Not quite as I planned: Recap of the Delaware “Flat” 5K

Here’s what was supposed to happen this weekend:

On Friday evening I had plans to meet Elle from A Fast Paced Life for dinner in Glen Mills, PA. After years of following each other’s blogs, I was really looking forward to meeting Elle in person. We would have had a delicious dinner, taken lots of photos to document the occasion like good little bloggers, and then ended our evening early in preparation for the next morning’s race.

Saturday morning was the big event and the real reason Elle was making the long drive down from Brooklyn.  At 9:45 Elle and I would meet again, this time on the streets of Wilmington for the second annual Delaware Downhill 5K. The point-to-point course had an elevation drop of over 200 feet, guaranteeing a fun, fast 3.1 miles. Elle and I have both been running personal bests lately and we both hoped to walk away with new PRs.

I was PSYCHED for my downhill duel with Elle and I had the whole race planned out in my mind. I would run the first mile in 7:03, the same pace that I ran the first mile of the 2 mile Jingle Elf Run two weeks ago. Then I’d give into the downhill in mile 2 and aim for a sub-7 (!!) split. Finally, with a relatively flat final mile ahead of me, I would hold on for dear life, trying to keep up with Elle who is in BQ-marathon-shape and who certainly would have more strength in the final mile than I. Elle and I would cross the finish line together (ok, maybe I’d edge her out by a second, this is MY version of the story after all!) and we’d both drive home happy with our huge 5K PRs.

But none of that actually happened. Nope, Mother Nature had other plans so we had to adapt.

Here’s what actually transpired:

Friday morning I woke up and the first thing I saw was a “Winter Weather Advisory” on my phone. Winter weather? When I went to bed there wasn’t any snow in the forecast. Apparently the models changed overnight and, just like that, we were now supposed to get 2-4 inches of snow right in the middle of the evening commute. I immediately thought of Elle and sent her a quick message. Elle replied that she used to live in Canada and wasn’t scared of a little snow. Our weekend was still on track.

I worked all day Friday, happily watching the beautiful snow fall quietly on the cars in the parking lot outside my window. It wasn’t until 4:30PM when Matt and I left work that I realized how MUCH snow there really was. The roads were not treated at all and traffic was terrible. Our 5 minute commute took 20 minutes and, after watching a truck go off the road ahead of us, I decided that there was no way I was voluntarily going back out on the roads after dark. I sadly texted Elle to cancel our dinner. At least we’d get to see each other the next morning!

Saturday morning started like any race morning. I woke up really early, ate breakfast and hung out with Piper while we waited for the sun to come up. But then at 6:57AM I received an email: due to icy conditions the Downhill 5K was POSTPONED until Sunday! I could run Sunday but I felt terrible for poor Elle, who had driven all the way to Delaware in a snowstorm only to have dinner AND her race cancelled!

But we salvaged the day. Instead of racing downhill in Delaware, Elle met me at Okehocking Preserve for a snowy, hilly trail run. And it was perfect!! (Much less pressure than a downhill duel, I must say.) We crisscrossed our way around the preserve, chatting non-stop about our dogs (Piper and Bandit need to have a showdown one day, we decided), our running habits, and our lives outside of the blogosphere.

After our run we enjoyed a long brunch together before Elle set off on her journey home. It was such fun to meet Elle and I loved getting the chance to show her my local running trails, even if we didn’t get to race one another. Now we have an excuse to meet again at a future date for a second attempt at our duel!

Delaware “Flat” 5K

December 17, 2017 | Wilmington, DE | 26th overall, 5th F, 3rd AG (results)

I thought that the surprises were over but the weekend had one more for me. Saturday afternoon I got another email from the race organizers, this time to say that Sunday’s course was going to be modified to just be a flat out and back. So no downhill, no 200 ft. of elevation drop, and no inevitable PR. Boo. But I was still going to give it my best shot.

I woke up before the sun for the second weekend day in a row. This is proof – a predawn Piper pic in front of our Christmas tree.

I scoped out the first half mile of the course during my warm up and immediately noticed that there were several slight hills along the route, mostly thanks to the bridges that we’d cross back and forth over the Brandywine River four times. Fortunately the final half mile looked like it would have some gentle downhill, which always makes for a more exciting finish.

My race plan wasn’t especially well thought out – I had focused on preparing for the downhill course and didn’t really adjust my plan for the new flat-ish course. As a result I went out way too fast in the first mile, clocking a 7:05 split. Oops! I still felt good in mile 2, but realized my mistake when my Garmin beeped a 7:29 split.

I hung on for mile 3, waiting to reach that final bit of downhill. A woman had been ahead of me for the whole race and I had been gaining on her ever so slowly as the seconds ticked by. Finally the slight downhill began. (It sure felt like more of a hill when I was going up it at the start of the race!) I had to make a decision: should I really push myself and try to chase her down, or was she too far ahead to reach? I went for the push and surged forward, moving up close enough to her that a spectator in the homestretch started yelling, “SHE’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU! GOOOO!!!” The woman sped up but by then I had already made up my mind. I sprinted by her and kept sprinting as hard as I could through the finish line. Got her!

Seconds after we crossed the finish line. Did I mention that the woman I passed and I were wearing matching shirts from last year’s race? (Photo: Triassic Sports)

I finished in 22:37, one second faster than my time on the actual downhill course last year.  I later realized my final push to the finish was definitely worth it. Unbeknownst to me, another woman in the 30-39 age group was right behind me, finishing with a chip time of 22:41. If I hadn’t sprinted I wouldn’t have placed in my age group. (That’s why you always sprint at the end of a chipped race… you never know how close the finish might actually be!) My prize was an ugly Christmas sweater for a wine bottle. I’m sure it will get some good use over the holidays!

That’s it for tonight… I’ve been working on this post for too long and need to go to bed!! (I blame it on waking up for a race two days in a row!)

Miles since last post: 47.8
Days since last post: 14
2017 MILES: 1286.4
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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