Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hot Chocolate 15K; "Don't people know they can buy chocolate at the store?"

Ah, the Hot Chocolate 15K. You're good in theory.

You fall on the perfect weekend. If you were a week earlier, I may still have the marathon too fresh in my mind to consider you. I like that you're a 15K. I like that you're on a Saturday.

Your inaugural year was supreme. A smaller field of runners along the lakefront path. No pressure, just an easy long run after having a few weeks off from dedicated long runs. Best of all, there were boxes and boxes of Hershey's chocolate handed out at the end. So much chocolate in fact, that Kim A. and I had our hats and shirts filled to the brim. It was like trick-or-treating for adults and we loved it.

As the years have gone by, you've grown. This year, I heard an announcement of over 40,000 runners. That's a larger field than that of the Chicago Marathon. That's crazy. For the first time, you were held on "all city streets" which was much appreciated by anyone who ran you last year and hadn't anticipated trail running. But even at that, it was way too crowded to be of much joy.

Your expo is held in Union Station which may be great for suburbanites, but not for most city dwellers. You've picked up Ghirardelli as a sponsor, but they aren't as generous as Hershey's. Or maybe it's that you're too big now for any chocolatier to accommodate. Instead of being showered with more candy than you can eat at the finish, you're handed three squares of chocolate, then told to walk a mile to the post race party which happens to be a mud field. After trucking through the mud, we received a ballpark nacho tray including one marshmallow, one pretzel stick, the smallest rice krispie treat known to man and three apple slices. We then received about three tablespoons of melted chocolate to dip everything in. We walk around a big set up in the middle of the mud field where each person hands out one piece of chocolate each. If were were trick-or-treaters at your house, we'd come back and egg it (ok, maybe not, I'd never do that...) After a ten minute walk, I come back with four pieces. Complete waste of time.

Don't get me wrong, the chocolate is delicious. But after running 9.3 miles, I want to take in a lot of chocolate. I've been thinking for the last 90 minutes how I plan on stuffing my face with everything that comes in chocolate, because, after all, this is the Hot Chocolate Run. I even showed the Roosevelt Street bridge who's boss as I ran up it, just thinking about delicious chocolate. Oh, and how much easier it is to run up that bridge after running 8.5 vs. 25.5.

Some of the runners in our group were wise and decided not to trek to the post race party. Instead, they headed to brunch at Anne Sather's. Now, Anne doesn't disappoint. She advertises cinnamon rolls and you get big cinnamon rolls. Brian was there with a few people when Kim and I arrived. We discussed the race. We all had great times, even some P.R.'s.

As the subject of the stingy chocolate distribution came up, Brian posed a question, "Don't people know they can buy chocolate at the store?" In one sentence, he'd wrapped up the entire conversation, and quite possibly, the last chapter in my Hot Chocolate run career.

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