The Pickle Run #1

Last Saturday I ran the first of three Winter Pickle Runs in Ridley Creek State Park.  “Pickle Runs” are fun, prediction-style races organized by the local race-timing organization, Run the Day.  The “winners” of the Pickle Run are the participants that most accurately predict their finish time in advance.  This makes for a relaxed, jovial atmosphere and gives everyone a chance to take home one of the big prizes: a googly-eyed pickle in a beer stein!

My Pickle Prize!

Note to Self: Do not leave your pickle on the counter for a week while out of town in Las Vegas. It will be gross and deflated upon your return!!

Saturday’s Pickle Runners chose to run either a 3.1 mile road course or a 3.8-ish mile trail course.  I opted for the road option which ended up being identical to the 5K route that Martin’s Run followed back in October.  The trail course, which split off from the road after the first half mile, would definitely have been more exciting than my out-and-back road route, but apparently it was also very icy in the woods which made the trails a little treacherous for my non-yaktrax-clad Mizunos.  As long as ice isn’t an issue next month I will probably run the trail course in the February pickle.

Although I always knew exactly where I was on the road course in terms of mileage, I really missed my Garmin’s pace updates and splits.  I usually go out way too fast so it was tough not having any guidance during the first mile.  By the second mile I was feeling pretty slow but then had my spirits unexpectedly lifted at the halfway turnaround point when I realized that there was only one woman ahead of me on the road course.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make up any ground on her after the turnaround and two other women ended up passing me in the final mile but I still finished the race in a solid 24:06.  Not bad for a 19° January morning!!

My predicted time was 23:53 (my official results time from Martin’s Run) so my actual time ended up being off by 13 seconds.  That was good enough for 5th place overall in terms of prediction accuracy, woohoo!  The first place person was only off of their predicted time by a mere 2 seconds.  Considering that no one had watches or any idea of the time that’s pretty amazing!!

My next race will be the third 5K in the Athlete’s Closet Winter Series on February 7th.  In the meantime I get two whole weekends off from racing.  After a long business trip to Las Vegas last week (and a super-cramped red-eye flight home all night last night, ugh!) I am looking forward to spending some quality time relaxing on the couch with Matt and Piper!

Miles since last post: 82.3
Days since last post:  18
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.85
2015 MILES: 109.5

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

Snow Puppy

As I type this my little Piper pup is on the couch next to me, exhausted from today’s hiking adventures.  She is sleeping on her back with her hind legs splayed open (she’s not the most ladylike puppy I’ve ever met!) and her breathing sounds like something between a snort and a snore.  She’s been sleeping this way for at least an hour – a long time for a nap in Piper’s world! – so I’m taking advantage of this afternoon lull to do a quick photo post!

3331 Piper

Last Tuesday we got about an inch of snow in eastern Pennsylvania and I snapped some photos of Piper playing in the back yard on my lunch break.  Piper seemed totally undeterred by the sub-freezing temperatures and had a blast romping around in the snow, chasing sticks and snatching up the occasional mouthful of snow… she loves this weather!!

We’ve had Piper for 11 weeks now.  Only 11 weeks!!!  It seems like she’s been a part of our family for MUCH longer than that!  Matt and I are having a blast with her and I can’t wait to see what the next 11 weeks bring!!  😄

Athlete’s Closet New Year’s 5K

On January 3rd I ran my second race of 2015, the Athlete’s Closet New Year’s 5K in West Chester, PA.  After a fast race on New Year’s Day my plan was to show up, have fun, and stay relaxed.  The verdict?  I ended up running a comfortable, happy race and still had enough gas in the tank to totally crush the finish with a huge spurt of speed, putting down a new course personal best time in the process.  Oh yeah!

Athlete's Closet Jan 5K Garmin

It’s no secret that I tend to go out way too fast in the first mile of a 5K.  On New Year’s Day when I was trying to run a PR I completed my first mile in 7:15.  Yikes!!  During Saturday’s “fun, relaxed” race, by comparison, I went out in a much more practical 7:34 and, not surprisingly, felt significantly better during the second half of the race.  I felt so good, in fact, that in the last mile when the course began a long uphill climb I was able to pass a man who had been holding steady in front of me for the first two miles.  It feels strange to say it, but after all of my hill running I may actually LIKE hills now!!

My relaxed first mile really paid off in the final stretch of Saturday’s race when I made the last turn back onto Isabel Lane.  The finish line had not yet come into view but what WAS in view were the two runners ahead of me.  The first was a man who had previously been running with hill guy.  He was pretty close to me so I figured that I could probably catch him as we closed in on the finish.  The second runner was a woman in neon yellow who was way, WAY ahead of me.  Normally I never would have considered her to be within reach but something suddenly clicked in my brain and I found myself utterly determined to catch her.  I picked up my pace and watched the space between us disappear.  In a blur I saw someone warning her I was coming but then I shifted gears again into what felt like a full out sprint.  I blew through the finish with a second to spare.  What an exhilarating way to end a race!

Photo credit: Athlete's Closet

Photo credit: Athlete’s Closet

Matt and Piper stayed at home on Saturday so the photo for this recap was just going to be an in-the-car selfie BUT, as luck would have it, one of the race organizers from the Athlete’s Closet captured the above photo just before the finish.  Perfect timing!!  I was surprised to see how calm my facial expression looks in this photo considering how hard I felt I was running!

My next race will be the Pickle Run in Ridley Creek State Park on January 17th.  Like the Pickle Run that I did in August, this will be a fun prediction-style race with no watches allowed.  Hopefully I can match Saturday’s relaxed first mile pace without my Garmin’s help!

Miles since last post: 22.6
Days since last post:  5
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.86
2015 MILES: 27.2

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

SRA New Year’s Day 5K

1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi, 4 Mississippi.
THAT’S how close I came to beating my 5K PR this morning!!

After Swarthmore 5K with Piper

I kicked off my 2015 with the S.R.A New Year’s Day 5K in Swarthmore, PA.  The weather was sunny and brisk and the race was well organized with a great turnout of around 220 runners.  The course was fun and relatively flat, starting and finishing with laps on the Swarthmore College track.

I really wanted to run a new personal best in this race.  As the opening line of this post indicates, I did not quite get my PR, but I feel confident saying that I put forth the absolute best effort that I was capable of today.  Although my official finish time of 23:36 was 4 seconds short of my PR from November’s Trinity Berwyn 5K, I think this was still my fastest 5K pace ever (Trinity might have been a little short) and I certainly FELT like I was running my hardest the while time!  Apparently my new Garmin heart rate monitor agrees… I averaged 192 bpm and maxed out at 202 bpm in the final 0.1 miles… I have no idea what my max heart rate is but that’s probably pretty close!!

The first mile of the race included a lap around the track and a gentle uphill and before I knew it my Garmin was beeping a 7:14 first split.  Good start!  As the second mile began I focused on my cadence, quickly getting my feet down on the pavement, especially when I started to feel a little tired.  The second mile was over in 7:46… not quite where I wanted to be but my second mile tends to be my slowest.

SRA New Year's 5K Stats

I knew that if I was going to beat my PR I would need to maintain around a 7:30 pace.  My first two splits averaged out to exactly 7:30 but I was feeling a little discouraged (and a lot tired) at the start of mile 3.  I kept focusing on my cadence (which apparently worked… I averaged 179 steps per minute throughout the whole race!) and tried to stay strong.  I saw Matt and Piper cheering me on by the college field house at the 21 minute mark and entered the stadium at 21:47 with a lap to go.  I knew at that point that I wasn’t going to quite get my PR but I still ran that last quarter mile as hard as I could.  I crossed the line with an official chip time of 23:36, just 4 seconds shy of my goal.

Last Lap

Overall today wasn’t easy.  I stayed strong, I ran hard and then I ran even harder when I felt like I was already going as fast as I could go.  Although I would have loved to start the new year with a PR I still feel very proud of my effort in Swarthmore today.  Oh, and my 23:36 finish was good enough for 7th woman overall AND 2nd place in my age group!  I got an awesome wooden medal with downtown Swarthmore etched on it (so cool!!) which is probably my favorite piece of race swag yet.  (Except for maybe the 150 gallons of heating oil that Matt and I won in a race raffle in September, that was pretty good too. 😜)

My next race is Saturday (I guess I should stop drinking beer and start re-hydrating now??) when I tackle the Athlete’s Closet 5K course in West Chester for the 5th time.  I’ll see how I feel by then but that race will probably end up being a little more laid back than today’s speedy tour of Swarthmore!

Miles since last post: 83.8
Days since last post:  18
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.86
2014 TOTAL MILES: 1773
2015 MILES: 4.6

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

A Review of 2014 (Plus, what didn’t make it on the blog the first time around!)

Happy New Year!  My 2014 was bookended by two huge events. In January Matt and I suddenly lost our beloved Bailey, the affable, energetic, wonderful dog that was the original inspiration for this blog. Then, in late October, we brought home Piper, a wacky, awesome little GSP puppy who, of course, will never replace Bailey but nevertheless immediately made us feel whole again.

Although I spent much of the days between January 30th and October 26th mourning Bailey’s loss and awaiting Piper’s arrival, I still managed to find time for a healthy dose of running, cooking, photography and adventures. Here’s a recap of my year.

JANUARY

Matt and I froze our way through the coldest January ever, blissfully unaware that we were enjoying our last days with Bailey.  We kicked off the month by running a 5K in 10° temps (and kudos to both of our little brothers who still showed up – and beat us – on race morning!).  Then Matt, my brother and I headed to Las Vegas for a work trip.  We returned to freezing Pennsylvania in mid-January and, twelve days later, had our hearts utterly broken when Bailey died.

What didn’t make it on the blog? The last photo I ever took of Bailey.  This was January 26th and she was hanging out with her best buddy, Hershey, on Hershey’s extra-large bed in our mud room.  When I went through my iPhone camera roll last night to find this photo it still made me so sad to see Bailey’s beautiful little face.  :-(

Bailey and Hershey (1/26/14)

January Races: Just one, the Athlete’s Closet January 5K (26:19)
January Miles: 153.3

FEBRUARY

February began in a dark, cold, snowy blur.  An ice storm hit eastern PA early in the month, knocking out power for days and severely damaging several of our trees.  There were, however, two silver linings to the ice storm.  First, it gave Matt and me a reason to take refuge at my mom and stepfather’s house (yay for back up generators!) where we got to spend some much needed time around loving family.  Secondly, all of the ice and snow DID make for some cool photo ops.  The goose photo is still one of my favorite shots of the year.

After the ice and snow melted Matt and I enjoyed a wonderful getaway on Virginia’s eastern shore with friends for an all-you-can eat Oyster fest.  After weeks of frigid temps I was very grateful for this mini vacation and the chance to stretch my legs with some outdoor running.  A good end to the month!

What didn’t make it on the blog?  This photo of our mailbox, obscured by a ridiculous amount of snow… all personally shoveled by myself and Matt!  (It still makes me tired thinking about it.)

Snowy Mailbox

February Races: One again, the Athlete’s Closet February 5K (26:02)
February Miles: 144.9

MARCH

I kicked off March with my first 5 mile race ever, then ran 10 miles in mid-March (still my longest run to date!) and finished the month with another local 5K.  Matt and I also ate like kings this month.  We enjoyed Shrimp Scampi (which first made an appearance on the blog in February but was too good not to make again immediately!), Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya and, perhaps my favorite stew ever, Cassoulet.  YUM!

What didn’t make it on the blog?  Matt flew up to Montreal for a weekend bachelor party in late March (lucky him!) and I spent a quiet weekend at home with both of our parents’ dogs, Hershey the Chocolate Lab and Bella the GSP.  After being dog-less for several weeks it was nice to have four-legged companions in the house again.

Hershey and Bella

March Races: Two official, the Athlete’s Closet 5 Miler (42.47) and the Color Out Cancer 5K (28:13).  I should have run a third race, the Pickle Run, except that I got the time wrong and showed up several hours late!!
March Miles: 143.1

APRIL

In early April Matt and I escaped from the east coast’s terrible winter weather with an 8-day work trip that took us from sunny Las Vegas to the L.A. area.  We spent a blissful, amazing, perfect weekend in Temecula, California, a mini wine country paradise not far from L.A. and San Diego.  I would go back in a heartbeat.

What didn’t make it on the blog? We roasted an entire chicken… on the grill!  For some reason this Tex-Mex recipe never appeared on the blog (I guess I was still in a post-California haze?) but believe me, it was delicious!

Grilled Chicken

April Races: Three, the Security 5K in Vegas (25:26), Rick’s Run 5K (25:56) and St. Tim’s 5K (26:22)
April Miles: 136.9

MAY

In May Spring finally arrived.  FINALLY!  Matt and I spent a few days in Baltimore for work where we ran in the Inner Harbor and enjoyed a complementary 5PM happy hour wine reception at Hotel Monaco.  I also ran a huge new personal best at the Victory Brewing Company 5K in mid-May.  Woohoo!

What didn’t make it on the blog? In May we fell madly in love with an $8 bottle of oaky Chardonnay, only to find out shortly thereafter that it was a special Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board “Chairman’s Selection” that had subsequently sold out throughout the entire state.  Apparently the PLCB buys up the complete year’s worth of wine from the vineyard so our new favorite wine was no longer available anywhere in the world after it sold out in PA.  Boo!  But at least I learned that if I like a PLCB selection wine I should buy ALL OF IT!

Aura Chardonnay

May Races: Three, the Elwyn 5K (26:17), Run for Victory 5K (24:17… NEW PR!), and Rocky Run Trail 5K (27:40)
May Miles: 138.1

JUNE

We spent June on the go, traveling to the Hunting Camp with family before heading out on a work trip in western PA and then journeying east to New Jersey for a friend’s wedding.  In the middle of all of this road-tripping we still found time to celebrate our first anniversary over a glass (or two) of wine at Sweetwater Farm’s Grace Winery.

What didn’t make it on the blog? On June 3rd I took Bella out for a jog and discovered that she clearly had previous experience running in a perfect heel position.  Matt’s parents rescued Bella so we don’t know much about her history, but she definitely was somebody’s running partner in the past!  Following this discovery I happily took Bella on several runs while she was staying with us in early June.

Bella

June Races: Two, the Radnor Conservancy 5K (25:49) and the Media 5 Miler (42:57)
June Miles: 142.8

JULY

July marked the completion of several of our household projects.  Matt and I had spent much of the spring and summer digging up and replacing all of the shrubs and perennials in front of our house as well as repainting and fixing up our living room.  Everything came together perfectly just in time for the fiesta-themed bridal shower that we hosted in late July.

With the household projects finally out of the way, I started focusing more on running.  I began doing group runs with The Running Place on Mondays and joined the West Chester Running Club for their speed workouts at a local track on Tuesdays.  The extra running work started paying off quickly, which brings me to what didn’t make in on the blog for this month… on July 26th I ran the entire 4.3-mile Ridley Creek multi-use trail loop without stopping!  This loop includes an enormous uphill section so I was extremely excited to finally be able to run all the way up it!

July Races: Two, Cam’s Moonlight 5K in the rain (24:46) and the Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (40:28… NEW PR!!)
July Miles:  148.4

AUGUST

I kept busy in August with lots of running, participating in three 5Ks (including a huge PR!) and more group runs and track workouts.  I also spent a weekend in Philadelphia and managed to drag myself out of bed early enough to get in a great 5 mile city run that included the section of the Schuylkill River Trail that passes by Philly’s famed boathouse row near the Art Museum.  Although I’ve walked up the Art Museum’s steps many times I took this opportunity to run up them and then took pictures of the city stretched out before me like a total tourist.  ;-)

What didn’t make it on the blog?  My brother and his fiance got a puppy in August!  She is a German Shepherd named Lady and she’s beautiful.  She and Piper have played together several times and really seem to feed off each other’s endless puppy energy.

Lady Puppy

August Races: Three, the Riddlewood 5K (25:01), the Radnor Red Steeplechase (27:49) and the prediction-style Pickle Run 5K (23:41… NEW PR!!)
August Miles: 157.5

SEPTEMBER

September was much like August except with nicer weather.  I ran in three more 5Ks and Matt and I spent a lot of time outdoors.  We also hosted an epic Beer Tasting Party mid-month, which only didn’t make it on the blog because we were too busy having fun and drinking beer to take a single photo of the event.  We had a blind IPA tasting, 20+ types of beers, soft pretzels, sausage, pepper & onion sandwiches, and lots of friends and family there to enjoy everything with us… it was great!

September Races: Three, the TALK 5K Trail Run (25:40), the much-anticipated Run-A-Muck Trail Run (28:08 on a long course), and the Haverford Township Day 5K (23:50)
September Miles: 158

OCTOBER

In October we drove to Wisconsin and brought Piper home!! That was at the very end of the month, so first we had to make it through a few more long weeks of waiting for our little pup.  I kept myself busy by making delicious Italian White Bean Hummus (I made more last week… so good!) and Apple Crisp.  I also ran in a few more races, including a dog-friendly 5K with Hershey in tow.

What didn’t make it on the blog?  After logging hundreds of miles in three different pairs of Mizuno Wave Rider 16s I finally took the plunge and upgraded to the new WR 18s.  I love them!!!  I now have 200 running miles on my October pair and they still feel as springy and supportive as the day I first put them on.  Yay for new shoes!

Mizuno Wave Rider 18s

October Races: Three, Martin’s Run 5K (23:54), the Fueled Up 5K (23:56), and the Bark in the Park 5K (26:21)
October Miles: 158.6

NOVEMBER

Piper kept us very busy in November.  Crate training proved to be a challenge, resulting in us having to let her out to do her business pretty much once every 3 hours, be that during the work day, night, or anytime in between.  Needless to say, all of this was totally worth it and we didn’t need potty training as an excuse to spend every possible moment with Piper.  We hiked, trained, snuggled, and even got to play in the snow with her in November.  A good month!

What didn’t make it on the blog?  Matt got me a Garmin Forerunner 220 which replaced my ancient Timex stopwatch.  My birthday was a few days after we brought Piper home so I joke that I got a GSP and a GPS for my 30th… ha.  Anyway, my new Garmin is awesome and so far I’m really enjoying having more pace and distance data available to me during runs and races.

Old Watch and New Garmin FR 220!!!

November Races: Three, the Trinity Berwyn 5K (23:32… NEW Birthday PR!), the Metal Run 5K (24:18) and a local Turkey Trot 5K (23:40).
November Miles: 149.4

DECEMBER

Our adventures with Piper kept getting better and better this month.  She is growing up FAST and she’s clearly enjoying hiking and exploring the parks, preserves, and trails we’ve been taking her to.  Piper also started Puppy Class and is eagerly soaking up every new command as quickly as we can teach it.  She takes “down” very seriously, making a big deal of dramatically flinging out her front paw as she descends from a sit to the down position.

What didn’t make it on the blog?  For the past week Piper has been sharing her car, kitchen and yard with Hershey while my mom and stepfather are out of town.  Piper has adjusted to this change well and seems very content to go quietly to her crate when it’s time for the two dogs to be separated.  Hershey has also been doing a great job of tolerating Piper’s nonstop puppy antics.  What good pups!

December Races: Three, the Jingle Elf 2 Miler (14:33), Brian’s Run 5 Miler (39:11… NEW PR!!!) and an unofficial prediction fun run at The Running Place (2.8 miles/20:54).  I was planning to run a NYE 5K but just learned that the race I did last year is not happening this year.  Therefore the fun run was my 30th and final race of 2014!  I’ll pick things right back up again in 2015 with a New Year’s Day race tomorrow morning.
December Miles: 142

~

So yeah, that was pretty much how my year went!  I should probably change my blog tagline to “Dogs, Races, Food, and Photos,” don’t you think? 😜  Thank you to all of my readers for following along with my adventures.  Here’s to even more fun in 2015!

Okehocking Preserve

Piper and her reflection in Ridley Creek

Merry Christmas Eve!  Matt and I are hosting dinner tonight… bone-in short ribs over polenta with brussel sprouts braised in cream.  YUM!!  The food is prepped, the house is clean, I got in a nice 4 mile run in the rain and now I’m just waiting for family to arrive.  I thought I’d take advantage of this lull in the day to share some photos from one of our hikes last week.

2834 Piper at Okehocking

Matt and I are fortunate to live very close to Okehocking Preserve, a 180-acre conservation area with miles of trails, a scenic section of Ridley Creek and an off-leash, unfenced dog park.  We’ve been taking Piper to Okehocking a lot lately, in part to socialize her but also because the preserve’s close proximity to our house allows us to squeeze in the maximum amount of outdoor time before the sun goes down.  (Hooray for the shortest day of the year being BEHIND us now!!)

So far Piper has really taken to Okehocking.  She sniffs and snorts around in the tall grass, has fun climbing on rocks, walls, and fallen trees, wades into (and tries to drink all of) Ridley Creek and, of course, has a blast playing with other dogs in the off-leash area.  I’m sure we’ll be spending many, many afternoons at Okehocking over the next several months.  If you’re from the area I would definitely recommend visiting Okehocking… maybe we’ll see you there!

2794 Piper drinking

Okehocking Preserve
5316 West Chester Pike
Newtown Square, PA 19073
Preserve Map | Web Site
My Okehocking post from 2012