When we left off I had crossed the finish line and my watch read 1:25:11. I was feeling so excited about that time, but it was immediate chaos at the finish. They had set up the water/Gatorade too close to the finish line, which caused a bottleneck of people. Some poor race volunteer had to stand at the finish line the entire race with a bullhorn telling people to keep moving to make sure that runners could actually cross the finish line - that's how crowded it was!
Anyway, I got a bottle of water, spotted future MIL and SIL, and then found a perch to stand on as I watched for M. I figured she'd be maybe... 3-5 minutes behind me? If she had been feeling terrible, maybe 10. So we waited... and waited... and then I had been watching the finish line for 20 minutes and realized I definitely missed her. Crap. I called Susan who was with our friend K and they found us. We remembered that we had vaguely discussed meeting by the hot cocoa stand if we got separated, so we headed over to the post race party area. We camped out next to the hot cocoa and started watching for M.
I'll interject to say that the hot cocoa and the fondue was delicious. I wish there had been more of it (or maybe they should have had "1 serving free, next servings pay") but it was yummy!
So, after what seemed like for EVER (probably at least another half hour though) I start freaking out. Where is M? She doesn't know my phone number and she doesn't have her phone. No one memorizes numbers anymore. What would she even do in this situation? Finally we have the idea to ask the DJ booth to announce her name. Of course, their speakers are broken for the next 20 minutes. AGONY. I was really thinking, how could this get worse? The race was a hot mess, it started an hour late, and now we've been at the finish for well over an hour, unable to find M. My car is potentially undrivable, over a mile away, and I need to get Susan, M and I showered and fed and up to Maryland for another appointment by 3pm. Crap.
Finally, the DJ booth works and they announce for M to come to the hot cocoa stand. Ten minutes later, nothing. Now I am seriously out of ideas. Just as I was about to have a panic attack, my friend Mary calls me and says she has M. This is amazing, because Mary has actually never met M!!! M went up to the DJ booth and said "I heard my name but not what you said about me" and Mary was like "I KNOW YOUR FRIENDS!" We went running and I think did one of those slow-motion reunited movie hugs.
Susan, K, me, and M!
Now that we finally had our entire crew, we decided we better start on the hike back to the car. Seriously, worst parking situation ever. I heard the shuttle buses had long lines / weren't the best either but I can't really comment on that. Parking though? Bad. We went to the parking office to tell them about my car, and the guy was like "well I can't help you because everyone is dispatched to help with the traffic." So I was like um, well, what about my car? And he just shrugged. Calmly (on the outside, on the inside I was screaming) I said "So, just to be clear, your parking attendants had me drive over something that damaged my car, and now you cannot help me and have no suggestions for what I should do?" And he just shrugged. Okay, bye. We walked the rest of the way to where my car was parked, and sure enough, a 3 foot metal pole was stuck under my car. I see a guy directing traffic that doesn't seem to be too busy, as we were in a lower-traffic area, so I go talk to him. He tells me to go to the parking office. I am in the middle of explaining to him that the parking office wouldn't help me when Susan gets the pole out from underneath my car. ROOOMIE TO THE RESCUEE!!!!! (yes, we call each other roomie. yes, it has been 4.5 years since we were roommates). Luckily, my car appears to have no damage and we are able to get out of the parking lot and drive back to Virginia without TOO bad of traffic. And that folks, is a the story of the hot chocolate 15k, in three parts.
I don't think I'll ever run this race again and I will likely avoid races put on by RAM racing. Sure, this might have been a fluke. Sure, they probably will do great races in the future. But other races I've run have gone much more smoothly, so I think I'll avoid the hot chocolate race and RAM racing for now. The director of RAM racing did send an "apology / explanation of why things went to wrong" e-mail. Some things are understandable, but it wasn't enough for me to really believe that it was "just a fluke". In other news, several people with Garmins said that the 5k was too long and the 15k was too short. Also not sure if that's true, but if you can't get the course length correct, that is just plain ridiculous.
At the end of the day, I got to do a race with great friends (even many who I never found, haha) and I was really proud of my time. 1:25:11 (if the course was the right distance) translates to 9:09 miles, which is way faster than I thought I could run. That's awesome! I feel like all of my training paid off: my speed work, my long runs, my weight training and my other cardio cross training! After this race, I feel stronger and more fit than I have ever felt, and that is awesome!
So, what's next? I feel like I always need a next race so I have training plan to follow! I think I will be signing up for a 5k in February - it would be fun to run a shorter race and see how fast I can go! I am also excited to let y'all know that I got into the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler
I'm also thinking about running a half marathon in April, but that decision / announcement will come later :-)