Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hot Chocolate 15k Dallas - 2014

Lots of catching up to do, but I'm tired, so let's just bang it out:
  • Started a new job that I have to go into the office for about 3 weeks ago. Absolutely love it, but I definitely don't have the free time I used to. Lots of runners in the office, though, so that's fun. 
  • The same week I started my job, I started my speed training class on Tuesday and Thursday night. On night #3, I tripped on a curb and went splat on my face and broke my nose and scraped up my face. Not cool! 
  • Really enjoying the speed class, or at least getting a lot out of it. I don't exactly dread it, but it's hard work, so I don't really look forward to it either. It's been brutally cold and windy for a couple of sessions, but our coach is great and there's only 5 of us in the class, so we got lots of individualized attention. 
Anyway, on to the race report. Officially, my time was 1:36 with a 10:30/mile pace. Per my Runkeeper, it was 9.54 miles (rather than 9.3) in 1:36 at a 10:08 pace. Either way, it's a solid PR over my 10:52 pace in the DRC 15k in October.

My legs felt heavy at the start after waiting out in the cold for 30 minutes between trains (more on that at the bottom), but I found my groove. There's a big hill at mile 6 that should not be underestimated. It's long and tough. I pride myself on running hills when others have to walk, but I knew if I kept running, it was going to sap too much strength. Other than that, it was pretty flat and smooth sailing apart from the odd bridge. 

As for the race, it's a very nice route and very well organized. The swag is the best I've ever seen. Really nice hoodie pullover, a good mug (used a code to get that added on as a freebie), and of course, the "mug" of hot chocolate, and chocolate fondue with dipping goodies. No medal, but who needs it?

Already drank the hot chocolate and ate the marshmallow

Only two drawbacks I could find were:
  • If you're the type who doesn't like big, crowded races, you might skip this one. I was always able to run my pace due to a good corral system, but the route was busy, start to finish. Didn't bother me, but it's worth noting.
  • The packet pickup is a bit of a hassle. I work just a handful of miles away from Fair Park and it still took over an hour to drive there, park ($10), walk seemingly .75 miles to the expo, pick up my packet (a 3-step process), walk the .75 miles back to my car and drive back to work. And the hours are unfriendly to working folks: 2-7 Thursday, 11-7 Friday. And no pickup on race morning. I get why they don't have race day pickup, but still... it irritated the crap out of me to have to take so much time out of my work day for that.
Otherwise, I was very impressed with the whole shebang. It's an expensive race, but for the 15k, I think it's worth it. Then again, if you're just in it for the goodies, the 5k is a lot less work for the same reward.

The "Chocolate Station" that's only on the 15k course was just low quality, crumbly squares of bland dark chocolate. Skip those and bring a gel or something if you need sustenance for a race that length. I was very much wishing for one of my little Payday bars.

Another tip, if you're running it in Dallas and taking the train... take the one that gets you there at 7:25 or so. There's absolutely no need to get there any earlier, and the train that gets you there at 7 is packed to the gills. I could have slept an extra 20 minutes AND avoided standing an extra 20 minutes in the cold waiting for the next train.

As I usually am after a long, hard race like that, I'm crazy exhausted. Had to take a nap in the middle of this post! Most everything hurts and I need an Advil bath. Been a while since I raced. Forgot how worthless I am the rest of the day. Luckily, a couple of days before I have to run again. I think I'm gonna need them.