RECAP: Hot Chocolate 15K – Tampa

Today’s race was a hot one, but it was a fun one, too.

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The late start time of 8:25 AM was both a pro and a con this morning – of course, as any Floridian knows, going out earlier is always best when it comes to running, but that also meant I didn’t have to get up EARLY early, since it’s an hour drive from our house to the Channelside District of Tampa. My alarm was set for 5:30 AM, but my body woke me five minutes early. Since I set out my clothes and gear the night before, I was able to slip out right about 6 AM, and was on the road for Tampa!

imag0822Although I am notoriously bad about driving directions, I planned on parking in the same garage as I did for the Fit Foodie 15K just a few months ago, so getting back there was a snap. Event parking was just $5 so that was easy peasy (I heard later that parking was an issue for 5K runners). Arriving more than an hour early, I spotted some portapotties ner the garage before the crowds arrived which was an extra bonus (the official ones had LONG lines)!!!

hotchoco1I meandered around and was not only able to have impromptu meetups with my friend Jessica and her sister, but some Oiselle Volee gals as well, so that was fun!

Before we knew it, it was time to get in the corrals…which were already PACKED! I was in “D” (the first of the 15K…kinda confusing, but the 5K bibs started at A) and they were quite congested. I entered at where I *thought* was the D entrance, but really, it was the C, as I reached the front of it, and found that. Oh well! The volunteer there was very nice and allowed me up, so I was set in the back of the corral. The pacers were kind of random – all paces, from 8something to 10 were in front of me.

Without much fanfare (the anthem/etc were played before the 5K) the race began, I believe, 5 minutes early (every minute counted with the raising temperatures). For the first mile, I was a little worried that it would NOT clear! The course was shared for the first section with 5K runners who were returning, and it was rather clear that the “D” corral was comprised of a vast array of paces.

I had decided to run without my watch, though I did have my Fitbit (for my steps, of course, hah) so I am not sure how this crowd effected my pace, but between the congestion and the humidity, I definitely felt like I was wading through pea soup at the beginning.

Fortunately, by the 5K mark, things were a lot more manageable. I had set into a pretty comfortable pace and my music was working out (it was the first race I was trying out my new wireless headphones + playing Spotify through my phone). I saw my friend Beth and many runners with Ainsley’s Angels, and despite the oppressive humidity, the views from Bayshore certainly do not disappoint.

Right before the turnaround at Mile 4, I was feeling pretty overheated. I was already drenched in sweat, and the sun had emerged from the previously overcast sky. I made a quick stop to the side of the road, where I transferred my bib onto my sports bra, and rolled up my singlet to use as a sweat rag,  wrapping it around my wrist through the armholes and securing it with a hair tie. Once I was down to just one layer, my body temperature felt a lot more comfortable!

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I had planned to take my one energy gel (a new one I was trying, called Glukos) at the halfway point, but there was no water station. In fact, that was the second issue this race had – not enough aid stations . On a cooler day, they may have been sufficient, but cool it was not! That, and the volunteers may not have received enough instruction because I was handed a plain cup with nuun in it and a nuun cup with water in it (I wanted water at the first station, but got nuun). Despite those slight issues, once I did take the gel (it was more like juice – and since it was fruit punch flavored, that was actually pretty refreshing) I did feel more energetic, and was able to pick up the last 5K.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-2-28-09-pmFinishing this race felt kind of like dejavu (since it was pretty much the same as the Fit Foodie 15K) but this time, of course, no stroller. I had to chuckle to myself as I recollected how Abby was howling in hunger that last mile, and I used that memory to keep my feet going. I was drenched in sweat from head to toe at this point, and was ready to down a full bottle of water! So, down that last stretch I went, up and over the bridge, through the underpass, down the street, around the corner, and straight on to the finish (it didn’t suck to pass a few people with that last burst of energy)!

Now, I checked the site and it seems some have already posted official race pics, but I searched and haven’t found any of mine yet…but I DID find the video from the finish, and grabbed a few screen shots!

There was a nice crowd at the finishing line, which I always enjoy! Hearing cheers (even if they are not yours, personally) is such an energy booster!

I went to check out the finisher area after downing my water (and saw Mary along the way!) and that chocolate was GOOD! The hot chocolate…well, I wasn’t really in the mood for that, but that dipping chocolate – totally yum! It came in a cute plastic mug with banana, pretzels, a rice krispie and a cookie to dip, too. Pretty fun! imag0830

After I left the post race party area, I scanned the crowd to try and find my friend Sher. I knew she’d be in the spectating area waiting for her hubby Rick, and as timing would have it, he strode through the finishing area just about 10 minutes later, and I was even able to take some video of him coming into the final chute, which was cool.

We chatted for a bit after Rick got his medal, then we part ways and I headed to the car to make the drive home.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience, despite the minor snafus. I think I’d like to try it in another (cooler) city to get the whole experience, but I would still recommend it to anyone looking for a fun themed race.

Have you ever run a Hot Chocolate event?

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2 thoughts on “RECAP: Hot Chocolate 15K – Tampa

  1. Nice work!!! I’ve run the San Diego one twice and it’s super hilly and hard but worth it for the chocolate! I also wasn’t in the mood for the hot chocolate, but the dipping one was amazing.

  2. Pingback: RECAP: Gasparilla Half Marathon | Shiawase Life

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