Before we start, can I tell you how much I love this race? The Hot Chocolate 15k is just an awesome race all around. The only complaint is finding a parking spot around the city, but hey, par for the course. This year I hit another PR, beating my previous runtime by around 8 minutes. I felt strong the entire race, and get this – NO MUSIC. I decided to ditch the headphones and listen to myself breath, and it was an amazing experience.
Running without music really heightened my other senses and I felt like I was sincerely listening to my body. It also afforded me a chance to really take in my surroundings and hear what was going on around me. Life can be pretty crazy, and it’s almost sad to say this, but you never know what’s going to happen at an event like this. There were over 5,000 participants in the 15K, plus spectators, staff, and volunteers – it was crazy busy! So being alert and knowing my surroundings was extremely comforting. Another comforting sight was seeing the sheer amount of awesome volunteers, police, fire, ems, and sanitation crews. Major kudos to the men and women of the Philadelphia Law Enforcement, First Responder, and Public Works Departments.
The first half of the race takes you from the Philadelphia Museum of Art toward Center City and then loops you back around to cross over the Susquehanna into Fairmount Park. You run up Martin Luther King Drive and catch the wonderful sights of Boathouse Row. It’s an amazing sight and such a beautiful landscape. The Philadephia Hot Chocolate Run is an Out-and-Back Course, so once you run the entire length of the Park, you turn around and come right back.
I didn’t carry much on me during this year’s race, last year I carried Sport Beans and two water bottles with Nuun in them, this year a single Stinger Gel Flask and one Orangic Honey Stinger Waffle was just enough. Heck, I even forgot to eat the waffle until the very end! The entire race was enjoyable, it wasn’t until mile 8 that I noticed some discomfort. I’m not really sure what triggered it, but I decided to check my heart rate at mile 8 and noticed I was at my max threshold (red area for those Garmin users). Maybe it was a lack of glucose in my bloodstream, but I just felt a little off. I decided to walk for 1 min, and see if my heart rate would drop back to my Anaerobic zone (Orange) or if I could manage to calm myself my Aerobic zone (Green). I chugged the rest of my gel flask and nabbed a Nuun water from the last aid station – I checked my watch and saw that I had managed to bring my heart rate into a comfortable zone, so I picked the pace back up. I finished feeling pretty good with my average pace around 9:30 min/mile. Could I have gone faster? Maybe, but let’s save that for next year!
Finish Time: 1:29:41