Monday, January 13, 2014

Race recap: Hot Chocolate Run SF 5k

A beautiful start to the day
Aside from a short 1.5-mile jog this past Wednesday (that was really mostly walking), I haven't run at all since my last race, the Mermaid Sirena 10-miler in San Francisco in November (after which I developed a cold that turned into a sinus infection, and then I reinjured my knee, and then two weeks ago I caught a really bad cold that had me bed-ridden for the better part of a week...)

So, I decided to change distances for the Hot Chocolate Run yesterday - instead of doing the 15k that I signed up for, I wisely ended up running the 5k instead.


Of course, there are two totally different approaches to running 3.1 miles vs. 9.3 miles, but in general, I just didn't feel like being on my feet for 6ish extra miles. The only reason why I had really wanted to do this race was for the awesome swag and the giant mug of chocolate fondue they give you at the end, so... I was fine with taking a whole lot less time to finish.


A bunch of other PRGers were doing this race too, and at some point I saw all of us doing the 5k out on the course. (My leaguemates that I rode up with were doing the 15k.) It's just really fun to do something non-derby together sometimes :)

But as far as the run was concerned, it was a solo effort. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel (I've had a nasty cough for the last WEEK) and how my knee would hold up, but I wanted to try. I didn't want to go in and just sandbag it; I wanted to REALLY see what I was capable of at this point in time, after being down for so long.

And you know what? It wasn't bad. I officially finished in 43:43, which is a 14:06 pace. Not bad for being sick and injured, right? I know I ran pretty much the entire first mile in about 13:30 (I checked my watch), and I was really pleased about that. Miles 2 and 3 had inclines of various lengths, and I'm sure I COULD have run them, if I were in good shape, but the point was that I wasn't in good shape, so I forgave myself for walking those. But as such, I still maintained a pretty good pace and only started hacking up a lung after I crossed the finish line. (I might have pushed myself extra hard for the last tenth of a mile.)

The race was REALLY well-organized, especially considering how this was its first San Francisco installment. I heard that there was an estimated 10,000 runners, and despite that, it felt very friendly and intimate. The start corrals were well-organized and we started in waves, which I really appreciated, because a race like this tends to have a lot of beginner runners, and you really just want to space people out. Also, they started the 5k first, which is unusual, because they generally start the longer distance first so that you don't have shorter distance runners turning around and coming back the same way while the longer distances are just heading out. (Although it was a looped course anyway, not an out-and-back.) But the 5k started 50 minutes before the 15k, and since they had stated online that we were being held to a 15:00-mile pace, it became clear that the point was to have as many 5k runners finish as possible before the 15k runners even started.

This alleviated congestion not just on the course, but also at the post-race area, where all the chocolate was being served :) So when I finished, the post-race area, which I don't know what it's called, because I don't know anything about Golden Gate Park, but it's here, was pretty crowded:


Yeah, that area ^ was swarming with 5k finishers initially, but by the time the majority of the 15k finishers started rolling in, it was largely empty.

Regardless, the chocolate tent was really well set-up, with TONS of serving lines, and the volunteers had it running like a well-oiled machine, so despite the sheer number of runners, I barely had to wait to pick up THIS:

Oddly enough, the handle allows it to hang really well from the hooks on my medal display rack.
Hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, a banana, a Rice Krispy treat, a bag of mini pretzels, and a wafer cookie. (I passed on the packaged snacks, but ate the banana and ALL THE CHOCOLATE.) Oh yeah. I was not disappointed. (By the way, they also very thoughtfully included a wet wipe.)

I would absolutely do this race again (if they don't hike up the race fee too much in the next few years), assuming I have someone to drive me again =P (They had shuttles from different areas in SF, and yeah, that's awesome, but yeah... carpooling with friends who KNOW the city is just better.) And my friend who picked up our race packets for us said that the entire process was really easy and quick, using QR codes. So yeah, I had a lot of fun, and I wasn't frustrated at any point, and the start line announcer guy was very Cecil Baldwin-like in his voice and his sense of humor. Color me impressed.

Handy drawstring bag with a little piece of chocolate

The SWEET techy-fabric half-zip hoodie we got.
IT HAS A BUTT POCKET AND THUMB HOLES, YOU GUYS.
Next on deck: my third Tinkerbell Half Marathon this coming weekend. No, I'm not going to PR this time. I'm just going to say that right now. A 3:00 finish would suit me just fine.

(Also, Jolie will be doing the kids race this time! My baby's first race! I'm more excited for her than for myself.)