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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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)

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)