PR ALERT!!! Haverford Twilight Run Recap

I ran a 5K PR last night at the Haverford Twilight Run and I am one happy runner!!!  My previous PR of 23:32 was set on November 1, 2014.  That was TWELVE 5Ks ago. (Plus two 10Ks, one 5 miler, one 2 miler and one trail race… I like racing, what can I say?).  In four of those 5Ks I crossed the line within 9 seconds of my PR time, but the elusive new record remained just out of reach until last night’s race.

I did not go into the Twilight Run thinking that I was in a position to PR.  After last weekend’s problematic 5K (terrible first mile pacing leading to my slowest 5K in months) the Twilight Run was my last chance to try to get my pacing under control before next weekend’s 10 mile Broad Street Run.  I signed up for the race on Wednesday with this sole purpose in mind and set two very firm goals for myself:  Run the first mile in 7:36 or slower and run one of the remaining two miles faster than the first mile.

Saturday’s weather was perfect: 57° and sunny.  The evening’s festivities kicked off at 5PM sharp with a kid’s mile challenge and I felt relaxed and happy as I watched all of the kids finish their race with huge smiles on their faces.  Then it was time for the 5K to start.  There were around 180 runners and I purposefully picked a starting position much farther back in the pack than I normally would, hoping that this would keep me from getting caught up in the excitement of the first mile.

Start of the Haverford Twilight 5K

Usually when the gun goes off I blast through the start, then spend the next few hundred yards dodging and weaving and generally running way too fast.  But not last night.  Nope, the gun went off, the crowd around me slowly moved into a jog, and I started my watch when we eventually meandered across the start line.  I fell into stride behind a group of runners and resisted the urge to zip around them.  I saw Matt about a quarter mile in and was feeling so relaxed that I goofed off for the camera (from too far away for the iPhone photo to turn out, unfortunately) before taking a leisurely right turn onto Darby Road.

The course was basically a big loop with two turnaround points.  I kept my pace very controlled through the first turnaround (about .65 miles in) and then sped up slightly as I doubled back towards the starting point where Matt was cheering.  Just as I passed Matt my watch beeped the first mile… 7:32.  A tiny bit faster than I was hoping for but overall much better than last week’s wild 7:16 split!

Checking the first mile split.

Checking the first mile split.

I cruised along during the second mile, focusing on my running form and cadence and clapping for the leaders as they passed on their way back to the finish.  I didn’t look at my watch until just after the second turnaround when it beeped again… 7:23.  WHAT?!??!  I was shocked.  That is the fastest second mile I have ever run.  WOW!  I realized at that point that I was absolutely on track for a PR.  All I had to do was keep up a reasonable pace for the third and final mile.

The third mile was hard work.  I really pushed myself and looked at my watch a lot to check my average pace for that mile (a feature that I love on my Garmin!)  I kept an eye on the road ahead, hoping to see the library on the corner which marked where I would get to turn towards the finish.  I knew if I could just get to the final quarter mile straightaway I would be able to hang on.

Mile 3 beeped by in 7:38 (I did it!!) but by then I was running too hard to really process the split.  I could barely see the finish line clock, then realized that it was quickly ticking away through the 23-teens.  I ran harder and watched the 20s go by and then blasted across the line just as the clock struck 23:32 (my old PR), making sure to hit my watch as I crossed.

My official finish time?  23:25!!!  Yep, my super slow start not only helped me run a faster second mile, it also gave me 7 extra seconds of clock time to work with!  Double win!!

Haverford Twilight 5K Stats

My new PR time was good enough for 39th overall, 10th woman (with 5 of the females ahead of me being teenagers!), and 2nd in my age group.  Woohoo!  I ate a celebratory banana and ran a cool down, then Matt took me out to Iron Hill Brewery (my favorite) for a PR dinner. 😄

After the Haverford Twilight 5K

At the Twilight Run I learned that it is possible to start a race “slow” and still have energy to speed up later in the race.  I also learned that it’s much more pleasant to run a faster second mile and pass people than it is to slow down in the second mile and feel like you are losing ground.  After last night’s PR success I am looking forward to putting these lessons to use on Broad Street next Sunday.  One week to go!

Miles since last post: 8.5
Days since last post: 2
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.85
2015 MILES: 555.1

 Past Races:

•  April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11), Empower the Children 5K (4/18)
•  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)

Tasty Treats for the Big Game

Have you ever noticed that everyone always refers to this weekend’s championship sporting event as The Big Game rather than just saying the Superbowl?  I guess it’s a legal thing – am I even allowed to type “The Superbowl” here without the NFL’s permission?? – but I digress.

For this weekend’s ‘big game’ we’re going bowling at the awesome, tater-tot-filled North Bowl in Philadelphia right before the game and then we’ll head over to Matt’s sister’s house for pizza, beer and commercial football watching.  Even though I won’t be doing any cooking of my own, I still wanted to share a few recipes that I know would be delicious to snack on during the Superbowl.  Enjoy!

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas – A delightful combination of shredded chicken, cilantro and barbecue sauce, all held together with plenty of melted Monterey Jack cheese!

Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeño Poppers – A baked, spicy treat filled with low fat cream cheese and part skim mozzarella (they’re practically healthy!)

Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillo Salsa This bright green dip is packed with roasted tomatillos, cilantro, garlic, onion and jalapeños.  Make the day before and serve cold!

Caprese Skewers

Bite-Sized Caprese Skewers – Tomato, basil and mozzarella on a stick!  Perfect for healthier eaters.

Shh… It’s a Surprise!!!

Last weekend my mom and I threw a surprise birthday party for her fiancé.  I don’t want to get into too many personal details, but suffice it to say that he was VERY surprised to walk into his own kitchen after a day at the golf course to find 20+ of his closest friends and family ready to party!

My mom and I had a blast planning the menu and secretly hiding the food in the days before the party.  By the morning of the party my mom had managed to successfully conceal 2 dozen brining chicken breasts, impressive amounts of peppers, onions and potatoes, and all of the dips, dressings, and glazes in the refrigerator behind little walls of soda and beer cans and a few strategically placed bags of salad greens… good job, Mom!

One of my culinary contributions to the party was a platter of single-serving Caprese Skewers.  Combining each bite of cherry tomato and mozzarella onto skewers allowed our guests to snack on the caprese with just one hand (leaving the other free for a beverage!) which made this a great appetizer for a party.  It’s also an easy dish to make for a party because you can assemble the skewers several hours ahead of time and then simply garnish with some fresh basil right before serving.

Bite-Sized Caprese Skewers with Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Basil & Balsamic Glaze

You will need…
2-3 small handfuls Arugula
25-30 Marinated Mozzarella Balls, approx. 1″ in diameter
2 pints Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half and kept “paired” with their halves
Toothpicks; can use the slightly longer “sandwich picks” for a little extra space
6-8 extra Cherry Tomatoes, cut into quarters
Balsamic Glaze (use a bottled glaze or make your own balsamic reduction)
10-15 Basil Leaves

Arrange the arugula along the center of a serving tray.  Slice each mozzarella ball into 4 pieces by slicing off the rounded ends (2 pieces) and cutting the center of the ball in half (2 pieces).  Set the small rounded ends aside.

Skewer the top of a tomato half with the toothpick and slide the tomato onto the stick.  Next, slide one of the center mozzarella pieces onto the toothpick.  Skewer the bottom half of the tomato and slide it into place on the toothpick as shown in the photo.  Repeat with all of your halved tomatoes and mozzarella, arranging the skewers onto the arugula as you go.

Sprinkle the rounded mozzarella ball ends and the quartered tomatoes onto the arugula as a garnish.  Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the entire tray.  If needed, you can refrigerate the tray until party time at this point (that’s what we did!).  Before serving, roll up the basil leaves and use kitchen scissors to cut them into long slices.  Arrange the basil slices over the caprese skewers.  (The basil isn’t shown in my photos since I took them a few hours before the party started.)

Garlic Scape Pesto

After months of growth my garlic plants finally have scapes that are ready for harvesting.  Scapes are the “shoots” that garlic plants send up to flower as the bulb is still developing.  Because the bulb is not yet fully formed you are supposed to cut off the scapes so that plant can refocus its energy on the bulb.  The scapes themselves are packed with garlicky flavor and can be used in all sorts of recipes.  I’ll be posting more scape concoctions as the week goes on but for now I’d like to share this delicious recipe for Scape Pesto.

Oh, and before I post the recipe I have to brag about the rest of today’s garden harvest.  In addition to the scapes I also picked a handful of beautiful green beans, a large bunch of basil leaves, and three (yes, three!) strawberries.  🙂

Garlic Scape Pesto  (serves 2)

You will need…
2 Garlic Scapes
15-20 Large Basil Leaves
3-4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and chop until well blended.  Taste the pesto and add olive oil, salt, pepper, or Parmesan as needed to reach your desired flavor.

What can you do with your fresh Scape Pesto?

  • Serve it with Caprese Salad – that’s what we did!
  • Serve it over pasta
  • Enjoy it with a loaf of crusty rustic bread
  • Add it to a homemade pizza