Hot Chocolate 15K (race review)

First, what happens when you get a  beautiful red sunrise and a gorgeous red sunset at night?

Moody sailors.

Get it? Red in the morning, sailors take warning. Red at night sailors delight. So the sailors are warned and delighted in the same day…moody!

I got to see the sunrise and the sunset today. Both were beautiful. Now…onto the race! I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K this weekend with my cousin, Danelle. My friend, Ashley, and her mom ran the 5K.

On Friday morning I started my drive from Eau Claire to Madison to meet up with my cousin. I threw all of my running stuff into my car and headed off. In all of my glorious intelligence I drove onto I-94…headed west. Madison is to the east. I’m so very smart! I managed to drive about 20 miles out of my way because I’m too stupid to start out in the right direction. It also made me 20 minutes later than I planned on being… Gargh!

I finally got down to Madison, met up with Danelle and then took off for Chicago. For the first time in a long time I got to ride in the backseat for a road trip! I liked it and got some knitting done. And yes, I used my phone to watch a youtube video on casting on with knitting. I can never remember how to do it, clearly I do not knit enough…

Once we got down to Chicago (well, Elk Grove Village to be exact…) we met up with my brother and his girlfriend. They just happened to have plans to be in Chicago for the weekend for their anniversary…awww. I still don’t know what anniversary it was, I suck at being a sister.

However, I did give them a present for their anniversary!

A nicely bowed dish cloth I knitted for Wayne & Katherine :)

I whipped up a dish cloth on the drive from Madison and Chicago and decided to give it to them for their anniversary. Yeah, I’m a nerd. I was all excited about it too, bouncing around the hotel until they showed up. Yup, a nerd!

We headed downtown via the metro to pick up our race packets and the “best good bag in Chicagoland the country!”. Yeah, not that great of a goodie bag. Heck, I didn’t even get a bag. Just a bib, safety pins I had to shove in my pocket and zip up jacket that looked cool until I felt the material. Definitely not the best in the country – Team Ortho has better swag, hands down. It might be the best in Chicagoland, this was my first Chicago race.

Speaking of Team Ortho – I could have easily been a walking billboard for Team Ortho, I had all my great race swag with me! I had my Get Lucky 7K hoodie, Monster hat, Go Commando cap, Monster pull over….yup, I like Team Ortho…

Anyway. After getting our stuff we headed out to eat at Beggars Pizza with our crew of five. We waited quite a while for a pizza but it was delicious. Unfortunately we had far too much for just us to eat!

Chicken, mushroom and spinach deep dish pizza...YUM!

We took the metro back to the hotel, but we got a little excitement out of the deal. According to the signs it seemed as though we should be taking the metro on the left. Well, the metro on the right came in and it said “O’Hare”…we wanted to go toward O’Hare…we got on. At the next stop it became apparent we were going the wrong direction. Oops! We went from sitting comfortably in an underground station to standing on a freezing outdoor station. Yeah, we’re so very smart!

Danelle and I in the warm station...

Can you tell which one just came back from California…not me!

We finally made it back to the hotel and hit the hay for an early (and freezing) morning. The alarm went off and I did NOT, ABSOLUTELY NOT, want to get out of my nice warm bed. However, Ashley and her mom were depending upon our navigational skills to get from the hotel to the race start. Considering how Friday night’s navigating (and Friday morning’s drive) went they probably should have trusted someone else with the direction giving!

Somehow we managed to get down to the race start alive and un-frozen. The freezing came into play once we arrived in Grant Park. On the way down our stop was the second one so we definitely got seats. The train continued to fill up as we got closer and closer to downtown. It really wasn’t hard to figure out which stop we wanted to get off on and how to get to the start line – just follow the sea of crazy people runners in brown sweat shirts and other running attire!

Ashley and her mom headed into the 5K corral while Danelle and I checked their layers and hit up the port-a-potties. Lately the races I’ve been too have been providing a wimpy amount of bathrooms. There is nothing more annoying than waiting 30-40 minutes to get into a port-a-potty just to relieve yourself of the pre-race tinkle. The Hot Chocolate organizers had a solution for this…hundreds of port-a-potties!

One of four rows!

This photo also shows the length of the line for the bathrooms…ZERO! Some people were waiting in line closer to the bag check and start. They should have just paid attention, if they had walked another 20 feet there would have been empty bathrooms!

Team Ortho should take note of this…they have been slacking on bathrooms lately! But…KEEP THE AWESOME SWAG Team Ortho! Please! :)

On to the actual race…

We checked our bags and extra layers at about 8:00. Our race started at 8:10. We did not want to be without our extra layers any longer than necessary. It was 26 degrees out, according to my phone. Brrr! We got into the corral dn then got stuck at the 12:00 pace marker. We were planning on running a leisurely 10:00 pace. Honest, we could not get past the 12:00 marker! There were so many people jam packed in to the small space!

Masses of people!

The start line is near the first tall building on the right!

Yeah…it took us over 20 minutes to get across the start line! We were FREEZING by then. I couldn’t feel my toes, my fingers or my thighs. Let me just say, it is hard to get into any sort of a groove or pace if you can’t feel your body enough to know how you are doing!

We kept to a pretty consistent 10:00 pace, which was quite the feat considering we started back further than planned. The course itself was beautiful. However, I spent so much time dodging runners and staring at the ground to avoid tripping that I never got to enjoy it. With so many people (15,000!) running this course there was just not enough room! We would have the chance to spread out, but only for a short time before we were all corralled together again. The course went along a bike trail (I forget the name) and there were usually 2+ people running on the grass on either side. Most of the time I was one of those people! I really had to pay attention. (If you know me you that this is a challenge in itself!) No zoning out and enjoying this run!

I did stop for some photos. Yes, I got completely off the course and no one had to run around me. I was on the edge to begin with.

Around Mile 3

Around Mile 3.5, running along the lake.

Around Mile 3.5

These runners actually had a little space...

Around Mile 5, headed back.


A good photographer could get a lot of awesome shots out on the course! Unfortunately they only had photographers right near the finish. Better there than no where, right?

We finally finished and followed the masses along to get bottled water (Team Ortho, take note), a piece of chocolate and then grab our bags. We were hot from the run but by the time we got our bags we were once again getting chilled! We layered up and went to get our fondue and hot chocolate.

The people working the fondue tent were less than happy to be there. Rather crabby actually. Do not grouch “they are all the same, just take one” when it is very clear that some have marshmallows and others don’t. Don’t hate on me for wanting marshmallows…I just ran 9.3 miles!

Yum! :)

Note to Self: Have a fondue party with chocolate, rice krispy treats, marshmellows, pretzel sticks and sponge (?) cake!

The ladies working the hot chocolate tent were awesome! They were full of smiles and congratulated everyone!

Our bibs came with little tear off tags for the fondue and hot chocolate so only one per person! By the time I finished mine I was bordering on a sugar coma so I was okay with just one! We headed back to the metro and the hotel.

After hot showers we dumped ourselves back into the car and headed back for Wisconsin.

Rocking our new jackets.

They look nicer than they are... :(

The traffic was great, and moving fast, all weekend so that worked out to our advantage. We made it back to Madison in record time…if you take out our pit stop at the Belvidere Oasis for some Panda Express and Starbucks. Again, we ran 9.3 miles, we can eat whatever we want! :)

I went back to knitting again. It isn’t very often I get to relax in the back seat of a car on road trips, but I had everything I could ever need for a sugar coma road trip…

Sugar, caffeine, knitting, cellphone! :)

I finally made it back to the wonderful city of Eau Claire around 7pm. It had been a long day! I was tired of commuting and just wanted to laze around…so I did!

Overall Review: I don’t regret spending about 16 hours commuting for this race, but I won’t be doing it again.

I am really bummed about the crappy race swag. Come one people. Don’t say you have the greatest swag ever and then suck at it. Sure, it looks awesome in a photo but it feels just gross – like something made out of recycled water bottles. Nope, worse than that! I have a “100% recycled material” business suit that feels better than the jackets Hot Chocolate gave us!

The course was a disaster. WAY too many people for the course! There were time I was within arms reach of cars driving by at 30+ mph. Not safe and not enjoyable. Either cut down the size limit or get a better course with more space!

EDIT 11/8: I should probably add that I finished the 15K (9.3 miles) race with a time of 1:34:05, which paces me at about 10:06. My Garmin was confused and paced me at 9:35…something to do with covering distance but not time with the tunnels and my “auto pause” option.


Hot Chocolate 15K (race review) — 11 Comments

  1. Sorry the race goodies didn’t exactly meet expectations. Glad you had a fun weekend with friends in spite of it! I love that you spent some of your drive time knitting. Great way to multi-task for a long trip :-)

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  3. HAHAHAHAHA you are sooooooooooooooooooo funny. I cannot even wait to see your blog after our race in Des Moines :) I’m sitting her laughing out loud just thinking of it! We thought it was cold last weekend just wait….. Oh man. I’m still very proud that you gave your brother an anniversary present! Thanks for my wash clothe too!! :) Miss you!

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