Monday, January 14, 2013

Race Report: Hot Chocolate 15K Atlanta [The Race]

Hot Chocolate 15K | January 13, 2013
Atlanta, GA

You can read my Expo review here.

Before I start my post(s) about the Hot Chocolate race, I want to clarify two things: first, I did serve as an Ambassador for HC Atlanta, which solely meant that  I got to help promote the race and got a few free race things (not a race entry); and b) despite knowing issues with RAM Racing in the likes of DC and Chicago, I was trying to remember to be [cautiously] optimistic given that Atlanta is a new city for them. That being said...  I like chocolate. I like running. I like running for chocolate.

Saturday night, my sister and I headed down to Atlanta to hang out at Heather's house for the night, so we didn't have to leave Athens at oh-dark-hundred hours. So grateful to have Heather to crash with, and to host us both. Convenience at its finest. Since we were able to buy a parking ticket for Turner, we were thankful able to leave a little later than had we needed to park downtown and shuttle - but even still, they recommended that runners arrive by 6:30 am. Considering the 5K didn't start until 7:45, and the 15K until 8:15, that was a little brutal.

Heather, me and Brandi before the race! Sorority sisters!

We got to meet up with Brandi and her mom, Karen, and take in our normal pre-race photos and fun before we headed towards the corrals to see my sister, Brandi, and Karen off in the 5K. Afterwards, Heather and I headed to gear check and get in to our corrals once all the 5Kers had taken off. 5K runners were assigned corrals A-G, and 15Kers I-N. In total between the two races, there were nearly 14,000 runners taking over Turner Field on Sunday morning! Insanity!

This race and fun turned out to be particularly special to me because while I didn't run with them per se, I got to run with not only my true, blood-related sister, but my letter sisters too. What fun! 

My goal for the race was to run a steady pace and aimed for a 1:35 finish - that would put me on target for (slightly faster than) goal marathon pace and get me a PR for sure (the only other 15K I've done was over five years ago, 1:44:xx). Given that I was still finishing my battle with the chest cold from hell, I'd be happy with anything ballpark to that and would be a great last race pre-marathon.

I'm sure glad I checked the course elevation last minute online - this course was no joke!
I mean seriously. I took it semi-easy up until the 5K mark, took in my first Gu, and tried to plow through until the mile 5 marker or so where I knew it got tough (did I mention I was glad I actually checked out the course elevation?). I mean, Atlanta is hilly, that's a given, but this course sure did show them off! Good push, for sure. My first Gu didn't kick in until just before mile 5 and when I took my second Gu at the 10K split, I didn't feel that come into play until nearly mile 8 - but they sure did the trick at the end.

The course(s) both go under the Olympic rings at the Turner complex - I believe the 5K started through there and the 15K finished through there. I was dying for a photo, but just wanted to finish at that point. Thankfully, the road down into the parking lot, and the finish line, is a gradual downhill that at least encourages you through for the last of the long haul. It was exciting to see my sister at the finish line waiting for me! :) I got my chocolate (more on that below!), ate up, waited on Heather, and ran with her in the last .11 miles to the finish (I think I got better finish line photos the second time around!)
Myself, Heather, and sister.
Final time?

If I'm not good at meeting my time goals then man... I don't know what. 9 seconds to spare, race average of 10:06, and more than I was expecting. Happy last race before the marathon! 

And what's even better than that? That's right... that post-race party that gets all the hype. So worth it. Of course, with nearly 70 degrees and pretty much 100% humidity in January, the last thing I wanted was hot chocolate. The fondue, however, was divine and certainly worth that course! There were tons of stations to get your finisher's mug and chocolate goodness, and I waited in line for maybe all of 30 seconds before I was up at the front. Even with 14,000 runners, they had this down to a science and it was fast
Yeah, pretty much best post-race food ever.
Race Pros
- Turner Field is a great location - tons of space, allows for maximum space for pre/post race gathering, bathrooms, gear check, etc. 
- Awesome race swag (a new tech-ish hoodie never hurts!)
- Fantastic post race party!
- Challenging course - awesome, but challenging
- Volunteers were fabulous! 
- Positive experience overall!
Race Cons
- I wish there had been different swag for 5K/15Kers - 5Kers pay about $20 less, but get the same sweet sweatshirt. Maybe 5Kers could get a long sleeve shirt, 15Kers the hoodie? 
- Parking confusion
- Pre-race communication seemed spotty (learned that some folks' emails went to spam, some got theirs, I still never saw mine)
- Communication with Atlanta Police/parking folks about where to go to actually park
- Ridiculous Atlanta Januar weather... but RAM Racing can't help that fact!   
Sister love. So happy she was here this weekend!

Thanks RAM Racing!

 I served as an Ambassador for the Atlanta Hot Chocolate race. While I did not receive compensation or a comped race entry fee, I did receive two shirts and a race hat from RAM Racing prior to the race. All opinions and thoughts are my own.


  1. That race sounds like so much fun! I've heard mixed reviews on Hot Chocolate races but I'd still give it a shot. I'd have to agree with you that the swag should have been different for the 5k / 15k runners. I wonder how many people signed up for the 5k and ran the 15k instead. I can't believe that this is your last race before the marathon - I'm getting soooooo excited for you!

    1. You know, after reading about Chicago's disaster, and already knowing about DC, I was becoming more and more hesitant, but tried my best to be (cautiously) optmistic. It paid off - I didn't see a single hitch and am really impressed with how the race went. Next year come visit and let's run for chocolate!


  2. Looks like fun but a tough course. I have been thinking about doing the Hot Chocolate San Diego but have to keep myself under control or else I will register for everything! Congratulations on a great finish!

    1. Super fun, SUPER tough for a race I wasn't thinking would be all THAT serious. Consider HC - it's a fun time. I run for dessert, and openly admit that, so this was the best of both worlds for me!

  3. I ran the 5k and love my sweatshirt, but I agree -- it does seem like we should have maybe received a long sleeve tech tee or something with the 15k'ers getting the sweatshirt or a medal!

    Good luck on your first marathon!

    1. I'm glad you agree. But man I love this sweatshirt! Haha. I like the medal idea!

  4. Great recap! I shared many of your same thoughts about the race. I think it seriously was one of the hilliest races I've ever run, but I had a good time. I'm glad I focused on running this one for fun with friends versus trying to hit a time goal given the course. Congrats on your finish! Love all the pictures! ~Jesica from

    1. Thanks for reading - loved yours too! SO HILLY, I couldn't believe it. In a half/full, I expect that nonsense, but man! Was NOT expecting it at this race!

  5. Despite the hills, I was happy with how the race turned out too. Such a great way to finish up the weekend with you sister. Good luck for the marathon!

    1. Thanks sister! And like I told you... welcome to Atlanta! There's no such thing as a flat race, and thus the reason I'm SO excited that my marathon is a) at the beach and b) therfore (mostly) flat. Loved having you. Come back soon! <3

  6. this sounds so fun!! im super jealous you had one so close. i really may have to look into the san diego one in march!

    1. It might be a bit of a long trip for that... but it's a fun time! :) Consider it at least, LOL!