Hello from your favorite 40 year old April Fool! I decided to kick off my 40th year at the Hot Chocolate 15k in Philadelphia this year with my beautiful friend, Christina. I’m so glad I did because we had a blast!
If you’ve been following Scoot a Doot for awhile, you might remember a few years ago when Brandi ran this race. She recapped what sounded an amazing race experience for us as a guest post. I’ve had my eye on the race since then and timing worked out for the 2017 race.
First things first, the communication from RAM Racing Series’ Hot Chocolate race was above and beyond expectations. They provided a race plan at the beginning of the year with weekly emails updates. They’re quick to respond and engaging on Twitter. Post race they followed up immediately with free pictures (my favorite!) and results. All around great communication!
There’s an option to have your race bib and swag mailed to you for a fee ($15) but since my days are fairly flexible, I decided that I would travel into Center City, Philadelphia and visit the expo at the Convention Center. Unfortunately for me, the day I chose to travel, we got 3 inches of rain. Fortunately for me, I have a good pair of rain boots, an umbrella, and a positive attitude!
That said, next time I might just opt for the packet to be mailed. The expo was nothing fancy. I do like that they are very easy-going about changing out the size of the hoodie. RAM Race Series want their runners to be happy and providing options like that proves it!
It was overcast and gray skies for most of the race, lingering from the previous day’s rain. The sun was trying really hard to come through but it was mostly gloomy and on the cold side. I knew once we started moving we’d be comfortable.
The 5k began at 7:15 and the 15k at 8am. Christina had the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run scheduled for Sunday so our plan was to take it very easy, have fun, and not worry about time. We relaxed before lining up in the corrals, chatted with some friends along the way, and then went to find the 13 minute mile pacer, Larry, who I know through the Sub 30 Club.
I told everyone who would listen it was my birthday (because that’s what you’re supposed to do on your birthday) and I prepared myself for 9.3 miles of awesomeness.
As usual, the first couple of miles flew by. Races in Philadelphia usually include a small stint through the city and then out along the river and back again.
You could tell that this was a first time race for many of the participants and I think that’s because the lure of chocolate is very strong, as are the distances. There are very few 15k races and it seems like a logical step if you’ve done a couple of 5k/10k distances but don’t want to do a half marathon.
Also unique to the Hot Chocolate race are the fun things you find along side of the water/Nuun… like chocolate and marshmallows!
I found the placement of the water stations a little confusing and not where I would expect them. There was one that was a little past mile 2.5 which is a perfect placement but when coming back the other direction, it was right near the end of the race. Personally, I would have benefited from one more along the course, whether it be at the turn around (so that they didn’t have to double up on both sides) or somewhere more centrally located between 7-9.
We had a nice run/walk going for the first 7 miles. Not really timed, more like, “Should we run? Yeah, okay, let’s run.” Around mile 3 we lost our pacer. Whoopsies! We had a four cone rule where we would run four cones before switching into “walking with purpose” mode. We talked the entire time. We selfied.
We both had the want to run more but we had to reign ourselves in because we knew that wouldn’t bode well for Christina’s race (which she PRed, btw!). So we remained consistent and finished with smiles on our faces!
The finish line was actually a little anti-climatic. There were timing mats on the ground and photographers snapping pictures (again, I say YAY for free race pictures). However, there wasn’t a banner or arch that I guess we are both used to at this point. We did get a shout out from the announcer which was a good cue to be our cutest selves.
We took our medal selfie with the Art Museum behind us and then went in search of our chocolate treats!
The rain made all of the grass areas big messes of mud and that’s where the entertainment stage and tents that held our finisher’s mugs were located. We weren’t going to let mud keep us away from our chocolate so we went traipsing through to get our chocolate and treats.
Finding a good spot to sit and enjoy our treats was difficult because the ground was mushy and it was a little difficult to balance everything. Finally we planted ourselves on a patch of pavement and we dug in to our finisher’s mug. The hot chocolate was delicious and perfect on the cooler day. The dipping chocolate was great but we had to eat it quick because it cooled and hardened. The race planned ahead and provided rolls of plastic bags so we were able to bring everything home with us.
I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with the finisher’s mug but from start to finish, the swag for this race was pretty impressive! Hoodie, visor, chocolate on the course, medal, finisher’s mug and treats, and free race photos? Just marry me right now!
Hooray for a fun birthday race! Here’s hoping that I will be celebrating with running for years to come!