Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Biggest Loser RunWalk Half Marathon...

To the uninitiated, this race name seems like an oxymoron.  I mean, finishers of this race are winners in so many ways.  Being a huge fan of the TV reality show The Biggest Loser, I just had to do this race.  The fact that I needed to add the state of New Mexico to my 50 States-50 Half Marathons quest helped my decision, as well.

So Sunday morning I woke up just before the alarm went off and started my morning, preparing to run this half marathon.  The race starts at 9:00 AM so at 7:45 AM I drove the short 1.5 miles to the venue where parking was plentiful.  I worried that the parking lots would be jammed, but they weren't.  Heck!  I could have slept in another half hour!

But the lines for the paltry number of porta-potties were another matter!  I stood in line for 45 minutes.  With just 4 minutes before the start of the race, I finally got to the head of the line. It was frustrating and put a lot of us in a bad frame of mind just before the race. Many others no doubt didn't get their business taken care of before they had to abort and head to the start corral.  But it did kill all of that time I had on my hands by getting there so early, and I did strike up a conversation with the gal in front of me in line.

Taking off from the start line

They sent us off in "waves" and we headed east with a spectacular view of the Organ Mountains ahead of us.  The first couple of miles were rolling hills, then we turned onto the paved path with a relentless downhill grade.  All I could think of was how we would have to run up this grade on the return leg.

Pavement turned to sand, some of it loose and deep and rocky, making the going somewhat rough and effort-intensive.  As long as I was running on level pavement I was okay, but once we hit this unpaved section, the effort left me winded.  We're at about 4,000 feet elevation and I was feeling it.  Anything that presented some resistance - sand, uphills, even the slightest of uphills - and I was gasping!!

We did the turnaround at the halfway point and then I knew that after mile 8, the next 3 miles were going to be all uphill.  It was wretched!  My pace slowed considerably and I was stopping at each of the water stations to hydrate and catch my breath.  When the 15:00 minute/mile pacer caught up with me, I knew I was in trouble!

Finally!  We got past the relentless uphill grade and onto a short stretch of level ground and I could have kissed the sidewalk!  From that point to the finish was mostly level or downhill, with just a couple of brief uphill segments.  But my pace picked up considerably.  I started passing folks who had passed me on the long uphill section.

At one point I caught up to the 15:00 pacer and we chatted for a bit, commenting on how the mile markers weren't agreeing with our GPS watches.  As it turned out, when I finished the race and saw my GPS tracks, it was apparent that they had mis-located the turnaround needed to be placed about 1.5 tenths of a mile farther down the trail.  We were about three-tenths of a mile short of a half marathon distance.

Then I made one last turn heading west with just 1/2 mile to the finish line.

High five at the finish line

I was pretty sure I'd at least placed in my age group so I grabbed a banana and sat near the stage where they were announcing the age-group winners.  First place in my age group!  This makes three times in the last four races that I've placed first in my age group!  All in all, a fun race and enjoyable experience, especially seeing some of the cast members from previous Biggest Loser seasons.

First place award, photo taken with Vinnie from BL season 12.

My medal and first-place award:

My Garmin GPS tracks:

Here's what my 50 States-50 Half Marathons map looks like now:

Tomorrow I head for Chandler AZ to have lunch with friends then continue on to Sedona for a few days.


  1. Another inspiring story and finish... We are all proud of your energy and efforts.. Enjoy your resting time in Sedona...

  2. Congrats on another first place run. You make us all proud - running through a course like that with that elevation. Good job!!