I signed up for the Hot Chocolate 5k with a group of coworkers here in Chicago. The idea was for us to do a race serious enough that we actually needed some training but relaxed enough to where no one would feel defeated if they were in the back of the pack. And what a way to entice newbies!
My coworker, Carolyn, and I went to the Hot Chocolate expo on Friday night after work. This year, we were warm and snug inside McCormick Place (I heard the year before was outside -eek!) and packet pick up was a breeze. Our bibs were printed, we were given our clear gear check bags and our swag. I found an extra promo code for a free coffee tumbler and saw that many other folks found codes for water bottles, etc. One of the greatest perks of the expo was a hoodie exchange. They had a rack of already opened hoodies so you could try them on and exchange sizes right then and there. Very awesome.
I don't have anything to compare it to but the hoodie is really nice! It has a great zipper pocket in the back that can hold a phone, keys and a little more. It is fleece lined and I've been using it as a third layer for some of the brutally cold runs this winter.
Unfortunately, the rest of the expo was just okay. Perhaps it was because we came at 6:30pm on a Friday but it felt as though half the vendors didn't show up and there were only about 40 registrants present at the time. We did get some nice freebies so I can't complain at all (pieces of Ghirardelli chocolate, hot chocolate, marshmallows dipped in chocolate, coupons for running gear).
Race morning was chilly but the hubby and I sauntered down to the L. Our spirits were instantly lifted when we got to the train platform and saw about 20 fellow runners waiting. Finally arriving at Grant Park with our friends, we realized how big this thing really was.
40,000 people running for chocolate
We must have stood in our corral for about 30 minutes before taking off. And suddenly, we were off! I forgot to start my GPS and was quickly separated from everyone else. This year's route took us from Columbus to Lower Wacker Drive (which I thought was pretty cool) and down Clark Street. After about a mile and a quarter (near the first water break), I began walking/running. 2 blocks of walking, 2-3 blocks of running. After turning on to Michigan, I tried jogging the rest of the way as I knew the hill at Roosevelt was coming up soon. At this point, most folks began taking pictures but I tried to keep pushing through. Once I saw the finish line, I thought "wow, .1 miles suddenly seems really far away!".
But just as quickly as it started, I crossed the finish line and was instantly reward with a bottle of water and a bottle of gatorade. Walking straight to the finisher's area, I went to go find the rest of my friends. It was very easy picking up our finisher's bowl and we ended up eating before meeting up with everyone.
I swear I look like this because the sun was shining in my eyes....
After finding some friends, we quickly took off to meet some other coworkers for brunch who were heading home to Italy later that day. First 5k? Check. Pigging out on chilaquiles and mimosas? CHECK. Mid-afternoon nap? Zzzz...