Back again…. for the Chocolate

“Disclaimer: I received a race entry to Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte 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!”

For the 4th year in a row, I will be toeing the line in 2021 for the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k Charlotte. I’ve been privileged enough to run this race every year since it started in Charlotte and became legacy this year. Before the pandemic took over life as we know it, this race was the last in-person race I was able to complete in 2020. All my other races of 2020 were either cancelled or converted to virtual events.

I, like many others, hope we can look forward to live races again in 2021. Consider joining and meeting me in Charlotte 2021!

Chocolate Dreams-Allstate Hot Chocolate Charlotte race recap

I received an entry into the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte as being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about becoming a bibrave pro (ambassador), as well as, find read and write race reviews on bibrave.com.

For the 3rd year in a row (every year since it’s been in Charlotte) I ran for chocolate. This year was a little different as upon completion, i would be a legacy runner. It was never a sure thing as my son had been sick and i had been fighting something for a few days leading up to the race. I was still coughing but i figured i had enough to at least finish the miles.

I didn’t even consider trying to PR, instead i settled on a B goal of trying to maintain a sub 8 pace. It is a hilly course but nothing I’m not used to. Mile 6 is the great equalizer and typically separates the runners as it’s a street that is an incline for about ¾ mile. The amount of spectators on the course is low, but I’m hoping they will increase in coming years. As I mentioned, the race had only been around 3 years so still fairly new. I accomplished my B goal and while doing that actually ended up being about 20 seconds from a PR(I was unaware 🤷🏾‍♂️)

What really sets Hot Chocolate races apart are the swag and finish line treats. This year’s swag was a full zip jacket, with ample lining to keep you warm on those cold days. The men’s color was a light blue and ladies was magenta. The finish line treats consist of: hot chocolate, melted chocolate, marshmallow, rice crispy treats, pretzels, banana and honey stinger waffle. This was on top of the finisher’s medal and extra legacy medal.

Hot Chocolate 15k was a success and I got my chocolate fix, as always. Put this one on your race calendar for 2021.

Chocolate Dreaming-AllState Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Preparation

“Disclaimer: I received an entry to Hot Chocolate Charlotte as being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about becoming a Bibrave Pro(ambassador) and check out bibrave.com to review,find and write race reviews”

The fall racing season has ended and it’s time to start filling up that 2020 race calendar. That begins with the Hot Chocolate Charlotte in February. I decided I wouldn’t do any specific training plan to prepare for hot chocolate, instead I decided to do the work to maintain my training from my fall marathon. I am averaging between 15-20 miles a week, which should be enough to get me through Hot Chocolate before kicking up my training in preparation for the dolphin challenge at the Shamrock Half/Full Marathon in March. I will be starting my first season as a coach for my local Fleet Feet Half/Full Marathon program. I been mentor for a number of years, but since I became certified, I have taken the next step.

The one thing you can never account for during training is the CRAZY weather here in NC. In the last month I have been on runs where the temps were 70s and runs when the temps were in the 30s. So some days I was wearing gloves and some days I was coming home with unexpected chaffing. Chaffing in December!!? Regardless, the miles must be ran and I intend to keep running them.

Dreaming of that finisher’s chocolate and and becoming a hot chocolate legacy since this will be my 3rd year of running the race. I have been lucky enough to run it every year since it’s inaugural race in 2017.

For Chocolate and Hill Lovers-Allstate Hot Chocolate Charlotte 15K/5K Race Review

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com

I was excited to be able to run the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k/5k for the 2nd year in a row.  I was anxious to see how the race had evolved after it’s inaugural race in 2018. 

EXPO
Sadly, my better half couldn’t get off work early enough for us to make it to Charlotte in time for the expo. I was looking forward to the chocolate samples, but lucky for me, a couple of my Bibrave sisters picked up my packet for me and even dropped it off at my hotel for me. 
SWAG
I can honestly say that Allstate Hot Chocolate races has some of the best swag I have ever received at a race. This year was no different, as the participants received a full-zip winter running jacket with hood. The guys received black and women color was a reddish maroon color. To top it off, the jackets have thumb holes.
RACE DAY
The forecast for race morning had changed a few different times. Up until friday, there was a 60% chance of rain on saturday morning but it changed friday night. The rain was supposed to hold off until around 11am, which would give me more than enough time to finish and get back to my hotel. I stayed at Aloft and the starting line was like a 4-5 block walk, so not bad at all BUT it was low 40s. It was cold but I still opted for shorts and short-sleeve shirt because I knew I would warm up pretty fast once the race started. The starting line area(also the finish line area) had booths already set up for the finishers. Huge shoutout to Allstate for being the only booth that though to bring heater towers. They had 3 and a lot of the runners gathered around them to stay warm before the race start. The 5k began at 7:30, and 15k was scheduled to start 15 minutes later. We started 3 minutes later than scheduled because some of the 5k runners arrived late so we gave them time to get out on the course. The 15k started and within quarter of a mile, we had already hit our first hill. As with the whole route, it was full of uphill and downhills. The crisp temperature helped keep me refreshed throughout the battle with the hills. About halfway through the race, it began to drizzle. Thankfully it wasn’t a downpour, but the drizzle wasn’t bad enough to really cause any issues outside of making it hard to see out of my sunglasses. The volunteers maning the water stops were great and were constantly yelling their support. The police officers controlling traffic were also a huge help. You had to fight through 1 last uphill before crossing the finish line. I finished about a minute and a half slower than 2018, but I was satisfied seeing how the course had more hills than last year.
POST-RACE
Crossing the finish line you are greeted by volunteers handing out medals, before you can pick up a cup of Nuun and bottle water. The post-race festivities were about a 100 yards away from the finish so just a short walk. In the finisher’s area, you could take a picture in from of the Hot chocolate inflatable, but more importantly you can pick up your post-race chocolate mug. The mug contained a section of warm melted chocolate, cup of hot chocolate, rice crispy treat, marshmallow, banana and chocolate sticks. None of that food stood a chance, I finished it all off before starting my walk back to the hotel. There was also a booth that was serving tacos and rice.
Recommendation
No brainer, Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Charlotte is a must run. Yes, it is challenging but it is still a fun race and very well-managed. Did I fail to mention, FREE RACE PHOTOS. Hopefully I will run it again in 2020 to make it 3 years in a row.

2018 Race Year in Review; Preparation for Hot Chocolate

Looking back at my 2018 race year, it definitely had it’s ups and downs. As I am ramping up my training for my first race of 2019, Hot Chocolate 15k Charlotte, I can’t help but reflect back on 2018. The first half of the year started well enough, I ran my first ever Hot Chocolate race(Charlotte) as well as knocked out a few half marathons. I was within seconds of running a new half marathon PR at Tobacco Road Half Marathon, and I ran Oak Island half marathon for the first time. The first half of the year was also bittersweet, because I ran Rock and Roll Raleigh for the last time. This was my home city’s Rock and Roll and I had run it every year since it began 5 years ago. All the complaints from downtown churches, finally took it’s toll because the Rock and Roll series decided it would not be coming back to Raleigh.
In June I traveled to kansas city to run the Hospital Hill Half Marathon. This was my 2nd year running it as a part of the Bibrave family. By far the hillest race, with its constant up and down. Unfortunately, I also think this race is where I injured myself. I was due to began my marathon training in July and my lower legs were just constantly giving me trouble after Hospital Hill. I admit I began to worry heading into the start of training. I had a goal to accomplish in my marathon…I wanted a sub 4. Since I only run 1 marathon a year, I had been waiting a year to try to redeem myself from 2017. In 2017 I ran the Chicago Marathon and was on pace to break sub 4 easily until mile 23. At 23 I caught cramps in both calves, I hobbled to the finish with a time of 4:01. I was mad and upset, and it bothered me like nothing else.
Training started and I decided to go with a new training program, I was going to do the 3 x 2 training.(run 3 days, bike 2 days) Needless to say, training did not start well, I couldn’t hit my pace marks and my legs were not getting any better. Regardless of the pace, I was still doing the set miles needed and hoping that would pay off when it counted. I finally gave in and seeked help from a physical therapist. Kari at Run Raleigh was amazing, and after 4-5 sessions I began to feel like I was turning a corner with my injury. My pace began to drop back down to normal range and the pain was not as severe. Richmond Marathon was in sight and I felt like I was ready, although I didn’t know if I had done enough in training to get that sub 4. Race weekend comes around and I do all my normal routines, which include carb loading at local italian restaurant. I won’t mention the restaurant we chose by name, but they had 5 stars and made their own pasta in-house. Everything was good the night before the race but when I woke up on race morning…..trouble was waiting. Serious GI issues, and I suspected that I could have food poisoning. I couldn’t stay out of the bathroom, but I knew I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t at least still try.(crazy I know) I was drinking gatorade and ginger ale hoping to rehydrate. I made it to the start line and felt like I was going to go for it. I started out, and things were not too bad and I was running around 9 min pace. At mile 8 I began to feel some uneasiness in my stomach but tried to keep going. I made it all the way to mile 14 before, my body said no more. I was dehydrated and could barely walk. I sat down on the curb, securing my first DNF ever. My runners stopped and asked if I needed anything and someone since the cops back to check on me. Ended up having to be picked up by the ambulance and taken to the emergency room to get pumped up with fluids. I was still determined to run a marathon and luckily I found Kiawah Island marathon that was taking place 3 weeks after Richmond. I signed up.
In between richmond and Kiawah Island, I attended The Running Event in Austin Texas. If you don’t know about TRE, you should go back and read my previous blog posts about The Running Event. I returned home, ready to give the marathon one my try. My last chance before the end of 2018.
Kiawah Island is in South Carolina, which was about a 4 hour drive. Race day it was in the low 40s, almost perfect running weather. I started the race strong and was feeling good. I tried to keep my mind on the mile I was in, but I admit my mind would drift off at moments and I would think about Chicago Marathon. I couldn’t have a repeat performance. Other times I would get excited and think I am going to do it, before I again had to bring myself back to the mile I was in. Once I hit mile 23, there was no cramping but things got tough. My legs began to hurt but I didn’t want to stop, I could taste my goal. I crossed the finish line with a time of 3:57, a new marathon PR and MY SUB 4 Marathon. I was super excited but didn’t really show it as I limped around the post race festivities.
And that’s it, that is how my 2018 race year ended. It ended on the highest of notes and I couldn’t be happier. Now, what awaits me in 2019, I don’t know. I know it will start with Hot Chocolate 15k Charlotte. I will be running Cherry Blossom 10 miler in April and I still hope to run New York City Marathon, after being denied the past 3 years. If I can’t get into NYC, I will either to Marin Corps Marathon or try to redeem myself in Richmond. It will be my 5th marathon so I feel like it should either by NYC or back where it all began with Marine Corps(my first marathon). I don’t know but stay tuned for race year 2019, I think it will be an exciting one.