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.

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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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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!

It’s race week and I’m ready for my first race of 2018 (and first race since the Dallas Marathon a month ago)! I did the Hot Chocolate 15K in SF last year, only to have it cut short by sideways rain, wind gusts and crummy weather.

This year, the expo is Friday and Saturday again at the South San Francisco Conference Center.

  • Hours: Friday, Jan 5 from 12-7, Saturday, Jan. 6 from 10-6

Still haven’t gotten your shuttle tickets? Save yourself the pain of driving and parking race day and have someone else drop you off at the race. Get tickets and print them off before hand!

The race takes place at Golden Gate Park, so take a peak at the course while you have the chance. Don’t forget, sweetness and chocolate are on course!

Traveling from out of town? Here’s some things to do this weekend in San Francisco

  • France is a Feast: the Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child at the Napa Valley Museum
  • The Holiday Ice Rink at the Embarcadero Through January 7, 2018
  • The Safeway Holiday Rink in Union Square
  • $5 First Sunday at the Oakland Museum of California
  • Visit Pier 39 or Fisherman’s Warf
  • Take a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge

Curious about places to eat? Check out Eater SF

Here’s to hoping weather reports stay consistent with partly cloudy and 50s for this weekend and see you there!

 

Hot Chocolate San Francisco

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Hot Chocolate 15K San Francisco 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!

I’m trying to figure out where 2017 went! I spent my first weekend off of work of the year (all the way back in January) in San Fransisco for the Hot Chocolate 15K. Forgot about that race? Read about it here. The weather got bad enough on race day (gusts of wind, rain, craziness), that the race was shortened to just over 5 miles. I’m hoping for this year, that the weather cooperates and I get the full 15K in. Honestly, I’m hoping to get a PR for the 15K distance (I’ve been chomping at the bit for that one).

Here’s some need to know stuff:

Shuttle tickets: spots are limited, so if you haven’t gotten tickets, hurry!

Still haven’t registered?? Time’s running out so chop chop! BRHCSF18 even gets you a free hat!

Check out this year’s bling, because it’s awesome!

Also look over the Pre Race Guide, especially if you’re coming from out of town!

Take a look at the course beforehand so you can be prepared ahead of time!

Bibrave Race Review: Hot Chocolate San Francisco

Disclaimer: I received entry to the Hot Chocolate 15K San Francisco to review 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!

Nothing says welcome to a new year like racing. I spent last weekend in San Francisco for a long weekend and the Hot Chocolate 15K. I always like going to explore while running. I took off Friday afternoon and got in around 530. In typical Spokane fashion, I flew through Seattle. After getting into SFO, I took an Uber to the South San Francisco Convention Center, since it was 3 miles from the airport. Best idea ever.

The Expo: Typical Hot Chocolate fashion. Small, but easy packet pick up. You get your bib and are assigned a number based off when you pick up your stuff. After getting your bib, you were directed to the packet pick up which involved getting your jacket and bag. Perks included being able to try on your jacket and being able to exchange in the exchange area if it was too big or small. There were local races present (Bay to Breakers), running stores, merchandise and free chocolate samples.

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Hotels for race weekend. I stayed at the Westin in Union Square. It was discounted and a shuttle stop for getting too and from the race. If you were a shopper, it’s right in the middle of the shopping district and in a nice area.  There were a few other hotels associated with the race as well that were doing discounts.

Getting to and from the race: Some parking, though limited. Shuttles were available and $9-$11 for round trip. My gripe is that they made a big deal about printing out your ticket (which means having to go to the business center and paying to print off something) and bringing it with you, and then they were never checked or collected.

Race Location: Golden Gate Park. Not going to lie, I wasn’t a fan. Here’s my thing with the Hot Chocolate Series, as I’ve done a few of their races in different cities. They have awesome cities that they go to (Chicago, San Francisco, Columbus, etc), but you don’t get to really see the city. I flew in for the race and part of it was to see a city I haven’t been to in 7 years and all I got was Golden Gate Park. Tear.

Race Day: so the state of California has been in drought conditions (read, go out for dinner and one has to ask for water because they only give it on request). Race day brought pouring rain and gusts of wind up to 30 mph. I got to the race start an hour and 45 minutes early. Another pet peeve of mine for HC 15K: the get to the race 2 hrs early recommendation. Anyways, it was raining the entire shuttle ride over to Golden Gate Park. A bunch of us went into a parking garage and hid out there until it was close to the race time. The rain was expected to the point where HC sent out an email saying there may be course adjustments but the race wouldn’t likely be cancelled the night before. What ended up happening was the 15K became 5.9 miles.

Course: All through Golden Gate Park. we lost 3.4 miles because the course was cut short and it equated to some of the high way of the course. We got to see Golden Gate Park and that was about it. Some hills, but nothing compared to the real hills of San Francisco. Water stops and stops with chocolate chips and marshmallows. Not as difficult of a course as I was expecting for San Francisco.

Post Race: After crossing the finish, I got my medal. I had to search some for water, that was all the way in the back of the chute. After I got my checked bag with dried clothes that I ended up not changing into, I went and picked up my post race food. Normally, I’d chills post race, but it was pouring rain and I was over being wet. I hopped on the shuttle back to the hotel and enjoyed my million dollar shower. It’s bad when you hang your clothes in the bathroom to dry after a race.

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Pros of this race: good running, good city, lots to do and organized

What needs improvement: show me more of the city. All I got to see was Golden Gate Park during the race. My chocolate was watered down, that was kind of sad

Hopefully I try this race next year and get a full course of it!

 

 

Race Review: Hot Chocolate 15K Columbus

A little over a week ago, I was back in Columbus for the weekend for the Hot Chocolate 15K. Unlike a few days ago when it was pouring down rain, it was actually pretty nice out for the race, which is always a plus! My furball Moe the Cat got to take his first car ride for the weekend with me and hit in the back seat the entire time, but what can you do.

The Expo: I missed out on this. My mom had to be in Columbus earlier Friday and picked up our bibs and swag bags. This year’s jacket was sweatshirt like or so. Easy in and out and fairly consistent expo from what I’m told.

We stayed up in Columbus for the race. We stayed at the Hyatt Convention Center, which was <1 mile from the start. Good location for sure by the Arena District and < 1/2 mile from the finish (even better!)

The start: Off of Long and Spring street in downtown Columbus. 2 waves of people, each with ~6 corrals in each

The Course: very similar to last year. The first 2.5 miles were with the 5K, before they split off back to the finish in the arena district. The 15K spent a few miles down High Street and around OSU’s campus. This year, we were more around campus than through campus compared to last year (or so I thought). We hit OSU stadium, the Schottenstein Center and a few other must sees in Columbus. We also ran through German Village and a few other areas that were the same from last year. Finish was in the arena district, same as the 2015 race. Greeted with medals and water. Kind of a short walk to get to the post race chocolate and I hit a post race rush of people in line.

Post race, I went back to the hotel to shower and met my mom and a friend of hers back there. Love the million dollar showers for sure. Good race put on, so one could say RAM Racing has redeemed themselves some

Weekend Discounts

Please enjoy!

  1. Cleveland Marathon (May 15, 2016): 10% off with Akron16
  2. Pittsburgh 10 Miler (10/25/2015): $10 off with 10OFFEQTAKR
  3. Hot Chocolate 15K/5K (11/8/2015): $10 off with STEPUPCHICAGO through 10/4/2015

Bibrave Associated

  1. 2XU: 20% off with BIBRAVE20
  2. Wigwam: 15% off and free shipping with  10-WG615BR
  3. Buff: 10% off with BIBRAVE10 through 9/20/15
  4. Honolulu Marathon: 20% off with TOMPRO

Race Review: Hot Chocolate 15K Minneapolis

Disclaimer: I received entry to the Hot Chocolate 15K Minneapolis to review 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! 

**If you ran the Hot Chocolate 15K Minneapolis, head over here on BiBrave to review it!

This weekend was my first race I ran with entry from BibRave and I couldn’t have asked for better weather! I had the opportunity to run the Hot Chocolate 15K Minneapolis on Saturday. I’ve run 2 previous Hot Chocolate 15Ks (DC in 2011, Columbus last November) and heading into yesterday was batting .500 with good/bad experiences (oh DC).

I flew out from Cleveland Friday morning after presenting Grand Rounds for work. I had a lay over in Chicago and was able to get some food prior to making the trip out to Minneapolis. I headed out and caught my Super Shuttle, which took me to my hotel downtown ($16 compared to a $40 cab). The bonus was that the hotel was right next to the convention center where packet pick up was. I walked over and easily found my way up packet pick up.

Something I like about Hot Chocolate 15Ks is that they send you a link with your registration that brings up your QVC. You save it on your phone (in my case, it was saved in my Passbook since I have an iPhone) and when arrive for bib pick up, they scan it and it pulls up your information. They take a bib and the sticker that is spit out from their computer with your distance (15k vs 5k) and your corral. They send you into the expo to pick up your sweatshirt jacket. Pink for women, green for men (unless your me who isn’t a pink fan, then you order a men’s jacket). I do wish they would come up with another color for the women. Just because I am a woman doesn’t mean I like pink.  The expo was small. It had some national vendors (Lara Bars, Bondi Bands i think) and one of the local running stores and a few other stations. They also gave a small hint of what to expect treat wise on course.

I did some exploration afterwards and found some dinner. Ultimately, I called it a night and set a bajillion alarms on my phone. I did appreciate that the 15K started at 850 AM (which was 950 AM on my Eastern Standard Time body). I woke up around 7 and put on my gear and headed out. I was going to use one of the public bike shares, but I was stopped by another runner who thought I looked like I was doing the race. We ultimately decided to split a cab and were joined by 2 college volunteers. The start was at Boom Island Park, a good 2 miles from where I was staying. We got there with plenty of time to spare, and time to use the bathrooms more than once. Most people who drove in parked on the other side of the river and walked over, others used the bike valet the race had set up.

The 5K runners were sent off first at 810, followed by the 15K runners 40 minutes later. I personally would have done it the other way around just to get the 15K runners enough time to be done. Corrals were sent off every 2 minutes or so. The first little bit was in an industrial park or something along those lines. We got out to the street and had some turns before getting on Marshall Ave. About 1.5 miles in, we had our first water stop with chocolate marshmallows. I should really start carrying those for my long runs, because they do work. We kept chugging along passing mile 2, eventually heading across the Mississippi River. It reminded me of going over the bridges during the NYC Marathon in 2011 and the hills that came with it. After the 5K, more hydration and this time, tootsie rolls (which I passed on). We kept on down Washington Street and really didn’t get to see Minneapolis downtown until 5-6 miles in. I was moving slow for me (my own fault for too much walking the day before, and I have 3 half marathons coming up). Somewhere along the 3rd water stop after mile 5, I had water dumped on me, which was a shock to the system. I definitely enjoyed the view of the city, though I wish I would have been able to run through it. We passed the 10K mark and went out and back along another bridge before heading through some of the park and finally across the bridge back towards the start. We headed down Main St. towards Boom Island park, only to deal with what felt like a ramp with a ginormous hill on dead legs right before mile 8. We did get some fans, especially towards the end. We finally hit Booms Park and the finish, which was appreciated.

After the finish, the 15K runners were met with medals and then had about a 1/4 mile walk to the post race area where people could meet families, Ronald McDonald House had a kid zone, some vendors, and of course, chocolate.

After sitting for a bit, I ended up trucking 2 miles back to my hotel and enjoying a $1 million shower. I took the afternoon to enjoy some baseball (and forgot to translate the start time into CST, meaning I missed the first 2.5 innings). After church and dinner, I chilled out in the hotel before waking up for a 7:25 flight back home.

Overall, it was a decent race, however, I think a few things could be different. I think the big thing is the course/location. With the race being in Boom Island Park, there’s no easy way to get there. For people who drove, they had to park across the Mississippi River and walk over. If you biked, you had a place to leave it at the race. If you had no idea where to go, you either cabbed it over or walked in.  I didn’t really get to see Minneapolis either. I would have opted for an earlier start time and more of a traffic diversion of downtown to see the city and have it easier to get to.  I thought the post race stuff was a bit far from the finish, but there was the space to spread out. More than enough port a potties, water stops and support staff, no issues with safety at all. If you get a chance, run it!

Please don’t forget to go to Bibrave to review the race yourself!

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