Sunday’s Leesburg 20K was yet another fun filled morning spent with my MRTT and Cruiser running buddies! Believe me, I sometimes pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming because I have so many good friends who share my running passion, and each race morning seems like a party to me.
Proceeds from the race benefited the YMCA of Loudoun County’s youth programs, and it’s always nice to run a race that benefits something I find important. I ran this race last year after a ten year sabbatical, and wondered why I had skipped it for so many years. It’s turned into one of my favorites, so I have a feeling I’ll be returning many times.
For the second year in a row, we had great weather. Lower humidity made the mid-August heat bearable, and with a 7:30 AM start time we were finished before the temps got too high. Much of the race was run on the tree-lined and shaded W&OD Trail, a trail that know like the back of my hand since I run on it regularly.
Friday’s packet pick-up was super easy at the Leesburg Potomac River Running Store. Race swag included an adorable race shirt, cute little pin, and coordinated race bib. The shirt fits perfectly, and I love that it’s white. Again this year it’s got a cow and barn on the front – something this farm girl loves.
Erin arrived bright and early to pick me up (we take turns driving to races), and we arrived in Leesburg about thirty minutes before the race started. She has a secret parking place so we were in and out with a zip.
Our first order of business was to meet in front of Tuscarora Mill for an MRTT multi-chapter pre-race picture.
As soon as we took the big group picture, our chapter stayed for our own picture. The race hosted both a 20K and 5K, and we had runners participating in both.
Beth, Amanda, and I double-dip and are also Cruisers as well as MRTT teammates, so of course we got a picture of just us. Several other Cruisers were running in the race, and we planned to catch up with them after the race.
After pictures we made our way to the starting line and self-seeded. Erin (a different Erin than I rode to the race with), whom I met and ran with at the spring trail series runs, Beth, and I started together. Beth had already run a few miles prior to the race because she’s training for a fall marathon, so I had hopes of being able to keep up with her. Spoiler alert – I couldn’t.
I went into the race knowing that I was nowhere nearly in the same racing shape as I was for last year’s Leesburg 20K when I averaged 8:30 minute/miles. My goal was to run sub-nines, and I had hopes of perhaps even running 8:50’s. Another spoiler alert – that didn’t happen either.
As you can see from the course elevation, the Leesburg 20K is a great race for reverse splits, and I tried my best to follow my plan and run them.
The course was an out-and-back, so we were able to see the lead runners heading back toward us which is always very cool. The W&OD Trail didn’t seem overly crowded with 914 of us 20K runners because we were pretty well spread out by the time we turned onto the trail. I enjoyed watching for the front runners and cheering for them as they cruised down the hill while I was still plowing up it, and I loved watching for my friends, both in front and behind me, and encouraging them on.
After the turn-around-point, my MRTT friends, Gayle, Angela, and Danielle caught up and passed me, and I didn’t think I’d see them again. I caught them at a water stop and jockeyed back-and-forth with them for several miles. Eventually they pulled ahead, but never out of sight, and I almost caught them at the finish line.
One of my favorite pictures of the day was of my Cruiser friend Amit smiling as he closed in on the finish line.
And my favorite runner costumes were worn by these two cow-ladies who dress up for all of our area races!
While still out on the trail, the finish line was being prepared for the winner…
Jame Luehrs finished in 1:07:20 with the second place finisher almost three minutes behind him.
The female open winner was Bethany Sachtleben who finished in 1:15:32, almost three minutes in front of the second place female.
See the guy in the orange shirt in the picture below? We ran the last few miles together, and at one point I motioned for him to go in front of me to pass a slower runner in front of us. He thought I meant for him to go on without me, and he said, “No, we’re in this together,” so I pulled past the slower runner first. We ran side-by-side without much talking and as we made the left turn off of the trail to head up Market Street to the finish line, I said, “Okay, let’s finish strong,” and we both pushed a little harder.
I finished with a time of 1:53:39 (9:10 pace), but according to our GPS watches the course was 12.6 miles, so my pace was actually 9:01. Not that I’m competitive with myself or anything!
And as soon as I finished, I was handed this adorable cow finisher’s medal.
Beth finished strong and about three minutes ahead of those of us pictured below. The rest of us finished within seconds of each other, and I just barely missed catching up to my three friends that I’d chased and mentioned earlier.
Soon after we finished, Beth and I were able to find our Cruiser friends Murali and Ravi, and spend a few minutes visiting with them.
We eventually found our way to the food area, and I had a banana and grabbed another water. I snapped this picture before the race while the volunteers were setting up.
My friends and I headed over to the awards ceremony, and when my name was called for second place in my age group, I had such a loud cheering section that the announcer commented on it! #MRTTLove
My second place age group prize was this coveted cowbell and a $20 gift certificate to Potomac River Running Store!
As expected, the Leesburg 20K was a fantastic race; and any day that brings together so many of my running friends is a great day for me!
- A 20K is not a very common distance for a race, have you ever run one??
- What is your favorite post-race food?
- Did you race this past weekend?
Happy Running! ~ Deb