the start time for the hot chocolate 15K was a very easy 7:40. with our hotel more than a mile from the start line, though, we opted to hop in the car and drive closer so that we wouldn't have to add more mileage to what we'd already be doing that morning.
somehow, we managed to avoid all of the road closures, swerve around the long line waiting to enter a parking structure, and got in through an alternate entrance just down the street. sweet.
the start line was near petco park, where the 5K runners were already queued up and waiting to begin their run. they were swatting at several giant inflatable "marshmallows" to kill time.
with almost an hour to go, we walked around to see what there was to see (not much, really).
while there was a decent turnout for this just over 9-mile run, it was small potatoes next to the large number of runners in the 5K. there weren't as many corrals, and we were running past the timing mats at the start not long after the first wave was released.
just as i remembered from last year, this was a super hilly course. the mile markers didn't come nearly as fast as they usually do.
still, i was feeling okay after the first three miles. i even had time to snap pictures of a couple of the more...interesting getups I spied along the way.
when i got a text from the still-out-of-town hub, i sent him this.
and then i just kept plodding along.
more than halfway through, i came upon the chocolate stop.
2/3 of the way there!
gone were the goofy smiles, replaced by panting and grunting.
more of those mile markers.
my mantra that i found myself chanting to myself was "what goes up must come down." all those obnoxious hills finally gave way to a nice downhill stretch for the final mile.
and the smile was back.
even my watch was happy for me.
just a few minutes later, i found my friends and we headed off to collect our reward - which, by the way, was NOT as great as a medal.
but i was obviously still delirious from the grueling run i'd just done, because I was still grinning like a fool.
back in the room, i popped the mug into my little microwave to reheat the chocolate.
aside from a banana (ew) and a marshmallow (yay), here's what was provided for dipping.
after a long, hot shower and a little lounging on the bed, i packed up and threw on my new hoodie.
check out the elevations from the run! i still somehow managed to average just under 12 minutes per mile despite walking up all of those the hills, finishing at 1:51.
i suppose i'm ready for the hollywood half.