Hot Chocolate 15k Race Report

Shame on me for not getting this out earlier, but here are some quick thoughts from the Chicago Hot Chocolate 15k race from back in November.

My goal going into the race was to definitely run sub 7’s, and stretch to try and go 6:50 miles throughout.

I had two good 5ks and a solid 10k in the months prior to the race, and my training had been going quite well. I was averaging about 35 miles a week in October and had switched my training around to incorporate a good mix of long intervals (1000s to mile repeats) and speed work usually doing 200s and 400s.

Race morning dawned clear and cold. Temps in the 40s. Perfect racing weather. This race has gotten quite big, but RAM wised up this year and changed the route downtown to all city streets. No more lakefront path cluster like in 2010. The start and finish in Grant Park now match what they do with the marathon and shamrock shuffle 8k.

Race time rolls around. I hooked up with Noxons and the Morgans in the start corral about 20 yards from the line.

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The gun goes off and things open up real quick. The biggest issue with running downtown is that the Garmin can’t handle the tall buildings, so there are long stretches where it’s not accurately showing me my pace. In addition, the first mile starts with the lower wacker tunnel, so I have no idea how I’m doing. I’m holding back, trying to not go out too fast, and it turns out I overdid it as I go thru the first mile marker at 7:10 or so. Oops. Too slow. I picked up the pace to hit mile 2 at 6:41. From there I calmed down and knocked out 6:55 or so for the next 6 miles. I felt pretty good. I was working hard but not losing it.

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At mile 8 I kicked it in gear and finished up fast averaging 6:44 or so until the finish. Total time: 1:04:15 for a 6:53 avg pace. Considering my time in 2010 was 1:08:40 I was pleased with the improvement. I was also pleased with the negative split, even though I may could have emptied the tank a little earlier and not gone out so slow.

Afterwards it was chocolate time with the girls!

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RAM racing recently got ripped for putting on a crap version of this race in Washington DC. You can read one race report from DCRainmaker here. I was not surprised. I’ve always thought RAM falters when it comes to logistics and course management. They love fancy schwag, and they love cramming tons of people onto their courses (south shore triathlon=unsafe) and constantly spout off like they are the be all end all when it comes to race management. The Chicago course this year was much improved, but they have no idea how to do start corrals properly, insist on a narrow start lane funnel, and the whole day before packet pickup? Huge pain in the ass. Nothing worse than spending 2 hours hoofing it downtown from the suburbs so I can blow 20 bucks on parking just so I can spend 10 seconds grabbing my bib. I’d gladly pay 10 extra bucks to have it mailed and happily pick up my goodie bag day of race.

Back to the race I do have one final tip. If you are wearing a gps watch in a race downtown, turn off the autolap. If the signal is going in and out and you try to autolap at 1 mile intervals you are not going to get an accurate read on your pace. You just have to look for the mile markers on the course and trust they have them measured properly and manually capture your lap times. You can see my garmin file here.

Thanks for reading!

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