Running: It's actually more expensive than therapy
Last Sunday 12/17/17 was the Hot Chocolate 15/5k in Tampa, FL. I participated in the 5k of course. This happened to be the first race I have stayed overnight for. I heard so many great things about it I figured why not. I stayed at the Marriott which was the main host hotel and super convenient too. It was right next to both the expo and starting line. Plenty of other racers stayed there.
Confession time-I've never been to a race expo before. I usually run smaller/local races so this was my first expo ever. I opted for packet mailing (so glad they offer this) but I still wanted to go just to check it out. The Tampa expo is pretty small but the vendors were good and the free chocolate samples are always nice. I didn't see many lines for packet pickup so I'm guessing that ran smoothly. I'll probably go that route next year so I don't have the possibility of leaving my bib at home. The official race merchandise seemed to be priced reasonably. I purchased this short-sleeved shirt for $14.99.
The 5k started at 7 am while the 15k didn't start till 8. Our two corrals started 5 minutes apart (I think) to ensure there were no crowding issues on the course. I walked to the starting line from the hotel, and they started lining up the corrals right away. The weather was a tad chilly but overall fantastic. I knew these could be PR conditions. Despite this being a larger race it wasn't a problem to get lined up at the front of the line. We started at 7 am on the dot.
Mile 1 6:25
The course opened up pretty much right away with no issues. The only weird part was a graded bridge that kind of scared me but I got over it (get it?). Anyway, the first mile was pretty great. The views of downtown Tampa in the early morning were so pretty. This was my first city-run ever and downtown Tampa is such a pretty place.
Mile 2 6:45
Mile two had views of the bay and it was so open. We passed the turnout and at this point, I still felt pretty decent. There wasn't really anyone around me they were either way in front or a good bit behind.
Mile 3 7:02
I felt out of shape at this point. I tried to maintain my pace which got challenging. The last mile always seems to drag on forever. All the miles checkpoints had clocks (based on gun times).
Mile .10 6:05
I saw the finish line and tried really hard to sprint towards it. When i first saw the clock it was still in the 19-minute range so I lost quite a bit of time at the end. I need to focus on my endurance for my upcoming races.
Talk about a party! This was so much fun. Plenty of photo ops, tons of chocolate, and music made for a great event. We turned in our bib tickets for the finisher mug that included the hot chocolate and yummy snacks. The 3 overall male and female winners also got these chocolate bar shaped medals. I was pretty honored to place in this. All the 15k finishers received medals which looked awesome. I loved this race every aspect was so well put together. I recommend the Hot Chocolate races to anyone regardless of skill level. It's just a fun time.
Overall 6th of 1,189
2nd Overall Female out of 857
Last Saturday 12/9/17 I ran in the Bulow Woods 4.25 mile trail race in Ormond Beach, FL. Trail races are my favorite type of races because I love the scenery and just being out in the wilderness. Conditions were perfect low 50's, rainy, and flooded. Totally kidding! I hate cold. I'm someone who doesn't mind running in the middle of the day in the summer, but I sure will complain when it gets below 70 degrees! All kidding aside we knew it would be wet and they warned us ahead of time. My main goal was just to have fun.
I got off to a terrible start. In a trail race, you're only as fast as the people in front of you, and there were just too many to contend with. I could not get around anyone for the first half mile then as I tried the water got in my way. I don't just mean puddles either I'm talking about water up to my waste at one point. Then there was the mud after which was too slippery to gain any lost ground. I was either slipping and sliding or dodging roots, water, and other obstacles.
I tried to gain on a few people but I realized I might be a decent runner but I'm kind of slow through the water. I wasn't upset I was just having fun and challenging myself. The last mile I was finally able to get around three people and gained some momentum at the end, but it was far from enough. I didn't feel winded or anything after so it was a little disappointed knowing I had so much left. In the end, this race was probably my favorite in a while if ever and so much fun. I felt like a kid, and it was great!
The Swag/Final Thoughts
Amazing swag! First, we had a race-specific finisher medal and long sleeve shirt. We then received a reusable cold mug filled with a rum runner (it was yummy). The food was the typical ultra spread, the warm chili and sweet options such as cookies and brownies too (another reason I love trail races). The first ten males and females won these awesome hoodies in the size of our choice.
I hope everyone had as much fun at this race as I did. It truly was one of my favorite races of all time. The conditions only made it more interesting, and the volunteers and racing staff did an exceptional job. I can't wait for my next trail run!
Overall: 9 out of 102
3rd Place Female