So… I am a huge fan of the Biggest Loser. I love watching the transformations every season and it never fails to inspire and motivate me. When I heard that they were having a Biggest Loser race for the first time here in D.C. I was excited. I signed up for the 10K and Kevin signed up for the 5K.
Now, I try to keep it real here on the blog, so I have to be honest and say that this race needs a LOT of work and improvement. I understand it was the first year and that’s always tough, but some of the issues I experienced today were really not okay.
Let’s start with the positive! First of all, I love the message of the Biggest Loser races. It drew a huge crowd of people- all different shapes, sizes, and abilities- some completing their first race and some seasoned veterans. It was awesome to see such a variety of people come together. I also loved that there were former contestants there. They had them placed at “inspiration stations” around the course and it was really cool to see them as I ran. Finally, they had some good swag- a nice technical shirt and even a medal! Pretty rare for 5K and 10K races.
Alright, now onto to the not so good stuff. It all started the day before the race when we made the long, traffic-filled trek into D.C. to pick up our packets. We live about 40 miles from the city now that we moved further south last summer, and the ride is never easy especially on a Saturday. I was kind of surprised that we had to come pick up our race packets the day before for only a 5K/10K race, because usually shorter races have race-day pickup. The website said it was mandatory though, so we drove over an hour into the city to get our stuff, and then drove back home. This wouldn’t have been a huge deal if one of the first things I saw the next day at the race was a huge tent that said “PACKET PICK UP.” Really? If I had known this option was available I would have greatly appreciated not having to drive to D.C. two days in a row with an infant who doesn’t love his new car seat.
So anyway, we headed up to D.C. again on Sunday morning. A couple of my friends were running too, so after we parked (right next to the start line!) at RFK Stadium we met up with them.
Here was the second issue. The race started at 9 a.m. In mid July. By the time we arrived at 8 a.m. it was already HOT and humid and the sun was just starting to peek out of the clouds. 9 a.m. is just way too late for a summer race. It would have been better if it had started at 7:00 or 7:30. I definitely would have preferred an earlier wake-up call over a hot race.
Despite the heat I still wanted to try as best as I could. I felt good and I was physically and mentally ready to race. I decided to aim for an 8:00/mile pace since that would put me close to a PR (which is 49:35). They did a wave start and I was in the first one, so I was able to start off at a good pace and not get stuck behind anyone.
The course was not very scenic since it was entirely in the parking lot surrounding RFK Stadium. I’m not sure if they didn’t get permits to have it on the streets or what, but it was tough to run a winding, confusing, and unshaded route through a parking lot on a very hot day- even worse that the 10K runners had to do it twice! The mile marker signs were also incorrect (I ran past ‘mile 2’ right after my Garmin beeped for mile 1), and sometimes it was difficult to see where the course was going because the cones marking it off would start and stop. Regardless of these challenges combined with the heat, I stayed on pace pretty well.
- Mile 1 – 8:00
- Mile 2 – 7:56
- Mile 3 – 8:06
I hit the halfway point at 24:45- a perfect split to run a PR. But I knew as soon as I began my second loop that it wasn’t happening. With rising temperatures and no cloud cover anymore, I was losing steam. For a brief second I considered stopping at 5K, but then I decided I didn’t want to be a quitter. I ran through a “mister” that didn’t really seem to be working and it didn’t help. I was starting to feel overheated and my head felt like it was going to explode. I knew racing fast in such high temperatures (almost 90!) was not a smart decision so I started to slow a bit to protect myself. I’ve dealt with heat exhaustion during a race before and it was not pretty. I passed Kevin somewhere in mile 3 and stopped to talk to him for 30 seconds or so, to tell him what he already knew… “It’s so hot! This course is terrible!” He took this super attractive picture of me 🙂
The rest of the second half of the course was a hot mess. I started to run into 5K walkers and it got very confusing where the 10K runners were supposed to go. There were a few times that our course criss-crossed with another point on the course, which was actually really dangerous and I saw a few runners collide with one another. At more than one point, I actually had to stop running to figure out where to run next. There were no signs, no cones, no course marshals, and nobody else around except for other confused 10K runners. In fact, during the 5th mile I ran with some other people for a bit until we realized we were going the wrong way and had to turn around… that is definitely a first for me. I continued to get slower and slower and pretty much ran the most pathetic second half of a race ever compared to the first.
- Mile 4 – 9:51 <– talking to Kevin
- Mile 5 – 10:28 <– got lost
- Mile 6 – 10:54 <– dying
I started hearing people say, “You only have a half mile left!” shortly after I passed the 5 mile mark. I thought there’s no way they were right since I should’ve had over a mile left. I kept running and started getting closer to the finish line, looking at my Garmin in confusion, because it said 5.5 miles. Right before the finish, there was a lady standing at the split telling 10K runners to stay left and 5K to go to the finish, so I thought maybe they had the 10K people go on a little out and back to get to 6.2 miles before finishing. I went to the left where she was directing me. All of a sudden I heard Kevin yelling my name telling me that (once again) I was going the wrong way. That split was for people going out on their second loop, and that I was supposed to finish now. I told him there’s no way- I had only run 5.54 miles! I had no idea what had happened.
- Finish Time – 50:12 (5.54 miles) / 9:03 average pace
Afterwards I tried to figure out if I had done something wrong or if it was the course that was messed up. I talked to a few other runners and they all said they had run about 5.5 to 5.6 miles instead of a full 10K. We had no idea where the discrepancy was, but it could’ve been anywhere due to the poorly marked and managed course- frustrating! I found Kevin and the baby and we tried to find a shady spot to sit and wait for my friends.
Danielle came through a few minutes later looking strong. This girl always sprints at the end of every race. She is awesome!!!
Then Denice came through after her. We all posed for a picture together nice and sweaty, then decided we were out of there and left.
So at the end of the day, when course results were posted, it said I ran a 10K in 50:12, 8:06 average pace. Since it wasn’t a full 10K I cannot claim those results obviously, but I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way that I do about that!
It was also a sad day for my iPod, which shattered its screen when I dropped it right before the race started 😦 RIP iPod.
Overall, I was pretty disappointed with the race. I hope that the organizers of this race will take everyone’s constructive criticism to come back bigger and better next year!