Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hot Chocolate Run

This morning, Seth and I drove into Northampton to participate in the 9th Annual Hot Chocolate Run to benefit Safe Passage.

This morning was very cool and very chilly. While the promised high today is 50 degrees, I have yet to see it. While it was supposed to be in the mid-forties at the time the run was supposed to start, I decided to bring my running jacket, layered over my warm tech-shirt, just in case. Boy am I glad I did.

We arrived in Northampton at 9:00 a.m. Seth's back has been hurting him, so he elected to participate in the 2 mile walk, which he was going to do with my friend, Maddy. The walk started at 9:30 a.m., and we had left our house early in case we got stuck in traffic. (Luckily we didn't because I drove us a crazy back way. Further luck had it that my awesome colleague, Katie, who manages the Phonathon with me, lives about a block away from the start line of the race and generously let us park by her house.)

I had picked up our bibs on Friday night at the Northampton Running Co. to expidite things on Sunday morning. The Hot Chocolate Run was a sold out race with almost 5,500 participants, so I didn't want to have to worry about bib pick up.

The place was quite busy with sponsor tents and people every where -- this was by far the biggest event I think we've ever done; even bigger than the Bridge of Flowers 10K.

Pretty soon after we arrived, the walkers started lining up. We found Maddy, quite the feat in the crowd, and she and Seth set off on their 2 mile walk.

After Maddy and Seth took off, I had about a half an hour wait. I was quite chilly -- the weather was in the low thirties and misty with an unpleasant chill in the air. I had though I might check my jacket at the bag check before the race started, but now I knew there was no way I was letting it off my person. I was so glad I had brought it.

At around 9:40 a.m. everyone started to line up in the chute for the 5K run to start. The chute was massive. It went along Craft Ave, and then turned around a corner where there were even more spaces to line up. Since I had finished my last 5K in around 29:30 and run 9:30/mile, I decided to line up at the 9:30 marker, just around the bend in the road off Craft Ave.

Finally, after a cold wait we were off! The number of people running was so large, it took me almost two minutes to reach the starting line. Honestly, this was fine. I had been shaking from the cold and this allowed me a brief warm up. It took until around the 2K point in the race for me to begin to feel my toes which had gotten frozen during the long wait.

The race started with a small climb up Craft Ave where we were greeted at the top by a small band. Then we ran along Main Street, through the main downtown of Northampton.

We then turned a corner onto Route 5 by the Academy of Music and ran through some local neighborhoods, this entailed another bit of a hill but nothing too serious. We made a sharp turn and started heading back through the Smith College campus. The route took us past the gym, and up College Lane. This was the hardest set of hills for the course. There is a hill along the road that runs by Ainsworth/Scott Gym, along West Street, and then another hill that goes up College Lane. It was very nice to have spectators all along this hill cheering us on. At the top of the hill was the Smith College cheer leading team. A nice motivator.

We ended the race by turning onto Elm Street. I knew that everything would be downhill from this point on. I actually ran past my office building before continuing through the downtown again and finishing by taking the hill down Craft Ave.

I crossed the finish line with the clock reading over 31:00, however, I had spent almost 2 minutes getting out of the chute, so my actual race time was much shorter. My Nike+ had me finishing at 29:41, just a few seconds over my UMass Homecoming 5K time. I'm pretty pleased with this because the Hot Chcolate Run was a much more challenging course with the multipe hills. It was also a bit of a slower course because of the number of runners. You had to navigate between people carefully, and I was slowed down on the many turns on the course.

After finishing, Seth found me and we went to get some hot chocolate in our awesome new mugs!

The hot chocolate was quite good. I had finally warmed up at around the 4K mark of the 5K race, but was starting to get chilly again as I cooled. After enjoying our beverages, we headed back to Amherst.

Now, I am super releaved to be sitting in my warm house after a chilly but fun morning. This was my last race of the year, and it was nice to have it be such a big community event.

As you can see, Lily is helping me put my race last race notes of the season in my Race Day book.

I had a lot of fun with my running this year. While, I am going to keep running over the winter, and continue doing some running outside, I will definitely be cutting back, as I do my Asylum programs. I'm already excited for next year though and starting to plan some 2013 events!

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