PRR Leesburg 20K Race Recap

August 19, 2014

August 19, 2014

This past Sunday I ran Potomac River Running’s Leesburg 20K.  I did not originally plan this 20K in my initial race schedule, but I had a few races left in my 4 pack and the 12.4 miles fit nicely into my training plan.  At first I was hesitant to sign up because racing in DC in August would be miserable, but then I realized I was thinking irrationally…. I would be running 12 miles as part of training anyways!

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Image: Potomac River Running

Leesburg, Virginia is approximately 60-70 minutes west of DC proper.  I’ve only gone to Leesburg to visit the outlets or to attend weddings.

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Little did I know, Leesburg has a Historic District, which is where the 20K started/finished. How cute is this?!

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Packet Pickup

Like the New Year’s Day 5K and the Firecracker 5K, runners could pick up their race packet days leading up to the race or race morning.  I love love the latter option, even if it meant waking up at 4:30am to get ready.  I arrived a little after 6:30am and hopped in line.  A little embarrassing story… by the time I got to the front of the line, I already forgot my bib number (I was thinking…where are those porta potties).  I had to run to another table to look at it again. I waited about 5 minutes and received my tech tee and pin.  I stowed those in my car and headed to the packet pickup area.

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There I met up with (l to r): Erin, Kathryn and Deb!  I met Kathryn last April at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and it was the first time meeting Erin and Deb.

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Photo Credit: Deb from Deb Runs

Deb and Erin headed to a MRTT group pic and Kathryn and I went to the porta potties.  Look who we ran into at the porta potties (we were tweeting behind the scenes, so not a total coincidence) – Courtney and Julie! It was nice catching up with these ladies! A little Oiselle love that morning (Courtney and Julie are part of Oiselle team).

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Photo Credit: Kathryn from Dancing to Running

Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)

After a few weeks “off” from long runs while on vacation, I knew time goals were not plausible for me (they would have also stressed me out).  This week’s long run was suppose to be 6 miles E/L (easy/long) and 6 miles MP (marathon pace), so I based my goals on that.

  • A – Negative split the last six miles
  • B – Run the last 6 miles faster than the first 6 miles
  • C – Finish

This meant my first six miles would be around 12:30-13:30/mile and the last six miles around 11:30/mile.  Since this was my first 20K, it would be an automatic PR!

PRR Leesburg 20K 

The 20K is an out and back race that starts and finishes in Historic Leesburg and runs along the W&OD trail for a majority of the race.  There were plenty of inclines, with a majority of them in the first half of the race (luckily they were not too steep… but still tiring).

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There were about 900 people running and it ended up being a nice morning (for August).  The humidity and sun peaked out towards the end.  We were treated with pretty views of farms and horses.

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My state of mind was all over the place during the race training run.  I forgot I was using this as a long run and went out too fast the first half.  My first 5 miles was a little over an hour, each mile I had to tell myself to slow down.  The last 7 miles were pretty miserable – my hips and back were aching and I was not up for speeding up.  All I kept on thinking about was watermelon and how will I finish 26.2 miles in November?! It was definitely more of a mental battle vs. physical.

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Photo Credit: Potomac River Running

The nice part of an out and back race was seeing Deb, Courtney, Julie and Kathryn on the route. I finished in 2:46:57 or 13:28/mile (I had to remind myself that I was not racing this 20K).  While I did not reach my A or B goals, I was happy I finished and got my long run in for the week.  We received these pretty medals for completing the 20K.

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A post race photo with Kathryn.

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Final Thoughts

  • Another well organized race by PRR!
  • Smaller side with less than 1,000 runners.
  • There is a 5K option that started about 15 minutes later.  The course was also well marked when the 5K and 20K courses split.
  • Walker friendly with a 3:00 hour cut off.
  • Beautiful course with great volunteers (there were some turns on the course and I always saw a marshal out there directing the runners).
  • Great neighborhood support. There was a house playing music (near mile 11) – I heard “Don’t Stop Belivin’
  • There were water stops about every 2 miles and one included Gel (9.5 mile water stop ran out of cups – I should have brought my handheld considering it was hot out).
  • I wish I looked at an elevation map before the race, but the inclines were not too bad.
  • Free parking garage across from the start (but I think it was close to capacity around 7-7:10).
  • PRR did have bag check for those who did not have car to stow away their gear or did not want or could not walk to their cars
  • The W&OD trail provided some nice shade.  Note runners did share the trail with bikers and other runners. 
  • The nice runner perks – medals, technical tee, food, and free race photos.
  • Reminded myself there will be good training runs and bad training runs.  Next week could very well be a good one!

I would run this 20K again! Check out Kathryn, Deb, Courtney and Julie‘s blogs as well for their recaps this week.  Even though we ran the same 20K, everyone’s race experience is different 🙂 

Have you run a 20K before? Any other unique distances?

Do you prefer small or larger races?

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