It seems like I’ve been planning this race forever. After our girls weekend in Montreal, we were anxious to plan another.
Plus, there some others who couldn’t go to Montreal and wanted to join us – Barbara, Deidre and Jan.
I stumbled upon this NEW race and everyone agreed that it would be fun. This racing series is popular around the country and this would be the first time it was offered near us.
Well at least a train and hotel away.
So I signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15k because:
- A weekend away with my running tribe.
- Enough pts for free hotel room for 2 nights.
- It would be close after my previous half 2 weeks ago so I would be sorta already trained for it.
If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan. But I did run 13.1 miles two weeks prior to this race.
After my February Half in Florida, due to possibly walking on the beach, I experienced leg discomfort.
So, I skipped many runs and sought the help of a chiro who did ART on my leg. I completed about 8 ART sessions (with minimal relief.)
However, on race day, the pain disappeared and I was able to run 13.1 miles!!
Whether or not, my calf injury was cured or it was just adrenaline, we’ll never know.
I still felt discomfort from time to time after that race and cautiously trained for my April 13 half marathon. None of the usual 10, 11, 12 mile runs 😦 but again I completed this race PAIN-FREE!!
That was a downhill course and this course would be HILLY!!!!!!!!!
So, again my goal for this race was just finishing, not re-injuring my leg and having FUN!!!!!
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
Since I travel to NYC for work often and I have done numerous races in Brooklyn, I took the lead and picked the hotel, train times, made reservations for all our fun activities and meals.
In other words, we were all set with the logistics.
Unfortunately, the info for the race start and finish was not provided until only a few weeks before the race. Our hotel was near where the RnR Brooklyn, Brooklyn Half and NYC Half began (Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Park) not near where this race began.
However, it did begin near where all the 5ks that I have run in Brooklyn began the Lefrak Center.
Since I wasn’t sure about my work schedule, I paid the extra bucks and had my bib and swag mailed to me.
One runner, Barbara, got injured and dropped out of our group and then 2 days before the race, another runner Jeri (who had paid for all our activities) got injured and cancelled. We were now down to five of us. (You’ll see in the photos than there is one guy. I mentioned the race to Stan on Monday and he signed up. Since I had paid tickets and restaurant reservations, he agreed to participate in all our shenanigans.)
So we took the train to Manhattan, hopped the subway (not exactly a hop – 14 stops) to Brooklyn and checked into our hotel.
Then we walked from our hotel through Prospect Park (and got kinda lost) to find the expo.
We picked up race packets, sampled all the goodies (Chris & I won a $25 gift card for race apparel) and headed off (by subway) to carb load on Brooklyn’s best pizza.
I set out my race outfit and went to bed early (not that I slept well but the intent was there.)
As I always do, I brought my race day breakfast from home – Starbucks k-cup and oatmeal w/raisins. Up at 4:30 am and ready to leave the hotel at 5:30 am.
Though, it was not a long walk and we also could have taken the subway, we cautiously decided to take an Uber.
So we called one at 6 am and he appeared minutes later. After a slight detour, we managed to show him where to drop us off outside the park so we could walk to the start.
Thanks to signs and other runners, we found our way. A chilly morning but no rain and less wind than predicted.
I was glad to be wearing my throw away shirt and also kept on my hoodie until I checked it (as did the others).
As we headed toward the corrals, we bumped into my friend Stan. Sherry, Stan and I were in Corral A. The others were farther back.
There were 2000-2500 runners registered (small by NYC standards). Everything was so well organized with plenty of pre-race communication and signs.
Anyway, here’s how the race went:
9:45, 9:25, 9:02
After the national anthem, our corral started. It was very crowded and hard to run fast (which was good). I lost Sherry and Stan right away but luckily Stan caught up to me. He was my savior and the reason that the race went as well as it did.
As I mentioned above, we ran 2 1/2 loops. We started with an uphill which I actually ran…slowly. But I ran it. I remember running in this park and the hill did not feel as bad as I remember for some reason (at least the first time up it).
There were some rolling hills and downhills. It all blended together after awhile. There were mile markers though hard to figure out since we were repeating the loop. It kept you focused on just running, looking at the scenery (lakes, etc).
Each loop had two water stops, I believe. I stopped at each one and walked. There was always Nuun, water and a cup of chocolate (tempting, but no).
Stan and I ran together surprisingly since he is so much faster than me. I often lost him at a water stop but he always waited for me to catch up. We chatted and that made the miles go by so painlessly. But the best part was that talking while running made me slow down!!!
The weather was perfect for running. A little windy but not too bad – the trees blocked things probably. I was cool at times but warm enough to roll down my arm sleeves during the race.
9:52, 9:56, 9:44
So Stan and I continued chatting. I never looked at my watch and was surprised to be able to run at Stan’s pace. Around 5 miles, I ate my first and only Gu.
Since this was our 2nd loop, we had to conquer that same big hill and some minor hills. Again since I was not running as fast as I may have been if I was running alone, I was able to run up the hill (at a slightly slower pace.)
I usually hate races that loop but it didn’t bother me at all during this race. The scenery didn’t seem repetitious and you couldn’t see the finish line from the course.
9:30, 10:30, 9:48, 8:22
Finally the last time up the big hill. At around mile 7 or so, I told Stan to run ahead and I am sure he was relieved to be able to run at his own faster pace.
My legs finally gave out up the last hill. I ran/walked it so that I would be able to finish the last few miles strong.
The happiest moment of the race was not having to run another loop and turn left toward the finish line. Lots of crowd support at this point made up for the fact that the end seemed a long way away from the course (and a little rutty/muddy).
Finally I crossed just over 1:31:00 and happy!!
Stan was waiting. He had finished 3-4 minutes ahead of me.
We quickly retrieved our refreshments and hoodies and waited for the others to finish.
and soon they were all done… Everyone was happy and met their goals for the race.
Stan won first in his age group (Thank God I didn’t wreck it for him) and I even won 2nd!! (Awards will be mailed.)
After gathering all our chocolate rewards, Stan led us out of the park to the subway so we could get back to the hotel for hot showers.
We had big plans ahead for the day: bagels for lunch, subway back to Manhattan to see a Broadway show and then dinner near Times Square.
But all we talked about was how much fun the race was and how glad we were that we did it.
Additional Race Reflections:
The race was fun. It was even better running it with friends and with good weather. This race company has organized races all over the country and they have thought of every detail – bags to carry your uneaten refreshments, water fountains to rinse your hands, etc.
- Easy packet pick-up. Organized expo. Not very large but had samples of the sponsors’ goods – Honey Stinger, Nuun, etc. Located indoors (in case of rain)
- Pre-race emails with instructions and maps.
- Many porta potties at the start/finish area.
- Bag Check. Well organized before and easy pick up at the end.
- Water, Nuun and chocolate stops along the course.
- Well marked course.
- Pacers for all paces up to 15 m/m.
- Very cool medal.
- Gender specific hoodies.
- No lines for post race refreshments.
- Plastic bags available for carry uneaten refreshments.
- Hot chocolate refills.
- Water fountains to wash your hands (from the messy chocolate).
- Free photos.
- Awards announced for top 3 but age group awards mailed.
- 5k option in addition to the 15k.
- Great weather.
- Looped course.
- Course a little long (aren’t they all?)
- Nothing 🙂
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Do it if you can. So fun.
Not sure I have ever negative split a race especially not a long one. My 15k time was about the same as in my recent downhill half marathon and this race had HILLS.
We walked a 15k the next day and my legs did not feel like I had run a race the day before.
Since today is Tuesday, I’m linking up with these ladies. Hope you do too.
Happy Running! Ever run a Hot Chocolate race? If so, did you enjoy it?