Hot Chocolate is the only race I’ve run consistently every year since I started running. (Links to the 2014 Nashville Hot Chocolate 15k and 2015 Nashville Hot Chocolate 15k.) It’s usually a fairly good predictor of how well I will do at whatever end-of-April half marathon I’m running (in 2014, my half pace was a little faster, and last year my pace was a little slower, but they were close). So it’s kind of like a goal pace long run.
However, I haven’t quite figured out what my half goal pace is this year, so my plan for this race was as follows: I wanted to average about a 10:30 pace, which is faster than I’ve been doing my long runs. I wanted to accomplish this by doing the first 5k at a fairly comfortable pace (11:00ish pace), the next 5k around 10:30, and the final 5k with everything I had left (aiming for around 10:00 pace).
The weather was forecast to be pretty similar to how it was in 2014: high teens with a wind chill in the low teens and sunny. Brr!
I arrived downtown around 6:30am, but I didn’t head up to the race site until 6:45 or so. I was supposed to meet my cousin Gillian in Corral D (I had been placed in B, but was moving back to run with her), but it was chaotic, everyone looked the same (like ninjas), and she had put her phone in her bag at bag check, so I wasn’t able to find her before we started.
I had worn one of my old ballet warmup sweaters over my race stuff that I was going to throw away anyway because it had a huge rip down the side seam. It did its job to keep me warm and I threw it to the side right before the start.
Mile 1: 10:59
Mile 2: 10:59
Mile 3: 10:21
The race started off okay. I was slightly annoyed at the start because there were already walkers in the way (the first few corrals clearly say NO WALKERS!) that didn’t know race etiquette and you had to weave around. This is probably why my watch distance ran so long in the end.
The second mile has the giant hill that I hate every year. I made it up, but it seemed like a lot of people were struggling already.
The 5k people split from the 15k people during the third mile, so the course got much less congested and it was easier to run. Hence my little pick up in pace.
Mile 4: 10:28
Mile 5: 10:28
Mile 6: 10:03
I made my first water stop during the fourth mile. The water was so cold I could barely down it.
And I finally saw Gillian! The sixth mile is comprised of two out and back sections within Centennial Park, so I kept an eye out for her, figuring she was ahead of me. And she was! We waved to each other, and I never saw her again after that; she finished about three minutes before me.
Mile 7: 9:55
Mile 8: 10:14
Mile 9: 9:34
These miles were the worst. We were running from the park back to downtown and the wind was blowing against us, and it was SO cold. I actually got colder these last three miles than I felt at the start.
My time on mile eight was a little more than I would have liked because I was fumbling with my phone trying to get my music going for the last bit of the race. Hard to do when you are wearing three layers of fabric over your hands.
Final 0.3 (0.44 to my watch): 4:14 (9:42 pace)
I took a short walk break just after the nine mile marker to prepare myself for the finish. I know that makes no sense logically, but it helped me so much mentally. I pushed super hard across the finish line until I had the feeling I was going throw up. I actually thought I might do it this time, but I didn’t. I got my medal and my hot chocolate. I was done.
Official Time: 1:37:16
The race was well done, as always. On the Thursday before the race, they announced they would be implementing their cold weather plan. This meant they would be diverting people slower than 13 min/mi to the 5k so the volunteers standing out in the cold could go home sooner, which I think is smart. It was super cold.
It’s not something the race directors can control (without changing the date), but I do wish that it wasn’t 20 degrees on this weekend every single year. The weekend before it was in the 50s and the weekend after is supposed to be in the 60s, but we didn’t get above freezing the weekend of the race. I would love to stick around and enjoy my chocolate and cheer on my friends and wait for people, but I’m always frozen solid five minutes after finishing. I was so cold this year, I started to have a panic attack because it was so painful. Note to self: If you run this next year, bring Hot Hands for after the race!!
The swag was great, as usual. This year my jacket had “2016 Finisher Nashville” stitched onto it for being one of the first 10% to sign up. I feel like the mug had more dipping options in it, including three heart shaped marshmallows, which were yummy!
I completed my goal! My official average pace was 10:27 per mile (my unofficial pace was 10:18 with the extra distance). Here’s my 5k splits:
The average pace for these in miles instead of kilometers is 10:42 min/mi for the first 5k, 10:20 min/mi for the second, 9:55 min/mi for the third, and 8:19 min/mi for the last little 0.22 km that my watch went over due to weaving or whatever.
Based on this pace, I’m looking at about a 2:20 half. I’d like to be closer to 2:15, so we will see what speed work can do.
Night Before: a fantastic dinner of Thin Mints, Oreos, and potato chips
Pre-Race: 75% of a Nutrigrain bar
During Race: just water
Post-Race: hot chocolate plus marshmallows and wafers dipped in chocolate
Sports Bra: Champion Shape T-Back
Top: Lululemon Face the Frost 1/2 Zip
Bottom: Brooks Utopia Thermal Tights
Socks: ProCompression Socks
Shoes: Mizuno Wave Sayonara 2 (my second pair)