Sunday, November 17, 2013

Kona Chocolate 10K Race Report

I had so much fun at the Kona Chocolate 10K this morning!  And....I got a 10K PR!  

Final finish time: 52:22 (8:26 min/mile pace), 23 out of 199 in age group (F 25-29).  

The weather was pretty great this morning.  About 60 degrees and cloudy.  It looked like the rain and wind were going to hold off when I checked the weather too.  As such, I went in shorts and a tank top. I wore my sparkle skirt and my nose hoop, because everybody knows that those things make you go faster!
Pre-race photo with Irina
Pre-race photo with Josh

Blurry SEMR pre-race photo.  Man that tank top really stands out! 

Another blurry SEMR photo!  

My previous 10K PR was 53:13 (8:34 min/mile pace).  I was fairly confident I could beat that today if I put in the effort, given the paces I've been putting up at training runs recently.  The question was whether or not I wanted to put in the effort, given my half marathon next week.  Ultimately I decided to start with the 55:00 pacer (Josh!) and then run by feel (left my watch at home, intentionally!) and see what happened.  I would have been okay with anything today. 

Lined up at the start with Josh and Megan.  Thanks for the photo Megan! 
I stayed with the 55 min pacer (or slightly in front of them, there's always a crowd right with and behind them), until about mile 2, when I stopped slowing myself down to stay with them, but didn't really consciously step up the pace either.  At mile 3 I intentionally picked it up a bit.  I tried to pick it up again at mile 4, but I'm not sure if I was successful or not, because I did start to feel a little tired at that point, and I don't have splits to say one way or the other.  I just focused on my form and breathing and tried to find an effort level that was at the very highest edge of maintainable.  At mile 5 I did step on the gas again, and then dumped the tank after the mile 6 sign.  When I crossed the line, I saw 53:40 on the clock.  I had no idea how long after the gun I had crossed the start mat, but with the time to beat of 53:13 I felt like I had a pretty good chance.  Luckily, I ran into Megan on my way to my car, and she said we crossed the line more than a minute after the gun, so I knew I had done it!  Overall, I felt really good throughout this race.  I think this time could be beaten in the near future.  Yay!  

After I finished I went to my car to get some dry clothes and my phone.  It had started raining right about the time I had crossed the 6 mile line, and then started POURING while I was at my car, right about the time the 5K was starting.  Luckily it was warm out, so it didn't really bother me.  I gathered up my things and headed out onto the course in reverse to find Irina.  I did my best to cheer for the runners I was walking into, but I always feel awkward doing that by myself. I need to invest in a cowbell or something!  I found Irina and jogged/walked in with her for the last mile or less.  It had stopped raining by the time I found her, so less than about 20 minutes of real rain.  
A photo I took of the runners coming into the finish while the rain was coming down.  
Kellogg Park was chaos by this point.  The line for the chocolate tent was HUGE, though I'm not exactly sure how huge because I couldn't find the end of it.  We decided it wasn't worth the time/effort, since we were going to go to brunch anyway.  I felt the same way after Kona's Shamrock & Roll in March.  Kellogg park is just not big enough to support 6,000 runners in any semblance of an organized fashion.  Because of this, I've decided I'm done with the Kona races, at least as long as they're held in Plymouth at Kellogg Park.  I will still participate in the Kona Run in June, because that location is large enough to support the crowds they're drawing.
Post-race chaos.  
I did fight the crowds and wait in line to see my official time posted, since I was dying to know if I officially PR'ed or not.  52:22 for a 51 second PR.  :)

My new and improved list of PRs!  My priority is still getting rid of that stupid half marathon PR from 2006, and then getting my marathon PR under a 10:00 min/mile pace.  Then I will be happy :)  
And my complete 10K race history, in ascending time order.
Because I love my blog readers, Irina and I stopped a random stranger and asked him if we could photograph his food, since we didn't get to experience it first hand.  It did look really good!

I also stole the photo below of the food buffet from the Southeast Michigan Runners facebook page:

These people are a lot more patient than me! 
Instead of the chocolate buffet, Irina and I headed out in search of brunch.  Before we did though, we posed for some classy parking lot photographs to show off our schwag.

UM and State buddies.  :)  
 We went to a Leo's Coney Island about a 10 minute drive from the race site.  It was packed with racers!  We put in our name and had to wait a little while for our table.  We took some selfies in the meantime.  :)

 Since we didn't get any chocolate at the race, we were obligated to order chocolate at the restaurant.  We both went with chocolate chip pancakes.  I added a side of egg whites for some protein for MOAR MUSCLES.

Bring on the BRUNCH baby!!
Okay, so here's my review of the race itself.  I've run this course plenty of times, and I do like it.  But it's getting too big for its britches.  While I never had a problem with congestion on the course, the congestion at the finish festivities is obscene.  I also think the bathrooms are too hidden at the start line, and probably not enough of them either.  I knew where they were because they were in the same place as previous years, and I didn't have to wait because I was early, but if I was later or didn't know where they were I would have probably been SOL (shit-outta-luck) or had to SIMP (shit-in-my-pants).  Side note:  This is technically an inaugural run, so I've never technically run this race before, but Kona's Shamrock & Roll and Wicked Halloween Runs are on the same course and have been going on for years, so this race isn't really "new".  It's just a different month and different theme.

3rd beef:  The shirts.  Okay, my beef is not really with the shirts.  They are really super nice, thicker, long-sleeved, quarter-zip tech shirts.

Cute, right??
 My beef with the shirts is simply that they were advertised as jackets.  Okay I just went to the race website and it says "1/4 Zip Pullover Tech Shirt", so I guess I don't have a complaint on the shirts after all.  For some reason when I registered I could have sworn they called them jackets, which is why I sized up and ordered a large.  As you can see from the parking lot photos I posted above, the shirt is stupidly huge on me.  Which is my fault.  I never learn that I am not actually a large, as much as I might feel like it.  So, if anybody got a medium and it is too small, I would love to trade with you!!  Email me!!!  These are super nice shirts, I'd hate to not wear it!

I do really like the medal as well.  More than my other medals from Kona races.  It looks less chintzy and is heavier than my others from them.

However, the 5K/10K half of my medal rack is getting pretty congested.  I think it's time to spring for another rack!  Allied Medal Displays, here I come.

Feels great to be back racing, especially with a shiny new PR!  Can't wait for my half marathon next Sunday with Michelle in Cleveland!!!  :D

Nice job to everybody else who raced or ran today!

All photos from the race are also available in this Google + Album.  


  1. Nice race and report. Sweet PR!

    I think "too big for its britches" is a good assessment. The Kona races are generally among the best run races. They generally have the best shirts, a good setup and no one else really has pacers for 5 or 10k (and none as fanstastic as the ones this year). :P That said, the setup at the end was quite disappointing. As cool as the Kellogg Park downtown triangle is, it increasingly seems too small. They (Kona) have good people and will get it worked out.

    1. When they do, I'll be back! Until then, sticking with smaller ones. Plus I have a shot at an age group award at the small ones! Double win! ;)

  2. Nice, Ty! Really good information. I have the same problem with the shirt, having also ordered a "L" and it is quite big on me. Good to know about having the set up in Kellogg Park. Will keep my eye out for the next one to try.

  3. Great race! & I have to agree that area is way to small and a cluster post race! along with need for adding more porta potties! I was in line for almost 20-25mins, I even wondered if they would have to delay start because I left to start line with 5 mins to spare and there was still a huge line!

  4. Hi Ty, I ran this today too. Congrats on your PR. I waited in line right after I finished the 10k to get in the tent. It was during the deluge prior to the 5k start. Kind of a bummer but I was so hot the rain felt pretty good. I watched them turn people away who didn't have tickets, which I couldn't believe. So I understand why they needed to have the tickets and enforce them. Once I got in the tent, they had the hot chocolate, which was excellent with whipped cream, chocolate marshmallows and caramel sauce, first and then the plates of chocolate treats that they were hand dipping. Everyone bunched up at the hot chocolate and didn't see the hundreds of plates lined up with the food. If they could add another line in the tent that would help or put the food before the drink so people that might not want hot chocolate could grab a water and leave. I was glad they had the water/powerade outside of the tent though.

    I had a similar shirt experience except I ordered an XL and probably need a medium. Ugh. However, they did tell me at packet pickup yesterday to stop by and check after the race today. I did that and was able to downsize to a large which is considerably better than the XL but still too big. I have horrible luck with race shirts though. I can never seem to get the proper size. They even provided accurate measurements on their website and I still botched it. Oh well.

    This was my second Kona race and even with the food line I still enjoyed it and will continue to run them. I love the organization, the town and the course. Maybe they need to stick to their guns on the maximum runners allowed but it must be tough when they have an overwhelming demand. You did make a good choice in going for the breakfast though! Apparently eating chocolate that early in the morning isn't as appealing to me as I thought it would be.


    1. I had finished just prior to the deluge and the 5K start but opted to go to my car and get dry clothes and my phone rather than chocolate. Looks like I chose poorly!

  5. I agree that the lines at the end were horrible! Such a disappointment to run a CHOCOLATE 10k and not have a chance to eat any chocolate at the end. I couldn't even figure out where the line ended. Kellogg Park is really a bad place for long lines. I waited in line for my triple crown medal at the Halloween race and it was a mess - no one knew where the line ended and it had to wind around the park several times. Would love to see a different start/end location next year - maybe the park they use for the Solstice/Kona run?


  6. I agree, the crowds after the race were ridiculous! I was all excited for chocolate afterwards, but the second I crossed the finish and saw the HUGE line...I decided that it was a no-go. (Also, a wet, tired puppy doesn't help the situation either!). This was my first Kona Race, but did a YMCA race earlier this year on the same course and the YMCA run was MUCH easier to get around afterwards. Just too many people.

    1. The father's day run? I've done that one too. Good race. Yeah the kona ones used to be manageable like that too, but they have gotten too huge for that location I think.


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