Hot Chocolate 15K 2019

In Running, Race

Box Score

Overall: 25/5444
Men: 21/1722. M25-29: 4/288.
Chip Time: 59:53 (6:26 min/mile)
First 5K (downhill): 18:42 (6:01 min/mile)
Second 5K (flat): 20:06 (6:28 min/mile)
Final 5K (uphill): 21:05 (6:47 min/mile)

The Summary

Today, my goals were to (1) run at least a 6:30 pace, and (2) finish strong. I met both goals today; I’m happy. 🙂

The main detail? The three parts of this race: the downhill start, the flat highway run, and the final uphill climb to the finish. This is really the inverse of what I’d like a race to be (I’d prefer to suffer through early climbs when I’m still feeling fresh, and cash in on the downhills to finish).

Ultimately, I probably slowed down too much on the flat section, surprisingly passed more people than expected on the final section, and fortunately banked enough time from the initial downhill to make this a sub-hour race (I was really surprised to see the clock still ticking at the 59th minute at the finish line!)

Anyway — this was a fun, casual race. I’ll be back here for the Kaiser Half Marathon in a few weeks. Until then.

The Detail

  1. I’m happy with this result! The goal today was to run at a 6:20-6:30 tempo pace, to wrap up my week with yesterday’s hilly 16-mile long run. This obviously felt hard but it didn’t feel that hard (partly because of the great weather this time around); I definitely thought I ran at my “sustainable 1 hour pace” and even had enough to have a (relatively) longer kick at the end!
  2. I’m also happy, by the way, because even though I ended up being 4th in my age group… the next guy up was 4 minutes faster than me at 55 minutes! No way I could’ve done that today, so I’m fine with that. That said… if I had been in the 30-34 group, I would’ve missed 3rd by 26 seconds (read: I would be less happy right now).
  3. Before the race, the announcer mentioned that this would be a tale of 3 races: downhill, flat, and uphill. Yup. It’s been 2 years since I’ve run this course, but that much was obvious from the elevation profile — and while running this. All I could think of during the first 5K was “the hills pay the bills”… and that I’d be paying the bills very soon. So, against the usual race philosophy of trying not to start out too fast, I tried to capitalize on the downhill as much as I could without wrecking my legs for the inevitable uphill.
  4. Did this strategy pay off? It’s hard to know. My main problem before this race was that I had already done a bunch of downhill on Thursday and Saturday (yesterday) and my quads were already taxed. I was hoping that my quads would feel better this morning. They did, but it wasn’t enough.

    Anyway — by the time I got to the second 5K on the Great Highway, I felt kinda beat. I rather dislike running along long stretches of highway (like the half marathon in Orange County I ran 3 weeks ago). Looking at my data now, it’s obviously I could’ve gone faster. But during the race, everything kinda looked the same; it was hard to gauge how fast I was going.

    I actually only realized that I had slowed down substantially after I started getting passed. But by that time I was already heading into the final 5K…!
  5. Oh man. That final climb. In the end, there’s only some 350ft of climb. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not much. But it definitely took a bit of a toll on me.

    That said, climbing at the end really makes races fun… because it makes everything unpredictable. I personally don’t consider myself a strong climber. Buuttttt… I somehow ended up passing at least 3 runners (who had passed me on the Great Highway) on the climbs back in Golden Gate Park (and each time, they’d look at me in surprise – personally, I’d honestly be surprised too to be passed on a climb near the final mile).

    There were two Strawberry Canyon TC runners who had also passed me on the Highway, and for the last mile, I tried to catch them. But the gap was too large, and in the end, I ended up kicking mostly to defend my rank instead of passing.
  6. Race-wise? Overall, I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed that 2017 didn’t happen again this year (that year, it rained so hard that the Highway flooded, the course had to be truncated, and I was pelted with stinging rain and crosswinds all race). This year, the weather and road conditions were pretty much perfect. The organizers really did a great job getting enough porta-potties, and it was nice to meet up with Elliot, Amy, Liz, and a few Concrete Runners afterward!

Up Next

Well, turns out I’ll be back in Golden Gate Park in 4 weeks for the Kaiser Half. Signed up at the last minute yesterday at this race’s expo. Hooray.

It may be possible that I’m running the Bay Breeze Half, 6 days after Kaiser. If I do that, that’ll be the smallest gap I’ll ever have between two races (definitely between two half-marathons).

Then FOURmidable 50K on 2/16, the Lake Merritt Couples Relay on 2/24, and the Napa Valley Marathon in 3/3!

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