Turtle Trot 5K at Okehocking

Okehocking Preserve, Ridley Creek State Park, and the Darlington Trail are by far my favorite places to run and hike. All three spots are close to my house (I can run to them!) and their trails offer sweeping views, peaceful woods, and wickedly steep hills. I’ve raced at Ridley Creek and Darlington multiple times but until recently a race had never been held at Okehocking. Thankfully that changed on Sunday, May 15th when Okehocking played host to the inaugural Autism Village Turtle Trot.

407 Start of the Turtle Trot

I arrived at Okehocking early on Sunday with Matt and the camera in tow. The weather was sunny and in the upper 40s… a bit chilly for spectators but absolutely perfect for running. After countless solo loops on Okehocking’s trails – most recently in the snow on April 9th! – I was eager to learn where the official race course would go. Bill Frawley, the course designer and co-owner of my favorite shoe store, The Running Place, was kind enough to point out the major turns and confirmed that the worst of the course’s extreme uphill climbs would be conquered during the first mile.  Sounds good to me!!

Okehocking Turtle Trot 5K Stats_

The race started up a steep hill, wrapped around the preserve’s off-leash dog park, then descended to a bridge spanning a small creek. After the creek it was time to climb again, this time to the long ridge line that runs along the whole north edge of the park. I know from past experience that I can just barely see my house from this ridge, but on Sunday I was too focused on the run to be house-hunting. After 130 feet of elevation gain, mile 1 beeped by in a surprisingly speedy 8:33.

During mile 2 the course plunged down a hillside, passing the preserve’s beautifully restored barn before entering the marshy area at the western edge of the park. Bill had warned me that it would be muddy here, but for the most part the ground was firm and fairly easy to navigate. Or at least it was until the very end of the marshy section when the course turned away from Ridley Creek and the entire trail turned into several feet of thick, deep mud. I splashed and squelched my way through and broke free from the woods just as my watch beeped an 8:30 second mile split.

I often end my own Okehocking runs with a mile-ish clockwise loop in the middle of the preserve through the woods and back towards the area where the race’s finish was located. I understood beforehand that the race’s final mile would be similar to a backwards version of my loop, but I wasn’t thinking about how the change in direction would impact the hills. Perhaps at this point in the race I was just more tired than I usually would be in a casual run, but mile 3 felt like it was ALL uphill. During this mile I realized that I was going to pass Matt so I tried really hard to look like I was running with good form, but then resumed my tired shuffle as soon as I had passed the camera. 😁

503 Mid-Turtle Trot

Finally the hills were done and the finish line was in sight. I ignored my watch’s 8:56 split (I would have been shocked that I ran the final mile in under 9 minutes!!) and sprinted into the finish. I crossed the line in 26:49, just 6 seconds slower than the Rocky Run 5K that I had run two days earlier. I ended up second place overall female and as a prize received an adorable little handmade turtle ornament that will definitely get a place of honor on our next Christmas tree.

Mile 3’s unexpected uphills aside, I loved everything about this course. I was grateful that most of the hills were over with in mile 1, I appreciated the hard, packed trails (a big change from Rocky Run’s rutted, lumpy grass), and the views made every climb totally worth it. Now if there was just some way to make the weather at ALL RACES be 48° and sunny… that would truly be perfect!

574 Turtle Trot Finish

Miles since last post: 0
Days since last post:0
2016 MILES: 695.9
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Let it snow! Long enough for a run, at least.

We experienced some very odd weather in southeastern Pennsylvania yesterday… it snowed! And not just cute little spring flurries. This was real, accumulating, white-out conditions SNOW! The storm started mid-morning and dumped 4-5 inches on my daffodils, budding trees, and sugar snap pea shoots. There was nothing I could do to protect my garden so I decided to take Piper out for a trail run at nearby Okehocking Preserve instead.

Okehocking Snow Run

We ran a big loop around the preserve, enjoying the muddy trails, slippery hills and snowy grass. This might have been a freak storm, but it sure was pretty!

Okehocking in the Snow

I brought my Go Pro along and had fun running towards it on the trail. Matt gave me the Go Pro for my birthday last November and I’m still learning how to take advantage of the tiny camera’s super wide-angle lens and various shooting modes. Yesterday I played around with the Go Pro’s continuous photo mode and tried to avoid stepping on it each time Piper and I zoomed by.

Luckily no one else was out in the storm to witness this behavior… Piper thought we looked pretty silly.

Look at the camera, Piper

The storm ended at 5PM and immediately started melting. Our backyard is still blanketed in snow more than 24 hours later, but the temperature is supposed to rise to 62°F tomorrow so the snow should disappear soon. As much as I enjoyed my winter romp with Piper, I’ll be OK if I don’t see another snow flake until November!!

Okehocking Preserve (4/9/16)

St. Pat’s 5K

It rained all day Saturday, meaning that Piper stayed inside and kept herself busy doing this:

I, on the other hand, was pleased to discover that even if the weather was gloomy and rainy it was still a full 21° WARMER than the previous Saturday.  After the winter we’ve had I now consider 46° and drizzly to be EXCELLENT running conditions so I decided to take advantage of the (relatively) nice weather by signing up for an afternoon 5K in downtown West Chester, PA.

Seeing as how this was the St. Pat’s 5K, it was only appropriate that race registration occurred in Kildare’s, an Irish-themed pub.  I paid my entry fee, picked up my tech t-shirt, found a hiding spot for said shirt by the bar since I wasn’t planning on wearing it in the race, and headed out for a brief warm up.  Before I knew it I was lining up with 175 other runners and walkers and we were off!  I wasn’t familiar with the course but another runner at the start had explained that it was just two loops of a big square.  Simple enough!

After a winter of hilly 5K courses I would really have liked to PR, but unfortunately I finished just 7 seconds shy of my goal on Saturday.  Nevertheless, I ran what felt like a great race and I am so proud of that third mile split!!! 7:33!

St Pat's 5K Stats

The race finished up a long, gradual hill.  Although I was able to pick up speed going into the finish I wasn’t able to kick quite hard enough to beat my 23:32 PR.  It’s all good though, because my official chip time of 23:40 was good enough for 6th place female and 2nd in my age group!  The age group award was a gift card to Kildare’s so I guess I’ll be returning for an Irish dinner (or drink(s)) in the near future!

Obviously I would have loved to PR, but I’m really not too upset about it, especially because less than 48 hours before the race I was doing this:

Crazy, insane trail hill repeats!  There’s a hill at Okehocking Preserve that is roughly a 13% grade… that’s 87 feet gained in elevation over 200 meters of pure, twisting uphill!  I voluntarily chose to run up this hill four times in a row on Thursday and finished up the day with another 2 miles of hilly trails, so overall I’m pretty psyched that I was able to complete Saturday’s race within 7 seconds of my 5K PR!

Trail Running at Okehocking

Plus, this view from the top of another, even higher hill at Okehocking made Thursday’s trail run totally worth it. 😃 #runhappy

The next race that I’m registered for is the final Pickle Run on March 28th but depending on the weather I may sign up for another impromptu race next weekend.  What do you think I should do? A hilly trail 10K on Saturday or a flat 5K Sunday?  Lately I seem to be a glutton for off-road punishment so that trail race is looking sort of appealing…

Miles since last post: 16.5
Days since last post:  4
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2015 MILES: 345.7

Past Races:
•  March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7)
•  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)

I won the lottery!

A few weeks ago I entered the lottery for Philadelphia’s Broad Street Run, a 10 mile point-to-point race that takes place in early May.  And guess what?  I made the cut!! Here’s the email I woke up to on Tuesday morning:

I'm in! Broad Street 2015

Apparently 46,600 runners entered and ‘only’ 40,000 got in. This is a BIG race!

Broad Street is May 3rd, just 3 weeks after my first 10K on April 11th.  The 10K will already be my longest race ever… it’s going to be an exciting spring!

In other news, my renewed focus on improving my 5K speed feels like it’s going really well.  I did a strong 4.5 mile tempo run in a mini snowstorm at Ridley Creek on Saturday, finally returned to The Running Place for a chilly 5 mile group run on Monday and completed a speedy 400-800-1200-1200-800-400 ladder on the treadmill on Tuesday.  Then Wednesday I ran 4 snow-covered miles at Okehocking Preserve and ended the night with this view.  I love it here!

Okehocking Sunset (2/18/15)

Miles since last post: 38.6
Days since last post:  8
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.85
2015 MILES: 235.2

Okehocking Preserve

Piper and her reflection in Ridley Creek

Merry Christmas Eve!  Matt and I are hosting dinner tonight… bone-in short ribs over polenta with brussel sprouts braised in cream.  YUM!!  The food is prepped, the house is clean, I got in a nice 4 mile run in the rain and now I’m just waiting for family to arrive.  I thought I’d take advantage of this lull in the day to share some photos from one of our hikes last week.

2834 Piper at Okehocking

Matt and I are fortunate to live very close to Okehocking Preserve, a 180-acre conservation area with miles of trails, a scenic section of Ridley Creek and an off-leash, unfenced dog park.  We’ve been taking Piper to Okehocking a lot lately, in part to socialize her but also because the preserve’s close proximity to our house allows us to squeeze in the maximum amount of outdoor time before the sun goes down.  (Hooray for the shortest day of the year being BEHIND us now!!)

So far Piper has really taken to Okehocking.  She sniffs and snorts around in the tall grass, has fun climbing on rocks, walls, and fallen trees, wades into (and tries to drink all of) Ridley Creek and, of course, has a blast playing with other dogs in the off-leash area.  I’m sure we’ll be spending many, many afternoons at Okehocking over the next several months.  If you’re from the area I would definitely recommend visiting Okehocking… maybe we’ll see you there!

2794 Piper drinking

Okehocking Preserve
5316 West Chester Pike
Newtown Square, PA 19073
Preserve Map | Web Site
My Okehocking post from 2012

Okehocking Preserve

I just realized that there’s another topic that I’d like to write about in addition to recipes and Bailey updates — places we like to Hike!

Okehocking Preserve in Willistown Township, PA

Matt, Bailey and I have explored parks and preserves all over Delaware and Chester County, often in pursuit of geocaches. We have several favorite places that we like to hike including Okehocking Preserve in Willistown Township, PA. Okehocking is bounded by West Chester Pike to the south and Delchester and Garrett Mill Roads to the east and west, respectively.  It’s full of rolling hills and mowed hiking trails and, best of all, it’s less than a mile from our house.  From the top of one of the hills you can actually see our house!

You can see our house from this hill at Okehocking (and no, it's not the stone one...)

In addition to the beautiful landscapes Okehocking also has an off-leash dog park.  Unfortunately for Miss Bailey the park is not fenced so she’s not going off-leash there anytime soon, but it is fun to watch the other dogs run around.  Last year we saw a female GSP at Okehocking and after a quick chat with her owner realized that she was Bailey’s sister!!!  Bailey was born in New Jersey so finding her littermate romping at a park a mile from home was pretty crazy.

We discovered Bailey's sister, Kona, playing in the off-leash park at Okehocking

Just in case it seems that we only visit Okehocking in the dreary winter months, here’s a photo from last fall.  Enjoy!