In mid-August, I ran my first 20k! If that sounds like a lot, it is: 12.4 miles. Not quite a half marathon, but still a very respectable distance.
I tend to take chances on races that are close to me because they tend to be somewhat affordable (compared to destination races) and the convenience of being 5-15 minutes away from the start is wonderful. This was a Potomac River Running race and their races tend to be pretty good. They have decent swag and solid post-race goodies, which is obviously very important.
Building up to this race, I was incredibly nervous. It had been SO hot and humid in our area. Just really gross. My weekly runs were maxing out at 4 miles and I only did two runs over 10 miles. Now, as a fairly serious runner, I know that if I can run 10, I can run 12, especially in a race environment where there are other runners and the adrenaline is going. Still, I was worried that it would be sticky and miserable and my time would suffer. Worst of all, I wouldn’t enjoy the race, which is a feeling I know all too well from Marine Corps.
But! I forgot a key thing: this race was mostly on the trail and specifically on a part that was 95% shaded. I cannot emphasize how much of a difference that made.
So the race started at 7:30am and I got there at 7:20, and spent about five minutes finding the bathroom and then waited in line. It is a pretty anxiety ridden time when you know you are going to miss the start but also know that you need to go to the bathroom. Thankfully, some very sweet 5k runners (with a later start time) let me cut in front of them so I only started about three minutes late. The start was still open so it wasn’t a huge deal and there were plenty of other 20kers stuck in the bathroom lines. Note to self: get there a little bit earlier next time to account for this!
I ran to the start and was going a little bit faster than I wanted to at the start, but ended up finding my groove. My watch also didn’t find its GPS on time so I started it about 0.1miles late. It ended up syncing up at the end though, which was nice. My watch alerts were almost perfectly aligned with the mile markers.
Overall, the race was really great. At points, I was running with a pack of people, which can be really nice. A few of them were from the AARC (Ashburn Area Running Club). It was nice talking to people for a few miles; it definitely helps the time go by. I ran farther on the trail than I ever have before so at one point, I wasn’t sure what the course was, but after we turned around (it was an out and back) I had a very good idea of where the mile markers were.
At mile 12, I still felt great, and smiled at the camera guy I saw. I pushed through and ran up the slight uphill finish to cross the finish line.
I finished in 2:11:44, with a 10:37 pace. I really enjoyed this race and I will make sure to sign up for it next year! Now the next goal is to get my average pace down to 10 minutes.