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Sunday, November 4, 2012

RACE RECAP: Hot Chocolate 5K/15K

This was a race I'd wanted to do long before I knew it was on our training schedule as a training run so I was super excited for this race.  However, that excitement diminished a little when, on Friday, I picked up Coach Barbara and we headed to pick up our packets.  We waited... and waited... and waited in line.  Outside.  For 2+ hours.  And I came home with a really nice cold/sinus infection (of course).  The expo was alright - for it being my first expo with vendors I guess I was expecting more but I'm glad I went and got to see it.

I'd made arrangements for us to spend the night in Chicago because this race had an early start time and we learned our lesson after the Bucktown 5K that getting up that early on race day sucked.  So we drove in on Saturday, had dinner and ran to Walgreen's for snacks and then checked into our hotel.  After a quick shower I was snuggled in bed in my pajamas ready for some good sleep.  I'm still waiting.  The congestion woke and fear of missing both of our alarms woke me up about every hour so I wasn't really looking forward to getting up and running this morning.
Team Challengers before the race

We met up with Team Challenge at the Team Challenge tent in the post-race party area and took a few pre-race photos and did some stretching before heading off to our various corrals.  I heard the National Anthem sung by Jim Cornelison (the guy who sings for the Blackhawk's which was awesome) and then they started releasing the first corrals.  They would release a corral every 3 minutes and I was in the S corral so I waited... and waited... and waited... a very long (and COLD) 1:20 before my corral was even allowed to start running.  When we started my toes were completely numb and even though I'd continued to stretch while waiting in the corral I knew my muscles were cold and I was worried about my overall performance.  The 5K runners/walkers and 15K runners/walkers were all together in the same corrals so I knew I needed to go slow the first mile or so and let people pass me because this was going to be a long race.

Here are my splits (and thoughts per mile) based on what my watch calculated.  I know some are wrong because I lost satellite signal and I also don't generally run anything faster than 10:XX/mile so....

Mile 1:  11:40 - a little slow for me but it took about the full first mile for me to get feeling back in my toes so I was just going at a good pace to get warmed back up.

Yeah for seeing family along the route!
Mile 2:  10:40 - Coach Bill warned us that there was a hill coming up so I wanted to be conservative.  I think this time is slightly off because we were underground (lower Wacker Drive?)... felt good - finally warmer and I could feel my toes.

Mile 3:  11:02 - @*$#) that hill up Roosevelt.  It really wasn't that bad but someone had a sign that said that and I thought it was funny.  We hit our first aid station around here and I took a sip of water from my water bottle.

Mile 4:  9:13 - don't even know what to say about that but I'm pretty sure it was wrong.  We went down a hill as we got on Columbus but I really don't think I was moving THAT fast.  I passed bathrooms and considered using them but there was a line and I really didn't want to stop and wait in line to use the bathroom.  Passed another aid station and took more water from my bottle.

Mile 5:  13:03 - ??? again that doesn't seem right but whatev... I finally felt like I was able to have more space around me and I wasn't trying to get around so many people which was nice.  It was around here that I realized my form wasn't quite what it needs to be so I need to work on that.  I know my arms were swinging more side to side rather than front to back and Coach B would have yelled at me.

Mile 6:  11:19 - Yeah - 10K... cool... I can run 10K no problem.

Mile 7:  11:45 - Nearing the longest distance I've run to date left me feeling a little anxious.  At this point I realize that finishing another 2.3 miles is going to be hard.  And I got a side stitch.  Awesome.

Mile 8:  8:07 - We were underground for what seemed like ever and there were some guys screaming and yelling... the dark and the yelling freaked me out.  Not because of my safety ... I just didn't feel in control and I stopped to walk a little (probably about 1/8 mile) and re-tie my shoes.  My foot started hurting during this mile and that didn't help me... plus I ran out of water and I was pissed about that.

Oh my god everything hurts - are we done yet?
Mile 9:  15:23 - More walking past Soldier Field.  There seemed to be hills here and I felt tired on the way up and worried that I couldn't stay on my feet on the way down so I walked to be safe.  However, I knew I was getting close to the finish so I started running again.  As I was coming down a hill and around a corner Dan actually stepped out and held out his hand to high-five me.  I was so grateful because I knew I was close to the finish and I almost started to cry but then realized that crying would not help my side stitch and I had to suck it up.

Mile 9.01 - 9.7 - 9:21 - I'm not sure how I ended up running 9.7 miles but that's what Garmin says I did.

The finish was disappointing ... no big crowds and it just sort of ends but then  you have to walk about another mile (or it seems like 10) to get to the post-race party.  They were making an announcement that they'd run out of chocolate bars (really?  WTF?  You know how many people registered for a race how do you run out?) but they had a lot of Gatorade and water.  I gulped 3 cups of gatorade (I normally don't drink any), a cup of water and then a full size bottle of water as I walked to the post-race area.  I saw where they were taking official finisher photos and stopped for that.  Finally, I was getting closer to the Team Challenge tent when Coach Barbara saw me and ran out to hug me and I broke down.

Team Challenge post race!
I was exhausted and excited and disappointed all at the same time.  Having no control over the thoughts that come out of my mouth after running for nearly 2 hours I immediately blurted out that I walked some and she told me it didn't matter that I'd finished.  I was worried she'd be disappointed... apparently it was only me that was disappointed.  She helped me put on pants and my jacket (I'd forgotten a shirt to change into so I could warm-up post race as well as fresh socks.) but I was so happy to have my jacket and fresh gloves/hat that I didn't care.

My mentor, Christine, helped me stretch out my very angry IT bands and even though I sort of hate her while we're doing that it feels so much better when done that I feel super lucky that she's willing to help me like that.  I was so tired and sore that I really just wanted to get my finisher mug and go back to the hotel so I could shower or lay down.  I quickly gobbled the treats in my finisher mug as we walked up to Michigan Ave and in the cab on the way back to the hotel.

Once showered and packed up we checked out and headed over to our regular post-race refueling spot.  Revolution Brewing Company.  They said there was going to be a 30 minute wait and I sort of dreaded that but we really love that place so we waited... luckily the wait was shorter than they said and we were soon seated at a table.  We shared an order of Wild Boar Meatballs which were heavenly.  I wish I'd taken photos of all of our food because it was all amazingly delicious but I was SOOOOO hungry I didn't care.  For my entree I had the frittata with a side of fruit instead of potatoes.  It came with a delicious salad and a biscuit and both were absolutely spot-on fantastic.  I also ordered a pint of Eugene Porter which might be my favorite porter of all time.

All in all the weekend was a ton of fun.  However, with the long wait times to pick up packets and actually start the race I'm not sure I'd do this one again.  I think I'd prefer to do smaller local races... but who knows?!

Who else raced this weekend?  Good times?


  1. Congrats on finishing your first 15km.

    One of the biggest challenges with longer races is dealing with the mental "demons", it can be difficult to find a strategy to overcome them, but getting to the finish line is half the battle and you did it!

    1. My mental demons have been the battle for every race and I know that I have to find a way to battle them. I know that as I get more of these longer distances under my belt that I'll feel more comfortable with them and the demons will just go away. I never thought I'd be able to run a 5K let alone a 15K but I did it!! :)

  2. Way to go!!! You did it!!! And I loved reading your race re-cap. :)

    1. Thank you! I am so glad I did it and it did give me some confidence going into the half marathon in December.

  3. That is so great! I actually just looked at the Hot Chocolate 15K in Atlanta in January. It looked really cool. What kind of CHOCOLATE race runs out of chocolate? !

    I'm glad you did well! I don't see any problem with walk breaks at all! You still finished! Great job!

    1. I know, right?! I still got my finishers mug and treats that were in there .... though after eating it I felt a little sick to my stomach. This girl can't hold her chocolate anymore!!!

  4. Congratulations! I was looking forward to the Hot Chocolate race in ATL before I jumped into the WDW Marathon weekend. Maybe next time!

  5. I ran this one, too, and it was a toughie. It's my third Chicago Hot Chocolate, and second 15K with them (in 2010 I did the 5K) and this one was the hardest for me. As I crossed the finish line, I swore I would never, ever run again. (I have a flare for the dramatic.) By the time I finished lunch, I had a strategy for improving.

    So there's that. ;)

    My most heartfelt congratulations for finishing! I believe we grow stronger when we struggle, so yesterday was a super growth experience for both of us. Ever forward we go!

    1. Around the 8 mile mark I thought I was done and wasn't even sure that I'd finish the race. Given that this was essentially a training run for my half marathon in December I was scared out of my mind but by the time I'd gotten back to the hotel and showered my train of thought had switched from "not finishing/feeling awful" to "finishing with some walking is fine"...

      This course was rough -- a lot more hills than I anticipated but ... oh well. It'll be all good.