Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hot Chocolate 15k

Several months ago I received an email advertising a new race coming to Atlanta - The Hot Chocolate 15k and 5k.  The picture of the finisher's mug immediately caught my attention.  This girl will definitely run for chocolate!  In addition to the sweets at the finish line, they promised a sweatshirt for all participants.  Those of you who know me well realize that race t-shirts (especially long-sleeve tees) get me really excited.  That being said, a race sweatshirt had me sold!

I spent the weekend with the fam in Atlanta.  Mom made sure we topped off our carbohydrate stores on Saturday morning with a very tasty batch of cinnamon ginger pancakes.  She used this recipe from Healthy. Happy. Life.  I suggest that you go buy a waffle iron, print this recipe, gather your ingredients, and make these ASAP!

After Saturday's spaghetti dinner to celebrate Grandpa's birthday, I set out my racing gear.  I must say that I love the simplicity of gear for a run as opposed to a triathlon.

Today's weather was unbelievably unseasonably warm.  It was 64 degrees when we arrived to Turner Field.  Fortunately, it remained overcast with a slight breeze, and so we were spared any significant heat.  Mom set out for the 5K at 7:45 and Dad and I spectated before proceeding with our warm up prior to the 15K.  

Check out the crowds!  They announced that 19,000 people were registered to compete in one of the two distances.  After some strides and stretching, Dad and I made our way into our respective corrals and awaited the start of the 15k.

I won't bore you with every last detail of my race, so here's the abbreviated version.  This is by far the hilliest Atlanta race course I have run.  Holy hills!  1400 feet of climbing.  Given that hills are my arch nemesis, and most certainly my weakness, it was a rough race.  I probably went out a bit too fast (no big surprise here), and between that, the hills, and my lack of any recent speed work, the first four miles were ridiculously painful.  Around mile five my rib started bothering me, which added another factor into the mix.  Each time I glanced at my Garmin my heart rate was near 180.  At some point between miles five and six I finally settled into a better rhythm and tried to focus on leg turnover and maintaining my pace on the climbs.  My mile splits were 6:59, 7:22, 7:37, 7:36, 7:29, 7:51, 7:48, 7:55, 7:43, 6:54.  The total distance as measured by my GPS was 9.4 miles.

Once we made the final turn and the finish line came into sight, I was relieved to nearly be done.  I don't have a great explanation for my ho-hum race other than my lack of racing recently and having an off day.  That being said, I was just thrilled to be out there enjoying the day, running with 19,000 of my closest friends, and spending the weekend with my family.  Life is good!

Mom had a great 5K and continues to shave time off with each race.  She's yet to find the "runner's high" that Dad and I enjoy, but she is always a good sport to join us for some early morning exercise.  Dad, too, had an excellent performance on a tough course.  Hard to believe he's only been running for a little more than a year!  

Here are my final results.  I had hoped to be closer to 7 minute pace, but given the course and less than stellar training consistency (thank you trauma rotation for requiring all of my time!) I'll consider it a good day at the races.  Plus, since 15k is an odd distance and one that I have not raced before, any finish time was a PR.

We all loved our hot chocolate and bites of chocolate fondue after the race.  I imagine the race management never imagined they would have 60 degree temperatures in January when they planned to serve gallons of hot chocolate.

After having an excellent meal at Highland Bakery several weeks ago, we knew exactly where we were headed for a post-race breakfast.  Savory was the theme of the morning after downing post-race chocolate goodies.

My selection: Burrito de Huevos
Scrambled eggs with sweet yellow corn, roasted red peppers, and onions, wrapped in two flour tortillas on a bed of black beans.  Smothered in spicy red salsa and cheddar cheese.

Mom's selection: Cilantro Corn Pancakes
Served over black beans and topped with 2 fried eggs, sour cream, salsa, shredded cheese, and cilantro

Dad's selection: Breakfast BLT
Sourdough grilled and topped with spring mix, tomato, two fried eggs, and turkey sausage.  Served with potatoes and grits.

With a full belly, I set out en route to Charlotte.  Fortunately it was an easy drive and I was back by mid afternoon.  In record time (4 minutes flat), I had my car unpacked, changed clothes, and spent an hour sleeping in the sun on the deck.  Have I mentioned that I love the 74 degree high temperature in Charlotte in January?  I intended to go to yoga, but the nap won.  Tough decision, right?  It's back in the 50s and rainy tomorrow, so I'm glad I enjoyed the short burst of heat.


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