Double Trail Run Weekend

This weekend I ran TWO 5K trail races and I had a great time!  The first race was the Rocky Run 5K hosted by the Rocky Run YMCA in Media, PA on Friday night.  This race was originally scheduled for May 16th but it had to be postponed due to extremely heavy rainfall (over 2.5″ inches in 8 hours).  Postponing the race was a good call – the extra two weeks gave the winding trails behind the Y time to dry out and Friday’s weather was absolutely perfect.

Annie Rocky Run 5K

The Y’s 5K course started out on a short pavement loop before entering the woods on the Rocky Run Trail.  (This trail is part of a large network of trails in Middletown Township including the Darlington and Linvill Trails… if you’re in the area I’d highly recommend checking them out!)  I’ve spent a lot of time hiking on these trails but I’ve never actually run on them so Friday’s race was a new experience for me.  The first 1 1/2 miles seemed pretty easy and I felt good as I dodged tree roots, mud, and rocks.  At the halfway turnaround I discovered that I was the 2nd place woman (woohoo!) which put some pressure on me to keep up my pace for the second half of the race.  I didn’t know how far behind me the 3rd place woman was, but I do remember the second half of the race feeling MUCH harder than the first half, probably because it was almost entirely uphill!

Rocky Run 5K Runkeeper Stats

The last mile wasn’t pretty, but I held onto my second place spot and finished in 27:40, good enough for 14th overall out of 88 runners, 2nd place female, and 1st in my age group.  The overall female winner was actually also in my age group but I got the AG award since she got the overall award.  🙂  The Rocky Run 5K marked the first time I’ve won an actual prize in a race — a $25 gift certificate to a local running store!! — and also helped me realize that I might REALLY like trail runs!

After my great off-road experience on Friday night, I decided to sign up for another local trail race on Sunday morning.  This race was Radnor Conservancy’s Race for Open Space 5K Trail Run.  It was held at the Willows mansion/park in Villanova, PA which is actually where my parents got married back in 1983!  Despite the Willows only being about 20 minutes from my house I’ve never actually been there, so it was pretty neat to visit the alcove and gardens that I’ve only ever seen in old wedding portraits.  I was surprised to discover that my parents’ wedding ceremony site is now a parking lot… I guess modern-day weddings happen somewhere else on the property??

Much like the Rocky Run 5K, the Race for Open Space started on a short stretch of pavement before entering the woods on winding, hilly trails.  My Runkeeper App couldn’t get a good GPS signal during the race and it reported that I had already run 5 miles after only 7:46 had elapsed.  Whoops!  The Runkeeper app continued to malfunction throughout the race (at one point it told that my mile split was 81 miles per hour!!) but it was useful just to know the race time even if the miles were way off.  I thought that this course seemed harder than the Rocky Run course so I was pleasantly surprised when I finished in 25:49… nearly 2 minutes faster than Friday’s time.  Yay!!

My 25:49 finish was good enough for 31st overall out of 96 runners, 10th place female, and 1st place in my age group.  🙂  Considering that I had not originally been planning to run any races this weekend, I was pretty thrilled with how my two trail races turned out.  Now I really can’t wait to do the Run-A-Muck trail race in September… I have a feeling that I am going to be able to improve significantly on my 35+ minute time from last year!!

My next race is the Media 5 Miler on June 20th.  This is a road race (which should feel easy after tree roots, rocks and mud!) and, with over 1500 runners, it will be the biggest race that I’ve run in so far.  Less than 3 weeks to go!

Miles since last post:  53.8
Days since last post:  13
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.81
2014 TOTAL MILES: 721.3

Related Posts:
•  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)

Victory at Victory Brewing Company! [SUB-25!!!!!]

Yesterday Matt, my brother Billy, his girlfriend Suzanne, and I ran the Run for Ryan 5K at Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, PA.  The four of us were team “Red, White and Brew” and we had a blast running and enjoying BBQ and Victory beer after the race.

Red, White and Brew after the 5K

I’ve been gearing up for this 5K for months (I signed up for it in early January) and it’s been my unofficial goal race all Spring.  This was my wishlist plan going into the race:

  1. Chill out during mile 1.  Don’t let the excitement of the start and the big crowd make me go out faster than I should.  (This has been a problem in the past; I hoped for an 8:25-ish first mile.)
  2. Run negative splits.  Finish strong!
  3. Beat my current PR of 25:13 from the YMCA’s New Year’s Eve 5K.
  4. Finish in sub-25:00

Lofty goals, I know, but I have been working hard and I knew this course was going to be fairly flat (a rarity around here, apparently!) with a very exciting, fun atmosphere.  I also had just come off of a super strong training run at Ridley Creek on Friday where I had shocked myself with huge negative splits (8:45, 8:11, 7:30..!) and a positive experience at the Elwyn 5K where I really concentrated on taking it easy during mile 1 so that I’d have some juice left for the rest of the race.

The subject line probably tipped you off to the fact that I ran sub-25 so I’ll just tell you right now.  My official chip time was…

24:17  !!!!!!

That’s nearly a MINUTE faster than my previous personal best!  I was (and still am!) thrilled!

Victory 5K Runkeeper Stats

During the race, however, I was pretty worried that I had (once again), gone out at a pace that was way faster than I could maintain.  The race began just fine and I felt like I was succeeding with Part 1 of my plan as I settled into what felt like  a comfortable, easy pace for the first mile.  In fact it felt a little TOO easy and I thought I might have chilled out a little too much, until Runkeeper cheerfully reported that I had completed my first mile in 7:42.  Yup, almost 45 seconds faster than I planned to run.  Crap!  As I started to mentally chastise myself for going out too fast I realized that I still felt inexplicably good.  I put the first mile behind me and instead focused on trying to keep that pace up for my second mile.

The moment Runkeeper reported my second mile split – 7:54 – I knew that I was definitely going to get a PR.  I had 1.1 miles go and only needed to complete them in ~9 minute pace to beat 25:13.  Woohoo!  I hadn’t run my second mile quite as fast as the first but amazingly I had maintained a sub-8 pace and still felt good.  With renewed energy I pushed into my 3rd mile and back towards the brewery.  (Oh yeah, did I mentioned that there was free beer waiting for me at the finish????)  With about 0.3 miles left to go my abdomen started to cramp up, but I knew that I was on pace for a big PR and I tried really hard not to slow down.  Runkeeper reported my third split – 8:00 – just before I came around the bend and into view of the finish line clock that was slowly ticking its way through the low 24’s.  I sprinted as fast as I could and finished with an official chip time of 24:17.  Victory!!!!!

Annie finish line

Our entire team finished with PRs, with Billy coming in 39th overall, Matt finishing with a new personal best time of 23:47, and Suzanne completing her first 5K ever!  I finished 101/644 overall, 25/344 women, and 5/58 in my age group.  Woohoo!  As part of our race entries, we all got free BBQ sandwiches and 2 beers each.  Matt had a lacrosse game immediately following the race so we all generously helped him drink his beers.  🙂

It was really nice to run with Matt, Billy and Suzanne (and to have my mom cheering and snapping photos from the sidelines!) and I am super psyched that I was able to crush my time goal (even if I wasn’t so successful at running negative splits!).  It was also quite enjoyable to kick back and drink a few beers in the gorgeous 65° weather after the race. 🙂

My next race will be the Rocky Run Trail Run 5K on May 30th.  The course will follow some of the Middletown Trails that I have hiked on and blogged about in the past so that should be fun.  After my big PR yesterday I think I’ll just plan on having a good off-road experience and enjoying the scenery.

Miles since last post:  62.5
Days since last post:  14
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.83
2014 TOTAL MILES: 667.5

Related Posts:
•  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)

Color Out Cancer 5K

Today my brother and I ran the Color Out Cancer 5K in West Chester, PA.  There were lots of ups and downs, so I’ve decided to recap the race with a list of pros and cons.  First the biggest pro of the day – I got to run with my brother!

Annie and Billy CoC5K

Color Out Cancer 5K – The Cons:

The Course Marking – I had what felt like a fantastic start in today’s race but it was immediately foiled by a complete lack of directions on the course.  There was no course map and we had been assured at the start that there were people on the course with signs so we’d all know where to turn.  Unfortunately the organizers neglected to mark the very first turn which occurred about 200 meters into the race, so we all went straight, directly into a little neighborhood.  We got about a quarter mile in before the road dead-ended.  It was clear at that point that we were definitely off course so everyone stopped, turned around, and milled around for a bit before cutting through a random parking lot and eventually getting back on course.  Talk about a frustrating way to start a race!  (I remember wishing that they’d just bring us all back to the start line and restart the race!)

At another point in the race I was approaching an intersection and had lost sight of the person in front of me.  There was a volunteer (and yes, I realize that he was a volunteer, and for that I thank him) standing in the intersection with a giant neon posterboard sign FOLDED IN HALF IN HIS HAND (!!!), making it impossible to actually see the sign.  I had no idea where to go and finally had to yell “WHICH WAY??” before he pointed the direction.  Not ideal.

The Course in General – As I mentioned, there was no map so I had no idea where we were going.  All I knew was that it was two laps because that’s the only actual information they gave us at the start of the race.  I was fine with this; I figured I’d get the lay of the land during the first lap and then I’d know where I was in relation to the finish on the second.  But the problem is, that first lap seemed to take FOREVER.  By the time I passed the start line the race clock showed I had already been racing for 20:30!  I realized then that not only was the course terribly marked, apparently this was more like a 5 MILE race!  Again, no big deal, and I adjusted by settling down into a little bit of a slower, more comfortable “5 mile” pace.  Less than a mile into lap 2 I was shocked to turn a corner and see the finish line ahead… and that’s when I learned that the second lap was a much shorter loop than the first.  Which would have been good to know in advance.

My Music – When I start an activity on Runkeeper it usually auto-plays my 5K music.  The music didn’t start today.  I normally would have just ignored this, but when we all stopped after going off course I tried to fiddle with my phone to get the music going.  But my phone was utterly, inexplicably unresponsive.  I could open the music app but it wouldn’t let me hit play or even scroll through songs.  I got so desperate that I actually asked Siri to help me out (Yes, I was that weirdo commanding my headphones to “Play Safe and Sound!!“) but to no avail.  After the finish I eventually had to restart my phone in order to get the music to work.  Strange.

Not exactly a tech shirt...

Not exactly a tech shirt…

The Free Tech Shirt – Not a major con here compared to the other race issues, but the race registration clearly stated that participants would get a ‘sport teck’ shirt.  My brother was especially excited about this because it would be his second 5K shirt and his first tech race shirt.  The moment I looked in the race bag I knew that he was going to be disappointed.  The “tech shirt” was a (very) see-through white polyester shirt with pink writing on it.  Not likely to ever get worn in public.  Oh well.

Runkeeper CoC 5K

Color Out Cancer 5K – The Pros:

Despite the course issues and phone malfunction the race really wasn’t that bad.  Here are a few of the things that were great about today’s race!

Running with family! – My brother Billy ran the race with me and his girlfriend Suzanne braved the drizzly, windy weather to cheer us on.  Billy did great in the race, coming in 8th overall with a time of 25:35.  The best part of the morning happened after the race when the three of us went to the Market Street Grill for breakfast… I had an empanada omelet with chipotle sour cream and pepper jack cheese.  YUM!

At least it isn't pouring!

At least it wasn’t pouring!

My Pace (considering the course issues) – The race ended up being around 3.4 miles long.  I finished 18th overall in 28:13 which would have been roughly a 25:43 5K.  If you factor in the time spent turning around and being lost at the start and that’s actually not too shabby!

The Weather – Wait, didn’t I just say that Suzanne braved wind and rain to watch us run?  True, but I think that mid-40s and overcast is pretty great running weather.  I was a little cold at the start but warmed up quickly and then felt very comfortable in tights and a long sleeve shirt.  Also, it was down-pouring on my drive home so I am very thankful that we did not have to run through that!

My Foot didn’t hurt! – I haven’t mentioned it on the blog, but after my 10 mile run two weeks ago I woke up with intense pain on the outside/bottom of my right foot.  It was pretty much identical to the pain I felt when I had Peroneal Tendonitis in my left foot last fall, so I reacted immediately by icing my foot/ankle regularly, taking ibuprofen 3x a day for a week, wearing my compression socks whenever possible, and cutting out running completely in favor of logging miles on the elliptical machine in my garage.  Today was the first time I’ve run since my 10 mile run and my foot felt great!!!  That’s a huge relief.  I’m still being cautious though… when I got home I put on my compression socks, propped my foot up on the couch and iced it.  Hopefully it will still feel this good tomorrow!

I get to redeem myself on Thursday, IN LAS VEGAS!!! – Sure, today’s race wasn’t the greatest experience ever, but luckily I only have to wait another 4 days before I get a chance to run even faster!  Matt and I will be running in the Security 5K, a race that’s associated with the conference that we’ll be in town for.  I’m looking forward to warmer temperatures and dry weather!! 🙂

Miles since last post:  57.2
Days since last post:  14
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.88
2014 TOTAL MILES: 436.3

Related Posts:
•  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)

 

My Un-Pickle Run 5K and a 10 mile run!

I have long been awaiting a chance to run a race at Ridley Creek State Park and I finally got my chance yesterday… except that I thought the race started 5 hours after it actually did, so I completely missed it.  Doh!!!

Yesterday should have been the perfect day to race… the temperature was a wonderful 57°, the sun was shining, and I was super psyched to get a chance to run on my relatively flat “home” course.  I remember thinking that the biggest challenge might actually be dodging all of the walkers, dogs, and bikers that would surely also be enjoying the park at 3PM on such a beautiful afternoon.  That and finding a spot to park, since the already crowded parking lot would no doubt be overflowing with the addition of all of the racers’ cars.

When Matt and I pulled into the parking lot at 2:20 (forty minutes early for our “3PM” race), I was shocked to see so many open parking spots.  Were all of the other racers running late, I wondered?  Then we came around the bend to where I was sure the Run The Day registration table would be set up, only to see a few late afternoon picnickers enjoying the lovely weather.  What?!!  I then checked the race web site and realized my mistake… the race had started at 10AM and was long over.  Boo.  😦

Me after my UNpickle Run at Ridley Creek

Me after my un-Pickle Run. That’s Ridley Creek in the background. I love this park!

Matt and I were all ready to race so we decided to run our own un-Pickle Run (maybe that would be a Cucumber Run??).  We started promptly at 2:30PM and, race or no race, I was still determined to get my PR.  We didn’t run the exact Pickle Run course (the race would have had us do a 1.5-ish mile out and back) so our route ended up with more downhill than the real race had, but nevertheless I got my personal best!!!!  I crossed the “finish” with a huge PR time of 24:25.  My previous best was 25:13 from the New Year’s Eve 5K so I was very happy with my time.  Now if only I could have done it in a real race!  🙂

UnPickle 5K Runkeeper Stats

In other running news, I ran my longest distance ever today – 10 MILES!!  Matt had a lacrosse game at Rosemont College and I tagged along in order to go on a nice run on the Main Line.  When I ran track (hurdles/sprints) at Haverford College I spent a ton of time doing shorter runs in this area so it was nice to get back to my running roots with the long run today.  My run took me from the Septa (R5) train station at Rosemont all the way to Narberth and back… that’s 6 stations in all!!  (And I can name them in order by heart because I’m a dork… Rosemont, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Ardmore, Wynnewood, Narberth.  I wrote my college thesis on the Main Line so I could also tell you all sorts of useful useless historical facts about them, don’t get me started.)  Anyway, it wasn’t easy and I definitely got pretty tired around miles 7-8, but I did it!!  My run started before Matt’s lacrosse game began and I didn’t get back until his game was over.  I felt very hard core!!

Here are the Runkeeper stats for today’s run… I stayed close to the train tracks to avoid the bulk of the traffic lights and intersections but I still (mercifully) got stopped at a few lights and had a chance to stretch.  I also paused my workout to use the restroom at the Ardmore Wawa… I spent a ton of money there in college so I figure I am entitled to a free pit stop!

10 Mile Run (Runkeeper Stats)

After my epic run and Matt’s lacrosse game we stopped at a place in Bryn Mawr called *ndulge cupcake boutique for cupcakes (the mocha-cola cupcake was delicious!) and then I drained my entire Camelbak waterbottle before collapsing into a bubble bath with my Kindle for an hour or so.  Life is good!

Miles since last post:  75.4
Days since last post:  15
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.92
2014 TOTAL MILES: 379.1

Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler

Yesterday I ran the fourth and final race in the Athlete’s Closet Winter Series.  Unlike the previous three 5K races, the Winter Series finale was a 5 mile course, making this my longest race ever!  My goals going in were to be relaxed, have a positive experience, and hopefully finish in under 45 minutes.  And guess what?  Mission accomplished!  I finished first in my age group with a 42:47!!!  Woohoo!

Annie after the AC 5 miler

My race day prep was a little different than usual for this 5 miler in that it involved Italian wedding soup and (a tiny bit of) champagne.  Yup, I was at a wedding until about an hour before the race started!  🙂  That made for a very fun morning and it helped to keep me really relaxed since my mind was focused on family and friends rather than on the impending longer-than-usual race distance.

At 37° and sunny the weather was pretty awesome compared to this winter’s typical sub-freezing temps.  I didn’t even need gloves!  The 5 mile course was hilly but overall I felt great.  I still have my Runkeeper app configured to only tell me my time, distance and pace when I hit 25 minutes, so I ran the first 3 miles not knowing how I was doing.  Then when the app finally started reporting my stats I realized that I was comfortably running much faster than I expected and that made the last 2 miles seem even easier to complete.

AC 5 mile Runkeeper

Matt was waiting on the street to cheer me on at about the 4.75 mile mark (right where I turned left from Warren Rd onto David Ln) and then he was able to take the short route to the finish in time to snap a photo of me pounding towards the finish line.  I was running so fast that my headphones fell out… might need to get some Yurbuds soon to remedy that!

Finishing the 5 mile

Finishing a 5 mile race in under 43:00 was a fantastic surprise and I can’t wait to see how easy a 5K is going to feel in comparison!!  Our next race will be the Pickle Run in Ridley Creek State Park on March 15th.  You may remember that we were supposed to do the Pickle Run in February, but unfortunately it got postponed due to damage from the ice storm so I still haven’t gotten the chance to race in our local park!  I am really, really looking forward to it!

Miles since last post:  140.8
Days since last post:  27
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.91
2014 TOTAL MILES: 307.7

Related Posts:
•  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)

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: WHITE

White Crabapple Tree

I don’t usually participate in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, but I follow a few bloggers who do and I was inspired by how Pami from Pa-BLAM! handled this week’s topic, the color white.  Here in Southeastern PA snow has been covering the ground for 6+ weeks so you might think that ‘snow’ would be the first thing that comes to mind for a white photo challenge, but Pami defied old man winter and focused on spring instead.  It’s so much nicer to think about crocuses, daffodils and cherry blossoms, don’t you think?

So, without further ado, here are my cheerful, non-wintery entries for this week’s Foto Challenge:
White Crocuses... they'll be blooming in just a few weeks!!!!

White Shasta Daisy

And remember, despite this cold winter weather, Spring really isn’t that far away.  Here are the dates that the above photos were taken.  I wonder if this year will be an early Spring like 2012 (trees in full bloom by mid-April) or a later Spring like we had in 2013 (same trees blooming in early May).  I vote early Spring!!  🙂

February’s Icy Start

Snowy Winter Road

Let It Snow!On December 1st Matt and I bought a charming little decorative sign that cheerfully proclaimed “LET IT SNOW!” We hung the sign in our kitchen and since then our town has received over 3 1/2 feet of snow, resulting in 5 snow days and 2 late openings and early closings at work.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Last Wednesday’s ice storm was the season’s most disruptive storm by far (as of today, at least!).  After a snow storm on Monday weighed down our trees with 7-8″ of heavy, wet snow, a wintry mix arrived late Tuesday night and coated everything in a thick layer of ice.  We lost power in the middle of the night (along with 620,000 other PECO customers!) and the only sounds we could hear when we woke up were the violent cracks of tree branches snapping under the weight of snow and ice.  Look at our sad, sad pine trees…

In addition to the extensive pine tree damage we also lost half a tree in our front yard as well as several large branches.  My mom’s yard fared even worse… Matt and I had to remove a tree from her driveway (before / after) in order to get to her house and upon our arrival we discovered her once-beautiful weeping willow tree had uprooted under the weight of the ice and was keeled over on its side in the snow.

It wasn’t all bad, though.  My mom and stepfather have a generator so our whole family ended up at their house for the day.  We spent our ice storm day chatting, drinking coffee, and completing a huge 1000 piece puzzle before enjoying a yummy dinner together.  On Wednesday night Matt and I received word from our neighbors that our power was back on (woohoo!!!) so after our day of fun we were able to go home and gratefully enjoy heat, running water, and internet.  🙂

Here are some photos that I took on Wednesday during the ice storm.  Brr…

Icy Pine Needles

526 Frozen

Icy Needles

Ice Fence Rails

Matt and I contemplated taking down our Let It Snow sign today but decided to leave it up a little longer.  We’ll see if it’s still hanging in the kitchen after the storm that’s forecasted to hit us on Thursday…  8-12″ of snow!!!  What a winter!