Hot Chocolate 15K 2014, A Race Review

Hot Chocolate 15K/5K

San Francisco, CA

HC15KFinisherCup

On Sunday, January 12, 2014 I ran for chocolate!

I decided to sign up for the 15K race sometime in December. I thought this would be a good training run before the P.F. Chang’s Half Marathon, which I will be running next weekend! I can’t remember exactly what I paid for this race, maybe $65??

Expo:

HC15KExpo

The expo for the HC15K/5K was held at Sports Basement in the Presido on Friday, January 10 from 12pm-8pm and Saturday, January 11 from 10am-8pm.

HC15KSportsbasement

Which is just across the street from the Golden Gate Bridge…

HC15KGGBridge

Lookin’ gorgeous as ever

I went at the last minute (naturally) on Saturday evening to pick up my packet and swag. Traffic was terrible outside and in the parking lot but it wasn’t too crowded inside-it took maybe 5 minutes for me to pick up my bib, pay for my shuttle ticket ($8) to the starting line, and get my sweat shirt.

HC15KPacketPickUp

One of the biggest sellers of this race is you get a fleece hoodie instead of a tech shirt:

HC15KPurpleHoodie HC15KInstahoodie

i LOVE.

The expo was small, yet organized. There were only a few vendors but plenty of chocolate: they were handing out chocolate squares, ginseng-laced chocolate and marshmallows covered in chocolate. If you run this race, you better like chocolate. Luckily, I do.

HC15KExpoChocolate HC15KMarshmellow

It was a short and sweet visit (haha) and I was ready to race!

Race Day: I was a record amount of exhausted for this race-I just recovered from a cold that held on for over 2 weeks and I slept about 3 hours. Thus, I had no expectation or goals in mind-I wanted to have an easy run and just enjoy the day!

As per instructions, I arrived at the BART Civic Center Station (BART: basically the Bay Area light rail) to catch the shuttle to the starting area at Golden Gate Park. I went to the BART station and wandered around for awhile looking for the shuttle. Which would be fine but this is not the safest area, especially when it is pitch-black outside at 6:30AM! I was a little creeped out by…well…all the creepers around. I found several other lost runners finally and we were eventually flagged down by race volunteers. The shuttles were at the Bill Graham Auditorium-which I later found out was listed on an info sheet. I live here and I was lost, I can’t imagine being from out of town!

HC15KShuttle

Riding in style

All was OK, and I made it on to the shuttle safely. The coaches were a LOT nicer than I had expected-cozy seats and a toasty heater!

HC15KMug

When I arrived at Golden Gate Park it was FREEZING outside. The temperate dropped at least 10 degrees from my neighborhood. I had about an hour and 40 minutes to kill (so much for fashionably late, I’m now over-ambitiously early). I was impressed with the start/finish area. There were plentiful port-a-potties, a DJ, a merchandise boutique (*hint* it was warm in here!), gear check, a water station-all in the center of the museums of Golden Gate Park!

I also met up with Taylor (Single-Tracked Mind and San Francisco Marathon Ambassador!) and we ran this race together!

HC15KTaylorandI

I committed a HUGE race-day sin: I ran in something I never train in. I wore 1. pants, which I hate to run in and 2. a sweatshirt, which I NEVER run in. I was sooo cold all morning and had just recovered from a cold so I did not want to part with my warm gear. Until about mileΒ  2.

The Breakdown:

HC15KStart

Miles 1-3: The course starts in gorgeous Golden Gate Park, weaving through paved pathways surrounded by trees. This was the easiest part of the course as it is mostly downhill. It was a surprisingly sunny day and I had to take off my sweater almost immediately.

Miles 3-7: This part of the course was an easy, flat, straight out-and-back along the highway following the coast. We were treated to beautiful ocean views and the waves were as big as I have ever seen in San Francisco.

HC15KOcean

HC15KHighway

Fog city? I think not.

At this point I was already overheated-I vow to NEVER wear pants during a race in California again! We stopped twice along this stretch for water and bathroom breaks.

Miles 7-9.33: The final stretch of the race lead us right back in to Golden Gate Park. It isn’t steep, but the final miles of the course are on a gradual incline.

HC15KGGPark

Again, Golden Gate Park is always a pretty run-we passed by waterfalls and buffalo…

HC15KBuffalo

Hi buffalo!

I like to end my races faster than I start, but it just wasn’t happening today. Taylor was really nice and stayed with me for the whole race, even though I was a bit run down. Our average running pace was just over 9 min/mile, which really wasn’t too bad.

HC15KFountain3

Center of the start/finish area

After finishing, we headed over to get our checked bags (bag check was cake BTW) and pick up our finisher’s mugs (pictured at the top!), which includes a lot of sweet treats-chocolate, marshmallows, hot chocolate, a banana and pretzels. If I were to do this over again, I would have brought a bagel or protein bar because I like to have something more substantial after a run. We ate our sugar, took pictures of all of the pretty scenery…

HC15KFountain2

de Young Museum

Then it was time for me to head home and get some sleep!

HC15KFinish

Bye Taylor!

Overall, I had a very positive day at the Hot Chocolate 15K. This was my first “themed” race and what I’ve taken away from my experience is this: I hate chores. If running were a chore, I wouldn’t do it. The idea of “running for chocolate” is a no-pressure-just-get-out-there-and-have-fun kind of race.

And so I did πŸ™‚

Finis!

-J

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16 thoughts on “Hot Chocolate 15K 2014, A Race Review

  1. What a fun race! I love that you are honest about the lessons you learn – clothing is something I’m always worried about in cooler months. I worry about being too cold but worry that I’ll overdress and be too hot. How fun to get something different than the normal tech or t-shirt. I love chocolate as well – definitely a reason why I run πŸ™‚ I wish we had more mid-distances like that around here – it’s basically all 5ks with a few 10ks and 1/2s scattered about. It would be nice to throw a 15k or 10 miler into training for a half to mix things up. I guess climate is the biggest factor in my area – not much I can change about that πŸ™‚ Congrats on a fun race!!

    • Thank you, it was a lot of fun AND a gorgeous day out! Too bad I didn’t get the memo there was going to be so much sunshine! I really dislike being overheated, aside from being like injured or sick, it probably affects my run more than almost anything. I liked the 15K distance, it wasn’t too short but also not quite as intense as a half πŸ™‚

  2. Paying for tickets to a shuttle sounds like a common thing where you are–I’ve never encountered that in St. Louis, probably because things are more spread out here. But wow, that scenery you get to enjoy while running-I’d gladly pay for a shuttle ticket to run in that!

    • Oh it is-and it can get really pricey. The Nike Women’s Marathon Shuttle was $20!! However, traffic and parking can be a nightmare so using a shuttle saves me from a headache. There are fees for everything here and it can get a little out of control, but SF is really beautiful too so sometimes it’s worth the extra $$ πŸ™‚

      • I can usually park on the street about a block away from my races, and it’s always free, so we’ve got that going for us. I’ve been to SF twice and I can’t imagine that being possible there so it’s a good thing they offer shuttles, even if it does make your race cost more pricey.

      • ahh that sounds so nice! I visited a friend in St. Louis who went to Washington University, and I really loved it. Granted I was only there for a weekend and a concert so it was purely vacation, but we had a lot of fun. Definitely more spread out than SF πŸ™‚

  3. Great race review! Thanks for taking the time to break down the event. My wife and I will run the Nashville Hot Chocolate run on Feb 15 and we are psyched. I agree with you about the “no pressure” of this race. It will be a fun tune up for us for a half later in the spring.

    • Thank you! From what I’ve been reading, the Hot Chocolate race courses have all been really great, so I hope you and your wife have a great experience! It was nice to just get out there and run just for the sake of running, and not feel like it was a crazy competitive race. Thanks for taking the time to read my review and good luck on the 15th!

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