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Katie St Pierre

Loudoun Lyme   (2015)

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A few weeks ago I ran in the Loudoun Lyme 10k at the Brambleton Town Center. This race's main goal was to educate and spread awareness about Lyme disease, and to also raise money to help find a cure. There was an information fair with health professionals and specialists, county officials, veterinarians, and local vendors to help educate the public about Lyme disease, its causes, symptoms and treatments. To read more about Lyme Disease, please check out this post!

The race started out with a cool drone flying over head taking video and pictures (but unfortunately nothing has been posted on the race website yet). The 10k race started first, with the 5k starting a few minutes later. This was pretty much the same course as the Brambleton Ribbon Run that I ran a few years ago. It is pretty flat, and I love running through all of the fancy houses in the neighborhood.

The race took place on a morning that was very humid. It was misting the entire morning, which made it especially unpleasant to run. All I wanted it to do was to give a good rain to help cool me off while running!!!

Regardless, I finished in 1:13:26, which is an 11:49 minute/mile pace. I actually felt a lot more tired, hot, and sweaty than I look in my finishers picture!

I was super excited to find a gluten-free snack bar along with a banana and water at the finish line! Hooray!

I wandered around the educational fair for a bit and checked out some of the exhibitors before heading home.

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John Niedzwiecki

Loudoun Half Marathon   (2014)

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Let's start with some brief notes of the stuff leading up to the race. First, I want to mention pre-race communications. The Ashburn Area Running Club (AARC), who put on the Loudoun Half Marathon and 8K, did an amazing job with communications. There were updates almost weekly updates leading up to the race for about a month an a half which was phenomenal. They were emailed to you and linked to the updates portion of the website. They talked about the course map, preview runs, a look at the shirt design, reminders and inspiration. This doesn't even include any additional small updates and pics from their Facebook page. Best I've seen for any races I've run. Yes, even runDisney didn't give this much contact leading up to their races.

Packet pickup was quick and easy. Walk up, find your bib number, next table get your packet, next table for goody bag and shirt and you're done The shirt was a nice quality tech shirt. Granted, it was a small race, so there wouldn't really be lines expected, but even at that they were set up to be amazingly efficient.

Race morning was good as well. Parking was ample at the school. It was nice being able to drive and park easily at the race site. The meeting area was right next to the stadium, which was opened up for the finish area and included real bathrooms, which was a nice added bonus. When I arrived there was zero line. Closer to start there got to be a short line (even in the men's room). Then it was just walk out the gate to the starting like and away we go.

This was a smaller race, so no corralling. Water stops were well spread out. They also FULL of people cheering, which was very nice. On a course that rolls through Ashburn, there wasn't exactly people lining the streets to cheer. There were people at time, still out as slow poke me came by, which was nice. All the water stations cheered and helped try to pump you up. Many seemed like they were being volunteered by local students, either from the track team or sports teams or other organizations, such as Boy Scouts. It was nice to see them out there. I have to also call out one specific group. Later in the course, way down at the bottom of a long hill there's a water stop. I see noone else ahead of me at this particular point. But I hear cheering. Loud cheering and hollering and clapping. Even though I was way in the distance, they were letting me know they saw me and they were there. There was a group ahead of the station, that I can only assume where cheerleaders, as they cheered a very rhythmic cheer. And they continued to cheer as I went off into the distance the other direction. It really helped mentally.

The weather was beautiful. Even as the sun warmed up, there was a breeze that countered it. As it wore on, I got a little warmer at times, but the breeze was usually not far behind. The course featured some rolling hills, but nothing too steep or difficult. Around mile 9 the course goes onto the W&OD trail. When I was at this point there was no problem. When the race pack was there, it may have been problematic. There are many bike riders who use that nice path in both directions and it isn't very wide to support the large volume of runners for a race. The course would follow the trail all the way to back by the school. While running on the trail, it was really encouraging. Many people, runners and bikers alike, would give me some encouragement as they ran in the opposite direction and saw my bib. I received a lot of "great job", "you're almost there" and "finish strong!" It felt good. The last small chunk of the race was on the track back at the school.

I was greeted immediately with my medal and congrats at the finish line. Even being the 4th from the end, they were still there for me. Heck, there were even 2 people there for medals. After my medal I got the 2nd most important thing: a cold bottle of water. I drank that and waited for the person behind me to cross because I knew they couldn't be too far behind. I clapped and cheered as they crossed, grabbed a 2nd bottle of water and headed for the food, and they still had plenty. I also liked it because it was different than other race, which often sports bananas, other fruit and maybe the occasional bagel. They had fruit cups, rice krispy treats, some cookies. It was a nice touch. Everyone was still there at the finish, caring about the back of the pack. It was a nice way to finish. Later, there were even high quality and FREE pictures from photographers that were out on the course, icing on the cake.

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Katie St Pierre

ArcticHalf   (2018)

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ArcticHalf
The Old Dominion RacingArcticHalf took place on February 24, 2018 in Sterling, VA.

Pre-Race
The ArcticHalf took place at Algonkian Regional Park. There was plenty of parking and the start packet pick-up and start line took place under a covered pavilion. This was great because it was raining before the race began, and I was hoping to minimize my getting wet prior to the race. The line to pick up my bib and shirt was quick, and I was grateful that the race shirt was a long-sleeve tech shirt. I definitely did not bring enough warm clothes to the start. There were a few port-o-potties at the start, as well.

Prior to the start of the race there was a quick warm-up from Orange Theory, with some fun dance moves and stretches. Then, it was time to begin.

Multiple Race Distances
There were multiple-race distances for this race. The Half Marathon began at 12pm, which was a nice time because I didn't have to wake up super early. The 10k started just before 1pm, with the 5k following that.

The Course
The day called for rain. Which is fine, whatever. It rained while driving to the race, and up to the start. It was chilly, so I was glad for the long sleeved tech race shirt. The rain conveniently stopped right as the Half Marathon was starting, which was perfect. I ended up taking off my long sleeved shirt during the half mile because it was starting to warm up.

The course was mainly dirt trails, with a few stretches of pavement and gravel. Unfortunately, because of the rain, the dirt trails were mostly mud trails. Again, whatever. I was being very cautious, though, because I have been known to trip and fall on dry trails. This mud trail was nothing like I have ever experienced before. I have ran in the rain. I have ran in the ice. Mud is a while different animal. No only is it hard to run because you don't want to slip, there is the extra added resistance of sticking to the ground.

Seriously, there were parts of the trail where I had to hold onto trees or walk slowly with my arms straight out to help balance.

Regardless, this was a great course. You start off with one lap of two different trails, before heading past the golf course to a gravel trail. After a bit on this trail, you turn around and do a second lap before ending. Most of the course was in the trees, with some views of the water. It was very pretty!

Parts of the course were flooded, so we had to wade, step on rocks, or jump to cross!
SWAG
The long sleeved tech race shirt was great and definitely helped to keep me warm pre-race. The water stops were stocked very well with water, Gatorade, Sports Beans, Gu chews, and hand warmers.

The medal was nice and heavy and a good quality. The finish line had fruit, pastries, coffee, hot chocolate, and root beer (which is what I chose, along with some fruit). Never has a root beer taste so good. I know understand why a lot of races end with beer!

There was a raffle for a TV, Garmin, and other running gear. You were to earn tickets based on which race you completed, as well as if you helped to raise any money. Unfortunately, they started the raffle when I was at mile 10 and was over by the time I finished the race. I wish there was a way to have had my raffle tickets in the pot so I could have been considered to win.

How Did I Do?
I hadn't run a half marathon since October, and I wasn't quite yet trained for 13 miles. However, I have been doing some training runs and races in preparation for the Blue Ridge Marathon in April, so at least I had been doing some running. My intervals were run 1, walk 1, which I tried to follow when I could actually run. However, the amount of slick mud made it hard for me to run consistently on a lot of the trail, so I was a bit slower than I wanted.

But, I felt great! Except for a blister forming on each pinky toe (due to wet feet), I felt like I could have kept running, which is a positive because I have some longer runs coming up!

My finish time was 3:16:37.

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Daniel Watson

Dulles Day 5k/10k On the Runway   (2016)

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This race is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. You are running on one of the runways at Dulles International Airport (IAD) while the rest of the airport is still operational. You get to see planes taxiing, taking off, and landing on other runways while running the entire length of runway 1R and back.

Parking is provided for free at the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum in Chantilly. Make sure to get there with plenty of time since you are running on an active airport you will need to go through security screening. For runners this means being scanned with a handheld wand but it still takes time to get through security, through the museum and out to the start line. Spectators are allowed but only at the start/finish line not along the runway itself.

Since the race is on a runway it is the flattest course you will ever encounter. In fact, both time I've run it I've set PRs for the distance: 1:01:09 in 2015 and this year 58:14. The race is limited to 2,500 runners total for the 5k & 10k.

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Kara Davis

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In all honesty, this race is boring, expensive, and not worth the drive or money. The humidity is rough for a race that doesn’t have any crowd support or music or livelihood. At the finish, there wasn’t water easily accessible and you had to pay for any food of wine (um it’s a wine race). Not even one free glass for finishing. The shirts were an ugly puke green color with random ducks on the back and the expo was not an expo. I felt terrible because I convinced a friend to run her first half with this race and it was awful. Luckily, we convinced her to stick with it. We honestly had so much fun after the race going to a great dinner and ubering to different wineries ourselves. There are plenty of other half races you can do for $100+ that give you a little more swag and support.

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