Leesburg 20K is uphill both ways

This morning I ran the annual 20k race in Leesburg, which starts from the downtown Market Square and then heads out the W&OD Trail towards Purcellville, through miles of rolling countryside.

The race stepped off at 7:30 am which meant things were somewhat cool.  The first few miles were a near constant incline and I was pretty gassed at Mile 4, even though I was barely holding a “9 minute mile” pace.  I was too distracted and tired to notice the bucolic scenery south of the trail (they call it the “race with the cows”).

Around Mile 5.5, we finally got to the crest of a long climb and then ran down through the woods towards the turnaround.  This was basically the only mile of the race where I actually felt strong.

Coming back, I wish I could say that I made up lost ground.  It was supposedly  downhill and in the shade after Mile 8.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get that peaceful easy feeling — instead, I got passed by a lot of younger people over the last couple miles.  I also had to take a couple walk breaks around Mile 11, when the August sun really started beating down on the open portions of the trail.  (Thanks to the high school volunteers who kept us hydrated at the water stations).

Coming back into the Town, I passed Mile 12 and suddenly realized that the end was closer than I expected (a 20K is approx 12.4 miles).  I charged off the trail and managed a pseudo-closing sprint.  Crossing the finish line in downtown Leesburg, I promptly doused myself with water — more on that later.  My finish time was 1:54:34, which is roughly a two hour half-marathon pace.

That’s about six minutes slower than I last ran in 2010, but I had fewer children and fewer worries.  So basically I’ll call it a wash.

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