Sunday, March 8, 2015

Race Review: Hot Chocolate 15k Seattle

I have to admit, I'd been keeping this race on my wish list ever since I started running back in 2013. Sure, the See Jane Run Half Marathon ended with chocolates (and champagne). The Luminate 5K had Uwajimaya-themed Asian snacks. Beat the Blerch had birthday cake.

But seriously, folks. Can you really compete with hot chocolate?

You'll note my emphasis on the post-race food part of the equation. Welcome to the reason I run.

So let's get down to business. The Hot Chocolate 15K was run out of Seattle Center, home of the EMP and basically at the base of the Space Needle. It's neat when races start and end there, I guess, because no matter where you are, you'll be able to find your way back. Sticking to the course is recommended, though.

Here's a quick rundown of the basics:

  • Packet Pickup: held at Seattle Center on Friday and Saturday. NO race day pickup. This is fine and dandy for people living in Seattle, but as someone who needed to cross a bridge that was down to just the express lanes all weekend, driving into Seattle two days in a row led to 3+ hours of commuting a distance that should've taken one hour, tops. Also, the expo was so incredibly packed (it's a huge race, folks) that despite the cool swag, I got pretty uncomfortable with the number of people there and peaced out before I had a chance to steal fourteen bags of Food Should Taste Good chips. Rats.

  • The Gear: This was my first race as a Nuun Ambassador, so obviously I rocked my new race shirt! Other essentials:
    • PRO Compression socks
    • Nuun (I used a full tab in one 10oz bottle, left the other bottle as straight water. You know, keeping it interesting).
    • Gu (took two Salted Caramels, ate -drank?- one at mile 5 and didn't touch the other because THERE WERE STRAWBERRY MARSHMALLOWS ON THE COURSE).
    • UV half Buff. Duh.
    • Bodyglide. You only need to learn that lesson once.
    • My Sauconys. First race, baby, and they match my Nuun shirt!

  • Race Morning: Holy moly, I'm glad it was unseasonably warm for February on race day! Even then, it was a chilly waiting game while the 5k racers started their race at 6:45am. There were 15 corrals based on self-reported goal paces, and they left in 3 minute waves. Basically, it took roughly 45 minutes for all 5k racers to start. By 7:35, the 15k racers were starting to fill the corrals, and we were ready to go.

  • The Course: Okay, Seattle. We get it. You're built on a slant. I'm a terrible planner when it comes to training; my routes are all flat! This race was an eye opener on how different it is to race on hills. I've tackled them a bit when I choose different spots to run, but racing on them... well, my quads were on fire for about three days after the race. The course started on a downhill stretch towards the water by Pike Place Market, then back uphill on a switchback that eventually led through a tunnel (betting everyone with Garmins here loved that!) and over to the George Washington Bridge. Which - you guessed it - is also on a slant. At the bottom of the bridge, we ran back up hill into Fremont (or Ballard? some Seattle neighborhood...), turned back around, and went the way we came. It was fun to do those switchbacks and spot so many people I know and love, so that helped get through a few of those nasty hills.

  • The Finish: Was on an uphill. Thanks, Seattle. Luckily, they corralled us quickly to the hot chocolate deliciousness, and I had a smorgasbord of cocoa, chocolate fondue, and things to dip in said fondue. Obviously I ate it all.
Doing important things immediately after finishing... like making sure I choose the slightly-stressed-looking smiley face on Nike+ to indicate that that was NOT an easy race.

Post-race celebration with Rachael! Check her out at! 

Ten points to this guy. Still working on the connection between Oktoberfest lady costumes and hot chocolate.
  • My Results: 15k in 1:25:31. My Nike+ app tracked 9.7 miles, and I talked to a few other people with varying distances. Who knows.
Overall, a challenging course at a distance I'd never raced, before. Awesome swag (you get a hoodie with this race, and the 15k finishers got chocolate bar shaped medals), fun food at the after party, and super organized for the huge number of participants. Now, if only they'd been able to figure the post-race traffic out a bit better (ha ha)...

Can I nominate this stranger for the next Ridiculously Photogenic Guy?


  1. I'm sorry but birthday cake is >>> than chocolate, especially if your birthday happens to fall a few days before or after said event. BUT, GREAT race!! Ha, 15k - I can't imagine running that now, especially on that course. Way to go!

    1. To each her own. :) I love cake (ie: the best part of weddings), but chocolate... when done right... Mmmmmm. And this was good chocolate.

  2. You should come run the HC15K in phoenix! Super FLAT! :)