Chocolate Dreaming-AllState Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Preparation

“Disclaimer: I received an entry to Hot Chocolate Charlotte as being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about becoming a Bibrave Pro(ambassador) and check out to review,find and write race reviews”

The fall racing season has ended and it’s time to start filling up that 2020 race calendar. That begins with the Hot Chocolate Charlotte in February. I decided I wouldn’t do any specific training plan to prepare for hot chocolate, instead I decided to do the work to maintain my training from my fall marathon. I am averaging between 15-20 miles a week, which should be enough to get me through Hot Chocolate before kicking up my training in preparation for the dolphin challenge at the Shamrock Half/Full Marathon in March. I will be starting my first season as a coach for my local Fleet Feet Half/Full Marathon program. I been mentor for a number of years, but since I became certified, I have taken the next step.

The one thing you can never account for during training is the CRAZY weather here in NC. In the last month I have been on runs where the temps were 70s and runs when the temps were in the 30s. So some days I was wearing gloves and some days I was coming home with unexpected chaffing. Chaffing in December!!? Regardless, the miles must be ran and I intend to keep running them.

Dreaming of that finisher’s chocolate and and becoming a hot chocolate legacy since this will be my 3rd year of running the race. I have been lucky enough to run it every year since it’s inaugural race in 2017.


My Chocolate Dream-Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte

“Disclaimer: I received an entry to  Allstate Hot Chocolate 5K/15K as part of being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about becoming Bibrave Pro(ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!”

I literally could hardly wait for this race. Not only was it my first race of 2018, but it was also my first time running a AllState Hot Chocolate series race. I had seen several running friends post about running the hot chocolate races, but I never had the opportunity since there was not one held in the state of NC. When I learned they were holding their inaugural one in Charlotte, NC, I jumped at the chance.


I was sweating trying to get to the expo. I had about a 2.5 hour drive and due to things beyond my control, we left later than I planned. Due to the fact there was no race-day packet pickup, I had to make it in time.  In the end, all worked out fine, we arrived at the expo right before 5:30(expo closed at 6) The expo itself, wasn’t as large as many others I have attended in the past, but it served it’s purpose. Checking in was a breeze since all you had to do was pull up the barcode from your email, they just scanned right from your phone. Added perk was the little samples of hot chocolate you got on your way out.


Rain was in the forecast all week leading up to the race, but I was happy when the percentage dropped the night before. There was still some drizzle but I decided to walk to the starting line rather than driving.(about 1.5 miles from my hotel). At the start you are welcomed by giant inflatable marshmellow people and music. Since there was a 5k and 15k, the 5k folks were sent off at 7:45 with the 15k getting started at 8:05. Having a race began on time is always a huge plus.

The course itself was surprisly  HILLY. I had friends tell me that Charlotte was not that hilly, and they clearly lied. We encountered our first hill a mile in, and the fun just keep coming throughout the remaining 8 miles. There seem to be water stops about every 2 miles, which was plenty for a cloudy, rainy day in the 50s. The police presence was amazing throughout the course. Every intersection had a cop, which helped make it a safe experience for all the runners. Upon crossing the finish line, you are meet with some sweet looking medals in the shape of once-bitten chocolate bars. After you receive your medal it was a short walk to the post-race festivities. There we were greeted with a huge chocolate mug, and inside the mug was: cup of hot chocolate, rice krispy treat, marshmallow, pretzels, cookies and a warm section of melted dark chocolate for dipping everything in. It was AMAZING.


The race has got to have the best swag I’ve received in a while. No regular t-shirts here, at the Allstate Hot chocolate 5k/15k you get a very nice fleece pullover to rock. I don’t know if the swag is the same during the hot months but a fleece pullover during the winter months is a definite welcomed sight.


No doubt about it, if you have the opportunity…RUN one of the Allstate Hot Chocolate races. It is a good distance, especially for runners that don’t want to take on a half marathon distance.  I promise, you will not be disappointed. I’ll be checking my results on Athlinks and seeing how my rivals performed.

When it’s Cold Outside

Brrrrr, training in the winter months can be exciting but can also be harmful if you don’t take the necessary precautions. My first race of 2018 is fast approaching, as I will be taking on the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K in Charlotte, NC, followed by Rock and Roll Raleigh. I , for one, love the winter training because it gives you the opportunity to test out a good amount of gadgets.

I am going to walk you through some of the things you need to consider before heading out the door for a run during the winter months.

Know the temperature/Know your body

Please do more than just look out the window before heading out on a run. There are so many things you can use these days to find out the weather; watch the news, check your phone and even some gps watches give you the temperatures outside at your location. Nothing worse than stepping outside thinking it is warmer than it actually is and your body going into temporary shock when that cold air hits you the first time.

What I mean by know your body is, only you know how your body will before in cold weather and what you need to assist. Personally, I can still wear shorts on my runs, up until the temperature hits freezing (32 degrees). I will usually rock shorts, with some type of thermal long sleeve top. Once that temp deeps below freezing, then I bring out the compression pants, gloves and infrared hood.

Invest in an Infrared Hood

You definitely need to invest in something that will keep your head warm during these cold runs. I purchased an Under Armour Infrared Hood about 2 years ago  and there is nothing like in during my long runs. It covers everything from your head to your neck, minus the eyes. 95% of the time after my runs, I am still sweating underneath it. Another big plus is its versatility; since it’s not attached to a jacket, you can wear it with anything. BUFF also makes some fantastic hats and balaclava that are stylish as much as they are warm.


You know those little pouches you can buy in Target/WalMart, etc that you shake and they get warm?? Well you should buy a little supply of those to use during your long runs. Even if you are wearing gloves, those digits and toes still can get that cold sting after you have been out there a while. Take those pouches, shake em up, and put one in each of your gloves. Bye bye, stingy fingers. Ready for a gamechanger??? Put one in each shoe, as well, and keep those toes toasty in the frigid temps. The pouches last a few hours so they should last the duration of your long run.

Don’t Try to be a Superhero

If it’s icy outside, it is probably a good idea for you to NOT try and run outside that day. One false step on a patch of ice, while put your training on the shelf for a period of time and none of us want that. Full disclosure, I say that but I seldom follow my own advice. I DESPISE the dreadmill, so it will take some very bad ice to keep me from running outside. So far in all my ice adventures, I have fared pretty well, minus a slight slip here or there. If you are a hard head like me, and are determined to run in on ice, go head and invest in some spikes to help your gripe. Running shoes are not built to handle ice, so don’t expect too much help from them during your attempted “ice skating” adventure.