Race – Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15k

I made a number of inadvisable decisions on race morning, but that didn’t stop me from having a great run!

I did the Philly Hot Chocolate 15k two years ago in 2015 as a training race for my first half marathon. I loved the swag (awesome hooded sweatshirts!) and the distance (longer than a 5k but shorter than a half marathon). Not to mention, they have chocolate. And who doesn’t love chocolate? I missed the race last year, but decided I wanted to do it again this year.

(UPDATE June 11, 2017) After writing this race report, I am going to be a Hot Chocolate Race Ambassador for 2018. Use my code PHILLYJESS18 to sign up and get a free hat.

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Here is a not so awesome pic of my new Hot Chocolate hoodie. It has thumbholes and is super soft and cozy.

I opted to have my packet mailed to me rather than going to the expo to pick up. There was a small fee for the service, but packet pickup on a weekday is hard for me to schedule, so I paid up for the delivery. When the race packet arrived, even hubby was impressed at the swag!

The night before the run, I was struggling to decide what to wear. Last week, I ran the Philly Love Run and had frozen toes by the start of the race, but the rest of me was pretty comfortable once we got moving. I debated capris, pants, short sleeves, long sleeves…. And eventually settled on lighter weight tights, the Gym Girl Ultra from Skirt Sports, which has shorts built in, and my short sleeve Run 856 shirt. I ran with my Nathan hydration vest again, because I like having my own water. I’m a bit of a princess and water that is cold bothers my stomach, so I’m afraid to trust the aid stations. It also gives me room to carry an ID, my car key, and a few other essentials. Although I had run in the Gym Girl skirt, I had not worn it for any long runs, nor had I tried it over tights, but I was nervous about shorts and being too cold again, so I went with it.

Race morning, I had planned to drive over. I don’t usually drive to city races; I typically ride PATCO. A guy from Run856 offered up cheap parking close to the race at a lot he manages, so I decided to give that a whirl. Then, my kids woke up earlier than usual, and delayed me a bit later than I had intended to leave. I wasn’t too worried, as I had my bib and everything and figured I’d have time. Well… Cue up city traffic. I made it to the garage by about 7:15 am, when the 5k was starting. As I was parking, I saw friends from my GORUCK Pathfinder training group, Bernadette and Michael, who also did the last GORUCK event I did. They had their rucks on planning to ruck the 15k. Gotta log those Pathfinder miles somehow! We chatted and made our way to the start, and there I ran into my old coworker Nicole and her boyfriend Ritch. After talking with them for a minute, I made my way over to the merch tent to replace my “Will Run For Chocolate” hat. I’ve been wearing the old one for the last two years and it smells a bit fragrant, but I love it. So now I have a new one! With my new hat on my head, I headed for the start corral.

I got to my assigned corral and saw the 9:00 pace team sign, and realized I’d been seeded much too far up, so I jumped back about two corrals, and still started out far to the right to let folks pass me. I was off to a much stronger start than I had been at the Love Run. The course is pretty similar, with less of a tour of Center City, and a simple out and back on MLK. We ran down the Parkway to Logan Square, made a loop and headed back up the Parkway to MLK, then straight out. Without any bridges, the course is pretty flat. I enjoyed cheering on other 856ers heading the opposite direction. I was excited to see Heather, whom I interviewed a few weeks back, out on the course. I also saw Bernadette and Michael near the end.

The finish is up that same hill right in front of the Art Museum, but I just pushed it out. Usually, there are a lot of people at that stretch cheering the runners in, and the Hot Chocolate 15k was no exception. At the finish, we got our medals, which have a detachable magnet, and finisher’s mugs with hot chocolate (of course!) and chocolate fondue with all kinds of treats to dip in it. Man, that hot chocolate was tasty!

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My overall time was 1:40:04, which was faster by a few minutes than two years ago. After looking at my results from last week and this weekend, it seems like I could go out a little harder than I’ve been. I think I’m afraid to push too hard at the beginning and burn myself out, but for my next race, I think I might experiment with a pre-race warm up and starting a little harder. I’m hoping to hit a 2:30 half marathon this year, and I think that might be part of the strategy.

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