November 16, 2013

November 16 - Chocolate Charity Run (5K)

Total time: 38:44 min
Total distance: 2.78 miles*

*This was supposed to be a 5K but it appears as though they mis-measured the race route. Grump.

This 5K is sort-of new this year... I say sort-of, because Chocolaterie Stam, the chocolate shop that sponsored this race, used to co-sponsor the Hot Chocolate Race in the past... which is how I knew about it in the first place. LOVE me some Stam... their bonbons are amazing. I digress. They broke off from the HCR in order to be able to do it more their way, and to be able to donate more directly to charity. They paired up with the organizers of the Des Moines Marathon and I have to say, I was really impressed with this race, except for one minor detail, which I'll get to later.

Their charity recipient is the John Stoddard Cancer Center, which is a major medical facility here in Central Iowa - so it was nice that the money was going to a local charity. They announced before the race how much money they were going to be able to donate, and I wish I could remember what they said, because it seemed like a lot. More than I would have expected from any event, let alone a 'new' event. The route was in a different part of downtown Des Moines than the other ones I've done, so it was nice to have a change of scenery (a lot of the other routes overlapped, even if slightly.) It was a fairly chilly day - hey, it's mid-November! - and they had a lot of space and vendor tables inside where people could wait. They had a fondue station too for after... the chocolate dipped banana I ended up with was pretty amazing. Not to mention the hot chocolate, which was also refreshing, once I'd consumed some water.

As for the race itself, I was a little disappointed in how I did. I guess that's what I get for taking a week off. On the one hand, I felt really good - it wasn't exactly warm, and the sky was gray, but as I got warmed up it felt just right. Even better, the rain held off, which was good because that would have been realllllllllly cold. Mentally, I was in a great place. Physically... well. I was just kind of slow. I felt like I was going slow and it was frustrating.I think once I landed on a song that seemed to properly motivate me to keep a solid pace, I just kept playing it on repeat. For the entire race.

When I crossed the finish line and checked my time, I was incredibly surprised to see that my time was faster than I expected - a new PR?! Maybe I hadn't been going as slow as I thought! ...But according to my UP band, the distance fell short of an actual, full 5K - I crossed the finish line at 2.78 miles. HUGE bummer! (This was the only bit of the race that I didn't love - they mismeasured the route! Hopefully they will fix it for next year. My ONLY complaint about the whole thing.)

At any rate, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and energy of this race and I am currently planning on giving it another go next year. I love how local this one is - from the organizers to the charity recipient. And hey, chocolate.

November 10, 2013

November 10

Total time: 25 mins
Total distance: 2.05 miles

Definitely slowing down as fall creeps on. Not sure if it's the colder weather setting in or what - or the fact that it's dark by the time I get home from work, so I can really only run on the weekends. I really impressed myself with this run - I was ready to quit after a mile, but I pushed through. I wanted to make it count since I suspect that the number of outside running days for the rest of the year is limited. Plus, I have another 5K next weekend again! Gotta keep sharp!

You'll see in the photo the snazzy jacket from the Hot Chocolate Race - it's really quite comfortable. It's a tad on the cheaply-made side (I am skeptical as to how long that zipper will last) but the fit isn't quite so tight like the other jackets I have. This is even after I traded in for a size down after the race. It's pretty too - bright ultraviolet with neon orange trim. I suspect I will wear this one a lot.

At any rate - not a terrible pace, even for feeling so sluggish! Hoping to finish the year strong before I get snowed in. Not sure what I'm going to do when the Weather hits. Try to find a treadmill somewhere, I guess.

November 3, 2013

November 3 - Hot Chocolate Race (5K)

Total time: 41:22 minutes
Total distance: 3.22 miles

I was equally nervous and excited for this race for a variety of reasons. It was the first 5K that I'd participated in since the Color Run back in July, and that was definitely a novelty run that was intended to be leisurely walked/hopped/skipped through. This was going to be an "actual" 5K - all running, no gimmicks. Well, unless you count receiving hot chocolate at the end a gimmick, in which case, I shan't argue the case with you. Most of all, this was going to be the first 5K I would be participating in that was officially chip-timed. I've never been officially timed before and, honestly, I thought it was kind of neat to be able to finally do.

This particular 5K, the Hot Chocolate Race, has been around for a few years. I almost, almost got persuaded to sign up for it last year by one of my friends, but I knew I was nowhere near ready to run a 5K. The charity partner for this race was Above + Beyond Cancer - not really here nor there but I'm noting it for my records.

This particular race took place the weekend after Halloween, so I wasn't sure if the expectation was to wear a costume or not. Based on photos from previous events, it looked like there were a smattering of festive participants, but for the most part, it was just straight up simple running gear. Additionally, the temperature was supposed to be a bit cooler, which meant a bit of bundling. The registration fee also included a nifty fleece jacket, which I had full intentions of wearing during the race (if for no other reason than to differentiate this race day photo from other runs) but imagine my surprise when the size I ordered was way too big. You can never be sure what to expect with the sizing of women's fitnesswear; most of the time it runs small and so you have to plan accordingly. Not this time! Unfortunately, they wouldn't let me trade out the jacket for a smaller size until after the race was over, so I kept my trusty old jacket on instead. I'm sure you'll see that jacket pop up on some of my other normal runs in the future.

Pre-race, it was pretty chilly. I was factoring in the fact that I'd probably warm up once I started running, which I'm glad I did, because if I'd added any additional layers I would have been miserable. As it was, I wanted to rip my jacket off after about two miles but then I'd have to carry it somehow so I just left it, quietly cursing at it for the last bit of the run.

The race website advertised it as being a nice, flat, fast course, tempting people to sign up for it with the possibility that they could break their PR for the year. I strongly suspect that at some point near the eleventh hour, they changed that route... because it was not flat at all. I mean, it wasn't monstrously hilly or anything (this is central Iowa we're talking about) but there were a lot of inclines and little hills and, frankly, it was kind of challenging for me. I struggled. Not to the point where I thought maybe I wouldn't finish - no, I was determined to finish - but enough that I had to constantly pep-talk myself. I also had to stop and tie my shoes which was supremely annoying but I was able to start running again without any hesitation or problem.

It was a relief to cross the finish line. In the end, my own finish time wasn't really that far off from the Official finish time. It was not my finest performance, but the important thing is that I was NOT LAST.

In case you can't read the stats in my image below (screencapped from the website), I finished:

Overall place: 415 out of 550
Division place: 41 out of 55 (female 25-29)
Gender place: 295 out of 414

Which means that out of everyone running, I beat 135 of them. Out of the other ladies in my age range, I was ahead of 14 other people, and out of all the ladies of all the ages, I beat 119 people. Which probably means I simply beat the people that walked a lot. I will admit that I was passed at least once by someone with a stroller. It's okay. Some of those stroller people are fit, man.

Overall, I really enjoyed this race, it was pretty well organized and I really liked having the chip timer aspect. I don't generally like to compare myself with other people because I am slow and it will be years before I'm able to be competitive (if ever), but it was still fun to have a benchmark. I will likely do this one again next year so long as the registration fees stay reasonable.

Sadly, out of all the post-race photos they posted, I didn't seem to be in any of them. I'm really curious to see if I still look like I'm barely moving like I did in the photos from the 80s Run 5K. Maybe next year!