Today I ran another local event. The Hot Chocolate Run was held in Marshfield and is part of the Main Street Marshfield calendar of events. It is advertised as a 5K fun run/walk. It is not timed, although there is a clock at the start/finish line.
Registration was at a local watering hole (where there were actually people sitting at the bar at 8:30 on a Saturday morning). I went in and picked up my T-shirt, hat and a couple packets of hot chocolate.
I was able to get into the line for the bathroom before it got too long. Then I went and sat in the car and studied for my Pharmacology test on Tuesday!
It was cold, but once I started running, I warmed up pretty quickly. Once again, the only problem was my cold fingers.
Just before we took off, the organizer let us know that the course was closer to 3.6 miles. Since I was just doing this as a fun run, I didn’t really mind the extra distance. If this had been my first ever 5K, or if I had just done a C25K program or something, I probably would have been annoyed. The thing is, the course is basically an out-and-back, so it wouldn’t be that hard to make it an actual 5K distance.
My goal for this race was to completely ignore my Garmin and run by feel. I turned it on at the beginning and turned it off at the end and never looked at it.
The course started at the same bar and went south down the main drag. There ware volunteers and law enforcement at the intersections to tell us where to go and to direct traffic when needed. They were great. It must have been cold just standing there.
Then, we turned into Wildwood Park and made a loop around the animal park. Most of the animals were still sleeping. There was a background soundtrack of the geese on the pond. They were pretty noisy the whole time. The buffalo and the elk appeared to just be waking up and were still huddled near the buildings in their pens. There were Christmas lights and decorations throughout the park. I’m sure it looks amazing at night.
I remember running the animal park loop when I was doing a long training run for my first marathon. I haven’t run it since. During that loop, my mind was flooded with memories of training for that race and I remembered all the spots I had to stop to stretch out my injured IT band.
After the loop, we headed back toward the bar, the same way we had come. I did have to stop at one intersection for a pick up truck who didn’t really want to yield to runners, regardless of the instructions of law enforcement. Just goes to show you that you always have to be aware of your surroundings even if there are marshalls on the course.
After the run, there were some chocolate goodies and hot chocolate in the basement of the watering hole. There was a chocolate fountain and lots of brownies and boxed chocolates. I grabbed a bottle of water and got myself a cup of hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was so hot and so chocolate-y that I had to dilute it with my bottled water so that I could drink it. I also grabbed one of the chocolates. I was hoping it would be something good…you never really know what is going to be inside. It was delicious. I didn’t indulge in any more of the goodies. Having chocolate after a race always sounds like a good idea, but my stomach usually needs something less rich.
Just over 3.5 miles in 30:50. Feel pretty good about that. I stuck to my plan of not looking at my Garmin. I’m pleased with my overall pace of 8:44. I think I am at a pretty good place heading into the winter. I am just going to try to maintain my current level of fitness and not lose too much in the way of speed before I start my half marathon training plan the end of January.
*Chocolate. Even though I didn’t indulge in many of the goodies, it was a nice treat. And the hot chocolate was nice on such a cold day.
*Course. Even though it was long, it was flat and running around the animal park was nice and brought up fun memories for me.
*Location. I love local races. My area doesn’t have many of them, so I will do everything I can to participate in as many of them as I can. I think it is critically important to get people moving and exercising. Events like this can serve as motivation for people who may not take the time to train for a ‘big’ event that requires them to travel. But, an event in their own backyard? That is something they can do!
*Atmosphere. Where else but in Wisconsin would you have a race that starts and ends a bar?!? The general vibe of this event was very laid back. It is a beginner-friendly and family-friendly event. There was no jostling for position up front because there was no need to be the first one across the finish line. There was plenty of chocolate for everyone.
*Course. I know I said it was a ‘pro’ but it is an odd distance, and it really wouldn’t take much to turn it into a nice standardized 5K distance.
*Untimed. The event is billed as a fun run, and I think it does a great job of maintaining that atmosphere, but having an ‘official’ time is a great perk for a lot of people…especially beginners.
*Food. Even though the chocolate was fun, it would be nice to offer some healthier options as well. Bananas or other fruit go well with chocolate!
Overall grade: B. I’m sure I’ll be back. This is an event that would be fun to do with the whole family. I can see Jaden really enjoying this because of the animal park. And I will encourage others to do this event. Gotta support the local races!