Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hot Chocolate 15k - Seattle - Recap

Seattle, Washington
First ever 15k!
Start Time: 7:45 am
Temperature: 37, 100% chance of snow
Bib #51060
Overall: 948/2796
Division Place: 92/350
Gender Place: 573/2125
Finish Time: 1:27:56

Girls weekend with some amazing women.
Our weekend, and the race itself couldn't have gone any better.  In spite of my trepidation (and planning boo boos), I believe the weekend went of without a hitch.


Most of us rode the train from Portland to Seattle.  Saturday's 8:30am train arrived a bit after noon in the Emerald City.

Union Station, Portland.
A quick cab ride through the crowded, construction filled (really Seattle?) city streets and we checked in to the Hampton Inn on 5th Avenue.  If you are attending an event at the Seattle Center, it's a few short blocks from the middle of it all.  One of my buddies is a professional traveller and scored us late checkouts for all three rooms (thank you Hampton Inn).

There was no race day packet pick up.  We ate lunch at a local Thai restaurant (not my pre race day lunch preference), then walked to the expo.  The volunteers were terrific, handing out hot chocolate, chocolate dipped marshmallows and wrapped chocolate squares (also given out during the race at the chocolate aid station).  I was able to pick up Trisha's packet easily, with just a copy of her confirmation.  One of the many pluses for this event.

Good looking swag!
No tech shirts for this race.  We received warm, long sleeve, 1/4 zip jackets with hoods and thumb holes.  Samples were available to try on.  I was able to exchange my large for a medium, right on the spot.  Many races won't allow that until post race, which can be a hassle.

Volunteers willingly took our photo at many of the fun photo op spots.

I have a thing for the gigantic marshmallow runner.
Dinner reservations were at The Rock Pizza, a couple of blocks from our hotel.  Fun atmosphere, full bar, salads, pasta and pizza.  Good pre race options, reasonably priced.


The forecast called for 100% chance of snow all morning, but the rain didn't start until right after I crossed the finish line.  If it had been wet, the Armory, located between the start and finish lines, was open for racers to stay dry and warm.  There was even Starbucks in there (which I took advantage of post race, while waiting for our final runner).

My favorite photo, on the walk to the start.
The 5k started at 6:45 and the 15k was an hour later.  We left our hotel at 7:15, and walked towards the Space Needle.

Trisha and I sported brand new chocolate socks from  Sock Dreams.  $10, free fast shipping.  No blisters or chafing for 9 miles.  I highly recommend this sock for a race.
Corrals A-M were used for the 5k.  I was assigned to O, but dropped back to P with a few buddies. A few speedy friends officially moved up to N at the expo.

Admittedly, loving the "no walkers' sign.  That's why we start in waves.
The corrals started 3 minutes apart, and we were off down a very steep hill in the first mile. Watching my step, on the slippery pavement, I looked up and could see Puget Sound.  Slowly, from behind a building on the left, a ferry boat came in to view and floated by as we continued to the bottom. Priceless, priceless, breathtaking uniquely Seattle moment.

Sonya ran with me, and we had hoped to use this as a training run, around 10 minute miles.  The course was very hilly.  Downhill towards Pike Place Market (where I saw Stacie and her daughter, in matchy chocolate socks, too).  Turn around, then back up the hill we just ran down.  The course was very hilly, my goal was to tackle the hills and run up each and every one strong.

Miles 3-9 were another out and back, over a bridge (I love running on bridges) that was uphill both ways.  Aid stations were every 2+ miles.  Two of them had Gatorade, one had disgusting city water and another had chocolate.  Overall, not bad.  The volunteers were enthusiastic and encouraging, in spite of the cold temps.

The finish is sadly similar to RNR Seattle, running down Mercer street, under the freeway, then a discouraging hearty uphill.  I thought I dropped Sonya on that final uphill, but she caught me.  I told her "we had run this far together, let's hold hands at the finish line".  She nodded her head, adjusted her earphones and put on her gloves.  As the banner got closer, I reached for her hand and…she sped up, put her arms above her head for the photographer and crossed two seconds in front of me!

I laughed, caught up to her and told her what I had said.  Jokes on me, she heard "put our hands up" at the finish.  Too funny…I couldn't stop retelling the story all afternoon.

My buddy, FreeJulie and her daughter volunteered at the finish line.  They were there with Gatorade and hugs for us.  What a treat to see her!  They had been there since 5am setting up and encouraging the 5k and 15k finishers.  What a task!


The hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and dipping snacks in the nifty mug are now my new favorite post race treats.  They hit the spot perfectly.
Cold, happy 15k runners!
As the rain started, we ended up in the Armory, staying dry and warming up.  To my delight, two of my all time favorite (inspired my training for my first half marathon) Tacoma bloggers (and dearest friends) were still around after finishing the 5k, hours before us.  Mom vs. Marathon and Tall Mom on the Run meandered back to chit chat with me in the Starbucks line.

Just plain happy to see them!
With my local (Portland area) running buddies and my Washington running friends all in the same place, I couldn't stop smiling.  For me, this is what running, racing and traveling are all about. Sharing chocolate the experience with people who are passionate about our sport.

I love it when a plan comes together as it did in Seattle last weekend.  A well organized race, with great swag.  Accommodations close to the start.  Great local food.  A little rain, awesome socks. On time trains to and from the city (isn't riding the train the best!?!)

Thanks to RAM Racing for the chance to be an ambassador for this event.  I hope they bring the race to Portland next year!

Race treats on top, converted to a pencil holder at home.
This was my first 15k, so instant PR.  Does it get any better?


  1. Sounds like such a fun weekend! And I love your race swag - that pullover is really nice.

  2. I hear the swag is totally worth it. Glad you had fun!

  3. Nice job! I know those hills, and they are TOUGH. Agree that the PDX-SEA train and back is awesome. Thanks for inadvertently putting me back in touch with a long lost friend!

  4. Running friends, great shirt and chocolate: priceless!!

  5. Glad you liked the race and esp the pull over!

  6. Glad you had fun and happy the rain waited until you were done;)

  7. Sounds like better swag than in 2012 when I did the race.

    Funny about the misunderstanding at the end :-D

  8. Nothing better than an automatic PR - great job!!

  9. Sounds like fun. I'm doing the Hot Chocolate run in San Diego in a few weeks, and I'm encouraged by all of the good race reports. LOVE the Hershey's socks!

  10. Congrats! So funny about the hands misunderstanding at the finish!

  11. All the chocolate. YUM!! So glad yall had a good weekend! previous post- is there a movie about that ernest hemingway book? I swear I saw a preview for something about him.

  12. So glad the race went well for you.

    Um, that race does not go well in Chicago. There have been a few incidents here with that race.