2018 Loudoun Half Marathon Recap

One month ago yesterday I ran my first goal race of 2018, the Loudoun Half Marathon.  Having run this race last year, I know that the course for this half marathon is anything but easy.  It features rolling hills throughout, but nothing that is unmanageable or that I am unfamiliar with here in Northern Virginia.  I was excited to run the course again after having run a fairly strong race last year.  After completing a strong training cycle, I was excited for what was to come on race day.

Despite being well prepared, as well as the weather being ideal for racing (it was in the high 40s and low 50s during the race, and there was almost zero wind), it just wasn’t my day.  I know that I put forth my best effort throughout the entire race, and because I did so I am not disappointed in myself.

Race morning started off with me leaving the house around 5:30 a.m.  I pulled into the parking lot of the local high school where the race started and finished at just after 6:00, and within five minutes of parking returned to the car with my race bib and shirt.  I sat in the car for awhile, finishing my breakfast and staying warm.  Around 6:40 I left the warmth of the car to use the bathroom, and then made my way to the start line.

The race started on the street in front of the high school.  With right around 550 people running this race, the start area wasn’t crowded at all, and I easily found a spot to stand while I waited for the race to start.  At 7:00, the “Star Spangled Banner” was sung, and at 7:02 I crossed the start line.

Just after crossing the start line
Photo Credit: Potomac River Running

Since I had trained using 4:15/0:45 run/walk intervals that’s what I had planned to run throughout the entire race.  I had to skip the first walk interval due to usual beginning of a race crowding, but by the time of my second planned walk interval the crowd had thinned out enough and I had found myself running in a very comfortable rhythm.  I continued to feel strong during the early miles of the race, which weaved through neighborhood streets.

Splits for Miles 1-4:
10:30, 10:47, 10:48, 10:51

Just prior to the mile 4 marker, the course took runners onto a portion of the W&OD Trail, which is a pedestrian and bike trail that runs throughout Northern Virginia.  The trail featured the flattest miles of the course, and I knew that I needed to not push myself too hard if I wanted to be able to continue running a strong race after exiting the trail.  Although my pace slowed slightly during the trail portion of the race, I continued to remain optimistic about my ability to run a strong 13.1 miles that morning.

It was an absolutely beautiful morning to run a race

Splits for Miles 5-7:
10:53, 11:00, 11:11

Despite my best efforts, I began to lose momentum after exiting the trail just past the mile 7 marker.  As the rolling hills intensified, my pace slowed down more and more.  Although I never had to take extra walk breaks, it was clear looking at my splits that I really struggled with my endurance during the second half of the race.  The further that I ran, the the heavier that my legs felt, and the more it became clear that it just was not my day to run a strong race.  I did my best to focus on remaining positive and simply doing the best that I could.

Running up one of the many hills on the course

Still smiling during the second half of the race despite how slow my pace became
Photo Credit: Potomac River Running

Splits for Miles 8-13.25:
11:17, 11:40, 11:37, 11:55, 12:37, 12:12, 2:42 (last 0.25 miles)

The closer that I got to the finish line on the high school track, the more that I wanted to push myself with the small amount of gas left in the tank to finish right around two and a half hours.  My official finish time was exactly 2:30:00 (11:27 pace), and according to my Garmin I ran 13.25 miles (11:19 pace).  Although this wound up being one of my slowest half marathons ever, I didn’t give up despite how challenging running that morning wound up being for me.

Photo Credit: Potomac River Running

Upon crossing the finish line, I received my medal as well as an insulated lunch bag filled with snacks.  I also received a bottle of water and a bottle of Gatorade.  I took advantage of the free stretching offered by a local physical therapy company.  It felt incredible to have somebody help stretch me out after a challenging morning of running.

Celebrating having finished my 16th half marathon

Having fun at the photo booth at the finish line
Photo Credit: Inova Healthcare

Overall, it was another great local race.  For only a $55 registration fee, I felt like I got more than my money’s worth: lots of aid along the course with a total of seven water and fuel stops, and a well staffed start and finish line area with with easy and convenient day of packet pick up as well as more than enough food and entertainment at the finish line.  There were also free race photos.  Just because it wasn’t my day for racing had no bearing on my opinion of this well organized local race.  I know that this was a challenging course, and although it took its toll on me last month that does not mean that I will never run this race again.  In fact, it is already on my radar for 2019, as I am determined to show this course what I am capable of.

QOTD: How do you motivate yourself to keep moving forward during a difficult race?

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34 Responses to 2018 Loudoun Half Marathon Recap

  1. kookyrunner says:

    Sometimes it’s just not your day, but I love how you kept a positive attitude throughout the race. That can make all the difference.

    i love that you were able to take advantage of post-race stretching and that they gave you a goodie bag of food at the finish. Sometimes it’s so hard to carry all that food in your hands after a race lol

    • Oh yes, I definitely appreciated the bag of food. Its incredibly difficult to balance everything. I do appreciate when races have lots of food at the finish line, but I’m extra appreciative when it doesn’t feel like a juggling act.

  2. Renée says:

    still you did great Kathryn, congratulations! I have experienced this sort of thing many times unfortunately and I’m still trying to pinpoint what it is. I think really I get caught up in starting and go to fast for me to maintain later. Often my head just says “I don’t really feel like this anymore” and then the mind games begin. But, of ALL the races I’ve participated in, there was only one (in March this year) that I actually stepped out of the race and was done with it. Mostly I keep telling myself it doesn’t matter when I finish, it just matters that I finish. And *you* did that, with a smile on your face 🙂

  3. Chaitali says:

    That’s a great price for a half! I’ll have to put this one on my radar for next year. Great job staying positive through a hard race.

  4. Sounds like it was worth it even though it was a hard race for you! The best part is that next time you have a hard race, you can look back at this one and say you still finished that and made it through even though it was hard. Good job!

  5. Congratulations even though it was tough for you, you finished and it looks like it was a beautiful course! Way to go!!!

  6. I think it’s great that you have such a good attitude about how everything went, despite it not working out the way you hoped. I think that’s a bigger accomplishment than a PR! It can be so tough to recognize that you did the best you could do on a particular day when your best for that day isn’t what you thought it might be – being positive is harder than running 13.1 miles sometimes, in my experience! Congrats on your finish, and way to focus on the good rather than the disappointing 🙂

  7. Great job on your race! Way to keep pushing when the going got tough. Sounds like a challenging course with those hills. How nice you were able to get stretched out afterwards. Was it kind of like a mini massage?

  8. Virjinia says:

    Way to finish with a smile on your face! That sounds like a fun race and a pretty good deal for your entry fee. Sometimes just taking a break from running helps everything fall back into place once you do start running again.

  9. Lesley says:

    I keep going when it’s tough because I trained hard for the race, and especially when I travel, I didn’t travel that distance to step off the course. Great job powering through and finishing strong.

  10. I’t s so hard to keep motivated when you feel it’s just not that day. Great perspective to have. You know you gave it your all and that is always something to be proud of

  11. Elaine D says:

    For a half marathon, that’s a bargain!
    Congrats on the finish! Despite the challenging hills, you pushed through to the end 🙂

  12. Rachel says:

    $55 for a half is a great deal!

    I struggled with my half right around the 7 mile mark, too. Guess it’s the magic number!

  13. AJ says:

    Great job on persevering!

  14. Wendy says:

    I’m sorry that the race didn’t go as well as you hoped. But as I keep telling myself, finishing is winning! Congrats!

  15. Marcia says:

    Sorry you didn’t feel like it was your day but, like Wendy said, finishing is winning. It’s tough to push through when you’re not feeling it so props!

  16. Karen :0) says:

    So sorry you weren’t feeling it on race day, but you did an excellent job! Way to stick with it, despite the way you felt. Rolling hills are the worst ever.

  17. Isn’t it the worst when you are trained and ready, and then it just doesn’t go the way you planned? I can only imagine your frustration 😦

    However, I know that you really enjoy this event, so regardless of how the race went, I’m glad it was still a good day. ❤

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