The winner of the Hot Chocolate 15K race entry is Taylor Nichols of Chicago!  (Cue the confetti and balloons!)

Taylor tells me she had promised a friend she’d run the race with her so the news came as a pleasant surprise. A runner since graduating from Michigan State University, she fell in love with both the riverfront trails in Chicago and the half marathon distance specifically.

Hot Chocolate 15K will be her first race after a groin injury that prevented her from training for the Chicago marathon.hot chocolate

“Hot Chocolate will be my first race back and I couldn’t be more excited,” she wrote. “I’m just hoping it is a little warmer than last year. ”

Tapering tips

Shudder. Tapering can be a difficult transition for a lot of us as we switch from running four our five times each week to significantly reduced mileage. Some of us get a little cranky and may not know what to do with our time.

Some of us spend a lot more time baking things like banana bread, can’t-leave-alone bars and chocolate chip cookies.

This Competitor Running article gives more technical advice to tackle the taper.

The week after your race

No one told me that the week after a race would be just as — or even harder than — the taper. Because I look out for you, here’s a nice Women’s Running piece on what to expect and how to deal.

And here are my tips, just in case you need additional help (and who wouldn’t?).

Forced tapering (a.k.a. injury)

If you want to avoid getting forced to significantly reduce or stop running altogether due to injury, check out this great resource from Strength Running, which lists gobs of information.

Have you ever won a giveaway? What’s your favorite race distance? What’s worse, tapering or the week after a race?