Today I am going to tell all about my experience with The Hot Chocolate 15K Atlanta. If you haven’t read my recap for the race expo, you can do so here.
Race day (Jan. 26th) started extra early with my 5:15am alarm. I woke up and dressed in my race clothes, drank a protein shake (I don’t do breakfast on race mornings because of a nervous stomach) and headed out in the cold (around freezing) for Turner Field. All of the race information suggested we arrive by 6:30am which we did – along with several thousand of our closest friends it seemed. So we sat into traffic for awhile. It took forever to get to a Turner Field parking lot (we pre-bought our parking). We finally parked and followed the large crowd of runners to Turner Field.
We arrived to a chaotic scene. The organizers had corrals set up for people to get into – if you were part of the 5K which started at 7:40am. For those of us in the 15K, we wandered around aimlessly until the corrals were flipped for us after the 5Kers got started. Luckily, that also meant we could take some snapshots as well as warm up the muscles. I was also very glad I had on my Swirlgear shirt (you can’t see it) and my Swirlgear jacket as they kept me nice and warm while I waited for my race.
The 5K started promptly at 7:40am and it took about 30 minutes to get all the corrals across the starting line. It was finally time to get into the corrals. Chris’s housemate T and I were in the last corral (N) so we headed to the gathering point and managed to make it to the very front of the corral. Chris was in the first corral and started his race at 8:20am. We were able to start about 25 minutes later or so.
The race itself was not bad. The only complaint I had was that it was hilly. Not small hills either. I swear that every time I took a turn, another hill popped up. It was pretty cool to get to run by Grant Park and the Atlanta zoo (about mile 2) and the GA Capitol Building (mile 8) though. There were water or Gatorade stops every 2 miles which was really nice. I enjoyed mile 6 the best as it also included a chocolate stop where we were able to grab a few pieces of chocolate as well (yum!). Here are some scenes from the race.
I started off really well and maintained a decent pace considering the hills. My first 5K was slow (just under 45 minutes), but my 10K split was around 1:33:00 or so which was about 3-4 minutes faster than the Disneyland 10K in California. The last 5K about did me in, however. I started walking more and some of the hills were really big. I was so happy when I finally saw mile 9 and the Olympic Rings.
I turned the corner, smiled for a couple of photographers and actually ran the last .3 miles. As I got close to the finish line, I saw Chris and T waiting on the sidelines cheering me on. T grabbed a photo of me right before the finish.
I crossed the finish line in 2:24:16 or about a 15:22/mile. Woohoo!!! I walked to the meet and greet area, got a finisher photo by myself and with Chris and T (I’ll post that once it’s ready) and proceeded to the highlight of my race – the finisher mug filled with hot chocolate, a banana and chocolate fondue with some dippables (rice krispy treat, pretzels and a wafer). Then I sat down to enjoy and snap a photo.
And the three of us had to get a photo as we were leaving, having conquered the 15K.
While I had high hopes of somewhere closer to 2 hours, I realized early on that my time was going to be slower because I honestly haven’t trained for the hills. I also realized I hadn’t done enough longer distances as well. But it was a good race and I was glad I finished. I would recommend it to others, but be aware of the amount of hills involved in Atlanta.