Disclaimer: This Courage Day 5K race recap includes affiliate links…


About the Courage Day 5K

The Courage Closet was founded by my friend Liz Sands who was kidnapped and raped on April 17, 1999. Her desire to help and educate others led to the creation of The Courage Closet, a non-profit organization providing support for sexual assault and abuse survivors. The Courage Day 5K was organized to raise money to support victims of sexual assault and domestic violence with 100% of net proceeds going directly to the cause.

The race, in its second year, was forced last year to go virtual due to the global pandemic shutting down our country. This year’s race was open to the first 250 runners who opted to run the live race and is still available virtually through the month of April to anyone who wasn’t comfortable running the live race. Use code 21DEBRUNS5 to save $5 at registration if you’d like to support this great cause.


Packet Pickup

Packet pickup had three options: pay $5 to have it mailed, pick it up between 4 and 6 PM Friday at the Leesburg Potomac River Running Store, or arrive early and grab it before the race. I opted for the easy peasy mail-it-to-me option; however, some items weren’t delivered in time to be mailed to the runners so our $5 was refunded and we were directed to use one of the other two options.

I arrived at Franklin Park at 7:45 AM on Saturday morning and immediately saw my friends Liz and Maureen working packet pickup. I easily found a parking space near the porta potties and walked over to see my friends. It took everything in me not to give them each a huge hug, but we refrained and wore our masks per protocol (they took them off for the picture).


I’m not a fan of unisex shirts, but do like the the color and the softness of the fabric, and I understand smaller races not having the budget to offer both men’s and women’s cuts. I’ve already worn my shirt and even though it’s not flattering fit-wise, it’s soft and comfy. The neckline is a little high, but that’s nothing that a little slit in the front didn’t fix, and if I feel particularly productive I’ll take it in a little in the waistline and be a happy camper.

Shirt front and bib…


Shirt back…


I was back in my car before 8 AM and had an hour to wait for the race to begin so I took a picture to post to Instagram reasoning that my first live race in seventeen months deserved several IG posts.


Ready to Run

With the temperature at 46° and a beautiful blue sky, I debated on what to wear and ditched my gloves and ear-warmer headband and didn’t regret it. I left on my nylon shell and hopped out of the car at 8:45 to run an easy half-mile warmup. While out, I discovered a lonesome porta potty and decided to make one final pit stop before the race. Back on the road heading toward the starting line, I decided to shed my shell and detoured to the car to drop it off.

As I ran toward the starting line debating where to self-seed, my friend Terri of =PR= Races motioned for me to pull up my mask and slip into an area near the front. We were asked to wear our masks before and after the race, but were allowed to take them off while running. Once across the finish line and after we’d caught our breath, we were asked to wear our masks once again. As the pictures show, Franklin Park is a huge venue that allowed runners and volunteers to easily social distance.

Runners in front of me…


Runners behind me… (waves were limited to about forty runners)


We listened to a couple of short speeches about the Courage Closet and race rules berfore a beautiful a cappella rendition of the national anthem. I didn’t take a picture, but later in the recap you can see the talented young lady who sang the national anthem volunteering at the post-race refreshments table.


And We’re Off!

Shortly after 9 AM with the temperature at a delightful 46°, I crossed the starting line of my first live race in seventeen months. Three steps away from the starting line, though, I noticed that my Garmin (affiliate link) had reset and I had to quickly get it going again. Little did I know that it didn’t start immediately which resulted in my splits being totally off.


The Course

Running on a cross country course was a first for me, and this trail lover totally enjoyed running on grass, gravel, and dirt while climbing up and down hills. I definitely noticed that I should have added hill repeats into my training, though, because climbing those hills took it out of me.


The First Mile

I pulled out my GoPro (affiliate link) to capture leaving the grass and turning onto the road as we made our way to the gravel shoulder for a short distance before turning back onto grass.


Back on grass and up the first hill…


We ran on gravel for a short distance (you can see my shadow waving as I thanked the volunteer)…


And then we turned onto a dirt bridle path…


Moving on to Mile 2

During the second mile we continued on mostly dirt trail which had a few muddy spots and a few ridges from tire ruts. Somewhere during the second mile I stepped on the edge of a rut and twisted my foot. A volunteer saw it happen and asked if I was okay, and luckily, other than a little immediate discomfort, it hasn’t bothered me since.


Continuing Along Mile 3 and To the Finish Line

The third mile was less eventful; however, there seemed to be more exposed roots (which were spray painted orange) and the rolling hills continued.


The course flattened for a short distance, but my Amazon playlist certainly didn’t do me any favor when Hotel California started playing (I was listening to Amazon’s classic rock station which ended up being a bit slow – I should have picked another station). Anyway, I loathe Hotel California so I made it a game to see how far I could run before the song ended.


Shortly after this bridge we had a nice downhill and then a painful uphill where I actually stopped and walked for about five seconds to catch my breath. Once running again, I rounded the end of a tree line, the course flattened out onto grass, and suddenly I could see the finish line in the distance.

I immediately regretted the five-second walk because during it, two guys had passed me. I gave it everything I had left in my tank and tried to pass them as we sprinted toward the finish line. It was close, but they both won out in the end.

I finished completely spent, and proud of my performance. My Garmin showed I’d run 2.81 miles due to the starting glitch (9:01 average pace), but it wasn’t until I got home and looked up the official results that I saw that my official time was 25:23 (8:11 pace). I was the 7th female overall to finish, but still finished 4th in my age group – my age group was 11 to 99. LOL If there had been a 60-69 year old age group, I would have won it.

finish line pic


Post-Race Fun

Immediately after crossing the finish line I walked over into the open field to catch my breath. I was spent and knew that I’d given this race my all. Once I caught my breath, I walked to the refreshment table to get a water bottle and recognized the young lady volunteering. I complimented her on her beautiful voice and told her how much I’d enjoyed listening to her sing the national anthem.


Next I saw my friends Cindy and Nicole from a nearby MRTT chapter and enjoyed catching up with them. While chatting, I heard my name being called from across the field, said my goodbyes, and ran over to see what was up.


Friends from my MRTT chapter were trying to get all of us rounded up for a group picture. We lowered our masks once again long enough for our first group picture in a very long time.


Just as I turned to leave, I heard my name being called yet again and this time it was Terri from =PR= Races. I ran over to hang out with her for a few minutes while she was waiting for the last few race participants to walk across the finish line. She filled me in on the status of some of their upcoming races – both the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day races will have live and virtual options. Slowly, but surely, live races are making a comeback.


Shoutout to the Winners

Finishing shortly after I got to the second mile marker was Adam Conklin from Purcellville, VA who won the race with a time of 17:51 (5:45 pace). Winning the women’s division was Madeline Lamo of Arlington, VA with a time of 19:42 (6:51 pace). Congrats, Adam and Madeline!

Winning the female 1 to 10 age group was Haley who also happened to be celebrating her eighth birthday! Haley has an amazing roll model – that’s my running friend Katie standing next to her.


Medal Monday Fail

Even though I watched people taking pictures proudly holding their medals in front of the finish arch, it didn’t dawn to take a similar picture or to take a picture of my medal suspended in the air in front of the arch. As a result, once home I took a picture for #MedalMonday on the gravel alongside our neighborhood paved trail.


Final Thoughts

I was happy to be able to not only run in my first live race in a very long time, but to be able to run a strong race after last year’s injury. Helping out my friends by promoting and supporting their race was just icing on the cake. Liz, Maureen, and the rest of their volunteers did a wonderful job with this being their first attempt at pulling off the Courage Day 5K as a live race.

Again, if you would like to help support victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, use code 21DEBRUNS5 to save $5 at registration. 100% of net proceeds will go directly to the cause.


  • • When was the last time you ran a live race?
  • • Are many live races opening up near you?
  • • What’s next on your racing calendar?


Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on the blue product link and then make a purchase, I will receive a commission for referring you. You will pay no more or less for the product; however, Amazon will show their gratitude for my referral by paying me.