A lot of us are eager to get back on a race course.
A lot of us will do anything for chocolate.
How about a race that features chocolate? Sounds pretty sweet, am I right?
Affiliated with Anderson Race Management, the Chocoholic Frolic series features races in numerous cities across the US.
I first ran the Iowa City 10K, in 2019 (race recap HERE). Last year, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the race had to go virtual. Some of the other events have been virtual (in recent months), but the Iowa City venue offered both in-person and virtual options.
Like the 2019 event, this was held at the Terry Trublood Recreation Park. With a 9:00 race start, I had plenty of time to get my packet, use the (indoor!) restroom, and do an easy-paced 1-mile warm-up run (as well as some other dynamic stretches).
The temps were nice (47F, with a mere 5mph wind). We didn't have any sunshine, but the forecast rain was a no-show, so NO complaints.
The race course was an out-and-back, on the paved walkway that wound around Sand Lake. I had forgotten just how big the lake was! The walkway took us nearly 90% of the way around the lake, before the turn-around.
Anyways, it had been seven months since my stress fracture was diagnosed. Although I was allowed to resume running two months later, in late October, I had spent the remainder of 2020 easing back with short runs and very minimal mileage. In early February, I was granted permission to ease back to longer distances and increased weekly mileage. Since all of this gradual "build-back-the base" running had been taking place, there had not been any focused speedwork, and my longest run had only been seven miles.
All that being said, I had no idea how to pace myself for this race. Even with my (almost) 16 years of running (and racing) experience, I felt a bit like a newbie because I'd never rallied back from a broken bone. So, I went with what had always worked for me in the past...run by feel.
|ready for the warm-up|
With all the necessary Covid protocol, we were required to wear masks/face coverings until we crossed the start line, and then put them back on after finishing. We also had to space ourselves approximately six-feet apart as we lined up. Not fun, but very doable.
And we were off!
Let me tell you, it was such a treat to not have any major wind to fight! It was easy to get in a groove, pretty quickly, and just let my legs go. I noticed a lot of younger racers, and many of them passed me right out of the gate.
As we made our way around the lake, I already knew I'd be ditching the gloves before the first half mile. Over all, I felt like I'd nailed the layers with perfection, but I should have left the gloves behind. Oh well.
It was just after the first mile when I started passing some of the younger gals who had blown past me earlier. My Garmin showed that I'd run the first mile in 8:24, which is borderline "too fast," so I tried to slow down a bit. A short ways later, the faster guys were passing me from the other direction, on their way back from the turn-around.
There weren't any water stands along the course (because of #covid), but I felt fine. It's not like it was a hot summer day, nor was I running very far. I made it to the turn-around, and felt a wave of relief wash over me. It's always a good feeling to know you've passed the halfway point LOL.
Making my way back, I started to see a lot of other runners and walkers. I made it past the 2-mile mark, and tried looking across the lake for the finish line...was it really that far off in the distance? Again, I had forgotten how big this lake actually was.
I just kept plugging away, kept working my way back around the lake, and kept searching for the finish line canopy. It wasn't until the last 1/2-mile or so that I could clearly see it. I had forgotten the canopy was brown in color (chocolate-theme, don't forget), so it kind of blended into the background and was difficult to spot from a distance (duh!).
Something that involuntarily happens to me in a race, no matter the distance, is I get a huge adrenaline rush in the final mile. I don't feel like I'm consciously trying to sprint to the finish, but I can tell my legs just all-of-a-sudden take on a life of their own.
I crossed the finish line and placed my mask back on. I took my time walking around before heading inside to get my grab-and-go post-race snacks. Then, I took a minute to check my splits.
Although, it felt like I'd run a little faster than what my Garmin indicated, I was still pretty happy with my finish time. I'd run strong, my legs had felt loose and free, and my foot hadn't given me any cause for concern. It took a few minutes, before I realized my Garmin said I'd run 3.22 miles, instead of 3.1. Knocking off (approximately) half of the extra 1:43 (for the extra .1 mile) would have my actual 5K finish time well under 27 minutes. Things that make you go hmmm.
There weren't any formal awards, for age groups or otherwise (again, #covid), but we were told we could check our results on the website. It wasn't until the next day, I kid you not, that I remembered to check for my official results, and guess what I found...
Even with a fairly small field, it was a nice surprise to get a 1st place AG and a 3rd place overall. As I said on Insta, it's not about placing, but about running a strong race. My efforts are all on me, but how (or if) I place is contingent on who else shows up.
The swag is pretty sweet, no pun intended. The hooded shirts are a unique color, and the medals open up, to reveal an assortment of "chocolates" inside.
Also, all participants received a box of chocolates, from Abdallah Chocolates.
|I'd already snagged the dark chocolate salted caramel from the top row|
So, yeah, this was a pretty sweet adventure for a Saturday morning. A live race, a decent rally-back performance, and chocolate. I'm totally good with all of that.
Have you ever done a chocolate-themed race? Any live racing happening in your area yet?
**Disclaimer** This was my third year serving as an ambassador for the Iowa City Chocoholic Frolic. In exchange for helping promote the event, via social media, I received a complimentary race registration (and all subsequent swag).