Race Report: NYRR Hot Chocolate 15K

We ran the Hot Chocolate 15K race in Central Park yesterday, organized by the New York Road Runners. And, man, was it cold! We drove in and managed to find a spot on 108th St, so we were really early. Better than being late, but we would have been smarter to kill some time in the car. The wind chill was around 18F and when the wind whipped around the corners, it certainly woke you up.

Fortunately, there was a bit more wind protection (or at least it wasn’t so channeled through the canyons) in the park itself. We ran around for twenty minutes, stood around in the sun, and lined up, teeth chattering, about five minutes before race time to benefit from the surrounding body heat.

The horn blew at 9:33 and the race was on: 9.3 miles counter-clockwise around the park starting at 102 Street on the East side. One full loop around the bottom of the park, and one shorter loop along 72 Street. I was somewhat familiar with the course from having run the More Marathon last year, although I’d run it in the opposite direction, so there were some surprises.

Since it was windy, I picked a conservative goal time of 1:12:00 or better, and I started slow to test the waters, again employing an “extreme negative split” strategy. Once again, it worked very well. I finished in 1:12:22. Had I known the course better, I think I could have easily bested 1:12, as I was expecting a bigger hill the last 2K when in fact it was downhill.

It was a lot of fun. I have to say that I enjoy running in the park. It’s a challenging course and a good place to practice racing tactics. I even tried out a very short finishing kick (about 50 meters), blowing past three women about 15 feet from the finish. That was a gas. People do it to me all the time and it drives me nuts. Result: 16th in my age group, and in the top 7% of all women finishers.

So I’m very happy with my time and, between the three recent races, I’ve got a good sense of what my initial paces should be when I start my marathon training (gulp) tomorrow.

As for Jonathan, he met his goal of finishing in under an hour: 59:20. And he took third in his age group, garnering what is quite possibly the world’s ugliest “hot chocolate” mug.

We were treated to post-race hot chocolate and bagels at a nearby school. And we struck up a conversation with friendly older gentleman named Andy who isn’t a runner, but seems to be a race junkie. He lives over the park on the north end and has been watching races since the first NY marathon.

Today we went for a short recovery run together in our first snow of the season. Now it’s time for a glass of wine and some tree decorating…

Yesterday’s splits:

Mile 1          8:11
Mile 2          7:47
Mile 3          7:52
Mile 4          7:49
Mile 5          7:37
Mile 6          7:44*
Mile 7          7:29
Mile 8          7:37
Mile 9          7:14
Mile 9.3        3:00

Finish time  1:12:22

Average pace    7:46

*I must figure out how to drink while running

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