This weekend Matt and I and Tina loaded up and hit the road for Illinois. Tina, my sister Vicki, and I were registered to run the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago on Sunday morning.
I was really excited about registering for this race because, hello, chocolate. It didn’t take much convincing to get Vicki and Tina in on it as well. (And for the record I did ask my husband and brother-in-law, and they did not feel chocolate was worth and hour and a half of running. Pffft. Boys.)
I guess 39,999 other people felt the same way so this was one HUGE race.
I had read some pretty terrible reviews of past Hot Chocolate races, but it seemed like a lot of the bad reviews were from 5K participants or people complaining about terrible traffic or runners who were underwhelmed by getting *gasp* only half a banana with their fondue. I figured it was all trivial and registered anyway.
Then on Friday before we left for Illinois I checked out the race’s facebook page only to discover that people were waiting in line for 2 hours to pick up their race packet! Derp. The only other BIG race this big I’ve done is the Disney Marathon and I waited exactly 0min 0sec to pick up my packet so I was not expecting this at all.
But at least I knew in advance, so my jaw didn’t quite drop when I saw this massive line snaking around the soldier field parking lot on Saturday afternoon:
I know. I can’t see the end either.
The wait ended up being only about 45 minutes. At least we were in good spirits.
This wait was the only real “glitch” in the organization. Otherwise, I suppose I could complain that the race was narrow at certain points, but for the most part I thought the run was great.
With the changing of the clocks we got an extra hour of sleep so our 5:50 wake-up call at the hotel didn’t feel extraordinarily early. We threw on our gear and I made sure to get in a bathroom break so I wouldn’t have to worry about runner’s trots and then walked over to Grant Park for the start of the race.
Tina, aka Miss “I-Can-Only-Really-Run-For-10-minutes”, managed to finagle a spot in the D Corral so she started not long after the 7AM shotgun. I was in J, starting at 7:30, and Vicki was in N so she didn’t take off almost 8:00 (a fact that she was none too pleased about). I was a little sad that none of us were in the same corral, but at least we didn’t have to fret over what pace to keep or whether or not we would stick together.
About 100-200m out from the starting line I tripped and went flying to the ground, cutting my finger and scraping up the skin on my leg. Luckily I wasn’t trampled or tripped over, but I was really upset and fighting back tears of frustration.
I was feeling great for the first half of the race. The boys caught up to me (literally. My brother-in-law Sean was sprinting beside me after spotting me from a distance and nearly missing a photo op) at mile 3. I was so excited because I had been expecting to see them at mile 1 and was keeping an eye out.
Mile 3, the place to be.
The course had nice views of the skyline and Lake Michigan. I didn’t like that it was narrow in spots, particularly along the lakefront trail, and that there were a few hills but that’s just because I’m a pussy when it comes to running on any incline whatsoever (Essex County is majorly flat.) For the most part, the race was great.
I wasn’t wearing my watch, but based on the mile markers my pace was about 9 min/mi for the first half of the race. I slowed down a bit in mile 5.
Then, naturally, near the end of mile 5 my intestines decided to do backflips and I was in very desperate need of a porta-potty, which I lumbered towards at mile 7.
I probably lost a good 3 minutes of time in the porta-potty but it didn’t help all that much. My stomach was still turning. I tried to keep my pace strong, but I did take a few walking breaks to ease my tummy troubles.
Surprisingly the entire race went by really fast. Before I knew it, I was running past the Field Museum and coming up on the finish line. I nearly missed seeing the boys again at the 9 mile mark but I caught them in the nick of time and called out to them. Apparently they almost missed me too!
My Sweaty Self at mile 9. I think I’m fake-running for the picture.
As I saw the clock above the finish, I realized I could probably wrap this thing up in 1:30 which was a vague goal of mine but, given my runner’s trots, one I wasn’t expecting to hit.
I picked up the pace and BAM!
Then, I ran straight to find more porta potties.
Later I grabbed my Finisher’s Mug which included a steaming hot cup of cocoa and fondue with apple, marshmallow, a rice krispie square, and pretzels for dipping. Oh yeah, and a whole banana.
Tina, Vicki, and I with our (mostly empty, at this point) finisher’s mugs.
I reconnected with Tina (who finished in 1:22!!) and then Vicki came over not long after, with an impressive 1:37 finish that smashed her 1:40 goal.
Overall, I really liked the Hot Chocolate 15K.
Was it worth the $73 to enter? I’d say yes, but only because it was 15K. I don’t think I’d go through the hassle to do it for just the 5K. The course was fun, the hot chocolate and fondue were great, and in spite of my bowel issues I had a great time.
Plus there was this snazzy tech hoodie, which is pretty good quality and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be getting a lot of use out of.
Super Exciting Technical Hoodie!
‘Til next year? . . . perhaps.
Hot Chocolate 15K By the Numbers:
Final Time: 1:30:29
Goal Time: 1:30:00
Training Miles Run: 35 (I know, not a lot)
Bathroom Breaks: 1 during the course, countless afterward
Food Eaten on Course: 4 Sport Beans, 1 PowerBar (pre-run)
Cups of Gatorade Consumed: 1
Body Parts in Pain: 2: the leg and finger and cut up when falling