I ran my favorite (only) winter race this morning, the Hot Chocolate 15k. This is the third year in a row I’ve run it.
The morning got off to an inauspicious start as I got downtown around 7am but circled the area multiple times, looking for parking. I was determined to find free street parking with high visibility which apparently is a tall order for a popular race like this. I eventually settled for a spot several blocks away on Chestnut. I may or may not have ripped off a do not park here sign. It was almost 7:30; I was desperate!
I ran to the start area as the national anthem was playing. There’s about a zillion corrals for this race and if I couldn’t get closer to my assigned corral, B, I ran the risk of being behind walkers and being pissed off the whole time.
Unfortunately a lot of people needed to move up, and the crowd wasn’t moving. Then I saw the corrals were moving and knew if I didn’t get in, they’d all pass me. The corrals were closed, so I squeezed in through a trapezoid in the gate and ended up here.
Not great. So I went to the left side and squeezed through another trapezoid. A spectator saw me and said “no way!” Way. It was much easier to move on the left side of Market and I was able to reach corral E. I’ll take it.
Mile one is the long uphill along Market to Compton. It’s pretty soul crushing since it’s the start of the race, but I was steady Eddie and handled it well. I’m part of a Facebook group where we do a physical challenge each month; it’s currently jumping jacks and we are up to 100. I honestly believe the strength I’ve gained from that helped me on the hills.
Unfortunately as we began mile 2 I felt a burning in my left shin muscle. I’ve gotten that in the past but this time it was enough to make me walk. The timing was good, as I could get a shot of these guys.
The middle guy. I mean that’s basically an arrow to his penis. Good for him.
Then I walked at the water station right after. I was thinking “here we go again” as my recent trend is to walk early and lose all motivation. I was happy to get through that mile around 11 minutes.
I said hi to my car and was relieved I got no ticket. I’m not going to make a habit of parking in race closed spots but I’m glad this worked out.
I was really enjoying the run by this point. I love winter running. Once I get into my groove I feel like I can run forever. I only looked at my watch at each mile but the pace I settled into was around 9:45/mile which is unheard of for me lately.
I ate everything I picked up. As we turned back from the brewery I realized I was running so well that a PR might be possible. So I skipped the last candy station, more marshmallows.
Mile 8 is just mean, an uphill on Chouteau. I kept telling myself I could slow down but I could not stop. I didn’t want to throw away all my 9:xx miles because I’d be disappointed in myself. It’s been so long since I’ve had a strong race that I really wanted it. I was thinking a race where I averaged 9:xx miles would be awesome. I couldn’t remember what my previous times were; turns out this is what they were:
And here’s my detailed splits because I’m so proud of what I did after that rough mile 2:
No city or year on my medal! I double checked the event page and they are supposed to have that info. I messaged them on their FB page and they’re mailing me a new one. Problem solved.
I know there’s plenty to dislike about winter but I’ve come to realize I do my best running when it’s cold. I’m excited about training team in January!