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)

Rocky Run Trail 5K

We’ve had an unusually cold, wet spring this year. Not so great for my basil plants (which turned black and died after a week of rain) but very nice for runners like me who prefer cool weather races. I’ve been trying take advantage of this “nice” weather by running as many races as possible, including two trail races last weekend and one this weekend.  That’s a lot of trails! And also a lot of race recaps that I need to catch up on. Here’s the first of three…

On Friday the 13th of May I ran the Rocky Run YMCA’s Trail 5K for the third year in a row. Last year I led the women for the entire race, but then got passed decisively in the final quarter mile. I never knew placing second could feel like such a huge defeat until that moment! This year I vowed to do things differently. I wanted to start out slower to ensure that I’d have energy left at the end. That way I could be the person doing the passing, or at least putting up more of a fight if a woman tried to pass me.

I crossed the start line with a small field of 5K runners at 6:30PM. I had initially thought I’d just tuck in behind whatever woman looked like she was going the fastest, but then I realized that I was that woman so I set off behind the men at a comfortable pace. After 0.4 miles of pavement the course plunged down a hill and entered the woods.

It had rained all week so the steep descent on single-track trails was a slippery, muddy mess. I was very thankful for the big treads on my trail shoes and only found myself reaching out to catch my balance on a tree a few times as I picked my way down the hill. The trail eventually flattened out and the terrain changed to thick, wet, lumpy grass with a few ruts and rocks thrown in for good measure. Definitely better than the mud slide, but still not the easiest footing.

I trudged along, very aware of the fact that I was once again sitting in the first place female spot. That’s a stressful position to be in when you know that you have a huge, muddy uphill waiting for you towards the end of the race! As I neared the turnaround point I could hear a woman close behind me saying “good job!” to the men who were passing us on their way back to the finish. I remember thinking “Uh oh… she must be feeling REALLY good if she’s still talking at this point of the race!!” I hit the turnaround with her about 15 feet behind me and started the long climb back towards the YMCA.

Rocky Run Trail 5K Stats_

The lumpy grass seemed twice as hard to navigate the second time around but I was utterly determined not to give up my lead. With less than a mile to go I passed a little boy and again heard the woman behind me, enthusiastically urging him on as she also passed him. How was she still this cheerful??? (Note to self: talking a lot during a race is a great way to psych out the runner ahead of you!!)

I reached the steep uphill feeling tired and somewhat detached, like my brain was floating through a foggy haze. Even through the haze I could feel how badly I wanted to stay ahead. I pushed up the slope and suddenly emerged out of the woods sooner than I expected. There was still a steep section of parking lot ahead of me, but I was back on firm ground!! At this point last year I had nothing left but this year I actually felt a little surge as my muddy shoes hit the pavement. I powered my way up to the top of the parking lot and looked behind me with 0.3 miles to go… the cheerful woman was nowhere in sight!!!!

Even though I had not seen a woman behind me I wasn’t going to leave my victory to chance. I gave the final loop around the Y’s playing fields everything I had and somehow was able to find enough speed to pass a guy in the last turn of the race. I sprinted across the finish and smiled when I heard the race timer say “first place female!”

Rocky Run post-race

I finished in 26:43. Only 7 seconds faster than last year, but with more challenging conditions and significantly better execution and outcome. I didn’t give up my lead and I fought hard right up to the end. Woohoo!!

My first place prize was a 75 minute massage at the Y. I think I’m going to need it after all of these spring races! Next up: a recap of the Turtle Trot trail 5K that I ran 38 hours after Rocky Run…

Miles since last post: 46.4
Days since last post:10
2016 MILES: 695.9

Past Races:
• May ’16:
Media Mile (5/7) [1M PR]
• 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)

Pizza with Andouille, Kale and Cannellini Beans

Sometimes Matt and I spend hours making a fancy new recipe that seems like it will surely be “blog-worthy.” As we cook I painstakingly photograph each step and Matt waits patiently while I snap shot after shot of the finished dish before we eat. But guess what? Those elaborate, complicated meals don’t always live up to the hype. Sure, the food tastes good, but it’s just not special enough to warrant the time and energy to sort and edit all of those photos, especially if we know that we’d want to significantly tweak the recipe before ever attempting it again.

Other times a delicious recipe catches us totally by surprise. That was the case tonight when I spontaneously decided to combine Cannellini beans, kale and andouille sausage on a pizza. Matt isn’t a huge fan of white beans (or my tendency to try to work them into every meal possible), so he was rather suspicious about the whole idea from the start. I was more optimistic but still didn’t even bother to get my real camera out as I cooked… you’ll have to forgive the iPhone photos but after tasting it we both realized that this pizza was too good not to share!

Andouille Kale Cannellini Pizza

Hidden underneath those layers of spicy andouille sausage, melted mozzarella and wilted kale lies the secret ingredient of this pizza: a garlicky white bean puree.  I whipped up the puree using canned beans, minced garlic and a bit of thyme from my garden, then spread it like pizza sauce all over the uncooked dough. The beans imparted a thicker texture and heartiness to each bite of the finished pizza and complemented the bolder flavors of the kale and andouille perfectly.

Without further ado, here’s how I made tonight’s surprisingly blog-worthy pizza…

Pizza on the peel

Pizza with Andouille, Kale and Cannellini Bean Puree

You will need…
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 – 15 oz. can Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves Garlic, minced
6 sprigs Thyme, leaves removed and roughly chopped
Salt, to taste
4-5 tablespoons Cornmeal or Semonlina Flour
1 package uncooked Pizza Dough
Small bunch Kale, stems removed and leaves torn into 3-5 inch pieces
8 oz. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 Andouille Sausages, fully cooked and sliced 1/8″ thick (we used Trader Joe’s Chicken Andouille tonight)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 490°F. Position the rack 6-8 inches from the top of the oven and place the pizza stone on the rack to warm up. Warm olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, then add in the rinsed Cannellini beans. Saute beans for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Gently stir in garlic and thyme and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes until garlic is very fragrant. Lightly salt, then transfer the bean mixture to a food processor. Blend until smooth, adding a little more olive oil if the mixture is too thick. Set aside.

Heap the kale leaves in the nonstick skillet you used for the beans. Saute the kale over medium-high heat until the kale is wilted.

Sprinkle cornmeal on the pizza peel then drop the pizza dough ball onto the cornmeal. Knead and spread the dough ball into a 15-17 inch pizza. Carefully remove the hot pizza stone from the oven and place it on a heat resistant surface. Transfer the dough to the stone and shape it into a nice circle the size of the stone.

Working quickly, spoon and spread the white bean puree onto the dough. Next, sprinkle a few handfuls of the shredded cheese over the pizza. Distribute the wilted kale evenly over the pie, leaving a 3/4 inch “margin” for the crust. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the kale and layer the andouille sausage slices over the cheese. Carefully slide the pizza stone back into the hot oven.

Bake the pizza for 8-9 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the edges of the crust are starting to turn golden brown. Keep an eye on the pizza as it cooks… if your oven heats unevenly (like ours does!) rotate the pie with a few minutes left on the cook time.

Remove the pizza from the oven, slice and enjoy!

Cutting the Pizza

My 5,280 Foot PR

The last time I raced a mile was on August 13, 2015 when I ran just over 4 laps (1,609 meters) around the Henderson High School track. I trained hard for the inaugural Boxcar Mile and finished with an official time of 6:56. I came away from that race happy with my performance but feeling that I definitely had the potential to run faster.

My second chance to race a mile came last Saturday when I participated in the 2nd annual Media Mile hosted by 5280 Race Series. Unlike the Boxcar event, this was a road race with a gentle decline in the first half followed by a slight uphill towards the finish. The gradual climb would make this race more challenging than running on a track, but I figured that the road course would be mentally easier since I wouldn’t be running the same loop four times.

I woke up early Saturday morning, posted a quick blog recap of my last 5K, and then set off through the pouring rain to Media. I warmed up through the waterlogged town with my raincoat zipped all the way up and my hood on, side-stepping around puddles on the uneven brick sidewalks. I told myself that despite the rain the weather really wasn’t that bad. Compared to the 71° summer heat at the Boxcar Mile I’ll take 52 and rainy any day!

So much rain.

So much rain. I texted this to Matt, who was still asleep at the time. He’s glad he didn’t come to spectate!

I shed my raincoat at 8:57am and lined up on Front Street by the county courthouse. In a moment of panic I realized that I hadn’t updated my Garmin to auto-split at the half mile, so I spent the final seconds fiddling with my watch, finishing just in time to hear Ready, Set, GO!!!

The downhill in the first quarter mile made it hard to hold back, but I knew that the finish would be ugly if I got carried away sprinting too fast. I consciously decided to let some people pass me and fell into a comfortably fast rhythm as the mid-way point approached.  A man was standing at the half calling out splits… I hadn’t needed to set my watch after all! I blew through the half in 3:15. Possibly my fastest 800 meters ever and technically on pace for a 6:30 finish, but the uphill was coming!

Media Mile Stats

The hill that I had spent so much time mentally preparing for seemed like it was over before I had time to think about it. I guess that’s how things go in a 1 mile race? Looking at the elevation chart, there was still a slight incline all the way to the finish, but with 600m to go I knew the worst was over.

I powered up State Street feeling strangely in control. I fell into stride behind a girl in neon green and imagined that we were in a track workout together and my job was to stay right on her heels. With a few blocks to go I realized that I could actually PASS her, so I did! I veered around her and then, sure that she would respond to my challenge, picked up my pace and never looked back.

I made the final turn into Veteran’s Square at what felt like a sprint. I was greeted by another short uphill but by that point I didn’t care: the finish clock was in sight! It was ticking away in the high 6:30s and I KNEW I was going to PR. I ran hard and crossed the line with a chip time of 6:46. A 10 second PR!!!!

Finishing the Media Mile

I just missed an age group award but that’s OK because I ran my fastest mile ever!!! My first half was significantly faster than the second, but I think that was the right strategy given the terrain. I will definitely plan to race the Media Mile again in the future, hopefully minus the rain! 😄

My next race is tonight when I’ll be running the Rocky Run Trail 5K for the third year in a row. Then I’ll finish off the weekend at Okehocking Preserve with another 5K trail race. I’m going to be one tired runner by Sunday afternoon. Wish me luck!

A wet post-race selfie

Miles since last post: 28.9
Days since last post: 6
2016 MILES: 649.5

Past Races:
• 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)

That time I TIED my 5K PR!

Or, how NOT to pace a 5K.

On Saturday, April 23rd I ran the Haverford Twilight 5K for the second year in a row. Last year I PR’d at this race and this year I felt that I was absolutely in position to run another personal best. I was so sure that I could beat my previous time of 23:17 that I cockily told Matt as I left for the race that I’d text him my new PR as soon as the run was over.

To earn a new PR I knew that I’d need to keep my first mile under control and run consistent splits. If my goal was to run, say, 23:10, my ideal splits would be something like 7:28, 7:32, 7:31, with a final 0.1 mile kick at around 6:30 pace.

Fast Times Split Table

As the table above illustrates, I’ve been running relatively fast times this spring and my pacing has been getting more consistent. With this in mind I believed that hovering right around that 7:30 mark during the bulk of the 3.1 mile race seemed like a reasonable and attainable goal.

So how did the race actually go? Not QUITE as planned.

I started the 5K several rows back to ensure that I wouldn’t get caught up in the initial mad rush of kids and sprinters who tend to stop or drastically slow down after the first quarter mile. I would describe my pace as “strong.” Not comfortable, but not pushing too hard either. Then I glanced down at my watch and realized I was averaging 6:50 pace for the first .3 miles. Whoops!

I slowed down and fell in behind a man wearing a bright blue shirt that said something about a running coach. I didn’t know if he was the coach or the coached, but either way I figured he could probably run a more consistent pace that I could so I resisted the urge to zoom past him and instead tucked in right behind him as we came off the first turnaround.

Before I knew it, mile 1 was over in 7:13.

I knew that I was way off pace, but oddly I still felt fantastic. Strong, happy, and matching my blue-shirted running coach stride for stride. We powered into mile 2 and zipped southeast down Darby Road at a nice clip.

I glanced at my watch again… I was still averaging a 7:13 pace halfway through the second mile. Whoa. Thoughts started swirling around in my head as I edged past the coach:

Could I somehow have underestimated my PR potential by this much?
Should I back off of this crazy a$$ pace right now??
Am I going to go sub-23??!!

How painful is mile 3 going to be?

Mile 2 ticked by in another, perfectly even 7:13. Unbelievable!!

But then the headwind kicked in. Oh yeah, did I mention that there was a 14mph wind coming out of the NNW? And guess which way I was headed for the third and final mile? Not good. The tailwind that had pushed me southeast for my fastest 2nd mile ever was now mercilessly slamming me in the face. My wildly off-pace 7:13 miles caught up with me and I struggled along, praying for the moment that I’d get to turn right on Mill Road, out of the wind and towards the finish.

At last the end was in sight. Mile 3 blipped by in a disappointing 8:00 split but I ignored my watch and pushed with everything I had towards the finish.  I crossed the line with a chip time of 23:17… exactly tying my PR.

Haverford Twilight 5K Stats

I know without a doubt that I messed up in those first two miles. But at the time they just felt so easy, so strong… so RIGHT! Some delusional part of my oxygen-deprived brain was telling me “Go for it!!” and I didn’t want to miss out on the chance to PR big because I was too conservative at the start.

That’s my problem right there. I always feel the urge to bank time and therefore go out too fast. How do I fix this? Do I have to run a terribly uneven 5K every once in a while to remind myself of how not to pace a race? At least during the Haverford Twilight Run I was able to TIE my PR (yay!) but I still believe that I should have been able to beat that time and set a new PR with a better executed race.

Going out too fast in my first mile shouldn’t be too much of a problem in my next race because it’s just a single mile! At 9AM today I’ll be dashing through the streets of Media, PA for a 1 mile race hosted by the 5280 race series. The only mile I’ve ever raced was on a track last August so I’m very excited to see how this morning’s road race will unfold!

Miles since last post: 0
Days since last post: 0
2016 MILES: 620.6

Past Races:
• April ’16: Evolve IP 5K (4/2), Empower the Children 5K (4/17)
• 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)

Piper’s DNF

Does this angle make my nose look big?

“Does this angle make my nose look big?”

Three weeks ago Piper and I ran the Empower the Children 5K hosted by Child Guidance Resource Centers. Well actually, I ran a 5K and Piper ran a 2.5K. Yup, Piper had her first ever Did Not Finish (DNF), but don’t worry, she’s just fine.

The weather on April 23rd was sunny and in the mid-fifties, aka PERFECT running conditions for a human. I suspected that the gorgeous weather might be a little too warm for Piper but still wanted to give her a chance to participate in the race. I figured I could always hand Piper off to Matt mid-race if she got too hot since Matt was volunteering on course and was conveniently positioned at the halfway point.

At 9AM Piper and I dashed across the start line with 81 other runners and walkers. Piper was full of beans, darting and pulling in every direction. I realized that this was our first race together outside of Ridley Creek State Park’s narrow, paved trails and as a result I spent our first mile constantly repositioning Piper’s leash and saying “Piper, wait!” and “Piper, heel!!” Piper responded with an escalating series of eager snorts and grunts as she abandoned all discipline and happily zoomed all over the wide neighborhood streets.

Piper's preferred running method: off-leash and out of control!

Piper’s preferred running method: off-leash and out of control!

Piper’s snorts seemed to grow louder by the minute. Even though I knew she was only grunting because I was holding her back, I started feeling a little guilty for having her along with me in the 54° “heat.” A little boy running in front of us actually turned around multiple times to see what sort of noisy beast was coming up behind him. Just a crazy little GSP, sorry kid! 😄

Finally Piper and I reached the big hill near the end of the first loop. Last year I had paced my first mile terribly and this hill was hell, but this year I was actually happy to see it because I knew Matt was directing traffic at the top. As Matt came into view I wildly gestured with my hands that I planned to pass Piper off. I unsnapped my waist leash and the Piper transfer went off without a hitch. Matt later told me that Piper stopped panting immediately when she realized the excitement of her race was over. Silly pup.

Dogless, I continued into my next lap, thankful that my running buddy was no longer jerking me around. (I love her dearly, but Piper was definitely cramping my style during that first lap!!) I tried to focus on my cadence and pace, which had slipped to 7:46 in the second mile. During the first lap it had been easy to ignore the multiple ups and downs with Piper by my side weaving around in front of me, but now that I was running solo I realized how incredibly hilly this course was.

Empower the Children 5K Stats_

My chaotic first lap and the hilly terrain took their toll on my legs and by the time I turned up the big hill for the second and final time I was feeling slow. I was averaging over 8:00 for my third mile but I knew the end was near. I pushed up the hill, waved to Piper and Matt at the top, and started my “kick” as soon as the ground leveled out. I zoomed across the finish line in 24:36, the exact same time I ran last year.

24:36 is more than a minute slower than my time from the Evolve IP 5K on April 2nd.  In 2015 I was not pleased with this time, but this year I am much more at peace with my slower than usual result. First and foremost, I ran half the race with a wild animal tethered to my side, which certainly must have slowed me down or at the very least cost me some precious energy in the final mile. (Just think how much breath I wasted begging Piper to heel!)

Second, after back-to-back years of sub-par times, I’ve come to realize that maybe the Westgate Hills course is just a really difficult, extremely hilly 5K that doesn’t yield very fast times. I know that I’m in good shape and able to run close or at my best (more on that in my next race recap!!!), so it’s not worth it to stress over why one particular course doesn’t seem to agree with me.

My 24:36 finish was good enough for 13th place overall and first in my age group so I’ll be happy with that and move on to the next race… which I’m about to recap very soon. Spoiler: I TIED my 5K PR in April 23rd’s Haverford Twilight 5K.  What are the odds???

Miles since last post: 117.7
Days since last post: 25
2016 MILES: 620.6

Past Races:
• April ’16: Evolve IP 5K (4/2)
• 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)

April Showers Bring Fast Times! (Race Recap)

I’ve been slow in getting my recap of April 2nd’s Evolve IP Spring Fling 5K done, not because it was a bad race (quite the opposite, actually!) but because there was a photographer on the course and I was really hoping to include a photo with this recap. Alas, the photos have still not been posted so, in lieu of a cool action shot, here’s a photo of everyone getting rained on at the start.

Looks like beautiful weather for a race, right?? Photo Credit: Spring Fling 5K

Looks like beautiful weather for a race, right?? I am in the glaring yellow shirt (BR=Brian’s Run). Photo Credit: Spring Fling 5K

After a strong performance during the 3-2-1 Loop 10K last month, I went into this race believing there was a chance I could beat my 5K PR of 23:17. Although the weather wasn’t totally cooperating, I was actually happy to be standing in the rain at 9AM on a Saturday morning and eager to see how quickly I could finish my sixth race of the year.

The out-and-back course began by zig-zagging through parking lots before depositing us out onto the Chester Valley Trail. After a short stretch on the paved trail the first mile was over in 7:34 and the halfway turnaround point was almost in sight.

Evolve IP 5K Stats_

Mile 2 was spent exclusively on the rail-trail. I think this section of the CV trail along Rt. 202 has been open for a few years, but this was my first time on it. The route was extremely flat and perfectly straight. I ran without music and had the constant white noise of traffic whizzing by on the wet highway to keep my mind busy. As I approached the turnaround I saw the first and second place women go by and then realized I was in third place! Mile 2 was over in 7:39.

I wasn’t thrilled with my 2nd mile split, and I didn’t feel like I had a whole lot more speed to tap into for the final mile. I worked hard to run as fast as I could during the last portion of the trail, then tried to mentally prepare myself to weave around the parking lots for another half mile. If I could have exited the trail and run directly back to the finish I think I might have been able to pick up my pace a little more, but the extra loops through the parking lot (which took us right by the finish) made it a little harder to get excited about the finish.

Finally my last parking lot loop was done and I was headed towards the finish line for real. I focused on the finish clock as I approached the line.  23:18..19..20..21..22..23..24..25! I finished the race with an official time of 23:26, good enough for 3rd place female and 10th overall!

Although I missed my PR by 9 seconds I still feel very good about this race. My splits were by far the most even I’ve ever run and, even though that final mile felt hard, it was the fastest third mile I’ve run in any of my “top” 5Ks to date!

Fast Times Split Table

I know I can run faster, especially in a larger race with more crowd excitement and people near my pace to run with. I have my sights set on this year’s Haverford Twilight Run on April 23rd… I PR’d there last year and I think I can do it again this year!

Miles since last post: 108.5
Days since last post: 21
2016 MILES: 502.9

Past Races:
• 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)