This morning, I got up at 3:50 a.m. to head down to the National Harbor in Maryland for the DC Hot Chocolate 5K and 15K. This was my first race since I started back running. I used to run in high school, and I did a job sponsored run in October, but this was an actual race, with "swag" and everything.
The fun actually started the day before, when my son and I drove down to the Harbor to pick up the race materials (bib, (piece of crap) jacket, and parking pass). I had never been to the Harbor, so I suppose the 2.5 hours it took to get there due to me getting lost on I-95 AND in the middle of some sketchy part of DC was worth it (insert side-eye emoticon here). Needless to say, I now have GPS installed on my phone, cause this is the 50-11th time that I have gotten lost in the DMV and enough is enough.
Once we finally got there, we picked up the stuff and walked around for a bit, got some coffee ( I briefly flirted with this cute Asian guy at Mayorca coffeehouse...still got it, I guess) ate some Subway ( I forgot how much I liked the chicken teriyaki sub) and headed home.
So, back to race day. Thanks to my handy dandy GPS, I got to Crystal City (where I had to park and catch the shuttle to the Harbor) in no time. Driving through the George Washington Parkway in pitch darkness was the LAST thing that I wanted to do, but somehow I have a knack for getting into the situations that I don't want to be in, so I sucked in my stomach (it calms my nerves), kept my eyes peeled for deer and chainsaw killers, and mustered through it.
I got to the race site around 6:15, maybe earlier. The race was supposed to start at 7. In the meantime, there were heated tents with food and volunteer drinking cocoa. A few runners got cocoa, but then this mean woman started yelling about how we were not to get any until after the race and that we needed to stay out of the tents. Did I mention that it was approximately 34 degrees Fahrenheit outside? Okay, so rules are rules, I didn't trip. There was one tent where we could stand, so I stayed there for a bit, then as it drew closer to 7, I made my way down to the starting gate. There were tons of people still arriving (I think 20 thousand registered), and it was 7 when they announced that the race would start at 7:30 or 7:45. That's when I started to lose feeling in my toe. I started jumping around even more, trying to stay warm and upbeat. Folks were really complaining around me though, and I could not find my BGR running mates. I used music and self-talk to stay positive.
At about 8, the race "started". There were so many people, and the route was so narrow, that we walked the first .5 miles and bottlenecked a few times after that. There were a number of folks walking, so you had to dodge around them (walking is fine, but when it is that congested, it makes running difficult). There were a couple of hills, and that was really challenging for me (not as bad as Capitol Hill, but still, hill work is an area of improvement for me). It would have been a scenic run, but there were so many people that you had to stay present in order to not run into someone. Still, I did get to look at the water a bit, which always calms me.
After the race, we got chocolate fondue with apples, rice crispy treats, marshmallows, bananas, and a pretzel stick for dipping (that was tasty). We also got hot cocoa with mini marshmallows. Chocolate overload!!! I think they were supposed to pass out Ghiradelli chocolates too (the company was a sponsor), but I did not see anyone giving them out.
I was a little underwhelmed, overall. For the most part, I was alone, so I did not have anyone to really chat with, which would have made the day more fun. And I was COLD, so very cold. Also, the run was not that challenging. I run 3 miles and more on the regular, so it may be time to start pushing for longer distances. For my first race, it was disappointing, but I do love running and I can't wait to do another race ( I am trying to find a good one for March).
I did get this handy dandy bib though!!!