Monday, April 10, 2017

2017 Philly Hot Chocolate -- Niko's first 5K!!

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

Those of who follow my social media, are already well aware that Niko ran the Philly Hot Chocolate 5k with me last weekend.  But I bet many don't know the real story about how it happened and probably think I'm a crazy running mama who forces her kids to run like her.  Nope totally not.

Niko got really into swimming this past year.  He swam on the summer swim team and the winter swim team.  He basically practiced 4-5 days a week from June until February.  He also loves soccer and baseball but there was a bit of a sports gap between when swim team ended and baseball begins.  I thought he would be happy for the break (I know I was!).  Literally the first day that he didn't have swim practice, he came to me and said "Can I please run on the treadmill??"  I was shocked.  I didn't think a treadmill would be of any interest to a 7 year old boy.   He asked if he could use my headphones and off he went on his first TM run.  And that's how it started.  He began running a few times a week.  One day Emir said "It would be awesome if he could do the Hot Chocolate 5K"  And I said "well why not?!"  I was signed up for the 15K as I have done the last two years but if Niko wanted to do the 5K, I had no problems switching.

To say Niko was excited when I asked him if he wanted to do the race would be a serious understatement.  We talked about it daily.  Not to say his training was easy because it wasn't.  There were times it was like pulling teeth to get him to run.  It was also tough to get him to go past the 1-1.5 mile mark which I do think was more of mental thing and a 7 year old boy not having a long enough attention span thing.   I did manage to get him to run 3 miles on the TM two weeks before the race.  He definitely was hurting afterwards but at least we all felt good that he could make the distance.

Since this was going to be Niko's first big race, my sister and her boyfriend decided to run with us which made Niko even more excited.   The Friday before the race was a torrential downpour all day which made traffic and stuff a nightmare.  My sister lives in the city so we sent her our race emails and she picked up our stuff for us.  We met her down at her place, Niko fueled on a GIANT cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake.  It was pretty impressive how fast he ate all that.  We had a fun sleepover and then met up with Cindy's boyfriend down by the race.
Niko demonstrating the thumbholes

It was a little chilly but overall great weather to run the race.  Niko was a little antsy in the corral but once we started he was good.  One of his main problems during training is that he would sprint as fast as he possibly could the first few minutes and then cramp up or just completely bonk.  Both Emir and I tried to work with him on pacing ALOT but I was pretty worried with how excited he was that he would just take off like a bat our of hell.  As it turns out, he was pretty nervous and worried about making it all 3 miles.  He said when he ran 3 miles on the TM it was hard and he got tired and his legs hurt which he didn't understand because "mommy and daddy run like a 100 miles"  I told him that our legs get tired and sore all the time too which seemed to make him feel better.  In any case, he definitely took it easy the first mile.   He ran the first mile in 12 minutes which included his candy stop.  He was shoving m&ms and chocolates in his face, it was pretty funny.  He seemed to be enjoying it and feeling good and I was thinking, ok if he makes it in like 38 minutes that's great for his first 5K.  Mile 2 he definitely picked up the pace.  I think it was antsy to reach the turn around point and once we hit it, he started taking off even faster as he was excited to be halfway done.  Cindy's boyfriend did a great job of keeping his mind off of how much we had left.  He was racing with Niko since Niko's main goal was to beat us all. 

We ran mile 2 in 10:40 something and Niko seemed to be feeling great and totally ready to finish that last mile.  The sun had come out and it was so nice out.  Niko started taking off on these sprints that a few times I had trouble keeping up.  I was so occupied with chasing him down that next thing I knew we had finished.  Also the finish line was kind of ambiguous this year and all of us were kind of like "was that the finish?"  We realized it was and I looked down and we had finished in 33:30!!  Niko ran his last mile in 9:26 and was running the last tenth in 8:25 pace.   He was beaming and we were all so proud of him.  He did a great job! 

Obviously everyone always enjoys the chocolate goodies at the end of the Hot Chocolate, I mean why else do we run it?!  But Niko especially was so excited to get these rewards for finishing the race.  He had a great experience.

As always, I had tons of fun at the Hot Chocolate.  Obviously this year's will always be extra special sharing Niko's first big race.  I didn't notice any changes from year's past other than there actually was a candy station full of candy.  The past two years I never saw any candy on course during the 15K so it was fun to get to indulge while running this year, it was definitely the highlight of Niko's race.  The jackets this year were probably the best yet.  They are a nice, thick material and have THUMBHOLES!  My only wish is that they would have a kids size.  There were close to 200 kids in the 14 & under category so I feel that is more than enough to offer a kids size, even just one kids size.  I felt so bad for Niko because I got him a men's small since he doesn't want anything to do with a women's anything and it was GIGANTIC.  He will absolutely never get to wear it even in a few years and he was definitely disappointed to not have a jacket he can wear around to show his friends.  Other than that a great time was had by all and Niko asked if there is a Hot Chocolate in Colorado that we can do next year so looks like we will be doing HC Denver next year!
Niko in action!  Free race photos!
You can also check out my recaps of the 2015 and 2016 Philly HC!