My third Hot Chocolate race was a return to the Indianapolis version, which last year race directors cut short to a 5K for everyone due to an impending ice storm.
There would be no ice storm this year since the morning began with temperatures in the mid-50s. Instead of ice, however, runners were frequently pelted with rain. Still, the AllState Hot Chocolate 15K was an enjoyable event with helpful volunteers, plenty of chocolate and good swag. It matched my other good Hot Chocolate experiences: last year in Indy and in St. Louis in 2017.
Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Hot Chocolate Indianapolis race 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.
My approach to the race
The Hot Chocolate race was my first of the year, serving as a bridge to my first Boston Marathon in April and then the Ultra Race of Champions (UROC), my first 100K the following month. While I had earlier written about making the 15K a fun race, I changed my plans for the day after consulting with my coach.
Since my training has focused on building my strength and endurance toward UROC, the training plan called for around 20 miles on the day of the race, March 30. In consulting with my coach, we decided to do a 10-mile warmup and then push the pace during the 15K. My coach outlined several options, including doing a mile hard, then a mile easy and repeating through the end.
I arrived at the race start/finish area, which happened to be right outside my office building, with time to run an easy 10-miler beforehand. The rain was gentle as I made my way through the quiet street of Indiana’s capital city. I finished my warmup about 20 minutes before the start of the race, enough time to use the restroom, change my wet hat and gloves, and get ready for the 15K.
The race began while the Indianapolis streets were still dark. But there were security officials at every intersection, blocking traffic for the runners. The rain was light but the winds were steady.
I started out with the 8:00 pace group, aiming for a 1:12:00 finish. The pacer was wearing a Boston Marathon hat so I engaged him about the race since I will be running it in a matter of a couple of weeks. After about three-quarters of a mile, I decided to push the pace and see how long I could hold it.
As we wove our way through the city streets, I felt strong and began to pass other runners. I kept up the effort level as I continued. Around Mile 5, I felt another runner come up beside me. Well, actually behind me. He drafted off of me throughout the next several miles. As someone who is 5-foot-7, I’ve drafted off taller runners at much larger races so in theory I didn’t mind him tailing me (though it did get annoying after a while).
There were aid stations roughly every 2-3 miles. When we hit the aid station at Mile 7, the course reconnected with itself, creating confusion among the runners. There were runners heading in three different directions with cones attempting to guide them the proper way. Several runners headed the wrong way, myself included, until a volunteer pointed us in the right direction. Since the cones were unclear, it would be advisable for the race directors to use arrow signs in spots where runners are merging.
Other than that, the race went off without any flaws. The course itself did not offer interesting perspectives of the city. We did go through part of Monument Circle, a well-known part of the city, but the course did not go past other interesting vantage points.
Since we passed the Mile 8 marker on the way out, I knew that when we went by it on the way back, it would be atop a slight upgrade. Once I got to the top, I was going to hit the gas all the way to the end. Indeed, I hit my fastest time on the last full mile, 6:59.
On the way to the finish, signs counted down the last 100 meters. 500 meters, 400 meters, 300 meters, etc. Given the weather, there were a decent amount of spectators, cheering on the runners as they completed their races. I crossed the finish line in 1:09:26, good enough for 15th overall out of nearly 700 in the 15K, and second in my age group of 16.
The post-race celebration was mild with the rain, which picked up significantly in the minutes after I crossed the finish line. The post-race goodies, included a cup of hot chocolate (of course), a bottle of water, a Honey Stinger waffle, a banana, a marshmallow and a Rice Krispie bar. (Since I am a Celiac and cannot eat gluten a friendly volunteer allowed me to trade in the bag of pretzels for a second banana.)
The Hot Chocolate races are a great value. In addition to the post-race treats, runners receive a sweatshirt along with the actual race and all its trappings. Since I have completed the past two Hot Chocolate races in Indianapolis, I would be eligible to join its legacy program next year if I do the race.
Due to my growing list of sponsors and ambassadorships, I have decided to terminate my association with BibRave. I've enjoyed being a BibRave Pro for the past couple of years and will continue to be part of the growing community.
But, at least for now, this will be my final post promoting one of their sponsored races, products or services.
The Indianapolis Hot Chocolate 15K is a fun race, with plenty of goodies and a great location, adjacent to my workplace.Even without a free pass to next year’s Hot Chocolate race in Indy, it will be among the list of races that I will consider for next spring.
After all, after two consecutive years of gnarly weather, the 2020 race will have to be held on a pleasant day. Right?