Pretend it’s May 27th… Recap of the Elwyn 5K!

Elwyn Weather 20 min before the race

Just before the race. Looks like perfect running weather to me!

This race recap is a bit late. I wrote most of it during Memorial Day weekend but then got distracted with a trip to California (more on that in a future post!) and somehow it took me 3 weeks to actually publish this. Please just pretend it’s May 27th as you’re reading this… thanks! 😉

I woke up at 5:40AM last Saturday and immediately checked the weather: 100% chance of rain at 9 o’clock with a massive storm on the way. I had two choices: 1. put my iPhone down and fall back asleep or 2. roll out of bed and get ready for a 5K that I wasn’t even registered for. Can you guess what I did? One $30 on-site registration fee later I was standing under some ominous-looking clouds ready to begin the Elwyn 5K.

I ran this race in 2014 and remember the course well. We’d start with just over a mile of pavement with some nice downhills before turning into the woods for a short section of steep uphill trail. Then the course would hit a series of rolling hills on grass before paralleling Rt. 352 for a slight but seemingly never-ending incline. Finally, after a few more twists and turns, we’d reach pavement again for a fast quarter mile to the finish.

Elwyn Start

The Start. Photo Credit: Elwyn 5K

I flew through the pavement section feeling fast and surprisingly light-footed in my Cascadia trail shoes. Thanks to the plentiful downhill my average heart rate was only 174 bpm (very low for me mid-race!) and mile 1 was over in a speedy 7:14.

Mile 2 is the hardest segment of this course. The wooded section was almost completely uphill but I was thankful for the wide and well packed trail (a big difference from the previous weekend’s uneven single-track at Rocky Run!). After powering through the woods I emerged in a field, ready to take on the grassy section of the course.

As I remembered from 2014, the uphill stretch along Rt. 352 lasted forever. I focused on keeping pace with a woman ahead of me, but mostly I just felt like I was in a holding pattern for the remainder of this mile. I had run the final 0.75 miles of the course on my warm up so I knew that once I made it past the 2nd mile split I would almost be to the easier terrain. Mile 2 finally beeped by in 8:46. (It’s worth noting that this was a full 30 seconds faster than my middle mile 2 years ago!)

Elwyn 5K Stats_

I felt a surge of energy as soon as the course veered away from 352. The grass was freshly mowed (easier to run on!) and I knew that I had only a another minute or so on grass before the return to pavement. Once I hit the pavement I picked up my pace big time. I had originally thought I might be able to catch the woman I had been following on the grass, but she also sped up significantly so I settled for just making sure that I was running as fast as I possibly could. Looking at my Garmin stats, I think I averaged about a 7:20-7:25 pace during this final 0.3 mile paved stretch.

Elwyn 5K Finish

Booking it to the finish line. Photo credit: Elwyn 5K

My final mile split was 8:17 but I was too busy focusing on the finish line to check my watch.  I zoomed across the line in 24:21, nearly TWO MINUTES faster than my 2014 time!!

Fortunately the rain held off for the entire race and it wasn’t until the awards ceremony that the skies opened up. I had left my rain coat in the car a quarter mile away so I ducked out early, very happy with my time and pleased that I decided to sign up for this race rather than sleep in for a few extra hours. 😄 Continue reading

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)