Piper goes Viral after hiking Crum Woods

Holy Cow.  This photo of Piper has received over 23,000 views on Flickr since yesterday morning:

Piper's Famous Photo

I wonder… does having 23,000 views qualify as “going viral”?  It is certainly the most buzz any content that I’ve ever created has garnered in a short period of time!  To her credit, Piper is pretty freakin’ adorable in this photo so I don’t blame those 23,000 people for clicking on her photo.  😉  The full resolution image can be viewed here if you’re interested in seeing it in all its viral glory on Flickr.

~~

Anyway… I took The Photo while hiking with Pipe and Matt in Crum Woods.  This 220-acre woodland is situated on the western edge of Swarthmore College’s campus in Delaware County, PA.  It features 3.5 miles of hiking trails, fantastic views of Crum Creek, and a giant railroad bridge that carries Septa’s Media/Elwyn line over the creek.

To access the Crum Woods trail we parked on the western (opposite) side of Crum Creek at the Leiper-Smedley trail parking lot off of Avondale Road and walked down Avondale to Yale Ave.  The trails in this southern section of Crum Woods were dotted with tree roots and sloped steeply down to the creek, but the path evened out to a nice walking trail once we made it north of the trailhead by the Swarthmore College fieldhouse.

I love train tracks and bridges, so it’s no surprise that my favorite part of Crum Woods was where the Septa rail line crossed Crum Creek.  Just before reaching the bridge the trail emerged out of the woods into “Crum Meadow,” where Piper licked her first frozen puddle and we had great views of the trestles crossing the creek.  The view from under the bridge was even more impressive and I may have made Matt and Piper wait around for 5-10 minutes just in case a train came along while we were under it.  (Sadly, we did not see a train.)

Leiper-Smedley Trail

After reaching the northern terminus of Crum Woods, we decided to make the hike more interesting by looping back to our car via the paved Leiper-Smedley trail on the other side of the creek.  Unfortunately Crum Woods and Leiper-Smedley are not officially connected on the northern end, so in order to access L-S we had to jog a short stretch of Plush Mill Road and skirt along the shoulder until we reached the trailhead.  We were lucky that Piper was still small enough for Matt to easily carry her during this stretch… this impromptu trail connection would not have been ideal if we had had a larger dog or small children in tow.

Our return trip along the Leiper-Smedley Trail was uneventful and mostly downhill, woohoo!  I’ve run on this trail several times, most recently going UP the trail in the other direction at the Fueled Up and Fired Up 5K in September.  The trail is well marked and has a much less exciting train bridge on it than Crum Woods… but it’s a train bridge nonetheless, so of course I took a picture!!

I definitely enjoyed our Crum Woods hike because I had never been to Crum Woods before, but overall it was a bit of a choppy walk and there are probably better hiking loops in the area.  The southern portion of the trail was a little treacherous and the northern end didn’t technically connect to Leiper-Smedley, but with good hiking shoes and a quick jog up Plush Mill Road we made it work.  Plus, Piper thoroughly enjoyed herself and was very tired afterwards… Mission Accomplished!!!

Piper having fun on the hike

Useful Links:
Crum Woods Web Site
Official Crum Woods Trail Map & Brochure (PDF)
High-res version of Crum Woods Map with our 4 mile hike overlayed (JPG)

Piper visits Newlin Grist Mill

Regal Piper Pup

As you might expect, Piper’s arrival has had a big impact on our daily routine.  Matt and I are waking up earlier on work days, stopping home 2-3 times to let her out during the day, and (still!) taking turns setting an alarm for a middle-of-the-night potty break.  We are also making sure to do at least one mentally and/or physically stimulating activity with Piper every day to tire her out.  On weekdays it’s practically dark when we get home from work which limits us to activities around the house like wobble-disc practice in the kitchen or epic games of fetch in the back yard. (Fetch is, of course, frequently interrupted when Piper gets distracted and tries to eat deer poop, but I digress!)  Weekends, however, are a whole different story… daylight means that we can go hiking!

Hike hike hike

Since Piper is still very young, meandering hikes in the woods are a great way to tire her out without causing too much stress on her joints.  To keep things interesting, we’ve been visiting a different local park or trail each weekend.  This has been a fun way to re-explore some of our old favorite hiking spots that I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while.  One such local gem is Newlin Grist Mill.

Newlin Grist Mill is a 160 acre park and historical site in Glen Mills, PA.  You can read more about the park’s history, working grist mill and educational programs on their web site.  I’m sure that all of that historical stuff is cool (convincing plug, right?) but WE visit the park for its miles of secluded nature trails that wind along an abandoned rail line and a beautiful stream.  Here are some photos from our hike a few weekends ago…

Newlin Grist Mill’s trails are well maintained and clearly marked, but I have not been able to find an actual detailed trail map of the park.  There’s a basic map at the parking lot showing park boundaries and general right-of-ways, but it’s missing most of the side trails that we actually hiked on.  Luckily, the park is relatively small and most of the major trails tend to be oriented east-west along the old rail line and stream.  This makes it hard to get lost and fun to explore… perfect for hiking with a 10-week-old puppy!

Oh Hi!

If you’re in the western Philadelphia suburbs and are looking for a low-key, relaxed hike with lots of stream views and history, I’d definitely recommend spending an afternoon at Newlin Grist Mill!

Newlin Grist Mill
219 South Cheyney Road
Glen Mills, PA 19342  (map)
www.newlingristmill.org

Riddlewood 5K and a familiar face in a random meme!

This morning I ran the Riddlewood Swim Club 5K and I was the first woman to cross the finish line!  But first, check out this totally random picture that I saw while scrolling through my Facebook feed this afternoon…

Bailey meme

That’s my BAILEY!!!  Somebody turned one of her flying dockdogs photos into an internet meme that’s being shared around Facebook.  Cool!  I don’t know who added the words but it definitely made me smile to see the determined, non-nonsense look on her little brown face as she flies through the air.  If you’re interested, you can view (and share) the original Facebook post here.

But back to running… I signed up last minute for a little 5K race this morning and it went really well!  The race was sponsored by the Riddlewood Swim Club and the course wound around the extremely hilly “Riddlewood” neighborhood of Media, PA.  I’m a big fan of local history so I have to share a quick bit of trivia behind the Riddlewood name:

“The name [Riddlewood] comes from famous racehorse owner Samuel D. Riddle, who owned the property before it was developed in the 1950s. The names of the streets in Riddlewood are named after Sam Riddle’s horses as follows: Man o’ War, War Admiral, War Trophy, Rampart East, Rampart West, Anamosa, and Soldier Song.”  (Source: Wikipedia)

Man o’ War was, according to Wikipedia, one of the greatest Thoroughbred race horses of all time.  He sired Triple Crown Winner War Admiral and was the grandfather (grandhorse?) to Seabiscuit.  Man o’ War’s owner, Sam Riddle died in 1951 and left his estate to be turned into what is now Riddle Memorial Hospital (and also Riddlewood!).  As another local twist, it was Sam’s relatives the Jeffords family that owned the estate that is now my favorite running spot, Ridley Creek State Park.

OK… history lesson over!

Riddlewood Runkeeper Stats

The 5K itself was tiny, with only around 30 participants.  We started by running straight up a steep hill and kept climbing for what felt like the entire first mile.  Around the halfway point the course took us along an equally steep downhill before looping by the swim club and going right back up the huge hill again.  Talk about a good hill workout!  🙂

I felt like I managed all of these hills pretty well and during the second lap’s climb I was actually able to pass two guys who had been in front of me for the whole race.  I pulled away from them and set my sights on a younger guy that was about 200 feet ahead of me.  I knew that the finish was going to be a steep downhill and I really thought I could catch this guy, but he picked up his pace significantly during the last 1/4 mile or so and I couldn’t quite get him.  As it was, I ended up finishing the race with a 7:53 third mile split (my fastest last mile ever!) and clocked a ridiculous 5:10 split on my final 0.1 mile.  I was running into the finish so fast that I thought I might fall over!

Struggling to keep my balance down the hill into the finish.

Struggling to keep my balance down the hill into the finish.

In addition to running my best third mile split, today also marks the first time that I’ve ever raced purely negative splits!  Of course, the fact that the whole first mile was uphill and the third mile was primarily flat or downhill certainly helped this happen, but I’m still pretty psyched!  Oh, and also, I was the first place woman!  Woohoo!  🙂

Annie at Riddlewood

My next race will be the Radnor Red Steeplechase 5K on August 17th.  That is an XC race with horse jumps so it should be VERY interesting!!

Miles since last post:  38.7
Days since last post:  7
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.80
2014 TOTAL MILES: 1022.5

 

Related Posts:
•  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 (9/22/13)
•  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)

Over the Hills and Through the Woods… the Elwyn 5K!

On Saturday morning Matt and I ran the Elwyn Maximum 5K, a road/trail/XC race held on the beautiful grounds of the Elwyn school just west of Media, PA.  This was our first off-road race since our racing debut at Run-A-Muck last September.  All of my races since Run-A-Muck have been on pavement and I had forgotten how much harder it is to run off-road.  (This also made me realize how hard Run-A-Muck really was… I’m lucky I didn’t quit running immediately after that race!)  Mixed surfaces aside, the race course was beautiful, the other runners were friendly and supportive, and I had a blast!

Annie after Elwyn 5K

After going out way too fast in the St. Tim’s 5K last week, I was determined to run my first mile at a reasonable pace.  I curbed my competitive instincts at the start and let people run by me, keeping myself to what felt like a comfortable jog.  The first mile ended up being mostly downhill and was all on pavement, so my split was still pretty quick at ~7:34, but I felt much more under control at the 1 mile marker than I was during St. Tim’s.  This was good because the next 2 miles were very challenging, with trails, grass, and loooong up hill climbs!

At around 1.25 miles the course left the road and entered the woods, where we were greeted by a steep climb up a wood chip trail.  Then we exited out into a soggy, grassy field (where I passed two people… that never happens in the middle of a race!!) and started a steady 0.8 mile climb that felt like it lasted forever. (And those people passed me back, oh well!)  The wet grass footing was challenging but I pushed through, knowing that eventually we’d return to pavement.  At one point around mile 2 we ran down a short driveway and I remember feeling so excited that we were back on the road, only to realize that the volunteers were actually directing us to yet another field for another 3/4 miles of XC running.  During this last stretch on the muddy grass I was only about 50 feet behind Matt, but just as I thought I might try to pass him he put on a burst of speed and pulled ahead.

We finally returned to the road with about 0.35 miles left to go.  I was SO HAPPY to have pavement under my feet again!  I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that I apparently also had enough energy left to pick up some speed and run my third mile faster than my second.  Woohoo!  I finished in 26:17… FASTER than my St. Tim’s run despite this course being much, much more challenging.  I know that the trick was going out with a more controlled pace and I can’t wait to get a chance to try out that technique on an all-road course!

Matt finished strong, passing a few people right at the line for an official time of 26:12.  He ended up 2nd place in his age group and won this fancy blue Elwyn mug.  Doesn’t he look happy?  🙂

Matt with his Elwyn 5K Mug

Our next race is Victory Brewery Company’s Run for Victory 5K on May 18th.  They have a beer garden and BBQ after the race, which is apparently a very fast and flat ROAD course.  Looking forward to it!!!

Miles since last post:  42.4
Days since last post:  8
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.85
2014 TOTAL MILES: 605.0

Related Posts:
•  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)

A Gold Medal at St. Tim’s 5K!

Yesterday afternoon I ran the St. Tim’s 5K and I won!!  Granted, it was a very small race (33 participants) but I was thrilled to lead from start to finish and take home the gold!  🙂

Going into this race I had high hopes.  I was under the impression that the course was flat (it wasn’t) and the sunny 70° weather was perfect for running, so I was hoping for a PR.  With that in mind I exploded off the start line, eager to get into a good position to get around the first narrow turn out of the parking lot.  To my surprise, no one else seemed to be running with me and before I knew it I came to the first intersection and realized that I had no idea where the course went.  Luckily the course was arrowed and a police car was clearing the way ahead with its lights on, so after my initial confusion passed I excitedly took off alone in the lead.

The combination of the unfamiliar lead position and my amped-up expectations made for a very quick first mile (7:34).  Just as I was deciding that I might have gone out a little too fast I arrived at the bottom of an ENORMOUS hill.  (So much for the flat course!!)  I trudged up the hill at a slow jog and figured that someone would certainly be passing me soon after my sudden deceleration.  But no one came.  I didn’t want to turn around and look, but I could hear the spectators cheering me on and I tried to listen after I passed to find out if they were cheering for someone close behind me.  It wasn’t until the last 1/2 mile that I finally heard someone say “they’re right behind you!!” so I tried to make my tired body move a little faster.  Finally with about .15 to go I realized how close I was to victory and I finished strong.  Woohoo!

St Tims Finish

Overall it was very exciting to win a race but I know that I could have run faster if I had paced myself a little better.  I need to get more disciplined about my starts… a 7:34 first mile doesn’t do me any good if it makes me so tired that I slow down to ~9:00 pace for the rest of the race.  (Although maybe in yesterday’s race the fast start actually did help because it put me so far in the lead that it was mentally harder for anyone to pass me later on??)  Either way, running a more consistent race (or even – gasp – negative splits???) is definitely going to be something that I work on moving forward.  Look at these ugly splits from yesterday… eek!

St Tim's 5K Runkeeper

My next race is the Elwyn Maximum 5K next Saturday.  Apparently the Elwyn course is a mixture of roads and hilly trails so I think that it will be a great opportunity for me to chill out and focus on running a more even-paced race!

Miles since last post:  28.3
Days since last post:  6
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2014 TOTAL MILES: 562.6

Related Posts:
•  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 Mile (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)
•  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)

Thank you to DD, a kind spectator who took the two photos of me during the race and who was kind enough to email them to me!

Rick’s Run 5K at Ridley Creek State Park

I’ve been trying to run a race at Ridley Creek State Park since February and I’m happy to report that I finally got my chance!  On Saturday morning I joined 458 other runners at my “local” state park for Rick’s Run, a 5K that helps fund research for Esophageal Cancer.  The weather was beautiful (58 and sunny), the race was well organized, and the runners, volunteers, and spectators helped to create an exciting, friendly atmosphere that I really enjoyed.

All fun aside, the 5K course was TOUGH.  To paraphrase the race organizer at the start line, “You’re all going to run down the hill [for 1 1/2 miles] until you see the water station, then you turn around and run back up!!”

Post-race selfie... I made it up the hill!

Post-race selfie… I made it up the hill!

I’ve run this downhill section of the RCSP loop many times (most recently during my un-Pickle Run), and I knew that coming back up it was going to slow me down significantly.  Therefore I decided to go out FAST to preemptively make up time down the hill, then just slog through the uphill on the way back.  This strategy started out great and I felt like I flew through the first half of the race.  (Runkeeper agrees… apparently I reached the halfway point in sub-23:00 pace!)

As I neared the turnaround I was inspired by the leaders that were already powering back up the hill so I starting clapping and cheering for them (especially for the 2nd place runner – a 14 year old girl!!).  I think this episode of well-intentioned sportsmanship led to my downfall, however, because as soon as I hit the halfway mark I got a terrible side-stitch that lasted for the next mile.  Blech!!!

Rick's Run Runkeeper Stats

In spite of the stabbing pain in my abdomen I pushed onward up the hill, albeit at a MUCH slower pace than the first half of the race.  I never broke down and walked (although at times I wanted to!) and with about .5 left to go the side-stitch pain mercifully started to subside.  With renewed energy I picked up my pace and was able to finish strong across the finish line.  My chip time was 25:56 which put me at 30th overall and 9th female overall out of 256 women!

The cramp was, quite literally, a thorn in my side and I know I could have run up the hill faster without it.  I don’t get side-stitches very often and I have been mentally dissecting my race prep trying to figure out where I went wrong.  Good hydration? Check.  Banana with a light breakfast 3 hours before the race? Done and done. Warm up?  Yup! (OK, just a tiny warm up, but it was more than I usually do…).  After much consideration I have concluded that the dreaded side-stitch must have been caused by my irregular breathing while cheering during the race.  I guess that’s the last time I’ll do that!!  🙂

Have you gotten a side-stitch during a race?  Did you figure out what caused it and/or how to prevent it from happening again??  (Please share your secret!!!!)

Miles since last post:  78
Days since last post:  16
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2014 TOTAL MILES: 534.3

Related Posts:
•  Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/14)
•  Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet March 5 Mile (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)
•  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)