If there is one thing we can’t ever change when running a race (but will always want to), it would be the weather. This past weekend, Tampa hosted the Hot Chocolate 5k and 15k here in Tampa. Historically, this is a race held in cold locations so the runners can really indulge in the post race festivities of cocoa and fun. Well, give you Florida in December and you really never know what you are going to get. This year, unfortunately, we had 80 degree race day temperatures. Womp Womp.
The 15k started at 8:20, so I gave myself enough time to park and find a bathroom before the gun went of. I got pretty close to the front of my corral, and I am so glad I did. To the people who should really be closer to the back and line up at the front, please be considerate of others. It really is a safety issue if you plan on walking right out of the start line (end rant). I felt like a lot of people were in the front that shouldn’t have been, so there was a bit of weaving in and out for the first 200 yards or so. Once the course opened up a bit, it was no biggie.
We all knew it was going to be a hot one, given it was already close to 75 degrees at the start, so I was sure to hydrate from the get go. I grabbed a cup of water at the first stop, and downed it pretty quickly. I knew I was going to need every drop! The course, like so many in Tampa, was held on Bayshore Boulevard, which is right and the water and always boasts a flat and fast course. We had a noticeable headwind on the way out, which meant only one thing – we’d pick up the tail wind on the way back. More often than not, I would be excited about a killer tailwind, but with the heat we were experiencing, it was less than ideal. As soon as we hit the turnaround spot, it immediately felt a solid 5+ degrees warmer. I couldn’t believe how hot it was! I was on the hunt for some more water and took as much as possible at the stop.
One super fun thing that happened on the course was running into Meb Keflezighi! His wife’s family lives in Tampa, so we tend to see him around here during the holidays. He was out for a run and I spotted him around the 5.5 mile mark. He is always so so nice and willing to chat with other runners, so I was sure to give him a holler and welcome him back to Tampa!
Right around 7 miles, I was so so ready to be done! The heat was really getting to me and I needed some more water, ASAP. I really just powered through the last 2 miles, grabbing two cups of water at the last stop, and headed over the bridge to the finish. The finisher’s chute was lined with cheering families and friends, so the energy was pretty exciting. Finishing is always something to clap about!
I made it through the chute, grabbed my medal, and caught my breath.
I grabbed a bottle of water and then headed to the post race celebration. It was pretty scarce, since the 5k had already finished and I was at the beginning of the 15k finishers, but that made getting my goodies super simple! There was a tag on our race numbers to get our finisher’s mug, so went in the chute and grabbed it from the super chipper volunteer!
The mug had hot chocolate and a bunch of yummy goodies to dip in the provided chocolate as well!
I ended up taking a quick sip and then just tossing the hot chocolate – it was wayyy to warm to be drinking something so hot! It was pretty tasty though! It was much creamier than expected, so that was a plus! Once I got home, I was surprised to see the results and the *free* race photos already up and online. They weren’t kidding around! I ended up getting 3rd in my age group and had some decent finishing pictures.
I would had loved to be closer to 7:30 pace, but I am pretty thrilled to have averaged sub 8 minute miles given the conditions. It always amazes me how much the heat affects running performance.
The only thing I would change about the race (other than the hot weather of course) would be the number of water stations on the course, as well as the number of volunteers at those water stations. Since the race is used to hosting races in colder places, I think it was a bit of an over site. With the crazy heat, we could have really used a cup of water every mile. I think it took me a solid 24 hours just to get to a point where I felt hydrated again after running those 9 miles. Other wise, I think everything went off very well for the race’s first Tampa event. The swag was awesome, the course was well marked, and the post race tent was well stocked and easy to get to. I’m hoping for a cooler race at the event next year!