My 5,280 Foot PR

The last time I raced a mile was on August 13, 2015 when I ran just over 4 laps (1,609 meters) around the Henderson High School track. I trained hard for the inaugural Boxcar Mile and finished with an official time of 6:56. I came away from that race happy with my performance but feeling that I definitely had the potential to run faster.

My second chance to race a mile came last Saturday when I participated in the 2nd annual Media Mile hosted by 5280 Race Series. Unlike the Boxcar event, this was a road race with a gentle decline in the first half followed by a slight uphill towards the finish. The gradual climb would make this race more challenging than running on a track, but I figured that the road course would be mentally easier since I wouldn’t be running the same loop four times.

I woke up early Saturday morning, posted a quick blog recap of my last 5K, and then set off through the pouring rain to Media. I warmed up through the waterlogged town with my raincoat zipped all the way up and my hood on, side-stepping around puddles on the uneven brick sidewalks. I told myself that despite the rain the weather really wasn’t that bad. Compared to the 71° summer heat at the Boxcar Mile I’ll take 52 and rainy any day!

So much rain.

So much rain. I texted this to Matt, who was still asleep at the time. He’s glad he didn’t come to spectate!

I shed my raincoat at 8:57am and lined up on Front Street by the county courthouse. In a moment of panic I realized that I hadn’t updated my Garmin to auto-split at the half mile, so I spent the final seconds fiddling with my watch, finishing just in time to hear Ready, Set, GO!!!

The downhill in the first quarter mile made it hard to hold back, but I knew that the finish would be ugly if I got carried away sprinting too fast. I consciously decided to let some people pass me and fell into a comfortably fast rhythm as the mid-way point approached.  A man was standing at the half calling out splits… I hadn’t needed to set my watch after all! I blew through the half in 3:15. Possibly my fastest 800 meters ever and technically on pace for a 6:30 finish, but the uphill was coming!

Media Mile Stats

The hill that I had spent so much time mentally preparing for seemed like it was over before I had time to think about it. I guess that’s how things go in a 1 mile race? Looking at the elevation chart, there was still a slight incline all the way to the finish, but with 600m to go I knew the worst was over.

I powered up State Street feeling strangely in control. I fell into stride behind a girl in neon green and imagined that we were in a track workout together and my job was to stay right on her heels. With a few blocks to go I realized that I could actually PASS her, so I did! I veered around her and then, sure that she would respond to my challenge, picked up my pace and never looked back.

I made the final turn into Veteran’s Square at what felt like a sprint. I was greeted by another short uphill but by that point I didn’t care: the finish clock was in sight! It was ticking away in the high 6:30s and I KNEW I was going to PR. I ran hard and crossed the line with a chip time of 6:46. A 10 second PR!!!!

Finishing the Media Mile

I just missed an age group award but that’s OK because I ran my fastest mile ever!!! My first half was significantly faster than the second, but I think that was the right strategy given the terrain. I will definitely plan to race the Media Mile again in the future, hopefully minus the rain! 😄

My next race is tonight when I’ll be running the Rocky Run Trail 5K for the third year in a row. Then I’ll finish off the weekend at Okehocking Preserve with another 5K trail race. I’m going to be one tired runner by Sunday afternoon. Wish me luck!

A wet post-race selfie

Miles since last post: 28.9
Days since last post: 6
2016 MILES: 649.5
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That time I TIED my 5K PR!

Or, how NOT to pace a 5K.

On Saturday, April 23rd I ran the Haverford Twilight 5K for the second year in a row. Last year I PR’d at this race and this year I felt that I was absolutely in position to run another personal best. I was so sure that I could beat my previous time of 23:17 that I cockily told Matt as I left for the race that I’d text him my new PR as soon as the run was over.

To earn a new PR I knew that I’d need to keep my first mile under control and run consistent splits. If my goal was to run, say, 23:10, my ideal splits would be something like 7:28, 7:32, 7:31, with a final 0.1 mile kick at around 6:30 pace.

Fast Times Split Table

As the table above illustrates, I’ve been running relatively fast times this spring and my pacing has been getting more consistent. With this in mind I believed that hovering right around that 7:30 mark during the bulk of the 3.1 mile race seemed like a reasonable and attainable goal.

So how did the race actually go? Not QUITE as planned.

I started the 5K several rows back to ensure that I wouldn’t get caught up in the initial mad rush of kids and sprinters who tend to stop or drastically slow down after the first quarter mile. I would describe my pace as “strong.” Not comfortable, but not pushing too hard either. Then I glanced down at my watch and realized I was averaging 6:50 pace for the first .3 miles. Whoops!

I slowed down and fell in behind a man wearing a bright blue shirt that said something about a running coach. I didn’t know if he was the coach or the coached, but either way I figured he could probably run a more consistent pace that I could so I resisted the urge to zoom past him and instead tucked in right behind him as we came off the first turnaround.

Before I knew it, mile 1 was over in 7:13.

I knew that I was way off pace, but oddly I still felt fantastic. Strong, happy, and matching my blue-shirted running coach stride for stride. We powered into mile 2 and zipped southeast down Darby Road at a nice clip.

I glanced at my watch again… I was still averaging a 7:13 pace halfway through the second mile. Whoa. Thoughts started swirling around in my head as I edged past the coach:

Could I somehow have underestimated my PR potential by this much?
Should I back off of this crazy a$$ pace right now??
Am I going to go sub-23??!!

How painful is mile 3 going to be?

Mile 2 ticked by in another, perfectly even 7:13. Unbelievable!!

But then the headwind kicked in. Oh yeah, did I mention that there was a 14mph wind coming out of the NNW? And guess which way I was headed for the third and final mile? Not good. The tailwind that had pushed me southeast for my fastest 2nd mile ever was now mercilessly slamming me in the face. My wildly off-pace 7:13 miles caught up with me and I struggled along, praying for the moment that I’d get to turn right on Mill Road, out of the wind and towards the finish.

At last the end was in sight. Mile 3 blipped by in a disappointing 8:00 split but I ignored my watch and pushed with everything I had towards the finish.  I crossed the line with a chip time of 23:17… exactly tying my PR.

Haverford Twilight 5K Stats

I know without a doubt that I messed up in those first two miles. But at the time they just felt so easy, so strong… so RIGHT! Some delusional part of my oxygen-deprived brain was telling me “Go for it!!” and I didn’t want to miss out on the chance to PR big because I was too conservative at the start.

That’s my problem right there. I always feel the urge to bank time and therefore go out too fast. How do I fix this? Do I have to run a terribly uneven 5K every once in a while to remind myself of how not to pace a race? At least during the Haverford Twilight Run I was able to TIE my PR (yay!) but I still believe that I should have been able to beat that time and set a new PR with a better executed race.

Going out too fast in my first mile shouldn’t be too much of a problem in my next race because it’s just a single mile! At 9AM today I’ll be dashing through the streets of Media, PA for a 1 mile race hosted by the 5280 race series. The only mile I’ve ever raced was on a track last August so I’m very excited to see how this morning’s road race will unfold!

Miles since last post: 0
Days since last post: 0
2016 MILES: 620.6

Past Races:
• April ’16: Evolve IP 5K (4/2), Empower the Children 5K (4/17)
• March ’16:
 St. Agnes 5K (3/5), 3-2-1 Loop 10K (3/12) [10K PR], Pickle Run (3/19)
• February ’16:
Pickle with Piper (2/20)
• January ’16:
Pickle Trail Run (1/30)
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR], Brian’s Run (12/5) [5M PR], Reindeer Romp 5K (12/13)
• November ’15:
Trinity 5K (11/7), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/26) [5K PR]
• October ’15:
BAAR 5K (10/3), Double OyVey 10K (10/25) [10K PR], Boo Run 5K (10/31)
• September ’15: Run-A-Muck Trail 5K (9/19)
• August ’15:
Boxcar Mile (8/13), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/27)
• June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
• May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3) [10M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
• April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11) [10K PR], Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26) [5K PR]
• 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) [2M PR]Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7) [5M PR], Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)  [5K 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) [5K PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18) [5M PR]
• 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) [5K 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) [5K 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) [5K PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Empower the Children 5K

Last Saturday Matt and I ran the Empower the Children 5K.  This low key 5K looped through the neighborhood of Westgate Hills in Havertown, PA and benefitted a local nonprofit, Child Guidance Resource Centers.

Annie and Matt after the Child Guidance 5K

I’ve been slow in writing this recap because this was ultimately not a stellar race for me.  Don’t get me wrong — the race atmosphere, friends, gorgeous weather, and post-race food (cupcakes!!) were awesome, but I did not perform especially well.  I finished in 24:36 – my slowest road 5K since August – and felt sluggish and hot through much of the race.

Luckily there’s no mystery as to why I ran so slow and felt so terrible.  I am quite sure that it’s due to the fact that I ran the first mile like an insane person, going through the split in 7:16.  WAY too fast!!  I was attempting to run by feel and was purposefully not looking at my watch, but apparently this is not a good race strategy for me.  (But, much better to find that out in a 3 mile race rather than during next week’s 10 mile Broad Street Run, right?) 😉

This elevation chart does not do the hills on this course justice!  :-)

As the second mile began I was blissfully unaware of my pacing snafu and continued to move around the course as fast as I could.  At the 1.3 mile mark the course turned up a steep hill and a woman wearing orange passed me like I was standing still.  I had been the first place woman until that point and as I watched her striding effortlessly up the hill I resigned myself to the fact that this was not my day.  (Another 5K error – negative thinking!)

The race continued around a second loop of the same course and I kept orange woman in sight.  Then a woman in black also passed me and I struggled to stay with both ladies as the big hill came into sight again with a quarter mile to go.  Both women powered up the hill ahead of me looking strong and I trailed behind, trying to keep it together for one more minute of racing.

On the final straightaway with the finish line in sight I watched as the woman in black passed the woman in orange and then… I couldn’t believe my eyes… Orange started WALKING!!!  What???  Before that moment I was positive that I would be the third place female but with renewed energy I decided that I was going to give this finish everything I had in an attempt to catch up with Orange before the line.  In the words of one of our spectating friends, I went into total beastmode and sprinted towards the finish, passing Orange and nabbing the second place spot.  Whew!

Child Guidance 5K Photos

Photo Credit: CGRC

After a moment of trying to catch my breath I turned around just in time to see Matt finishing strong. This was his first race since Run A Muck in September and he handled the hilly course well, ending up 8th overall and first in his age group with a time of 25:45.

This race was a good wake up call for me.  Running the first mile 20 seconds faster than my goal pace was painful in this 5K, but it would be so much worse if I were to make this same mistake in the 10 mile Broad Street Run next week.  I already know that I should not start out too fast in theory, but having Saturday’s experience of feeling terrible in miles 2 and 3 after a crazy start was an excellent reminder that I hope will stay with me until race day on May 3rd!

Miles since last post: 60.3
Days since last post: 12
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.85
2015 MILES: 546.6


Past Races:
•  April ’15:
Tyler Trail 10K (4/11)
•  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)