Hot Chocolate 15k 2017 Race Recap

Okay too there are a lot of layers to this, so you’re gonna have to just hang with me on this one. There is good and bad. But the first thing I want make sure I disclose is that I’m an Ambassador for the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Chicago.

I took the 151 bus to Michigan/Ontario and jogged the rest of the way to the Fleet Feet Racing Tent as a warm up. I arrived at the fleet feet tent right at 7 am. I thought I was doing REALLY well on time, because the website said A-D corrals entered on the EAST, which is the side the Fleet Feet tent was on. 

So that was my first mistake—trying to follow the map online. What the map ACTUALLY meant was that everyone was to enter from the West, but then there was a CROSSWALK between corrals to get you to a fenced in corridor on the East to enter from. Basically it was a two layer corral with a 10’ fence corridor.

Turns out I had to cross under Congress and run (no jogging this time) to Michigan, before sprinting down to Gate 1 past the Art Museum and running to the entrance. I arrived at 7:12 (by my cell phone, which is satellite time) and the corrals were closed. I was told by a woman to go down to J and work my way up to A. That wasn’t happening, so I hopped a fence 10 yards from her into G and started pushing my way forward. This is the second year in a row I hopped a 10’ fence (2016 was totally my fault, I was late).

As I hit C, the National Anthem began. I tried to duck under the rope as I had in every corral from G up and was stopped by a crying girl who said corrals were closed and I had to stay in C. C had 12-15 young volunteers manning the rope. Two so far were crying, and as I looked around I realized why: the entire front of C corral, about 10 yards deep all the way across, were A and B members who had been equally confused about how to enter the sub corrals to get to their assigned corral  and were angry that despite the fact the wheelchairs hadn’t even started yet, we couldn’t go further. 

I shrugged, not a big deal. I’ll deal with that, it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last that I either can’t squeeze into my corral or I miss a cut off. The issue was that one boy seemed to have named himself “leader”—he appeared to be the oldest at maybe 17/18 years old. Any time a group of As and Bs sprinted past, he tried to TACKLE THEM! He successfully knocked one man to the ground and was grabbing the collars of other runners. It was disarming and all of us near the front of C started to get anxious and upset. Never, in any races I’ve done, including the Chicago Marathon and all of the Disney races, have I ever seen this kind of behavior from volunteers. It was stressful even as we just stood there.

I do want to say that volunteers are an absolutely VITAL part of any race. Races can’t go on without them! We need volunteers and I appreciate them. I loved every other volunteer I saw that day. The water stations were manned by some amazing volunteers and cheer groups who were helpful and encouraging, the volunteers at the finish were all smiles as they passed out nutrition and medals and answered questions. Heck, even the woman who told me to go to J and work my way up literally looked the other way as I climbed the fence. But those 12-15 kids on the C Corral rope were struggling. And really, it came down to that one young man who was tackling/grabbing runners that was actually kinda scary.

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Okay, let me get past that now that I let it all out. On the bright side, for the first and likely only time I started at the FRONT of my corral! That was super cool and a lot of fun. I think the coolness got to me though because I blasted out of the gate and was dying on lower Wacker. 

As for the course itself if was very similar until we hit 31st street headed south, and from there it changed from 2016. And I LOVE the course change! It was much more direct and I really liked crossing the bridge to the Lakefront Path, rather than doubling back and passing runners then coming back south.

I did pretty well through most of the race. I thought I PR’d my 10k, but after looking I missed a PR by exactly 1 minute. I was still moving pretty well for having only been spinning since the marathon. I didn’t take any sweets on the course, but I did see M&Ms, Marshmallows and Chocolate Chips were offered! I stopped at every water stop for a Nuun, and I grabbed water at the last stop because I was starting to burp. 

In the end, I finished 1.5 minutes behind last year, and 2 minutes behind my goal, at 1:27 on the nose. It was frustrating, especially because I was feeling so fatigued at mile 8 that I actually stopped and walked. I’m trying to be patient with myself as I come out of Marathon Mode and move into F^3 Half Marathon Training this week. 

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The medal was really neat and I took the bean keychain off and put it on my keys (I have a keychain with a diamond on the way from my ambassadorship to put on the medal). I love the post race festivities and I have to say, packing an extra sweatshirt and my Uggs was clutch for the post-race snacks! I love that as you approach the tent to get your Finisher’s Mug, they cheer! It really made me smile.

Overall, I was happy with my experience and I’d still recommend it to anyone and sign its praises! I was honored to be an ambassador and am still so grateful for the opportunity. 

How did things go for you? Did you like the course change? Did you have any corral issues? Let me know below!

 

—B