Thursday, July 11, 2013

Biggest Loser 5K

I’m sure many of you have seen NBC’s ‘The Biggest Loser’ television show. If you haven’t, it’s basically a show where overweight contestants finally get the intervention they need, lose the weight they need to, and experience a life of victory (for the most part) after the show.

While my personal story I told in my last blog entry isn’t quite as dramatic as that, it was fitting that my second 5K of the year would be the Biggest Loser RunWalk race Series, held in Rockford, Ill. on June 15.  My girlfriend Ellen lives in Rockford, so we would be running this together in her hometown. Not only would we be running in it, but we would be joined by her dad, mom, and sister Margaret, who would all be running the 5K race.  There would be a 15K race that same day, but we decided 3.1 miles was enough for us.

I got into town Friday and had to pick up my packet at Davis Park where the race would start and begin. Little did I know that there were so many people signed up for this race (over 3,000) and that I’d have to wait in line to get my packet for the race. It looked like people from all walks of life would be doing this race: runners, joggers with IPods, fans of the television show, walkers, etc.  The cool part about the race series was also that four former contestants from the Biggest Loser show were at the pre-race festivities as well at the actual race.

We carb-loaded by eating a lot of pasta that night to get ready for the race. The next morning, I was rudely awakened by Margaret at around 5:20 a.m. playing some loud, obnoxious song to get pumped up for the race. I could have used a few more minutes of the sleep, but I was able to take it in stride.

My only goal for the race was to improve upon my time from the Harvest 5K two weeks prior. I thought something around 19 minutes was attainable if I ran a good race.

The weather conditions when we got to Davis Park seemed iffy at best as it looked like it was going to rain and the temperature was around 60 degrees. The temperature made for good running weather, but slick pavement, especially on a downhill slope to the finish line, could cause some tumbles.

The course  layout was pretty simple, with the first part of the race going across a bridge over the Rock River, down Madison Street, and out a bit on a bike path that runs along the Rock River. On the way back, you basically retraced your steps and finished back at Davis Park.

Before all races I tend to get antsy and am ready to get going. Once the opening horn sounded, we took off up a hill and headed to the bridge crossing the Rock River. At the beginning of the race, some little middle schoolers came darting out of the gate in an all-out sprint, but I knew that wasn’t sustainable.

Once they eased off, I took the lead and took off from there. It was weird being in the lead in a race. I don’t ever recall being in the lead in any kind of long-distance race ever. It was kind of bizarre because I was surprised that nobody was really on my tail throughout the race.

I made it to the turnaround spot in the lead and began to see my fellow racers. They were so supportive, giving me the “thumbs-up” sign and saying things like “good job”.  It made me feel good knowing they were so kind to me.
The amount of support I received  from my fellow runners was incredible.

I crossed the finish line first in a time of 19:01 (6:08 mile pace), a half minute better than my previous time of 19:31 that I ran at the Harvest 5K. I was greeted by a supportive race staff as well as the people of Rockford. God has been really good to me and I praise him for giving me the ability to run when so many people are unable to.

Mr. Larson was the first of the Larson clan to cross in a time of 24:07 (7:47 mile pace), good for third place in his age group.

Ellen came in next with a time of 26:37 (8:35 mile pace), good for second place in her age group. She improved upon her Harvest 5K time of 27:13 by 37 seconds!  I was really proud of her improvement in this race and that it was the second straight race she placed in her age group!

Ellen and I after the race.
Mrs. Larson came in at 28:32 (9:12 mile pace) and set a personal-best for her 5K time while also placing in her age group.

Perhaps the most memorable and funny part of the race had to do with Margaret’s 5K race. Apparently Margaret has a problem with circulation to her foot, and after running two miles in the race, her foot fell asleep. She had to stop and try to wake her foot back up. One must ask: how does your foot fall asleep while running? It bewilders me to this day, but it made for a good story and trying to imagine Margaret stomping her foot against a pole on the side of the road, trying to get it to wake up.

The awards ceremony was held in Davis Park, and it was cool because after receiving our medals, we got to meet a mom and her son who were contestants on the show. Overall, the whole experience was great because you got to see joy on people’s faces as they crossed the finish line. In most races, people looked exhausted at the finish line. However, the Biggest Loser race was full of people happy to accomplish the 5K or 15K.

After the race, we indulged in a delicious breakfast at Stockholm Inn that really hit the spot.

All of us with our shirts and awards.
I’m not sure which races Ellen and I will be doing the rest of the summer, but this certainly won’t be the last one!

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