Hot Chocolate 15k in St. Louis 12/13/15

On Sunday I ran the Hot Chocolate 15k for the second year in a row. I signed up because it’s a really fun race that comes with food on the course and a great goodie bag that includes this jacket:  

Even though I get to the gym about four times a week, I haven’t been running much lately, so I wasn’t sure how this would pan out. I optimistically listed 9:45/mile as my estimated pace when I signed up a while back. That, plus the fact I ran this race faster than 11:30/mile last year, was enough to qualify me for the A corral. 

 

I don’t think I’ve ever started so close. They had nine total corrals.  

 
There’s a couple people in that photo that capture my feelings on my corral placement.  

Corral A? Really? The people who will win this race are in this corral.

 

OMG the “slowest” pace sign is 9:30/mile. Everyone is going to pass me.

 
I did have the option to move back a corral but I didn’t consider that because it was rainy and I wanted to get moving. I decided I’d just run my race, made sure I was at the back of the corral, and assumed I’d be by myself. 
   
The race began and I crossed the start line at 7:30–so nice not to have to stand around for my corral to be released! We headed west on Market street and immediately up a long hill. I was prepared for this and focused on my breathing. I actually wasn’t at the back of the pack and passed many people on this hill. As we approached mile 1 I noticed my bib that I’d carefully taped to my rain jacket was coming off.  

 Looks secure there, right? Well, apparently water makes tape not work. So rather than look down every two seconds to make sure my bib was still attached I decided to rip it off and hold it for 8 more miles. So that was neat.  
Around mile 1.5 was the first aid station. There were little girls passing out Gatorade and reciting a cheer I couldn’t understand but they couldn’t have been more than four years old and I just loved them. I told them they did a great job.

I didn’t take photos during the race so if you’re interested in on the course photos read my recap from last year.

Like last year, I made it a priority to eat everything on the course:

  1. Chocolate chips
  2. Strawberry marshmallows
  3. M&Ms (an improvement over the tootsie rolls last year)
  4. Chocolate marshmallows

I walked through these stations and the water stations. Choking down food and water while running doesn’t save much time anyway. 

Besides not allowing my bib to be attached to it, my rain jacket was a bit of a problem in areas where the wind was blowing toward me. The wind caught in my hood and made it feel like I was running with a parachute behind me. Plus, it was like 63 degrees and I was actually warm. I think I would have preferred just getting wet. 

Since I haven’t done a lot of long distance runs lately I focused on staying in each mile, only looking at my watch when I heard it beep for a mile completed. That plus my rhythmic breathing made the race feel manageable and I got faster as I went along. 

My pacing was great through 8 miles but then the uphills on Chouteau got to me. I hate walking so close to the end but I did it anyway.  

 
Hills at the end are soul crushing. My walk breaks weren’t too long though, and I made sure to run a bit faster on the downhills. I crossed the 9 mile marker and had to walk a bit more even though I only had a few more minutes of running to go. Some 5k finishers cheered for us 15kers and reminded us that the finish was just around the corner so I ran again. I could see the race clock in the distance had just changed to 1:33:00. 

  I knew I was about 20 seconds behind it so I attempted to speed up to finish under 1:33:00 but I just didn’t have anything left in the tank. (Still smiling though!)  

  

  

 I didn’t finish under my completely arbitrary last second goal of 1:33:00 but I did finish just under 10/mile and ran each 5k the same or faster than the last, even with a little walking. Plus I ran about three minutes faster than last year, so I’m thrilled!  

I’m really happy with my splits, especially that last hilly, walk break filled mile.   

Here’s my finisher mug:

 I drank the hot chocolate but saved the rest because I can only handle so much sugar at one time.  
 Here’s a close up of the medal: 

 After this positive experience I’m feeling much better about distance running than I did after my last race. I’m a pretty fickle runner. 

Time to hibernate for a little while. Half marathon training with Big River Running Training Team begins January 10th!

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7 responses to “Hot Chocolate 15k in St. Louis 12/13/15

  1. I think it was worth it just for that jacket and the hot chocolate! The medal was pretty cool too. Congratulations, Nora!
    Love, Aunt Carol

  2. And you did that on Aunt Susan’s birthday, in memory or her, right?

  3. I really enjoyed this post! You did great, and I agree that the jacket is really nice. I’m proud of you, as always!
    What’s a bear coincidence?

  4. I hate carrying things when I run and to have to carry that freaking bib for 9 point whatever miles woluld have really annoyed me. Congratulations on an awesome run after not running for a while!

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