Last Saturday I woke up at 4:15 am to get to the Hot Chocolate race held in National Harbor Maryland (right outside of DC). According to Ram Racing we should shoot for getting to the National Harbor before 6:30 in order to avoid the road closures. They didn't really tell you what roads are being closed so we didn't want to end up S.O. L...we headed over the Wilson Bridge to the one road into National Harbor. We weren't sure what we would end up facing considering the race was 20,000 people strong and there was basically one road to get to National Harbor. Ok, not really one road..if your car is able to convert to a boat you could sail in. Unfortunately I was not willing to add that option to my car when I purchased it, so we were stuck driving. According to packet pick-up you must have at least 2 people in your car in order to park at the harbor. You could also pay to park and take the shuttle to the race. This one road situation may be the start of the undoing of the Hot Chocolate Race..more on that later.
Becky, Megan and I got to the Harbor at 5:55. The race is supposed to start at 7:30. So we hung out in the car for a bit and then decided to head to the Gaylord Convention Center to use the restroom and find out where exactly the start line and bag drop off is located.
Obviously we are super happy to be up before the crack of dawn for a 7:30 race.
Inside the Gaylord at the Gingerbread House.
The Gaylords Tree hanging from the ceiling. The Tree weighs in at over 7,000 lbs.
Since we are here so early we decide to make our way to the start and take a look at the harbor.
Ah the sun is starting to come up finally!
We start to walk along the bike path along the Potomac thinking that the start will be right down the road. Well turns out that the start was 1 1/2 miles from where we parked. Yeah that ten dollars we paid to park at the harbor was so worth it. So now we are really huffing it to try and make the start. We still have to drop our bag off too.
On our way to the start. Finally we get to the start of the race and the coral situation was crazy and not well organized. The 15K runners were running the opposite start as the 5 K runners. The 5K runners were starting first and then a half hour later the 15K runners start. The only probably is that the coral was so confusing. If you ran slower than a 9 min. mile you were supposed to be on the outside of the coral..looked like you started on the side of the hill..yeah I wasn't do that. We hung out near the end of the 9 min. mile coral. Turns out we were hanging out for over an hour because this is what the road looked like into national harbor.
Shuttles were dropping people off on the bridge so that they didn't miss the run. It was just crazy.
So were were standing around for about an hour waiting on people to get to the race and people to get off of the small bike path that everyone was going to run on. Yeah I said bike path for 10,000 runners. And the other great thing was people were walking towards us on the path trying to get to the start line. Needless to say when the race finally started Becky and I decided to run together..I mean walk together since we couldn't really run with all of the people trying to squeeze together on a path that was maybe 5 feet wide. Poor Becky had to hear me cursing over and over about how I paid $45 dollars and I am walking the first mile of the race. And how we paid another $10 dollars to park a mile and half away. I was not a happy runner. There were way too many people registered for the race and the course was not able to support the amount of runners that they signed up for the race.
Finally we finished and found Megan.
We enjoyed some fondue after the race. My favorite was the banana dipped in chocolate. Yum
We also got one cup of Hot Chocolate. Which most people needed because they were freezing after standing around so long. I saw quite a few 15K runners running the 5K because they didn't want to stand around any long.
After running we figured we were not going to be able to leave the harbor anytime soon, so we ended up visiting Ketchup for some brunch. Yeah that restaurant went with the theme of the day..fail. I was so disappointed in the race and my breakfast. I had some chicken and dried biscuits and the worst gravy I have ever ate.