For September’s race I wanted to do something other than the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon. I did it last year and I liked it but I really didn’t want to deal with going into DC (even if I do live closer). I found this 10K on Run USA and decided to go for it since it was at one of my favorite amusement parks.
Now, as far as theme park races go, I’m used to the magic of runDisney. Going from an event that large to this one was a slight shock. It wasn’t as large as I was expecting but it was decently sized. Packet pick up was at a Sports Authority and consisted of just your bib, t-shirt, and a drawstring bag. Naked Juice was there offering samples and a 15% off coupon for Sports Authority was also offered for use that day. It wasn’t an expo but it was to the point. Can’t really complain about that. The shirts were okay but I got an extra small women’s cut shirt and it looked more like a women’s medium. That’s really my only complaint about the pick up.
The parking lot at Six Flags opened up at 0630. We left our house around 0530 since it was about 50 minutes away. We made a pit stop at Starbucks to get my pre-run latte (it’s a ritual I have before any race over a 5K) and made our way over. Parking was nice and close to the start (about a 3 minute walk, really). The pre-race party was really small. They had 3 of previous seasons’ Biggest Loser contestants emcee and they were great but it was really a small, small event. We had gotten VIP passes to the VIP pre-race area and were able to enjoy some of the food available. They had a nice spread but I didn’t partake in any before the run because I can’t run on a full stomach (or partially full really). It was chilly out so we decided to go back to the car and wait out the 30 minutes until the start. I wasn’t too worried about the cold because it was in the high 50s and it was predicted to reach 60s during the run. I decided to wear a long-sleeve shirt and shorts so that I wouldn’t be too cold at the start, but I’d be able to stay cool during the run.
I do have a few complaints about the start. The race was scheduled to begin at 0730 and it didn’t start until 0745. Punctuality is a huge pet peeve of mine so I was a bit ticked at the late start (not to mention the fact that I wanted to start running because I was cold!). The race was also self-corralled, though the site had mentioned that it would be a wave start. After I realized that there wasn’t going to be a wave start, I headed towards the front because I wanted to start strong right out of the gate. I didn’t toe the line because I don’t consider myself that fast of a runner but I stayed close. Once we did start, however, I blew past the people that decided to toe the line and a few of them even began to walk immediately after the start. That annoyed me. Way to get in the way…(yes, this is another pet peeve).
After the first .10 I realized that I was the front running female and the third overall runner. That was a shock. I checked my watch and saw that I was averaging a 7:30 pace. I was a bit scared about the pace because I didn’t want to burn out but I felt fine so I decided to stick with it. I just ran the race as fast as I comfortably could (okay, I may have pushed a bit in some spots). The course was flat except for 2 portions in the back lot. The first mile was through the parking lot of the park and into Looney Tune Land. From there the route exited to the back lot of the park to complete the 1st mile. Around mile 1.5 I noticed I was about 30 seconds ahead of the second female 10Ker. I made the decision right then and there that I would stay ahead. I was determined to win overall.
Passing a coaster at 2.5 miles. So far the 1st 10Ker to reach this point and the 3rd runner since the start.
About half of mile 2 was through the back lot and there was one small incline midway through the back lot and another incline on gravel prior to re-entering the park. Both were fairly small but a little challenging due to the terrain. The route re-entered the park near the Batman roller coaster and from there the run was through the rest of the park. I wish I could be more specific about which sections I ran through but I’m unfamiliar with the layout of this Six Flags. Mile marker 2 was just before entering Hurricane Harbor. From there the route weaved by the water slides and past the wave pool. The route exited the park just after the wave pool and then headed towards the start.
The two male runners ahead of me were 5Kers so when we reached the starting area again, they turned off to the right and I went left. The 10K course was 2 laps on the course which I had a love-hate relationship with the thought of running that. I like not knowing where I’m going because I don’t get comfortable and push to the end. I was really not looking forward to it but it turned out to be alright because I knew exactly where I needed to push and how close to the finish I was. At the start of the second lap, I became the front runner so I was escorted by the ATV. It was really pretty cool and I was in awe that I was “that” runner. I wonder if that’s what elite runners feel like, lol. I felt kind of important. He only escorted me halfway through the second lap, though, because that’s where I started to catch up to the participants in the walking division. After that it was a lot of bunny hopping around people as I tried to maintain my pace.
Trying to weave around people was a bit annoying. Thankfully most were polite enough to move over when I excused myself. There were a few that didn’t hear me because of headphones on full blast and some people just didn’t want to move. Seriously. There was one group that took up the whole walkway at mile 5 and I had to run in the grass and gravel. That was just rude. The best feeling during this second lap, though, was looking back after hairpin turns and realizing that the only other runner behind me was a guy and he was a full minute or two behind me. That moment I realized I could be the overall first finisher for both genders. That lit my fire. I pushed a bit harder and then went into a full on sprint during the last .20.
My goal was to finish under 53 minutes. Finishing under 52 would be awesome. I finished under 48 minutes. Seriously. I was surprised. All my training runs have been around 9 minutes per mile and my last 10K training run was at a 8:12 pace. I was able to run the first 2 miles at 7:30, the second 2 at 7:45, and the last at around 8:10. Most people don’t like positive splits but I was pleased with them. I don’t do negative progression runs and positive splits are a norm for me. I like to make sure I start off strong. If I get a negative split, yay, but at the same time I feel as though then maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough and that’s why I got the negative split. I like to give it my all. Thus, positive splits aren’t horrible for me, lol.
I did end up finishing first overall. It felt great to be announced as the first 10K finisher who happened to be female. After going through the chute I went over to the VIP section with my family and had a bit of food. I still couldn’t believe how fast I finished. It was very euphoric.
Awards photo with Dan Evans of Season 5.
If I learned anything from this run it’s that I’m only as slow as I bully myself to think I am. For weeks now I’ve been thinking about how slow I am and how I’d never be a top finisher in a shorter distance race (even if it was a small-scale race). I proved myself wrong. I am capable of way more than I think I am. I just have to believe that I am. That’s what was different today. Today I believed.
“You might think you’re not good enough, but you’ll surprise yourself when you try”
In the end, The Biggest Loser 10K was a good, small-scale race. The registration price was reasonable at $50 for the 10K. The VIP area had a good spread of snacks (which included Kashi bars, catered sandwiches, bagels, yogurt, and fruit. I’m sure there was more but those were a few I could remember). The emcees were very energetic and super nice. I do wish they had characters on the race route, though, and allowed spectators into the park. There was no crowd support throughout the park and that made for a somewhat lonely race. However, the overall experience was pleasant and I would definitely return for another race in the future. The only thing I would do differently on my part is spend some time at the park after the race. I like roller coasters and love the Six Flags in Valencia, CA. It would have been fun to see the set up of this Six Flags and enjoy some of the rides.