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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A freak neck injury and the Media 5 Miler

On weekdays I set two alarms. The first acts as a warning that morning is approaching and gives me a chance to savor my final moments in bed. Then, five minutes later, the “real” alarm goes off and Matt, Piper and I begin our day.

Last Thursday morning started out like any other day. At 6:11 I silenced the first alarm and blissfully snoozed for a few more minutes. Then at 6:16 I jerked awake in surprise and whipped my head to the right to reach the off button. As soon as I rotated my head back to center I felt a shooting pain and knew something was wrong with my neck. The very act of lifting my head off the pillow was excruciating and I was unable to turn my head to the right. Uh oh!

I gingerly lifted my head out of bed and somehow got ready for work. It’s a good thing Matt and I work together because there’s no way I could have safely driven a car in this condition. Every bump and dip in the road was a nerve-wracking jolt and I spent our short commute focusing on keeping my gaze facing forward and slightly to the left to avoid the acute pain on my right side.

With slow stretching, ibuprofen, and ice my range of motion incrementally increased throughout the day. I was worried about my neck but knew that this pretty much had to a muscular injury since I could pinpoint the exact minute that it occurred. The real question was, would I be able to race 5 miles on Friday night???

Post-Race in front of the Delco Courthouse

Spoiler: I raced and my head is still attached!

I woke up Friday feeling a little better. I still had to twist my entire torso to look right, but the slight improvement gave me hope.  I hydrated and ate during the day as if I was going to race and then did a test run on the treadmill after work to see if my neck could handle a jog.  I ran a half mile without too much pain and decided that I was going to give the race a try!

36 hours and 44 minutes after my bizzare injury (because really, who hurts themselves turning off an alarm??!) I lined up with 1600 runners for the 37th Annual Media 5 Mile race. In 2014 I finished this race in 42:57 and last year I had a big improvement with a 41:03. In 2016 my goal – at least before my neck issue! – was to better my time for the third year in a row.

The Media 5 Mile course consists of two hilly loops through the borough of Media.  Residents were out in force, lining the streets to cheer on the runners and setting up water stations and garden sprinklers to keep us cool.  Staying cool was much easier this year since the weather was unseasonably pleasant, with temps in the upper 70s and low humidity. That’s about as good as it gets for a mid-June race around here!

Mid Race

Mile 1 chirped by in 7:37 and before I knew it I was at the bottom of the big 8th Street hill.  The hill didn’t seem so bad and I was able to accelerate when I reached Jackson Street the top. Then I turned left onto 6th Street and realized that another block-long uphill climb awaited. (Why hadn’t I noticed this hill the previous two years?)  I felt tired so I gave little kids high-fives rather than kill myself up the hill. Mile 2 was over in 8:03.

I left the hilly section of lap 1 behind and tried to pick up my pace as I ran along State Street past the huge crowds of encouraging spectators. Mile 3 chirped by in 8:04… a little disappointing considering that there had only been a few small hills during this split, but I didn’t dwell on my time.  I grabbed a water at the nearest water station, sloshed a little around in my mouth and dumped the rest over my head. It was time to focus on round 2 of the hills!

Both the 8th Street and 6th Street hills seemed longer and steeper the second time around as I trudged up them. Still, I knew that through mile 3 I had been well ahead of the average pace (8:13) that I needed to maintain to beat last year’s time. When my Garmin reported that the 4th mile had taken me 8:43 to complete I got a little worried, but then I saw the big clock that the race organizers placed at mile marker 4 ticking through the 32:20s. I realized then that I would definitely beat last year’s time and even had a chance to break 40 minutes if I rallied hard enough in the final mile!

Media 5 Mile Stats_

I turned onto Edgmont Street with a new feeling of determination and passed several people as I took advantage of the slight decline. My momentum carried me all the way to Barrell Park where I knew I only had a half mile to go. The uphill block back to State Street seemed like it would never end, but finally I was back on the main drag, pushing towards the finish with every ounce of energy I had left.  I zoomed through the finish with a chip time of 40:13… 50 seconds faster than last year!

Media 5 Mile Finish

Lucky for me my neck ended up being a non-issue.  If anything, the more I ran the looser and better it felt! I only noticed the disconcerting, shooting pain during the two times I pounded down the steep hill at the west end of State Street because this made my stride a little more jolting than usual.

Maybe I could have broken 40 minutes without the distraction of my neck, but overall I am very happy with my new course PR and extremely thankful that I was able to run at all!  Now I just have to be more careful with that stupid alarm clock…

Thank you to Matt for cheering me on and taking photos!

Thank you to Matt for cheering me on and taking photos!

Miles since last post: 2
Days since last post: 8
2016 MILES: 841.9
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Brian’s Run 5 Miler

This afternoon I raced the 5 mile Brian’s Run in West Chester, PA. Last year I ran a huge personal best of 39:11 at this race and still think of that performance as one of my top three best races ever. 2014’s race was so good that I actually had second thoughts about registering for Brian’s Run this year… I just didn’t think there was any way I could improve on last year’s time.

Just before Thanksgiving I set my doubts aside and signed up for Brian’s Run, resolving to simply do my best and not worry about last year’s time. Then I ran a 5K PR on Thanksgiving Day and a 2 mile PR two days ago and started to think maybe… maybe there WAS some way that I could run another 39:11… but probably not.

Perfect day for a race

I arrived at the race about an hour early, picked up my bib and immediately bumped into a friend from my running club. The weather was gorgeous for December – mid 50s and sunny without a cloud in the sky – so we decided that we’d race in short sleeves (a wise choice) before running a short warm up together.

The race began promptly at 1PM and I crossed the start line with 487 other runners. My race plan was to basically just try to equal my splits from last year’s race, so that’s how I’ll recap each mile.

Mile 1 – 2014 Split: 7:33
The course starts by looping through the neighborhoods next to Henderson High School. I only glanced at my watch once during this mile to look at my average pace… 7:15. Too fast! I dialed it back slightly but then purposefully did not look at my mile split. I figured there was nothing I could do about it now and it was better NOT to know so I wouldn’t spend the next four miles over-thinking my overall race time. If I had looked, I would have seen a 7:25 split.

Mile 2 – 2014 Split: 7:42
The second mile swings by the high school (the start/finish point) before veering northwest into the hilly portion of the race. At this point I switched on my music (I ran the first 1.5ish miles without it) in an attempt to take my mind off the hills. The second mile includes a nice section of downhill, so I was pleased but not shocked to see a split of 7:29.

Mile 3 – 2014 Split: 8:06
The third and fourth miles of this course are tough, with rolling hills and lots of turns. I was really happy to have my 5K playlist streaming through my earbuds and I used the upbeat songs to try to increase my cadence and keep my pace up. I was excited to see my third mile split of 8:03… maybe there was a chance I could come close to last year’s time.

Mile 4 – 2014 Split: 8:16
I made a point of checking my 5K split as this mile began. I went through the 5K in 23:42, the same time I had raced The Boo Run in just 5 weeks ago. Only now I had another 1.9 miles to go! The fourth mile finished off with a huge climb and I was thrilled to see my watch report an 8:13 split. It was then that I realized I could definitely PR this race!

Mile 5 – 2014 Split: 7:31
In 2014 that final split time of 7:31 was an absolute record for me. I have never even finished a 5K’s final mile faster than that! This year I pounded into the fifth mile knowing that a PR was completely within reach; all I had to do was run FAST for a few more minutes.

This race finishes with 1 1/2 laps on the track in Henderson High School’s stadium – the same place I ran the Boxcar Mile in August. As part of the chip timing you get your final 400m split and I knew that last year’s time had been 1:50. With that in mind, I decided that as long as the clock was not past 37:11 when I passed the finish for my final lap, I was definitely going to PR.  Imagine my surprise when I passed the clock at 36:42! Just one lap left…

The last lap was really, really hard. At that point I didn’t care that my PR was basically locked up; I just wanted to go as fast as I possibly could. It turns out that the fastest 400m I could muster at that point was a 1:47 (7:08 pace) which put me across the finish line at precisely 38 minutes and 28 seconds… A 43 SECOND PERSONAL BEST!!!! And the final mile split? 7:18!!!!!

Brians Run Stats_

Wow. I really didn’t see this PR coming, and certainly never imagined that I was capable of PR-ing by 43 seconds! Moments after crossing the line I got a text from Matt who had been watching my race via Garmin’s LiveTrack function: “Did you just crush your PR?” Why YES!! I DID!!!! Best feeling ever.

Happy Selfie Post Brian's Run

I joined up with another running friend after the race for a nice, long, happy cool down (we both PR’d) and then drove straight home to shower and write this post. (Well, I had to write the Jingle Elf post first, but you get the idea.) I have now been lucky enough to PR three different race distances in a row. Each of them were exciting, but this 38:28 finish at Brian’s Run takes the cake. Best race ever!

My next race (and possibly my final race of 2015) is the Reindeer Romp in Havertown next Sunday. Before today’s race I was planning to just take it easy at the Romp and run it for fun, but now I’m thinking that I might be in position to come close to another PR… we’ll see what happens!!

Miles since last post: 0
Days since last post: 0
2015 MILES: 1607.1

Past Races:
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR]
• 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)

Media 5 Mile

Media 5 Miler - me smiling at the start!

On Friday, June 19th I ran the Media 5 Miler for the second year in a row.  In the 6 weeks prior to this race I had been struggling with feeling burned out and tired but I’m happy to report that I pulled it together and finished the race more than a minute and a half faster than last year!!

After last year’s crowded start experience I purposefully positioned myself a lot closer to the starting line this year which was definitely better.  The gun went off promptly at 7PM and seconds later I crossed the start line at a comfortable jog.  (A big improvement over my 30 second lag and shuffle-walk start in the crowd last year!)  I had decided to run without music and as a result I felt much more focused and aware of my surroundings.  Focus can be a good thing and a bad thing during a race… it gives you time to think about your goals, running form, etc. but also means that you have 40+ minutes to reflect on how hot, tired, and slow you feel!

Media 5 Miler first lap turning down Olive Street

I’m #1480, in case you couldn’t tell from my HUGE smile. I love it when I spot Matt during a race!

I never felt too tired or slow during the Media 5 Miler, but with 80+ degree temps I was definitely hot!  Luckily this race has fantastic crowd support and many spectators had garden hoses, squirt guns and sprinklers to keep the runners cool.  Since I was running without a phone or sunglasses I made a point of running through every bit of water I could find and that felt GREAT!

Media 5 Mile Stats

Overall my splits were solid but nothing crazy.  I ended up much faster than last year’s Media 5 but significantly slower than my 5 mile PR time of 39:11 from Brian’s Run last December.  Nevertheless, December weather is approximately 2 million percent better for racing so I’ll take a 41:03 in the summer heat and humidity!!  In hindsight I definitely could have finished in under 41 minutes but with the chip versus clock timing I didn’t realize how close I was to that threshold.  Oh well! 😄

The morning after the Media race Matt and I headed south to Bethany Beach, Delaware for a 5 day vacation and family reunion.  The hot weather was perfect for the beach and we had a fantastic time. (Plus, I REALLY appreciated the flat terrain for my morning runs!!)  Two weeks later we visited the Jersey shore for another beach weekend, and next week we’re headed to upstate New York for yet another long weekend with friends and family.  Life is good!  That being said, I’ve been having so much fun relaxing this summer that I’ve rarely found time to blog, but that’s OK with me.  When fall arrives and cooler weather sets in I’m sure I’ll find more time for races, running, and blogging!

In the meantime, I do have one race on my schedule.  On August 13th I’ll be racing a single MILE on the Henderson High School Track as part of the “Bring Back the Mile” race series.  I haven’t raced a mile since May 2003 so this should be interesting!!!

Miles since last post: 161.2
Days since last post: 34
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.82
2015 MILES: 959.8

 Past Races:

•  May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3), Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
•  April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11), Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26)
•  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), Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7), Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
•  November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)  [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) [PR]
•  July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18)
•  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) [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) [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) [PR]
•  September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
•  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Brian’s Run Race Recap

On Sunday I ran the 37th Annual Brian’s Run, a well-attended, well-organized local race in West Chester, PA.  The race went really, really well.  The sun was shining, the crowd support was fantastic, and oh yeah… I ran a HUGE PR!!  I finished the 5 mile course in 39:11, nearly a minute and 20 seconds faster than my previous best time from the Swarthmore 8K in July.  Woohoo!!

Billy, Piper and Annie after Brian's Run-

There were so many good things about Sunday’s race.  My brother Billy ran with me (well, not WITH me because he took off at the start and beat me by 20 seconds, but still, he was there!) and Matt and Piper formed our personal cheering section.  I passed them about a mile and a quarter into the race and smiled for the camera… I think my expression pretty much sums up how I was feeling!

Racing Happy!

Control was my keyword for the 5 mile course.  I have often struggled with going out too fast in a 5K and then feeling really terrible with a mile to go.  I did not want to make that mistake in a 5 mile race so I really focused on making sure that my first mile was comfortable, relaxed and under control.  I checked my Garmin throughout the first mile and knew that I was going fast (it ended up being a 7:33 split), but I felt really good so I just rolled with it.

Much to my surprise, I maintained that first mile high straight through the second mile, completing that in a time of 7:42.  Then the course plunged down a big hill and the fun began… hill after hill after hill!  (Or at least it felt that way.)  I definitely slowed down for miles 3 and 4, but I still felt strong and in control.  I’ve been doing a lot of hill work in my neighborhood so hills are no longer as intimidating as they used to be.  🙂

Because I had banked some time during the first two miles I wasn’t too worried when my Garmin beeped an 8:09 and 8:16 for my middle miles.  Ok, maybe I was a little worried by that 8:16, but by then I had just a mile to go!  After a final hill climb I returned to flatter ground and completed the race with a lap around the big red Henderson High School track.  It was a fun way to end a race!  Shockingly, I somehow picked up my pace enough during the last mile to put down my fastest split of the day.  I didn’t see that coming!

Brian's Run Stats-

I finished with an official time of 39:11, good enough for 133rd overall out of 582 runners, 31st female and 15th in my age group.  The full results are here… check out that first place finish time of 24:35, whoa!

All in all Brian’s Run was a great experience and I definitely hope to run this race again next year.  After a fall full of 5Ks it was exciting to compete at a different distance and very gratifying when I ran such a big PR.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that I totally wiped out on a sidewalk grate in Philly after a party on Saturday night, falling on my butt and side so hard that I cut my elbow through a winter jacket and sweater, so I guess I’m also thankful that I was even ABLE to run on Sunday!  (City dwellers know, I’m sure, that metal grates get very slippery when it’s raining… I learned my lesson Saturday night!)

My next race will be the first of the Athlete’s Closet Winter Series 5Ks next Saturday morning.  After last weekend’s double races I’m just planning on going out and having fun!

Miles since last post: 16.1
Days since last post:  3
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.87
2014 TOTAL MILES: 1672.4

Related Posts:
•  Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5/14)
•  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)

Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K

Way back on Friday, July 18th I ran the Swarthmore Lion’s Independence Eve 8K.  (Latest race recap ever, I know!)  As the name suggests, the “Independence Eve” 8K was supposed to be held on July 3rd but due to severe storms it was postponed.  This was fine with me – the make up date ended up being a beautiful, low-humidity July evening.  I love it when the weather cooperates on race day!

After the Swat 8K Race

Swarthmore is a quiet residential town located west of Philadelphia in Delaware County, PA.  The race started near the borough hall at 7PM and the course wound through the beautiful wooded campus of Swarthmore College before coming back through the tiny town center and looping around on neighborhood streets.  There were around 100 runners (including lots of very fast kids!!) which I thought was an ideal size after experiencing the Media 5 Mile’s 1600 competitors.

Swat 8K start

Swarthmore 8K start on Park Avenue

I started off at a nice steady pace (7:58) as the first mile took us onto Swarthmore College’s campus and up a long, winding hill.  I knew the hill was coming (but was still surprised by how steep it was!) and I remember feeling encouraged by the fact that we would soon get to run back down the hill at around the 2nd mile marker.  Sure enough, what goes up must come down and I happily cruised down the hill as Milky Chance’s “Stolen Dance” pumped through my earbuds with a comfortable second mile split of 8:03.

“Stolen Dance” is my new favorite running song, second only Capital Cities’ “Safe and Sound,” which Pandora thoughtfully started to play just as I felt like I was losing some steam as I passed the 3 mile marker.  I really tried to pick up my pace, but that 4th mile still ended up being my slowest.  As I reached the 4 mile point a spectator was calling out splits.  Very helpful in theory, but actually extremely UNhelpful because she clearly had assumed that the race started promptly at 7:00:00 PM (it didn’t) SO, she was giving us times that were about 2 1/2 minutes slower than they should have been.  I was crushed for about 200 yards after hearing her call out 34:34 as I passed (how could I have slowed down to an 11 minute 4th mile?!?) until my Runkeeper belatedly chimed in to tell me that my 4th mile split was in fact 8:19 and that my total race time so far was still in the 32’s.  That cheered me right up, especially as I realized that I was on track to crush my old 5 mile PR of 42:47.  YIPPEE!!!

As the finish line clock swam into view I was completely shocked to see it still ticking away in the low 40s. !!!  I decided that I was going to cross that line by 40:30 and I sprinted towards the finish, leaning across the electronic chip line like I was back in a college 100m hurdle race (in the heat of the moment I forgot that this doesn’t remotely matter in a chip-timed distance race, but whatever..).  My clock finish time was exactly 40:30 and my chip time was 40:28.  WOOHOO!!!!!

I ran a cool down and got back to the borough hall just as the awards were starting.  I was pleasantly surprised to get a 2nd place age group medal (there were only 5 females total in my age group) but mostly I’m just thrilled by my 5 mile time.  A 40:30 finish means that I averaged an 8:06 pace and before that slow 4th mile time my 5K split was likely sub-25.  After spending all Winter and Spring hunting down a sub-25 5K time I’m tickled that I can apparently run that fast now in a 5 MILE race with a huge uphill climb.  I can’t wait to see what I can do in some road 5Ks once the weather starts to get nice this Fall!!  🙂

That’s enough blogging for today – the weather is gorgeous this afternoon so I’m headed out to a local running store’s group 5 mile run.  Happy running, everyone!


Miles since last post:  67.4
Days since last post:  16
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.79
2014 TOTAL MILES: 983.8


Related Posts:
•  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)
•  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)
•  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)
•  Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19/13)
•  Run-A-Muck 5K (9/22/13)
•  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Media 5 Miler – My biggest race yet!

On Friday night I ran the 34th annual Media 5 Mile Race in the borough of Media, a walkable (runnable!) little town located 12 miles west of Philadelphia.  Matt and I lived in Media for a few years before buying our house and although we cheered runners on in the past this was my first time actually running in Media’s biggest race of the year.

880 Media 5 Mile Race Start

The race was well organized with bib pick up on Wednesday, port-a-pottys available on random street corners around town, and polite, happy crowds.  The local police closed down the streets that the race course followed well in advance of the start time and the people living along the course set up chairs, signs, water stations and, in a few cases, sprinklers and hoses to prepare for the two 2.5 mile laps that the runners would make through their neighborhoods.

With 1,600 runners, the Media 5 Miler was my largest race to date.  (I know, still not that big compared to say, Broad Street’s 40,000 runners, but it was big for me!)  The sheer number of runners made the start a little difficult.  There were no corrals or pace groups, meaning that all of the runners were gathered in one huge crowd extending back from the starting line.  When the starter said “GO” it took several seconds for the crowd around me to even start moving.  Luckily the race was chipped so my official time didn’t begin until 29 seconds later when I actually crossed the starting line, but all of the runners around me basically shuffle-walked the first quarter mile or so before moving into a slow jog (with constant people-dodging) through the first several turns of the race.

The crowd of runners finally started to thin out when we hit the first big hill around the 1 mile mark.  Matt and I had jogged the course on Wednesday so I knew the hill was coming (and I knew that it kept going up around the next turn!) and I felt mentally ready for it.  I high-fived a runner wearing a giant pickle costume on the way up the hill before finally falling into what felt like a normal pace at the top of the hill.  At the end of the first lap we looped back around to State Street and I spotted Matt on the sidewalk taking photos.  Here I am smiling for the camera.

The second lap felt a lot harder.  Those hills that I had confidently powered up during lap 1 suddenly seemed like mountains and I trudged up them at a slow jog.  Luckily I felt a little better by the time I got to the top and before I knew it there was just a mile left to go.  I told my legs to go faster and somehow that worked (!) and I managed to make my 5th and final mile my fastest split of the race.  Woohoo!

My official chip finish time was 42:57, just 10 seconds off of my PR from March.  I would have really liked to beat my March time, but considering how I was stuck in major foot traffic during the first mile (something I definitely didn’t deal with in March) I think Friday’s race was a better overall performance.  I’m really excited about my last split… 7:54 on Friday vs. March’s 8:36 (!) and I know that I could have comfortably run a much faster first mile if I had had the room to do so.

So guess what this means?  That I’m signing up for another 5 mile race, of course!!  I’ll be running in the Swarthmore Lions Independence Eve 8K on July 3rd, this time with a much smaller crowd and more 5 mile experience to fall back on.

Miles since last post:  101.5
Days since last post:  22
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.79
2014 TOTAL MILES: 822.8

Related Posts:
•  Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1/14)
•  Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30/14)
•  Run for Victory 5K (5/18/14)
•  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)
•  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)
•  Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19/13)
•  Run-A-Muck 5K (9/22/13)
•  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler

Yesterday I ran the fourth and final race in the Athlete’s Closet Winter Series.  Unlike the previous three 5K races, the Winter Series finale was a 5 mile course, making this my longest race ever!  My goals going in were to be relaxed, have a positive experience, and hopefully finish in under 45 minutes.  And guess what?  Mission accomplished!  I finished first in my age group with a 42:47!!!  Woohoo!

Annie after the AC 5 miler

My race day prep was a little different than usual for this 5 miler in that it involved Italian wedding soup and (a tiny bit of) champagne.  Yup, I was at a wedding until about an hour before the race started!  🙂  That made for a very fun morning and it helped to keep me really relaxed since my mind was focused on family and friends rather than on the impending longer-than-usual race distance.

At 37° and sunny the weather was pretty awesome compared to this winter’s typical sub-freezing temps.  I didn’t even need gloves!  The 5 mile course was hilly but overall I felt great.  I still have my Runkeeper app configured to only tell me my time, distance and pace when I hit 25 minutes, so I ran the first 3 miles not knowing how I was doing.  Then when the app finally started reporting my stats I realized that I was comfortably running much faster than I expected and that made the last 2 miles seem even easier to complete.

AC 5 mile Runkeeper

Matt was waiting on the street to cheer me on at about the 4.75 mile mark (right where I turned left from Warren Rd onto David Ln) and then he was able to take the short route to the finish in time to snap a photo of me pounding towards the finish line.  I was running so fast that my headphones fell out… might need to get some Yurbuds soon to remedy that!

Finishing the 5 mile

Finishing a 5 mile race in under 43:00 was a fantastic surprise and I can’t wait to see how easy a 5K is going to feel in comparison!!  Our next race will be the Pickle Run in Ridley Creek State Park on March 15th.  You may remember that we were supposed to do the Pickle Run in February, but unfortunately it got postponed due to damage from the ice storm so I still haven’t gotten the chance to race in our local park!  I am really, really looking forward to it!

Miles since last post:  140.8
Days since last post:  27
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.91
2014 TOTAL MILES: 307.7

Related Posts:
•  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)
•  Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14/13)
•  Turkey Trot 5K (11/28/13)
•  Let’s Go Streaking! (11/21/13)
•  Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2/13)
•  Oy Vey 5K (10/27/13)
•  Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19/13)
•  Run-A-Muck 5K (9/22/13)
•  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)