Hot Chocolate: Bittersweet the Second Time Around

So the Hot Chocolate 5K/15K was a few weeks ago. For those of you who have never heard of the Hot Chocolate, it is a race sponsored by RAM Racing in downtown Chicago. They have a 5K and a 15K distance. After you finish you get a cup of cocoa, some chocolate fondue, and tasty dippers.

Last year I ran the 5K with my good friend/pusher Tracy Trovato. I averaged 10:30 min miles, and had a blast! After this past year of a mud run and a Triathlon, I decided to do the 15K (9.3 miles). Dummy! :)

So, a month before the race, my knees started giving me all kinds of trouble. I could barely run 3 miles. How was I going to do over 9?

I wanted to downgrade, but I missed the deadline. Then I got hives! Oh what a miserable week. So that was it. I was going to skip the race. I was going to get my packet and sweatshirt, and be done.

But then I went to packet pickup, and all the excitement drew me back in! RAM sucks at packet organization, but they know how to throw a party and build excitement. The race was on!

Now, I have done no training in two weeks. I still had hives. And my knee was still wonky, but I really wanted to run!

Then I found my Tri group on Facebook! It was all over then! Five of them were running too. So we all met downtown and ran the race!

The first 3 miles was a breeze. I had a great start. The race split to finish the 5K or to continue the 15K. Boy did I wish I could just be done, but I was already in the thick of it.

Things were going great until I hit mile 4. My knee started to give. This was not good. I started to walk, which ticked me off. I have yet to walk in a race. I did not want to start now. But there I was limping and gimping along. It sucked. I walked a mile. My pace was shot. I might as well just quit. I tried to jog, but it hurt so bad. I figured I'd just find an aid station, get the medic, and ride to the finish. I was mad.

Funny thing about aid stations. They are never there when you need them. So, I had two choices: 1. Walk to the finish, taking 3 hours. 2: Stretch, suck it up, and start running. I sucked it up.

Somehow I got my knee in alignment. I started to jog. I reset my play list. And I was off! Mile 5. Still going. Mile 6. Still going. Mile 7. Mile 8! Almost there! Battery dies on my watch and music player! Suck!!!!

So the last mile + I was left to my own thoughts, good and bad. There were a bunch of people cheering along the way. I was doing it! I pictured Ken and Yoshi cheering me on. They did not make it in person this time. I was tired and I wanted to stop, but it was so close, I could taste the fondue!

Then I saw the finish line! I have never been so happy! I made it in under 2 hours. Not too bad, considering I wasted 20 minutes walking. I missed reuniting with a chunk of my group. Their waves started way earlier. But it didn't matter. My carpooler, Rebecca, and I enjoyed the spoils, popped some ibuprofen, and went home.

It was a tough race. I was ill prepared. And I was not having the best time running it. But I completed my goal. Had fun with friends. Met some cool people. Ate some chocolate.

My knee was a swollen mess for a few days. My quads burned. I hobbled around like a hobbit. Then one of the pushers in my Tri class, Karen, asked when I was going to do my first half marathon! Say what!?! I can't even walk! Is she for real? I'm dying!

My response: next Spring.

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