Going LoCo in Loudoun … Who’s Coming with Me?

Around this time last year I had this loco idea to run two races in one weekend!

Fast forward a few months to April 2017 … as office talk about weekend plans began on Thursday, I told my co-workers about my upcoming LoCo Challenge and almost every one of them slowly repeated back to me (as if I were unaware of what I said) “So, you’re running an 8K on Saturday … and a Half Marathon on Sunday … the same weekend?” “Yessss!” I said, slowly shaking my head, “It will be FUN!” Now, this was the first time I would attempt such an event so I was really aiming to convince myself with my conviction, but it was in celebration of my first “runniversary.”

Hotel Review

So there I was, driving to my Candlewood Suites on Friday. After reviewing the course maps I decided to stay somewhere that was nearly equal distance from the 8K (~4 miles) and the Half Marathon (~5 miles). I know this may sound weird, but I really appreciate a hotel where parking is free (charging me to park where I plan to sleep has never made sense to me); where there is a fridge and a microwave in the room (makes prepping for a race easier); and where the living quarter is spacious (a girl needs room to foam roll). The hotel was also close to several shopping centers, stores, and quite a few restaurants. Going in one direction led to Dulles 28 Centre and going in the other direction led to the Dulles Town Center. Additionally, there was a Wal-Mart and a Target close by. The location was definitely convenient.

Packet Pick-Up

The Ashburn Area Running Club did a great job producing this race. I elected to pick-up my packet Saturday morning before the race. It was very easy – there were plenty of volunteers to direct traffic and answer questions (although there were also plenty of signs … sometimes reading is fundamental … just sayin’). Parking was plentiful and once reaching the pick-up tent, I was in and out in a cinch (one bib for the LoCo Challenge and three good quality t-shirts).

The Races

8K on Saturday: It was cloudy and 59 degrees – which was perfect! I linked up with Monique, one of my sole sisters, at One Loudoun. She’s a fast runner, so a few minutes before the race began I wished her good luck as she moved towards the front of the crowd (that’s what the fast runners do … I tend to find a decent spot in the middle). Some of the runners around me complained about the overcast and the light misty rain that began moments before we started, but I couldn’t have been happier with the weather. I would characterize the course as “rolling hills” but I felt good throughout the race (and to be clear … I loathe hills). There wasn’t a lot of crowd support throughout the course (likely due to the course layout) but there were enough volunteers full of smiles and words of encouragement waving us in the right direction. I felt great the entire race and was happy to see my sole sister at the end waiting on me.

8K Course Map

8K Course Map from 2017 (courtesy of Loudon Half Races)

 

Half Marathon on Sunday: Getting to Broad Run High School was pretty easy, and by the time we arrived the roads were already marked off. The weather was beautiful; sunny with a little clouds and it was a crisp 45 degrees when the race started. There was more crowd support on Sunday and I must say the volunteers for this race series are among the best I’ve experienced. During all races I make it a habit to thank the police officers, transit cops, and volunteers for their service. It seemingly takes them by surprise, but without them running safely wouldn’t be possible.

This course also included a few rolling hills. But after Saturday I accepted my fate and just rolled with it! Miles three through seven were on the W&OD Trail and it was a welcomed change, there was a moment of serenity along that trail that I really appreciated. Oh, and a HUGE shout out to the awesome volunteers at the elementary school near mile 12! They had oranges! I’ve never appreciated an orange that much in my life, it definitely gave me the boost of energy I needed to finish strong. My beau was kind enough to drive up on Saturday night to support me and I was happy to see his smiling face at the finish line.

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Half Marathon Course Map from 2017 (courtesy of Loudoun Races)

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Finishing the Half Marathon / LoCo Challenge

BLING and Goodies: These medals are definitely on my list of favorites. The quality, the design, and the size are awesome!  The middle of the challenge medal spins, as does the the “13.1” on the medal for the Half. Bling bling baby!!

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Among my Favorite Finisher Medals

In addition to some great snacks, finishers also received a durable and spacious lunch bag courtesy of INOVA (I use this bag every day). There were also a plethora of photos of both races posted on the website to access.

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INOVA Lunch Bags (courtesy of Loudoun Races)

So Who’s Coming with Me?

I am excited to say, I will be “going loco” again this year on April 21st and 22nd! So…maybe I’ll see you there? Come on and register, it’ll be FUN!

 

 

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