Sunday, October 6, 2013

2013 Biggest Loser Half Marathon Race Report - Racine Wisconsin

Earlier this year, I was asked to serve as an ambassador for The Biggest Loser Half Marathon in Racine, Wisconsin (HERE) on Sunday, September 22.  I had watched the show religiously for several years.  I loved the motivation it gave me during my workouts and how it helped me chose healthier options for myself and my family.  I was very excited to see what the race was like and to run another race in Racine (I've ran a few in the past couple of years).
When we started planning our wedding, we scheduled our big day for September 14 and decided we wanted to do a minimoon - a small, roadtrip for our honeymoon.  So, we opted to make the last stop in our multi-stop trip across Illinois.  We enjoyed a nice, sightseeing vacation in Chicago in surrounding suburbs, and drove north to Racine, Wisconsin to run celebrate with this honeymoon half marathon. 
I was also leading a half marathon training group all summer, and we chose this event as their big race.  So, it was going to be fun meeting with several of these ladies in Racine and watching them cross that finish line as well.  Only fitting with this wondeful lifestyle that we now share.
I had been sick all week with a terrible cold (napped twice daily and every time we were in the car driving).  So, I was still a little out of it, when race weekend arrived.  The weather had cooled down quite a bit once we got to packet pick up on Saturday afternoon, as well.  I wasn't sure if I had packed appropriately or not.  We ran into my running peeps, Kim and Chris at packet pick up.  Packet pick up was a little disappointing - especially for the first time half marathoners. There were only a few small booths and there weren't many people at the talk - which was probably the largest one, with members fromm the Biggest Loser cast speaking about their journey.  A little disappointing for me, but I knew that the event wasn't all about the race "expo".  We got our bibs, tech-shirts (mens and ladies fit - yeah!) and our choice of Biggest Loser Run/Walk cinche sacks.
We opted to head downtown with Kim and Chris for a burger at a small bar and then went to check in at The Radisson.  I took yet another two hour nap and then got ready for dinner.  The host hotel was nice, but our non-smoking room smelt like smoke.  It didn't prevent me from taking my nap and getting some rest.  We didn't get to take advantage of the pool or hottub while we were their either - but they looked nice for a small, family getaway.  We met up with Kim, Chris and Sara (another dedicated gal from my group) and family members at a cute italian restaurant.  We enjoyed pasta and pizza and said our good-byes so that everyone could get some rest before their big race!  Hubby and I also made our routine stop for Target for things we needed (or THOUGHT we may need).  We love stopping at Target every time we are on vacay - our second Target this trip!
We got up early (I hate dark mornings in the fall - ugh!) and headed downstairs to get some breakfast from the breakfast bar.  They unfortunately didn't have continental breakfast.  I tried greek yogurt and some oatmeal and we shared a coffee.  We then walked the short jaunt - all together - to the start line. 
There weren't many participants at the startline, which I think intimidated the new runners in my group.  I think they would have enjoyed "blending in" to sea of runners and were sligthly worried that they would finish near the end of the entire pack.  I assured them that this was the perfect first long-distance race for them - being a very unintimidating atmosphere and non-competitive.  There would be many many runners, run/walkers and walkers finishing after them.  Nothing to worry about.

The Biggest Loser cast members were at the start line and Dan sang the National Anthem.  Soon we were off.  We headed off quick, only to go about an additional half-block and I could see people darting back out of the corner of my eye.  People were yelling and pointing behind us.  Oh my gosh - did someone get trampled??  What the heck?!  I look behind me and turned down my music - noone followed the lead biker and make the right turn.  Ugh.  We had to turn around and head back and down the hill.  Hubby was ahead of me and I wasn't sure how he and the other faster runners would find out - but they eventually did.  Oh boy.  That's a first.  We headed down towards the lake and soon hubby caught up to me and passed me again.  The morning was beautiful and I realized quickly that it was cool - but I would warm up fast - and was actually dressed quite appropriately in short sleeves, a running skirt and compression socks.  My cold was getting to me, andn I was hacking up a lung for the first mile, but soon that worked itself out too.  Sometimes when I run while sick, I forget that I'm sick and suddenly feel a lot better.

Hacking up a lung

We headed towards the lake and I was very much in the front of the pack - very strange for this middle-of-the-packer.  But, enjoyable!  We had to do a quick turnaround and run in the opposite direction.  It was fun seeing the ladies from my group at this point and doing a friendly "go get 'em" and wave.  And then seeing all of the other people running in the second half of the race.  So many new runners and so many walkers. So many different paces, levels, body-types - all with a great attitude.  It was truly awesome.  Very different from other races I've done.  And exactly what I though this race would be (though a smaller group of runners).

We headed north along the lake and on the path along Lake Michigan.  I've ran this path a few times before on long-weekend vacations and races.  I knew there were some larger hills up ahead - very glad I knew that.  I actually felt pretty strong on the inclines and passed a few runners.  We headed threw neighborhoods and across a bridge and back into downtown for a quick turn around and a very very steep hill.  I saw my hubby at the top as I headed down, only to have to head back up the hill after him and the other runners in front of me.  Once at the top, I felt great.  My head - and my lungs - were feeling clearer at this point.  Some of the Biggest Loser cast members were actually on course, directing runners and traffic.  Kind of fun.  Then we headed down a hill along the lake, a portion where I spected some of my teammates at a transition point at Ragnar Chicago last year.  Always fun being in familiar territory - knowing where you are and thinking of memories (and distracting you for a bit, too!).  We headed up yet another large hill and threw some neighborhoods, on residential streets.  We wound through a campus of some sort (or grade school) and retraced our steps.  I saw other runners that I had passed earlier in the race.

I kept replaying the same few songs to keep me motivated:  Katy Perry's "Roar", Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music" and Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire".  The female pop singers were keeping me moving and keeping me motivated.  This have been my go-to songs lately and the beats are great with keeping my up-beat pace - when my buddy wants me to otherwise be sluggish and slow down. I was so in-the-zone with my tunes and focused on what was in front of me, that I forgot to look at the oncoming runners and hear Chris yell my name and wave.  She was looking great!! So nice to see here out on the course - and doing so well.  We headed back down the hill and along the Lakeshore.  I could hear the announcer at the finish line and knew I was getting close.

I headed up yet one more small(ish) hill and took a left down the chute.  I ran my last few steps towards the finish line as the clock approached two hours.  Bam - sub two hours and I was done.  I was in discussing with my hubby after the race, and I couldn't remember the last time I ran a half.  I've run the distance with friends, but don't know when I last raced it.  I think it was at Icebreaker Indoor Half Marathon last January.  And, then I followed with a full over Memorial Day weekend.  I love the half marathon distance - and always will.  It's a great (doable) distance.  And, I"m always in half marathon shape and have been for quite a few years now.  There's something about being able to just go out and run a half marathon - and do it pretty well.  I'd like to get back around 1:55 or under and that will just come with consistency, speed work and a schedule.  I have not been good AT ALL about sticking to a schedule (especially with wedding planning, my parental schedule, and my coaching schedule). 

7/41 age group

I'm so proud of my new hubby - a semi-new runner!  He's only been running for a year and a half and is a running stud.  He finished in 1:46 (even after the early course issue - and a potty break) and still came in 4th in his age group.  If only I could keep up with him on the course!!  Someday.  Maybe.

We headed back about a half mile, along the lakeshore and cheered on runners for the next hour or so.  I saw another former client, Leanne, as she came in to the homestretch.  That was amazing to see.  And, then I ran with Chris the last half mile or so.  It was really awesome to encourage her the last 5-10 minutes of her race - something that she most likely thought was unimaginable a couple of years ago.  By the time I got back down to the shoreline, I missed Sara, as she was apparently not much further behind Chris.  She finished her race with a great time and great pride.  And then I saw Kim approach soon after and ran with her til the finish line, too.  Super, super cool sharing this experience with all of them - and my new hubby.

Thank you, The Biggest Loser, for giving me this opportunity to participate in this event and share it with so many people close to me.  I love what this event stands for - and all of the events all over the country.  It's about getting communities active and engaged in a healthy lifestyle.  Whether people ran or walked the event - they were moving their bodies and sharing the experience with spouses, friends, neighbors, children, and co-workers.
Also, one very cool thing about this race - they give you FREE downloads of all of your race photos.  Not too many races do that.  A very nice perk. 
Mark your calendar for next year!!
September 21, 2014


  1. Great job! I live the Biggest Loser! I met Ali Vincent this w/e since she's the Diva ambassador. Tara Costa lives on LI and I met her over the summer at a local tried, and Ada Wong was on our Ragnar Relay team, From Fat To Finish Line, this past January!

  2. HI - I love Bani bands. I buy them for all my friends who are runners!

  3. I am anxious to get back into running. I see your blog as an inspiration with helpful ideas:-)

  4. HI - I love Bani bands. I buy them for all my friends who are runners!

  5. I am posting your link onto my Facebook page.

  6. Shopping for new Bani Bands for holiday gifts:-)