Race Review: Hot Chocolate 15K San Francisco

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the 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!

This weekend, I found myself in San Francisco for the Hot Chocolate 15K. Last year, I was in SF for the race and weather made it interesting. Interesting enough to where it was only a 5.9 mile race, instead of 15K.

I flew into SF Friday afternoon after adulting Friday morning. I got in around 530 PM and took a Lyft to the South San Francisco Conference Center, the same place where the expo was held last year. It was easy enough to get in, get my bib assigned, pick up my pull over and to search the expo. It was on the smaller side, same as last year. Plenty of local Bay Area races were there, as were supplements, etc. RxBars were there with free (full sized) samples and discount codes (score!). There was an area to try on spare HC15K pull overs and if you wanted to exchange sizes. I ended up going from a medium to a small. I spent 30 min total in the expo before heading off to the hotel.

I spent time at the hotel, got dinner and caught an early night. Saturday morning, I was up bright and early at 630 with no alarm and ended up going for a quick breakfast a small (think 5-10 table) restaurant across from the hotel I had found last year in SF. I ended up going to an Orangetheory Fitness class, coming back to shower and then going down to the Piers. I went around Fisherman’s Warf, The Ferry Building, Ghirardelli Square and watching some street shows while I was at it. After going to church and having dinner, I went and watched some good basketball. I also checked out Athlinks to see who else was running the race and what their goal times were to see if I’d be able to beat them (not competitive at all!).

Sunday morning, I woke up and got ready fairly quickly. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to wear since it was suppose to be 40s-50s, but I opted for long tights and a long sleeved base shirt underneath my Bibrave Tech shirt. I walked over to Union Square and the Westin, where there was a line at 620 for shuttles to Golden Gate Park. I probably waited 20 minutes total to board the bus. At one point, they were calling any 5k runners to get on (since their race started at 720 AM) so they could get to the start in time. My thoughts are it’s not my fault if you can’t time manage. It took 15-20 min to get to the start. After unloading I walked over to gear check and ended up meeting fellow Bibrave Pros Barb and Steph. Steph happened to be pacing the 15 min mile runners

I ended up adding some arm warmers, stopping for a bathroom pitstop and checking my gear before heading to the start. I was in the first corral so it wasn’t that bad of a wait. The 15K had corrals H-N (A-G was the 5K) and were let out ever 30-60 seconds to space things out. Pacers were in each corral, though got confusing because you could get pacers of the same time in different corrals (9 min/miles in H and I corrals for example). Race got started on time and off we went. The first 5K or so was in Golden Gate Park and on paved trails. A little bit of hill, but not anything terrible. after 5K, we headed out along some of the neighborhood roads with the outer portion being the ocean. Only in a coastal city can you say you have to watch for surfers crossing. It was a straight shot out before we U Turned and came back towards the park. After the 10K mark, we had a little bit more along the ocean before cutting back into Golden Gate Park for the last 2 miles and change. I can see why the course got shorten last year, because the winds at minimum would have been rough. The last 5K, my legs were tired and done. Not enough pasta the night before is what I’ll blame it on. Regardless, I ended up finishing in 1:25:51, which was a 4.5 minute PR for me. Too bad my trainer didn’t bet burpees with me.

On course, aid stations were every 1.5-2 miles. Water and Nuun were at every station. Not going to lie, not a nuun fan and wish it were a gatorade or Powerade. Also some sort of chocolate (chips, M&Ms, Marshmallows). Downside to aid station set up was they were only offered on one side of the road. I missed the first two chocolate stations because I couldn’t get over to get them.

IMG_6803

Post race, you were directed from the chutes back to the initial gathering area. Some vendors like Rx Bars, Make A Wish and some other tents. The only down side of the expo was the Gear Check and the Finisher Mugs were completely opposite ends of each other. I feel like I should have done the finisher mug first and then gear check, since gear check was closer to the exits toward the shuttles. Lines were quick for the finisher mugs. Be prepared for bananas, Rice Krispies, pretzels, hot chocolate and chocolate sauce.

Swag: Everyone got a pull over from the expo and then a HC medal post race. Not a fan of the medal this year. Last year, the city was incorporated more on the medal. This year, it was a generic HC medal with a key chain attached. Almost felt like a way to ‘save money’ without personalizing the medals. I’ve done HC races in Minneapolis, Columbus, Seattle and San Francisco and medals were more city specific in years past comparatively speaking

Overall, glad the weather behaved this year.  Had a good time getting a new PR and meeting up with some Bibrave Pros. I was able to compare my time from prior 15ks (whether it be Hot Chocolate Series or other 15Ks) on Athlinks based off what I knew my time from this year to be. I could add my own time, but I’m still waiting for my results from this year to post (hang tight, sometimes it takes a bit for results to show up!). I really wish you’d get a good tour of San Francisco with this race. All I feel like we got was Golden Gate Park and the Ocean. There’s a lot to see in SF that you don’t get to see on this race if you’re coming from out of town. Also wish they’d have Powerade on course and go back to fun medals for each city like they have in the past.

 

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About drrunner
8 time marathoner, 65 ish time 1/2 marathoner with a bucket list item to hit all 50 states. BibRave Pro, Doctor and a mix of insanity

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