The End of Blog-Crastination

Is it possible that I haven’t blogged since September? Yup. And the worst part is, the longer I wait to compose a new post, the harder it becomes to get motivated to actually sit down and write! Case in point: I have now run seven (SEVEN!) races since my last race recap. I’m a stickler for chronological recaps, and knowing that I need to reminisce all the way back to a mediocre race in early October before I can regale you with tales about my first California race (in San Diego!!) and my most recent 5K with Piper makes it that much harder to buckle down and get the writing done.

But today I’m putting an end to my blog-crastination! I am ignoring all of those accumulated races and turning to my favorite four-legged friend for inspiration. So without further ado, here’s a selection of photos (in chronological order) of Piper doing her thing from May thru December. Enjoy!

Did you make it through all of those photos? (Thanks!😉) Which is your favorite? I’m partial to Piper in her orange goggles. 🤓

Parsley, Arugula and Ricotta Pesto

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I love basil pesto, but last week when I needed to make a side dish to bring to a party I decided to try something different. I paged through my America’s Test Kitchen Pasta Revolution cookbook and found a recipe for a tasty-sounding pesto with parsley, arugula, and ricotta cheese. I’ve now made this recipe two times in a week and can officially declare it a winner!

Like it’s basil-based cousin, this parsley pesto comes together quickly. Just toast the pine nuts and garlic in a hot skillet, then blend with fresh arugula, parsley, grated Parm, salt and olive oil. Then the best part… stir several spoonfuls of ricotta cheese into the pesto until the sauce is creamy and smooth. Combine with a pound of cooked pasta and you’ll have a bright, fresh, flavorful side that you’ll be proud to share with friends and family.

This pesto tastes extra delicious if you eat it while watching the Eagles crush the Steelers. Go Birds!

This pesto tastes extra delicious if you eat it while watching the Eagles crush the Steelers. Go Birds!

Parsley, Arugula and Ricotta Pesto
(Serves 4-6; from Pasta Revolution)

You will need…
1/4 cup Pine Nuts, toasted
3 cloves Garlic, toasted
1 cup packed Parsley
1 cup packed Arugula
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese, plus more for garnish
Salt and Pepper
7 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup Whole Milk Ricotta
1 pound Pasta

Directions:
Combine pine nuts, garlic, parsley, arugula, Parmesan, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a blender. Slowly pour in the olive oil as you blend the mixture for 30-60 seconds. Transfer the pesto to a large bowl and stir in the ricotta until well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Before draining the pasta reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Mix several tablespoons of the reserved water into the pesto. Add the pasta and stir well until the pasta is evenly coated with pesto, adding more pasta water if desired. Top with freshly grated Parmesan and enjoy hot or cold.

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New Kitchen!!

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Ever since moving into our house 5 1/2 years ago Matt and I have wanted to knock down a wall and renovate our kitchen. The timing was finally right this spring, so after months of figuring out “our” style, finding the right contractor, and selecting critical components like the flooring and appliances we were ready to get started!

Demolition began on June 3, 2016. Matt and I actually missed the excitement because we were out of town in San Diego, but this made the change even more dramatic. Here’s how the kitchen looked before we left versus on the day we came home… what a difference 3 days of work makes!!

Construction moved along quickly during the months of June and July. My favorite milestones occurred when the floor tiles were laid, the countertops were installed, and the kitchen faucet was hooked up to running water. There were a few bumps along the way (like the time I turned on the tub in the master bathroom only to realize that the drain wasn’t hooked up… water dumped straight down into the unfinished kitchen!) but overall the process went very smoothly.

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From a homeowner’s perspective I found the following to be hardest parts of the renovation:

  1. Dust and dirt everywhere. Those plastic sheets only go so far when the whole first floor of your house is being ripped apart.
  2. Not being able to boil water. (I’m a runner, I NEED pasta.)
  3. The last 2 weeks when the kitchen was almost done… Being patient with the end in sight was extremely difficult!

Our contractor estimated that the job would take 2 months and he was spot on. I moved all of our dishes, pots, pans, and food into the new kitchen on July 31st and Matt and I have had a blast using the new space in the weeks since. Without further ado, here it is!

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Kitchen Details

After months of gathering ideas from Houzz and Pinterest I now realize how helpful it is to have a list of exactly what components are in any given kitchen. If you have questions about anything else you see in the photos feel free to ask!

  • Contractor: Hazley Builders, West Chester, PA (http://hazleybuilders.com/)
  • Floors: Porcelanosa Houston Copper Tile 8×47” (#V59201241)
  • Countertops: MSI Stone Q-Stone Fossil Grey Quartz
  • Backsplash: Soho Tile Crystal Super White 2X8 POL (#SOHCRYSSPWTP2X8)
  • Appliances: Jenn-Air Cooktop, Downdraft, Micro/Oven Combo & Wine Cellar; Bosch Dishwasher; LG Refrigerator (existing)
  • Table: Room and Board Rand Table 30×60
  • Chairs: Mobital Tarna White Leatherette Dining Side Chair (#MBDCHTARNCA117)
  • Stools: Mobital Loto Hydraulic Bar Stool (#DBSLOTOWHIT)
  • Lights: Feiss Joplin Chrome Mini Pendants & Chrome Drum Shade Pendant
  • Cabinets: Century Kitchens Carriage House Avalon
  • Cabinet Hardware: Top Knobs Square Bar Pulls in Brushed Satin Nickel (#M1152, #M1155)
  • Paint: SW 7073 Network Gray (primary, darker color); SW 6253 Olympus White (lighter color in foyer & room w/ fireplace)

 

Labor Day and 2xCure4Cam

Since mid-June I have been completely absent on this blog. As is so often the case, I’m pretty sure that’s because I was too busy living life to stop and write about it, but now that I’m at the tail end of a long, lazy, wonderful Labor Day weekend I’m finally starting to think about typing some summer recaps. I also find myself thinking “why does it matter if I write a post about a race I ran in June?” but then I realize it DOES matter to me… months from now I know I’ll love being able to look back on this summer’s races, trips, meals and adventures, even if they were posted weeks after the fact!!🙂

My goal tonight is to complete two race recaps, but before that I need to sneak in a paragraph about Labor Day.  Matt and I stayed home and did nothing but garden, cook, eat, and entertain and it was fantastic. Southeastern PA was supposedly going to get hit by rain and wind from Hurricane Hermine, but instead we had gorgeous weather with temps in the low seventies and light breezes with low humidity… amazing! I didn’t take any photos at the races I’m recapping, so instead here are a few from the past four days:

And now onto the races…

Cure4Cam Moonlight 5K #1 – Exton, PA (6/20/16)

Usually I don’t sign up for summer races, but this one started at 8:00PM (theoretically after the heat of the day) and was on a section of the Chester Valley Trail that I hadn’t run in years (actually since before the trail officially opened).  Plus Rachel from VeryRach.com was going to be there so I jumped on the chance to meet a fellow blogger in real life!

It’s been more than 2 months since I ran this race so my memories are a little fuzzy, but mostly I just remember feeling really REALLY hot.  Like the kind of hot where you sweat so much that sweat is flinging off your elbows with every arm pump. Yeah. I powered through the first two miles and started stealing frequent glances at my Garmin in mile 3 to see how close I was to the finish.

At around 2.8 miles the course turned off the Chester Valley Trail back into the corporate center and I saw that we were going to have to run right by the finish line to do some sort of a parking lot loop before getting to finish. I trudged along, knowing that I still had another quarter mile to go when suddenly I saw the girl ahead of me get to the finish line and STOP. Was the race actually ending at less than 3 miles?! Yup, apparently it was. Caught by surprise, I barely had time to pick up my pace before I too was crossing the line and stopping my Garmin at 2.96 miles and 23:03.

Cure4Cam June 5K_

The short course was a bit of a surprise. Had I known the race was ending I certainly could have finished a little stronger… I guess the lesson is that I should be less concerned with my Garmin and instead pay more attention to what’s actually happening around me!! Botched ending aside, I did end up first in my age group so that was a nice way to end the night.

Cure4Cam Moonlight 5K #2 – Westtown, PA (8/18/16)

Fast forward 2 months to another hot evening, this time in mid-August. I had been running a lot, but this would be my first proper length road 5K since way back on April 23rd. Upon arriving at the race site I consulted the course map very closely (no more missed ending for me!!). The race was at Rustin High School where I do mile repeats with my running club in late fall so I was familiar with the terrain and route.

I had an extremely hectic day at work and actually completely forgot that I wanted to sign up on site for this race until I got home at 4:30. With that in mind I wasn’t going to put any pressure on myself. Instead, I decided that I would aim for an ultra-conservative 7:50 first mile split and then see what I had left after that.  (By comparison, I ran my first mile in the April 23rd race in a way too fast 7:13!!)

At 7:45PM the gun went off and I set out, careful not to get drawn into the initial mad dash of fast runners and little kids. I hit the first mile split in 7:54. I was just behind a friend who always runs the same local races as me (and usually beats me) and I decided to see if I could stay with him through the second lap around the high school. Mile 2 beeped by in 7:45.

Mile 3 had some nice downhill stretches and I stayed right on my friend’s heels (afterwards he said he could actually hear me the whole time… maybe I was a bit too close!!). The course entered the high school stadium for a final lap around the track. I always love ending a race around a track, but this time it was especially cool because I had been watching hours of Olympic track and field in the nights prior to the race and I felt like I was finally getting MY chance to zoom around the 400m oval. As I rounded the turn for home I summoned up an extra spurt of speed and zoomed past my friend, pounding into the finish line like a slower, blonder, female version of Usain Bolt. Woohoo!

Cure4Cam August 5K_

My time of 23:50 wasn’t bad considering the hot weather, my lack of preparation (ahem, hydration) during the day of the race and the fact that I hadn’t raced in 2 months. By comparison, I ran 23:40 at the flatter, cooler Pickle in the Streets 5K in late August last year, so I think I’m in a good position to start working on speed for fall races. Oh, and I won my age group again, yay!

~

That’s it for tonight’s whirlwind summer race recap. Next time I feel the urge to blog I need to share photos from our trips to San Diego, the Poconos, Kentucky, and the Hunting Camp AND our total kitchen renovation. (I wasn’t lying when I said it’s been a busy summer!!) 😄

Miles since last post: 393.4
Days since last post: 79
2016 MILES: 1227.3

Past Races:
• June ’16:
 Media 5 Miler (6/17)
• May ’16:
Media Mile (5/7) [1M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/13), Turtle Trot Trail 5K (5/15), Elwyn Max 5K (5/21)
• April ’16:
Evolve IP 5K (4/2), Empower the Children 5K (4/17), Haverford Twilight Run (4/23) [5K PR Tie]
• March ’16:
 St. Agnes 5K (3/5), 3-2-1 Loop 10K (3/12) [10K PR], Pickle Run (3/19)
• February ’16:
Pickle with Piper (2/20)
• January ’16:
Pickle Trail Run (1/30)
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR], Brian’s Run (12/5) [5M PR], Reindeer Romp 5K (12/13)
• November ’15:
Trinity 5K (11/7), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/26) [5K PR]
• October ’15:
BAAR 5K (10/3), Double OyVey 10K (10/25) [10K PR], Boo Run 5K (10/31)
• September ’15: Run-A-Muck Trail 5K (9/19)
• August ’15:
Boxcar Mile (8/13), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/27)
• June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
• May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3) [10M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
• April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11) [10K PR], Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26) [5K PR]
• 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)
• February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
• January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
• December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5) [2M PR]Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7) [5M PR], Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)  [5K 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 5K (9/27)
• August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [5K PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18) [5M PR]
• 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) [5K 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) [5K 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) [5K PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

A freak neck injury and the Media 5 Miler

On weekdays I set two alarms. The first acts as a warning that morning is approaching and gives me a chance to savor my final moments in bed. Then, five minutes later, the “real” alarm goes off and Matt, Piper and I begin our day.

Last Thursday morning started out like any other day. At 6:11 I silenced the first alarm and blissfully snoozed for a few more minutes. Then at 6:16 I jerked awake in surprise and whipped my head to the right to reach the off button. As soon as I rotated my head back to center I felt a shooting pain and knew something was wrong with my neck. The very act of lifting my head off the pillow was excruciating and I was unable to turn my head to the right. Uh oh!

I gingerly lifted my head out of bed and somehow got ready for work. It’s a good thing Matt and I work together because there’s no way I could have safely driven a car in this condition. Every bump and dip in the road was a nerve-wracking jolt and I spent our short commute focusing on keeping my gaze facing forward and slightly to the left to avoid the acute pain on my right side.

With slow stretching, ibuprofen, and ice my range of motion incrementally increased throughout the day. I was worried about my neck but knew that this pretty much had to a muscular injury since I could pinpoint the exact minute that it occurred. The real question was, would I be able to race 5 miles on Friday night???

Post-Race in front of the Delco Courthouse

Spoiler: I raced and my head is still attached!

I woke up Friday feeling a little better. I still had to twist my entire torso to look right, but the slight improvement gave me hope.  I hydrated and ate during the day as if I was going to race and then did a test run on the treadmill after work to see if my neck could handle a jog.  I ran a half mile without too much pain and decided that I was going to give the race a try!

36 hours and 44 minutes after my bizzare injury (because really, who hurts themselves turning off an alarm??!) I lined up with 1600 runners for the 37th Annual Media 5 Mile race. In 2014 I finished this race in 42:57 and last year I had a big improvement with a 41:03. In 2016 my goal – at least before my neck issue! – was to better my time for the third year in a row.

The Media 5 Mile course consists of two hilly loops through the borough of Media.  Residents were out in force, lining the streets to cheer on the runners and setting up water stations and garden sprinklers to keep us cool.  Staying cool was much easier this year since the weather was unseasonably pleasant, with temps in the upper 70s and low humidity. That’s about as good as it gets for a mid-June race around here!

Mid Race

Mile 1 chirped by in 7:37 and before I knew it I was at the bottom of the big 8th Street hill.  The hill didn’t seem so bad and I was able to accelerate when I reached Jackson Street the top. Then I turned left onto 6th Street and realized that another block-long uphill climb awaited. (Why hadn’t I noticed this hill the previous two years?)  I felt tired so I gave little kids high-fives rather than kill myself up the hill. Mile 2 was over in 8:03.

I left the hilly section of lap 1 behind and tried to pick up my pace as I ran along State Street past the huge crowds of encouraging spectators. Mile 3 chirped by in 8:04… a little disappointing considering that there had only been a few small hills during this split, but I didn’t dwell on my time.  I grabbed a water at the nearest water station, sloshed a little around in my mouth and dumped the rest over my head. It was time to focus on round 2 of the hills!

Both the 8th Street and 6th Street hills seemed longer and steeper the second time around as I trudged up them. Still, I knew that through mile 3 I had been well ahead of the average pace (8:13) that I needed to maintain to beat last year’s time. When my Garmin reported that the 4th mile had taken me 8:43 to complete I got a little worried, but then I saw the big clock that the race organizers placed at mile marker 4 ticking through the 32:20s. I realized then that I would definitely beat last year’s time and even had a chance to break 40 minutes if I rallied hard enough in the final mile!

Media 5 Mile Stats_

I turned onto Edgmont Street with a new feeling of determination and passed several people as I took advantage of the slight decline. My momentum carried me all the way to Barrell Park where I knew I only had a half mile to go. The uphill block back to State Street seemed like it would never end, but finally I was back on the main drag, pushing towards the finish with every ounce of energy I had left.  I zoomed through the finish with a chip time of 40:13… 50 seconds faster than last year!

Media 5 Mile Finish

Lucky for me my neck ended up being a non-issue.  If anything, the more I ran the looser and better it felt! I only noticed the disconcerting, shooting pain during the two times I pounded down the steep hill at the west end of State Street because this made my stride a little more jolting than usual.

Maybe I could have broken 40 minutes without the distraction of my neck, but overall I am very happy with my new course PR and extremely thankful that I was able to run at all!  Now I just have to be more careful with that stupid alarm clock…

Thank you to Matt for cheering me on and taking photos!

Thank you to Matt for cheering me on and taking photos!

Miles since last post: 2
Days since last post: 8
2016 MILES: 841.9

Past Races:
• May ’16:
Media Mile (5/7) [1M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/13), Turtle Trot Trail 5K (5/15), Elwyn Max 5K (5/21)
• April ’16:
Evolve IP 5K (4/2), Empower the Children 5K (4/17), Haverford Twilight Run (4/23) [5K PR Tie]
• March ’16:
 St. Agnes 5K (3/5), 3-2-1 Loop 10K (3/12) [10K PR], Pickle Run (3/19)
• February ’16:
Pickle with Piper (2/20)
• January ’16:
Pickle Trail Run (1/30)
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR], Brian’s Run (12/5) [5M PR], Reindeer Romp 5K (12/13)
• November ’15:
Trinity 5K (11/7), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/26) [5K PR]
• October ’15:
BAAR 5K (10/3), Double OyVey 10K (10/25) [10K PR], Boo Run 5K (10/31)
• September ’15: Run-A-Muck Trail 5K (9/19)
• August ’15:
Boxcar Mile (8/13), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/27)
• June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
• May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3) [10M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
• April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11) [10K PR], Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26) [5K PR]
• 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)
• February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
• January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
• December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5) [2M PR]Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7) [5M PR], Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)  [5K 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 5K (9/27)
• August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [5K PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18) [5M PR]
• 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) [5K 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) [5K 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) [5K PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Pretend it’s May 27th… Recap of the Elwyn 5K!

Elwyn Weather 20 min before the race

Just before the race. Looks like perfect running weather to me!

This race recap is a bit late. I wrote most of it during Memorial Day weekend but then got distracted with a trip to California (more on that in a future post!) and somehow it took me 3 weeks to actually publish this. Please just pretend it’s May 27th as you’re reading this… thanks! 😉

I woke up at 5:40AM last Saturday and immediately checked the weather: 100% chance of rain at 9 o’clock with a massive storm on the way. I had two choices: 1. put my iPhone down and fall back asleep or 2. roll out of bed and get ready for a 5K that I wasn’t even registered for. Can you guess what I did? One $30 on-site registration fee later I was standing under some ominous-looking clouds ready to begin the Elwyn 5K.

I ran this race in 2014 and remember the course well. We’d start with just over a mile of pavement with some nice downhills before turning into the woods for a short section of steep uphill trail. Then the course would hit a series of rolling hills on grass before paralleling Rt. 352 for a slight but seemingly never-ending incline. Finally, after a few more twists and turns, we’d reach pavement again for a fast quarter mile to the finish.

Elwyn Start

The Start. Photo Credit: Elwyn 5K

I flew through the pavement section feeling fast and surprisingly light-footed in my Cascadia trail shoes. Thanks to the plentiful downhill my average heart rate was only 174 bpm (very low for me mid-race!) and mile 1 was over in a speedy 7:14.

Mile 2 is the hardest segment of this course. The wooded section was almost completely uphill but I was thankful for the wide and well packed trail (a big difference from the previous weekend’s uneven single-track at Rocky Run!). After powering through the woods I emerged in a field, ready to take on the grassy section of the course.

As I remembered from 2014, the uphill stretch along Rt. 352 lasted forever. I focused on keeping pace with a woman ahead of me, but mostly I just felt like I was in a holding pattern for the remainder of this mile. I had run the final 0.75 miles of the course on my warm up so I knew that once I made it past the 2nd mile split I would almost be to the easier terrain. Mile 2 finally beeped by in 8:46. (It’s worth noting that this was a full 30 seconds faster than my middle mile 2 years ago!)

Elwyn 5K Stats_

I felt a surge of energy as soon as the course veered away from 352. The grass was freshly mowed (easier to run on!) and I knew that I had only a another minute or so on grass before the return to pavement. Once I hit the pavement I picked up my pace big time. I had originally thought I might be able to catch the woman I had been following on the grass, but she also sped up significantly so I settled for just making sure that I was running as fast as I possibly could. Looking at my Garmin stats, I think I averaged about a 7:20-7:25 pace during this final 0.3 mile paved stretch.

Elwyn 5K Finish

Booking it to the finish line. Photo credit: Elwyn 5K

My final mile split was 8:17 but I was too busy focusing on the finish line to check my watch.  I zoomed across the line in 24:21, nearly TWO MINUTES faster than my 2014 time!!

Fortunately the rain held off for the entire race and it wasn’t until the awards ceremony that the skies opened up. I had left my rain coat in the car a quarter mile away so I ducked out early, very happy with my time and pleased that I decided to sign up for this race rather than sleep in for a few extra hours. 😄

Miles since last post: 138
Days since last post: 27
2016 MILES: 833.9

Past Races:
• May ’16:
Media Mile (5/7) [1M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/13), Turtle Trot Trail 5K (5/15)
• April ’16:
Evolve IP 5K (4/2), Empower the Children 5K (4/17), Haverford Twilight Run (4/23) [5K PR Tie]
• March ’16:
 St. Agnes 5K (3/5), 3-2-1 Loop 10K (3/12) [10K PR], Pickle Run (3/19)
• February ’16:
Pickle with Piper (2/20)
• January ’16:
Pickle Trail Run (1/30)
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR], Brian’s Run (12/5) [5M PR], Reindeer Romp 5K (12/13)
• November ’15:
Trinity 5K (11/7), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/26) [5K PR]
• October ’15:
BAAR 5K (10/3), Double OyVey 10K (10/25) [10K PR], Boo Run 5K (10/31)
• September ’15: Run-A-Muck Trail 5K (9/19)
• August ’15:
Boxcar Mile (8/13), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/27)
• June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
• May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3) [10M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
• April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11) [10K PR], Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26) [5K PR]
• 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)
• February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
• January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
• December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5) [2M PR]Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7) [5M PR], Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)  [5K 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 5K (9/27)
• August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [5K PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18) [5M PR]
• 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) [5K 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) [5K 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) [5K PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Turtle Trot 5K at Okehocking

Okehocking Preserve, Ridley Creek State Park, and the Darlington Trail are by far my favorite places to run and hike. All three spots are close to my house (I can run to them!) and their trails offer sweeping views, peaceful woods, and wickedly steep hills. I’ve raced at Ridley Creek and Darlington multiple times but until recently a race had never been held at Okehocking. Thankfully that changed on Sunday, May 15th when Okehocking played host to the inaugural Autism Village Turtle Trot.

407 Start of the Turtle Trot

I arrived at Okehocking early on Sunday with Matt and the camera in tow. The weather was sunny and in the upper 40s… a bit chilly for spectators but absolutely perfect for running. After countless solo loops on Okehocking’s trails – most recently in the snow on April 9th! – I was eager to learn where the official race course would go. Bill Frawley, the course designer and co-owner of my favorite shoe store, The Running Place, was kind enough to point out the major turns and confirmed that the worst of the course’s extreme uphill climbs would be conquered during the first mile.  Sounds good to me!!

Okehocking Turtle Trot 5K Stats_

The race started up a steep hill, wrapped around the preserve’s off-leash dog park, then descended to a bridge spanning a small creek. After the creek it was time to climb again, this time to the long ridge line that runs along the whole north edge of the park. I know from past experience that I can just barely see my house from this ridge, but on Sunday I was too focused on the run to be house-hunting. After 130 feet of elevation gain, mile 1 beeped by in a surprisingly speedy 8:33.

During mile 2 the course plunged down a hillside, passing the preserve’s beautifully restored barn before entering the marshy area at the western edge of the park. Bill had warned me that it would be muddy here, but for the most part the ground was firm and fairly easy to navigate. Or at least it was until the very end of the marshy section when the course turned away from Ridley Creek and the entire trail turned into several feet of thick, deep mud. I splashed and squelched my way through and broke free from the woods just as my watch beeped an 8:30 second mile split.

I often end my own Okehocking runs with a mile-ish clockwise loop in the middle of the preserve through the woods and back towards the area where the race’s finish was located. I understood beforehand that the race’s final mile would be similar to a backwards version of my loop, but I wasn’t thinking about how the change in direction would impact the hills. Perhaps at this point in the race I was just more tired than I usually would be in a casual run, but mile 3 felt like it was ALL uphill. During this mile I realized that I was going to pass Matt so I tried really hard to look like I was running with good form, but then resumed my tired shuffle as soon as I had passed the camera. 😁

503 Mid-Turtle Trot

Finally the hills were done and the finish line was in sight. I ignored my watch’s 8:56 split (I would have been shocked that I ran the final mile in under 9 minutes!!) and sprinted into the finish. I crossed the line in 26:49, just 6 seconds slower than the Rocky Run 5K that I had run two days earlier. I ended up second place overall female and as a prize received an adorable little handmade turtle ornament that will definitely get a place of honor on our next Christmas tree.

Mile 3’s unexpected uphills aside, I loved everything about this course. I was grateful that most of the hills were over with in mile 1, I appreciated the hard, packed trails (a big change from Rocky Run’s rutted, lumpy grass), and the views made every climb totally worth it. Now if there was just some way to make the weather at ALL RACES be 48° and sunny… that would truly be perfect!

574 Turtle Trot Finish

Miles since last post: 0
Days since last post:0
2016 MILES: 695.9

Past Races:
• May ’16:
Media Mile (5/7) [1M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/13)
• April ’16:
Evolve IP 5K (4/2), Empower the Children 5K (4/17), Haverford Twilight Run (4/23) [5K PR Tie]
• March ’16:
 St. Agnes 5K (3/5), 3-2-1 Loop 10K (3/12) [10K PR], Pickle Run (3/19)
• February ’16:
Pickle with Piper (2/20)
• January ’16:
Pickle Trail Run (1/30)
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR], Brian’s Run (12/5) [5M PR], Reindeer Romp 5K (12/13)
• November ’15:
Trinity 5K (11/7), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/26) [5K PR]
• October ’15:
BAAR 5K (10/3), Double OyVey 10K (10/25) [10K PR], Boo Run 5K (10/31)
• September ’15: Run-A-Muck Trail 5K (9/19)
• August ’15:
Boxcar Mile (8/13), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/27)
• June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
• May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3) [10M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
• April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11) [10K PR], Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26) [5K PR]
• 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)
• February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
• January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
• December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5) [2M PR]Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7) [5M PR], Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)  [5K 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 5K (9/27)
• August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [5K PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18) [5M PR]
• 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) [5K 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) [5K 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) [5K PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)