Hot Chocolate Columbus

Hot Chocolate Columbus

Hot Chocolate Columbus

( 26 reviews )
96% of reviewers recommend this race
  • Columbus,
    United States
  • November
  • 3 miles/5K, 9 miles/15K, Virtual Race
  • Road Race
  • Event Website

Craig Simpson

Delaware, Ohio, United States
11 47
"Unstuffing the Helmet Slinging Turkey"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management
Craig Simpson's thoughts:

There haven't been many years where we have had significant snowfall in November, but this year we seem to have skipped Autumn all together.

Sure we get flurries every year, but most accumulation comes closer to December. Only a few times can I remember getting a decent snowfall prior to Thanksgiving. Though, that's exactly what we were honored with this year. It went from 50 degrees to four inches of the white stuff and school closings in under 24 hours. The arctic wave that strolled through the U.S. November 9th through the 13th found itself in Ohio the evening of the 11th. I drove home from work during it's infancy and by the time L & I ate dinner, we had a full on snowfall.

Being folks who enjoy the change of seasons, what did we do to celebrate? We went out in it, of course. We strolled around our neighborhood and goofed off like a couple of kids before heading in for the night. The following morning was just as pretty, though driving north to work was less than desirable. Most roads were relatively clear, but the nut jobs who can't drive when the wind blows to hard or the when sun is too bright found it upon themselves to navigate with their eyes closed.

Even at work I had to keep reminding myself it was only mid-November, despite the feeling it was late December or the first month of the third decade of the 2000's. Nonetheless, we were forced to rejoin the fun that is training in the snow under the cover of nightfall.

It was a bit ironic that we had signed up for the Columbus Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k/5k the week before when we simply expected it to be less than warm. Though it has "warmed up" to temperatures of 40 degrees instead of the teens - around the time of the snow - were still dodging some banks of snow and ice.

Even more weird was the fact we had moved most of our summer outdoor furniture and belongings into the basement from the carport just the day before as well as preparing our garden beds for hibernation. That carport was covered with snow the next night thanks to the blowing snow.

Did we know something others didn't? Did we have some sort of seasonal premonition? No, we just happen to live in Ohio. This is nothing new to us. Although, running a 15k would be something new for L. I was only hoping to improve at a distance I haven't had much experience with. L, on the other hand, would be stepping up from what had been her longest distance - the 10k.

The Thursday night before, L & I had dinner at a nearby establishment then wandered across the street to Staas Brewing to watch the Browns & Steelers beat the crap out of each other. We left at halftime since it had been a long day, but the night and morning ended up being longer then we had hoped for. Both us tossed and turned as what we had eaten seemed to whirl around our stomachs like Myles Garrett swinging Mason Rudolph's helmet like a cat o' nine tails.

Upon getting up Friday morning, everything I had eaten decided to evacuate itself from it's gastric prison - utilizing both unguarded exits. It was, as you can imagine, an unpleasant experience, but I felt better immediately thereafter. We more than likely will not be going back to this eatery anytime soon, but the experience didn't ruin the weekend like the rest of Garrett's season. Because, hey, we still had a race to run... and some edible non-tainted food to eat...

In recent years, most of the races (if not all) in November for us have been 5k's. This year I wanted to add something to that traditional Thanksgiving Day 3.1 miler and challenge myself a bit more. Having added more and more distance to her repertoire, L joined in following an awesome 10k trail race finish just two three weeks before. Exuding confidence, we were ready to tackle Columbus in November.

The route for this race would be a conglomeration of portions of the OhioHealth Capital City Half Marathon, AEP Ohio Columbus 10K and the Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon & Half Marathon. And not to mention it circles a neighborhood I used to live and and work, so this would be more than familiar territory for me.

We had a clear sky, but it was cold. Bouncing around to keep warm in the corral well before full sun & 28 degrees, a participant next to me wearing chicken-head shaped winter head gear with full face-shield leans over to me, "What time does the race start?"

Noticing he is also glancing over to the line-up of port-a-johns, "Starts at 7:30 dude, you have plenty of time."
Not sure if he's running the 5k or 15k as we were all mixed together, I also wanted to suggest he ditch the chicken head but I keep it to myself.

Just before we get to the countdown and I look back to see a sliver of L in the corral behind me. She looked ready, so was I. At the gun I tag along behind a few faces I recognize but don't go with them for fear of going out to fast (like always). I keep my self in check, but push a little to warm some chilly muscles. Within a couple of minutes, the lead groups have weeded out the pretenders and on the declining straight stretch along South High Street I can see everyone in front of me (mile one: 6:01). There looks to be about 20 or so and everyone seems to be maintaining for now.

At mile two I'm going about what I was looking for (6:09) and my goal is stick around this time for as long as I can. We turn to go around Schiller Park and two guys in front of me utilize the fuel stop. I pick out the last person at the stop to get a gulp of sports drink and just as I reach for the cup she's hold out she - looking behind me - drifts back to get a better look at those oncoming and unbeknownst to her pulls the cup away from my reaching hand.

She turns back just as I whiff at it, "Oh no! I'm so sorry!"
A little perturbed, but this happens to me at least once a race. It was early and I was hurting.

I pass dude in blue as we complete the Schiller Park loop and head back north along High Street (6:14). The long straight stretch incline shows the leaders well ahead and those within sight are scattered about. Passing the majority of the participants still heading south I see Traffic Panther Sarah and she throws out some encouragement.

Moments later, I see L and we congratulate one another on our efforts. I hear heavy footsteps coming from my rear and as he passes I see it is the dude in blue. He suddenly found another gear, but he's pounding the ground hard. Finally getting a swig of sports drink from a volunteer who is paying attention at mile four (6:18) and I slow a bit as the incline gets a bit longer and with the benefit of a nice decline on the other side.

Finally turning left off of High Street toward Goodale Park, an officer on foot has directed an SUV to follow him onto the course. It doesn't stay off to the side, but rather is directly in the middle of the one lane that's open. As it creeps along, I drift left to go around it and purposely bang my hand on the driver's side door, "Get off the course!"

As I pass, I hear the officer from behind me, "He' just trying to get around the event, sir."
"I don't care, get'em off the course," I say as there are hundreds of ways to get around the area without driving through the race (mile 5: 6:40).

Along the downhill the 5k & 15k races, which have been running side-by-side, split. At this point, those ahead are a good 20 to 30 seconds off and I'm running by myself up Neal Avenue passing the neighborhood I once lived in (mile 6: 6:04). Just before we reach the left turn onto West Fifth Avenue, I'm passed and keep pace with him to the water stop on Fifth. He heads to the fueling station volunteers on the left, I drift to those on my right. As I grab a cup on the go, I see he has come to a dead stop to refuel.

I find this odd and continue on, though within moments I heard oncoming footsteps. As the runner passes I notice it isn't the gentleman who had stopped, but someone else. At mile seven (6:23) the dude who stopped before returns and passes me again. We turn south on Olentangy River Road and pick it up to keep the two ahead within reach. We have gained on two a little further ahead as we now have full sun and are running direction into it (mile 8: 6:24).

We turn left onto a small hill on Goodale Street which then declines and evolves into Vine Street. Here a longer incline begins and those in front drift further ahead. I'm not catching anyone, just hoping to finish strong. We meet back up along side the 5k finishers (mile 9: 6:33), circle around Nationwide Arena and finish on a nice decline in shade of the surrounding downtown sports venue and buildings. My watch indicates the 15k was a bit long (9.4 instead of 9.3) and I'm in at 59:11. I'm sure I could have finished a bit better, but hard to complain with 17th place overall and finishing first in my age group.

The post race celebration was also mostly in the shade of the buildings as it was still just 8:30. I slowly head toward the gear check tent to grab our things while recovering from the gauntlet and I notice a burning sensation the right side of my jaw. I take of my glove to inspect and find the sweat on that side of my face is in the beginning stages of freezing. No, it wasn't cold at all on this day.

I get our things and put on my warm jacket and throw the hood over my head while walking back over to the finish area to wait for L under the beautiful ornate arch remnant from Columbus' once grand - but now gone - Union Station. She arrives before too long and is tired, yet ecstatic, with a 1:25:23 finish in her longest race ever (by three miles) and just two weeks after an awesome finish in a 10k trail race. This is a great step toward her goal of running her first 13.1 miler at the Athens Ohio Half Marathon next April. We went straight home and ordered a pizza. The rest of our Sunday was spent crashed on the sofa and watching football with one eye open.

The season of night running is upon us with lights, reflectors and headlamps all aglow. I think running when you can see less makes the experience go faster and more personally fulfilling, like navigating a tunnel. You can focus more and block out all of the lingering remnants that don't make much sense or are simply there to distract you. That's what it's all about: putting in the work, enjoying yourself and not worrying about what happens when the clock strikes midnight.....

The Airborne Toxic Event - Sometime Around Midnight

And it starts

Sometime around midnight
Or at least that's when
You lose yourself
For a minute or two
As you stand

Under the bar lights
And the band plays some song
About forgetting yourself for a while
And the piano's this melancholy sound check
To her smile
And that white dress she's wearing
You haven't seen her
For a while
But you know

That she's watching
She's laughing, she's turning
She's holding her tonic like a crux
The room suddenly spinning
She walks up and asks how you are
So you can smell her perfume
You can see her lying naked in your arms
And so there's a change

In your emotions
And all of these memories come rushing
Like feral waves to your mind
Of the curl of your bodies
Like two perfect circles entwined
And you feel hopeless, and homeless
And lost in the haze
Of the wine
And she leaves

With someone you don't know
But she makes sure you saw her
She looks right at you and bolts
As she walks out the door
Your blood boiling
Your stomach in ropes
And when your friends say what is it
You look like you've seen a ghost
And you walk

Under the streetlights
And you're too drunk to notice
That everyone is staring at you
And you so care what you look like
The world is falling
Around you
You just have to see her

You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You just have to see her

And you know that she'll break you in two

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