This was my first 20k located in a small town called Leesburg in Northern Virginia. I found out about this race from an old college friend of mine who would post many of his runs on facebook. We started talking about running and he ended up finding this race. It was a pretty decent price of only $40 plus it benefited the local Loudoun County YMCA. I had not seen my friend in a few years and this was a great opportunity to catch up. I drove up Saturday afternoon and traffic on I-95 was horrendous (as it usually is). I arrived around 4 pm and we updated each other with how we were doing. My friend showed me videos of his wedding in India which was pretty cool to see all the different traditions they had to do. It was quite funny that he told me not to ask what all the traditions meant because he did not even know. We headed out for dinner to catch up with another friend of ours from college who we had not seen in a few years. We were all officers in organization we use to run together. We had some tea at her place then went out for mexican food (which I REALLY need to stop doing before a race). We were out pretty late and my race started at 7:30 am. My friend thankfully had a room I could stay in. I tried my best to get some sleep, but that never seems to happen. I can never shake off the pre-race jitters! Plus sleeping in a new place never works out for me. My friend ended up injuring his groin muscles and was not able to run this race with me. I am quite use to running solo anyways! I brought my own usual wheat toast with peanut butter this time since I did not want my apple butter to get bad in the car.
I arrived at the race at pretty decent time I thought. This was probably the worst start to a race I have ever had! It took me 30 minutes just to wait in line for the porta potties. The lines were so backed up, but I had no other choice, but to wait. I hydrated so much I had to go before the race. There is nothing worse then having to run over 12 miles while feeling like you have to go! >.< This made me oh so anxious! I was standing there pacing around knowing I was not going to be able to make it in time. Most of the people in the line looked like runners for the 5k that was starting later. There were some other 20k runners so I am glad I was not the only one off to a late start, but still! Those who know me know how hard I am on myself! As soon as I finished using the bathroom I dashed to the starting line and everyone had already left. There were a couple late stragglers starting and I did my best to catch up. I was just a couple minutes behind everyone. I kept trying not to beat myself up over it because I was running the Spartan Super at Wintergreen on Saturday and I knew that race was going to be my toughest one yet. My big mistake was starting out this race wayyyy too fast trying to catch up with everyone. I started to get the worst shin splints at the beginning of the race and I still had over 11 miles to go. I kept thinking to myself, “I’m screwed”, “This is just great”, “I don’t know how I can do this”. My shins were so tight and in so much pain I was scared I was going to injure myself if I kept running on them. I had to slow down and did my best to take it easy. It did not help that my GPS was messed up and my pace was completely wrong so I had no idea how fast I was running or how far I had run which was quite frustrating. This has never once happened to me before and I felt like everything just kept going wrong. What was I to expect next? An injury? My mental game was strong and my negative thoughts just kept beating me up. I told myself being negative was not going to get me anywhere so I kept repeating “you got this”, “no need to beat yourself up”, “you said you would take this easy”, “you have a tougher race on Saturday anyways”, “come on”, “you can do this”. After jogging easy the pain started to go away and I started to pick up the pace. I told myself I had to make up for lost time. I talked myself through this entire race just trying to stay focused.
The race had a nice shaded course. We mostly ran on the W & OD Bike path. It was not fun trying to dodge all the bikers on the trail though. I was surprised to see so many people out on the trail so early on a Sunday morning. A lot of dedicated people out there. It was nice running in the shade and I admired the countryside views. This race had a turn around so I was able to see all the crazy fast runners in the front. I kept thinking I should have been towards the front of the pack some, but I need to learn to take it easy on myself! This race helped me get ready for the Spartan Super at Wintergreen which was just 6 days away.
There were 916 runners who did the 20k and we were all spread out nicely. According to other runner’s their GPS watches said the course was 12.6 miles. I ended up finishing in 1:47:41 which is about a 8:41 mile pace. About 6 seconds faster then my half marathon pace, but not bad for a terrible start plus having god awful shin splints. Although I ranked 5th in my age group out of 17 others, I still powered through it and finished! The medal is a nice add to my collection and is quite different from the rest of them! Moo!! Now to look forward to the Spartan Super at Wintergreen on Saturday!!