Hot Chocolate 15K!

My race packet has arrived! I’m super pumped to be running the Hot Chocolate 15K in Philadelphia this April! This year I intend on getting yet another PR, so I’m double-pumped to get started.  This will mark my third year running the race, and word on the streets is that there is a special “legacy” gift for past participants.

So I’ve got my packet, now what’s inside?

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Inside: The official Hot Chocolate tech long-sleeve shirt, bib, pins, and race information.

Initial thoughts: Every year I’m always excited for the swag, and the first and second year I ran the race the zip-up jackets were a huge hit.  This year they’ve decided to go with a long-sleeve tech shirt, and I’m a little torn on how I feel about it.  I’m on the fence because on one hand I was hoping for, yet another, jacket to add to my collection, but on the other hand appreciate something new and this long-sleeve tech shirt is nice and thick and perfect for late fall, early spring running.

All-in-all I’m grateful the Hot Chocolate organizers mail out the packets, having to drive 2+ hours to expo the day before the race and back again in the morning would be crazy!  Kudos to the HC15K team for the awesome work!

Being my third year running this race, I’m supposed to receive some type of legacy swag – I’m not sure if this is after the race or before?  If another has received the legacy swag, when did you receive it?  My bib doesn’t seem to indicate anything in regard to the legacy status either, so I’m not 100% confident how this will be handled.

EDIT, as I’m typing this, I went to the official rules: HERE

**We encourage all Legacy participants to join us at the Expo, to celebrate their achievements! Legacy items will not be mailed out pre-race. If you are unable to attend the Expo, we will arrange to have your Legacy items available for pickup on race day. You must pick up Legacy items either at the Expo, or on race day; no Legacy items will be mailed after the race.

Guess that answers that question! Anyway, I’m looking forward to this year’s race! Post-race recap to soon follow!

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Hot Chocolate 15k – Follow-up!

Oh man, I’m I excited to share with you all my Race-recap of the Hot Chocolate 15k in Philadelphia! This is the second year I’ve run this race and I have had a great time so far!  Oh and best of all, this race counted as my long run prior to my half marathon so I basically got rewarded for training.

If you are planning on doing the HC15K in Philly, here are my tips for the newcomers:

  1. Parking is a horrendous nightmare! Get there early and look for parking near the backside of the art muesun. If you are daring, feel free to park on the street, bonus points if you make your own parking on the concrete islands that serve as lane dividers. Tip: This seems like a no-brainer, but- Get there early.
  2. The inflatables attract a lot of attention, so if you want your picture with the giant marshmellows, do it first thing when the crowds are small. Again, early bird gets the worm.
  3. If you arrive early and want to stock up on Merchandise- buy gloves and hats before the race because these are the first things to sellout. Tip: Wait until after the race to buy clothing (sometimes they’ll have a discount rack to move product faster).
  4. Bring layers! April in Philadelphia can be unpredictable, but so far every year it’s been biting cold and rainy in the morning and then getting nicer at the conclusion of the race. Tip: Wear old clothing you don’t mind discarding, they’ll donate discarded clothing to the local shelters. 
  5. When you have to use the bathroom, the port-a-johns closest to the starting gates are always packed. Tip: Take a few extra steps and walk toward the end of the long line of facilities and you’ll either have a short wait or not wait at all. 
  6. At the end of the race, collect your medal (you deserve it!) and head to the tents to collect your finishers mug! Tip: Again, take a few extra steps and walk away from the crowds to the lines furthest from the finish line- there’s usually never a wait.

Cheerish these tips, they have served me well! Now, about the race: the course is fairly flat, so this is a great time to turn up the speed! In my case this counted as a long training run before my half marathon next week, so I took it easy. I ran at an average 10:22 pace but found myself passing a lot of people along the way. If your like me and carry your own hydration, stay to the outside of the course and just keep moving along. There are several hydration stations and bathrooms along the way, and also the park is alongside the entire course so if you want to avoid the crowds or take a break there is a walking trail that parallels the course.

There were over 6,000 participants so the event can seem a bit crazy at times. Kudos to the event organizers for keeping things moving and keeping the crowds under control.

I usually start in the corrals near the back: One, I know I’m not super fast runner so starting in the front doesn’t mean much to me. Two, I like to pass people vs. getting passed repeatedly. 🙂 Lastly, it gives you a chance to walk around and take it all in.

I started off nice and slow, with an average pace around 11min/mile just to get warmed up and a feel for the pack I was running alongside. After the second and third mile I picked up the pace and started to focus on my cadence and breathing. In through the nose and out the mouth, feeling good. Miles 4 and 5 were closer to 10 min/mile pace- I wanted to go faster but just didn’t want to over do it.

Mile 6 into 7 I started to hydrate – I didn’t feel thirst, but I could tell my mouth wasn’t was moist and my nose wasn’t as runny as it normally was during the beginning of the race. My pace slowed slightly because now I was catching the large crowds that were in the corrals ahead of me. At some points during the congestion I was trying my best to navigate through the walkers and abrupt stoppers.

Mile 7 into 8 I started to feel a little tightness in my calves, but nothing that warranted stopping so I pressed on and picked up my pace a little.

Coming into the final stretch I realized that the course barely had any photographers- in fact it wasn’t until I approached the finish that I saw the event photographers. Not that I wanted photographers catching me every 10 minutes, but just an observation I picked up on from last year. The last and final approach is on an incline, so just remember to save a little bit of extra umph for a strong finish.

I had a great time, picked up a little extra swag afterward and enjoyed getting out and running the 15k for another year.