I received entry into the AllState Hot Chocolate Charlotte15K as a part of being a BibRave Pro. Check out BibRave.com to read and write race reviews.
This past weekend I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte for my 3rd year, which means, I am a LEGACY, baby! What's that mean? It means even more CHOCOLATE! Plus some other goodies! Here's the whole awesome race weekend story-
The race weekend started off on Friday. To make things a bit easier on myself, I took the day off work so I could not only spend as much time at the Expo as I wanted and not have to rush in and out on a lunch break, but also to have a relaxing morning brunching with Kim, my ride or die race bestie and fellow BibRave Pro. (You can check out her HC15K coverage here: https://barkingmadaboutrunning.blogspot.com/2020/02/becoming-hot-chocolate-legacy.html
So we met at Panera for a quick brunch and hang out before driving up to the Expo at the Charlotte Convention Center. I'm not a huge fan of driving in Charlotte, but it is pretty quick and easy to get in and out of the Convention Center, especailly if you park in the NASCAR Hall of Fame garage like we did. I had some other friends that went up on the Light Rail which is also super convenient as there is a station right at the Convention Center.
The Expo was a bit smaller in past years, but I feel that this is common for all races. It was really efficient. You bring in a QR code that they scan and print a sticker and attach to your bib. Easy peasy. In fact I picked up 4 other packets and was done right away with no hassle.
Since this was my 3rd year running the HC15K Charlotte, my bib said that I was a Legacy so a stop to the next table and I picked up my Legacy gift - a branded mug with an amazing sprinkled chocolate bar and bronze medal. Such a cool perk. Several people stopped to ask us where we got them and how.
Then it was on to pick up our jackets. They scan your bib and hand you a bag with your correct size. You can try on your jacket and switch out if necessary. I always love the HC15K jackets. They are always amazing and this year was no exception. It's not even been a week since the race and I've worn it to run twice and just as a jacket a few other times (yes I've washed it!)
|Kim thought she was funny by taking a pic of me taking as selfie, but it just shows off the jacket better!|
There was also a small merchandise area where I bought a super cute HC15K knit hat. I immediately put it on and got lots of compliments. I even wore it for the race the next day! (See it in the jacket pic above).
We hung out a bit and talked to and took pictures with several people we knew including fellow BibRave Pro Christine (You can check out her HC15K coverage here: https://www.fitnewtonblog.com/race-recap-charlotte-allstate-hot-chocolate-15k-5k/
After we had seen and done everything, Kim and I headed outside to take a quick walk around uptown Charlotte as we are both doing the Run For Your Life Frozen Feet Challenge where you have to put in at least a mile of outdoor activity per day. With that out of the way, it was time to head home and rest up for race day.
Okay y'all, I am not going to mince words... Race day was COLD. Like really cold. It was the 2nd coldest race I've run in fact. It was 23 degrees F at the start line and this warm-weather loving girl was not having it. I will fully admit, I was sulking. See this picture that Kim took of me when I was waiting for the 5K runners to start? I am NOT thrilled. I cannot feel my feet. I have on so many layers I feel lumpy and barely able to move. But you know what? I still had a great race because that is the power of Hot Chocolate races.
I parked close by to the start in the 7th Street Station garage which had plenty of spots and was adjacent to First Ward Park where the race started and finished. I had made arrangements to meet with my various running crews - BibRave, Burn Sisters, random running friends and so on at landmark and we took some quick pictures and mostly were cold. There were a ton of potties which I used 2x (race day nerves, yo) and never even waited in line there were so many. Just walked right in!
|Team BibRave Ready to Run|
Another time I will not mince words... This course is HILLY! Most uptown Charlotte races are, but I believe that this course takes the (chocolate) cake as one of the hilliest, at least that I have run, and I've done a lot of Charlotte races now. There is an uphill around mile 4-5 that just does not quit. It's the area around the Country Club and man is it rough. I tell myself every year that when I get out of the Country Club area the hardest part is now over. I mean, not the last of the hills, just the worst of them. But the course is very well marked and there are aid stations stocked with water, Nuun and goodies like marshmallows and M&Ms spaced throughout. There are several cheer stations scattered throughout the course as well so it is interesting and fun to run. There was this guy who was WAY excited to be cheering on the runners around mile 7 that I swear his exuberant high 5 gave me renewed vigor. Around 8.5 there was a sorority that a brightly colored "Hit Here For Speed Boost" Sign that I swear worked. And the last half mile there are tons of inspirational signs to guide you in.
|A friend of mine does GoPro videos of his races and was right behind me for a bit|
You can check out the whole video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlkmV71Ur78&feature=youtu.be
The goodie pick up is super efficient, lots of volunteers on hand to assist you. You tear off the bottom of your bib and you are handed a bowl of yummies! This year, the bowls were made of biodegradable heavy cardboard which was awesome. I ran into Christine who had also just gotten her goodies and we took a quick pic together with Marshall. I met up with some of my run crew and we found a place to sit on the steps and enjoyed our chocolate in the park. It was a bit warmer, but sunny, which I super appreciated as this was my first HC15K that I've run where it didn't rain. Overall, it was a really nice race. But, I couldn't stick around for too long, I had plans with my BibRave Pro Posse!
After eating my fill of chocolate and stashing everything else in my pockets, I met up with Kim and we made a quick detour to my car to pick up a bag of warm/dry clothes to change into and walked about 3/4 a mile down to Amelies Bakery, This is a Charlotte chain, and y'all if you've never been and are in the area, you need to go. We got some yummy pastries, brunch food and coffee and hung out and reminisced about the race for awhile. So much fun! Love my Orange family!
After that, it was just another quick walk back to the garage and that was a wrap for the Hot Chocolate Charlotte 2020. Loved it even if it could have been a bit (a lot) warmer.
Oh yeah, one last thing. Did I mention that HC15K races give you FREE photos! In fact, I got an email before I even got home telling me that my photos were available. I thought there was no way that was right, but yup, clicked the link and there were 3 finish line photos waiting for me. So cool!
|Got this email before I even made it home! And they are FREE!|