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Race Result

Racer: David Orton
Race: Leesburg 20 K
Date: Sunday, August 12, 2007
Location: Leesburg, VA
Race Type: Run - Other
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 1:37:44
Overall Place: 170 / 669
Age Group Place: 28 / 61
Comment: Long HOT Run

Race Report:

Karolina and I did this race last year and had a great time, so it was a no-brainer to sign up again. It's rare to find a long race this time of year and we both viewed this race as an opportunity to test our long-run fitness as we build up for our first attempt at the Marine Corp marathon. The course is very simple starting in downtown Leesburg near the W&OD trail. The course winds through town for one mile before proceeding up the W&OD trail parallel to Dry Mill Rd. The course goes about two miles past Clarks Gap (crossing Rt. 7) and then turns around and takes the trail back down to Leesburg. Basically, itís a long climb going out and a long downhill coming back.

Saturday, Karolina and I spent the day biking and running on the Luray Triathlon course. Although we climbed some hard hills during the recon, my legs felt good on race morning. My goal going into the race was to see if I could hold 8 minute pace the whole way and stay comfortable. I wanted to run smart, not overexert myself and test my long run fitness.

The race start was 7:30 which is critical this time of year. Like 2006, we lucked out with the weather. Had the race been a week earlier, we'd be in for a long brutal run. We were up at 5:00 AM and pre race nutrition included a Boost and Cliff Bar. I sipped Smart Water leading up to the race and ate a few Shot Bloks about one hour before race start. I decided to wear my FuelBelt with four Cytomax bottles. I also carried a gel flask containing Apple Cinnamon Hammer Gel. We both got in a good warm up and found a good spot at the starting line.

20k Run
The race starts with a slight downhill before winding through a shopping mall and entering the W&OD trail right after mile 1. I tried to stay calm and not get 'pushed' by the racers around me. I tend to get excited at the start of running races and blow through the first mile too fast. I focused on my breathing and maintaining and efficient and short stride. I decided against wearing my Newtons for this race given the long downhill and went with my Asics DS Trainers. I felt great as I passed through mile 1 in 7:48 which was right where I wanted to be. Things were starting well as I tried to find a good position on the W&OD trail.

Running races on the W&OD seem to be a hot trend now. A few years back there weren't any races that I knew of that took place on the trail. Just this year I've done four running races and all but one have taken part on the W&OD. While I think it's great to use the trail, I personally prefer to do running races on the road. The trail is simply too narrow to host a large running race. I guess my personal bias is that I also train so much on the W&OD and I wish I could race around some new scenery.

As the W&OD started to go up, I tried very hard to run efficiently and keep my HR below 160. I wanted to keep it in the high 150s until the back half. This plan worked most of the way. As my pace slipped down to 7:59, 7:51, 8:03, and 8:13, I still managed to keep my HR at or below 160. After the turnaround at mile 7, I started taken my Hammer Gel tried to pick it up a bit. This move was too hard and too soon and by mile 8 my HR was averaging 163 and I started to feel 'uncomfortable'. I pushed the uphill that crosses Rt. 7 too hard and spiked my HR but I still felt confident knowing the W&OD point downwards shortly after that crossing. Running downhill is one of my strengths (or at least I think it is) and I thought this would be my time to hammer. While my mile splits dropped to 7:46, 7:38, and 7:48, I didnít feel strong and was 'holding steady' rather than hammering. I was worried about bonking and tried to maintain myself and not overdo it. I passed through mile 10 in 1:18:42 which was a 10 min PR from the Army 10 miler last year. It gave me great confidence to know I was in the finishing a good run. As I made my way through the final mile, I was passed by a group of people and thought about going with them. I told myself to hold back and race smart. I was about to beat my goal pace and average under 8 min pace. Last season I pushed myself too hard in races leading up to MCM and ended up injured. My paranoia was setting in and I finished the run with a strong steady finish. As I crossed the line, I was elated to see I was going to be under 1:40. My final time of 1:37:44 (7:52 pace) was 18 minutes faster than my time last year. My average HR for the entire race was 159. Clearly, my training has been more consistent and better planned this season. My last thought was that I wished the race continue another .6 miles to a half marathon so I could have PRed at that distance (assuming I kept up the pace). While PRing at 20k is great, people always respond with "20k, how far is that exactly?" A half marathon seems to have better currency in our training circles.

A few minutes later, Karolina finished with a huge sprint in a time of 1:43:08. It was a 12 minute PR and as she put it "the perfect race". You can't ask for anything more then that.

We made our way home feeling great and pleased with our results. We closed the day down with hamburgers on the grill and beers in hand with Reid, Mary Beth and Reidith. We couldn't have asked for a better late summer evening.