Preparing For The Hot Chocolate 15K in Philadelphia

Photo by Magda Ehlers on

One of the best tips for reaching a goal is making it measurable and time limited. The One Year No Beer Program challenged me to book a race. I knew that I wanted to do something fun and challenging. I chose to run the Hot Chocolate 15K. I did this run before and remember both the race and training being enjoyable experiences. This time, I’ll be training solo. I knew I would need something to give me a boost. Somehow, I came across the Nike Running Club app ( NRC). I used the Nike Training Club app in the past, but didn’t think of myself as a runner enough to find the Nike Running Club useful. Luckily, the app has a half-marathon training. I had no idea how amazing this training would be until I started. Each week you have 5 running days and 2 rest days. There are 2 recovery runs, 2 speed runs, and a long run each week. Every run is guided… Let me type that again… EVERY run is guided. It’s been awesome to have someone in my ear to push me along and give me motivation at the key times in the workout. I’m also able to play my own music in the background to get me in the zone.

Like my Favorite Things Blog, I will publish this initial post and update it weekly. I’d love for you to run with me! Tell me what you think about this program. I’ll be posting on my IG when I post each week’s reflection.

Week 1 (14 Weeks to GO)

My first impression was that this is not for beginners. I’m not sure in what universe a beginner would be able to run a 5K on the first week. Maybe they are referring to a beginner to running marathons, but definitely not a beginner runner. I was shocked that I completed the run myself. My speed runs for the week were intervals and a fartlek. A Fartlek is a training with slower and faster running, but continuous. It can get more complex than that as well. The highlights for the week were the recovery runs. It was a surprise to be praised and encouraged to run easily. The truth is that most runs will be recovery runs. Embracing that I don’t have to kill myself with every run in order to be a half-marathon runner was very refreshing,

Week 2 (13 Weeks to GO)

I came into week 2 a little scared because I knew the long run would be longer. In fact, it was 4 miles! The recovery runs this week were cool. One of the runs was a collaboration with Headspace. There were many things discussed in the run, but it really helped me to learn to run easier without changing my pace. I’ve been using a treadmill to train because the weather is cray. My rule is that I will pass on running outside if the temp is less than 40. The speed runs for this week were more challenging because I turned up the pace. Nothing is based on speed in this program. Instead, the emphasis is effort. Back to the long run… My long run day happened to coincide with the runDisney marathon. In celebration, I found some cool Disney treadmill runs to feel like I was a part of the magic.

Week 3 (12 Weeks to GO)

The speed runs this week were no joke. One of the speed runs was a hill workout. It was cold and icy outside, so I got a day pass to Planet Fitness to check out if it was a good fit and get a proper hill workout in. My treadmill at home has been sufficient for runs thus far, but it has minimal features and doesn’t incline. The treadmills at planet fitness are amazing. I immediately told my husband I wanted one of those only to find out that those treadmill are at least $7000. It put that gym membership into perspective. The premier membership at Planet Fitness is $25 a month , so that’s about 25 years of using the treadmill and other equipment. The other speed run was a real challenge for me. It was an interval run where the speed intervals were 7 minutes. It was so intense that I almost cried at the end. I love Coach Bennett, but the other coaches really know how to motivate me during those grueling runs. I had to split up the 5 mile run due to various things going on in the home, but I finished. I hope to run the next long run straight through and do my own warm up instead of pausing the run. I wonder what people do about the bathroom.

Week 4 (11 Weeks to GO)

The most intimidating run for this week was the long run … A whopping 10 K. The other runs this week included the standard easy run that explains the week, another easy run with Headspace, an interval run, and my first tempo run. Tempo runs are speed runs for a prolonged time. For example this week’s run consisted of 25 minutes of running at 7/8 effort. That was difficult, but felt so good when I finished. The monster was the 10 K. I was scared to do it, but I finished. At the end, my only concern or question was about how people avoid the restroom during races. The verdict was to do what you have to do. It affects time, but there have been people who used the restroom and still went on to make their best time and win medals. I think one of my goals will be to figure out how to hydrate and fuel prior to long runs, so that my need to take a break will be decreased. Overall, this was a great week. I also used a treadmill at an hotel for most of my runs this week. It felt good to prioritize running despite being on the road.

Week 5( 10 Weeks to GO)

This was the week that the tempo run got me. This week consisted of the standard 15 minute recovery run, 30 minute recovery run, tempo run, interval run, and 10k run. I liked that the 10k run was repeated. I felt like it was definitely less of a huge deal because I knew I could do the run from the week prior. The 30 minute recovery run was also cool because I was given a prompt to reflect on every 15 minutes. I find blending reflecting with running to be very helpful. It gets me in the flow of the run and sets the tone for the rest of the day. The interval run was fun this week, but the tempo run gave me a run for my money. I became ill near the end of the run. It was so random. I think the experience made me value the importance of hydrating and eating nourishing foods prior to a run. I think I ate mindlessly and didn’t drink my normal ounces for the day. I paid for it.

Week 6 (9 Weeks to GO)

This week consisted of the usual 2 recovery runs, 2 fast runs, and at 12K long run. The highlight of this week was the 45 minute long run. It was guided by Coach Bennett and Shalane Flanagan, the 2017 New York Marathon winner. That run was amazing because she shared her triumphs, but also her vulnerabilities.

So…week six is where everything changed. I started the week out running, but was told by my Ob-Gyn that I had to stop. I found out I was 8 weeks pregnant and he didn’t recommend running whatsoever. However, he wasn’t opposed to a fast walk. The challenge was on. I was able to finish my week off with a brisk 8 mile walk. However, by the next week, I was not only unable to run, but had difficulty walking a few feet before feeling that I needed to sit down for me and the baby’s safety. Thus, the program went on pause and I wasn’t able to complete the week Nevertheless, I’m not giving up on the thought that I’m a runner. I want to run everyday, but it’s not the season for that. It’s time to change gears. It’s time to take care of myself and my baby so I can be healthy enough to run again in the future. I haven’t given up on the race.

Weeks 7- 14 ( The Queens St Patrick’s 5K and Outbreak Virtual Races)

After I started to have difficulties, I came to grips with the fact it was time to pivot. I made the decision to downgrade from a 15K to a 5 K. During the training, they would encourage me to envision myself crossing the finish line. From the day that I found out I was pregnant, my dream was to do a gender reveal. That would entail reveling an ” It’s a girl” or ” It’s a boy” shirt seconds before crossing the finish line. At around 12 weeks of my pregnancy, I felt more equipped for the 5K. The goal was now to make it under a 15 minute mile.

To get started again and keep active, I did a few virtual “Outbreak” races. These races are great because they inspired me to walk and keep active daily. During these races, I had a certain amount of time to travel a certain distance. It was linked to a video game in which I was trying to avoid and fight zombies. I highly recommend doing this with friends of all levels of fitness. It pushes people to be more active. If you’re less active, your friends make you pick it up and if you’re already active, you may find yourself doing a little more to help out your team.

Closer to race day, I attempted to work on time. My casual pace was about an 18-20 minute mile. I felt even more comfortable with race day after doing the The Queens St Patrick’s 5K with Elitefeats. I almost cried crossing the finish line because it was the first time doing that distance in weeks. My time was a 15.57 mile, but that made me even more hungry for race day.

RACE DAY!!!!- Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 5K

I made it to race day!!! It was an emotional day. I was finally going to live out a moment I had been envisioning for weeks. It was a brisk day, but perfect to put some pep in my step. I had my gender reveal shirt under the swag that was provided. This race is notorious for amazing outdoor jackets as their swag. The other reason I love this race is that at the end of the race you receive a finisher’s medal and a tray containing fondue, snacks for dipping, and hot chocolate. I was naturally with the last group of runners because I was walking. Ironically, there were signs everywhere that said, “No walkers.” I scoffed because my goal was to walk faster than some people would do running. The official charity partner was the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Nevertheless, there were various running teams that were in honor of people of all ages that passed away from cancer. I started to cry because I thought about all the people that I loss in the last year from cancer or had been diagnosed with cancer. Part of me felt like I was racing for them too. Racing in the back was also interesting because you got to see the people pushing strollers and loved ones that couldn’t walk themselves. I also can’t forget to mention that others joined me for the race. My friend Nabila did the 15K and my friends Rachel and Qortni did the 5K.

The race itself went well. I finished a little over a 13 minute mile. Throughout the race I was listening to the Nike Training Club’s 5K race guided run. The mile markers were placed , but I received notifications from the app whenever a 1K was completed. I encouraged all the runners nearby that we were making progress and were doing great. Pumping up the intensity really made the race feel more lively and meaningful. I walked most of the race, but ran the last 50-100 meters to the finish line. I did it!!! It was fitting that the race happened to be near the “Rocky” steps, so I was able to feel like a real hero.

P.S. It’s a GIRL!!!! I’ll have more about the pregnancy on future blogs!!!

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