Yesterday morning, Kristen and I ran the Leesburg 20K.
The goal? Finish the race. Just keep moving and finish. I will worry about time for the half marathon, but this was a training run. I was going to do twelve miles this weekend anyway so I might as well add a little extra and get a free t-shirt. However, this race felt more like a dead sprint for seasoned runners. And I was definitely out of place.
The course was beautiful. Loads of trees, shade, and wildlife. We ran the majority of it through the W&OD trail which prevented spectators from collecting along the sides and cheering like you would see in a road race. The lack of crowd support forced me to get inside my head and convince myself that I could finish.
Somewhere on the Internet, there was mention that this was a particularly hilly course. Totally not the case at all. I expected a major incline, not a few small rolling hills.
The stations were spaced out perfectly (less than every two miles!) and equipped with gatorade and water. One of the stations also offered Gu but only in the fruit flavors and we know how I feel about fruit. There was also whisperings that there would be a bathroom stop around mile 9, unfortunately this was a lie unless they meant nature.
Fortunately, I didn’t need to make any pit stops along the way. Maybe my subconscious knew that the possibility of a bathroom stop was a lie…
I moved slowly from mile to mile. Like a tortoise. I might’ve been shuffling at one point.
At mile six, I made use of my Nuun hydration tablet. A small boost of energy flowed through me and I was on my way. At mile nine, I opened my Clif shot gel. I managed to only get through half of it before a bee flew toward my face and I chucked it. The sugary sweetness from the gel reminded me of frosting and I remember thinking that I wish I had a cupcake instead.
“Just keep moving,” became my mantra.
During mile 9, I turned to Kristen and told her I wanted to die (I’m dramatic). At this point, my arms were chaffed so bad and the bottoms of my feet were on fire. I’ve never had an issue with chaffing until today and wow did it hurt. The pain in my feet is a rubbing issue I thought I was used to but I was wrong. Annoying.
Just keep moving.
I crossed the finish line at 2:46:21. Pace was 13:25.
I walked more than I should’ve, but I finished. I finished the 20k. I was second to last for my age group, but I finished.
An award I definitely earned today.
Unfortunately, they did not give out finishers medals. I know there was an awards for the top 3 finishers in each age group, but the ceremony was over before I crossed the finish line.
I feel like the last person in each of those age groups deserves recognition as well, so I made the medal above as a consolation prize even though I was runner-up for last.
As I was trying to cross the finish line, this man who had completed the 5K ran up to me with this giant American flag that he proceeded to thrust into my hands in order to pump me up. I appreciated the patriotism but at that point I felt like all of my limbs were going to fall off. The flag was heavy and weird and ugh.
Talk about awkward.
All participants were invited to a post-race brunch hosted by one of the sponsors. The post-race party was severely picked over at this point. Apples, bananas and water were all that remained. I’m sure had I finished sooner I could’ve enjoyed more of it, but I didn’t care.
I planned in advance and made reservations at my favorite restaurant for brunch.
Totally worth every ache and pain I felt in my body at that moment. I almost ordered the croissant french toast as well, but refrained.
After brunch, I returned home where I proceeded to put my compression socks on and make myself comfortable on the couch. Many naps and a lazy afternoon followed.
It felt like my calves were being hugged. A glorious feeling.
Now that I’ve finished this race, I am pumped for the Virginia Beach half marathon. My time goal for that has always been to finish in under three hours. Now, I want to finish in under 2:45. If I can just pick up my pace a little between now and then, I am confident that I should be able to finish with time to spare.
I suppose I will just have to keep reminding myself to “just keep moving.”
Have you ever competed in a 20k? How did it go for you? Do you stress about meeting time based goals or do you just aim to finish? Any tips for me on how to improve within the next two weeks?