San Francisco, CA
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??
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.
Which is just across the street from the Golden Gate Bridge…
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.
One of the biggest sellers of this race is you get a fleece hoodie instead of a tech shirt:
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.
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!
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!
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 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 mile 2.
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.
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.
Again, Golden Gate Park is always a pretty run-we passed by waterfalls and 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.
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…
de Young Museum
Then it was time for me to head home and get some sleep!
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 🙂