I’ve been anxiously waiting for this weekend for months now. After running a beautiful race though downtown San Diego and Balboa Park, I will be presented with a box with hot chocolate and chocolate fondue, complete with delicious dipping treats. Is this a dream? No, this is real life – the San Diego Hot Chocolate 15k.
Even better, I have so many friends and family racing on Sunday. I organized a group of my runner girlfriends and two co-workers to race! Plus, my step-mom and Dad who have taken a pretty intense liking to running since they finished P90X last Fall, will also be racing (their first ever running race!).
I’ve never run a 15k. I’ve actually never even run a 10k outside of a triathlon and have only run two 5ks. I’m not really sure how to pace myself other than to go fast, but not too fast. The course is very hilly – there aren’t many courses in San Diego without hills but this course didn’t seem to do much to avoid them. The race begins downtown (I might get deja-vu from the San Diego Half two weeks ago) and immediately begins with a hill up into the southern end of Balboa Park. It then heads up Park Blvd (hill!!!) and into the aptly named Hillcrest district before heading back down through the park via a different route. The finish line is back in downtown. The best part is that the final mile is pretty much a straight shot downhill.
My coach’s directions for this Sunday’s run (which there isn’t really a taper for so it will basically replace my long run) is to start in the 7:40-45 range, drop down just under that for the 2nd 5k and in the final 5k get as close to 7:30 or faster as possible. His goal time for me is 1:11:00, a 7:38 pace. Of course I looked up what my goal time should be according to McMillan’s pace calculator using a 3:34:59 marathon time, and my coach was right on track – McMillan says I should be able to run exactly a 1:11:00. So of course, I want to go faster than this if possible to give myself a confidence boost. My coach has let me know that he thinks I’m on track for a 3:33 marathon at this point based on my training runs. He thinks that we can get me close to 3:30 marathon by race day (just about 5 weeks EEEEKS!).
Since the course is hilly, I will likely be running more on perceived effort than the paces my coach set out for me. When running uphill I’d expect my pace to drop to the high 7s/low 8s depending on how steep the hill is, and while I’m running downhill, I need to be between 7-7:30. Asia is also racing and her coach gave her instructions to race by effort, not pace, so we plan to start together and see how long we can hang on by each other’s side.
No matter what, it’s going to be a great day because it combines my friends, family and one of my favorite foods – chocolate!!!