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!

 

 

In the Name of Walls and Devious Thoughts

My beau (bless his heart) has always been the voice of reason, the beacon of positivity and perspective, and the “hype man” before the race. During my first year of racing this drove me crazy because I was the over-thinker, the planner, and I was “in the zone” like 30 minutes before the start — basically I was really nervous. So questions like “Are you ready?” and “Are you excited?” were usually met with stank eyes.

So, there we were (hey, this is how all the good stories start) in summer 2016 at the Quantico 12K. This was my first time running more than 5 miles. Uh…YES, I knew 12K was 7.46 miles … and NO, I didn’t really train for the run. In retrospect, there were soooo many things I didn’t know about running. But, that’s not the point.

So, there we were, running our first race together. He easily has a pace a few minutes faster than mine, so I just assumed that he (like my Sole Sisters I race with) would simply run ahead and I’d see him at the finish line. But after I turned the first bend, there he was (his pace slowed, trying to find me through the crowd). Damnit! I thought … I had no illusions of grandeur in my pace … so I immediately feared I’d slow him down. “What are you doing babe? Go ahead, run your race,” I said. “No babe, we are going to run this together!” he replied. I really didn’t want to slow him down, but I appreciated the gesture … at first.

A couple miles into the run, he looked at me and asked “How you feelin’ babe?” In my mind I was thinking “Uh, like my heart is beating fast and I don’t wanna run this race!” but of course I just said “I’m good.” Well, perhaps he didn’t hear me … because like TWO MINUTES LATER he asked the same question. Okay! In all fairness, it was probably longer than two minutes, but after being asked the same questions a few times I was coming pretty close to losing it!

—- The Wall —-

Just when I was approaching my mental wall … which was probably 1/2 mile after the 5 mile marker … there my loving beau was running along side me … still talking … still asking me questions … still periodically looking over at me. And it happened … he had his phone in his hand and he said, “Hey babe…” when I abruptly yelled “I swear if you say one more thing about this race!!!”  He looked at me in shock and answered, “I was just going to share this song with you” (showing me his playlist).

Oh Great!” I thought…”NOW I’m the jerk!”

I think he knew I hit my wall (hmm, wonder what gave him that idea), so for the rest of the race he tried encouraging me, “You’re doing great babe.” “Pick up your feet a little bit, there you go, good stride, you’re looking good.” I still had a horn and fangs … but said nothing in response. This was the part of the course where clearing the last 1.4 miles includes a continuous (seemingly never ending) incline. Mind you, this was two months after running the Semper 5ive and I was beginning to see a trend with the Marines (hills, they love those dang hills).

My beloved beau kept encouraging me, and as we climbed the last hill and passed the 7 mile marker he reached for my hand so we could run in together. Well, (horn and fangs in full effect) I pulled my hand back and just tried to focus on not dying … but he stuck right next to me and we crossed the finish line together.

—- Devious Thoughts —-

Never one to miss an opportunity for self-reflection, after I ate my banana, drank half my beer, and we took our “finisher photo”… I looked into his eyes, grabbed his hand, and apologetically said “Babe… I’m SO sorry for being mean to you during the race!”

He looked at me, with his beautiful blue eyes and bright smile, and retorted …

“Aww…babe, it’s okay … but you do that crap again and I’ll PUSH your ass off the trail and into some bushes.” 

quantico 12k (2016)

We Started Together, We Finished Together