First race since November! And first race that was longer than a 5K since March 2012!
Finished my first 15K in 1:14:16.
I admit, this was a pretty awesome experience. The staging area and start were well set-up. Parking in downtown was kind of scary mostly because I didn’t realize how short of a walk it was to the start area. Barely went a half mile. Took off my warm hoodie and dropped my bag off at gear check before doing a couple small loops to warm up. It was pretty cool, high 40s, waiting to head into the corrals (the 5K started first at 6:45). Plus the sun was only just starting to rise, so I enjoyed my 1.14 mile warm up.
Space finally cleared up and I headed into the corrals. I was in corral J, which was the 2nd corral for the 15K. They started on time (7:35), which was great to see (I’d been hearing different about this race in other cities). Added to that, they stagger the corrals. So we started about 2 minutes after the first corral and that made it a bit more manageable and less crazy for the first mile.
Now I had been warned that this race was very hilly. I figured it’d be like the rest of the greater San Diego area, but I didn’t anticipate starting on an uphill. So we got to get a feel for how the rest of the course would go from the very beginning. Garmin registers about 3100 feet in elevation changes (that includes ups and downs). I will say that running out here for 2 months has totally prepared me for this. While the uphills were difficult, especially the very steep ones, I was able to keep pace through them and passed a lot of people on the uphill.
The original plan was to run the race by 5Ks, taking it easy the first two and then picking it up the last. However, going much faster than I originally thought had me just kind of going on feel. So instead of picking it up after crossing the 10K mark, I sort of started after mile 5. I will say that the first 7 miles seemed to be just uphill and flat sections. Downhill areas were small and limited. Though the guy with a sign that said “Downhill around the next corner. Yay!!” was hysterical.
The course goes through downtown San Diego and Balboa Park (known for the zoo and museums). The downtown area was was fun for the high rises and the areas between there and the park had residential areas where people sat on their front steps and cheered. One lady even hooked up some speakers to her iPod and played us music!
The sidelines were emptier than I’m used to as many of the races I’ve done are much higher profile (this is only the 2nd year the Hot Chocolate run has been to San Diego), as it’s a young race, but it made for a nice morning jaunt. I got to listen to the conversations around me and laugh hysterically at 3 marines randomly bursting into song (or at least yelling the lyrics) of various songs along the course. The most hysterical was their rendition of ‘Living on a Prayer’ (Bon Jovi) when we finally found a downhill somewhere in mile 5.
Besides feeling the blisters forming on my feet, I felt good for this one. I wasn’t quite sure where the speed was coming from, but I just went with it. By the time we reached the 10K mark, I was ready to get moving and picked it up. Plus the 2 miles of nearly all downhills after mile 7 made it easy to pick off people who were getting tired.
I finished strong and only needed my inhaler after crossing the finish line. Though I admit to forgetting to stop my Garmin after crossing the finish line, so that time is a little off. The volunteers on course were awesome and the water stations were well setup and spread well to make it easy to grab a drink. I picked up water at 3 of the 4 and had no troubles. Plus it was just fun high fiving the volunteers as you went by.
Of course, one of my favorite parts was after the finish. Post race party! The DJ they brought in was pretty good. Plus we got our finisher’s mug with a feast.
Dark chocolate hot chocolate (the good stuff too), dark chocolate fondue, and snacks for dipping. I totally demolished the whole thing, along with a few waters. I can say that while this is a pricier race, the technical hoodie and experience made it well worth it. The event was managed well and I had no problems at any stage. So if you want to try something different, I suggest checking out the Hot Chocolate 15/5K. Below are just some of the running related details.
Miles Splits (based on watch time, not bib time, of 1:14:46)- 8:31, 8:03, 8:40, 8:28, 8:02, 7:49, 7:52, 7:52, 7:10
Placement- 12 in age group, 100 for the ladies, 241 overall