Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K 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!
A few weeks ago I took a quick trip up to Philadelphia, PA for the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K. This race had been on my list for a whole year, so I was really excited when the time came for my quick trip!
Friday: I took the train to Philadelphia, a quick 60ish minute trip. I immediately headed towards the expo at the convention center, which is near City Hall. The expo was small, which also made it quick and easy. The dynamic bib assignment was quick and painless, the volunteers were great. I shopped around just a little bit. There weren’t many vendors but I was excited to stock up on Nuun while having some free chocolate!
I was done at the expo around 2, and headed towards my Air BnB, which was about a mile from the race start/finish. When looking for a bar to get a snack/drink while I waited for check-in, I found a cute “cat cafe.” Seriously – Day. Made. My 30 minutes there were my favorite of the whole trip!
I spent the evening having wings and beer at a bar on South Street before seeing James Bay at the TLA. It just so worked out that he’s one of my favorite artists and was playing Philly that night. How perfect! I had a wonderful time but by the time I got back to my pad I was beat!
I slept absolutely terribly and woke up around 4, not feeling so hot (totally had too much fun the night before). I was scheduled to run 4 miles before the race, but I canned that just to make it there. Around 6 I mustered up enough power to get dressed and start walking to the Art Museum. I was so motivated to run up the “Rocky Steps” to get my day going. Man, those were harder than I expected but the view was so worth it!
Around 7:30, I hit the porta-johns (there were SO MANY! Thank you HC15K for getting it right!), stretched, and settled into Corral O. I was really mad at myself for forgetting to submit a proof of time so I could be further ahead, but it wasn’t the end of the world. My goal for the day was to run close to marathon goal pace (11:00/mi), and with how I was feeling, I thought that would be enough of a challenge. Just around 8:10, I was off!
The first mile or so ran towards “downtown,” back towards the Art Museum, and across the Schulkill river. We’d be on the river until the turn-around somewhere around mile 5.5, and head back the way we came to finish. The course was flat aside from going over a bridge and a slight incline to the finish.
Despite being in an “open” corral, I didn’t feel like I was in too bad of a spot. I ran a little too fast for the first two miles, and ran around 11:00 for mile 3 when I stopped to tie my shoe. Around mile 5 I stopped again to de-layer and actually realized that I was feeling pretty good despite running a little faster than goal pace. While the river was cool, the scenery was pretty boring, and I didn’t feel very mentally engaged in the race. I told myself that I had to make it to the 10K mark then I could let myself run.
At 10K I “dropped the hammer” as much as I could for running 90:30 intervals on 4 hours of sleep. Miles 6-9.4 were 10:51, 10:02, 9:51, 9:46 and 3.47 for the .4 mi nubbin. I finished feeling slightly breathless and pleased with the paces I brought for the last few miles. I love how my Athlinks stats show that I passed almost 350 people in the last 5K!
I knew I had to quickly move through the finish area, as I finished just before 10 and had to be out of my Air BnB by 11. I grabbed my wonderful mug and ate it while walking back to my pad. I wasn’t looking forward to it that much as I don’t love chocolate, but it was actually delightful! And the medal is fantastic as well. The chocolate bar is big and I like the Liberty Bell keychain that is city specific!
Post-race: I had no where to go after I checked out of my place, so I took an uber back to the train station. I found a nearby pub that had the most amazing nachos and napped in the train station before heading back to Baltimore. I mustered up enough courage later in the day to finish up those last 4 miles! Through the day and on my run I was so cozy in the beautiful purple premium from the race.
The verdict: While the race course itself wasn’t anything spectacular I would recommend running a Hot Chocolate race to anyone. The weekend was very well organized, the chocolate before, during and after the race was fantastic, and the runners all had a great vibe! While I’m not sure I’ll head back to Philadelphia for it on my own again, I think it would be a fun girls’ trip! There are Allstate Hot Chocolate races all across the country, so maybe I’ll have to head to Vegas for another one!
Check out my more race-specific review of the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K on BibRave.com and while you’re add it, review races that you’ve run!