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)

Let it snow! Long enough for a run, at least.

We experienced some very odd weather in southeastern Pennsylvania yesterday… it snowed! And not just cute little spring flurries. This was real, accumulating, white-out conditions SNOW! The storm started mid-morning and dumped 4-5 inches on my daffodils, budding trees, and sugar snap pea shoots. There was nothing I could do to protect my garden so I decided to take Piper out for a trail run at nearby Okehocking Preserve instead.

Okehocking Snow Run

We ran a big loop around the preserve, enjoying the muddy trails, slippery hills and snowy grass. This might have been a freak storm, but it sure was pretty!

Okehocking in the Snow

I brought my Go Pro along and had fun running towards it on the trail. Matt gave me the Go Pro for my birthday last November and I’m still learning how to take advantage of the tiny camera’s super wide-angle lens and various shooting modes. Yesterday I played around with the Go Pro’s continuous photo mode and tried to avoid stepping on it each time Piper and I zoomed by.

Luckily no one else was out in the storm to witness this behavior… Piper thought we looked pretty silly.

Look at the camera, Piper

The storm ended at 5PM and immediately started melting. Our backyard is still blanketed in snow more than 24 hours later, but the temperature is supposed to rise to 62°F tomorrow so the snow should disappear soon. As much as I enjoyed my winter romp with Piper, I’ll be OK if I don’t see another snow flake until November!!

Okehocking Preserve (4/9/16)

Bradford Pear Down

Guess what? On Sunday Piper finally mastered “headstand.” We’ve been working on this trick for months and I’m SO proud of her!928 Headstand Piper

Oh wait, just kidding. Nope, the real truth is that a violent windstorm uprooted a perfectly healthy, beautiful tree on Saturday night, leaving a white wall of flowers and a giant sideways stump in our yard. Boo! 😣

943 The tree, Piper and Matt

And if you’re still trying to wrap your head around the first photo, maybe this will help:

699 Checking out the fallen tree

On Saturday night a storm front swept across southeastern Pennsylvania, bringing heavy rains and 45-60 mpg wind gusts. Despite the wind our power stayed on and Matt and I went to bed, blissfully unaware of the damage happening outside. We woke up early Sunday morning, looked out the window and BAM!! WHITE FLOWERS EVERYWHERE. Our Bradford Pear tree had tipped over on its side, taking a sizable chunk of lawn along with it.

649 Matt and the Tree

Piper was initially wary of the changed landscape, but she has quickly realized that the tree’s new position means she is MUCH closer to the birds and squirrels that hang out in it.  She’s been keeping a close eye on it ever since.

1008 Fallen Tree

Here’s what the tree looked like in its glory, back in 2014.  RIP, Bradford Pear Tree.

Bradford Pear in its former glory

Matt and I are getting estimates for the tree’s removal now. In the meantime, I’m sure Piper will keep herself very busy watching over the fallen white blossoms.  Like most outdoor activities, it’s a job that she’s taking very seriously!

1041 Piper and her fallen tree

Piper, Pickles, and Peanut Butter (Recap of the March Pickle Run!)

Hello my name is Piper and I like to lick pickles.

Hello my name is Piper and I like to lick pickles.

On Saturday Piper joined me for the March Pickle Run in Ridley Creek State Park. Like last month’s pickle, this was a 5K prediction run on a paved out-and-back course. In February I conservatively guessed that Piper and I would finish in 24:30 but then we crushed the course in 23:47. This month I was more aggressive and entered 23:30 as our expected finish time.

Piper and I lined up towards the front of the pack (last month we started too far back and had a challenging time weaving through the crowds) and crossed the start line at 10AM. My game plan was to run the first mile very conservatively — maybe in 7:45 like my 10K last week — but of course there are no watches allowed in the Pickle Run so I don’t have any idea how long the first mile lasted. All I know is that I felt really comfortable and very happy to have Piper trotting along at my side.

After the first mile I realized that Piper and I were in third place. Over the next quarter mile we picked up our pace and steadily gained ground before passing the man in front of us. With that task complete, I suddenly remembered that the organizers of the Pickle Run hide “pickles” (cucumbers with pipe-cleaner arms and googley eyes) around the course for runners to find during the race. I once glimpsed a pickle during a race last year but have never claimed one for myself… until Saturday! About a minute after I started searching I spotted a pickle nestled in the brush about 10 feet off the path. I let out a little squeal of excitement, and, much to Piper’s confusion, swerved off the road to claim my prize. The pickle collection went smoothly and Piper and I were back on the course in seconds.

Last month when Piper and I hit the uphill climb at the turnaround point Piper lagged behind and seemed a little tired. This month the weather was much cooler (40°) and together we powered up the hill with the race leader just barely in sight. After about a half mile of running with the pickle in my right hand I finally looked down at it and realized that it had a big smiling “mouth” made out of sprinkles and peanut butter.  The sprinkles were starting to melt onto my palm but all I could think was how much Piper was going to love the peanut butter when we finished!

Pickle Stats Mar16

I would have loved to know our split for the final mile because it felt FAST.  We gained ground on the leader and I was strong and in control. Piper heeled perfectly by my side, trotting at a rapid clip with her mouth firmly closed… I guess we still weren’t moving fast enough to exert Piper in 40° weather! Before I knew it we were turning onto the narrow path that twisted up to the finish line. I watched the leader cross the line about 15 seconds ahead of us and then we sprinted through the finish.

Our official chip time was 23:36 — 11 seconds faster than last month and a new course record for me. Plus we found a pickle!!! I scooped off some of the peanut butter around the pickle’s pom-pom “nose” and fed it to Piper right after we finished. 😄

After the pickle run

Running with Piper is bringing me such joy. She is well-behaved, makes other runners smile, and I truly feel like I have a companion out there on the course with me. Plus she’s always good for a laugh… Piper may or may not have stuck her entire head under the stall next to me in the ladies’ restroom just to say hi to our neighbor right before the race. Whoops!

As we watched the post-race awards Piper waited patiently beside me, taking the occasional lick of pickle “hair” (more peanut butter and sprinkles) and making a big to-do of licking her lips and nose very thoroughly after each taste. Our finish time was only 6 seconds off my prediction, so we won a second pickle in addition to the one we found on course. Double treats for Piper!! Exactly the prize she deserved for her new 5K PR.

656 Piper Pickle_

Miles since last post: 18.5
Days since last post: 4
2016 MILES: 394.3

Past Races:
• March ’16: St. Agnes 5K (3/5), 3-2-1 Loop 10K (3/12) [10K PR]
• 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 10K PR at the 3-2-1 Loop Race!

6 laps, 1.03 miles each. That pretty much sums up last Saturday’s 3-2-1 Loop Race. Well, that and the fact that I ran a huge PR!! The concept of the Loop Race was simple: runners could either compete as part of a 3-person relay (running 3, 2, and 1 laps) OR as individuals in the 5K (3 laps) or 10K (6 laps). I signed up for the 10K option two days before the race and I sure am glad that I did!!

runtheloop copy

6 laps, 1.03 miles each. For many runners, that actually sounds unbearably boring. The repetitive nature of this course was certainly daunting, but it allowed me to treat this 10K like a drill. I wanted to run a more consistent, even pace (my splits are usually all over the place) and also planned to be very strict with myself about not going out too fast in the first mile (an all-to-common occurrence for me in shorter races). I reminded myself of my mantra from last year’s Broad Street 10 Miler: You can’t win a race in the first mile, but you can definitely blow it by going out way too fast!!

Me, my shadow, and my shiny new 10K PR!!!

This recap is long so allow me to spoil the ending… I didn’t go out too fast and I totally PR’d!!!!! Also, my bright orange shirt makes my arm look radioactive.

At 9AM sharp I crossed the start line with a mixed field of relay runners, 5K-ers and 10K-ers. My goal for the first mile was a very conservative 7:58. (By comparison, in the previous week’s 5K I went out in 7:24!) I felt like I positively crawled through this lap and I had to check my watch multiple times to remind myself to slow down. Finally with the start line in sight my watch beeped 7:45 — not too far off my goal — and I continued into Loop #2.

Each 1.03 mile loop made a circuit around Downingtown West High School and Middle School. The middle school sits about 24 feet higher than the high school, so during the first half of each loop we’d gradually climb a slight incline, and then we’d get to descend back down to complete the lap. I liked that the downhill was in the latter part of the lap since it helped me get some momentum going into each mile split. Before I knew it my second mile was over in 7:37.

My third mile felt routine. Sure, I was running hard, but I was also making sure I didn’t push too much since I still had three more 1.03 mile loops to go. When my watch beeped a 7:39 split I didn’t think much of it, but then I turned the corner towards the start/finish line and saw the race clock. For 5K runners this was the finish line and I breezed through in 23:21…  just FOUR SECONDS off my 5K PR!

Prior to this race I had only ever completed one road 10K: the hilly Double OyVey 10K last October. I believed that I was capable of bettering my OyVey time of 49:50 but the question was, by how much? After seeing my 5K split I realized that I definitely had the 10K PR locked up… at that point even a 26 minute 5K would get me across the finish in under 49:50! Now it was up to me to maintain my speed through three more laps.

During laps 4 and 5 I felt like I was stuck in an uncomfortable, never-ending holding pattern. I knew I was on track for an awesome finish, but it wasn’t time to get excited yet. I just had to hang on and let my legs do their job through these miles. Hang on I did, with two more sub-8 splits. During these laps I set a new unofficial 4 mile PR (30:42) and came within 2 seconds of my 5 mile PR from last December. I was on fire!!!

At long last the 6th lap began. I had been passing the same spectators for the last 38 minutes and was very thankful that this would be my final time seeing them. Amusingly, most spectators had obviously become confused by the crazy relay/5K/10K mixture that was going on and had resorted to helpfully yelling “You’re almost there!!!” every. single. time I looped by. Now that was finally true!!!

In the midst of the race I hadn’t figured out what time I was going to finish in. All I knew is that I was definitely going to PR and hopefully could finish in under 48 minutes. As I turned the last corner for the sixth and final time the clock came into view… it was ticking away in the 46:40s!! I ran as hard as I could crossed the line at 46:58, nearly 3 minutes faster than my previous 10K best!!!

3-2-1 Loop 10K Stats_

If I learned one thing from this 10K, it’s that I absolutely MUST start races slower. It seems counter intuitive, but I know I can achieve faster overall times if I begin with a more conservative first mile. Heck, apparently I can run back-to-back 5Ks in 23:21 and 23:37…. BOTH faster than the previous week’s actual 5K race. Crazy!

The second takeaway is that the core strengthening that I’ve been doing as part of my new year’s resolution is definitely helping. I did not do any speed work leading up to this race, but still somehow managed to come extremely close to breaking my 5K and 5 mile PRs… both of which were set during my end-of-season peak last fall. I’m excited to see how fast I can run when I actually start “training” on the track! My first workout of the season was last Tuesday so time will tell.

This post has gotten way too long so I’ll end with this:

6 laps, 1.03 miles each… a huge new PR and a fantastic way to kick off the spring season!

Miles since last post: 19.4
Days since last post: 4
2016 MILES: 375.8

Past Races:
• March ’16: St. Agnes 5K (3/5)
• 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)

St. Agnes 5K

Yesterday I ran a HUGE 10K PR at the 3-2-1 Loop Race!! But I can’t tell you about that yet, because first I need to recap last weekend’s St. Agnes 5K.  The 5K was a solid performance but just isn’t as exciting as my PR so I’ll keep this short!

Prior to March 5th, I hadn’t run a solo* 5K since December 13th.  That December race was more of a recovery run (immediately after a 5M/2M double) so in my mind, I hadn’t really raced a 5K since Thanksgiving Day.  After more than 14 weeks (including the holidays, a trip to Vegas, and zero speedwork), I decided it was time to get a new benchmark 5K time.  (*I’m not counting the 5K I ran with Piper because it didn’t really reflect my solo running ability… she pulls a bit!)

The St. Agnes 5K was held in West Chester, PA on the same downtown, double-loop course as the 2015 St. Pat’s 5K.  Last year on a rainy, 46°F afternoon I finished in 23:39.  This year the sun was out but the weather was much cooler at just 30°F. At 9AM I lined up with 135 other runners and we were off!

I took advantage of some early downhill and before I knew it the first mile was over in 7:24. Then the course swung right onto Market Street and I began a long, steady incline, passing the finish line and looping back around to the start. I got a breather during a nice downhill and mile 2 ended mid-hill with a 7:49 split. Not too bad, but I still had to climb up Market Street once more before I was done.

St Agnes 5K Stats_

Last year I ran my final mile in 7:33 but had no energy left to kick up the hill for the final 0.1 mile. This year my third mile was slightly slower (7:44) but as the finish clock came into view I surged into a sprint, powered up the hill, and flew across the line. My final time? 23:38… 1 second faster than last year!

Source

Finishing strong up Market Street! Photo Credit: St. Agnes 5K

I was happy with my time but not overwhelmingly so. Sure, the weather conditions were a little tougher than last year, but the race felt hard and I was really tired afterwards. I remember thinking that I had a lot of work to do to get back into “spring racing” shape…

But that was BEFORE I ran yesterday’s 10K!!  Recap of that race is coming very soon! 😀

Miles since last post: 65.2
Days since last post: 14
2016 MILES: 356.4

Past Races:
• 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 First Pickle

Hello, I'm Piper, and I'm a runner!

It took Piper a week to take her post-race selfie… not bad for a dog!

Piper has been galloping around the yard for months, but this winter her joints finally matured enough for her to go on an official road run with me. Yay, running buddy! But unfortunately inviting an energetic German Shorthair to go jogging with you is far easier said than done. Piper and I went on a short jaunt over the holidays and she pulled me all over the road until my hips were out of alignment and I started seriously second-guessing how fun it would be to have a four-legged running partner.

Fed up with being – quite literally – jerked around, I purchased a “Gentle Leader” head collar for Piper in late December. The gentle leader works by redirecting a dog’s forward motion and turning their head back towards you when they pull. It only took Piper a few minutes to figure this out and I was thrilled to find that my wild, lunging beast was quickly transformed into a tiny, prancing racehorse who seemed to be perpetually trotting towards an imaginary starting line with a short, bouncy, energetic stride. Splendid!

Gentle Leader

As soon as I determined that the Gentle Leader was our go-to headgear for running, I starting looking at running leash options. If I gave Piper too much room to roam, she’d turn back into the beast and pull until the Gentle Leader left rub marks on her face — not good! Throughout January I experimented with tying knots in a long bungee waist leash to shorten it and keep Piper under control. We enjoyed a few positive runs together with the knotted leash so in February I decided it was time to invest in some new equipment… namely a short bungee leash and a padded running belt for me that the leash could attach to.

My new gear arrived in mid-February. I was so excited to try it that I immediately took Piper out on a mile and a half trial run on a blustery 25° afternoon before happily proclaiming that the belt-leash-gentle-leader combo was a success. Piper was officially jogging at my side without pulling (much), and the leash attached to my waist, allowing me to use my arms to run rather than hold Piper. Perfect!

Piper had her racing debut at The Pickle Run on February 20th. I contacted the organizers in advance and they said that dogs were allowed as long as we started towards the back of the pack. Like all Pickle Runs, this was a prediction run, so I estimated that we’d finish in 24:30, significantly slower than my course-best time of 23:42, but still hopefully a respectable first 5K time for little Pipe.

013 Annie and Piper cropped

The start ended up being the hardest part of the race. Typically at a Pickle Run I position myself in the first 3-4 rows behind the start line, but Piper and I began behind at least 100 people. We spent the first half mile dodging and weaving around other participants (which is not easy to do with a prancing, snorting racehorse attached to your hip!) and finally got some breathing room near where the trail runners turned right to follow their muddy off-road course.

Piper and I stayed on the road and steadily gained ground on the runners ahead of us. At the halfway turnaround I realized that we were sitting in 5th or 6th, but at that very moment Piper seemed to lose some steam. I forgot to mention earlier that the weather was a freakishly warm 60° (in February!) so this was the hottest run that Piper had ever been on. I was very aware of that fact as she seemed to lag behind me going up a hill. Piper continued panting (and snorting, and grunting, as usual!) so we slowed down a bit for what was maybe the 1.5-2.0 mile section of the race.

Smiling for the camera mid-race

Piper knows exactly where the camera is.

With about a mile to go Piper spotted Matt standing on the side of the path taking pictures. She immediately perked up, smiled for the camera, and then took over setting the pace for the final stretch of the race. We FLEW through that last mile (I would LOVE know our split, but no watches are allowed in a Pickle Run!). Before I knew it Piper and I were zooming across the finish line. As we crossed I turned to look at the clock… we finished in under 24 minutes!!

January Pickle Run Stats_

Together Piper and I ended up 4th overall with a chip time of 23:47. That’s just 5 seconds off my course best time!!! I still can’t believe Piper and I ran that fast, especially with the tricky start and slow turnaround up the hill. WOW!

I’m really excited to see what Piper and I can do in other races this winter and spring. Next up we have the March Pickle Run on the same course as February’s Pickle. I’m thinking we should start a little closer to the front of the pack since it seemed like we caused more disruptions weaving for a half mile than we would have if we had just started with people running a similar pace. We’ll keep practicing together (just did 5 miles today!!) and hopefully we’ll have as much fun in March as we did in February!

DSC_0048 Pickle Run (2-20-16)

Links to our running gear:
Gentle Leader Dog Head Collar
Spindrift Daisy Runner Belt
Mongrel Bungee Leash Extension

Miles since last post: 115.8
Days since last post: 24
2016 MILES: 291.2

Past Races:
• 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)