Man-oh-man! When I signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15k I kind of thought that I should push for the farther distance because I could always walk if I had to. Boy, am I glad I gave myself that leeway! I have not trained as much as I have in past years this year. I don’t run during the week, I exercise very little except on the weekend and I am just not in the shape I was last year. So I walked. I walked more than I have at any race and I was totally okay with that. I decided that of the nine miles that make up the race, I think I walked about a mile of it. That mostly came at the end when my thighs started cramping and my hips were screaming for me to be done already. Turns out that even walking that distance without enough training hurts, too. Nevertheless, I persisted and LOVED IT.
Last year, while I was very critical of some aspects of this race, after a year of races I realized how well organized, how well staffed and how beauful this race is. Once again, I ran through the streets of Seattle, past Pike Place Market, across the Aurora Bridge and almost to Woodland Park Zoo. This year I did three things different to make it better:
- I decided to pony up the extra cash to have the swag bag and bibs mailed to us. It wasn’t cheap, but by the time I added up Seattle parking and gas money, it was a pretty even trade (14.99 shipping each). Plus I didn’t have to manufacture a family event around going to Seattle to pick the silly things up or waste the whole weekend driving back and forth to Seattle for this race. I heartily suggest anyone get the delivery to dial back the stress.
- Last year my jacket was too big so I hated on the race for that. Silly, huh? This year I ordered a smaller jacket and I loooove it. They have the best running swag from almost any race (My Better Half and the Iron Horse shirts are a close second).
- I brought a friend: Gigi! After the race it was so nice to see my girl at the finish line. Then we collected our chocolate cups, our medals, our water and pictures together. After that? We regaled our glory tales about the race to one another while we slurped down our hot cocoa and noshed the banana, together. And climbed the parking garage stairs together…. well. Not really. I was way slower than her!
The best moment came when we were driving home, though. Like last year, I made sure to head home via the very bridge we just ran over. There’s something powerful about taking the bridge by foot and then seeing it through the windows of your car that is absolutely delicious. As we crossed she turned to me and said that she loves running. She said that there’s something powerful and deep that happens when you run that makes you own a place differently. She said she felt more connected, somehow. She owns our city, now. Like I own it. As she said this to me I felt tears rush into my eyes: she knows. She’s in the club. This is her city and my city, now, and we will be running that race again, next year.
Shhhhhh… for the next couple of weeks it’s ridonkulously cheap to sign up. Never to early to plan your fitness and health!