Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Philadelphia as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
What an experience! Last Saturday, I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K race in Philadelphia and I’m still in disbelief at how well the race went! I felt like I was going in completely unprepared and undertrained, but was so pleased with my performance and outcome. I’m excited to share my full race recap with you!
I’m linking up with My First 5K and More, Running With Attitude, Run Laugh Eat Pie, Runs with Pugs, and Zenaida for Fit Five Friday and Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Mile by Mile, Runs with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running for Runners’ Roundup!Check out my recap of the @hotchocolate15K in Philadelphia!! #bibchat #hcphillybr Click To Tweet
The Hot Chocolate 15K was my first race of 2022. After having a very busy fall racing season last year, I really wanted to take a step back and focus on shorter distances – no half marathons! I was excited to get the opportunity to run with the Bibrave team and was so tempted to sign up for the 5K, but I’m glad I followed my gut and signed up for the 9.3 miles! I probably started being more intentional with my runs in February and I have to runfess that my longest training run was only 6.2 miles!
As usual, I was a complete wreck before the race. I admit that I’ve struggled with my confidence. It has been humbling to see my pace not return to its pre-pregnancy levels, and that’s putting it nicely lol. The Philly Half and even the Gettysburg Half were two experiences where I just felt mentally off despite months of training. So how could I expect a race to go well without training?
I had planned to drive to the race on my own, but Bret offered to drop me off while he and Evelyn spent the morning together. This was a huge load off my mind, but I wasn’t sure exactly when we’d need to leave, where the detours would be, how the traffic would be…ugh! The 5K started at 7:15 but the 15K started at 8 am, so I knew getting to Eakins Oval around 7:30 would give me enough time to mentally prepare. Bret dropped me off on Spring Garden around 22nd Street and I headed over while the 5K was well in progress. I hoped to be finished by 10 am.
After all the security detail for the Philly Marathon weekend, I was shocked to see how I could just stroll up to the racing area without a second glance, but it saved me some time! I headed to the potty and then enjoyed the music from the DJ and the energy from the other runners before heading to Corral I. I had plenty of time to warm up (which I needed) since it was pretty windy out there!
Here’s a live video that I actually shared before lining up! And by 8:08 am, I was off!
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been using the Peloton app and have been surprised to enjoy the audio on my outdoor runs. I decided to “stack” a couple of the runs, one 60 minutes and one 45 minutes, to get me through the race. I wasn’t planning to push the pace when they instructed, I just wanted the music and moral support.
So when I set off, I really wanted to be intentional – pay attention to my form, don’t go too fast, don’t zone out. I saw the 11:30 pacers and I wanted to stay in that range. I didn’t actually do the math on what pace I needed but had in my head that it was a pace I could handle. Most of the course is flat, but when we turned off Kelly Drive to head over one of the bridges – I think it was the Girard Avenue Bridge – we had our first incline. I was proud to run the whole way up. I was feeling pretty good and properly fueled. I was so happy to see my pace so controlled!
Splits: 11:11, 11:22, 11:22, 11:13, 11:08.
Once we crossed the bridge, we headed over to MLK Drive which would send us on an out-and-back before going back the way we came. I was feeling really good, guys! The 11:30 pacer was in my sights but I swear they were going faster than that, closer to 11, and sometimes I had moments where the watch said sub-11! I saw two fellow Bibrave Pros, Rachee and Ken, and that gave me a boost. The turnaround point was somewhere around 5.5 miles and my running buddy from work Claire was out there cheering on the runners. I was so happy to see her, once I got out of my daze!
The Peloton app was so helpful, Becs kept me pushing and I honestly felt like my running form was the best that I can remember – it just seemed like my arms and legs were gliding me along! Of course, I had to go up another hill to go back over the bridge, but I handled that too! I was a little worried I would run out of steam but I did my best to finish strong and fly to the finish!
Splits: 11:00, 10:54, 11:11, 10:26, 9:58 (last 0.4).
My official results were 1:44:34. My watch clocked me at 9.49 miles. I was so proud and pleased! Finally, a race where I felt like “me” again. Four years ago, I ran this race as part of my 20-mile training run before the New Jersey Marathon. So much has changed since then, but I’m grateful to have had another positive experience!
After the race, I grabbed my hot chocolate and treats (including a banana this time!) and called Bret to let him know I finished. They didn’t make it back in time to see me finish, so we hurried back home as quickly as possible so that they could get ready to go to E’s swimming class at the Y. I actually did some Peltoton stretches when I got home and vegged on the couch as long as I could after that!
The Hot Chocolate race is back and it was such a great time. Now that I’ve enjoyed this race twice, I’m going to need to participate more frequently! It was very well organized and a lot of fun. The running community just brings me so much joy! Find one of these races in your city and enjoy!
I am just absolutely grateful to everyone who has wished me well, especially through my postpartum running journey. Thank you for your encouragement and inspiration! And a special shoutout to my Running Club at work – it has been great getting together with them again, especially for those longer miles that need a little boost!
So what’s next for me? I have NO idea! I keep saying I want to do more trail races but I haven’t added any to my list this year. I definitely want to get more consistent with my running and keep doing what I’m doing since it seems to be working! I’ll let you know what I decide!
Have you ever had a surprisingly successful race? How was that experience?