Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Minneapolis Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
And just like that, my first 15K and first race of 2019 is done! Plus my second race while pregnant so not too bad for being almost 24 weeks along. April is pretty late for me to be kicking off a racing a season but running the Hot Chocolate 15K in Minneapolis made it a pretty sweet start!
This was my first time running a Hot Chocolate race so I was really excited to try out a new race (plus, chocolate on the course and at the finish!). Plus it runs along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis which is one of my favorite places to run. This area has been a go-to for long runs during marathon training and it’s a similar course to the Hot Dash 10 Mile which I ran last year.
Since this is Minnesota, we had snow on the ground and temperatures right around freezing. After having a high near 70 at the beginning of the week...I swear we do get non-winter weather here and it should be coming to stay soon! But the weather isn’t the worst I’ve run in and it felt really good while running a longer race.
The race was really well organized, I was in and out of the expo in about 20 minutes (there are a couple of vendors but I didn’t look around too much) and finding the race start was pretty easy. As always, just follow the crowds! We parked maybe half a mile from the race start at Boom Island (Mike and Vinnie came along to be my cheering crew/race photographers) and happened to come by the finish area as the tape was broken by the 5K finisher. It amazes me how fast these first finishers run!
We made it to the starting corrals about seven minutes before race start. I got placed in the second 15K corral based on last year’s Hot Dash 10 mile time but opted to move back a corral to start right between the 11 and 11:30 pacers. As most races do, Hot Chocolate asks that you don’t move forward in the corrals but you can always move backward if you want to run with friends or are feeling a slower pace that day.
Like I said before, I love the course that the Hot Chocolate 15K is on. You get to run along the river for the entire race and see some great sights of Minneapolis including the mill ruins, Stone Arch Bridge, the Guthrie, and Nicollet Island. There are some hills along here and my body was feeling it! I started out with some sub-11 minute miles and ran through my first 30 second walk break but I made sure to take them after that. As always, I threw a hand up before so the runners behind me would know that I was about to slow down and made sure I was as off to the side as possible. By the end, I took some additional uphill walking breaks especially since I was feeling tight on my right side.
There were four water stops along the 15K course, with Nuun and water at both plus a treat (marshmallows at the first and last, M&Ms at the middle ones). Which table had Nuun and which had water were very clearly marked and I really enjoyed having Nuun on course since it sits better in my stomach than Gatorade or Powerade. I did grab a small cup of M&Ms at the second water stop and ran/walked with it for a mile or so. Without spilling which I’m very proud of.
I knew this course was an out and back which can cause some course crowding but even with all the runners I never felt crowded over that six miles. Plus I got to see the race leaders as they were on their way back! It was also encouraging as we got close to the turnaround point at about 4.5 that people were letting us know we were close to the turnaround.
I finished the race slightly faster than my estimate of 1:50, scooting in at 1:47:50 feeling really good. Not only did I get Mike and Vinnie cheering me on (well, Vinnie was more interested in staring over the bridge at the walking paths below) but I also got to meet up with Tia, a fellow BibRave Pro! We walked over together to get our chocolate goodies (including a Honeystinger waffle which was my first time having that and it was delicious dipped in chocolate) and take some photos before Mike, Vinnie and I headed back to the car.
I had a great time at the Hot Chocolate 15K, even without going for a fast time, and it was a great race to do while pregnant since they are really friendly for new runners and even encourage walkers (as long as you can keep a sub-15 minute pace you are good to go!). Plus 15K is a fun distance, I really have enjoyed the 10 mile race distance in the past and this was a great option to add in. Not too far that I felt totally exhausted afterward but also enough time on the course to enjoy the sights!
Check out my Hot Chocolate 15K review on BibRave too!
What are your favorite post-race treats that encourage you to run!