It seems like it’s becoming increasingly popular to hold races on (or near) Valentine’s Day with chocolate themes. This year, the people who put on the Santa Rosa Marathon (which, OMG is the best half marathon EVER!), decided to hold such a themed event called the I Heart Run, which was to raise money for the American Heart Association.
I am a race ambassador for the Santa Rosa Marathon, and these people put on amazing races in March (the Get Lucky 5K/10K) and in August (The Santa Rosa Marathon), so I knew I wanted to run this race.
The race started in the lower parking lot at Howarth Park and the course used the paths that went by Lake Ralphine and around Spring Lake, then back down to the start line. One of my very first races ever was a 4-mile race which was most likely the exact same course. (It was in 2007, so I honestly don’t remember, but there aren’t any other paved paths through these parks.)
Packet pickup was pretty easy and I could tell this was going to be a pretty small race. I got my bib, t-shirt and coffee mug and was on my way.
I hadn’t run a race in almost a year, and I hadn’t been fully trained for a race in longer than I can to admit. But I was ready for this race.
I woke up on Valentine’s Day morning to a beautiful sunny morning. I ate my usual oatmeal, and drank my coffee. I put a light jacket on, but I knew it was already warm enough that I wouldn’t need it by race time.
I arrived about 45 minutes before race time. I stretched and ran a little bit to get all warmed up. I was right this was a very small race. There was no gun, no chip timing and no microphone for the race director to start the race.
I started to get nervous because the first mile is climbing up. I wanted to finish this race in 42 minutes, but then thinking about all the hills, got worried about whether I would be able to finish in that time.
For some reason, the hills didn’t suck for me. I felt strong. I even passed people. Me. Not hating hills. What?
I felt great. There were 2 women in front of me, and decided I was going to try and stay with them as long as possible. They slowed down on the hills and I passed them. But around mile 3 they passed me again. Then at the last ¼ mile I kicked it up a notch and passed them and never looked back.
I hit the 4 mile mark (I use Runkeeper) at 39:48! I crossed the finish line (at 4.05 miles per my Runkeeper) at 40:22. Talk about blowing my goal out of the water! And I was worried…
The post-race expo was pretty fun. There was a DJ playing love-themed music, and there was a delicious spread of food! I got a couple Rice Krispie treats, pretzels, some chocolate fondue and a delicious hot chocolate. After that I enjoyed a free post-race massage.
Since this was a fun run and a fundraiser there were no official finish times. I contacted the race director after and found out that were 160 people registered and the race raised $1,500 for the American Heart Association!
It was a great event! I left feeling really proud of myself. I blew my time goal out of the park. It’s been years since I really loved or even truly enjoyed running. And it’s really feeling pretty authentically awesome to be finding my legs again.
Have you ever done a Valentine’s Day or chocolate-themed race?