Spring is finally showing up here in the North. Sunday I enjoyed a beautiful 75 degree day. I wish Saturday could have been the same. It was my first race of the year. Here we are almost May and I’ve done one. I partly blame it on our horrible Polar Vortex winter and just lack of desire. Even without the Polar Vortex cold death suck, I’ve been dealing with a finicky IT band on my left side. Any time I run over two miles I start getting a sharp annoying pain on the outside of my left knee. It comes and goes throughout the run. I had signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15k back in November when I thought I would still be doing RNR Nashville. As the Saturday drew closer I sat on the fence about actually running it. It was past the window where I could drop to the 5k and given variables, I just felt eh. Thankfully, I had the ever present peer pressure because my friend was also doing it as part of her marathon training. Despite my best effort to talk myself out, I just kept talking myself into it because the swag, bragging rights and knowing how much better a race is when you have someone else out there pushing you.
I looked at the course before the race. I was familiar with the course because it was running along the river here in the Cities. Coincidentally, this is my closest running trail because it makes for easy out and backs. The terrain, well let’s just say it isn’t easy. Here, running the river means hills, bridges, wind and random obstacles(bikers). Luckily after the big hills often it evens off for a bit.I talked myself into it knowing I was familiar enough and could handle it.
Race day, well that was a different story. The wind was bitter, wicked and reminded me of running this winter. It whipped right into your face announcing it’s presence. Three bridges, four hills and one near crying break later, I crossed the finish line with a time that surprised me. The course was farther than I thought and included one giant hill that even during normal runs I try to avoid. It is probably for the best I got confused while reading the map, otherwise I would have quit when my knee started acting up. It wasn’t my fastest time, but it also wasn’t my worst (I’m looking at you San Diego!).
Overall, I’m glad I went out and did it. I wasn’t sore at all the next day minus the nagging knee pain. My body felt fine during the race. It confirms to me that I don’t need to put in heavy mileage as long as I’m active in other ways. While I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else, I’m happy my own conditioning isn’t destroyed. I’m now looking forward to my half marathon at the end of May in Virginia. Oddly enough that is another beverage themed race with it being the Virginia Wine Country Half. If this is my theme for 2014, I will take it.
If you have an opportunity to do a Hot Chocolate race, I would recommend it. They are well organized, decently priced and the swag is pretty decent.