Yesterday morning Matt and I ran a mixed surface road/trail 5K in Havertown, PA. The 8:30am race kicked off Haverford Township Day, a local festival with a parade, craft vendors, a flea market and live music.
The race began at Haverford Middle School and we wound around a few neighborhoods before spending a mile or so on a long, straight trail. This was no ordinary trail, though… it was the old right of way for the Newtown Square Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad! I’m a huge local history buff and I’m not gonna lie… that mile of trail was the primary reason we ran this race. I love how railroads helped shape the development of communities and how their right of ways still play a role in routing of roads and potential public-use rail trails. I also grew up in and still live in Newtown Square so this particular rail line is especially interesting to me.
- The Newtown Square Branch was closed down in the 1960s, and by the time I was born in the mid-eighties the tracks were gone and all that remained of the line were some old trestles and the right-of-way that we ran on yesterday. If you love local history as much as I do, you can read more about the Newtown Square Branch and see the original, interactive version of the map above at AbandonedRails.com.
Although I was excited about the rail trail for historical reasons, it wasn’t exactly a fast running surface for a race. Parts of the trail were covered with a thick layer of fresh, damp wood chips, which felt a bit like running in sand. I definitely slowed down during the mile on the trail and was very happy to leave the railroad behind and return to paved roads just before the 2nd mile marker.
Back on the pavement I realized that I could see Matt a short distance ahead of me. I passed him with a little over a half mile to go in the race and then set my sights on a woman who was maybe 50 feet ahead. I wanted to go by her but was a little worried about using up my energy to pass her only to have her come up from behind and beat me at the finish. With this in mind I stuck right behind her for the last half mile and then passed her as the finish line came into view. She responded immediately by picking up her pace big time but by then I was determined to beat her. We sprinted to the finish and I felt my legs go into a whole new gear (thank you, track workouts!!!!) as I blasted across the finish line in the lead. Woohoo!
I often feel like I “sprint” to the finish of a 5K but yesterday I was actually sprinting for real. Runkeeper shows my last 0.1 mile split at 4:58 pace and my final push at 4:20/mile. Runkeeper isn’t perfectly accurate by any means, but I was definitely going fast!!! I finished with a time of 23:50 (only 9 seconds off of my all-road 5K best!), good enough for 34th overall and 12th place woman. Also, I’m totally psyched about my last mile split: 7:34!!! 🙂
Matt finished right behind me in 23:56. He told me afterwards that when I passed him during the race he wanted to tell me to go catch that girl ahead of us. With that in mind I’m glad that I did catch her and that Matt was able to see it happen!
Matt on the Newtown Square Branch right-of-way
We ran a short cool down on the rail-trail so that I could take a better, slower look at it and then stuck around for the awards (Matt won a door prize!) before heading home. All in all it was a fun morning with a great atmosphere and exciting course. I’d go back again next year, especially if those wood chips get a little more compacted on the rail trail!
Miles since last post: 38.4
Days since last post: 7
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.85
2014 TOTAL MILES: 1310.9
• 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)
• 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)
• 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 (9/21/13)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)