On Saturday, I participated in the Hot Chocolate 5K. The morning started early like any other race morning. We got up, got ready and were out the door over an hour before we were supposed to be at the race location for a 7:30 start (this drive would normally take us 30 to 45 minutes). As we were getting closer to Fair Park (about 7 to 8 miles away), we ran into HEAVY traffic. At first, I was not too worried because we still had 45 minutes to get to the race but my anxiety level started to rise as 6:45, 7:00, 7:15, 7:20 went by and we were STILL sitting in traffic and had not even exited yet. I started looking at the race's Facebook page and of course saw MANY comments and concerns from other runners in the same position as us. As it became 7:30, I got really upset because the race's website had said that there would not be any late starts for the 5K. After all, I had paid $48 for this race and was being kept from the start by something that was out of my control. S kept reassuring me that it would it would be OK and I would run the race even if I had to start with the 15K and just follow the 5K route. As we exited, my frustration continued to grow because the gates they instructed us to use were not only ALL CLOSED but were EMPTY and they were diverting everybody to the complete opposite side of the park. I was sitting there coming up with all kinds of points I wanted to email the race director about; none of them being positive.
One of the closed and empty parking lots
At around 8:15, we FINALLY parked and made our way to the starting line where the 15K waves were in the process of leaving. I made my way to the entrance to one of the waves and they instructed me to go up to the starting line and the race staff would allow me in there. When I got to the front of the starting line, the race staff told me that I would get to run the 5K but would have to wait for the 15K runners to go. While I was a little annoyed that I could not just go ahead and run, I was happy that they were not going to turn me away from running my race. As I was waiting, several other 5K runners joined in waiting for the 15K runners to leave the starting area.
After about 15 minutes of waiting, the last wave of 15K runners were off so the Ram Racing Staff lined up our little group of 5K runners, found us a bike lead to lead us through the course and changed the chip timing settings. While we were waiting for our start, we got the "royal treatment" by the race photographers (once I purchase the pictures, I will upload them).
Once everything was started, we were on our way! S had NO problems to finding me to get a picture of me starting the race because there were only a few other runners with me!
Even though the morning started off rough, I have to say that my racing experience was one I will not ever forget. Normally during a race, you have to weave in and out of other runners and this time, I did not have to worry about that; I could just concentrate on going forward. I also have never been in the front of the starting line so I do not have many pictures of me coming through the starting area. As I came to the Mile 1 marker, I looked down at my watch and it said 10:30! WOW! I have not ran this fast in a long time. I even had to do a double take to make sure I was not seeing things. At around the 2 mile mark, the top 15K runners caught up to our little wave of 5Kers so for a brief moment we got to run alongside the "big dogs" and even have police escort! Even though, I know it was not for me, it was fun to pretend I was running with the "top of the pack." As I hit Mile 3, I just concentrated on finishing strong and fast. I must have been concentrating really hard on this because, as I was coming into the finish area, I did not even see S but he definitely saw me!
As I crossed the finish, I looked down at my watch and it said 33:50! OMG! I have not ran a 5K that fast since before I was pregnant with AMC! It really is amazing to watch my body remember how to do this and my running come back to me.
Once I was reunited with S and AMC, it was time to enjoy some hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and the post race party.
Trying to decide where to start! AMC claimed the banana as soon as he saw it!
One of the reasons I run
The Minions were there to cheer on the runners! (AMC's not sure what to think!)
My best friend and another reason I run
Needless to say, the morning had a negative start but the race turned out to be one of my best experiences and I really would like to thank Ram Racing and the Hot Chocolate Run for being understanding about the traffic and accommodating to us 5Kers.