Race Report: Hot Chocolate 15k – February 14, 2015

I had initially planned for this run to be a goal pace run to prep me for Tom King three weeks later. This meant a finishing time of 1:36:00. In the weeks leading up to the race, I felt pretty good about this. I had run 1:37:37 in training, which wasn’t too far off.

And then the Cedars Frostbite Half happened, and I had no idea what to do with my goals for the rest of the year.

I ran the 15k distance in that race in 1:34:09.

Since I had run so hard just a week earlier, should I even attempt a goal pace run? I finally decided I would just run it and not be concerned. I threw all goal times out, except that I did want a PR because I figured that would be fairly easy to do.

Race Day

I got up bright and early at 5am. My cousin Gillian was running the 5k and we were carpooling downtown, so she met me a little before 6am to head down there. Unlike last year, Amanda actually remembered to sign up for the race this year! We met up with her in the parking garage and all walked over to the park together.

hot chocolate 15k pre-race

Freezing before the start.

We were all assigned to different corrals but decided to start together, so we chose to begin from my corral, E. It took about 15-16 minutes to reach the start but soon we were off.

Mile 1: 10:00
Mile 2: 10:04
Mile 3: 8:49
For the first two miles, I ran with Gillian. She was aiming for a sub-30 5k, so we were going about the same pace. It was a little congested at the start, so there was a bit of weaving around people. The second mile also brought the massive Rosa Parks hill that we ran up last year as well. So these miles were a little slower than she was planning.

The 15k runners and 5k runners split off during mile 3. I wished Gillian good luck and made my way down Church Street.

I think my watch had a few snafus during mile 2 and decided to even them out in mile 3; I’m not convinced I was actually running a sub-9 minute pace, but I about panicked when my watch beeped and showed that pace. Way too fast!

Mile 4: 9:37
Mile 5: 10:13
Mile 6: 10:08
I stopped at a water station on mile 4. They were offering marshmallows as well, but I opted for just the water.

Soon after, we entered Centennial Park for a couple miles. I enjoyed the out-and-back sections through the park as they allowed me to look at the oncoming runners and see if I could spot anyone I knew. I never did, but it was distracting nonetheless.

Mile 7: 9:29
Mile 8: 10:01
Mile 9: 9:39
Once we left the park, there were less than three miles left. I was pretty exhausted by this point and ready to be done, but I pressed on. I had forgotten to eat something that morning and my stomach was growling. I tried to take a chocolate marshmallow at the last water station, but ended up dropping it. On the last mile, I took one non-water station walk break. I just needed a little more energy to finish strong.

Final 0.3 (0.37 to my Garmin): 3:20 (9:00 pace)
As you can tell, I had no real final push in my step. I did, however, manage to pose for my finish photo.

Finishing the hot chocolate 15k

Official Time: 1:31:16

You can watch me cross the finish line around 14 seconds in here:

I was extremely happy with my time for this race, especially considering I had just PR’d the half last weekend. I took 15 minutes off my time from last year!

I met up with Gillian after crossing the finish line. She had gotten her sub-30 goal and finished in 29:45!

After downing my hot chocolate and fondue, we began our trek back to the car with frozen fingers.

Race Review

This race continues to be one of my favorites despite the weather always being dreadfully cold. It is so well-organized for a race its size. Smaller races could learn a lot.

The swag was great this year, just like last. We got zip-up hoodies, which are super warm and comfy. The race name is stitched onto the front. The bonus this year was that all 15k finishers got a medal! I also managed to get a “will run for chocolate” running hat in my bag.

hot chocolate 15k swag

I should have thrown some makeup on before taking this. Sorry.

And the post-race food is amazing! It was the same as last year’s, but that is in no way a complaint. I didn’t keep my mug this year, since I already have one that is collecting dust.

hot chocolate 15k finisher's mug

Race Analysis

This was my third race in a row of running by feel instead of by watch. I continue to amaze myself at what I can do when I’m not entirely trying. I even bested my 10k time from last November, and you remember how amazed I was at that time! Overall, this was my best race to date, time-wise. I wish I could have finished a little stronger, but without really tapering or anything, I am still pleased with my performance.

hot chocolate 15k splits

Here’s what McMillan thinks I can do now:
estimated times for other races

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