Today I ran for chocolate, quite literally. And so did my friends, Sarah and Liza; in fact, chocolate was a huge factor enticing them to sign up for their first 5K run, The Hot Chocolate Run. We signed up many months ago and today was the day, a most frigid morning in National Harbor, Maryland.
As we sat in traffic last night to pick up our runner’s gear, we were lucky to enjoy the fireworks display from the highway. Post-pickup we swung by the Gaylord National Hotel for a quick peek at the beautiful holiday decor. It truly put me in a childlike spirit that always comes over me during this magical time of year.
This morning we left my place around 5:30 am for a 7:30 am race start. A frigid morning was not helped by the fact that the race did not start on time. We were happy runners upon our arrival, bundled up with our layers, hats and gloves.
But as time continued to click on my toes began to numb and no amount of stretching was doing much good to keep me loose. We did not push off the gates until close to 8:30, due to, what I learned later, was some debris on the race course that needed to be cleared. But I think what really happened was that there were far too many people who could be accommodated at National Harbor and the race officials took pity on making sure everyone had adequate time to park. While nice and all, did I say it was cold outside? In all my years of running I have never known a race not to start on time. Runners were getting annoyed–it was in the 30 degree temperatures after all–and began chanting, “start the race, start the race, start the race.” A very comical moment in my opinion.
Well the race finally did start. I started a little further up from my friends in an attempt to go at a pace that suited me. The first section was terribly planned. There were too many people for the small trail that ran along the Potomac River. So many people were muttering, “I’m never doing this race again.” We were frustrated; with so many choices of races in the DC metro area, there is no excuse for a poorly planned, overly populated race that does not start on time.
At last though the race did clear up and I was able to break through the crowds. The first hill I flew up, which was an awesome feeling. Most people were already heavily breathing. And before I knew it the finish line was in site. As I neared the end, the announcer kept saying “You did it! Get your hands up!” I clocked in at 26: 23 (8:30 pace; 236 overall out of 5,293 runners; 112 out of 4,308 women; 21 of 791 in my age group of 30-34 year olds). I’m pretty proud of those stats! What a drastic change to be done a race so quickly compared to the marathon.
I hung around the finish line for a bit to watch my friends and also spotted another friend, Christy and a coworker, Rachael cross the line. Everyone finished strong running at the end with smiles on their faces. Then it was time, the moment we had all been waiting for–CHOCOLATE! Hot chocolate with mini marshmallows and Ghirardelli chocolate fondue were waiting for us. Such a very delicious way to end a race.
I don’t know whether I’ll do this run again next year–it was an expensive 5K and as mentioned poorly planned (but it was the first so maybe they will work some tweaks out for next year). The chocolate was a big selling point too. A big congrats to the gals on their finish!