Hi everyone! I had a fabulous weekend which was mostly stress-free despite the face that we are moving to Alaska in less than a week! We have so much to do but we still managed to have a bit of fun. Friday was my last day of work which was really sad and difficult, so we celebrated with a happy hour at Frankford Hall. Saturday Andrew and I spent all day hiking at Ricketts Glen State Park (look for a future post on that!) and hung out with two of my best friends ever. And then on Sunday I had the Hershey 10k followed by a going away party that my parents threw for us! It was a really great weekend!
The Hershey 10k has a special place in my heart because when I ran that race last year it was the first time that I ever felt like a “real runner”. It was my longest distance at the time (and my only race longer than a 5k), the largest race I’d run so far, and the only race where there were people cheering for me and other runners! I have such good memories of that race and remember how proud I was when I finished way earlier than planned in 1:08:44. So when registration opened up for this year’s 10k, I signed up right away!
My life has been pretty hectic lately and with a full schedule of races, packing, and planning my big move I felt really overwhelmed and stressed out before this race. Since my half marathon 2 weeks ago I’ve only run twice, so I wasn’t feeling super confident about my abilities in this race. I also kind of vaguely remembered that there were a lot of hills inside Hershey Park, so I figured a PR might not happen. And the day before the race I hiked 7 miles up and down a very steep mountain and then had fried food and beer before getting only 5 hours of sleep. So understandably on race morning I felt pretty awful and didn’t really want to run, but I sucked it up and headed out at 6:00 am for the race.
When we pulled up I was surprised because there seemed to be a lot more people than last year (turns out there were the same amount) and the finish line was in a runners only section so my husband couldn’t hang out with me until the race started like he usually does. With 10 minutes until race time I realized to my horror that I had forgotten my Garmin at home! I was in shock but there wasn’t much I could do about it at that point. In fact, I’ve been reading a lot of race recaps of runners who run without a watch and how they are able to run faster because they’re less focused on numbers. So I figured that since I didn’t have a choice in the matter I would just embrace running without a watch!
After high fiving the Reese’s guy at the start line I was off! The course starts outside the stadium and goes through the Giant Center parking lot, down Hersheypark Drive, past the outlets, and finally spends about 2 miles in Hershey Park before finishing in the stadium. I knew the course from last year and felt confident I could keep up a good pace before hitting the hills in Hershey Park. I pushed myself pretty hard in the first mile but was feeling pretty good. We kept going up little hills and I kept thinking “That’s got to be the last one for a while!” before running into another hill! I seriously don’t remember all those hills from last time. Near the halfway point I got to high five Andrew and stop for a bit of water before heading up the loooooong gradual hill that is Hersheypark Drive. I literally checked my wrist to see what my halfway split was and had to laugh because I’d forgot that I wasn’t wearing a watch! Many people around me were making comments about their pace and I was able to gather that I was running in the high 9:00/mile range which was good news. Everything was going well until we entered Hershey Park. I started feeling dizzy and my stomach hurt, and had to stop for water before pushing on. The park is made up of very short but very steep hills and each one was a mental struggle for me. I could feel myself slowing down and I had to use mental tricks to keep going (such as telling myself that even though my stomach hurt, my legs didn’t hurt at all so I could keep going). When we hit the 9k mark I tried going faster even though I could see a long hill up to the stadium where the finish line was. I can proudly say that I pushed hard at the end and went as fast as I could for my stadium finish!
After getting my medal, water, and a lunch box filled with fruit, chocolate, and a cookie, I headed out onto the field to find Andrew. He very patiently waited with me in a long line to see my results (since I didn’t have them on my watch like I usually do!) and I literally screamed when I saw that I’d run the race in 1:02:27 which is a new PR! That totally gave me more energy and I was very excited to celebrate this race at Chocolate World!
What I liked about the race:
- The fact that it’s in Hershey AKA the sweetest place on earth! Everything in that town is somehow related to chocolate (if you don’t believe me, google “street lights in Hershey” to see what they’re shaped like!) and chocolate is my favorite!
- The swag this year was the same exact shirt as last year…but it was a tech shirt instead of cotton! I love long sleeved tech shirts from races and this one will get used again for sure! We also got cute little lunch boxes filled with chocolate so I think they did a great job hooking us up!
- While some of the course is spent in parking lots and on the road, I loved the scenery and especially loved running in Hershey Park and finishing in Hersheypark Stadium! And after all the highway running at the Disney Princess Half I can’t ever complain about running on a highway again!
- There were instant results after the race for people like me who didn’t have a watch
- There were quite a few Hershey characters including the Reeses/Hershey Kiss guys and Coco the Hershey Bears mascot!
- Chocolate World is like 10 feet away, and post-race chocolate peanut butter milkshakes are the perfect thing to drink after a race like that!
- There were lots of spectators cheering us on and even some employees cheering us on in Hershey Park!
What I didn’t like about the race:
- It was crowded at times, especially on the small walkways in Hershey Park.
- The race started at 7:30 which is really early for me!
- Only about half the runners got bananas in their post-race lunch boxes – the other half got apples. Guess which one I got 😦
- There were no typical post-race snacks like bagels, and after eating all the sugary stuff in my lunch box I was feeling pretty sick so I think a more normal food option would have been nice.
- It was a pretty hilly course! Clearly I should have done some extra hill training before this race!
Overall I would definitely run this race again! How can you go wrong with a chocolate themed race that runs through an amusement park? I wish I could be home to run the Hershey Half Marathon in October (chocolate aid stations!!!) because I really do love running in Hershey, even with all those hills!
What’s the most unique race course you’ve ever run? Have you ever refueled after a race with a milkshake?