Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Race Report: Hot Chocolate 15K Atlanta

Sorry for the delay in this race report! I had planned to write in on Sunday afternoon, but fatigue took over! I knew I was under-trained for this race, but I think the ridiculously cold weather was the straw that broke the camel's back and I was so wiped out that whole evening and into the next day! It was completely crazy!

This was my first experience with the Hot Chocolate race series. I wasn't able to do it the first year and I read all of the reports of the Expo being a disaster and the parking on race day being a nightmare and the sweatshirts being too small and decided to skip it the next year. I considered doing it last year but the price was pretty high so I skipped it - but then I saw my friend's medal (that was the 1st year for the 15K medal, I think) and hoodie and decided I would definitely do it in 2016!

A friend picked up my packet at the Expo so I cannot say anything about the process of the Expo but she told me that it went very smoothly, especially considering she was picking up 6 packets (which included race bibs, jackets, parking passes, etc)! Also, winter weather was expected for Friday night and into Saturday, so people who would normally have gone to the Expo that day rushed to come on Friday. But I heard no terrible stories so I assume they had it all under control!

I didn't sleep well Saturday night and I'm not sure why. But when my alarm went off, the adrenaline kicked in and I didn't feel tired at all. The promised frigid cold weather did arrive (though the inches of snow and ice that were expected did not materialize). I packed more layers than I thought I needed. It's been a long time since I've run in such conditions.

Feels like 12?? That's just dumb!
I had purchased a parking pass and the lot closed at 6:30 so I wanted to make sure I arrived in plenty of time. I left my house around 5AM and made it by 5:45. I was pretty aggravated that nobody checked or collected the parking passes. I'm not sure if that was due to the cold or what, but anyone could have pulled up and parked and nobody would have known. I could have saved that $10!

I wasn't sure where the best place to park would be, but I got very lucky! I parked directly across from a row of porta potties and the stairs that led down to the start area! I was able to sit in my warm(ish) car and zip over to the porta potties real quick and not have to deal with all of my stuff in my pockets. I felt like a VIP! LOL

The Moms Run This Town picture was set for 7 AM so I put on all of my layers and set out for the picture. This is what I looked like:

I thought I was so well-layered! Ha ha!
 I was wearing fleece-lined tights, a sparkle skirt, my sport bra, an Under Armor Heat Gear layer, a C9 quarter zip, a Bondi hat, a C9 buff pulled up over my head, mittens with hand warmers, and my compression socks with another pair of socks on top.

I was still SO cold!

I had brought a warm fleece jacket that I purchased at Goodwill for a throw away layer for MCM/Soldier but didn't need. My plan was to wear it and then toss it at the start. But when I learned that they wouldn't be passing out mylar blankets at the finish, I decided to keep it in the car to warm myself up post-race. So I really could have used another layer - BJ brought an old rD mylar blanket which was very smart. I am pretty sure I have one somewhere. I'll have to remember that!

Corral B - see the ice?
I couldn't find the picture being taken so I just walked over to the Corral/Start area. The sun was starting to come up and it was so quite and peaceful and cold! Very cold! I pulled up my buff over my face and did some active movement to try to warm up. I think one of the photographers got a picture of me. I hope it turns out! LOL

BJ and I were in the same corral so we met up - I was wearing my new bright green top so I was easy to spot! Since I wasn't prepared for this race and she had just run 20 miles a few days before, we decided to stick together and have some fun in the cold. We did intervals and stuck pretty close to 4/1. The water/food stops were spaced well and my favorite one was the M&Ms because they were COLD and tasted yummy! The water and Nuun were pretty much slushies and there was ice on the ground from spills so we carefully walked through those so as not to fall.

I was feel surprisingly great until the big hills came in miles 7-8. My right foot was starting to bother me again. I had run 3 and 5 miles during the week and hadn't had any trouble, so I was annoyed. But I think it was the hills and the cold that did it to me. We did more of a 1/1 interval through those bad hills and then decided to run it in for the last mile - even up a pretty good hill. We had a fantastic pace at the finish so I think we did pretty well!

BJ's husband had told her to come to the very far end of the lines for the Hot Chocolate and he was right - we waited maybe 2 minutes for our finisher bowls!

Me and my medal and my bowl!
Not the best picture but I honestly thought I was smiling very big! I guess I couldn't feel my face!

I was very impressed with the finisher bowl - the Hot Chocolate was delicious and the dipping chocolate was a very good quality! I was expecting something cheap tasting and it wasn't at all! Kudos to them for that!

BJ and her hubby and I walked back to our cars and said goodbye and I headed home! I put on the fleece jacket and it helped a good bit, but I swear it took hours to warm up. I actually thought that my seat warmers weren't working because it didn't even feel warm on my legs! They were just that cold!

So my overall opinion of the Hot Chocolate Atlanta race is very positive! The course was good! The volunteers were fantastic (and had a much harder job standing out in the cold than we did running)! And the hot chocolate was yummy! For myself, I should have done the 5K since I was not at all prepared for the hills and my legs and foot have suffered for it. I'm finally starting to feel better 3 days later!

If the budget allows for it, I will definitely do this race again in the future. It is rather pricey due to getting a jacket/hoodie instead of a tee shirt. But I think it's worth it!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Now, what's next?!?!

So, you may be asking yourself, "It's almost the end of January! I wonder what Niffercoo has lined up for her big goal in 2016!?!"

That's a great question!

My goals for the last 2 years have been big ones, to say the least.

2014 - I decided to tackle the Half Ironman - and the Olympic distance triathlon on the way. (And my daughter joined a pre-professional dance company which ramped up my Dance Taxi duties to the extreme)

2015 - I decided to overcome the Marathon Maniac monster that had been hanging over my head since 2011's failed attempt. I also rode my first full Century bike ride. (And my son graduated high school)

I'm proud to say that I have reached those goals! I worked hard! I trained hard! My family graciously put up with the long hours of training and with me being away.

So where do you go from there? The next logical step would be the Full Ironman, wouldn't you think? Absolutely!

Unless it's not.

I definitely desire to complete the 140.6 distance, don't get me wrong. But this is not the right time. Not just yet. Almost. Getting there!

So what are my goals for 2016?!

I think the best way to sum it up is "Enjoyment"!

In 2016, I want to do lots of training and try lots of classes and do lots of fun things. And I want it to be low-stress. Low-key! I want to have fun with my friends and see them at the start lines and finish lines and cheer them on and run or ride or swim with them and do yoga and try Barre class and just enjoy myself this year!

I want to run over a scary bridge and I want to do an inaugural RunDisney race and I want to enjoy every minute and not have the fear in the back of my head that I won't be able to do it. I just need a break from pressure! I've had a lot of pressure the last two years. Some self-imposed and some placed upon me and some completely imaginary, but regardless it was still pressure.

And this next year and a half is going to be big for our family - in just a few days my daughter will get her driver's license which will simultaneously present me with a lot of free time and also give me reason to be concerned and worried. I will have more freedom to train than I ever have! She will no longer be homeschooled by me starting in the fall because she will be taking all of her classes as a Dual Enrollment student. Again, more freedom for me! She will be graduating high school in a mere 17 months. Then I'll just have one student!

At the very moment when I'm seeing everything open up and getting easier, I'm realizing that it's getting more complicated. And then in a few more years, it will be all done and I'll move on to a new season of my life! A season filled with swim, bike, run - and as much pressure as I want to place on myself to compete! (And for my husband who will read this: a job! Yes, I promise I will get a job, too! LOL)

For 2016, however, I need to kick it down a notch and just focus on enjoyment!

So that's what I'm going to do! :)

I am not signing up for anything that, if I were to get sick or hurt or if something came up in my family's schedule, it would break my heart to miss it. I have already signed up for 2 half marathons, and that bridge race I mentioned earlier (10K), and the RunDisney inaugural event, and an Olympic distance tri. Sounds like a lot, and it is! But it's all fun! And I'm going to enjoy every bit of it!

Starting with tomorrow's Hot Chocolate 15K where I'm going to freeze my rear end off while the hills of Atlanta remind me that I haven't been doing any hill work for the last 6 months! :D And then I shall have chocolate!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It's almost the end of January?? And it's 2016?!

I cannot believe it's been more than 2 months since I last wrote a blog post. I knew it had been a long time, but I didn't realize it had been that long! I'm really sorry! I can't believe how crazy things have been.

My plan for November and December was to take some time off and recover. My dancer had Nutcracker over Thanksgiving weekend and this year I decided to take off that whole week. It made things go much, much more smoothly and I was much less stressed out. It took about 4 weeks until my heart rate would go down easily during my walk breaks in my runs. But after that, my workouts started feeling a lot better.

And then I dropped a full family size bottle of shampoo on my right foot while I was in the shower - two days before we were scheduled to go to Disneyland. OUCH! I made it through the airports and the theme parks (my daughter's app said that we walked 35 miles in those 5 days) and then I took off the next week to recover my foot.

I was starting to get worried because it just wasn't getting any better, but after about 5 days, it was noticeably better. I took a full week off, though, just to be safe. I did swim twice that week, but I stayed off the foot!

So that means that I ran on Sunday and Wednesday (today) and now I have the Hot Chocolate 15K this coming Sunday! I am terribly under-trained and those Atlanta hills are going to KICK. MY. BUTT!!! :D

But there will be chocolate. So it won't be ALL bad anyway, right?! :D