Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hot Chocolate Recap

Holy Hills Batman! Or at least that is what I kept saying throughout the course on Sunday at the Hot Chocolate 15K!

I went down to San Diego on Saturday to pick up my race bib and goodie bag (which included a super AWESOME tech hoodie – that I have actually already worn). Ryan wasn’t able to come down with me (he was doing lunch with a friend up in San Clemente), so I decided to make myself a sign that he could hold up along the course, hehe.

I was really excited to see how this race would go. I have never done a 15K race distance before (just have had it timed during the three half marathons I’ve completed, but not actually gone out and only done that distance before). [PS For those of you that may be unsure how long a 15K is, it is approximately 9.3 miles]

Ryan and I headed down to San Diego around 5:30am on Sunday morning. Although it was early, at least it wasn’t 2:30 wake-up-calls like we have done for runDisney races in the past. They were doing the 5K first and then the 15K, so we wanted to get down to Petco Park around the time the 5K was starting (6:30am) so that we would have enough time to find parking if it was crazy busy. We didn’t have much trouble and actually found some street parking so that we didn’t have to pay for lot parking near the baseball field (which is where the start and finish of the race were located).

We walked over to the starting area as they were releasing the first couple corrals of the 5K. We took some pictures, got some water, and just relaxed while they got everyone started with the 5K.

I was in Corral J. When I first saw that when I picked up my bib I was slightly miffed – thinking that I would have a rather hard time getting a good time if I was 10 corrals back from the start. Thankfully I was able to contact the race folks through Facebook when I got home from the Expo and they confirmed (which I had a sneaking suspicions when I looked at the starting line map) that the 5K corrals were A through H and the 15K corrals started at I (which means technically I was in the second corral – which was fine by me [side note – I actually finished before some of the I Corral runners – whoo hoo!].

Good thing I wasn't planning on walking :)
I heard the announcer mention to the 5K runners that the first half was uphill but the second half was mostly downhill. Ryan has mentioned that he thought the course would be hilly – but I told him we were in San Diego and I wasn’t too worried. WOW! I should have listened to my hubby. Now mind you, my long runs (8-10+ miles) have large hills in them, but they are maybe for a mile at the most. Honestly the course was at least 6 miles uphill (and then the 3 miles of downhill were pretty steep, which was POUNDING your joints). Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself….

Ryan stood with my near the corrals while waiting for the race to start. Once we got closer to 7:30am (they had to wait for everyone to get off the portion of the course where the 5K and 15K overlapped, so they were aiming for a 7:30am start and I think they were fairly close to that), he went a little past the starting line so that he could get some pictures (the course was pretty spread out, so Ryan worried if he went to more than the start and finish he would probably not be able to make it back to see me finish).

I love having my photographer with me (not only is he a great cheerleader and photographer, but he’s pretty dreamy too). I know, I know, I feel like most pictures all look the same – I either have thumbs up, a wave, or a peace sign, but I still love it!

I have to say, although the course was the hardest and hilliest one I have ever run, it was BEAUTIFUL! We ran from Petco Park (where the Padres play) to Balboa Park (where a ton of museums and the San Diego Zoo is located) and back. We ran on a couple of the highways (or at least on-ramps and off-ramps), but for the most part we were running through Downtown San Diego neighborhoods and the amazing parks around there. At one point we were running through one of the parks full of greenery and flowers, running towards the Coronado Bridge (where the bad man punted Baxter), and could see the San Diego Bay in the distance. I ran with my iPod instead of my iPhone (and I haven’t exactly mastered moving photos, so even if I would have run with my phone/ camera the pics probably wouldn’t have done it justice), but thought this would have been a course to take scenery pictures along the way.

The course was extremely hard. Like I mentioned, it seemed like we were running UPHILL just about the entire time. Normally I kick butt on hills. They make me feel strong because I really can push through them. I think my mentality is that the quicker I can get up it, the faster I will be done with the hill, so just power through it. The issue was that the majority of the course was uphill – which is difficult to “power through”.

I was keeping great time throughout most of the course, but you could definitely tell the hills were playing a factor. I think mile 7, which had some steep downhills in it, my time was about 7:45, because I was cruising down the hill. I think mile 8 was more like 9 minutes because it had more uphills (what a surprise…) and by then my quads and calves felt like they were on fire.

The last mile or so was mostly downhill, so we were able to really truck on in. I saw Ryan near the finish line, who he was able to get some more pictures and even had the sign that I had made at the Expo the day before.

This lady was all up in my face... I think she was radioing bib numbers to the finish line but it made me chuckle
I was able to finish in 1:20:26 – which is not too shabby in my book, especially since I had never done this distance before and because I was not totally prepared for the course (neither physically nor mentally).

At the end of the race we got a Finisher Mug, instead of a medal – which I thought was a fun twist (even if I can’t hang it on my medal rack). We got chocolate fondue with all kinds of things to dip in it (rice crispy treat, pretzels wafer cookies, marshmallow, banana). We even got some Ghirardelli’s hot chocolate – duh – I mean it was called the Hot Chocolate 15K/ 5K.

As I mentioned, this was the hardest and hilliest course I have run to date, but it was also the race that I am most proud of thus far. I finished with an average time of 8:38 mile pace. THAT IS AMAZING FOR ME! I was planning on shooting for 9-minute mile pace for my next half marathon, which would put me around 1:58 finishing time. I realize that a 15K vs. half marathon is an additional 4 miles, but still, even if I can keep with about the same pace that I did for my 15K AND there are less hills, then I should be able to rock my next half!

Some cool graffiti on the way back to the car
I figured that my body would be super sore for the next day or two, not only from the uphills, but more so from the pounding of the downhills. I was actually pleasantly surprised that I didn’t feel too bad. I did wear my new ProCompression socks for about 6 hours after the race and did tons of stretching and foam rolling Sunday afternoon, which I am sure helped.

The 15K distance doesn’t seem to be a very popular one (at least around here), but if another one comes up, I would definitely consider it.

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