When we woke up on Friday it was -4° (yes, that’s Fahrenheit). Brr!! We ate breakfast before dawn and asked the receptionist at the hotel’s front desk if he knew when Old Faithful might put on its first daytime show. Based on the last known eruption which had occurred at 6:45AM he recommended that we be ready and waiting outside between 8-8:30. So out we went!Google it and you will see gorgeous images of vivid rainbow colored water that looks like it was photoshopped by mother nature. But unfortunately this was not what we saw on Friday. In the single-digit temperatures the heat from all of the geothermal springs, vents and geysers in Midway had created a frosty, eerie world of fog, steam and ice that obscured most of the colorful attractions. This was pretty cool on its own account, even if we didn’t get to see Grand Prismatic in all its glory!
The cold front had definitely arrived by the time we woke up on Thursday. Matt and I bundled up and walked to breakfast, noting that our hotel still had its grass sprinklers on (because it’s not SUPPOSED to be 10° in mid-October!) which had created a nice sheet of ice on the sidewalk. After coffee and a hearty salsa-verde-smothered breakfast burrito at Bubba’s BBQ we were ready to tackle the day’s adventures.
We hoped those adventures would include Yellowstone National Park since we were scheduled to spend the night at Old Faithful, but as of 8AM the park roads were still closed. Luckily Grand Teton National Park is at a much lower elevation than Yellowstone so the first half of Thursday’s itinerary could proceed as planned. We drove north past Teton Village, bought an Annual Parks pass at the Grand Teton entrance station (I’ve always wanted an excuse to visit more parks!!), and continued along the dirt Wilson-Moose Road for several miles, enjoying the sight of snow-dusted Aspen trees with brilliant yellow foliage.
Soon we came to Jenny Lake. As a kid my family vacationed here and we spent a night in a cabin at Jenny Lake Lodge. I honestly don’t remember much about the night other than that my mom would always say it was the nicest hotel we had ever stayed in. (For the record, I checked to see if Matt and I could stay here but, like most of the lodges in GTNP and YNP, it had already closed for the season back in September.)
Jenny Lake itself was beautiful. We stopped at several pull outs and carefully navigated icy paths to get different views of the lake and the Teton mountains beyond. This might be a good time to mention that we used three cameras on this trip: my trusty Nikon D90 DSLR, our super wide-angle GoPro Hero4 Silver (usually manned by Matt) and my brand new iPhone 11 Pro. This trip was the first test of the iPhone’s camera and it did not disappoint. Between the great color rendition, wide angle option, smarter macro/portrait mode and “photos capture outside the frame” setting I was completely hooked on this phone after day 2.
OK, iPhone ad over. Continuing north, we next arrived at Jackson Lake and gorgeous views of (most of) the Tetons. We never did see their peaks due to the clouds but the parts we could see were pretty impressive.
Matt and I had brought lunch along in the car and around noon we stopped at a pullout along Jackson Lake to eat. Surprisingly we had maintained limited cell service through much of Grand Teton National Park and over lunch I called the Yellowstone roads hotline to see if there had been any changes in the road status. Alas, as of 12:30PM on Thursday the roads were still closed. After lunch we reluctantly headed south, back in the direction we’d come from, resolved to salvage the day by seeing more of Grand Teton before spending a second night in Jackson.
On a whim we turned down a dirt road that took us to one of the most beautiful views of the trip. After several hundred yards of bumpy driving we pulled over and had easy access to the rocky bank of the Snake River. Looking west across the crystal clear water we could see the snowy Tetons in the distance. Perfect! Just as I crouched down to take a photo my phone buzzed with a text message from Yellowstone… the roads had opened!!! We finished up at the river and headed back north, finally Yellowstone-bound.
Yellowstone’s road opening announcement came with two caveats. First, the road from Grant Village (where we’d be coming from) to Old Faithful (where we were going) was still closed as it included a high-elevation mountain pass. This meant a 79 mile detour around the Grand Loop Road to get to our final destination. Second, snow tires were required throughout the entire park. Hmm. I had spoken with a ranger the day before who told me she’d never put snow tires on her car since moving here from the east coast 7 years ago. She assured us that we’d probably be fine in our 4WD rental if we avoided the mountain passes. So basically caveat #1 cancelled out #2, right? Despite the snow tires warning we entered Yellowstone, confidently flashing our Annual Pass before proceeding north.
The higher elevation was immediately apparent. Where Grand Teton had snow-dusted yellow aspens, Yellowstone had miles and miles of snow-encrusted lodgepole pines. Except for the places where forest fires had left miles of blackened tree trunks with snow-covered new growth underneath. It was a striking difference and was just the beginning of the otherworldly landscape that is Yellowstone National Park.
Our first geothermal encounter came at West Thumb geyser basin, where we were pleasantly surprised by the huge number of colorful pools, bubbly hot springs and amazing views of Yellowstone Lake. The entire area was crisscrossed by snow-covered boardwalks that we shared with just a handful of other tourists. I guess that was one major benefit of the recent road closures!
Our 79 mile detour took us past the road to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (which was still closed due to snow), Canyon Village (where we’d spend Friday and Saturday nights), multiple geyser basins and the impressive Firehole River. It was 18° out when we drove by the river and we marveled at the fact that the water was STEAMING in the frosty air. We pulled over so Matt could dip his fingers in the water which, he reported, did not feel especially warm.
We pulled into the Old Faithful parking lot at dusk and were greeted by crowds of people walking back to their cars. Apparently we’d just missed an eruption. The parking lot and all of the sidewalks were snow and ice-covered so we carefully skidded ourselves and our suitcase into the Old Faithful Snow Lodge for the night. We’d missed seeing the famous geyser on Thursday but we still had the whole next day to explore all of the geysers and geothermal oddities in the area.
Stay tuned for day 3… STEAM! AKA all you can see when hot springs meet single-digit temps.
On Wednesday, October 9th Matt and I woke up at 4AM and drove to the Philadelphia airport. We parked in long term parking, bypassed the bus stop and power-walked to the terminal (isn’t that how normal people begin their travel days?) before being thoroughly sniffed by an official TSA German Shorthaired Pointer in security. Eight hours later we were greeted by this view as our plane landed in Jackson, Wyoming.
In August I planned a last minute vacation to Yellowstone. Our itinerary would take us from Jackson Hole through Grand Teton National Park, then onto Yellowstone with overnight stays at Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the North Entrance near Mammoth Hot Springs and a final night in Bozeman, Montana. But my meticulously planned schedule was almost derailed before it began thanks to the weather. During our layover in Denver I received several text message alerts from Yellowstone NP advising that ALL roads in the park were closing due to winter weather conditions.
I had been monitoring the weather and knew that a snow storm and unusually frigid conditions were forecasted to coincide with our arrival on Wednesday. In preparation Matt and I packed all of our winter layers and mentally braced for the cold. Our plane landed just as the cold front was moving in. It was 35 degrees out as we deplaned directly onto the tarmac. That seemed cold at the time compared to the weather we’d just come from, but 35 degrees sure felt nice later in the week after we experienced REAL cold!
The temperature steadily dropped throughout the afternoon as we wandered around Jackson. We checked out the elk antler arches in the town square, stopped at a warm bakery for super rich hot cocoa and braved the blustery wind on a trek to the Visitor Center.
Before dinner we hopped in our rental car and headed north on Route 191. (The same 191 that runs through Moab!) Seeing other cars stopped along the road we pulled over near the Gros Ventre River and snapped a few photos. Apparently we had JUST missed a female moose and calf. Darn!
As we headed back to the car Matt noticed something on the other side of the road… a bull moose!! He was at least 100 yards away and was slowly making his way through the brush towards the river. As we watched, the moose lazily crossed the river before turning away from us to continue on his evening stroll. Cool!! We had been in Wyoming for less than 12 hours and had already crossed a major animal sighting off our list.
During dinner at the Snake River Brewing Company I realized that we had been up since 2AM Jackson time. No wonder I was tired! When we got back to our hotel I checked the Yellowstone road status one more time – roads were still closed – before collapsing into bed.
Stay tuned for day 2… onto Grand Teton and (maybe???) Yellowstone!
I haven’t been blogging but I’ve been busy! Here are some of the blog-worthy events of the past 6 months:
I ran a half marathon!!!!
I raced the Hallowed Half Marathon in Cape May, NJ on October 27th. Yup, after years of saying I was satisfied focusing on speeding up my 5K time, I finally did a 13.1 mile race. I had a fantastic time training last fall and learned that I love long runs. (Long runs being 9-11 miles. None of those crazy marathon-training runs for me, thankyouverymuch!) The weather on the day of the race was less than ideal (the Nor’Easter’s 50+ mph wind gusts caused another half in Wilmington, DE to be cancelled!) and I know I can run faster in different conditions. I am confident there will be another half marathon sometime in my future.
Matt and I adventured in Las Vegas!
But actually the areas OUTSIDE of Sin City were the best part. We bookended our annual work trip with weekend sightseeing in the Valley of Fire, Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon. This trip definitely warrants its own post, so I’ll stop writing about it here.
We’ve been eating so much good food.
Just before Thanksgiving we ran out of propane, which meant no stovetop cooking. For some reason it took 2+ weeks to get a refill, so we resorted to lots of slowcooker-ing and microwave-ing during that time. When the miracle of boiling water finally returned to our home Matt and I rebounded by making a different pasta dish every night for a whole week. All recipes we’d never made before, like Rigatoni with Short Rib Ragu, Orecchiette with Escarole and White Beans, Penne with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe, and Rotini with Brussel Sprouts, Bacon and Peas. Yes.
We’ve also made a slew of blog-worthy pizzas and other foods. I always make a point of taking a photo but have apparently lost the urge to type out the recipes here. Which is too bad, because I love referring to my blogged recipes when it’s time to brainstorm for our weekly meals!
All the trails, all the mud.
On New Year’s Day I ran down my driveway in my trail shoes. Matt picked me up 9 miles away, muddy and happy. I was thrilled… I always knew there was a way to connect into Ridley Creek State Park from near my neighborhood but I’d never done it before. I realized that if I took a more efficient route on my next run I could make it even further. That evening I consulted multiple maps and plotted out the following route:
Enter from RCSP Yellow Trail. Right on RED/WHITE (BLUE) Ignore Blue Stay RED when White splits to Right. Left on WHITE Cross Road, Left on PINK, Right at Split Follow Pink to White merge, Right on WHITE Continue to Rocky Run SHORT VERSION: Downhill RED/WHITE RED Left- WHITE Road- PINK Right at Pink Loop Split Left- PINK/WHITE Right- WHITE
It all made sense to me at the time, don’t worry! On January 6th I set out on an epic trail run (titled ALL THE TRAILS on Strava if anyone cares) that took me from my house through Ridley Creek State Park, Tyler Arboretum, and the Rocky Run and Darlington Trails of Middletown Township, Delaware County. I crossed streams, squished through ankle deep mud, scrambled up hills, and finally emerged at a trailhead on Darlington Road 10.2 miles later. I loved every mile!
So once again, I’m hooked on trail running! I solidified this by running (and going off course) the Pickle Trail Run as a warm up to February 24th’s 13K Ugly Mudder trail race in Reading, PA. The Ugly Mudder was muddy, snowy, and wet and involved going up and down a mountain multiple times. It was better than that last sentence makes it sound. 😜 Just typing this brief recap of my trail exploits makes me want to plot out my next off-road adventure.
Lots of races, no recaps!
I’ve run fourteen (fourteen!) races since last recapping one on this blog. Check out the list and links to results on my race recaps page. Most memorable, besides the half and Ugly Mudder, were my first-ever race in Florida on 11/3 and a new year’s resolution run at a local brewery with Matt on 12/30. (I won a growler of fresh, delicious Levante IPA. Happy New Year to me!) I also ran a 5K with Piper this morning. We bettered our January time from the same course by 6 seconds. Best moment was when a guy came up to us afterwards and, in the most friendly way possible, exclaimed “What kind of SPANIEL is that??!” A perfect little german shorthaired spanielpointer, of course. 😄
Well, besides getting my act together to blog about our fabulous Vegas adventures, I’ve got the 10-mile Broad Street Run coming up on May 5th. Piper and I have a Nosework “level 2” (NW2) trial on April 6th that we’re practicing hard for (and praying we make it off the wait list for!), and I’m looking forward to visiting my mom and Piper’s best buddy, Hershey the Chocolate Lab, in Florida later this month. And right this moment I’m going to hit “publish” and then make Shrimp and Grits for dinner with Matt. Cheers!
11 miles were on my to-do list this weekend. For me, that wouldn’t usually go hand-in-hand with a 5K, but it was forecasted to be 66°F on Saturday morning. After a hot and humid summer I couldn’t let that lovely weather go to waste, so on Thursday I started toying with the idea of running 7.5 miles to get to a local 5K. That way I could get in my long run and my race. I talked it over with Matt and the idea grew on me as I described what route I would take and which race I would run. Maybe I could do this!
When I went to bed last night I still hadn’t registered for the race, but my mind was made up. Then, this morning I woke up at 6AM to the sound of rain hitting the windows. I checked the radar and there was a huge blob of green and yellow rain over the entire Philadelphia area. Hmm.
As if running for an hour to get to a 5K wasn’t going to be challenge enough, I decided that I was going to do it in the pouring rain. I signed up for the race at 7:22 and headed out the door a few minutes later with a running backpack stuffed with 1.5 liters of water, two energy gels, and a dry set of clothes wrapped in a grocery bag. Paoli or bust!!
Paoli Race for Refugees 5K
September 8, 2018 | Paoli, PA | 8th overall, 1st F (results)
My rain-soaked seven and a half mile warm up took my through the rolling hills of Willistown Township. Along the way I saw a caravan of police cars headed towards the race for traffic control. As I got closer I passed the race’s 2 mile sign (at the top of a wicked little uphill section of Grubb Road that always kicks my butt) and passed a group of raincoat-clad volunteers setting up a water station. At 8:45 I trotted into the Paoli Presbyterian Church parking lot. As water dripped off my hat, shirt, and elbows, I happily picked up my bib, changed my socks, stashed my bag, and lined up at the start.
This was a no pressure race for me and it was fantastic. I started farther back in the crowd than usual and I think I smiled ear to ear throughout most of the first mile as an upbeat song pumped through my headphones and positive thoughts rolled through my brain. “I ran TO a 5K! I am so much lighter without my hydration pack on! It is cool out!” Mile 1 beeped by in 8:16.
Mile 2 felt even better. I enjoyed the beautiful scenery as the course followed Valley Road past a historic schoolhouse, along an old stone wall, and around a huge grassy field. Then I tackled the Grubb Road hill and felt much faster going up it during the race than I had during my warm up. Mile 2 was over in a surprising 7:57.
The water station came into view next. I thanked the kids who were holding out cups but didn’t need anything to drink. I was almost done! Right around this time I realized that I had reached 10 miles. That’s the longest I’ve ever run and I still had nearly a mile to go. I was now in uncharted territory!!!
I turned my attention to a woman in a white shirt ahead of me. I had slowly gained on her since summiting the hill and I wondered if I could catch her. I kept getting closer and eventually pulled even to her as we pounded down Valley Road with less than a half mile to go. We exchanged a “good job!” and I made my move past her, hoping I had enough energy left in my legs to hold on.
And I did!! I zoomed past the police car at Waynesborough Road, turned into the church parking lot, and crossed the finish line as the clock hit 24:10. Woohoo!
Matt arrived just in time to take a photo of my finish and he hung out with me as we waited for awards. This was the only part of the day that did not go quite as planned. I loaded what I thought were preliminary results on my phone before the ceremony began and was concerned to see that my name was not shown. Furthermore, the runner listed as the first place female had a time of 25:17. I soon found out she was the woman in the white shirt. Although I wasn’t listed in the results, I figured that since I beat the woman in the white shirt I might have actually finished first place female overall, which was (thrilling!) news to me. Yay!
I ate popcorn and waited for the official awards, figuring that the timing company would have the rest of the runners added by then. But nope, the incomplete online results were the exact results that were read aloud. White shirt had already left for the day, so the female overall prize envelope went unclaimed as the announcer worked his way through the age group awards. It quickly became clear that my result was not the only one missing, and by the end of the ceremony a small crowd of soggy runners had formed around the awards table.
Fortunately the race timers had a handwritten record of the top finishers and they confirmed that I was indeed 1st place female and 8th overall! I thankfully accepted the prize envelope (which contained $75!!!!!), then gratefully crawled into the towel-lined passenger seat of our car for the ride home. After 11.2 miles I was tired, wet, and so, SO happy that I went outside of my comfort zone and added a 5K to my run this morning.
Local runners! If you’re looking for an early September 5K next year, I definitely recommend the Paoli Race for Refugees. The course was beautiful, the volunteers were friendly, the DJ was energizing, and the after-race party had food, music and tons of activities for kids. I will plan to return in 2019, but maybe with a slightly shorter warm up. 😊
Miles since last post: 31.4
Days since last post: 7
2018 MILES: 957.4
I am going to jump right into this post and pretend that I haven’t been MIA for 4 months…
There’s a white board hanging next to my treadmill filled with random notes and doodles about past races, workouts and goals. At the beginning of the summer I added “Hot 5K” to my Summer 2018 to-do list. (I prefer to avoid running in the heat at all costs so yes, this is an actual goal for me!) Last week I realized that this task remained un-checked so I found a local race to run at the end of August. And just my luck: the race fell on day 4 of (what has got to be) our last heatwave of the summer. A “feels like” temp of 87° at 6:30PM certainly met the white board’s threshold for a hot 5K!
5K Trail Run for Thorncroft
August 30, 2018 | Malvern, PA | 11th overall, 2nd F (results)
Thorncroft is a local nonprofit that specializes in therapeutic horseback riding for children and adults with mental, emotional and physical disabilities. The farm is 4.3 miles from my house (I run by it occasionally) and the inaugural 5K Trail Run raised funds for the care of the 30+ horses and ponies who call Thorncroft home. The race was sponsored by local businesses including Chester County Running Store and Stable 12 Brewery, AND runners would be treated to a free beer at the finish. (So, in other words, I didn’t need much convincing to run this race!)
It was hot at the start. So hot that I wasn’t putting any pressure on myself to run particularly fast. I just wanted to complete a hot 5K and have fun doing so. I wore my trusty Arches Ultra hat and was thrilled to meet a woman who will be running an actual ultra in Moab next February at the start line. Small world! Before we could compare notes the race began and I was off, eager to run around Thorncroft’s 70 acre farm.
The first mile was mixed gravel and grass with a tiny, leap-able stream crossing. I didn’t feel as hot as I thought I would and was shocked to see a first split of 7:42. (Now that I see the elevation chart, I am less shocked.) The second mile felt harder, with lots of trudging around the perimeters of horse pastures in semi-rough grass.
Mile 3 had more of the same field terrain and I was just starting to get sick of it when the course turned back towards the finish. As I paralleled Line Road I took a peek behind me and realized that there were no other runners in sight. Normally I wouldn’t let this affect my race, but by that point I was pretty hot and it was nice to be able to ease up slightly and not feel like I needed to race someone to the finish. I cruised back into Thorncroft’s driveway and passed under the finish banner in 24:41. Hot 5K complete!
The post-race set up was fantastic. Finishing runners were funneled through the Thorncroft barn, where bottles of water waited in a wheelbarrow-turned-ice chest next to a pile of bananas and a box of pretzels. The horses and ponies happily watched the hot and sweaty runners walk down the barn aisle and some even stuck their whiskery noses through the stall bars to say hello. At the far end of the barn there was live music and, of course, the beer tent!
I checked the results online and saw that I had apparently placed 3rd female overall. Cool! I stuck around, watching the ponies and chatting with other runners (including the runner headed to Moab next February) as the sun set and the weather cooled off a bit. Finally it was time for awards and it turns out I placed SECOND overall, not third. Woohoo!
As I went up to accept my red second place horse ribbon the organizer said “The first place runner didn’t want her beer. Are you over 21? Do you want it?” Why yes, and YES! Before I knew it, a frosty 4-pack of Sugar-Coated Pony Kisses IPA was being thrust into my arms along with a $50 (!) gift card to Chester County Running Store, a horseshoe and a red ribbon. Sweet!!
The Thorncroft 5K was wonderfully organized for an inaugural event. A well-marked course, live music, food trucks, beer, horses, trails, chip timing… someone certainly knew how to make sure runners had a good time! I will definitely plan to return next year.
I can’t end this post without giving a quick shout out to my assistant, Piper, who is lounging on the couch next to me as I type this. She fell asleep a few paragraphs ago and is moving her paws while she dreams about something exciting. Ah, the life of a little GSP!
Miles since last post: 454.4
Days since last post: 119 (!)
2018 MILES: 926
I did it!! This morning I ran 10 miles down Broad Street, set a new personal best and hit my “A” goal of sub-80 minutes. Hurray!
2018 Blue Cross Broad Street Run
May 6, 2018 | Philadelphia, PA | 4220th overall, 1069th F (results)
My day began at 4AM. I had been in a deep sleep and was startled when my alarm went off, but as soon as I remembered why, I popped out of bed and started my pre-race routine. Today that consisted of coffee, oatmeal, a banana, Piper time (she waited for the birds to wake up around 5AM before she wanted to go out), and dynamic stretches to this YouTube video.
I woke Matt at 5:50 and by 6:20 we were on the road, headed to north Philly and the starting line. Any Broad Street veteran will tell you that runners typically park near the finish and cram, sardine-style, onto the subway for a 10 mile ride north, but I have been lucky that Matt drives in to spectate and doesn’t mind dropping me off at the start. Saves me tons of time in the morning!!
40,000 people run this race and the organizers do a great job of getting everyone separated by pace in multiple starting corrals. I made it to the orange corral by 7:35 and waited patiently in the crowd for the start. First the wheelchair racers were off, then the elites, red, and purple corrals followed. At last it was my turn! I crossed under the starting banner at 8:16 and the race was on.
Going into this race, my primary goal was to beat my personal best of 1:21:28 (8:08 pace) from last year’s Broad Street Run. I was pretty confident that I could do that, so my real, “A” goal was to finish in under 1:20 (sub-8 pace). With that sub-8:00/mile goal in mind, I had decided that I would run the first 5 miles at 7:55 pace and then see what I had left for the second half of the race.
Mile 1 went perfectly. I relaxed, tried not to weave around other people too much, and broke into a huge smile when my watched beeped 7:55. Exactly on pace!! Miles 2, 3 and 4 went by uneventfully at or just under my time goal.
In mile 5 the course weaves around the right side of City Hall and the crowd support is overwhelmingly awesome. Signs, cowbells, news cameras, dogs, kids, open fire hydrants spraying water… so much going on! I finished this mile in 7:50 and felt good, but at the same time it was daunting to know that I was only halfway done.
At mile 6 I saw Matt and his family (thanks for coming out!!!) and got a little boost, finishing this mile in 7:52. Still right where I wanted to be.
Last year the wheels came off in mile 7. I slowed to 8:23, then finished the last miles in 8:14, 8:25, and 8:41. Ouch. That was not the plan this year and I powered through the seventh mile in 7:55. Yes! It felt much harder to maintain my pace in mile 8, but the moment I saw my watch beep 7:59 I knew that a PR was pretty much a given. Sub-80 was also looking good… I had 17 minutes left to run two more miles. Could I do it??
And the answer is YES!!! I slipped to 8:06 pace for mile 9, but at that point I had just one mile left to go. I was exhausted, but one mile seemed so short compared to what I had just run. I pushed on, searching over the shoulders of runners in front of me for a glimpse of the Navy Yard gates and the “quarter mile to go!” sign.
I entered the Navy Yard with renewed energy, ready to sprint into the finish… but then suddenly a quarter mile seemed SO LONG. My kick forgotten, I focused all of my efforts on simply moving forward and started thinking about how fabulous it would feel to be able to stop when I was done. I’m pretty sure that my finish ended up looking fairly unimpressive, but it doesn’t matter because I finished in 1:19:18!!!!
I am so proud of those last 4 miles. (Yes, even you, mile 9.) In 2017 I completely died during that portion of the race but this morning I was able to execute my 7:55 game plan and it carried me through all the way to the Navy Yard. I am tired, my legs are sore, and I have a blister on my big toe, but this afternoon I am one happy runner. Hurray!!
Miles since last post: 10.4
Days since last post: 1
2018 MILES: 482
In 11 hours I’ll be racing down Broad Street in Philadelphia! But first, here’s a recap of my personal record-breaking 5K from 2 weeks ago. (What better way to get psyched up for tomorrow’s race than to write about a PR, right?!)
Cape May Earth Day 5K
April 21, 2018 | Cape May Court House, NJ | 11th overall, 2nd F (results)
Cape May, New Jersey is quickly becoming one of my favorite getaway spots. Matt and I spent a week in Cape May last summer with his family and we headed there again last month for my cousin’s wedding. We arrived on an unseasonably cold and windy Friday evening and discovered that the quaint Victorian town is MUCH quieter in the off season than it was in July!
I woke up at 6AM on Saturday, ready to race. My sole early-morning breakfast option was the coffee shop in the iconic Congress Hall hotel. I was the first customer of the day and I enjoyed my coffee in solitude. I left through the doors facing the beach and was treated to a private view of Congress Hall’s sweeping lawn and the ocean beyond. What a perfect way to start the day!
The 5K was at the Cape May Zoo, a 20 minute drive north of town. As I lined up at the start I heard the woman in front of me chatting about how she typically runs sub-21. I made a mental note NOT to try to keep up with her in the first mile and moments later we were off, zooming around the wonderfully flat grounds of the park surrounding the zoo.
I really wanted to PR this race and when I saw my first mile split of 7:11 I knew I was right on track. Then mile 2 began and it felt a LOT harder to keep up that pace. There were only one or two runners around me (sub-21 woman had disappeared ahead early on) so I tried to focus on my cadence and my arms. I was a little worried when I saw my second mile split of 7:21.
Luckily I had more energy left than I realized. I pushed hard in the third mile but wasn’t sure exactly how my time would stack up with my old PR of 22:03 until the finish line clock came into view. 21:38, 39, 40, 41… I ran as hard as I could and pounded through the finish with a new personal best of 21:52!!!!
After the race Matt and I explored the zoo, which was pretty nice considering that there’s no admission fee. The black bear reminded me of Piper’s chocolate lab buddy, Hershey, and we saw a red panda, wallabies snacking on kale, a very handsome lion, and a sociable cow. (Visitors were allowed to reach over the fence and pet her, much to her delight.)
After the zoo we returned to Cape May to stroll around town (and hit up the peanut butter shop, naturally) before getting cleaned up for the wedding. The ceremony was on the beach (my first-ever beach wedding!!) and Matt and I had a great time at the reception back at our hotel. Congrats Kevin and Connor!
I had to squeeze in one more flat run before we left for home. While walking on the beach on Friday evening I realized that I really wanted to try running ON the beach, so I did just that on Sunday morning. I had the entire beach to myself as I ran along the very edge of the Atlantic Ocean to Cape May Point. Matt met me there for breakfast and then we headed home, back to reality, hilly running routes, and Piper.
Cape May did not disappoint. My sub-22 5K PR was just one of many high points of the weekend, and even now I sometimes forget it happened. But it’s real… I actually ran 3.1 miles in 21:52!! I’m glad I don’t have to attempt to better that anytime soon. I’ll settle for trying to chase down my 10 mile PR on Broad Street tomorrow morning instead. 😄
Miles since last post: 64.1
Days since last post: 20
2018 MILES: 471.6
You’re supposed to plan ahead for Philadelphia’s 10 mile Broad Street Run. You’re supposed to enter a lottery in February, pray that you’re one of the lucky 40,000 runners to make it in, and, if you make it, you’re supposed to train for the May 6th race day all spring.
But I didn’t do that. Thinking that the “every other year” plan* was the way to go, I did not sign up for the lottery in February and I missed out on the fun of lottery result day. Much to my chagrin, on that day I learned that multiple friends were doing Broad Street and FOMO immediately set it. (That’s fear of missing out, Mom!) 😄
Despite not being in the race, I did train all spring with several 8-9 mile runs and regular speed workouts. And then this weekend I wrote a blog post recapping 4 strong races that I’ve had over the past 2 months and came to the realization that yeah, I really did want to race 10 miles down Broad Street in 3 weeks.
Lucky for me, today was the last day to go through the race’s official bib transfer process. It took about 7 hours of diligent facebook and bib transfer bulletin board watching, but as of 8:48PM tonight I’M IN!!!
Broad Street, here I come!
OK, I’m actually covering a fourth race in this recap as well, but Two Pickles, a 10K and Another 5K just wasn’t as catchy.
The Pickle Run [5K Prediction]
February 17, 2018 | Media, PA | 2nd overall, 1st F (results)
Piper and I participated in the second of three “Pickle Runs” in mid-February on a chilly Saturday afternoon. Like all Pickle Runs, this was a prediction run. You state your time in advance, run without a watch, and the finishers closest to their predicted times win ridiculous gag prizes. I predicted 22:39 before the race and, amazingly, Piper and I finished just 2 seconds slower than that! We probably spent those 2 seconds veering off the road to collect a “pickle” (a cucumber with pipe cleaner arms and googly eyes) that was nestled at the edge of the woods.
Piper has run the Pickle course at Ridley Creek State Park multiple times now and she gets better every time. Since I have to run without a watch, I like to use Piper’s gait as a pace indicator. She spends most of the 5K in a rapid trot with her mouth barely open, but towards the end of the race I know that we’re really running fast if she breaks into a canter. I love running with my Piper. 💛
Chester County Winter Series 10K
March 4, 2018 | West Chester, PA | 10th overall, 4th F, 63.4% age percentage (results)
Still on a high after the Arches 9K in Utah, I set my sights on a 10K in early March. I ran a 10K on this course in March 2016 and was eager to better my previous time of 46:58. The conditions were not perfectly ideal at 37° with gusty winds, but I was still confident about my PR chances, right up until the moment we lined up for the start.
In 2016 the start and finish lines were the same, but this year the starter explained that the course had been remeasured and certified, so we’d need to start farther back to reach the official distance. Fair enough. The combined field of 5K and 10K runners moved back to a marked start line. But then, the starter announced that the 10K runners would need to start even farther back. He pointed out a shed at the end of a parking lot in the distance where we needed to go for the start. Boo. Check out the map below… see how far back we were from the finish line?
Once the race started it took me 1 minute and 39 seconds to reach the “old” start line from my previous PR. The chance for a new PR pretty much gone, I pushed ahead, just trying to better my paces from 2016’s race. In that race my splits had been 7:45, 7:37, 7:39, 7:41, 7:48, 7:47, and 6:16 for the final .2. This time around I tried to be careful not to start too fast, but still put down a comfortable 7:30. Then I proceeded to completely shock myself by keeping my pace under 7:36 FOR THE NEXT FIVE MILES!!
My Garmin was consistently off the entire race, telling me that I went through the 10K in 46:22 (which would have been a 36 second PR!) and reporting that the full course was 6.44 miles long. I know, I know… it’s a certified course so my watch was just plain wrong, but it still felt really good to see that average pace of 7:27 for a 6.44 mile race. 😀
My official 10K time of 47:59 was 1:01 slower than my 2016 time, but, considering that I had a 1:39 head start in 2016, I’m still counting this race as a new PR.
Another Pickle Run [5K Prediction]
March 17, 2018 | Media, PA | 2nd overall, 1st F (results)
Another winter month, another Pickle Run with Piper! This was almost a carbon copy of February’s race. Early on in the race Piper and I moved into 3rd place and soon found a pickle on the side of the road. We then hunted down the 2nd place guy ahead of us and passed him with a mile to go. Piper broke into a canter soon thereafter and we zoomed to the finish with our game faces on. (Check out Piper’s face in the first photo above… SO serious!!) 😄
The finish time was a little weird with this race. When Piper and I crossed the finish the clock said 22:41 (and it was a chipped race, so our official time should have been a few seconds faster than that), but when the results were posted online my time was recorded as 23:01. (???) Since I didn’t have a watch on I’ll never know how we really did, but I’m using the finish line clock time of 22:41 as our official time for my records. Piper didn’t care about the time; she just wanted to post-race popcorn!
Book It 5K
April 7, 2018 | Wallingford to Swarthmore, PA | 13th overall, 3rd F (results)
I ran this race last year on the same weekend, same course, and in similar conditions, so this was a fun chance to gauge my 2018 5K fitness. This is a point-to-point race and, like last year, I parked at the finish line in Swarthmore and ran a 2 mile warm up to the start line in Wallingford. Last year I finished in 23:19 with mile splits of 7:26, 7:57, 7:34. This year my slowest mile was 7:25 and I improved my finish time by 52 seconds!!
So what’s next on my race calendar? Well, Matt and I will be in Cape May, NJ for a wedding next weekend and I think we’re going to sign up for the Cape May Earth Day 5K on Saturday morning. That’s pretty much guaranteed to be FLAT so it could be a good chance for a potential PR! Training has been going great this year so anything is possible…
Miles since last post: 231.2
Days since last post: 56
2018 MILES: 407.5