Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Hot Chocolate 15K Dallas as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Who wouldn’t want to run for chocolate?
This run interested me because: 1. Chocolate 2. I’d heard great things and 3. It’s in Dallas
I personally had a lot going on right before this race – recovering from my marathon, surgery (tonsillectomy), life… so my training wasn’t 100% consistent. I knew I could manage, though, because I know I can handle that distance. For reference, 15K is 9.3 miles. I just wasn’t sure I could go all-out, speed wise.
Though I knew I had my tonsillectomy 3 weeks before the race, I followed the training plan as best as I could. Which, by the way – I LOVE that they email you this training plan, then even send you weekly updates with that particular week’s training along with tips and tricks. Here’s a sample of the Hot Chocolate training plan:
So, race day comes and I feel pretty prepared – though I missed some training due to surgery, I was feeling confident since I had followed the plan up until then.
I go to the Expo, which was in Fair Park, and am pleasantly surprised. There are a nice amount of booths and lots of Hot Chocolate gear available for purchase. There weren’t any lines when I went (I went on the Thursday before the race)… so I just whizzed through the bib-pick up and goodie-bag pick up. The registration came with a Hot Chocolate hoodie, which was pretty awesome. They were super snuggly.
Saturday morning comes, and it’s race day! The recommended arrival time for both the 5K and 15K runners was 6:00am. I got there about 6:20am. Parking was a breeze – a little waiting in line, but we were directed to parking lots and it was easy. I arrived with plenty of time to spare. Since it was FREEZING outside (especially for this wimpy Texan who doesn’t do well in the cold).
I hung out in my car until about 7:00am (start time for the 15K was 8:30am). I didn’t know how long I’d last out in the cold just waiting around. While waiting in my car, I realize all the things I forgot to bring. Gloves, a belt to hold my phone, tissues, my little wrist band to hold my car key, a snack… Yeah, I need to get better at the whole “race day preparation” thing. I usually just worry about getting my body there and I’m good.It was OK, though – I had my sweat shirt to wear before the race started and planned to gear-check it and just wear a long sleeve since I’d warm up while running. I just shoved my car key in my sock and it all worked out!
Turned out there was a huge indoor area to wait in (yay!) where the gear check was. That was a life saver. There were lots of 15K runners in there stretching, eating their snacks (all of which I was majorly eyeing), and hanging with run buddies. I stayed there until 8:00, then headed to my Corral.
The start line and corrals were easy to find and labeled by letter. Apparently when registering I must have entered that my predicted pace was an 11-minute mile… so I ended up not starting with my pace group (I was aiming for a sub 8-minute mile), which somehow usually happens to me. No one to blame here but myself for that one (spaz). It was OK, though, because we started in waves, so I wasn’t bottle-necked in. I was weaving in and out of people the entire race, but again… that usually happens and I wasn’t very bothered by it.
Ok, here we go… I’m at the top of the start line waiting for the horn! I’m ready to get running and warm up! And we’re off…!
The course was nice and open the whole way, so plenty of room. It was mostly on the street. I liked the openness of it, especially since I was maneuvering my way through people. It was hilly! More than I expected. The whole course was a constant up and down-hill, with one extremely vertical incline up and down the Trinity bridge around mile 8 (ouch) that gave us all a run for our money. Despite always training on flat road, I did surprisingly well with the hills. I’m especially great at rolling down hill 🙂 (thanks, long legs!). And I even plowed through that hill at the bridge like a champ. Not to toot my own horn, but I was flying by people at that point and was proud of myself for it.
After that major hill over the bridge, it all seemed down-hill from there (literally and figuratively). Next thing you know, I’m giving it my all and the finish line is in sight! I could see all the people cheering… the announcer says my name which I can just barely hear over my loud music blasting through my headphones. This is it! I wasn’t sure what my finishing time would be. For the last mile, I was just going as fast as I could without burning out, not looking at my watch. I knew that the whole time I had maintained a pace in between 7:30 and 8:30 – mostly somewhere in the 7:50’s, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be an overall average of sub-8:00/mile or not. I knew it would be close because of those few times I was going 8:30 uphill.
I roll through the finish, legs feeling pretty good. I stop my watch and see “DIST.: 9.39 PACE: 7:58.” I’m elated at this point. I feel like an Olympic champion.
I didn’t even know if I would be able to run this race at all considering my surgery was just 3 weeks prior. I was extremely proud and really impressed with myself for the strength and determination that I dug deep for in order to achieve my goal. I would’ve been really happy with any pace/time for this race given the circumstances, but the fact that I felt really strong throughout the run AND hit my goal… this was a huge victory for me.
I walk over to get my medal, and the really nice volunteer enthusiastically congratulated me (I feel even more like an Olympic champion now!) and I make my way to get my Finisher’s Mug. What we’ve all been waiting for… the CHOCOLATE! The mug had hot Cocoa, a pool of dipping chocolate, and lots of things to dip – a banana, pretzels, marshmallows, crackers… I knew I needed to get started on eating my chocolate ASAP. I made my way back to gear-check (indoor area – anything to keep warm) and sat down and enjoyed my treat.
This was a happy moment. Chocolate + Victory. What more could I ask for.
Overall, this was an amazing run – extremely well organized, great people and volunteers, great support, and I proved something to myself. I can do what I set my mind to. No matter what.
For details about the race itself, feel free to read my review on BibRave.com! Remember to help out fellow runners looking for the perfect race by reviewing your races!
BibRave review: http://www.bibrave.com/races/hot-chocolate-dallas/6835