Good morning folks!!
This past weekend, I travelled with my husband and a couple of friends, Rozdi and Kelly, to St. Louis for the Hot Chocolate 15k.
We left Friday night after work. St Louis is about a 6 hour drive from Tulsa. The forecast was calling for sleet and snow, so we were hoping to beat the weather. And we would have too if it hadn't been for a serious accident on the highway. We had to wait in traffic for about 30-45 minutes to get past the wreck. We were about an hour away from St. Louis when it started to snow. The snow was making Kelly very nervous, but we arrived safely without any problems. Rozdi was starting to feel bad with cold type symptoms but the time we arrived.
We awoke to a winter wonderland Saturday morning. About 3-4 inches of snow had fallen over night. I kept waiting for the race to be called off. But the snow was a wet snow and it started melting pretty quickly. We ate brunch at a local café called Benton Street Café. The food was very good!
Then we went to the expo for packet pickup.
We got our bibs and shopped the expo a little bit, did a little sight seeing at the Union Street Station, which used to be the train station and now houses the Doubletree Hotel. The streets were in pretty good shape so we drove around a bit to see some more sights.
We got a good look at the arch and the Mississippi River but it was really too cold and wet to do much more exploring. We went back to the hotel for naps. Later, we went to dinner then back to the hotel to prepare our race gear.
They were predicting temperatures around 5 degrees with a wind chill of -22 at the start! Many 15k runners had been diverted to the 5k based on projected finish time. I was a little bit concerned about having enough layers. But, on the other hand, I actually felt more prepared for this run than I did for the Route 66 half a few weeks ago.
I woke up Sunday morning at 5am with a bad headache!! GREAT! Not what one wants to deal with on race day! I stumbled around and got some advil, which took care of it quickly. I got dressed and met my friends. Our hotel was about 7 or 8 blocks from the start, so we decided to walk. My weather app showed the air temp at 23 degrees. My friends were worried about the cold, but I felt prepared. We made a pit stop at Union Street Station for a restroom then we made our way to gear check. My husband was going to hold my bag, but due to the ice and his recent knee surgery, we decided it would be safest if he waited at the hotel for us. After we checked out gear, we headed toward our starting corral. I was in D, my friends were in E. Right beside our corrals, there was a school bus with the engine running. At first, I thought it was a shuttle bus, but there was a sign on the window that said "warming bus". That was a really cool idea and welcomed relief! Rozdi and I waited on the bus, Kelly didn't want to get too hot. At 7:20, we went to our corrals. I almost felt like I should have made 1 more stop at the portalet, but decided not too. I'll regret that decision later!!
It was cold in the corral, but the sun was up and the 10 minutes passed quickly. The gun went off promptly at 7:30. I was in the second wave, so I didn't start until about 7:35. The course ran right past our hotel, so I got to see my husband which was nice! My calves were tight for about the first 3 miles. At mile 2.8, the 5k and 15k runners split. I was starting to regret not going to the portalet one last time and thought for a second about switching to the 5k but I knew I would regret that decision even more! I held out until about mile 4.5 when I couldn't wait any longer. I've never stopped at a porta john on the race course but I had no choice. I couldn't have made it 4.5 more miles. That little stop cost me about 3 minutes wait time and a few extra seconds to get all the layers tucked back in a straight. I was much more comfortable after that stop!! I stopped for a couple of quick pictures but those only took a few seconds. I felt like I was making pretty good time.
At about mile 6, I started running with a local lady named Linda. I really enjoyed the company, especially up the hill at mile 6.5! We leap frogged back and forth for the last 3 miles. At mile 8, I was feeling a little tired, because I had been running a little bit faster than I originally planned. I told Linda to go ahead, I wanted to walk for a few seconds. I walked about 30 seconds and I felt good to go again. I turned east on Chestnut street and ran toward the finish. When I crossed the line, I noticed Linda right in front of me. I thanked her for running with me and stopped my watch. When I saw my Garmin time, I was quite surprised. I had run 9.3 miles in 1:41 minutes. My official time was 1:45, but I had stopped my watch for the potty stop and the photo ops! Either way, this was a PR for me. I collected my finishers mug which had a cup of hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and cookies, marshmallows, pretzels, bananas, etc to dip in it.
I was getting cold after slowing down, so I made my way to Union Station to wait for my friends. They were not too far behind me. We waited in the warmth there for my husband to come pick up.
After hot showers at the hotel, we packed up our stuff for the trip home. Our next mission was lunch. Rozdi had been wanting pizza. We happened to find a local restaurant called Imo's Pizza. We decided to take a chance. They had $5 lunch specials, so we could all get our own individual pizzas. The food was delicious.
All in all, I really enjoyed this run! It was very well organized. I have to commend the city of St Louis. There were a few icy spots but for the most part, the roads/race course was clear. The course was scenic. I would recommend this race and would consider running it again!