2016 Hot Chocolate 15K Columbus Race Report

I'm over a month late posting this race report. I've had a lot on my mind lately. This wasn't supposed to be my last race of the year, but it turned out the way. Unless I register for a New Year's Eve four miler, which I don't expect to do, my 2016 race season is over.

With my medal after the race

This year was my second for running the Hot Chocolate 15K Columbus. Here's last year's race report. This year I chose to do it again because it was a nice race and I could stay with my mom. Unlike last year, it was FREEZING cold this year. My mom decided not to come out and spectate, and she slept in instead. I would have done the same if I were her.

The expo was at the Columbus Convention Center again. Also in residence at the convention center was some kind of ballroom dance contest or exhibition. There were people walking around in overly made-up hair and makeup, and tacky ballroom dance costumes. And there were dress and shoe vendors in the hallways. Crazy!

Ballroom people and stuff everywhere

I found the race expo and it seemed like there were more vendors this year. The race premium was a jacket, as is usual for this race series. This year's was a different fabrication than last year's, but still nice. Again, Hot Chocolate allows participants to try on sample jackets and trade sizes if they need to. I had the size I needed, but that's a nice service if you don't. I walked around the expo for a while and bought a pair of mittens with a flap that opens to expose the fingers, figuring they'd be nice to have for the race. I visited a couple of the booths including the Capital City Half Marathon booth, part of the M3S Sports race line-up. I've now run several of their races, including this year's Capital City Half (here's my race report). I met and chatted with David Babner, the M3S race director. It's good to know people in the running community, especially if you're going to be moving to a new city. I told David a bit about me and my running and racing experience, and said I might be interested in working with his organization. I'll be back in touch with him in February.

I found the right expo
Beast Pacing supplied the pacers; I'm signed up with Beast but have yet to pace a race with them

So, on to race morning. Did I say it was cold? It was also windy. It was so cold and windy that I wore two long-sleeved shirts, tights, a running skirt, and my brand new NYC Marathon jacket. I fully expected that I'd either bag-check my jacket or tie it around my waist mid-race. It was so cold that I never took it off. I had my fleece Dunkin Donuts hat and the new fleece-lined mittens. And I needed it all. I don't understand those runners who can wear short sleeves or only one layer on a sub-freezing day.

Cold people walking to the start while it was still somewhat dark...brrr

After parking my rental car, I made my way to the start/finish area to meet up with Karen and Deanna, members of the Columbus Westside Running Club, which I'l be joining in January. The three of us started in the same corral so we had some time to chat while waiting, and then we ran the first few minutes of the race together. Very soon, Karen ran on ahead of Deanna and me. We were going to be doing walk breaks, and she was planning to run straight through.

Karen, Deanna and me

Let's go, Corral H! We were the first corral in the second wave, and waiting was hard

I was feeling really tired. Maybe it was the temperature, maybe the marathon I had run two weeks prior, or maybe it was the emotional weight I was carrying at that time. The 15K should have been a piece of cake, but it wasn't. I firmly believe that running is so very mental. If you tell yourself you can finish a marathon, you can. If you tell yourself that all you're capable of on this day is a 15K (9.3 miles for the metric-challenged), then that's all you can do. And that was me.

It was really nice to run with Deanna and to learn about her and a little bit about the running club. We ran up High Street and talked about how the Ohio State campus area was so different from when we each went to school there. We kept up our walk breaks and were doing fairly well. And then I got a notification on my phone reminding me to check in for my Southwest flight the next morning. Normally, I wouldn't need to stop running and check in, but the order of check-in determines the order of boarding and optimal seat selection, with Southwest. I stopped to walk and check in while Deanna went on ahead. After that, I never caught up to her, but for most of the last couple miles I could see her ahead of me.

I took their picture because they were the lone spectators among their neighbors; I told them how much they were appreciated on this cold morning

This race was very much the same as it was the previous year. Same course through downtown, campus and Victorian Village. Same aid stations with sweet treats. The sweet treats were just not quite as enjoyable when it was so cold and windy. The chocolate was too cold to melt easily. There also seemed to be fewer spectators, and who could blame them? I never took off my jacket; it was necessary to shield me from the wind. I never got too hot in all my layers. And I was very thankful for the fuzzy mittens.

I was so happy to turn the final corner and finish. I found Deanna shortly afterward and we hung out for a few minutes with our mugs of hot chocolate, fondue and dip-able items. But it was too cold to stay outside for long. We said our goodbyes, and I went to pick up the spare jacket and dry gloves that I had left at bag check. Even with all my other layers, I put on my Hot Chocolate jacket. I took a few selfies and then returned to the car.

With Deanna - all done - freezing - time to go get warm

It wasn't my best race, but it was good to have done it on such a cold day. And I am happy to have met Deanna and Karen. I'll be joining the club at the end of January after my move. Now I'll know a couple members.


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