:50, which I am thrilled with!  I like the sub-40 5K's and that isn't a bad time at all, considering I haven't run consistently for about the last 2 months. 
The finishers mug filled with all kinds of deliciousness 
Overall, the Hot Chocolate 5K was really fun, well-organized, and delicious and I can't wait to participate again next year!

Did you participate in any races this past weekend? Are there any more races on your calendar for 2013? 

I love this quote and I feel as though it is directed at me, especially at the moment. 

"If you don't find joy in running, don't blame the running.  Blame the you. It's not the running you dislike, it's the place you have put it in your life."