Monday, March 25, 2019

San Diego Hot Chocolate 15K Race Recap

Yesterday morning I ran the San Diego Hot Chocolate 15K.

This was actually the second time running this race, the first time was back in 2013, so when Sweet Valley Organics reached out to me about joining their team and running the race I figured it was time to return for a second go-around.

It has been a hot minute since running a San Diego race (isn't it funny that we live like 45 minutes north but barely ever venture to downtown unless we are going to the airport?!), but I was excited to get back down to the city for all the sights and sounds. The hubby and I went down to the Expo on Saturday to pick up my bib, goodies (this race offers a a full-zip jacket with a hood instead of the standard race tee), and of course my Sweet Valley Organics team shirt. The Expo was located at the San Diego Concourse - Golden Hall. To be honest, it's one of my least favorite expo locations for San Diego races due to the parking situation (it's in a somewhat weird location so normally you use the parking garage which only accepts cash {who carries cash these days?!}), but I figured since I was comped my registration I could fork over the $5 for 45 minutes of parking. (And, yes, I did have to set a reminder in my phone to stop by the bank for the money.)


Grabbed my race goodies, some extra sweet treats and hugs from friends. A major success in my opinion!

Love the color of the team shirts!!

PS Can I just take a quick second to mention how super convenient it was that you could load your registration QR code into your Apple Wallet?! When you went to grab your bib, the volunteer just scanned your code, printed off a sticker with your personal info (name, shirt size, corral number) already on it and stuck it onto a bib - EASY PEASY!

I wish every race made their packet pick-up this easy!

Since we were in San Diego, we decided to hit up one of our favorite veggie restaurants, Plumeria, for lunch. It did not disappoint! While we were there we also found out they recently opened a "sister" location in Encinitas which is much closer to our house, Plum. Although their menu is more Thai than the main location, we have to give it a try!

The broccoli delight with mock duck and brown rice is AMAZEBALLS!

And, just in case you were wondering, YEP, the hubby DID fall asleep on the way to and from the expo, but I guess I forgave him ;) We did wake up beforehand and get in a 10 mile run before getting ready and heading to San Diego.

Literally we could be talking one second and the next he is snoring... So funny!

Once we got home I had to decide on my race outfit. Normally I have my gear picked out days (if not weeks) in advance, but since I would be wearing a team shirt and didn't get it (or even know the color scheme until I grabbed it from the Expo) until that morning I ran to my closet immediately to pick out all of the pieces for the perfect #FlatCarlee. 

#FlatCarlee included a Sweet Valley Organics shirt, Pink and Black PRO Compression Socks, Fuchsia Sparkle Athletic Skirt, #TeamSparkle
trucker (from a few #Ragnar4Rett's ago), black Brooks FastForward Crossback sports bra, elite Road ID, blue and pink QALO silicone
wedding bands
, blue and pink Momentum Jewelry wraps, COROS APEX Watch and Brooks Levitate with silver reflective Shwings.

Eventually it was time to foam roll, stretch and hit the hay. I knew my alarms would start early (the event offers both a 5K and 15K and although the 15K doesn't start until 7:45am, I was worried that parking would be tough with all of the 5K runners starting at 6:45am {not to mention, we had to take road closures into account}), so it was off to bed I went.

You may have noticed I was up WAY past my bedtime... but we
were celebrating our friend's 40th birthday at the beach and I
didn't hit the sack until much later than I would've liked... Oh well!

The hubby, pup and I got in the car around 6:15am on race morning, hoping to be down in San Diego by 7:00am. Traffic was easy breezy and surprisingly so was parking. Although the race has some recommended parking lots (which cost money) we decided to chance it and look for free street parking. We were fine walking a little extra (the pup had to get in his #WaltWalkStreak mile for the day anyway), so we found a spot about a half mile away and made our way to the start.

Gotta stop for a picture in front of the Gaslamp sign.
PS I went with the Youth XL sweatshirt because I liked the black better than the women's color.

By the time we got to the starting area they were releasing the final corrals for the 5K so it seemed like perfect timing. We hit up the port-o-potties (which were plentiful) and made our way to the start line to snap a quick picture.

I think the marshmallow men have pretzel rods for arms, but I'm not sure... What do you think?!

I made my way to meet up with some of my PRO Compression friends for a quick pre-race picture and chat. It's always great getting to see folks at races, even if it's only for a few minutes. (We had a smaller crew than normal because the Los Angeles Marathon was happening the same morning, but we were still doing our darnedest to hold it down in SD!)

And we all wore different socks - good thing there are plenty to choose from ;) 

At that point the hubby and pup decided to head to a spectating spot a little further from the start (Walt can be a little cray-cray, thinking he wants to bark at the runners {more in a 'fun, I'm chasing you' sort of way rather than a 'I want to attack you and eat your face' situation} so it tends to be easier if Ryan is away from the crowds so he can try to corral a wiener dog and snap a picture at the same time). Eventually it was time to say good-bye to the crew and get ready to go.

Satellites were locked and loaded!

I didn't really have a game plan for the race, other than to have a SWEET time (ha, I wonder how many times I can use that pun before you get sick of it...). I had run a combined 28 miles over the previous 48 hours, so I wasn't planning to break tape or anything like that, but still was hoping to put in a good effort. Like I mentioned, I had run this race in 2013 and remembered it being hilly so thought it'd be some decent elevation training for #Ragnar4Rett in a couple weeks.

Would've loved it a few degrees cooler, but beggars can't be choosers

I lined up behind the 7:30 pacer (yay for Beast Pacing being on the course!) and thought I'd do my best to stick with him as long as possible (although, to be honest, seeing as we started on an incline I didn't expect to stay with them long).

Starting off strong!

Let me be honest, when I was asked to run this race by Sweet Valley Organics, I went back and read my recap from 2013 (not only do I write them for you and folks potentially thinking about running the race in the future, but I also write them for ME!). I mentioned it was the hilliest course I had run, but of course at that point I had only been running for about a year so I wasn't sure if it really was incredibly hilly or if I just didn't have a ton to compare it to... Well, let me tell you, IT IS HILLY! We may have only gained 580 feet over the 9.3 miles, but I swear it felt like we were running uphill the entire way. I would joke with spectators and say something along the lines of "we've gotta get to some downhill eventually... right?!". They all chuckled a bit, which made me smile, but also think that downhill may not be in sight anytime soon...

It might not look crazy, but I literally felt like we were running uphill the entire race...

Despite the hills, I like the course. You run from Petco Park to Balboa Park and back (it's not necessarily an out-and-back course, runners aren't coming back at you, but you are running out and returning in the same general direction).


There aren't a ton of spectators, but the volunteers directing traffic and manning the aid stations were awesome (cheering loudly, shaking cowbells, dancing). It isn't a party the whole way like Rock 'N' Roll San Diego, but I still felt the love!


I remember a friend mentioning if you can make it to Mile 7 you get a decent amount of downhill to the finish (although another climb would present itself between there and the finish). I kept chugging along and was happy to see the downhill once it appeared (we definitely earned it at that point). Like normal, I wasn't looking at my watch, just doing my best to enjoy the opportunity, be grateful for my abilities, thank the folks on the course and soak in the San Diego beauty.

Charging towards the finish line.

Eventually it was time to cross the finish line, but not before seeing the hubby and pup one last time. They cheered me in, telling me I was looking strong (well, Walt didn't verbalize it, but I'm sure that's what he was thinking ;)).

Ignore my major heel striking abilities and check out the fun shadow!

As I got closer to the finish I saw the clock approaching 1:10. I didn't have a goal, but thought that looked like a decent time to shoot for, so threw down the hammer. Before I knew it I was throwing up arms up and crossing the finish line.

Had I known we got free photos I probably would have tried a better finisher shot...

My watch showed 1:10:01, but I thought I started it a few seconds before crossing the start line so wasn't sure if I had a little cushion or not (but, seeing as I had only made the goal like 10 seconds before, it didn't matter a ton).

Make it pink, make it blue!

Once I looked at the results I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only did I run the race in 1:09:54, but I also came in THIRD in my age group (females 30-34) and FIFTEENTH female overall! BOOYA GRANDMA! I guess all the super speedsters were running the Los Angeles Marathon and left the normal folk to run the #HC15K ;) [PS It was also like a 9.5 minute PR, but seeing as the last time I ran this was 6 years ago {and my only other 15K to date} I guess going from 1:20:26 to 1:09:54 isn't too surprising - but hey, I'll take any new personal record I can set!]


The hubby and pup found me shortly after crossing the finish line so we snapped a couple photos with all of my sweet treats around the finisher area. (I would've loved more photo ops, but hey, not everyone is "doing it for the 'gram" ;))

I think Marshall was trying to snag my chocolate... 

We had to stop at the Sweet Valley Organics booth on the way out to say another big THANKS for having me on the team (and of course snag a few additional samples). Everyone was super friendly and congratulated me on a job well done.

PS Sweet Valley Organics sent me some of their yummy organic dark chocolate snack bites prior to the race so I could give them a try. They sent the Tart Cherries, Tender Bananas and Cinnamon Praline Pecans. I think my favorite were the bananas, but I saw they have a Sea Salt Caramel Cashew that I haven't tried but I believe could take the top spot.

Love that their treats use fair trade cocoa, are certified organics and are "GMO and weird stuff free". 

We took the long way back to the car so we could take a few photos along the bay. The weather was gorgeous and we had nowhere to be after the race so you've gotta take a few extra minutes to soak up all the San Diego vibes you can!

I've gotta say, although I donate the majority of my medals to Medals4Mettle (I currently only save my runDisney bling and medals from races of a marathon distance or longer), this one is pretty fun. You don't get a medal for the 5K, but the chocolate bar bling for the 15K is super cute and well executed (especially with the personalized San Diego piece).

Thanks again for Sweet Valley Organics for having me at the race and for all the yumminess! If you haven't tried their sweet treats, I'd keep your eyes peeled. And give them a follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter while you're at it!

What's your favorite way to eat chocolate? (Mine's in White Chocolate Reese's form, inside of a s'more while camping!)

1 comment:

Sandra Laflamme said...

Awesome finish time Carlee! Loved your race day outfit too! So cheery and colorful!