In 2013, before the Nightmare, I ran the Hot Chocolate 15k. I was very impressed with my time, and it still stands as one of my more proud personal records.

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I ran this race in under ten minutes a mile for over nine miles back in 2013.

In 2015, I was supposed to run that 15k Hot Chocolate for a second time. However, due to a poorly timed sinus infection and a “flu like virus,” I had to sit it out. But this year, I realized there was an opportunity for me to complete it! I will confess that I did not train nearly enough for those nine miles. This is an incredibly bad habit that I have fallen into.

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Before the race. I’m all decked out!

A friend and I drove down to the race the night before and stayed at the recommended hotel. This strategic move allowed us to walk to the starting line the morning of without having to worry about parking, traffic, construction, and a whole host of other unknowns. It reduced the amount of stress and greatly enhanced the overall race experience.

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After walking to the starting line, before the race began.

Before the race, I set my cortisol pump on a separate profile that runs a higher elevated basal at a constant rate for the entirety of the race. I took 0.25 mg of dexamethasone, and several salt tabs. I also was prepared with some Huma PLUS – Chia Energy Gel packets.

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The “+” indicates more electrolytes.

I appreciated the easily understandable ingredient list and the ratio of sodium to potassium was much higher than other products. I would buy these again.

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240 mg of sodium per packet.

With everything loaded into the back of my camelbak, I was ready to head off into my assigned corral. When I arrived, I realized that there was a mistake. I was in the preferred first corral with all of the fast runners! I did not belong there, and I knew it.

This first corral was invitation only and only after submitting a verifiable fast time. I think the Hot Chocolate organizers pulled my verified time from five years ago and automatically placed me in that first corral. I immediately dropped back to the second, slower preferred corral.

The race began! At first, I tried to stay with an official pacer and was able to successfully run with him for around three miles. I slowly fell behind and eventually lost him. I found another official pacer, running at a slightly slower pace! I ran with him for a few miles. But then I lost him. A third (slower) pacer showed up, proudly carrying her sign! However, it did not take long for that pacer to leave me behind as well. This strategy was clearly not working.

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I was struggling to keep up with the pacers throughout the course.

Around mile five I overheard a woman say “Ok! Walk break!” This peaked my interest and I ran over to her to ask her what intervals she was running. She said 90:30 – 90 seconds of running with 30 seconds of walking. I humbly asked her if I could join in with her pace group. She was extremely supportive and we began chatting. I found out that I was running with a group that had also traveled for this particular race. In that moment, they told me I was an honorary member of BGR. Black Girls Run gave me the support and encouragement along the course to keep going.

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Pam and I had to get a picture together at the end of the race.

As I was jogging with Pam, our dedicated pacer, we continued to chat about how amazing it was that we have the ability to be out on this course, running this race, at this particular moment. I wanted to cry as I thought back over the past five years.

I have survived quite a bit. We have hit the time on a calendar when a lot of anniversaries of unpleasant days are coming back up. I am close to my five year anniversary of the Nightmare. I am  also close to one year of being divorced. My life did not turn out how I originally expected.

But, I can still run.

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My face shows the exhausted joy that comes with completing such a monumental task.

I can still sprint across that finish line, giving it my all.

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Victory. Complete with tears of joy.

I can still do something that I love.

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After the race, I was feeling rather good!

I can still proudly proclaim that I am Clearly Alive.

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Worth it.

If you are interested in any of the products I have mentioned above, they can quickly be found on my Amazon Influencer’s Page.

Proceeds generated from these items enable me to keep my Clearly Alive blog up and running while still donating to both NADF and AIU. Thank you for supporting my passion to enable others to remain Clearly Alive.

Amber Nicole is Clearly Alive
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