That One Time I Won My Division... aka Biggest Loser Half Recap!

I, Dani Holmes-Kirk, won my age division at the Biggest Loser Half in Killington, Vermont (July 26).

Say whhaa???

Yes I am stil on Cloud 9 about that. Actually I'm so excited about that part that I will just wrap up the recap early. Good to end on a positive note, right?

Oh you want more?

Wellll okay then! ;)

To refresh your memory, I was bitten by the dog on Friday, July 24. Just two days before the race. The doctor at urgent care told me that I could run, but there would be some pain. So I left the hospital in an unsure state as to whether I would end up racing or not. 

Either way I knew we would head up to Vermont because the wife would be doing the 5k on July 26 no matter what.

So we packed up the car Saturday morning (including lots of gauze) and started the 2 hour and 45 min trek to Killington, Vermont. This would be the wife's first time in the great state of Vermont so I shared with her lovely stories from my youth. My parents and I would come up and camp in Vermont a lot when I was younger. A real perk of growing up in New England. :)

The Expo was 12-4 on Saturday so we drove straight from home to the Expo.

Oh yes it was at a ski resort. You can't be shocked. I mean the race would be featuring a ski lift DURING the race (for both the 5k and Half participants).

Wicked cool, right?

But I digress...

The Expo was small, but fit into the small allotted for it.

The wife and I actually each got a Biggest Loser souvenir (shirt for her and long-sleeved pullover for me) since it was buy one get one free! I couldn't pass that up!

We enjoyed listening to Pam (Season 14) and Matt (Season 15) share some of their experiences both on the Biggest Loser and since returning home.

While I was still unsure whether I would be running or not, I made sure to pick up my bib. (I knew in my gut that I would be toeing the line for either the 5k or 13.1)

After checking out the "coaster" at Bear Mountain (where the Expo was), we headed out in search of lunch. We had a great meal and some local Long Trail beer at the Lookout Tavern.

How about that for a lunch view?

Once we got settled in to our hotel (North Star Lodge), it was time to ice and rest my leg. But before dinner, I wanted to test out the leg.

It was a successful run because 1) it didn't really hurt and 2) I was able to round out the yearly total which had been thrown off the previous day. I know a little OCD there. :P

With the run done, I officially decided to attempt the Half the following day. So I had to celebrate... with pizza! :)

My math nerd self loved the name and the rest of me enjoyed the pizza! :)

With our hotel only three miles from the Start, we were able to sleep in until 6:30am. OOhhh late I know.

We left our hotel around 7:15am because we had the pleasure of enjoying the VIP area prior to the race and I wanted to enjoy it. (Thanks Biggest Loser for that sweet treat!)

(Note: Pictures were taken post race. There were bagels, fruit, hot chocolate and coffee available pre race.)

Tammy, aka the VIP lady, had an amazing energy and had her own weight loss story to share (over 100 pounds lost)! She was so welcoming and even let me stash my bag in the VIP area instead of at bag check. Thanks again Tammy for everything. 

Since it was raining pre race being in the VIP area was a huge score. Around 8:15am, we made the long trek (aka 45 second walk) to the Start area. I was trying to find my Weight Watchers member Erin, who would be taking on her first half that day, but I didn't find her. :/

I gave the wife a kiss goodbye and headed toward the front-ish of the start corral. There were four categories of the race: 5k Walk, 5k Run, Half Run and Half Walk, but we would all be starting at 8:30am.

Dan (Season 5) and Pam served as race announcers and did a great job pumping up the crowd. Dan also sang the National Anthem, while a member of the US military held the American Flag.

With that it was time to run by 30th half marathon! Here. We. Gooooooo!!

The race started off on a downhill, which was reminiscent of the start to the Boston Marathon.

 Can you spot my fuel peaking out of my shorts! :P

Can you spot my fuel peaking out of my shorts! :P

Oh hi race photog. Yes please shoot a pic while I am running down a hill. It's always so attractive. ;) I will thank Biggest Loser race for providing free race photos to all participants.

Mile 1: 7:31

Just after hitting the Mile 1 marker, I knew I had to make a pit stop. Phew! That port-o-potty came at just the right time. Now I was ready to rock and roll. :P

I was psyhed to see Matt Hooper at the first water stop. I had met him in the VIP room, dropped Mom Running On Empty's name (they are friends) and warned him that I would be looking for a mid-run selfie with him.

DONE!

For a hot second I considered dropping down to the 5k, but I was in it to win it. I knew I could walk if I needed to at any point in the race, but I would harp on the decision if I didn't at least attempt the Half.

So straight ahead I went... and realized there would be a lot of silence on this course.

Now I could've brought music, but now I never run with it so I always forget it is even an option. Haha. 

This would be a good time for me to truly take in the gorgeous landscape of Vermont and to remain in the moment of the race.

It was my first race in Vermont and one of the most beautiful courses I've seen. But it was NOT short on hills. Haha.

Mile 2: 8:33
Mile 3: 8:31
Mile 4: 7:56

The field of folks around me running the half were limited. A couple of times in the early miles I only saw one or two people around me. 

We spent most of the first half of the race in surrounding neighborhoods before appearing on the main street in Killington (Killington Road).

When you see a dragon on the side of a road, you selfie with it. Duh!

As you an see they marked our section of Killington Road off with a row of  orange cones. Luckily the traffic was pretty light on this day so I wasn't too worried about encountering any cars while running.

I waved to my hotel as I passed. Now I had learned from the previous day's run that Killington Road (in the direction we were going) was a gradual incline - that just kept going. Luckily we turned off Killington Road just after seeing my hotel.

We we back into a local neighborhood which was nice and shaded. While it was raining before the race, the sky had cleared up and the humidity was rising.

Just at a glimpse of the ups and downs of the course.

Mile 5: 8:42
Mile 6: 8:19

I didn't really notice the blood coming down my leg until Mile 5/6 of the run. Apparently my band-aid wasn't strong enough to hold the dog bite cut in check. I am sure the constant work by my leg muscles on the rolling hills was a big factor in that. I asked a few volunteers where the First Aid tent was and they didn't know. Okay. Weird.

Mile 7: 8:39

Mile 7 marked an official turnaround in the race. Now there would be folks to wave to and cheer for! YAY! So as folks were heading toward Mile 7 and I ran away from it I was a cheering machine. I tried to offer up some high-fives as well. Cheering was a great distraction to my leg.

I knew I had to find the First Aid tent to get an extra band-aid for the leg. I found the First Aid station and the volunteers looked through their supplies and couldn't find a band-aid. Ummm??? Okay. So I took some paper towel off their hands, poured water on my leg and wiped up the blood. I opted to keep the paper towels with me for future miles.

A local Sheriff in his car was on the side of the course and he offered to locate a band-aid for me and then find me on the course. 

(Note: I spoke to the Biggest Loser Race PR reps and they said there were 2 medical roamers on ATVs. I personally never saw them, but my WW member said she did see 1 ATV while running.)

The constant inclines were starting to get to my body. I was feeling it. I made sure to stop at each water stop, grab water for me, pour some on the leg and clean it up. This was a bit of a time suck. I was really surprised and pleased with how my pace was working out. But I KNEW the bigger inclines were going to be on the back end of the course. Crazy I learned that by actually looking at the course map ahead of time. ;)

Mile 8: 8:26
Mile 9: 8:10

While the body was feeling it, my mind was loving the peacefulness and the views. There were minimal spectators on the course since we were mainly in neighborhoods on an early Sunday morning. I felt like most of the homes could've been empty too since Killington is a big ski town and well it was July.

I wish I had grabbed a shot of the hill during Mile 10/11. Oh boy it was a doozy. I did have to walk a couple of times. I wanted to force myself to run the entire time, but my body had other ideas. I knew the walking breaks would get me to the Finish line.

I tweeted, Instagramed and Facebooked this picture at Mile 10 asking for support from my social media crew. You all seriously delivered!!! THANK YOU all for pulling me through a dark point in the race.

Mile 10: 10:50
Mile 11: 10:17

As we have learned from this race what goes up - must come down. So I really made the downhills count. The quads were on fire from the downhills at the beginning of the race (a la the Boston Marathon as well) and were ready to be done.

I could NOT get over the gorgeous landscape around me. 

 Pleae ignore my bloody papertowel! 

Pleae ignore my bloody papertowel! 

With less than two miles left in the race, I dug deep and kept the eye on the prize - the ski lift!!!

We actually ran around the parking lot of the Snowshed lodge, where we picked up our bibs, to get to the ski lift. Not the prettiest of views after the breathtaking ones from earlier, but I can see they were trying to add mileage to the course.

Mile 12: 9:25

After one final left-hand turn, the ski lift was in front of us... YES!!! Break time. The woman who I had caught up with and was running just behind and I shared a ski lift. I opted to do my second Periscope broadcast during the run so I do not have pics from the ride. But Dina was a great ski lift companion. I learned that she too is a Run Disney fan and a three-time Goofy Challenger finisher. :)

We listened to Matt Hooper and made sure to swing our legs during the ride so they wouln't get tight. The ski lift ride lasted roughly six minutes and does go into you official finish time. The mileage of the ski lift (roughly 0.67 miles) was also taken into account for the overall distance. So I still ran 13.1 don't you guys worry. ;)

We safely exited the ski lift, took a right and headed down the final hill to the Finish Line. Boy it was one gravelly run. I felt like I was doing some trail running there.

Dina and I neared the bottom of the hill, I spotted the Finish Line and took off.

As I crossed the Finish Line I heard "And our fourth female overall finisher is..." O-M-G that was MMEEEE!!!

(Note: I later found out that I was the fourth female to cross the Finish Line by time I finished fifth overall to Dina - who clipped me by 1.2 seconds!)

 Thanks for some great motivation dina! 

Thanks for some great motivation dina! 

I wish they caught up leap over the Finish line, but the stopping of the Garmin watch is fitting as well. ;)

Official Time: 2:00:06.3
Minus Ski Lift Time: 1:54:06.3

I will take it!

It was good for 12th overall out of 209, 5th female and 1st out of 22 in my division (F 30-34).

Insane! I even had my name called during the awards portion and received a certificate.

After I hugged the wife and grabbed some water, I headed over to meet Season 5's Dan. I remember watching that season and really loving Dan's energy on the show. He was sweet and down to earth and lives in Chicago. So we had a lot to talk about. :0)

We said goodbye and headed to the VIP area to put a new band-aid on my leg, grab some food and buy a beer from the bar next door. :)

Tammy had an amazing spread out and I was ready to dive in. Haha. After another great chat with Tammy, the wife and I headed back to the hotel to shower and check out.

Oh and stop at Long Trail Brewery on the way out of town... #Priorities 


Overall the wife and I had a great time at the race!!! She ended up walking the 5k as she was undertrained and not ready to attempt to run the hills. Smart move!

Pros: I loved the truly welcoming environment for all ages, fitness levels, sizes and paces. Many races claim to be open to all, but this race really was very inviting. The course was challenging, but gorgeous. The water stops were well maintained and volunteers were friendly. The medal was pretty! The ski lift during the race was original and rewarding. The VIP experience is worth the money (special parking, food, atmosphere, etc). Free race photos.

Cons: The medical support. I was assured by the race's PR team that my concerns would be brought to the race director for future race logistics. Lack of spectators was tough. I am used to lots of cheers or energy from the crowd, but there wasn't really a crowd there. Race photog was only at Mile 1, Mile 13 and the Finish Line.


Now the age old question: Would I do this race again?

After some thought, I would!!!
*with the stipulation that the medical and first aid situation improved of course!*


Thank you to Biggest Loser Run/Walk series for having my wife and I participate. While I was given complimentary entry and VIP access, all thoughts and opinions of the race experience are my own. Ain't nobody got time for lyin'!