Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k Seattle

Posted: March 4, 2018 in My Story, Race Reports, Travel
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hot chocolate 15k seattleDisclaimer: I received a free entry to the Hot Chocolate 15 Seattle 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!

Exactly 6 months ago, I detailed my excitement for the Hot Chocolate 15k Seattle – and boy, did the race ever live up to expectations! Not only was it a fantastic event, I also got to meet a couple of my fellow BibRave Pros in person! And you know, that always makes a race worthwhile.

I’ve just arrived home after the 3+ hour drive from the Emerald City, but I figured now was the best time to capture my thoughts on the Hot Chocolate 15k Seattle!

Saturday – Package Pickup

I want to say that ‘I work early’ on Saturday, but it was basically the usual time I get up for work or for my weekend long run – which is to say about 6:30am. I had dutifully packed the night before, so after I quick breakfast I headed off for my solo road trip (because my honey had another event planned on Saturday night). I grabbed my Starbucks, picked up the car share, and headed out.

The drive was uneventful – quick border crossing, a few rest stops, a second Starbucks – and I was at Seattle Center by 10:15am. The morning was shaping up chilly but beautiful, and I hoped we would experience the same on race day!

I followed a circuitous route to the Exhibition Hall where the Hot Chocolate 15k Seattle Expo was being held. The enthusiasm of the volunteers from the moment I walked in until the end of the race was contagious. I don’t know where they found these folks, but they were fabulous! Volunteers are always a blessing, but the Seattle crew were particularity vibrant.

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Upon entering, I was handed a chocolate (yay!) and proceeded straight to check in. They scanned my QR code, which printed out a label to slap on my bib. I was directed down the line to get my Goodie Bag, which contained my Hot Chocolate quarter zip, and within 5 minutes I was good to go. Since I had time to spare, I looked at some of the vendors. The expo was relatively small, but I did purchase a three-pack of nuun hydration, which came with a Hot Chocolate-branded water bottle!

Before heading out, I sampled some sweet treats – a little cup of cocoa, and a bit of chocolate fondue with a marshmallow and a chocolate rolled wafer cookie. Yum!!!

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Since I was staying with friends, I headed on over and spent the rest of the day catching up. I also snuck out for a quick shakeout run in Washington Park Arboretum. I donned my new quarter zip for a trial run…and loved it! Thumbs up for both the colour and the fit!

hot chocolate 15k seattle

Sunday – Pre-Race

Honestly, a 6am wake-up call for a race isn’t bad at all. I had some coffee and oatmeal, and got dropped off in Capitol Hill. I needed to get in a few km’s before the Hot Chocolate 15k, so I ran downhill towards Seattle Center – capturing a bit of sunrise with the Space Needle in the distance.

hot chocolate 15k seattle

I arrived just in time to catch the 5k runners heading out for their event! The sea of purple from the women’s quarter zips was captivating!

James (50 in 50 Marathon Quest) had arranged for us BibRave Pros to meet at gear check, and I promptly arrived at 7:20 as scheduled. Soon thereafter, I spotted a splash of orange, and connected with James and his wife, Paula (Never a Dull Bling) – so the three of us had a great chat and snapped a few photos. Our other Pro, Amanda, had to squeeze in a pre-race run as well, and we weren’t able to connect.

hot chocolate 15k seattle

With that, off to the starting corral! I was right near the front, having sent in ‘proof’ of my ability to run faster than a 11:30 min/mile pace. Behind me…runners as far as the eye could see!

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Right on time, the race began.

The Hot Chocolate 15k Seattle Course

hot chocolate 15k seattle

I knew there would be hills. Everyone warned me. Jeannine shared her blog post from last year’s Hot Chocolate 15k Seattle. Amanda sent me the elevation profile from Strava. But it’s never real until you’re actually on the course. And those hills were REAL.

It starts out innocent enough: downhill. Towards the water, a slight incline, and then more downhill near Pike Place Market. But then the old adage kicks in: what goes down, must come up (is that the way it goes??). We turned around and headed back the way we came. The great thing about this, though, was seeing the other runners coming along – and James and I saw each other again!

Then THE TUNNEL. I honestly didn’t know about this, and it was weird. Underground for about a kilometre, no natural light…I kept wondering what my GPS would do. But then we popped out the other end and things went back to normal.

For the next 8-9 kilometres, we ran on Aurora Avenue. UP, then down, and then UP UP UP until you thought it might never end. The girl running next to me said: “This is the longest hill ever” and I just laugh/groaned in response. Then a quick turnaround and back where we came from.

I saw Amanda! I saw James again! It’s so great to be running outside of your home city and still seeing people you know. Makes a world of difference!

Although I wasn’t truly gunning for a specific time, knowing how challenging this race would be, I had hoped to stay close to the 8:00 min/mile pace bunny. I lost him near the beginning, but caught up near the 7 mile marker.

OH! Every mile marker also featured a lapsed-time clock. I love this, because I could compare it to my watch (only a few seconds behind) and I knew where I stood.

The final mile was tough. It looped almost a full block, so you couldn’t see the finish line until it was right in front of you. Plus, it was uphill! Yes, yes – I had been warned. But it was a struggle. Check out the ‘face of pain’ next to a slightly better (free!) finish line photo:

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My friend and her daughter were there to cheer me across the finish line, and met up with me right after I received my epic finisher medal!

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Post-Race

We headed over the get my Finisher’s Mug. It’s a giant plastic mug stuffed with treats – cocoa (of course), chocolate fondue, marshmallow (just the one!), a Rice Krispy treat, cookies, pretzels and a banana. What a haul! I downed the hot chocolate, and off we went to eat a (savoury) brunch before consuming a bunch of sweets!

hot chocolate 15k seattle

Final Results

Chip time: 1:13:42
Average pace: 7:55 min/mile (4:56 min/km)
Overall place: 189/4227
Place in age category: 19/144

Click here for complete race results


Quick Recap – Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k Seattle

Social Media: The Hot Chocolate Series is America-wide, so their social is quite broad. However, the Website for the Seattle race was very informative, and I referred back to it frequently.

Other social channels:  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Packet Pickup: Although the Expo itself wasn’t huge, it had a great vibe and was super-efficient early on Saturday. I liked the QR code option to expedite the process, and there were tonnes of eager volunteers to get things done. And because it was held at Seattle Center – near the start line – I had a preview of where to go the next morning.

T-Shirt/Swag: Probably some of the best swag I’ve ever received at a race – and my favourite part of the Hot Chocolate 15k Seattle! First of all, the quarter zip (blue for guys, purple for girls) is great – nice fit, nice feel. Something I’ll use! And the medal itself is epic – big, bulky bling, just as it should be! And this year, each city had its own keychain attached (Seattle Space Needle for me!)

Course: Be prepared for hills. And a long, long uphill climb. Naturally, you get rewarded with the downhill again…until that uphill in the final kilometre. Some of the views – over Lake Union, and of the city – are quite striking. At the same time, you spend ages on the same, straight (hilly) road, which gets a bit monotonous.

Post-Race: I was done early enough that I got my Finisher’s Mug full of sweet treats pretty quickly. I imagine the lines got more intense a bit later on. It was a great, positive vibe, although we didn’t stick around long. Good fun.

Would I Run It Again? Given the bling and the goods, I’d definitely consider it. But because the course wasn’t my favourite, I might be tempted to try a Hot Chocolate race in another city, and try something new. But never say never – you may see me there again!!

hot chocolate 15k seattle

Comments
  1. Carl Wright says:

    Really enjoyed your recap Bradley. And I must agree with you…that is incredible swag. Love that quarter zip and what an amazing finishers medal.

    I have a real weakness for chocolate. Just maybe I might look up the nearest Hot Chocolate run. I think it would be a blast.

    P.S. Incredibly amazing time with all those hills, and overall placing. Congratulations! 🙂