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 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.
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
• 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)