I DID IT! Two PR’s in one weekend! {Recap of Jingle Elf & Brian’s Run}

Last weekend I ran two races: a festive 2 miler on Friday night and a hilly 5 miler on Sunday. I think this was my best weekend of racing ever. I went into the weekend hoping for PRs in both races and ended the weekend with times that exceeded even my most ambitious goals. What a great feeling!!

At the Jingle Elf Run, participants receive an elf hat instead of a t-shirt. Naturally, I made Piper wear mine in exchange for some really good treats.

Jingle Elf Run [2 mile]

December 1, 2017 | West Chester, PA | 29th overall, 2nd F!! 67.7% age percentage (results)

On Friday night I braved the parade traffic and made my way into nearby West Chester for the Jingle Elf Run, a fun little race that goes off just before the massive West Chester Christmas parade. The course makes two loops through downtown on the mile-long parade route, which is lined with enthusiastic spectators happily awaiting the parade’s floats, marching bands, and Santa’s arrival.

My previous best 2 mile time of 14:28 was from 2015, when I sprinted the first mile in 7:02 and faded to the finish with a 7:26 second mile split. This year I was determined to run a more evenly paced race and set a goal time of 14:20. I spent a lot of time thinking about my race strategy beforehand, and I had decided that I would set my Garmin to auto-split at each 1/2 mile increment. I wanted to run the first two halves in 3:35 (7:10 pace) and then see if I could go faster in mile 2.

The race began promptly at 6:30PM. I felt like I was jogging through the first split but I was reassured when my watch beeped 3:33. Close enough! Before I knew it I hit the mile mark and a 3:30 split. So I had just run the first mile in 7:03… nearly identical to 2015. But unlike in previous efforts, I still felt fresh and ready to start pushing the pace for the second lap.

When my watch beeped a third split of 3:33 I knew I had met my goal. I remember smiling a huge smile in the middle of Gay Street as I ran past little kids, policemen, and locals ringing cow bells. I was going to PR!!! With a half mile to go I lost all sense of pacing and just RAN. I zoomed down Matlack Street and took the final turn onto Market and its long, gradual uphill to the brilliantly lit finish line. In seconds I was crossing the finish with a new PR of 14:04… 16 seconds faster than my goal and 24 seconds better than my previous 2 mile PR!!! That last half mile split? 3:24.7!

I ran a cool down with my friend Chris, then we both ran back to the local running store to check out the official results. One of the guys in the store greeted me and said, “You got second place, right? Great job!” to which I replied, matter of factly, “Oh no, not me. But I PR’d so I’m happy!!” But then 30 seconds later the results loaded on my phone and ohmygod I WAS the second woman to cross the finish!! Placing in this race was totally not on my radar. Before I knew it a white envelope marked 2nd Female had appeared in my hand and I thanked everyone in the store profusely before running the half mile back to my car with the sealed envelope clenched in my fist.

From the quiet of my Subaru’s driver’s seat I opened the envelope and was delighted to find a $75 cash prize. What an unexpected surprise! But I’m still happiest about my 24 second PR. 😄

Brian’s Run [5 mile]

December 3, 2017 | West Chester, PA | 89th overall, 7th AG, 64.8% age percentage (results)

Sunday afternoon I was once again chasing down an old PR from 2015, this time over a hilly 5 mile course in the northeast part of West Chester borough. This was my fourth year running Brian’s Run and my goal was less specific than my detailed breakdown of Friday’s race. At Brian’s Run, all I wanted to do was to beat my 2015 time of 38:28. I re-read my recap of the 2015 race several times before Sunday. I am still very proud of that race and knew that it was not going to be easy to to beat 38:28. Nevertheless, my 2 mile PR gave me confidence and I went into Sunday feeling cautiously optimistic.

Mile 1 – 2015 Split: 7:25
You can’t win a race in the first mile, but you can ensure that the rest of the race will be miserable by going out too fast. I repeated this to myself during mile one and checked my watch multiple times to stay on my goal pace. I finished this mile right on target in 7:27.

Mile 2 – 2015 Split: 7:29
Here the trick was to keep up the pace without pushing too hard. I stayed steady for the first part of this split but about a mile and a half into the race the course had some nice downhills. I figured I had already met my goal of not going out too fast by that point and I allowed my legs to pick up speed and momentum as I zoomed downhill. Mile 2 was over in 7:20.

Mile 3 – 2015 Split: 8:03
Here’s where the course gets challenging. I entered the aptly named “North Hills” neighborhood and hit a series of rolling hills that felt mostly uphill. In three years of running this race I have never finished miles 3 or 4 in under eight minute pace. That all changed on Sunday when my watch surprised me with a third mile split of 7:41. This was faster than I thought I had been going gave me a little boost during the race.

Mile 4 – 2015 Split: 8:13
Always my slowest split of Brian’s Run, the 4th mile includes a never-ending climb back up to the main part of town. Just as this mile was getting going I checked my watch at the 5K split… 23:11! Not bad but I still had hills ahead of me. I focused on using my arms and visualized how happy I’d be when the race was over and I had PR’d. I was thankful and once again pleasantly surprised when this split beeped by in 7:53.

Mile 5 – 2015 Split: 7:18
As I entered the fifth and final mile of Brian’s Run, I ran past a group of my fellow West Chester Running Club-mates who were standing at the top of the Matlack hill, cheering loudly. I heard “Go, Annie!!” and I gave a weak little wave before setting my sights on the slight downhill ahead of me. I had a PR to beat and a stadium to get to, preferably in under 7:18.

I pounded down Chestnut Street and entered the Henderson High School track, determined to beat my PR by as much as possible. I ran the final quarter mile around the track on overdrive with every part of my mind and body focused on GO-GO-GO!! With 100 meters left a woman behind me started to make a move to try to pass me. That was all the encouragement I needed and I somehow found the energy to hold her off and sprint to the finish.

I ran my last mile of Brian’s Run in a shocking 7:04 (!!) and I crossed the finish line in 37:24. Not only is that a new 5 mile PR, it’s MORE THAN A MINUTE faster than my old personal best!!!

All smiles at the finish line.

I still can’t believe I ran that fast. In fact, if someone told me beforehand that I would need to average a 7:29 pace on Sunday, I probably would have been a nervous wreck and I definitely would have gone out too fast in the first mile! It was much better to be surprised in miles 3 and 4 with those fast splits and then have a little energy left to finish strong.

A few West Chester Running Club members at Brian’s Run

I smiled the whole drive home and kept spontaneously breaking out in a huge grin at random intervals throughout the remainder of Sunday evening. Two PR’s in one weekend… I DID IT!!!! 😄

Miles since last post: 3
Days since last post: 1
2017 MILES: 1238.6
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Jingle Elf 2 Miler

Guess what? I ran TWO races this weekend.  I’m home from the second race (Brian’s Run 5 Mile) and enjoying a well-deserved chocolate covered marshmallow Santa as I type.  I’m SO EXCITED to tell you about how Brian’s Run went but I like to keep things in chronological order so I’ll start by recapping the weekend’s first race.

On Friday night I ran the Jingle Elf Run for the second year in a row.  This 2 mile race kicks off the enormous West Chester Christmas parade which means that the runners are treated to amazing crowd support from the hundreds of families waiting for Santa along the parade route.  It also means that parking in town is insane, but I learned that lesson last year and this year opted to park at my brother’s house and jog into town as my warm up.

Last year I set my (automatic) 2 mile PR at this race with a finish time of 14:33.  This year I was hoping to better that time and I got my wish!!  I started off fast and before I knew it I had completed the first loop around town with a 1 mile split of 7:02.  (Which actually wasn’t quite as speedy as last year’s blazing 6:52… proof that I am making incremental progress in my quest to not start out too fast!!)

Crossing the finish line -- look at the huge parade crowd!

Crossing the finish line — look at the huge parade crowd!

I continued into the second lap, hoping I would be able maintain enough speed to beat last year’s time.  I felt much slower as I entered the long stretch down Gay Street so I tried to focus on the crowd and use their energy as motivation.  I high-fived a few kids and was so relieved when the gentle downhill turn onto Matlack Street finally came into view.  I zoomed down the hill, turned into Market Street, and pushed hard towards the homestretch.  I crossed the finish mats in 14:28… a 5 second PR!!

Jingle Elf Stats_

I ended up 34th overall, 11th female and 3rd in my age group. Not bad! I loved this little race and will definitely plan to do it again next year.  The crowd support is great, it’s an unusual, fun distance, AND it’s a great way to “warm up” for Brian’s Run on Sunday.  More on that race in the next post…

Miles since last post: 15.1
Days since last post: 3
2015 MILES: 1607.1

Past Races:
• 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)

Jingle Elf Run (Automatic 2 Mile PR!)

On Friday night I ran the Jingle Elf Run in West Chester, PA.  The 2 mile race circled through downtown West Chester and kicked off the borough’s GIGANTIC Christmas parade.  I had no idea how big the parade and surrounding festivities were going to be beforehand but let me tell you, West Chester takes the holidays seriously!

After driving around for 25 minutes trying to find parking (and finally ending up on the 6th floor of a parking garage because the first 5 were completely full already!) Matt, Piper and I finally arrived at Chester County Running Store to pick up my bib.  Despite a steady drizzle West Chester’s Market Street was already packed with spectators at 6:15 (the parade didn’t start until 7:30!) and there were TV lights and stages and barricades everywhere.  It was a very exciting atmosphere for a race!

Piper and Annie after Jingle Elf

Promptly at 6:30 the race began and 181 runners (many dressed as elves) surged up Market Street towards the TV lights.  The race course was 2 laps around a nice, easy-to-remember rectangular route that was relatively flat and wide with nice turns and fantastic crowd support.  We ran west on Market, turned north on New for a block, then came east on Gay Street, West Chester’s main restaurant and shopping area, before a quick turn south on Matlack which brought us back to the bright lights of Market.

I had never run a 2 mile race before Friday so I knew that whatever I ran was going to be an automatic personal best.  My goal was to beat my 5K PR pace of 7:36 but I also really wanted to break 15 minutes.  I went out FAST, knowing that I only had to maintain my speed for 2 miles instead of the usual 3.1.  I was wrapped up in the crowd and festivities during the first mile and didn’t notice how fast I was going until my Garmin beeped my first mile split… 6:51.8 !!!!!  Yep, pretty darn fast.  I was going through the TV lights when I saw that so if anyone took a picture of me I’m sure they couldn’t miss the big grin on my face when I saw that split.  😀

Of course after my blazing fast first mile I still had another to go.  I really tried to stay strong for that final mile but let me tell you… Gay Street seemed much longer the second time around!!  With about 1/4 mile to go I saw Matt and Piper cheering me on from the sidewalk and I picked up my pace to the finish (I tried, at least).  My garmin chirped a 2nd mile split of 7:24 shortly before I crossed the finish line with an official time of 14:33.  Yes!!!

Jingle Elf Stats

If someone had told me that I needed to run 2 miles with a 7:08 average pace I probably would have been a nervous wreck before the race.  But just going out there and doing it felt great!!!  I ended up 34th overall, 11th woman and 3rd in my age group.  Also I got to hold a snuggly, sleepy Piper on my lap on the drive home so I definitely went home a winner.  🙂

My next race starts in 2 hours… it’s the 5 mile Brian’s Run, also in West Chester.  I think my legs have recovered from Friday and I’m hunting for another PR… wish me luck!

Miles since last post:  36.3
Days since last post:  8
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.87
2014 TOTAL MILES: 1656.3

Related Posts:
•  Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27/14)
•  Metal Run 5K (11/8/14)
•  Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1/14)  [New PR!]
•  Bark in the Park 5K (10/25/14)
•  Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18/14)
•  Martin’s Run 5K (10/5/14)
•  Haverford Township Day 5K (9/27/14)
•  Run A Muck 5K-ish Trail Race (9/20/14)
•  Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13/14)
•  Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28/14) [PR]
•  Radnor Red Steeplechase 5K (8/17/14)
•  Riddlewood Swim Club 5K (8/3/14)
•  Swarthmore Lions Independence Eve 8K (7/18/14)
•  Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10/14)
•  Media 5 Miler (6/20/14)
•  Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1/14)
•  Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30/14)
•  Run for Victory 5K (5/18/14) [PR]
•  Elwyn 5K (5/3/14)
•  St. Tim’s 5K (4/26/14)
•  Rick’s Run 5K (4/19/14)
•  Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/14)
•  Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4/14)
•  New Year’s Eve 5K at the YMCA (12/31/13) [PR]
•  Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14/13)
•  Turkey Trot 5K (11/28/13)
•  Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2/13)
•  Oy Vey 5K (10/27/13) [PR]
•  Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19/13)
•  Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21/13)
•  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)