Race Report: Hot Chocolate 15k – February 13, 2016

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!

Race Day

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.

nashville hot chocolate 15k 2016

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.

2016 hot chocolate 15k nashville

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.

2016 nashville hot chocolate 15k

Official Time: 1:37:16

Race Review

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!

Race Analysis

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:
pace for the 2016 hot chocolate 15k

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)

Week of 2/1/16 – 2/7/16: Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville training, week 6

week of 2/1 to 2/7

Monday: rest day
Tuesday: 3.0 miles (11:00 average pace)
Wednesday: 4.3 miles (10:44 average pace)
Thursday: rest day
Friday: rest day
Saturday: 8.0 miles (11:23 average pace)
Sunday: 6.6 miles (11:30 average pace)

My first 20+ mile week in ten months, wow!

East Nasty’s half marathon speed workouts started this week. They are on Thursdays, as usual, but I couldn’t make the first one because of a Preds game. It was on the schedule as “2x (3 min / 2 min / 1 min)”. I wasn’t sure what this meant, so I made something up and did that for my Tuesday treadmill run. I warmed up for a mile and then did two repeats of 3 minutes at 6.1, 2 minutes at 6.3, and 1 minute at 6.5. Then I finished out the third mile with an easy cool down.

(I think the workout actually has something to do with hills, but as you can see from my 1,224 ft total elevation gain this week, I had more than enough hills on my other runs.)

On Wednesday, I went out to the usual East Nasty run. Jonathan was supposed to join me, but he got caught up at work, so I ran with the same people I had the week before. It was a good run! However, I noticed my left leg tightening up in the IT band/quad area when stopping for cars on the last mile or so. I met up with Jonathan for pizza at Five Points afterwards and didn’t think anything else of it.

We slept in a bit on Saturday and went out to the greenway just before lunch. The plan was to run the “flatter” section of the greenway (none of it is actually flat), but once we got a quarter mile down, we saw it was flooded. Thus, we ended up running the hillier section. We got eight miles in, but it was a little tough, and I had to stop and walk a few times. My knees were absolutely killing me nearly the whole run! And I could still sort of feel the tightness in my left leg as well, so I tried rolling that out when we returned home.

Jonathan is playing indoor soccer on Sundays this season and he plays out near Percy Warner park. I wanted to go out there and run the 5.8 mile loop (or some of it, depending on how tired my legs felt). I decided I would do 4:1 intervals to assist in recovery, since I had just done eight miles the day before. I followed all the arrows next to the signs that said “Running Route” and…5.8 miles later, I still wasn’t back where I started. I kept going, thinking it had to be soon, but after another mile, I conceded that I had no idea where I was and started looking up maps.

I walked for probably another two miles before running into Jonathan looking for me. Thank goodness for great boyfriends who won’t leave you lost in the park! I interestingly got negative splits on this run, despite the crazy elevation profile, probably because I was wanting more and more for it to be over with by the end.

negative splits

When I got back and finally examined what went wrong, I realized I had been following the arrows for the 11.2 route. Oops!

As the night progressed, my left IT band slowly got tighter and tighter to the point where I had to take ibuprofen just to fall asleep because it was so annoyingly painful. I’m going to take two days rest and make sure I’m doing all my clamshells this week!

Week of 1/25/16 – 1/31/16: Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville training, week 5

week of 1/24 to 1/31

Monday: rest day
Tuesday: rest day
Wednesday: 4.3 miles (11:30 average pace)
Thursday: rest day
Friday: rest day
Saturday: rest day
Sunday: 6.4 miles (11:19 average pace)

This week did not go as planned.

I took my normal rest day on Monday. As I mentioned at the end of last week’s post, Jonathan’s car battery had died, so instead of running on Tuesday, I ended up driving him to the car dealership to pick up his fixed vehicle and then gorging on cheese dip and fajitas at SATCO. Yep.

I did make it out to the East Nasty run on Wednesday. I ran with some new people (or really I was stalking behind them for the first half of the run until I finally said something) because they were doing a nice steady pace and it was easy to just follow along.

On Thursday, we ended up going downtown to briefly check out some of the NHL All Star stuff before the crowds got there on the weekend. And I didn’t run on Friday either.

We had good intentions to get up on Saturday to do our long run before heading downtown for the All Star festivities, but neither of us slept well Friday night, so we chose to turn off the alarm and get some more sleep.

NHL All Star game in Nashville

So I didn’t get out again until Sunday and was wanting to get between 7-8 miles.

It. Was. Miserable.

I don’t know if it was all the walking the day before or what, but I was ready to call it quits after mile two. I walked so much, which I haven’t really done lately. I was blaming it on everything. I was hungry. It was hot. I was dehydrated. It was windy. It was all I could do to make it to 6.4, just shy of my seven mile goal.

I’m starting to not expect much from the 15k in a couple weeks.