Great Chocolate Race 10 Miler
My running friend, D, from undergrad asked if I was interested in doing another race with her which was the Great Chocolate Race Long Beach. The race date worked out with my school schedule, and a 10 miler seemed like a distance I could reasonably train for on top of my studies. I loosely followed a 10 mile training plan I found online, and got to work. Training for this race was actually pretty fun because it forced me to seek out some trails near my apartment where I could complete my long runs.
The packet pickup for this race was at a car dealership in a small town near Long Beach. I was expecting some type of expo, but it was obviously a low budget race since all they had were a few tables with the the bibs and the t-shirts. They even ran out of small t-shirts even though we made our preferences when we registered which seemed odd. I got a medium instead and it still ended up working out for race day. At least the bib pickup was super quick, so my friend and I headed back to her parents' place where we ate a delicious carb-filled dinner and rested up for race day.
We drove down to Long Beach, parked, and waited at the start line. The race got started a bit late and the 5k runners were the first to begin. To me it makes more sense to have those running longer distances start first especially when the route for the shorter races overlap with that of the longer race.
After meager attempts to stay warm at the start line, the horn finally blew and we were off! I have really enjoyed running in Long Beach and this race was no different. Although there was a pretty significant hill around mile 3 or so the majority of the race was flat. There were a plethora of scenic views of the ocean with one of the best at the top of the aforementioned hill with the waters being kissed by the rising sun and keeping the glorious Queen Mary afloat. During this race I wore a particular pair of running pants to stay warm but one of the zippers was digging into my skin. As much as I wanted to blow it off, around mile 4 it became too much and I was forced to stop and fix it. By that time the zipper had already dug into my skin enough to cause some superficial damage. I caught back up with my running buddy, D, so I could maintain a decent pace. For a while now I have considered her my rabbit since she forces to me to maintain a challenging race pace.
This race was lower budget which was painfully obvious when the signage for the route was abysmal. Unfortunately there weren't a lot of volunteers around either to ask for directions. Us runners did our best to stay on the supposed route, and given we finished with our watches stating we ran close to 10 miles I think we did alright.
Around mile 5 I was starting to struggle to maintain D's pace. Fortunately one of my friend's, J, who came to support me showed his face and started to run alongside me. Supporters are so key, and seeing his smile kept me motivated to stay on pace for another mile or so before I let D do her thing while I hung back for the rest of the race. The last 4 miles were down and back along a concrete bike path on the beach. It was a struggle, but I still managed to cross the finish line with a smile on my face while my friend cheered me on. My official time was 1:20:21 (8:02min/mile)!
After accepting my lovely finishers medal and congratulating D and her friend (who won first place by the way!) on their finishes I indulged in some post-race treats. Chief among them, of course, was some hot chocolate. Unfortunately the "heated" water wasn't exactly heated...so I enjoyed some lukewarm chocolate instead. After lounging on a grassy knoll with D and my supporter, J, I decided to check my race results and I got second place in my age division!! D got first! So we went up to the awards table and collected our prizes. I got a 2nd place keychain while D had to be sent hers at a later date because they ran out of first place ones. Whoever was in charge of ordering merchandise for the race definitely could have used some help. I mean first the t-shirts, now this....c'mon!
Despite the mishaps involving the overall organization of the race I enjoyed myself. It was a beautiful yet challenging race, and was exactly what I needed to motivate me to stay in shape while enduring the rigors of school.