Finished #HotChocolate15k 5.9mi in 1:00:52. 10:19/mi pace, my fastest measured race pace since late 2015! Previous year’s race paces for comparison:
* 2016-338 11:51/mi ~1/4 marathon North Face #ECSCA tantek.com/2016/359/t2/weeks-ago-ecsca-colder-start
* 2016-213 11:16/mi 1/2 marathon SF Marathon 1st half  tantek.com/2016/221/t4/finished-eighth-half-marathon
* 2016-135 10:50/mi 7.46 mi (12km) Bay to Breakers tantek.com/2016/181/t1/npsf-pr-wednesday-faster

Very different races, and all longer (and more vertical climb).

Looking back further, only the second half of 2015 (pre-injury) had faster race paces. Before that, my 2015 Bay to Breakers pace was a slower 10:27/mi. And before that, my only faster race pace was at Bay to Breakers 2014.

In addition, my running watch recorded my fastest mile today at 9:02, just three seconds off my recent timed track mile of 8:59.

It was sprinkling as we filed into the Hot Chocolate 15k corrals. Soon after they announced the course had been shortened, to 9.82 kilometers (if I heard correctly) because sea water from the Pacific Ocean had flooded the Great Highway, the middle out & back portion of the 15k course!

After crossing the start, we wound our way around various twists and turns in Golden Gate Park. All the roads were familiar, however the rain and energetic crowd made it quite a different experience.

I had never run in the rain when I ran my first half marathon nearly three years ago (Kaiser 2014), where there was rain, wind, and wind chill. I was stubborn more than resilient. I had set my mind on running the race, despite the discomfort. Still, that didn’t stop me from complaining afterwards, and my sore swollen knees made me question whether it was a good idea in the first place.

In over three years of working out with November Project, whether in pouring rain here @Nov_Project_SF in Alamo Square, or running up Harvard Stadium Steps in sub-freezing temperatures with @Nov_Project_BOS, I’ve had the opportunity to learn and adapt to working out in more and more extreme weather conditions.

Rain was expected today, and yet the forecast kept changing, even as I went to sleep last night. I double-checked this morning, plenty of rain expected, low 50s F temperatures. From all my NovermberProject rain running experiences, I knew shorts and a tanktop would be fine, as long as I started with a longsleeve for the first 10-15 minutes while I warmed up, wrapping it around my waist for the remainder of the race.

Aside from a brief walk to take off my longsleeve, and another to grab a water cup at the first fuel station, I ran the entire 5.9 miles non-stop.

It felt great. Yes it was humid, which perhaps posed the biggest breathing challenge. In spite of which, I felt strong, and felt good pushing myself to that limit. Whenever the rain picked up, I just smiled, because I was ready for this.

At two different spots on the course, I spotted fellow NPSF friends Tony and Krissi, getting a boost from their smiles, cheering, and encouragements. With less than two miles to go, Krissi jumped in and helped run me and another NPSF runner, Cara, up the last big hill.

As we crested that final big hill, I got another boost knowing the finish wasn’t far, and sprinted downhill past quite a few in the crowd. At the end of the downhill I could see the lights of the finish line, just a short uphill away.

The elapsed time on my watch read just under an hour. I pushed a little harder up that last hill, and could tell I wasn’t quite going to make it before the hour turned over. However, it did help, and I could tell I was close enough to push and finish before another minute went by. Finished at 1:00:52, and kept running a bit to extend my distance.

I grabbed a bottled water near the end of the finish chute, and realized I somehow missed getting a medal! I ran back through the flow of finishers, picked up my medal, and then saw NP friends Ava, Holly, and Stephanie running alongside the course (having completed their race a while ago).

I dodged back out through the crowd and sprinted to catch up to them. Apparently they were finishing out their total 15k! I joined them for a bit, finished 6ish miles myself, and returned to the Golde Gate Park Music Concourse, finding more friends.

We picked up our finishers chocolate kits which were amazing. A cup of hot chocolate, with optional marshmellow. The rain was falling harder and colder, so we took refuge near the concourse’s underground parking area. The finisher’s large plastic chocolate mug included a receptacle of chocolate fondue, into which I dipped the included chocolate cookies, a rice crispy treat, and a banana. Delicious.

All in all, a good start to the 2017 racing season.

Next: Surf City Half Marathon, Huntington Beach, California, in four weeks.

on (ttk.me t4mE3) using BBEdit