It’s definitely time to blog: I now have FOUR PRs to recap!

I’ve been terrible about recapping races lately, but after today’s awesome 5K I have FOUR new personal bests to share. So without further ado, here they are!

Haverford Twilight 5K

April 22, 2017 | Haverford, PA | 41st overall, 8th F, 3rd AG (results)

This was my third year running this race and I really wanted it to be my best yet. Last year I tied my PR (23:17) on this course by running the first 2 miles really fast and dying in mile 3. I did not want to repeat that mistake this year, but somehow I still managed to start the race much faster than I planned. In fact, I was within seconds of duplicating my too-fast times from 2016. Whoops! Fortunately for me, I was much stronger this year and was able to run a 7:30 third mile (compared to 8:00 the previous year!!) which made all the difference. I crossed the finish line in 22:54, thrilled with my new sub-23 personal best.

(Technically I had run faster than 22:54 twice before, but both previous efforts were “asterisk” PRs. One was a point-to-point downhill course (22:38) and the other was majorly Piper-assisted (22:43). Therefore, I happily accepted this Haverford Twilight time as my “official” 5K PR.)

The Broad Street Run 

May 7, 2017 | Philadelphia, PA | 6838th overall (oh yeah!), 1627th F, 348th AG (results)

The mother of all Philly races. Two weeks after the Twilight 5K I joined 40,000 runners (see, that 6838th place looks better now) in a 10 mile run down Broad Street. I ran this race in 2015 and this time around my primary goal was to beat my previous PR of 1:23:54. My secondary goal was to go sub-1:20, but that ended up being a little too aggressive for the day. I started off on pace for a fast time, but at around mile 7 hit a wall and had to work reallllly hard to earn my new PR. I finished about 2 1/2 minutes faster than my 2015 time with a time of 1:21:28. Hurrah!

FranksWine Downhill Mile Road Race

August 24, 2017 | Wilmington, DE | 46th overall, 9th F, 3rd AG (results)

Usually I don’t race in August, but when I realized that the weather was going to be unseasonably cool and discovered that this race ended a block from my brother- and sister-in-laws’ place in Trolley Square, I figured it was meant to be. Matt and I parked at the finish line, jogged to the start, then proceeded to race the fastest mile of our lives. I felt completely in control the entire race, and happily watched my quarter mile splits tick by evenly. I sprinted at the finish and earned a new PR of 6:20, 26 seconds faster than my previous best at the Media Mile in 2016.

Pints in the Square 5K

September 9, 2017 | Newtown Square, PA | 17th overall, 2nd F!! (results)

This was today’s race and the PR that finally got me to write this recap. I hadn’t raced a 5K road race since the Twilight Run in April and I was interested to see what sort of shape I was in after a long summer of treadmill runs. With that in mind, my goal was more to run a strong race (low 23s?) rather than do anything crazy. But apparently my legs didn’t get that message.

A few minutes into the race I realized that the first place woman was not especially far ahead of me. It wasn’t time to get too excited about that – I still had 2.5 miles to go! – but this surprised me. Two more woman passed me during the first mile, but by the time I hit the halfway point I had decided that I really wanted to finish this race in the top 3.

During mile 2 I squeaked ahead of the 3rd place woman. I tried to look really strong while doing this, telling myself it would psych her out; no idea of that worked but it helped boost my confidence! As I began mile 3 I could see the 2nd place woman quite a ways ahead of me. At that point I got super corny and said to myself “I can either be the hunter or the hunted,” meaning that I could either run mile 3 like I was going to chase down that 2nd place woman, or I could run it scared and worried about who might be coming up on me.  I didn’t think I could actually catch 2nd place, but I chose the more optimistic approach and, for mile 3, I became the HUNTER!

And hunt I did. Ever so slowly I gained on her, inch by inch, turn by turn. I focused on her back and pushed with every stride. With a half mile to go she was still too far ahead for me to entertain the possibility of overtaking her, but I kept hunting. Finally, with the finish line in sight, I had pulled within 50 feet. There were two walkers on course and I made my move around them, swinging wide to the right and zooming towards the finish. I never looked to see how the other runner responded, I just sprinted as hard as I could.

Just before crossing the finish line (in 2nd place!!) I noticed the clock, ticking from 21:59 to 22:00. Wait, what??! I had been so focused on hunting that I had lost all sense of time. It was not until that exact moment that I realized I was on track to PR by nearly a minute. I bounded over the finish line and stopped my watch at 22:03, 51 seconds faster than my April PR!

Now, I have to admit that an hour later I learned that the runner I passed did technically beat me by chip time, but the race awards were given out based on gun time, so I think it’s fair to blog-brag about my 2nd place honors, don’t you? 😉

At the beer festival with our neighbor, Bob. (Photo by Roe!)

Following the race Matt and I met up with our neighbors at the craft beer festival portion of the event and, after a few hours of good beer and company, we returned home and I got right to work on this long-overdue post. It feels fantastic to finally catch up on my race recaps! Watch out world… I’m back and I am the HUNTER!  (I couldn’t resist!) 😄 Continue reading

Piper’s PR at the St. Agnes 5K

Today Piper earned herself a new 5K record of 22:43! That time came within 5 seconds of my own personal best, which I set on a PR-friendly, point-to-point net downhill course in December. With that in mind, I’m going to consider today’s finish at the St. Agnes 5K my own new “loop course” personal best as well, albeit with an asterisk next to it for *Piper-assisted.  😄


As the asterisk indicates, I do know that at least some of our speedy time can be attributed to the fact that Piper sets a grueling pace and pulls me forward just a little bit throughout the entire race. (Except when we passed a cat in the first mile, then she pulled left!) Piper is a very serious running buddy who never lunges at other dogs, never veers off course, and never, ever stops to sniff or pee during a run. Once we’re moving Piper rarely breaks out of her rapid-fire trot stride; all she wants to do is go, go, GO!!


Here we are near the halfway point. Piper’s tongue is making a rare appearance. (Photo credit: St. Agnes 5K)

So about the race… Continue reading

A New PR at the Delaware Downhill 5K!

This race almost didn’t happen. And no, it wasn’t because our area was hit with an ice storm the morning the race was originally scheduled for. That was easy to predict and the race organizers gave everyone plenty of notice when they (wisely) decided to postpone the race by a day. No, the reason I almost did not start today’s Inaugural Delaware Downhill 5K was that my CAR decided that it did not want to start!!

Saturday's weather

I think the race organizers made the right call by not holding the race Saturday.

As usual, I had my pre-race morning planned down to the minute. I woke up at 5:45, let Piper out, had a light breakfast of coffee, cereal, and a clementine, let Piper in, wiped the mud off Piper’s feet and belly for 3+ minutes (that I had not planned for, ha!), then foam rolled, stretched and read for a while before waking Matt up. The race started at 9:45 so I figured leaving the house at 8:25 sharp would give me plenty of time to get there and get warmed up. Until we went out to our (only) car, turned the key in the ignition, and the engine wouldn’t start!! Continue reading

Labor Day and 2xCure4Cam

Since mid-June I have been completely absent on this blog. As is so often the case, I’m pretty sure that’s because I was too busy living life to stop and write about it, but now that I’m at the tail end of a long, lazy, wonderful Labor Day weekend I’m finally starting to think about typing some summer recaps. I also find myself thinking “why does it matter if I write a post about a race I ran in June?” but then I realize it DOES matter to me… months from now I know I’ll love being able to look back on this summer’s races, trips, meals and adventures, even if they were posted weeks after the fact!! 🙂

My goal tonight is to complete two race recaps, but before that I need to sneak in a paragraph about Labor Day.  Matt and I stayed home and did nothing but garden, cook, eat, and entertain and it was fantastic. Southeastern PA was supposedly going to get hit by rain and wind from Hurricane Hermine, but instead we had gorgeous weather with temps in the low seventies and light breezes with low humidity… amazing! I didn’t take any photos at the races I’m recapping, so instead here are a few from the past four days:

And now onto the races…

Cure4Cam Moonlight 5K #1 – Exton, PA (6/20/16)

Usually I don’t sign up for summer races, but this one started at 8:00PM (theoretically after the heat of the day) and was on a section of the Chester Valley Trail that I hadn’t run in years (actually since before the trail officially opened).  Plus Rachel from was going to be there so I jumped on the chance to meet a fellow blogger in real life!

It’s been more than 2 months since I ran this race so my memories are a little fuzzy, but mostly I just remember feeling really REALLY hot.  Like the kind of hot where you sweat so much that sweat is flinging off your elbows with every arm pump. Yeah. I powered through the first two miles and started stealing frequent glances at my Garmin in mile 3 to see how close I was to the finish.

At around 2.8 miles the course turned off the Chester Valley Trail back into the corporate center and I saw that we were going to have to run right by the finish line to do some sort of a parking lot loop before getting to finish. I trudged along, knowing that I still had another quarter mile to go when suddenly I saw the girl ahead of me get to the finish line and STOP. Was the race actually ending at less than 3 miles?! Yup, apparently it was. Caught by surprise, I barely had time to pick up my pace before I too was crossing the line and stopping my Garmin at 2.96 miles and 23:03.

Cure4Cam June 5K_

The short course was a bit of a surprise. Had I known the race was ending I certainly could have finished a little stronger… I guess the lesson is that I should be less concerned with my Garmin and instead pay more attention to what’s actually happening around me!! Botched ending aside, I did end up first in my age group so that was a nice way to end the night.

Cure4Cam Moonlight 5K #2 – Westtown, PA (8/18/16)

Fast forward 2 months to another hot evening, this time in mid-August. I had been running a lot, but this would be my first proper length road 5K since way back on April 23rd. Upon arriving at the race site I consulted the course map very closely (no more missed ending for me!!). The race was at Rustin High School where I do mile repeats with my running club in late fall so I was familiar with the terrain and route.

I had an extremely hectic day at work and actually completely forgot that I wanted to sign up on site for this race until I got home at 4:30. With that in mind I wasn’t going to put any pressure on myself. Instead, I decided that I would aim for an ultra-conservative 7:50 first mile split and then see what I had left after that.  (By comparison, I ran my first mile in the April 23rd race in a way too fast 7:13!!)

At 7:45PM the gun went off and I set out, careful not to get drawn into the initial mad dash of fast runners and little kids. I hit the first mile split in 7:54. I was just behind a friend who always runs the same local races as me (and usually beats me) and I decided to see if I could stay with him through the second lap around the high school. Mile 2 beeped by in 7:45.

Mile 3 had some nice downhill stretches and I stayed right on my friend’s heels (afterwards he said he could actually hear me the whole time… maybe I was a bit too close!!). The course entered the high school stadium for a final lap around the track. I always love ending a race around a track, but this time it was especially cool because I had been watching hours of Olympic track and field in the nights prior to the race and I felt like I was finally getting MY chance to zoom around the 400m oval. As I rounded the turn for home I summoned up an extra spurt of speed and zoomed past my friend, pounding into the finish line like a slower, blonder, female version of Usain Bolt. Woohoo!

Cure4Cam August 5K_

My time of 23:50 wasn’t bad considering the hot weather, my lack of preparation (ahem, hydration) during the day of the race and the fact that I hadn’t raced in 2 months. By comparison, I ran 23:40 at the flatter, cooler Pickle in the Streets 5K in late August last year, so I think I’m in a good position to start working on speed for fall races. Oh, and I won my age group again, yay!


That’s it for tonight’s whirlwind summer race recap. Next time I feel the urge to blog I need to share photos from our trips to San Diego, the Poconos, Kentucky, and the Hunting Camp AND our total kitchen renovation. (I wasn’t lying when I said it’s been a busy summer!!) 😄 Continue reading

Pretend it’s May 27th… Recap of the Elwyn 5K!

Elwyn Weather 20 min before the race

Just before the race. Looks like perfect running weather to me!

This race recap is a bit late. I wrote most of it during Memorial Day weekend but then got distracted with a trip to California (more on that in a future post!) and somehow it took me 3 weeks to actually publish this. Please just pretend it’s May 27th as you’re reading this… thanks! 😉

I woke up at 5:40AM last Saturday and immediately checked the weather: 100% chance of rain at 9 o’clock with a massive storm on the way. I had two choices: 1. put my iPhone down and fall back asleep or 2. roll out of bed and get ready for a 5K that I wasn’t even registered for. Can you guess what I did? One $30 on-site registration fee later I was standing under some ominous-looking clouds ready to begin the Elwyn 5K.

I ran this race in 2014 and remember the course well. We’d start with just over a mile of pavement with some nice downhills before turning into the woods for a short section of steep uphill trail. Then the course would hit a series of rolling hills on grass before paralleling Rt. 352 for a slight but seemingly never-ending incline. Finally, after a few more twists and turns, we’d reach pavement again for a fast quarter mile to the finish.

Elwyn Start

The Start. Photo Credit: Elwyn 5K

I flew through the pavement section feeling fast and surprisingly light-footed in my Cascadia trail shoes. Thanks to the plentiful downhill my average heart rate was only 174 bpm (very low for me mid-race!) and mile 1 was over in a speedy 7:14.

Mile 2 is the hardest segment of this course. The wooded section was almost completely uphill but I was thankful for the wide and well packed trail (a big difference from the previous weekend’s uneven single-track at Rocky Run!). After powering through the woods I emerged in a field, ready to take on the grassy section of the course.

As I remembered from 2014, the uphill stretch along Rt. 352 lasted forever. I focused on keeping pace with a woman ahead of me, but mostly I just felt like I was in a holding pattern for the remainder of this mile. I had run the final 0.75 miles of the course on my warm up so I knew that once I made it past the 2nd mile split I would almost be to the easier terrain. Mile 2 finally beeped by in 8:46. (It’s worth noting that this was a full 30 seconds faster than my middle mile 2 years ago!)

Elwyn 5K Stats_

I felt a surge of energy as soon as the course veered away from 352. The grass was freshly mowed (easier to run on!) and I knew that I had only a another minute or so on grass before the return to pavement. Once I hit the pavement I picked up my pace big time. I had originally thought I might be able to catch the woman I had been following on the grass, but she also sped up significantly so I settled for just making sure that I was running as fast as I possibly could. Looking at my Garmin stats, I think I averaged about a 7:20-7:25 pace during this final 0.3 mile paved stretch.

Elwyn 5K Finish

Booking it to the finish line. Photo credit: Elwyn 5K

My final mile split was 8:17 but I was too busy focusing on the finish line to check my watch.  I zoomed across the line in 24:21, nearly TWO MINUTES faster than my 2014 time!!

Fortunately the rain held off for the entire race and it wasn’t until the awards ceremony that the skies opened up. I had left my rain coat in the car a quarter mile away so I ducked out early, very happy with my time and pleased that I decided to sign up for this race rather than sleep in for a few extra hours. 😄 Continue reading

Turtle Trot 5K at Okehocking

Okehocking Preserve, Ridley Creek State Park, and the Darlington Trail are by far my favorite places to run and hike. All three spots are close to my house (I can run to them!) and their trails offer sweeping views, peaceful woods, and wickedly steep hills. I’ve raced at Ridley Creek and Darlington multiple times but until recently a race had never been held at Okehocking. Thankfully that changed on Sunday, May 15th when Okehocking played host to the inaugural Autism Village Turtle Trot.

407 Start of the Turtle Trot

I arrived at Okehocking early on Sunday with Matt and the camera in tow. The weather was sunny and in the upper 40s… a bit chilly for spectators but absolutely perfect for running. After countless solo loops on Okehocking’s trails – most recently in the snow on April 9th! – I was eager to learn where the official race course would go. Bill Frawley, the course designer and co-owner of my favorite shoe store, The Running Place, was kind enough to point out the major turns and confirmed that the worst of the course’s extreme uphill climbs would be conquered during the first mile.  Sounds good to me!!

Okehocking Turtle Trot 5K Stats_

The race started up a steep hill, wrapped around the preserve’s off-leash dog park, then descended to a bridge spanning a small creek. After the creek it was time to climb again, this time to the long ridge line that runs along the whole north edge of the park. I know from past experience that I can just barely see my house from this ridge, but on Sunday I was too focused on the run to be house-hunting. After 130 feet of elevation gain, mile 1 beeped by in a surprisingly speedy 8:33.

During mile 2 the course plunged down a hillside, passing the preserve’s beautifully restored barn before entering the marshy area at the western edge of the park. Bill had warned me that it would be muddy here, but for the most part the ground was firm and fairly easy to navigate. Or at least it was until the very end of the marshy section when the course turned away from Ridley Creek and the entire trail turned into several feet of thick, deep mud. I splashed and squelched my way through and broke free from the woods just as my watch beeped an 8:30 second mile split.

I often end my own Okehocking runs with a mile-ish clockwise loop in the middle of the preserve through the woods and back towards the area where the race’s finish was located. I understood beforehand that the race’s final mile would be similar to a backwards version of my loop, but I wasn’t thinking about how the change in direction would impact the hills. Perhaps at this point in the race I was just more tired than I usually would be in a casual run, but mile 3 felt like it was ALL uphill. During this mile I realized that I was going to pass Matt so I tried really hard to look like I was running with good form, but then resumed my tired shuffle as soon as I had passed the camera. 😁

503 Mid-Turtle Trot

Finally the hills were done and the finish line was in sight. I ignored my watch’s 8:56 split (I would have been shocked that I ran the final mile in under 9 minutes!!) and sprinted into the finish. I crossed the line in 26:49, just 6 seconds slower than the Rocky Run 5K that I had run two days earlier. I ended up second place overall female and as a prize received an adorable little handmade turtle ornament that will definitely get a place of honor on our next Christmas tree.

Mile 3’s unexpected uphills aside, I loved everything about this course. I was grateful that most of the hills were over with in mile 1, I appreciated the hard, packed trails (a big change from Rocky Run’s rutted, lumpy grass), and the views made every climb totally worth it. Now if there was just some way to make the weather at ALL RACES be 48° and sunny… that would truly be perfect!

574 Turtle Trot Finish

Miles since last post: 0
Days since last post:0
2016 MILES: 695.9
Continue reading

Rocky Run Trail 5K

We’ve had an unusually cold, wet spring this year. Not so great for my basil plants (which turned black and died after a week of rain) but very nice for runners like me who prefer cool weather races. I’ve been trying take advantage of this “nice” weather by running as many races as possible, including two trail races last weekend and one this weekend.  That’s a lot of trails! And also a lot of race recaps that I need to catch up on. Here’s the first of three…

On Friday the 13th of May I ran the Rocky Run YMCA’s Trail 5K for the third year in a row. Last year I led the women for the entire race, but then got passed decisively in the final quarter mile. I never knew placing second could feel like such a huge defeat until that moment! This year I vowed to do things differently. I wanted to start out slower to ensure that I’d have energy left at the end. That way I could be the person doing the passing, or at least putting up more of a fight if a woman tried to pass me.

I crossed the start line with a small field of 5K runners at 6:30PM. I had initially thought I’d just tuck in behind whatever woman looked like she was going the fastest, but then I realized that I was that woman so I set off behind the men at a comfortable pace. After 0.4 miles of pavement the course plunged down a hill and entered the woods.

It had rained all week so the steep descent on single-track trails was a slippery, muddy mess. I was very thankful for the big treads on my trail shoes and only found myself reaching out to catch my balance on a tree a few times as I picked my way down the hill. The trail eventually flattened out and the terrain changed to thick, wet, lumpy grass with a few ruts and rocks thrown in for good measure. Definitely better than the mud slide, but still not the easiest footing.

I trudged along, very aware of the fact that I was once again sitting in the first place female spot. That’s a stressful position to be in when you know that you have a huge, muddy uphill waiting for you towards the end of the race! As I neared the turnaround point I could hear a woman close behind me saying “good job!” to the men who were passing us on their way back to the finish. I remember thinking “Uh oh… she must be feeling REALLY good if she’s still talking at this point of the race!!” I hit the turnaround with her about 15 feet behind me and started the long climb back towards the YMCA.

Rocky Run Trail 5K Stats_

The lumpy grass seemed twice as hard to navigate the second time around but I was utterly determined not to give up my lead. With less than a mile to go I passed a little boy and again heard the woman behind me, enthusiastically urging him on as she also passed him. How was she still this cheerful??? (Note to self: talking a lot during a race is a great way to psych out the runner ahead of you!!)

I reached the steep uphill feeling tired and somewhat detached, like my brain was floating through a foggy haze. Even through the haze I could feel how badly I wanted to stay ahead. I pushed up the slope and suddenly emerged out of the woods sooner than I expected. There was still a steep section of parking lot ahead of me, but I was back on firm ground!! At this point last year I had nothing left but this year I actually felt a little surge as my muddy shoes hit the pavement. I powered my way up to the top of the parking lot and looked behind me with 0.3 miles to go… the cheerful woman was nowhere in sight!!!!

Even though I had not seen a woman behind me I wasn’t going to leave my victory to chance. I gave the final loop around the Y’s playing fields everything I had and somehow was able to find enough speed to pass a guy in the last turn of the race. I sprinted across the finish and smiled when I heard the race timer say “first place female!”

Rocky Run post-race

I finished in 26:43. Only 7 seconds faster than last year, but with more challenging conditions and significantly better execution and outcome. I didn’t give up my lead and I fought hard right up to the end. Woohoo!!

My first place prize was a 75 minute massage at the Y. I think I’m going to need it after all of these spring races! Next up: a recap of the Turtle Trot trail 5K that I ran 38 hours after Rocky Run… Continue reading