Monday, February 5, 2018

The Things We Do For Running (And Chocolate)

I received entry into the AllState Hot Chocolate Atlanta 15K as a part of being a BibRave Pro. Check out to read and write race reviews. 

What a beautiful day
So let me get this part of of the way right at the beginning. This year's Hot Chocolate 15K Atlanta had some truly terrible weather. As a winter themed race, cold is to be expected, however, in addition to cold, the 2018 race was wet as well. As in pouring rain wet. With that said, of course that was in no way the fault of the race organizers and honestly, the race did everything within their powers to make the day as enjoyable as possible, which I really really appreciated. While rainy, it was just rain, no thunder/lightening so, as clearly communicated, the race went on as planned. The management company kept awesome communication about the status of the race right up until the start and even sent out a special email the next day thanking participants for their commitment and offering a discount code for next years race, which they in no way had to do. They really went above and beyond if you ask me.

With that out of the way, here's how it went...
Pre-race, the communication was great. In addition to periodic updates, every Sunday participants receive an email with a training plan. Pretty awesome. Like I said previously, the race was engaging participants on social media right up until the race time due to weather concerns. 

This race was an out of town one for me and me and my run-besty drove up the day prior to hit the Expo. We stayed in a hotel that was in walking distance of both the Expo and the start line so we had no parking concerns (unless you consider the standard Atlanta hotel parking rate of $30 per day which is a bit steep, but standard large city rate). We walked over to the Expo which was well organized and picked up our bibs within minutes of walking in. They have a really cool system where you give them a QR code that was emailed prior to the Expo and it auto prints out your details on a sticker that is placed on your bib. Genius and quick. Then you head over to get your HC jacket which is SUPER nice! I am doing another HC race, so I actually opted for the Men's shirt for the Atlanta race so I could have one of each color. There is a try on area next to the pick up so you can switch out if they sizing is off, but it was perfect so no need. 
The rest of the Expo featured your standard vendors - clothing, hydration, nutrition, other races, and so on plus a station where you could get a yummy sample of the treats that would be waiting for you on race day, a shot of hot chocolate and a marshmallow with chocolate sauce. YUM!
A Sample of What's to Come
After the Expo, Kim and I wandered around Centennial Olympic Park for a bit as it was right across the street. I love it when there are cool things to do in the area in addition to the race. The park was beautiful and it was nice to walk around after being cooped up inside a car for several hours prior. While Kim was posting pictures online, we found out her mother had purchased a commemorative brick in her grandfather's name, so we went on a hunt to find it. With some help from the park's website, we did and that was a really cool unexpected adventure. 

After, we checked into the hotel, grabbed some dinner laid out our race day gear. I secured my bib on with my handy dandy BibBoards instead of the safety  in the packets because who wants to put holes in their nice tech gear? Not this girl!  Want some BibBoards of your own? Order online at and use code #BibChat for 20% off! 
Another essential item for me on race day are my Aftershokz bone conducting headphones. I was worried about wearing them and went back and forth several times because I didn't want to ruin them in the rain, but I needed not worry as their water resistance held up like a charm. I honestly do not think I could have motivated myself through 9.3 miles of rain without music!
After getting all settled, we then hit the hay early. Since we were within less than a mile of the start line, we didn't have to leave too early, but you never know what can happen on race day, so it's better to be ready earlier than you think you need to be. 

Do we look excited? 
As for the actual race, again, wet and cold, but for the stuff that actually was under control of the race management, everything was as great as it could be. The start waves were well organized and bibs were checked upon entering your corral. I was assigned to Wave 1, Corral B, so I didn't have as long to wait to start as some of the others. My race goal was 1:30 which would be a PR of just over 2 minutes. I quickly found the 9:30 pacer and tried to distract myself from the weather by chatting with her and others in the area. The race started mostly on time (a few minutes due to Atlanta PD closing the roads) and we were off. I stayed in decent pace with the 9:30 pacer for the first few miles, but stopped at a water stop for a quick pause and was left behind. No worries, I was still well within my goal time. 

The aid stations were well spaced and had both Nuun and Water and plenty of it. The first station around mile 1.5 also had marshmallows and I think something else, but I didn't stop for them. Other stations also may have had treats, but I will be honest, I did not notice if they did as that was not a priority for me. I trying to stay focused because I knew I was shedding seconds. This was due to the course being hilly. I mean really hilly. But that is part of the Atlanta race charm. Most people know this going in. I've never shied away from hill training, so I didn't think it was too bad, but it def slows you a bit.
Before and after the race. I looked a little shocked after
The only exception was the hill just after mile 9. Not gonna lie, that one about did me in. There is a huge hill (full disclosure, it is not even the largest one, just it SEEMED bigger since it is literally in the last .25 mile of the race) and when I turned the corner and saw it, it about did me in. On a better day, I think it would have been okay, but that day, right then, that hill was it for me. I stopped, took a deep breath and then pushed myself over it though and ended just shy of my goal with a time of 1:30:51, but still a 15K PR so overall I can't be too upset. I was given my awesome candy bar shaped medal with golden peach key chain to symbolize Georgia and a race photographer snapped my picture. Photography was provided to participants for free and was available pretty much immediately after the race online.
After the race, Kim and I met up in the Mech tent and headed over for me to pick up my finishers mug full of Hot Chocolate and goodies. I chugged the HC straight down and held onto the goodies until I got back to the hotel to dry off and warm up. The race handed out the goodies covered in bags to keep your yummies dry which was just another super kind thing they did for us.

Overall, it was a great race on a terrible day. Everything the race had control over was really great. I really appreciated their efforts to make the event as enjoyable as it could be. Despite the weather, everyone seemed to still have a great time.

I also want to give a special shout out to all the volunteers who were on course both at aid stations and as marshals including the Atlanta PD. Despite the conditions, every single volunteer I ran past had a smile on their face and a cheerful thing to say. I tried to thank everyone I ran past and all said the same thing - it is my pleasure. People at aid stations were cheering for us, marshals were encouraging, several of the Police were actually singing even. As ugh as I felt running, they had to have felt worse standing still and I can't tell you how much their attitudes helped me along. Thank you race volunteers, from the bottom of my heart!

After we were warm and dry and back home, all that was left for me to do was head over to Athlinks and claim my race results which, because this was a new PR for me, I wasted no time in doing! 

It was so much fun, I think I'll do it all over again next weekend in Charlotte. But this time, let's hope for better weather. I'm going to start singing "Rain Rain Go Away, Come Again Another Day" now just to make sure. 


  1. I had so much fun on our Atlanta adventure! Here is hoping Charlotte is warmer if it can't be dry!

  2. I'm literally on Amazon right now shopping for a waterproof running jacket, lol!