Race Review: Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte (Virtual Race)

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the 2021 Allstate Hot Chocolate Charlotte race to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

The Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte virtual race was the best run of my life. #hc15k #hccharbr #hcvirtualbr #bibchat @hotchocolate15k @bibrave

The story begins around twelve weeks ago, when I embarked on a new training plan in preparation for some spring races. I started following a sixteen week plan half marathon plan, known as the “Run Less Run Faster” program.

It just so happened that in week twelve of the plan, the same weekend as the Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte race, the scheduled long run was 10 miles! This race was the perfect fit for my training schedule!

TRAINING: wearing Hot Chocolate race swag from a previous year!

The training plan has been going really well. I’ve been seeing lots of personal improvement and numerous PRs, so I knew I would at least beat my previous Hot Chocolate 15K race times.

2018 Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte — 1:18 — 8:23/mi
2019 Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte — 1:21 — 8:45/mi

When I signed up for the 2021 race, it was planned to be held in Charlotte. However, it is no surprise that the race decided to move to a virtual event, due to our lingering pandemic.

TRAINING: BibRave Pro Nilesh and I at the “track”.

Most people find themselves running alone for virtual events, but I have been fortunate. I trained with fellow BibRave Pro, Nilesh, and a few of our friends signed up to run the race with us. It was like a mini race day event here in Morrisville, NC!

We planned to start the race at 7:30am on the Saturday. However, there was really cold weather predicted and we feared the greenway and bridges would be too icy to run safely. In the end, the start time was moved to 11:30am, which turned out to be a great decision.

PRE-RACE: Ready to Rock the Orange!

While still a little chilly, the conditions were excellent for a race. The sky was blue, and the sun was out. I even managed to scald my bald head when I removed my hat for a section of the route.

The route we picked was fairly flat, and wound through trees and alongside lake Crabtree. There was a little headwind at times, but nothing to complain about.

I think, due to the tree cover, the GPS signal on my Garmin was sporadic, so at times it reported I was running much slower than I needed to be! This made me work that little bit harder, and all I could think was, “how do I maintain this pace for the next x miles?!”

TRAINING: through ALL the weather — wearing 2021 Hot Chocolate Race Jacket.

To my surprise, I ended up running at an average pace of 8:00/mi, giving me a new 15K PR of 1:14:34. Also wrapped in that is a new 10K PR of 49:22!

There was definitely an extra boost provided from just running with other people — so a big thank you to Nilesh, Steve, Thelma and Purvi for that!

I’m also thankful we all still have virtual races to participate in, motivating me to keep running and training, while we wait for things to re-open in the future.

You can sign up for any of the future Hot Chocolate races and run virtually with some friends or solo. They will mail you possibly the best swag of any race. You’ll get a really, warm race jacket, a great medal and lots of hot chocolate.

If you use code BRHC20 when registering you’ll receive a free Hot Chocolate branded hat!

POST-RACE: One happy fella.

Virtual Hot Chocolate 15k (Charlotte) – 20 Feb 2021

Disclaimer: I received an entry into Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K (Charlotte) to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Well… Saturday is the big day! It’ll be my first race of 2021. The weather has not great this week — rain, freezing rain, followed by more rain. I ran tonight for the last time before race day. It was an easy paced 6 miles, in the rain.

I was wearing my new Hot Chocolate Jacket, so the cold was not an issue. My shoes got wet through to my socks, but I won’t be wearing those shoes on Saturday, thank goodness!

The purpose of this post was to share the course details.

Nilesh (fellow BibRave Pro) and I have been training together consistently since November, and we’ve managed to get a few of our friends to sign up as well.

We will be using a section of local greenway to cover the 15K (9.3 miles). We’ll run out and back, and finish where we started. There will be a single road crossing (each way) unfortunately, that could slow us down a little, especially now that we changed the time to 11:30am.

Isn’t that the beauty of virtual races? We can start when we want, where we want. The original plan was to start at 7:30am, but we would likely face temperatures of less than 24F and lots of ice on the wooden bridges.

My daughter, Katie, will be out on her bike to grab some photos and videos of us all. It should be a good day. Training has been very successful this season. I’ve seen vast improvements and I’m running faster now than I ever have.

I’m following the Run Less Run Faster program by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss. Last training season I was running 5-6 days a week. It eventually got too much and put too much strain on my body. This training season I run 3 days a week and I’m seeing better results.

Look out for a recap when the race is done.

Don’t forget you can sign up and run any Hot Chocolate city virtually. If you use code BRHC20 when registering, they will throw in a free Hot Chocolate branded hat.

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