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Race Recap: Hot Chocolate 15K (I still hate Aurora Avenue)

I love and love hate being a pacer all in one breath. It is a challenge to get your timing down and sometimes it can be more stress then it is worth.

But then you get to meet and inspire people to push past you and beat their goals.

That… That is worth it.

My third year being a pacer for the Hot Chocolate 15K was defiantly the case of the ups and downs.

I had a late train so I made it to the expo with about 10 mins left on Friday night. I did not have much time to look around. I picked up my bib and then my legacy prizes as this was my third year (pin, medal, hat, special thing for my bib.) and I picked up my shirt. The shirts this year are a quarter zip and they are super small so be aware if you are ordering that they run super small. I actually love the purple of the shirt in general. I did not get a chance to explore the expo as it was already time to go.

Race morning for pacers starts at 6:55 with picking up our signs, shirts and getting final instructions before

Our Pacing Team
taking the corals. I also got to reunite with some of the Skirt Sports sisterhood which always leaves me feeling stronger and better off.

There was only one slight major change from last years course and that was the finish which I will run through later.

The art of pacing this course is knowing when to bank and when to stay steady. The first couple miles down back behind Pikes Place Market is an up and back on its way to Aurora Avenue.

I mentioned Aurora Avenue in the last two years recap; once you get past the Mercer Island Bridge it becomes tough. It is a pretty straight up climb to the top of the hill and that climb is almost a mile up. Last year I hit the hill later then I should so it ended up costing me a of mad dash running.

I hate that stinking hill. There is no good approach to that hill other then knowing that no matter what you do it is going basically kick your butt.

But this year I went into the hill with a 1 min. bank which is what I had set the goal for. This way I could pull back on the hill and save energy for the last few miles.

I had people with me through out the race. Most people set the goal to be in front of me which is ultimately awesome.

The course itself is scenic at points (especially Mercer Island Bridge) and getting to run the back end of Pikes Place is a trip. Hot Chocolate is also a very well supported event that has water stations properly spread out and staffed.

I came to mile 8 within 10 seconds where I should be. But I did not realize that mile 7 ended up short because they made up between 8-9 and 9 was .3 long and it knocked me off pace.

The finish line moved from the mid point of Seattle Center to right next to MOPOP (Museum of Pop Culture or Experience Music Project). You filtered through to get your medal and you could get some water before heading back to get your bag from bag check and then head to get your Hot Chocolate mug which has goodies you can dip in chocolate.

You also had the chance to get some post race photos, shop in the race shop, get goodies from sponsors ect.

I enjoy this race. But I enjoy pacing even more. A lot of people came to me thanking me for being out there and being willing to run. Right there, that is worth it. Being able to give back to a sport that I love so much and really feel like I am making an impact.

I will be back. And I think I can do even better next year.

Hot Chocolate 15K Seattle Recap: AKA This Is The Hill That Never Ends

For the second year in a row I had the pleasure of serving as a pacer for the Hot Chocolate 15K in Seattle. The one thing I learned last year is that this course is tough.

And that has not changed.

The experience starts at the expo which takes place at the Seattle Center Exhibition Center. The one thing I have always enjoyed with this race series is how easy it is to get from bib pick up to goodie bag (your hoodie) and on your way. There is a small vendor area which includes a place to shop for all of your Hot Chocolate gear.

Last year it HAILED on the back of the pack. This year the weather threw it’s own challenges again. There was a

From the back of the pack race start.
cold wind and it was wet at points and the forecast actually had called for snow.

The start line is organized into corrals, being I was in the back of the pack, the corrals are not well maintained. And it does take some patience to make it to the start. But being able to see the space needle first thing in the morning is a breathtaking sight. You want to make sure you stay warm on this course.

I went into this with a 1-1 run walk plan, I knew from what I learned last year that this course is really scenically beautiful but it is tough. You get some gentle rolling up and down hills in the first two miles, going out under Pike Place Market and through the Alaskan Way Viaduct before you are hit with the hill that never ends.

The Aurora Avenue out and back gives you quite possibly some of the most scenic views of Seattle you will see but for the two miles it is almost a straight up hill climb, and if you do not know that it is coming it will hit you like a ton of bricks before you turn around right after the mile 6 point. The nice thing is it takes you downhill after.

The course is well supported and you get a chance to eat chocolate at a few of the water stops. You finish thorough the main concourse of Seattle Center which is fun. Especially as you are finishing almost next to the space needle.

After the race you get to cycle through to get your medal, water and the famous post race chocolate, where you get a cup full of snacks and chocolate to dip it in. They organize the lines so you are not waiting long for everything and this years medals continue to be one of my favorites. They look like small chocolate pieces.

I will be back, I keep learning every time I am working on this race how to think on the fly and be a pacer. This is a tough but well organized race well worth it in the end.

Race Recap: Hot Chocolate 15K proves to be a wet, cold, challenge

One thing I have had to learn as a pacer.

Sometimes you are going to get wet.

This one I got super wet.

I have always wanted to do the Hot Chocolate Races. Cost and travel made it less then cost effective. When Beast Pacing gave me the opportunity to be able be a pacer for the 15K I jumped all over it.

I got to the expo on Friday and it was small, but really well organized. If you did not have your information you could have a volunteer help look it up for you. Then you picked up your goodie bag which had your race jacket, which is a change from the normal hoodies that they had been doing. There had been a few vendor booths and a chance to purchase race gear.

Sunday morning started with finding my pacing crew and picking up my pacing kit. I have to thank Beast and Ram Racing for the nice shirt and the 2XU compression sleeves.

Bag check was very easy and simple to get through. The volunteers had been eager.

The start line corrals had been between Key Arena and the Armory which made it very narrow but still a well organized system. The only down side is I was pushed almost all away back to the corral behind me.

Now the course. This course is TOUGH. I thought Seattle Marathon was tough, that is actually a walk in the park

My amazing fellow 12:00 pacer
My amazing fellow 12:00 pacer
compared to this. You start with a quick run through downtown before you hit the roads behind Pikes Market. This is one sharp down hill and one sharp up hill back to back before you hit the tunnels that take you to Aurora Avenue.

And Aurora itself?

If you live in Seattle you know what this entails. This was a series of up and down hills including a long climb right up after the bridge. I heard some people mention how the elevation map made it look like stairs, it had not been. It was a straight set of hills. I was not ready for how tough that side would be.

The course is well supported even in the pouring down rain. The volunteers went out of their way to encourage the runners and the pacers alike even though it was pouring down rain and windy. (We actually had thunderstorms)

I finished a few seconds back of pace, but still had runners coming up to me thanking me for running and holding my sign which meant a lot. I ran with Marie, who is one of my fellow Skirt Sports Ambassadors and she was truly a difference maker. It was nice to have a pacer with me and we kept each other in line all away through.

I finished and headed for the post race, which consisted of the famous food and chocolate finishers mug. We did not have much of a festival area so I was in and out quickly.

This is a fun race, its well organized and a bit of a challenge. I am actually excited for next year.