Helloooo! How was your weekend? After a whirlwind couple weeks, I was thrilled to get out of Wisconsin and head to Chicago for the weekend with my roommate, also named Emily, to run the Hot Chocolate 15K! Running it was on my 24 in 24 list, so I was pumped to cross that off too! Emily’s family lives in Chicago, so it was fun to hang out with them all weekend and relax before our big race, including time with this cutie..
Emily’s parents have a 6 month old golden retriever named Izzy and she is the most entertaining/hyper dog I have ever met! haha But she is the cutest thing i have EVER seen and I didn’t want to leave her!
Anyway, we arrived in Chicago around noon on Friday and decided to pick up our packets by Soldier Field. We thought we’d be ahead of the game and be in and out in 10 minutes. Boy were we wrong! This was the line for packet pickup…ON A FRIDAY during the work hours! Packet pickup was also Saturday, too. This line extended the entire parking lot and looped back around…it was very daunting!
Along the way though, to boost morale, we were given some hot chocolate samples. Luckily, we had brought warm clothes!
We also were given chocolate samples…
And then after 2 hours, we finally made it to the door! As cheerful as I sound about it now, I was definitely not as cheerful then. Although we had sunshine and good company, it was kind of a drag to have to wait that long! Even though there were over 40,000 people signed up, I think they should have had a better system for handing out packets/bibs/bags. Apparently, they did make some changes and it was better on Saturday, but still! So many people standing in line with us ended up having to leave after waiting an hour or so because they had to go back to work, etc. and had wasted that time thinking they would get in.
Yay for packet pickup! We received a sweatshirt with our race entry…if you do sign up for this and order a sweatshirt, for women, note that they are women’s sizes and not unisex! I usually wear medium sweatshirts and they fit great, but this one as a “women’s cut” medium and it is a little tight.
And then it was race time! Sunday morning we woke up at 4:30 am to be on the road by 5 am because it was about an hour drive to make it to the Grant Park garage to park where the race started. It was helpful to get there early because we got right in and parked without hitting much trouble!
Em had run this race before with a very speedy time, so she was up in a front corral with all the awesome runners! I was back a little further, but somehow I ended up in the same corral as my friend Gabi from college! It was such an awesome surprise. It was nice to have someone else to suffer through the cold with while we were waiting to start, as well as run a few of the miles together and catch up on each others lives!
There were literally people EVERYWHERE…
And slowly but surely we made our way up to the start line!
I don’t really know what I was thinking when I thought I would take pictures during the race! haha This was the only one I got, around mile 6 or 7 I had stopped to stretch out my hamstrings and couldn’t resist…this was right after one of the turnarounds and I loved the view of the skyline next to the lake. Right after this, I pretty much ran out of gas. I had barely trained for this and was just running it for fun, but it was a little disappointing to be in so much pain! I wasn’t “out of breath” so I knew I felt in shape, my legs just weren’t prepared for that distance…it was the longest I’d ever gone!
Lemme tell ya, I was hurtin’ when it was all finished! Although I felt so much better about running now than before my weight loss/starting to run, I could barely walk afterwards! Although I was a little disappointed at how slow I had to take it the last few miles, I wasn’t too upset about it because a) I got chocolate at the end no matter what b) I finished and ran most of it and c) I was sick the week before and had to cut out a lot of training, but it really hit me that the next time I start training for a long race, I need to take it seriously!
After I finished, I wobbled over to the chocolate stand and met up with Em. They had individualized chocolate fondue and goodies in a keepsake bowl, as well as hot chocolate waiting for us. It was the perfect post-race treat!
It was such a fun day and a wonderful bonding weekend for us roomies! I am so happy I ran the race and finished it. I would do it again in a heartbeat, as I would pretty much do ANYTHING for chocolate!