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Hot Chocolate 15k Race Recap

Because Sarah is doing, like, a million endurance races in April and I’m still gearing up for my TBD Spring Goal Marathon, we wanted to get in some long run miles before heading to the start line for the Hot Chocolate 15k.


This meant waking up in the 3 o’clock hour of the AM. Not so terrifying for the East Coast girl who is a self professed morning person.

But you know what is terrifying? The thought of dealing with a certain California blonde who loves sleeping in and is not a huge fan of alarm clocks. Especially when her pre-long run/race ritual of toasting a bagel is thwarted by a broken toaster.

toaster fail

I started to fear for my life, and everyone else in a six block radius, when I heard OUaL furiously pushing the toaster lever down over and over. You know that metallic, springy sound it makes when it doesn’t stick the first time? Well, if you were in my cottage on Sunday morning, you would also know what it sounds like when that happens 316 times in a row.


Fortunately, for everyone in the greater San Diego area, miracles do happen and Sarah handled our early morning fuel hiccup with grace, a calm attitude and a baking sheet.

Crisis averted and we were out the door only a few minutes late to start our long run miles.


When Sarah first informed me we would be starting our run in the dark, I was not super enthusiastic about the idea of battling muggers and stray seals on some sketch path in a city neither of us knows at all. Turns out, the run was not scary at all and actually extremely enjoyable.


The first part of our run was a 6 mile loop around an island and then along the water. Seeing the San Diego skyline glowing in the distance, running beside the quiet water with the outlines of the boats illuminated against the dark sky, hearing the waves lap against the rocky shore, it was pretty easy to forget we were running beside the airport and get giddy about our early morning long running.

After our almost 6.5 miles, we picked up this girl for our second loop. Still waiting to confirm with her skinny parents, but I’m pretty sure the first words out of SR’s mouth were “I could go for some miles.”

So we went for some miles. Five to be exact. And got back to our parked cars just in time for layers to be ditched and outfits to be changed before we dashed over to the race.


All ready to go for the Compression Sock 15k.

The start was significantly less crowded than I expected and it ended up being A-Okay that we left ourselves less than 15 minutes to navigate through our fellow racers to find out respective corrals.


Yes, we are walking straight up a steep incline to get to our starting positions and yes, this is an extremely representative snapshot of the course’s elevation profile.

We found our corral in just enough time for my very confused garmin to locate some west coast satellites, and more importantly in time for me to get to meet some of the other SoCal running bloggers that I’ve heard so much about.


Picture stolen from SR. With Nicole (who is a very haute running mama with very adorable running children who spent their finish line time sticking their legs and professing their love for nuun. Well done, Nicole, GREAT parenting) and ChaCha who is also doing the crazy and joining all of these other girls and OUaL for Ragnar Ultra in a few weeks.

I also got to reunite with my HTC Leg 5 counterpart, Miss Margot who, contrary to her blog name, was not just the faster bunny, but definitely the fastEST bunny during the race on Sunday. Congrats, Margot.


I am fairly confident that we’ve never taken a picture without showing our undying love for our legs at the Hood to Coast Relay and I have no intention of changing that any time soon.


After our start line party was brought to a stop by the very rude, gun toting announcer, we were immediately acquainted with the hills of San Diego.

Did you know San Diego has hills? You probably did. I knew that San Diego is one of only two cities in the United States with pandas at the zoo. It might have been advantageous for me to spend less time learning about zoo inhabitants, and more time familiarizing myself with the course profile, which 9.3 miles later, I learned was most definitely not flat.


My plan going into the run was to maintain Marathon Goal Pace (or, MGP, which for me is a 7:37). I wanted to focus on honing in on the pace and running consistent mile splits. Well, turns out, it is not really possible to lock in a pace and hold it when you’re going up, then down, then up and up and up again during a race.

New plan.

As we hit the first hills, I kind of decided I would warm up the first couple of miles and then try to hit MGP when the course hopefully flattened out.

Clearly that never happened.

My first mile beeped in at 7:40. Which, if you look at the nearly straight incline of the first mile did not totally dissuade me from thinking I could run the rest of the race at MGP. My legs felt good, considering the nearly 12 miles they had already covered and the 12+ mile killer hill workout I put them through immediately before flying out to California.


Picture again courtesy of SR, who is skilled at running fairly ridiculous paces, while costumed, while taking pictures. Truly valuable life skillz.

The rest of the first 5k hovered around MGP and I decided I would try and run each 5k a little stronger than the last, while not totally giving up on any of the many, many hills that plagued the course.

And you know what I finally did?



Apparently San Diego is not just a city of hills, and pandas, but a city full of miracles. First, Sarah OUaL kind of sort of acted like she could be a morning person and then this sweaty girl finally negative split a race.

bib twinsies

Huge wins all around. Maybe I won’t blow up all over my next marathon with an overly aggressive first half.

Final time:

1:08.08, 7:18 pace, 24th woman, 6th AG, 76th overall.


20.7 miles for the day with 9.3 under MGP. I will take it. Bring it on, TBD Spring Marathon.

Confession of race day: I did not touch the chocolate, hot or not at the finish line. I did, however, proceed straight back to our cabin, did not pass go, did not collect 200 dollars, to touch plenty of other delicious things. Primarily of the citrusy tequila-y variety.

opsd margs2

Fun fact: we selected the cabin we were staying in based solely on the picture of a blender resting on one of its counters.

And then we got there and no blender. No blender and a broken toaster. It was about to be three strikes, you’re out, packing up and heading home, when the housekeeper showed up with a blender right after we got back and showered (yes, I do that sometimes) from the race.

blender dance

Straight up happiness ensued. Happiness and blender dances.

We spent the rest of the afternoon celebrating long runs, successful sub MGP races, and getting all kinds of giddy about our upcoming Spring races.


Eugene Marathon is one month and a day from today, Vermont City is two months and negative one day from today, and I am thisclose to making my final decision on which marathon I will be getting my goal on at. Stay tuned, kiddos.

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30 Responses to Hot Chocolate 15k Race Recap

  1. The one hill I ran up into Balboa Park was no joke. Nice job! I did not see Nicole’s children, but I concur — great parenting.

  2. Atlanta also has pandas!

  3. Nice job pacing & especially with the post-run fueling! Since I live right in the middle of a pretty big hill, I’m hoping all the hills help me out in 2 months. I don’t need to worry about the post-race fueling…I should be all set with the ben & jerry’s and beer tent.

  4. Random question, but what kind of shoes do you wear?

    • I was thinking of the same question – the ones in your pictures look different than your usual shoes? Congrats on the awesome race and negative split!

  5. I just realized that my mini-me’s might be brain washed. Ooops.

    So good to finally meet you!! I freaking need to get to the East Coast. Like now.

    You killed that crazy, hilly course. Congrats!

  6. That sounds like an awesome run! What an awesome fast pace too!! It really looks you guys had fun!

  7. Crap… 1 month and a day? I should start legit training.

    Congrats on negative splitting!!!

  8. nice work on the negative splitting action. and more importantly, the blender action.

  9. Nice running Em. You guys had a killer day!

  10. Great job-random question: What kind of shoes did you race in?

    I like to take pics with my HTC leg number too, but since I ran leg one I just end up looking conceited ;) whoohoo,go me, I’m #1. Nuun HTC 2011 FOREVER!!

    • I saved you from spam! I am wearing Hoka One ONes these days. I just posted about them. And YES I love the HTC leg love!!

  11. Whoop! Glad SD was good to you. Looks like we had similar long run strategies this past weekend. Rolling a race into a long run is brilliant in my mind. Makes the miles fly by!

  12. Hahaha!!! San Diego is FULL of hills. Which although annoying at times, is great for training. It’s also extremely difficult to navigate- my best friend and I got lost for 4 hours when we came to visit college campuses in High School (pre-navigation/Iphone days). Glad you enjoyed the race – I will definitely be racing it next year!

  13. I am a big fan of the margarita rehydration strategy. You definitely deserved it for your 3am start to run long and negative splitting. Very cool.

  14. You ran a 15K almost the same amount of time it took me to run my first 10K (1:07:43.. 10:50 pace, boo yeah)… makes me laugh a little bit because of your awesome running skills and my lack thereof =)

    xo Marie
    Chocolate & Wine

  15. I can’t even begin to comprehend running a 15 K that fast. Really can’t comprehend that you ran several miles first.

  16. Another random question… I see pics of you carrying a handheld water bottle often. What kind do you use? Thanks!

  17. Did the announcer have a gun!? I didn’t even notice it. Weird! But well, I guess that doesn’t surprise me too much, it is San Diego.

    Yeah, there is no way anyone maintained even pacing during that race unless they just weren’t trying that hard (hills = more energy than downhills).

    Great to finally meet another fellow New Englander – now we just have to get you to move out here! ha!

  18. Congratulations on negative splitting! Those are some incredibly speedy miles right there! I seriously love pandas and pretty much visited San Diego JUST so I could see one.

  19. […] after I posted my race recap, I had multiple people ask me what kind of shoes I’m running in these […]

  20. […] still post my Cherry Blossom 10 Miler report days before Sarah’s even one sentence in to her Hot Chocolate recap from over a week […]

  21. […] survival of both parties and our friendship. But I figure if we can make it through toaster mishaps and parking fiascos on race morning, we can make it through […]

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