Today was the Inaugural Loudoun Half Marathon and as expected the Ashburn Area Running Club did a fabulous job in putting this first-time race together. I first heard about this new race at the Reston Ten Miler and decided that I wanted to add it to my race calendar, mainly because the race proceeds were going toward the local high school track and field programs. Since it would be a convenient local race, I hoped to see a lot of friends running in it.
Yesterday afternoon Bill and I stopped by the high school where the race was starting and finishing, for packet pick-up and had an easy-breezy time.
I love, love, love the shirt design, but it’s too short and too wide. I like it when shirts are available in a ladies cut, but for this race I had to get a unisex small. It’s very comfortable so I’ll probably wear it around the house a lot.
In fun MRTT form, we had a designated time and location to meet for a pre-race photo. I’m not sure how many other ladies might not have known about the meet-up, but at least one mom from our local chapter isn’t in the picture.
After leaving the paparazzi, Bill and I went in search of porta potties and couldn’t find any… That’s because the stadium restrooms were open with very short lines, which was very cool!
After finding our Cruiser friend Jerome, we headed to the start of the first annual Loudoun Half Marathon with about 375 other runners as the sun was starting to rise. It was an absolutely glorious morning, with temps promising to hit the mid-80’s later in the day. It was around 62° when the race started and the temps stayed right around there the entire race.
A half-hour after the start of the half marathon, the 8K racers were scheduled to start. We asked one of the 8K runners to take a picture of the three of us just before our race started.
We stepped into the sea of runners and I held my camera up and took a picture in front of us…
And behind us; and then we were off!
Bill, Jerome, and I hung together for the first mile which was pretty much up hill the whole way.
Around the two-mile mark the sun and sky looked really cool, so I snapped a picture while on the run.
Jerome and I continued to run together for about three miles, and he surprised me when he said we were on a pace to run a sub two-hour half. I really had no goals for the race except to hopefully finish under 2:15.
If you remember, one of my running goals for 2014 was to do just that… run a sub two-hour half marathon again! Jerome pulled off to the side of the course shortly after mile three and said for me to go on, and that he would catch up.
With it being a first time race, and with a start time of 7:00 AM, there weren’t a lot of spectators out cheering us on. About six high school girls had three signs staked into the ground just before the water stop around mile six. They cracked up when I pulled off onto the side of the course to take pictures!
There was another large group of students around mile eight, and just before the third water stop. They were thrilled that I stopped to take a picture of them, and they went nuts cheering!
I continued on at my steady pace of around 8:20’s to 8:40’s (Mile 1 was a 9:07 and Mile 2 was a 9:10, but those two miles wouldn’t fit on the screen shot). We were directed off of the streets and onto the W&OD Trail at mile nine, and I was happy to be back on my beloved and very familiar trail. It was good to be on familiar territory, but sometimes that has its drawbacks, because I knew that the next two miles would be a steady uphill climb. I had been running alone for many miles, but shortly after getting on the trail I saw my MRTT friends Lisa and Ashley up ahead. Seeing them gave me something to focus on and work toward, and I eventually caught them around mile eleven.
Race splits and course elevations charts…
With about a mile to go, we were turned onto the gravel trail that runs parallel to the W&OD Trail, and Jerome caught up with me. He said something about this being my come-back race and pushed me the last mile. I finished right behind Jerome in 1:54:34 (8:45 pace, and 4th out of 17 in my age group) and only ten seconds behind my MRTT friends!
I didn’t realize it at the time, but the Loudoun Half Marathon was a PR half marathon for me! I’ve run many faster halves as the first half of a full marathon, but never as an independent race. Today I shaved two minutes off my 2002 Virginia Beach Rock ‘N’ Roll Half which was run on a very hot and humid day.
After the race I had the great pleasure of meeting Kim from Kim Runs… Becoming a Runner. After she commented on one of my posts yesterday, we realized that she would be at the race cheering her husband on, so we decided to try to meet after the race. It turned out that Kim’s husband Rick and I worked together for a short while at Worldgate. What a small world! Kim’s next race is the Nike Women’s Half in DC in two weeks.
After our little meet-up we headed over to grab some food. There was a great assortment of bagels, granola bars, bananas, cookies, and candies. Since I gave up sweets for Lent, I buzzed right past much of the table.
But this! I could have eaten six cups of mandarin oranges, but in the spirit of sharing, I kept it to one.
We said our thank yous and goodbyes to some of the members of the Ashburn Area Running Club, as well as the volunteers, and left the festivities to get home.
Heading home we passed the cone pick-up crew and they weren’t even a mile into their 13.1-mile job. And at the pace they were moving, they were going to be out there for a while! This is just another sampling of the many things that go on in organizing a race, and something that most racers don’t even think about.
Today I met two of my 2014 goals… I ran a sub two-hour half marathon and I had another blogger meet-up. Even though we didn’t run together, it was great meeting one of my new running blogger friends!
So what did I think of this race? I thought it went extremely well for a first-time race. Heck, I thought it went really well compared to any race! I have a feeling that it will become a big annual race for our community.
- Have you ever had run an inaugural race? If so, how did it go?
- What’s the weather like where you live?
- Did you race this weekend?