PR ALERT!!! Haverford Twilight Run Recap

I ran a 5K PR last night at the Haverford Twilight Run and I am one happy runner!!!  My previous PR of 23:32 was set on November 1, 2014.  That was TWELVE 5Ks ago. (Plus two 10Ks, one 5 miler, one 2 miler and one trail race… I like racing, what can I say?).  In four of those 5Ks I crossed the line within 9 seconds of my PR time, but the elusive new record remained just out of reach until last night’s race.

I did not go into the Twilight Run thinking that I was in a position to PR.  After last weekend’s problematic 5K (terrible first mile pacing leading to my slowest 5K in months) the Twilight Run was my last chance to try to get my pacing under control before next weekend’s 10 mile Broad Street Run.  I signed up for the race on Wednesday with this sole purpose in mind and set two very firm goals for myself:  Run the first mile in 7:36 or slower and run one of the remaining two miles faster than the first mile.

Saturday’s weather was perfect: 57¬į and sunny.  The evening’s festivities kicked off at 5PM sharp with a kid’s mile challenge and I felt relaxed and happy as I watched all of the kids finish their race with huge smiles on their faces.  Then it was time for the 5K to start.  There were around 180 runners and I purposefully picked a starting position much farther back in the pack than I normally would, hoping that this would keep me from getting caught up in the excitement of the first mile.

Start of the Haverford Twilight 5K

Usually when the gun goes off I blast through the start, then spend the next few hundred yards dodging and weaving and generally running way too fast.  But not last night.  Nope, the gun went off, the crowd around me slowly moved into a jog, and I started my watch when we eventually meandered across the start line.  I fell into stride behind a group of runners and resisted the urge to zip around them.  I saw Matt about a quarter mile in and was feeling so relaxed that I goofed off for the camera (from too far away for the iPhone photo to turn out, unfortunately) before taking a leisurely right turn onto Darby Road.

The course was basically a big loop with two turnaround points.  I kept my pace very controlled through the first turnaround (about .65 miles in) and then sped up slightly as I doubled back towards the starting point where Matt was cheering.  Just as I passed Matt my watch beeped the first mile… 7:32.  A tiny bit faster than I was hoping for but overall much better than last week’s wild 7:16 split!

Checking the first mile split.

Checking the first mile split.

I cruised along during the second mile, focusing on my running form and cadence and clapping for the leaders as they passed on their way back to the finish.  I didn’t look at my watch until just after the second turnaround when it beeped again… 7:23.  WHAT?!??!  I was shocked.  That is the fastest second mile I have ever run.  WOW!  I realized at that point that I was absolutely on track for a PR.  All I had to do was keep up a reasonable pace for the third and final mile.

The third mile was hard work.  I really pushed myself and looked at my watch a lot to check my average pace for that mile (a feature that I love on my Garmin!)  I kept an eye on the road ahead, hoping to see the library on the corner which marked where I would get to turn towards the finish.  I knew if I could just get to the final quarter mile straightaway I would be able to hang on.

Mile 3 beeped by in 7:38 (I did it!!) but by then I was running too hard to really process the split.  I could barely see the finish line clock, then realized that it was quickly ticking away through the 23-teens.  I ran harder and watched the 20s go by and then blasted across the line just as the clock struck 23:32 (my old PR), making sure to hit my watch as I crossed.

My official finish time?  23:25!!!  Yep, my super slow start not only helped me run a faster second mile, it also gave me 7 extra seconds of clock time to work with!  Double win!!

Haverford Twilight 5K Stats

My new PR time was good enough for 39th overall, 10th woman (with 5 of the females ahead of me being teenagers!), and 2nd in my age group.  Woohoo!  I ate a celebratory banana and ran a cool down, then Matt took me out to Iron Hill Brewery (my favorite) for a PR dinner. ūüėĄ

After the Haverford Twilight 5K

At the Twilight Run I learned that it is possible to start a race “slow” and still have energy to speed up later in the race.  I also learned that it’s much more pleasant to run a faster second mile and pass people than it is to slow down in the second mile and feel like you are losing ground.  After last night’s PR success I am looking forward to putting these lessons to use on Broad Street next Sunday.  One week to go!

Miles since last post: 8.5
Days since last post: 2
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.85
2015 MILES: 555.1

 Past Races:

‚ÄĘ  April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11), Empower the Children 5K (4/18)
‚ÄĘ  March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21), Pickle Run #3 (3/28)
‚ÄĘ  February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
‚ÄĘ  January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
‚ÄĘ  December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5), Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7), Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
‚ÄĘ  November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)  [PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
‚ÄĘ  October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
‚ÄĘ  September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
‚ÄĘ  August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [PR]
‚ÄĘ  July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18)
‚ÄĘ  June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
‚ÄĘ  May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
‚ÄĘ  April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/, Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
‚ÄĘ  March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
‚ÄĘ  February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
‚ÄĘ  January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
‚ÄĘ  December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [PR]
‚ÄĘ  November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
‚ÄĘ  October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [PR]
‚ÄĘ  September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
‚ÄĘ  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Empower the Children 5K

Last Saturday Matt and I ran the Empower the Children 5K.  This low key 5K looped through the neighborhood of Westgate Hills in Havertown, PA and benefitted a local nonprofit, Child Guidance Resource Centers.

Annie and Matt after the Child Guidance 5K

I’ve been slow¬†in¬†writing this recap because this was ultimately not a stellar race for me. ¬†Don’t get me wrong — the race atmosphere, friends, gorgeous weather, and post-race food (cupcakes!!) were awesome, but I¬†did not¬†perform especially well. ¬†I finished in 24:36 – my slowest road 5K since August – and felt sluggish and hot through much of the race.

Luckily there’s no mystery as to why I ran so slow and felt so terrible. ¬†I am quite sure¬†that it’s due to the fact that¬†I ran the first mile¬†like an insane person, going through the split in 7:16. ¬†WAY too fast!! ¬†I was attempting¬†to run by feel and¬†was purposefully¬†not looking at my watch, but apparently this is not a good race strategy for me. ¬†(But, much better to find that out in a 3 mile race rather than during next week’s 10 mile Broad Street Run, right?) ūüėČ

This elevation chart does not do the hills on this course justice!  :-)

As the second mile began I was blissfully unaware of my pacing snafu and continued to move around the course as fast as I could.  At the 1.3 mile mark the course turned up a steep hill and a woman wearing orange passed me like I was standing still.  I had been the first place woman until that point and as I watched her striding effortlessly up the hill I resigned myself to the fact that this was not my day.  (Another 5K error Рnegative thinking!)

The race continued around a second loop of the same course and I kept orange woman in sight.  Then a woman in black also passed me and I struggled to stay with both ladies as the big hill came into sight again with a quarter mile to go.  Both women powered up the hill ahead of me looking strong and I trailed behind, trying to keep it together for one more minute of racing.

On the final straightaway with the finish line in sight I watched as the woman in black passed the woman in orange and then… I couldn’t believe my eyes… Orange started WALKING!!! ¬†What??? ¬†Before that moment I was positive¬†that I would be the third place female¬†but¬†with renewed energy I¬†decided that I was going to give this finish¬†everything I had in an attempt to catch up with¬†Orange¬†before the line. ¬†In the words of one of our spectating friends, I went into total beastmode and sprinted towards¬†the finish, passing Orange and nabbing the second place spot.¬† Whew!

Child Guidance 5K Photos

Photo Credit: CGRC

After a moment of trying to catch my breath I turned around just in time to see Matt finishing strong. This was his first race since Run A Muck in September and he handled the hilly course well, ending up 8th overall and first in his age group with a time of 25:45.

This race¬†was a good wake up call for me. ¬†Running the first mile¬†20 seconds faster than my goal pace was painful in this 5K, but it would be so much worse if I were to make this same mistake¬†in¬†the 10 mile Broad Street Run next week. ¬†I already know that I should not start¬†out too fast in theory, but having Saturday’s experience of feeling terrible in miles 2 and 3 after a crazy start¬†was an excellent¬†reminder that I hope will stay with me until race day on May 3rd!

Miles since last post: 60.3
Days since last post: 12
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.85
2015 MILES: 546.6

 

Past Races:
‚ÄĘ ¬†April ’15:
Tyler Trail 10K (4/11)
‚ÄĘ ¬†March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21), Pickle Run #3 (3/28)
‚Äʬ† February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
‚Äʬ† January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
‚Äʬ† December ’14:¬†Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5),¬†Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7), Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
‚Äʬ† November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)¬† [PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
‚Äʬ† October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
‚Äʬ† September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
‚Äʬ† August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [PR]
‚Äʬ† July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18)
‚Äʬ† June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
‚Äʬ† May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
‚Äʬ† April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/, Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
‚Äʬ† March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
‚Äʬ† February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
‚Äʬ† January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
‚Äʬ† December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [PR]
‚Äʬ† November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
‚Äʬ† October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [PR]
‚Äʬ† September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
‚Äʬ† The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Tyler Trail 10K Race Recap

Stream Crossing!  (Image © 2015 Eric Mundy and John Greenstine. Source) https://plus.google.com/photos/115911381219551998085/albums/6136825500143490737)

Stream Crossing!
(Image © 2015 Eric Mundy and John Greenstine. Source)

Three weeks ago I ran my first 10K on snow-covered, narrow, insanely hilly trails. It was HARD!  I survived that race but met none of my goals (except finishing) and came away from it hoping that I could learn from my trail 10K experience and be stronger at the next race.

The next race (aka¬†my opportunity for trail redemption) arrived in the form of the Tyler Arboretum Trail 10K last Saturday morning. ¬†How did it go? ¬†Well, let’s look at it in terms of my¬†goals from the previous 10K…

  1. Don’t walk. ¬†SUCCESS!
  2. Average better than 10:00/mile pace.  SUCCESS!!
  3. Finish in under an hour (9:39 pace).  SUCCESS!!!

I am so proud to share that I met ALL¬†of my goals, finishing this fun, challenging trail race with¬†a new PR time of 58:34… 12 1/2 minutes faster than¬†my previous trail 10K! ¬†Here I am immediately after the race when I saw¬†my time. Woohoo!

Yay! I did it!

The 6.2 mile course wound around Tyler Arboretum, a private, 650-acre arboretum¬†that borders Ridley Creek State Park.¬† The course included¬†many¬†rolling hills, four stream crossings, and beautifully maintained, wide trails. ¬†I ran without music (unusual for me!) which gave me lots of time to think during the race. ¬†With that in mind, I’m going to split my recap into a series of observations that I made while running:

Trail Runners are really nice!

During¬†my previous trail 10K I¬†realized that no one around me was listening to music. ¬†Instead they were politely saying “on your left” when they passed me or “nice job!” when I passed them. ¬†Crazy!¬† I felt like a total newbie with my iPhone and ear buds and quickly turned my music way down to better hear my fellow trail runners.

During the Tyler 10K I left my phone in the car and definitely enjoyed being able to hear all of the banter around me.  Runners were chatting about hills, encouraging one another, and, when two runners fell right in front of me on a downhill stretch, checking to make sure that everyone was OK and able to proceed.  Trail runners are NICE!!

Tyler 10K 1

I happily joined in on the occasional chit chat and had a nice exchange with an older guy who panted¬†out “let’s go Pink, see you at the top!” as he passed me on a steep uphill climb.

I like stream crossings.  A lot!

The Tyler 10K course¬†included four stream crossings. ¬†Runners had three¬†options: (1) be a superhuman and leap across the creek in a single bound, (2) slow down and tip-toe across some slippery¬†rocks, or (3)¬†run straight¬†through the water. ¬†After a winter of running in snow, ice, and mud, I’m pretty accustomed¬†to running with¬†wet feet so I¬†went into the race thinking that I would go with option 3… unless the rocks looked easy, in which case I’d try to stay dry as long as I could.

The first stream crossing felt like it came up really quickly and before I knew it I had already swerved around a few people who were slowing down to do the rock thing.  I plowed through the water and emerged on the far bank, happy and wet.

I continued to splash¬†through the remaining¬†three¬†stream crossings, simply choosing the path of least resistance. ¬†It was great fun! ¬†(For proof just look at my insanely happy expression in the photo above… who in their right mind looks that excited to get their feet wet??) ;-)

Heart Rates and Hills, oh my!

I think of myself as a runner who likes, even¬†embraces, hills. ¬†I do a lot of hill running in my neighborhood and on the trails at Okehocking Preserve and I know that even if I get¬†really fatigued¬†going up a hill I can usually recover quickly once the terrain levels out. ¬†Unfortunately my confidence took a big hit¬†during the previous trail 10K when I had to slow to a walk SEVERAL times on hills,¬†and I left that race thinking that a goal of “don’t walk” for a trail race might¬†not be attainable for me.

With that backstory¬†in mind, I went into Tyler hoping that I could make it up¬†the hills without walking, but completely unsure about my ability to do so. ¬†When the first major hill loomed into view¬†after the¬†stream crossing I looked up and saw many people walking, but I also realized that I could actually see the crest of the hill and it didn’t look so bad! ¬†I jogged up the hill, passing a few walkers in the process, and recovered at the top. ¬†Hurrah!

I realize that there is a point¬†at which¬†it becomes more energy efficient¬†to walk up a hill during a trail race. ¬†I’m not sure exactly where that point¬†is¬†for me, so I resorted to looking at my heart rate to help me determine how much effort was too much. ¬†I know that my max.¬†heart rate during a 5K seems to be somewhere around 198-202 bpm and in a speed workout it’s not uncommon to finish each interval¬†at around 190. ¬†I fixated¬†on that 190 rate and checked my Garmin on uphill climbs to make sure that¬†my heart rate stayed below that number. ¬†None of the hills were too crazy so it all worked out and I never had to walk!

Tyler 10K Stats

I definitely have some room for improvement on downhills. ¬†I would love to be able to zoom¬†down slopes like a mountain goat (or like many of my fellow competitors on Saturday), but I’m scared to really let myself go all out. ¬†I have enough trouble seeing rocks and roots under leaves on flat ground, much less as I’m flying down a hill. ¬†I figure that for now I’ll be satisfied with letting the speedy downhillers pass me on the descents¬†and then I’ll pass them back on the climbs. ¬†;-)

I am really excited about Broad Street.

Many times during a hard 5K I’ve found myself thinking “Why do I race? Is this even fun? This is so HARD!” Of course, I always¬†feel happy the moment¬†a race ends, but my point is that racing is not always my favorite activity while the race is actually going on. ¬†So, imagine my surprise on Saturday when, at around the 4 mile mark, I found myself daydreaming about¬†the Broad Street Run! ¬†Granted, I was thinking that I would hopefully feel better at the¬†Broad Street 4 mile marker then I was feeling at that point during¬†the trail 10K, but overall the idea of running another 5-6 miles on pavement really didn’t seem too bad. ¬†The 10 mile Broad Street Run is 20 days away and I am pumped!!!!

~~

In the final half mile of the 10K there were two runners right in front of me: a man and a woman. ¬†I set my sights on the woman and slowly gained on her. ¬†As the finish line came into view I decided that I was definitely going to pass her (even though trail runners are really nice it’s still a race, after all!) and with a hundred yards to go I somehow¬†started sprinting. ¬†I passed both runners and¬†blasted across the finish line (Garmin says my pace was 4:13 at the end????!) before¬†collapsing in a happy, tired heap.

Sprinting into the finish

According to the official results, I finished 7th in my age group, 24th female, and 104th overall out of 388 runners!

All in all,¬†the Tyler Trail 10K was a fantastic experience.¬† I learned that I am stronger than I¬†thought I was, I “unplugged” and enjoyed the runners, scenery, and the thoughts rambling around in¬†my head, and I know for sure that I’m having a blast racing!

My next race will be¬†with Matt! ¬†We’re running the Empower the Children 5K in Havertown, PA next Saturday. ¬†Then it’s on to Broad Street!!

Miles since last post: 78.4
Days since last post: 15
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2015 MILES: 486.3

 

Past Races:
‚Äʬ† March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21), Pickle Run #3 (3/28)
‚Äʬ† February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
‚Äʬ† January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
‚Äʬ† December ’14:¬†Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5),¬†Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7), Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
‚Äʬ† November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)¬† [PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
‚Äʬ† October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
‚Äʬ† September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
‚Äʬ† August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [PR]
‚Äʬ† July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18)
‚Äʬ† June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
‚Äʬ† May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
‚Äʬ† April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/, Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
‚Äʬ† March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
‚Äʬ† February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
‚Äʬ† January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
‚Äʬ† December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [PR]
‚Äʬ† November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
‚Äʬ† October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [PR]
‚Äʬ† September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
‚Äʬ† The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Thursday Thoughts

I once read somewhere that you should never begin a post by apologizing for not blogging regularly, so I‚Äôm not going to do that. Instead I‚Äôm going to tell you about a few of the random things that are on my mind this lovely¬†Thursday afternoon…

1. Instagram

Way back in December when I had maybe …50 (?) followers I shared this image of Piper checking out her reflection in Ridley Creek. That photo was the first of many Piper (and Bailey) shots that have since been featured and shared on Instagram and I now have about 40 times the followers that I had last year. I think people are going to be shocked when someday I post a sweaty race photo instead of a cute Piper pic, but for now I’m having fun sharing my adorable little GSP with the IG world.

Log Shower jump Carry

Want to see more of Piper? ¬†Follow me¬†@The_Little_GSP¬†ūüėĄ

2. Run Run Run!

The Broad Street 10 miler is 3 ¬Ĺ weeks away and I am getting excited!! I restarted speedwork on the track last week and I had a fantastic 8 mile training run experience at Ridley Creek State Park on Saturday. During the run I never looked at my watch and just focused on staying relaxed and listening to Serial (the podcast) and the miles flew by.

RCSP 8 miler

Before I get to Broad Street, I still need to tackle the Tyler Arboretum 10K Trail Run this Saturday. I’m feeling less confident about that race after a tough time on the trails at Granogue, but I’m interested to see how I will do without snow on the ground. There might be some mud though… this is the current forecast for tomorrow. Eek!

At least Saturday's weather is looking perfect!!

At least Saturday’s weather is looking perfect!

3. Family

Last weekend Matt and I got to see everyone from both of our families on Easter. ‚ÄúEveryone‚ÄĚ now includes 2 newborn babies! Plus 3 siblings, 3 step-siblings, 6 sibling spouses/fianc√©s, 1 toddler, 4 parents (/in-laws), and 9 (9!!) dogs. Luckily all 9 dogs did not participate in the Easter festivities because that would have been crazy.

I was designated the official family photographer but in the interest of everyone‚Äôs privacy (I‚Äôm looking at you, Suzanne! ūüėČ) I won‚Äôt post the group shot. Instead here‚Äôs one of me and Matt.

Annie and Matt

This is what we look like when we aren’t hiking or running. 

4. Food

The weather was beautiful over Easter weekend so Matt and I pulled out the grill for the first time this year.  Yippee! Saturday we had patty melts (burgers with melted Swiss and grilled onions on buttered toast) and Monday we made what is possibly our fanciest grilled dinner yet: Paella!

Paella

Don’t worry, the recipe for this grilled masterpiece will be coming soon. And it’s surprisingly not that hard, considering how crazy it looks.

5. Piper

No post would be complete without a shout out to my little pup. (Oh, I already did that in #1, didn’t I? Well here’s more.) Piper is 7 months old now and has recently had some major breakthroughs. First off, she hasn’t had an accident in her crate since March 31st (not that I’m counting) and secondly, Piper has now graduated to sleeping in our bedroom in a big crate rather than all alone in her little crate downstairs. She has been very quiet so far and I think she likes the extra sleeping space.

Hopefully Piper‚Äôs next breakthrough will be summoning the courage to walk up our front staircase. These stairs are ‚Äúfloating‚ÄĚ with open space between them that goes all the way down to the basement stairs below. Piper is, somewhat understandably, completely and utterly freaked out by these stairs. She won‚Äôt even come up for cheese! We‚Äôre taking it slow, one step at a time (literally).

Yes, the stairs are scary, but this is the puppy who climbs all over the place on hikes. Look what she did on Monday… what an agile little pup!

 

That’s it for today. I’m off to The Running Place to pick up my Tyler 10K bib. Wish me luck on Saturday! (I think I’m going to need it!)

The Pickle Run #3

Guess what? ¬†I won a race today!! ¬†It was a prediction run ‚Äď the third and final Winter Pickle Run ‚Ästand somehow I managed to cross the finish line first AND do so within 1 second of my predicted time… crazy!!

6491 Pickle Run

After a tough 10K on the trails last week, I opted to run¬†the all-road 5K course in today’s race. ¬†Both the road and trail runners started together for the first 0.7 miles¬†and by the time the trail runners veered¬†off into the woods I had no clue as to¬†how many runners were ahead of me on the road course. ¬†Well it turns out the answer was… NONE! ¬†I realized¬†this at the halfway turnaround point and spent the entire second half of the race pushing to hang¬†onto my lead.

This is on the way back... now I know I'm in the lead!

This is on the way back… now I know I’m in the lead and I’m focused on trying to keep it that way!

I didn’t want to psych myself out by looking back and seeing someone right on my heels, so I kept my eyes on the road ahead and ran like imaginary demons were chasing me. ¬†Go go go!!! ¬†I was listening to music and at one point I thought a walker on their way out to the turnaround said something like “she’s right behind you!” but apparently that was all in my head, because when I finally made the last sharp little turn to the finish line I glanced to my left and there was nobody in sight.

I hustled to the finish line with absolutely¬†no idea of my time. ¬†The clock was turned to the side so I couldn’t¬†see it until just as I crossed… 23:43 clock time – EXACTLY my predicted time!!

March Pickle Stats

I’ve run this course two times, first¬†in October for¬†Martin’s Run (23:53) and again in January at the first Pickle Run (24:06). ¬†With that in mind I am¬†really happy with my official chip time of 23:42 from today’s race!! ¬†I’m not gonna lie… after the Granogue 10K last weekend I spent the entire¬†week feeling¬†sore, fatigued and not¬†particularly quick so today’s performance was also a major confidence booster.

As you might have guessed from all the photos, Matt joined me at today’s race with the camera AND Piper in tow! ¬†Piper¬†watched the runners go by¬†and checked out my googly-eyed pickle prize at the end of the race. ¬†All of that activity tired her out… she’s currently passed out on Matt’s lap. ¬†ūüėä

6498 Piper watching the picklers

My next race won’t be until April 11th when I tackle the trails at¬†the Tyler 10K. ¬†That’s right… after four races in a row I’m¬†actually¬†taking a weekend off! ¬†I don’t know what I’m going to do Saturday morning… maybe sleep in?? ¬†Sounds good to me! ūüėĄ

Miles since last post: 31.5
Days since last post:  7
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2015 MILES: 407.9

6486 Pickle Run

Past Races:
‚Äʬ† March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21)
‚Äʬ† February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
‚Äʬ† January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
‚Äʬ† December ’14:¬†Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5),¬†Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7), Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
‚Äʬ† November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)¬† [PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
‚Äʬ† October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
‚Äʬ† September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
‚Äʬ† August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [PR]
‚Äʬ† July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18)
‚Äʬ† June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
‚Äʬ† May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
‚Äʬ† April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/, Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
‚Äʬ† March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
‚Äʬ† February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
‚Äʬ† January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
‚Äʬ† December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [PR]
‚Äʬ† November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
‚Äʬ† October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [PR]
‚Äʬ† September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
‚Äʬ† The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Ridley Creek State Park Orange Trail

As I type this it is 67 degrees outside… easily the warmest day of the year!  I’m about to go on a nice, long run and I’m definitely looking forward to running in a t-shirt!!!

Before I embark on my run I want to share some photos from a hike that Matt, Piper and I took last weekend.  We explored out a different part of Ridley Creek State Park on Sunday and it was beautiful!

Ridley Creek

We typically stay on the west side of Ridley Creek but on Sunday we ventured eastward to the park’s Orange Trail.  This single track path follows the eastern bank of the creek before looping back through a hilly forest.  The trail is well marked with orange blazes and the entire lasso-shaped loop was about 2.35 miles long.

Oddly, the official DCNR map shows a shorter orange loop than what was marked in the woods, so I overlaid the outline of our actual hike on the above map.

Oddly, the official DCNR map shows a shorter orange loop than what was marked in the woods, so I overlaid the outline of our actual hike on the above map.

Piper had a blast, as usual.  She is getting very comfortable climbing on boulders, logs, dirt piles and anything else we find in the woods.  She also really wants to go in the water but it’s still pretty cold out so we still haven’t really let her get more than her paws wet.  I can’t wait for warmer weather!!

All in all this was a pleasant little hike with great views of the creek.  I’ll definitely return to the Orange Trail, maybe for a run or a summer picnic by the water.  Piper still doesn’t even know that summer exists, but soon enough she’ll see what I keep raving about! ūüėÄ

What are you looking at?

“‘Summer?’ I’ll believe it when I see it!”

Ridley Creek State Park
351 Gradyville Road
Newtown Square, PA 19073

One Pot Pasta with Sausage, Kale and White Beans

This¬†one pot pasta dish¬†with sausage, kale and white beans¬†is hearty, warming and satisfying… perfect for a cold winter night! ¬†Of course, winter is drawing to an end (or it better¬†be, at least!) so I figure¬†I should hurry up and get this recipe up on the blog while we’re all still in¬†the mood to see some¬†comfort food.

One Pot Pasta with Sausage, Kale and White Beans 1

I’ve always been intrigued by¬†the idea of cooking an entire pasta dish in one pot¬†but it wasn’t until a few months ago that Matt and I¬†actually tried this technique for ourselves. ¬†It turns out that there’s nothing particularly hard about making a one pot meal… you simply¬†layer¬†in each ingredient¬†as you go. ¬†First you brown the meat, then throw in the onions and beans, toss in a little garlic, add broth, water and uncooked pasta, then add¬†in your kale in two batches… the first to cook down into the dish and the remainder to add a little bite and pop of color. ¬†Easy! ¬†Thanks to the cooked-down white beans, the resulting dish has a¬†creamy, thick, almost stew-like consistency that is very different from a normal “two pot” recipe¬†where the pasta is cooked separately in boiling water.

Matt and I have been making variations of this pasta¬†almost every week this winter. ¬†Sometimes we use spinach instead of kale or we throw in steamed broccoli along with the greens. ¬†Feel free to change up the meat (hot sausage adds a nice kick) and the pasta… we’ve had delicious results with gemelli, fusilli lunghi, rigatoni and penne.

One Pot Pasta with Sausage, Kale and White Beans  (serves 4; recipe adapted from Cool Spring CSA)

You will need…
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb. ground Sweet Italian Sausage, ground (remove casings if using normal sausage)
1 Yellow Onion, chopped
2 – 15 oz. cans Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
5-6 cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Dried Oregano
Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper
3 cups Chicken Broth
2 cups Water
1 lb. Pasta (we used Gemelli this time)
1 bunch Kale, washed, stems removed, and roughly chopped
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions:
In a large (6+ qt.) dutch oven brown the crumbled sausage with 1-2T olive oil over medium-high heat.  When the sausage is cooked through, add the onion and beans and saute, stirring occassionally, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, oregano and red pepper and stir for 30 seconds or until garlic is fragrant.

Pour in the chicken broth, water, pasta and half of the chopped kale and stir well to combine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cover with a tightly fitted lid.  Allow the mixture to cook undisturbed for 6 minutes, then layer in the remaining kale on top of the pasta without stirring.  Recover and cook for another 4 minutes.  Remove the lid, stir, and taste test a piece of pasta.  (My favorite part!)

Allow the dish to continue to simmer uncovered for another few minutes until the pasta is cooked to your desired consistency.  Remove from heat, stir in the cheese, drizzle in a tablespoon or so of olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve and enjoy!

One Pot Pasta with Sausage, Kale and White Beans 2