It's not often that we get beautiful weather in August, but Sunday morning was an exception. And the weather was exceptional for a race.
The Leesburg 10K/20K (formerly the YMCA of Loudoun County 10K/20K) is run at 7:30 AM on a Sunday to escape the sweltering heat & humidity, but we had none of that. What we did have was about 1200 runners (slightly more than half of whom were running the 10K) crammed onto Harrison Street in Leesburg for the start.
And for me, negotiating that logjam seemed like the hardest part of the race. It's a pet peeve of mine - runners and/or walkers who line up close to the front of the pack, and mosey over the starting mat. It took me a while to navigate the walkers, easy joggers, and 3-abreast gabbers, but I got it done in about a half mile. It showed - my first mile was about a 9:20 pace (but that actually was a blessing in disguise).
I picked it up slightly in mile 2, running that in about 9 minutes, and then the course went into a mile-long upslope, with a big hill just before the turnaround. My daily neighborhood hill work helped me here, as I blew by those struggling up the hill. The benefit is that on a mostly out-and-back course, a big uphill at the turnaround means a big downhill just afterward. I took advantage, and went through the 4-mile mark at 35:57, slighly under a 9 minute-per-mile pace. I was looking good for a PR today.
I knew going in that there was going to be a hill midway through the 5th mile, and it was a doozy, but I saved a lot of energy with the downhills in the 3rd & 4th miles, so the hill wasn't that difficult. I was sucking air when I reached the peak, but still kept about a 9:02 pace. Now my job ws to get to the finish. I pretty much guaranteed myself a PR; the question was if I could break the 9 minute mile pace barrier.
I hit 6 miles at a little over 54 minutes, and all I had left was the last 2/10 mile, but all of that was uphill. I took off up the hill, put it into a higher gear, got to the crest just before the finish, and went over the mat in an official time of 55:53, a 9 minute/mile pace and a new personal record for the 10K.
I was extremely satisfied with this race. I went in looking simply for a tune-up for my half-marathon in 6 weeks. I didn't exert myself too much in the 10K (only where necessary), and am very confident that if I can run the first half of the half marathon (on a flatter course) as well as I did this 10K, I can not only set a PR, but could also possibly break 2 hours.