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 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 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?|
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!|
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!