Anyone who knows me knows about my love for chocolate. Milk, dark, caramels, creams–I don’t discriminate. I’ve also, in the past year, come to love running. When I heard about the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k at the Cleveland Marathon Expo and discovered it was coming to Columbus, I was committed. Fast-forward six long months and the weekend finally arrived!
My friend and coworker, Allison, and I headed to Columbus yesterday afternoon to pick up our race gear at the Expo and prepare for this morning’s 15k. After a slight fiasco valeting our car and attempting to check in to the wrong hotel, we made it to the Renaissance and our lovely, comfortable hotel room (thanks, Scot!). We wandered around and ended up finding some good sandwiches for dinner at Tip Top Kitchen and relaxed in hotel Room 1111 the rest of the evening!
Our hotel was thankfully only a half mile from the race, so we were able to walk to the starting line and avoid traffic. We arrived to the race about 40 minutes before it began, and it was a chilly wait! Luckily Allison and I bundled up and managed not to freeze to death, except for our feet which felt like ice blocks as we started the run! The race itself was a tough one, which I was kind of surprised by! Part of that could have been the fact that I really haven’t been able to run since the Columbus Marathon four weeks ago due to some cartilage issues in my right knee. My knee started to give me problems before we hit mile marker 1, but that chocolate fondue at the finish line was calling my name, so I was not throwing in the towel! I was a little surprised at how hilly the race was compared to the Marathon course. It wasn’t anything crazy or unbearable, but there were significantly more hills on a shorter course. At Mile 8 there was a pretty big climb, and I can’t say I’m ever a big fan of hills near the end of a race!
Though Allison and I had plans to meet up at the [very convenient] Runner Reunite if we got separated, we managed to stay together throughout the whole race! We pushed each other through and it would honestly have been really easy to give up if I had been running alone. The pain in my knee and my four-week long running break definitely caught up to me, but having a friend to keep up with was definitely motivating. The last few races I’ve run have really made me appreciate racing with a friend. Seeing the person I’m running with keep going when I’ve hit a mid-race wall definitely helps me push through and prepare to motivate them when they hit their wall. In my opinion it is much more enjoyable to run with a buddy!
Allison and I finished the race in 1 hour and 29 minutes, with an average pace of 9:34 per mile. We were both pretty satisfied with our time and celebrated by consuming the contents of our Finisher’s Mug!
Overall the race was a good one! The check-in at the Expo was smooth and easy, and the Jacket Swap table was very much appreciated since the race jackets ran a little small. The race merchandise was fairly priced and Allison and I were both pretty content with our purchases! The race itself was well-organized and fairly easy to navigate. Even with all the people at the Finishers’ Party there was no wait to pick up our bags from Gear Check and the wait time to get our hot chocolate and fondue was extremely short. There weren’t nearly as many cheering spectators as there were for other larger races, but that’s to be expected. The volunteers along the course had a lot of energy and cheered for the runners as we ran by. While we didn’t stay very long once we finished the race due to cold temperatures, the atmosphere seemed pretty fun with a large stage and an energetic band performing. Had the temperature been a little warmer we probably would have stuck around to enjoy the fun a little longer. I would definitely participate in another Hot Chocolate Run if the opportunity presents itself. Like I said, chocolate and running…can’t go wrong! 😉