Race Recap: Hot Chocolate Chicago 5k (21:19)

Yesterday morning I ran the Hot Chocolate 5k in downtown Chicago.  I decided to register a few weeks ago when my friend Rachel suggested we run it – but wasn’t sure if I should go for the 5k and 15k.  I quickly settled on the 5k knowing how my running has been going lately.  I am in no position to do a long race right now.  And I want to work on getting my short distance speed back, so I figured I need to know where I’m at as a starting point.

My goal was to run under 22 minutes, but I was seriously doubting my ability to do so and figured I’d be more in the 22-23 minute range.

Picking an outfit is obviously the most important part of a race and that was tricky given the weather.  It was going to be about 40 degrees at the start, and luckily bright and sunny.  I ended up going with leggings and a long sleeve shirt over a tank and arm sleeves.  However, at the start I took off the long sleeve, tied it around my waste because I didn’t want to lost that one, and put my bib on the tank.

HC Chicago 5k 2015

I was in Corral A and ended up starting pretty close to the front which was nice.  I saw a 7 minute pacer and thought maybe I’d just try to stick with him the whole time, which would put me under 22 minutes, but then I lined up in front of him and forgot about that plan because I was too concerned with debating whether or not I should take the long sleeve off.

The race start and finish lines were in the same location as the Chicago Marathon.  We start going straight north up Columbus Drive but then instead of continue north over the river, we turned left to continue on lower Wacker Drive.  I had not studied the map, so I wasn’t expecting this and was pretty pleased I ditched the long sleeve because it gets a little warmer down there.

For that first stretch down Columbus Drive my legs actually felt really tight and I thought I was really in for it the rest of the race.  After I made the first turn though, I started passing some people and feeling better.  I don’t have the pace/distance showing on my watch and didn’t know my pace until we hit the first mile marker.  I looked at my watch then – 6:51, but it actually beeped for a mile and said 7:00 a few seconds later.  I felt OK with this since that was exactly my goal pace and was feeling great.  Another girl running the 5k and I were pretty much running together at this point.

I didn’t think I picked it up a ton and ended up looking at my watch when it said about 12:30 and before I knew it, I came up to the 2nd mile marker and my watch beeped at 6:26 for that mile – and would’ve been a 6:31 according to the race clock.  I was super surprised with this because I don’t think I’ve ever ran the 2nd mile of a 5k that fast.  Usually I run the first one fast and slow down over each mile (not the best pacing tactic, I know.)

I was still feeling great for awhile, but was beginning to fade.  I looked at my watch around 17:00 and then was just counting down how many more minutes I probably had to go.  At this point, I realized the finish was going to be the same as Chicago, which mean climbing “Mt. Roosevelt” and then a straightaway to the finish (I even saw the 200m to go mark spray painted on the ground, I assume leftover from the marathon.)  There wasn’t a 3 mile marker (that I saw at least), but my watch beeped at 7:02 for that mile.


As soon as I crossed the finish line, I went to the side to just hunch over for a little while.  That hurt.

The finishing area was OK – they had cups of Gatorade and bottles of water.  Then you basically had to walk to the post-race party to get your “finisher mug” which was a bit of a navigation issue because at this time it was only 7:25 and they were on Corral K.  The lowest corral letter I saw was W.  So there were a ton of people walking the opposite direction I was walking as they were trying to get to the start/corral area.

The finisher mug was just a silly plastic thing that I ended up throwing away, but it included a cup of hot chocolate and a cup of melted chocolate with little things to dip in it like pretzels, a Rice Krispie treat, and such.  So that was a delicious treat.

It was easy to meet up with my mom since the post-race party area was not at all crowded yet since I started at the beginning and only ran the 5k, as opposed to the 15k.  So we walked around through Millennium Park, watched a few corrals go off, and stopped at Panera for coffee and a bagel.

Overall, I was very happy and pleasantly surprised with my time.  Definitely some speed to gain, but I think I’m at a good starting place.  I’ll hopefully hit up a few more 5ks to race in the next few months.

Have you ever done one of the Hot Chocolate races?

What is the best post-race food you’ve been given?

One Thought on “Race Recap: Hot Chocolate Chicago 5k (21:19)

  1. Nice work on the race! You guys sure had great weather for a run yesterday. Hands down the best post-race food I’ve ever had came from the Chicago 13.1 this past spring – they give you a FULL breakfast! I’m talking eggs, sausage (I think?), pancakes, potatoes: the works. It was INCREDIBLE, and so perfect, considering that even though it was a longer race, you still finished before 10:00 or so, which is more breakfast time than pizza and beer time in my mind. I wish all races would serve breakfast after the fact!

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