Race recap: Race for the Birds 10K

I’d heard of this race, which is a fundraiser for the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, ever since I started running several years ago, but we’ve always had other plans on the date. I love the idea of contributing to PVAS in any way – it’s an awesome organization with great nature programs and summer camps for kids that all three of my boys have taken advantage of. I was happy that this year I managed to not be booked and could tackle the 10K as a training run for the upcoming Harpers Ferry Half. I heard the course, which was new this year, was hilly, and I need all the practice I can get for the notorious hills on the Harpers Ferry course!

The setting for the race was Broomgrass, which I believe is some type of farmland community/preserve. Aside from a few houses very spaced out, the course was definitely undeveloped and scenic. The drive was nice, and it was one of the first truly hot days of spring.

The course consisted of a 5K loop that went on the gravel roads of the community, on a single-track dirt path through the woods and on a mowed field. All good practice off-pavement!

The start was pretty level with one minor hill before we dipped into the woods, where it was gorgeous running but impossible to pass. This wasn’t as much an issue on the second lap but during the first I felt a little held back. Much of the rest of the course was manageable excepting two major hills that were so steep I didn’t see anyone else running them, and truth be told it was all I could do to even walk them. Between the heat and the hills I had a much slower time than I wanted but it sets realistic expectations for the half, so that’s good.

From the moment I arrived until I left, this was an extremely organized race – parking went smoothly, and it was easy to get in and out, the course was extremely well marked, and there were plenty of cheering volunteers. Tons of post-race snacks and cold water, too!

It was my first race using the Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek running belt, too. I loved having water with me, and I even more loved having my bib pinned to it instead of my shirt! One problem was that it kept twisting sideways on me which made the pockets rub my arms, so I kept having to straighten it – not a huge issue and might be solved by tightening it more.

This was a pretty small race but super well run, challenging and local and for a good cause, so I’m glad I got to be there.

Why I run

I have hinted at why I started to exercise. Before having kids I had a job where I almost exclusively sat at a desk all day, peppered with frequent lunch outings and snack breaks. I didn’t think I had time to exercise. When I had my first son I kept working, but I breastfed him, so I spent nearly a year walking the couple blocks to his daycare to feed him and then back to the office. An amazing thing happened: I lost a TON of weight. I credit nursing, mostly. So as he got older and I weaned him, I kept eating like a nursing mom, and the weight packed right back on. I was so disappointed! I felt like I had blown this amazing opportunity. Between weight gain and struggling to get pregnant again, this was one of the darkest times of my life. When I gave birth to my second baby boy, I knew I couldn’t mess it up again. My husband and I started a Couch-to-5K program when Boy No. 2 was roughly 5 months old (which coincided with the new year as well as the beginning of stay-at-home-motherhood). I signed up for a race to keep myself accountable, and the rest is history.

But I chose running specifically for one primary reason: It was free. I wasn’t really interested in committing to a gym membership or a social group. I didn’t have to buy a bunch of stuff, and I could do it whenever I could work it into my day. I had this strange philosophy from the beginning: You shouldn’t have to have a bunch of money to spend in order to be healthy or in shape. I still feel that way. So if the plan you’re trying to sell me requires me to buy hundreds of dollars of equipment or special shakes or sign a contract, I most likely won’t  — it just goes against my beliefs. Fitness should not only belong to the upper class. And I have seen so many examples of the difference just getting outside and being more active can make. It’s something that could turn around the obesity and health crises that are so prevalent in poor, rural places like West Virginia and it doesn’t involve medicines or surgeries! What a no-brainer!


The picture is of me after finishing that first race – on March 23, 2013. It’s my FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!

About me

The truth is, I’m ordinary. I have a husband, two dogs and three kids. I don’t have an inhuman drive to compete or inborn athletic prowess. I LOVE donuts and dark beer. Some days we play Nintendo most of the day. But I have another side. After a lifetime of being unsuccessful at being active, I did a Couch to 5K program in winter 2013, and ever so slowly built on that foundation. Completing runs allowed me a confidence to tackle things I never thought I could, like rock climbing and backpacking. I don’t usually crush my goals, but I keep making them, and with that I inch a little closer to the person I want to be.

I feel like I have spent most of my life searching for the things that are “meant to be.” The truth is, it’s time to take my fate into my own hands. I know what I want: as much adventure, for me, and for my family, as we can fit into our little corner of Almost Heaven.

I am a native West Virginian, former journalist, columnist, would-be blogger, full-time Mom and amateur adventurer. And I have so much I want to share.