Hot Chocolate 15K St. Louis Recap


Last Sunday, I ran in the Hot Chocolate 15K St. Louis. All of us finishers probably would have rather had frozen hot chocolate, because the conditions were quite warm! Well, that is warm for St. Louis in the middle of December. At the 7:30AM start, my phone said the temperature was 48 degrees! I am pretty positive we will never get a better day than this to run this race in future years.

Pre-race selfie (sorry it's blurry!)

Pre-race selfie (sorry it’s blurry, but I wanted to show off my awesome new hoodie!)

I was unsure on what to wear for this race, but eventually I settled on shorts and a Nike running hoodie that I got from Justin for my birthday. I definitely could have just worn a short-sleeved shirt and been comfortable, but I just rolled up the sleeves when I got heated during the race and that was fine.

Start line of the race!

Start line of the race!

I arrived to the start line at about 7:15AM and I was very giddy when I got to go to Corral A for the start! I had seen A on my tag earlier, but I didn’t remember this race having corrals last year so I honestly wasn’t sure why it was there haha. The corrals went to at least letter J, so I’m not gonna lie – I felt pretty special being in the first corral. I also felt a teensy-bit out of place because as I looked around me, the other runners looked pretty intense. But then I figured, I got put in this corral because of my expected time (that I did not lie about), so I belonged here with these other runners.

I didn’t have to wait around long, because the race starting promptly at 7:30 AM. I started my music, began to run, crossed the official start line, and then BAM! I almost ran right into a Hot Chocolate 15K photographer. He was crouched down taking pictures right in the middle about 2 feet from the start line. I have no clue why he thought that was the best spot to be, but I am happy I didn’t actually trip into him because that obviously wouldn’t have been a great start to the race.

Since I was with the better runners, I started off pretty fast. At .5 miles, my Nike+ app gave me a pace per mile of 7:15, which I knew was too fast and knew I needed to slow down a bit to a pace I could stay at for over 9 miles.

For about the first 4 miles, I settled in at a 7:45/mile pace. This felt fairly comfortable at first, but then I started getting very tired and my legs were feeling very sore. I run in St. Louis all the time, so I know that it is hilly, but the rolling hills were really getting to me on this day! I dealt with it though because I know if I wanted to reach my goals, I couldn’t stop to walk. So I kept going even though I was feeling the burn in my legs!

There were multiple water stations and “sweet” stations along the way. The sweets that they were giving away were marshmallows, tootsie rolls, and Hershey Kisses. While I love all of these, I didn’t take any because I didn’t want to puke. Haha.

Around mile 6 I was getting very tired, but then a man ran by me that caught my attention. He was part of Team RWB (Red, White, and Blue) and was running with a large American flag. Not only was he carrying the flag with him, but he was also running barefoot! Seriously, I got a little choked up seeing him. After that, I told myself to stop feeling sorry for myself for feeling a little sore because this man was obviously dealing with a lot more obstacles than I was and if he could push through it so could I! I was so happy he passed me, because he was really the motivation I needed to keep going and finish the race strong.

The last 3 miles were rough but I got through them and crossed the finish line with a time of 1:16:11 (8:11/mile pace). At first I thought my ultimate goal was 1:15, so I was a bit disappointed. When I got home, I looked at my race preview and realized that my goal was actually 1:17, so I had not only achieved it but really crushed it! I was very happy! I was also happy when I looked up my results and saw that I placed in the top 20 for my division (19 out of 303), 128th out of 2,346 for all women, and then 315th out of 3,275 overall. Also, I looked at my results last year for the 5K and I had a 9:11/pace. So my pace per mile was exactly 1 minute better, and I ran over 6 more miles this year. Very happy to see all my hard work in training runs is paying off!!

Post-race selfie!

Post-race selfie!

Love the medal!

Love the medal!

I love the Hot Chocolate race series and will definitely keep doing this race year after year. The swag is some of the best, 15K finishers get an awesome medal, and I love the chocolate treats after. I would definitely recommend the race to everyone looking for a fun and challenging race!


2014 Medals!

Here is a picture of me with all of my medals for 2014!:




Favorite:  Mississippi Blues


–This was my first medal of 2014 and hands down my favorite one!  It’s huge!!  The course was tough, but the swag was absolutely great (I got a pullover zip, harmonica, and a reusable bag) and I would do this race again in a heartbeat if I didn’t have 41 other states to get done.

Least favorite:  Omaha


–It’s a cute medal but it doesn’t say anything on it about being for the half marathon.  It simply says “Marathon-Half Marathon”.  I don’t think that’s right.  Marathoners have to put in a lot more work and to get the exact same medal—that isn’t right.

Most Unique:  Nike Women’s Half


–It’s a Tiffany necklace!  I wear it occasionally but I don’t want to get it dirty or tarnished so I keep it in the box now all the time.  It’s certainly the smallest bling of the year, but one of my favorites since it is my current half PR.

 No medal races:  Shamrock Shuffle and Frontier Days Stampede Run 10k

–I usually don’t do races that do not involve medals, but these were my two exceptions this year.  I’ve done the Shamrock Shuffle the past two years and I will not be repeating this race again in 2015 because I got a great PR this year but really because I’m really tired of going downtown Chicago for these overcrowded races.

The Frontier Days race was a last minute decision—I literally signed up the morning of the race and it was run by my park district at the time.  It was a fun race with a ton of food at the end and a race t-shirt that I use to train in all the time now.

I’m really looking forward to my medals in 2015.  I’ll get six right off the bat in January and I have at least six more medals lined up thru May.  I finally got a 50 state half marathon medal holder, so I cannot wait to get that up and displayed soon!



Weekly Recap


Monday, December 8th: Rest Day

Tuesday, December 9th:  40 minutes pilates, 40 minute HIIT workout

Wednesday, December 10th: 8 miles running, 30 minutes strength training

Thursday, December 11th 5 miles running, 1.5 mile walk

Friday, December 12th: 5 miles running, 2 mile walk

Saturday, December 13th: Rest Day

Sunday, December 14th: Hot Chocolate 15K, 2 mile walk

Another week of marathon training done, and I am another week closer to the big day – January 11th- Walt Disney World Marathon here I come! This week was pretty good for me. I am getting in a lot of different types of cross training, as well as getting all my required runs in. I am doing the Holiday Sweat Challenge, so I think it has greatly motivated me in doing the extra cross training activities even when I want to make a million excuses why I don’t need to do them! I am not only competing with others, but being motivating by others exercise posts on Facebook and it has definitely given me the extra boost to really exert myself in my training.

Sunday, I ran in the Hot Chocolate 15K. I can’t even describe to you how thankful I am that the weather cooperated and we had an absolutely beautiful morning to run in! I don’t think I will ever get so lucky again for this race, you don’t usually get 50 degree weather in the middle of December in St. Louis. Along with the perfect conditions, I ran a pretty great race and achieved my goals! But more on that later in the week in my race recap.

Like Kathleen, this is my last big week of training until I taper. I will be going home on Saturday and plan to do my 20 mile run when I get there. I know Kathleen scheduled hers for Sunday, but since that is the day of the Christmas party when our family is coming, I don’t want to be exhausted the entire day! So hopefully I can convince her that it is better to get it done on Saturday. If not, I will just be running without her! The weather is going to be chilly, around 30 degrees, but given that it is my last long run of this training, I think that will be all the motivation I need to complete it.

Also, an update on another race I will be running in. The Hot Chocolate 15K was going to be my last race of 2014, but then I found out about the Frostbite Series. This is a series of races in the winter months in St. Louis. There are several and you can register for all of them for one lump sum, or you can register for each individual race for only $20. On December 27th, there is a 2 mile and 10 mile race (there is always a short and long distance), so I signed up for the 10 miler because I am supposed to run around that distance anyways on that day. I thought it sounded like a fun race, and let’s face it – I can’t get enough of races so of course I would sign up!

Hope everyone has a great week and that you are all getting your Holiday sweat on!!


Weekly Recap


Monday, December 8th: Rest Day

Tuesday, December 9th:  Rest Day

Wednesday, December 10th: Rest Day

Thursday, December 11th 4.24 miles running (10:35 pace on treadmill)

Friday, December 12th: 4.22 miles running (10:40 pace on treadmill)

Saturday, December 13th: 7 miles running (11:03 pace OUTSIDE)

Sunday, December 14th: Rest Day

Yikes, this week was rough!!  I run special events for children and this week, I had five different special events going on.  It was not only exhausting, but did not leave me any time for running.  I was seriously going crazy!  Thank God I was able to make a bit of time and still got in all the required runs for the week.

I am so looking forward to this week for a variety of reasons.  First, it’s Christmas time and that means my annual Christmas day with my best friend Stacy.  We go downtown Chicago, have lunch, go to the German Christmas market, and usually we catch a Christmas play.  There will also be my Christmas lunch at work (they cancelled the annual holiday party—too expensive).  And my family holiday party on Sunday.  This week is also the FINAL LONG TRAINING WEEK for Disney—after Sunday, it’s officially taper time!!  I am so excited about this.  I thought about the Dopey Challenge in January 2014, signed up in April, and officially started training in July.  Now it all comes down to this.  Less than 21 days until I leave for Disney.  I got the magic bands in the mail on Saturday and now just comes the waiting to leave.

I am also really looking forward to the start of 2015.  It is going to be a great running year!!

Have a great week!


Hot Chocolate 15K St. Louis Preview


Tomorrow, I will be running in the Hot Chocolate 15K race in St. Louis. I have ran in this race once before (last December) but only did the 5K race. This will be my first ever 15K race, so that means I will get an automatic PR. Even though a PR is inevitable, I still have many goals for this race and will definitely be pushing myself to run my best!

Yesterday, I dropped by the race expo in St. Louis Union Station to pick up my packet. The expo was fairly small with around 10 or so booths, but it was very fast and easy to navigate. I arrived about an hour after the expo began, and I didn’t have to wait in any lines to get my bib. After receiving my bib, I headed over to pick up one of the many perks of this race – the awesome hoodie! This hoodie is not for running in, but more for everyday wear. I couldn’t believe how comfortable it was and it will definitely be getting a lot of use. Along with the hoodie, I also received a free running hat since I had a coupon code for one during my registration. The hat is really nice dri-fit quality, and I can see myself using it a lot as well.

The weather for tomorrow’s race couldn’t be more perfect for a  race in the middle of December in the Midwest. Last year, it was awful as it had snowed the night before and it was frigid in the morning for the race. But tomorrow, the high is going to be 59 degrees and will be 46 degrees and sunny at the 7:30AM start! I am leaning towards wearing shorts (WHAT?! In December?!) and a long sleeve shirt, but I might change it depending on how I feel in the morning.

My main goal is to finish the race in under 1:20 minutes. My ultimate goal is to be around 1:17, which is around an 8:15/mile pace. I know this is possible, but I haven’t been really working on my speed lately so I am not positive that I will be able to run at that pace for over 9 miles.

Hopefully I will reach at least one of my goals and be able to really enjoy my hot chocolate and goodies at the end!


Looking Forward to 2015!

Since Lauren already previewed her 2015 schedule, I thought it was only fitting to preview mine… or at least what I have lined up so far :)

*Disney Dopey Challenge*

Unless you’ve lived under a rock or never read this blog before, all of you know I am doing the Dopey Challenge in Walt Disney World in January!  A few of my friends ran Disney Marathon Weekend last year, I just knew that I had to be a part of it for myself in 2015.

I’ve never run a marathon before (never thought I actually would!) but I figured why not go all out for the first one.  5k on Thursday, 10k on Friday, Half Marathon on Saturday and a Full Marathon on Sunday.

I’m excited that Lauren will be there (I’m sure she won’t be excited when my alarm clock has to go off at 2:30 every morning for the races) and running in the marathon.  I fully expect her to be cheering for me at the finish.  My friend Brandon is also running the marathon, so it will be fun to see him and his wife Mitra has well.

*Austin Half Marathon*

I’ve kind of kept quiet about this race because at first I wasn’t sure if I could even do it… but after some maneuvering around my work special event schedule, I’m able to do this one!  It’ll be a little over a month after Disney, so I should be rested and ready to go.

About 2 years ago, I interviewed for a job in Austin Texas.  I literally was flown down there on a Tuesday morning in January and came back to Chicago that evening.  It was such a quick experience that I didn’t have any chance to explore the city at all, especially when I didn’t get the job.  When I found out about the Austin Marathon last year, I loved the medal design and decided I needed to put it on my list for 2015.

I registered in June for this race for an early bird rate, have my hotel room booked, and now I just need to get the airline ticket (next paycheck J).  I’m trying to figure out now if it’s worth my time to go to the Alamo (its about 90 minutes away from Austin)… I’m not sure if I’ll ever make it back to Texas, so I want to do everything I can!

*Shamrock 8k and Half Marathon—Dolphin Challenge*

Sometimes, I’m super jealous that I do not live on the east coast for the races that J&A puts on each year in the Virginia Beach area.  If you’ve never heard of this group, look them up.. their races look amazing and get great reviews!

Since I love St. Patrick’s Day, I knew that I would have to run the Shamrock Half Marathon at some point to get Virginia done.  My high school friend Kathryn had talked about signing up for this race and with a price increase happening around Halloween, I told her we’d have to figure it out sooner rather than later!  She really wanted to do the Dolphin Challenge and I figured, what the heck, why not?!  It’s another 2 medals and as long as I walk/run (more walking than usual for me) during the 8k, I should be fine to do the half the next day.

I especially want to take the 8k slow, because I am planning for the Shamrock Half Marathon to be my goal race much like Nike Women’s Half in DC was my goal race of 2014.  I’ll be sharing my 2015 goals soon and you’ll have to see what I’m hoping to accomplish in Virginia Beach!

*Oak Barrel Half* 

It’s looking like I might be doing a half every month in 2015!   Probably not in the summer months—high humidity and high temperatures do not agree with me.

This race is not going to be a goal race at all.  The race is very hilly and features the “Whisky Hill”—which is supposed to be a beast of a hill.  It is held in Lynchburg Tennessee—home of Jack Daniels—and features a wooden medal in the shape of a barrel.  I’m planning on taking a tour of the Jack Daniels factory and getting an engraved bottle!  The race is very small (limited to 1450 runners) and sold out in 2 days.

Since this race is the first weekend in April, which is also Easter weekend, I’m actually going to fly to Nashville and then drive from Nashville to Lynchburg.  This will allow me to make it to my parents house on Saturday evening before Easter morning.

*500 Festival Mini-Marathon*

So far, this is my only half marathon that I will be driving to in 2015.  I go from one of the smallest half marathons in Tennessee to the nation’s largest half marathon in Indianapolis.

I lived in Indianapolis for a short period of time in 2008, so I am very familiar with the city and their love of the Indy 500.  The medal is always very cute (features a checkered flag ribbon) and it ends on the Indy 500 track.  I cannot wait to make this my Indiana race!

I’m considering running the Flying Pig Full in Cincinnati the next day—but I will not sign up until after the Dopey Challenge so see how my body holds up doing a half marathon and a full marathon back to back days.  If I do sign up for the Flying Pig, then I’m going to take this race nice and slow J.

That’s all I’m registered for at this point… I might be registering for Rt 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa by the end of the week (it’s in November—10th anniversary—and I love Rt 66) so it should be a great race.  I’m considering a full other East coast races in the fall as well (possibly a double weekend)—but I’ll be waiting to register for those ones for awhile.

Anything you think I should add either this year or in coming years?!


Weekly Recap


Monday, December 1st: Rest day

Tuesday, December 2nd: 5 miles running

Wednesday, December 3rd: 5 miles running, 40 minutes HIIT workout

Thursday, December 4th: 5 miles running, 1 mile cool down walk

Friday, December 5th: 40 minutes yoga, 1.5 mile walk

Saturday, December 6th: 19 miles running, 20 minutes stretching

Sunday, December 7th: 1 hour walk with Lilli, 40 minutes of yoga

This past week I completed another long training run, and now we are about a month away from Disney! I am getting really excited/nervous and cannot believe it is almost time for my second marathon.

My 19 mile run on Saturday went well, despite some problems at the start. I got to my favorite trail and was all ready to go. It was pretty nice outside (upper 30’s) and I was determined to have a good run. I started running, felt great, and as I passed the .5 mile marker on the trail I looked at my Nike+ app on my phone. I had not started it yet! I thought no big deal, I’ll start it now and then just do an extra .5 miles. That .5 miles I just did could just be my warmup! Well I started the app, and then 2 minutes later my app told me I had reached .5 miles. I have gotten faster this year, but I am no where close to, nor will I ever be, a 4 minute mile! So, I decided to not waste my time trying to re-calibrate the app, and decided to just follow the mile markers on the trail. I knew what time I began, so I would just enter the run into the Nike+ app after. I am very happy that I was on a trail with mile markers every .5 miles, as I definitely needed this help on this run!

The rest of the long run went pretty smoothly. I went at a really easy pace and enjoyed listening to my audiobook. I was tired at the end, but it wasn’t completely awful. I only have one more long run (20 miles) in two weeks, and then the taper begins!

This Sunday, I have my last race of 2015 – the Hot Chocolate 15K. I am looking forward to this race as I have never ran in a 15K before (automatic PR woot woot) and it will be good for me to have one more race under my belt before the big one in January! And of course, you get loads of chocolate at the end of this race, so that is definitely worth running for.

Before I go, I have to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my big sis Kathleen! I won’t reveal her age, but I will say this is the last year she can say she is in her twenties. HA! Have a great day sister! Can’t wait to see you in a few weeks for the Christmas party :) Love you!

Have a great week everyone! I will be back on Thursday with a preview of the Hot Chocolate 15K St. Louis.