Sunday, February 10, 2013

Will Run for Chocolate

This weekend I ran in a race that I've been waiting for since I heard of its existence 2 months ago.  It is a part of a nationwide race series put on by RAM Racing Series called the Hot Chocolate Run.  With advertisements like this, how could I miss this race?

If you don't know me well, I am addicted to chocolate.   If chocolate is a flavor option (whether it is cake, ice cream, or protein powder), you know this girl is choosing chocolate.  I think you get the point that I HAD to do this race.  This is definitely the largest race I have ever participated in (6140 runners in the 5k and 3759 runners in the 15k).  It was overwhelming to be surrounded by so many runners in the starting corrals, but I must say the race was very well organized and executed.

After a small amount of convincing, Daniel and I registered for the 5k online.  There was a race expo hosted on Thursday and Friday before the race.  We drove to Fair Park in Dallas after work on Friday where we were quickly given a race bib and swag bag (free sweatshirt).  We browsed the vendors and sponsors.  I tried "The Stick" massager and actually really liked it.  I wasn't ready to shell out $34.95 for one, but perhaps I will add it to my Wish List.  I also tried on a pair of Newton running shoes.  I've heard the hype, but never tried for myself.  I really liked the way the "MOTION" model felt as I walked around.  They were marked down the $80, but I just wasn't liking the color.  I think they are about to release new colors, but of course the price will be high for the new style.  Again, another item for the Wish List.  There was also a lot of "Will Run for Chocolate" merchandise for sale.  Here is a picture of me and Daniel before we left the expo in front of the large inflatable mug of Hot Chocolate.

Julie and Daniel at the Hot Chocolate Run Expo
The race began at 7:30 am on Saturday morning.  This meant I had to drag myself out of bed at 5 am.  It was a chilly Texas morning, but luckily 45 degrees which isn't too freezing.  I got dressed and had my pre-race breakfast (small yogurt, granola bar, and a banana).  Daniel picked me up and we were off to fair park.  There was a lot of traffic to exit the freeway and get to parking, but we had given ourselves plenty of time.  We made a quick pit stop at the porta pottys (my least favorite part of pre-race).  Then bag check before warm-up.  I snapped a few photos before I gave up my bag.
I'm such a happy camper before 7 am. Note: still dark

Daniel with his race bib

Me ready to run

Daniel and I were fortunate to be in the same corral for the race.  During warm-up, he decided his calf injury was still hurting him and he was going to pace me instead of running his normal pace.  I was happy to have the company of someone who knows exactly when and how much to push me.  I had been nervous about this race because my last run during the week was kind of tough and my calves had been tight for the last week.  Daniel sticking with me eased my nerves.  After a small delay in the corrals and then the singing of the National Anthem, we were off!
Throughout the 5k course, there were 3 music stations with DJs and bands and 1 water station.  These were a nice distraction.  The course was all on the road, but traffic was blocked.  I felt good during my first mile.  I knew I started off a little faster than planned and was happy to see 8:53 flash on my screen at the mile marker.  There was a hill during mile 2, but not too tough.  I made sure not to slow down as I'm often tempted to on mile 2.  8:38 flashed on my Garmin, still feeling good.  Halfway through mile 3, Daniel told me we're going to run the last 0.2 miles faster.  Mile 3 time was 8:33, still getting faster!  I finally round the final corner and see the Finish line.  I sprint it in as always.  I looked down at my watch after I safely passed the finish and see that I was under 27 minutes.  I couldn't believe it!  My former PR was 27:49.  My official time came in at 26:51...a whole minute faster.  I was ecstatic!
Finally it was time for the post-race celebration.  Every racer was given a "Finishers Mug" filled with Ghirardelli hot chocolate and fondue chocolate with marshmallows, a banana, pretzels, and cookies for dipping.  You can tell from my face that I was filled with joy at this point.
Joy after receiving my Finishers Mug and new PR
After it was over, Daniel and I decided that we will be doing this race again next year.  Maybe the 15k distance?  I feel like the strength training through fitmixer boot camp has helped my endurance and leg strength.  Even Daniel has commented that my stride looks a lot stronger than it did 6 months ago.  Hopefully I can continue to make improvements as I prepare for my next half marathon.
One last picture

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