2018 Broad Street Run Recap

I did it!! This morning I ran 10 miles down Broad Street, set a new personal best and hit my “A” goal of sub-80 minutes. Hurray!

2018 Blue Cross Broad Street Run

May 6, 2018 | Philadelphia, PA | 4220th overall, 1069th F (results)

My day began at 4AM. I had been in a deep sleep and was startled when my alarm went off, but as soon as I remembered why, I popped out of bed and started my pre-race routine. Today that consisted of coffee, oatmeal, a banana, Piper time (she waited for the birds to wake up around 5AM before she wanted to go out), and dynamic stretches to this YouTube video.

I woke Matt at 5:50 and by 6:20 we were on the road, headed to north Philly and the starting line. Any Broad Street veteran will tell you that runners typically park near the finish and cram, sardine-style, onto the subway for a 10 mile ride north, but I have been lucky that Matt drives in to spectate and doesn’t mind dropping me off at the start. Saves me tons of time in the morning!!

40,000 people run this race and the organizers do a great job of getting everyone separated by pace in multiple starting corrals. I made it to the orange corral by 7:35 and waited patiently in the crowd for the start. First the wheelchair racers were off, then the elites, red, and purple corrals followed. At last it was my turn! I crossed under the starting banner at 8:16 and the race was on.

Going into this race, my primary goal was to beat my personal best of 1:21:28 (8:08 pace) from last year’s Broad Street Run.  I was pretty confident that I could do that, so my real, “A” goal was to finish in under 1:20 (sub-8 pace). With that sub-8:00/mile goal in mind, I had decided that I would run the first 5 miles at 7:55 pace and then see what I had left for the second half of the race.

Mile 1 went perfectly. I relaxed, tried not to weave around other people too much, and broke into a huge smile when my watched beeped 7:55. Exactly on pace!! Miles 2, 3 and 4 went by uneventfully at or just under my time goal.

In mile 5 the course weaves around the right side of City Hall and the crowd support is overwhelmingly awesome. Signs, cowbells, news cameras, dogs, kids, open fire hydrants spraying water… so much going on! I finished this mile in 7:50 and felt good, but at the same time it was daunting to know that I was only halfway done.

At mile 6 I saw Matt and his family (thanks for coming out!!!) and got a little boost, finishing this mile in 7:52. Still right where I wanted to be.

6.5 miles in. Just pretend my eyes are open.

Last year the wheels came off in mile 7. I slowed to 8:23, then finished the last miles in 8:14, 8:25, and 8:41. Ouch. That was not the plan this year and I powered through the seventh mile in 7:55. Yes! It felt much harder to maintain my pace in mile 8, but the moment I saw my watch beep 7:59 I knew that a PR was pretty much a given. Sub-80 was also looking good… I had 17 minutes left to run two more miles. Could I do it??

And the answer is YES!!! I slipped to 8:06 pace for mile 9, but at that point I had just one mile left to go. I was exhausted, but one mile seemed so short compared to what I had just run. I pushed on, searching over the shoulders of runners in front of me for a glimpse of the Navy Yard gates and the “quarter mile to go!” sign.

I entered the Navy Yard with renewed energy, ready to sprint into the finish… but then suddenly a quarter mile seemed SO LONG. My kick forgotten, I focused all of my efforts on simply moving forward and started thinking about how fabulous it would feel to be able to stop when I was done. I’m pretty sure that my finish ended up looking fairly unimpressive, but it doesn’t matter because I finished in 1:19:18!!!!

I am so proud of those last 4 miles. (Yes, even you, mile 9.) In 2017 I completely died during that portion of the race but this morning I was able to execute my 7:55 game plan and it carried me through all the way to the Navy Yard. I am tired, my legs are sore, and I have a blister on my big toe, but this afternoon I am one happy runner. Hurray!!

Miles since last post: 10.4
Days since last post: 1
2018 MILES: 482

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Sub-22!! 5K PR at the Cape May Zoo

In 11 hours I’ll be racing down Broad Street in Philadelphia! But first, here’s a recap of my personal record-breaking 5K from 2 weeks ago. (What better way to get psyched up for tomorrow’s race than to write about a PR, right?!)

Cape May Earth Day 5K

April 21, 2018 | Cape May Court House, NJ | 11th overall, 2nd F (results)

Cape May, New Jersey is quickly becoming one of my favorite getaway spots. Matt and I spent a week in Cape May last summer with his family and we headed there again last month for my cousin’s wedding. We arrived on an unseasonably cold and windy Friday evening and discovered that the quaint Victorian town is MUCH quieter in the off season than it was in July!

I woke up at 6AM on Saturday, ready to race. My sole early-morning breakfast option was the coffee shop in the iconic Congress Hall hotel. I was the first customer of the day and I enjoyed my coffee in solitude. I left through the doors facing the beach and was treated to a private view of Congress Hall’s sweeping lawn and the ocean beyond. What a perfect way to start the day!

The 5K was at the Cape May Zoo, a 20 minute drive north of town. As I lined up at the start I heard the woman in front of me chatting about how she typically runs sub-21.  I made a mental note NOT to try to keep up with her in the first mile and moments later we were off, zooming around the wonderfully flat grounds of the park surrounding the zoo.

I really wanted to PR this race and when I saw my first mile split of 7:11 I knew I was right on track. Then mile 2 began and it felt a LOT harder to keep up that pace. There were only one or two runners around me (sub-21 woman had disappeared ahead early on) so I tried to focus on my cadence and my arms. I was a little worried when I saw my second mile split of 7:21.

Luckily I had more energy left than I realized. I pushed hard in the third mile but wasn’t sure exactly how my time would stack up with my old PR of 22:03 until the finish line clock came into view. 21:38, 39, 40, 41… I ran as hard as I could and pounded through the finish with a new personal best of 21:52!!!!

After the race Matt and I explored the zoo, which was pretty nice considering that there’s no admission fee. The black bear reminded me of Piper’s chocolate lab buddy, Hershey, and we saw a red panda, wallabies snacking on kale, a very handsome lion, and a sociable cow. (Visitors were allowed to reach over the fence and pet her, much to her delight.)

After the zoo we returned to Cape May to stroll around town (and hit up the peanut butter shop, naturally) before getting cleaned up for the wedding.  The ceremony was on the beach (my first-ever beach wedding!!) and Matt and I had a great time at the reception back at our hotel. Congrats Kevin and Connor!

Ready for a wedding!

I had to squeeze in one more flat run before we left for home. While walking on the beach on Friday evening I realized that I really wanted to try running ON the beach, so I did just that on Sunday morning.  I had the entire beach to myself as I ran along the very edge of the Atlantic Ocean to Cape May Point. Matt met me there for breakfast and then we headed home, back to reality, hilly running routes, and Piper.

Cape May did not disappoint. My sub-22 5K PR was just one of many high points of the weekend, and even now I sometimes forget it happened. But it’s real… I actually ran 3.1 miles in 21:52!! I’m glad I don’t have to attempt to better that anytime soon.  I’ll settle for trying to chase down my 10 mile PR on Broad Street tomorrow morning instead. 😄

Miles since last post: 64.1
Days since last post: 20
2018 MILES: 471.6

Two Pickles and a 10K

OK, I’m actually covering a fourth race in this recap as well, but Two Pickles, a 10K and Another 5K just wasn’t as catchy.

Credit: RunningMadPhoto

Yes, I am triumphantly waving a cucumber at the photographer. (Photo Cred: RunningMadPhoto)

The Pickle Run [5K Prediction]

February 17, 2018 | Media, PA | 2nd overall, 1st F (results)

Piper and I participated in the second of three “Pickle Runs” in mid-February on a chilly Saturday afternoon. Like all Pickle Runs, this was a prediction run. You state your time in advance, run without a watch, and the finishers closest to their predicted times win ridiculous gag prizes. I predicted 22:39 before the race and, amazingly, Piper and I finished just 2 seconds slower than that! We probably spent those 2 seconds veering off the road to collect a “pickle” (a cucumber with pipe cleaner arms and googly eyes) that was nestled at the edge of the woods.

Piper has run the Pickle course at Ridley Creek State Park multiple times now and she gets better every time. Since I have to run without a watch, I like to use Piper’s gait as a pace indicator. She spends most of the 5K in a rapid trot with her mouth barely open, but towards the end of the race I know that we’re really running fast if she breaks into a canter. I love running with my Piper. 💛

(Photo: RunningMadPhoto)

Chester County Winter Series 10K

March 4, 2018 | West Chester, PA | 10th overall, 4th F, 63.4% age percentage (results)

Still on a high after the Arches 9K in Utah, I set my sights on a 10K in early March. I ran a 10K on this course in March 2016 and was eager to better my previous time of 46:58. The conditions were not perfectly ideal at 37° with gusty winds, but I was still confident about my PR chances, right up until the moment we lined up for the start.

In 2016 the start and finish lines were the same, but this year the starter explained that the course had been remeasured and certified, so we’d need to start farther back to reach the official distance. Fair enough. The combined field of 5K and 10K runners moved back to a marked start line. But then, the starter announced that the 10K runners would need to start even farther back. He pointed out a shed at the end of a parking lot in the distance where we needed to go for the start. Boo. Check out the map below… see how far back we were from the finish line?

Once the race started it took me 1 minute and 39 seconds to reach the “old” start line from my previous PR. The chance for a new PR pretty much gone, I pushed ahead, just trying to better my paces from 2016’s race. In that race my splits had been 7:45, 7:37, 7:39, 7:41, 7:48, 7:47, and 6:16 for the final .2. This time around I tried to be careful not to start too fast, but still put down a comfortable 7:30. Then I proceeded to completely shock myself by keeping my pace under 7:36 FOR THE NEXT FIVE MILES!!

My Garmin was consistently off the entire race, telling me that I went through the 10K in 46:22 (which would have been a 36 second PR!) and reporting that the full course was 6.44 miles long. I know, I know… it’s a certified course so my watch was just plain wrong, but it still felt really good to see that average pace of 7:27 for a 6.44 mile race. 😀

My official 10K time of 47:59 was 1:01 slower than my 2016 time, but, considering that I had a 1:39 head start in 2016, I’m still counting this race as a new PR.

Post 10K reward at La Cabra Brewery

Another Pickle Run [5K Prediction]

March 17, 2018 | Media, PA | 2nd overall, 1st F (results)

Another winter month, another Pickle Run with Piper! This was almost a carbon copy of February’s race. Early on in the race Piper and I moved into 3rd place and soon found a pickle on the side of the road. We then hunted down the 2nd place guy ahead of us and passed him with a mile to go. Piper broke into a canter soon thereafter and we zoomed to the finish with our game faces on. (Check out Piper’s face in the first photo above… SO serious!!) 😄

The finish time was a little weird with this race. When Piper and I crossed the finish the clock said 22:41 (and it was a chipped race, so our official time should have been a few seconds faster than that), but when the results were posted online my time was recorded as 23:01. (???) Since I didn’t have a watch on I’ll never know how we really did, but I’m using the finish line clock time of 22:41 as our official time for my records. Piper didn’t care about the time; she just wanted to post-race popcorn!

Book It 5K

April 7, 2018 | Wallingford to Swarthmore, PA | 13th overall, 3rd F (results)

I ran this race last year on the same weekend, same course, and in similar conditions, so this was a fun chance to gauge my 2018 5K fitness. This is a point-to-point race and, like last year, I parked at the finish line in Swarthmore and ran a 2 mile warm up to the start line in Wallingford. Last year I finished in 23:19 with mile splits of 7:26, 7:57, 7:34. This year my slowest mile was 7:25 and I improved my finish time by 52 seconds!!

So what’s next on my race calendar? Well, Matt and I will be in Cape May, NJ for a wedding next weekend and I think we’re going to sign up for the Cape May Earth Day 5K on Saturday morning. That’s pretty much guaranteed to be FLAT so it could be a good chance for a potential PR! Training has been going great this year so anything is possible…

Miles since last post: 231.2
Days since last post: 56
2018 MILES: 407.5

I ran an Ultra! OK, not really, but it WAS a Trail Race in Utah.

Every January Matt and I have a work trip in Las Vegas. After work ends on Friday, we take a long weekend adventure to somewhere within driving distance, like Zion, Sedona, or Temecula. This year’s destination? Moab, Utah. I’ll describe Moab in more detail in my next post, but suffice to say that there are some pretty awesome things to do in Moab for anyone who enjoys being outside, being active, and being rewarded with breathtaking landscapes.

I had already decided we were going to Moab and was doing some online research when I came across mention of the “Arches Ultra” trail race that would be taking place the Saturday we’d arrive in town. That’s cool, I thought, there will be lots of runners around. Then I clicked through to the race site and discovered that in addition to the “ultra” race distances of 50 mile, 50K and 13.1 miles, this event would also feature a shorter 9K trail race. That’s only 5.6 miles… I can do that!!

I immediately scrutinized our itinerary to figure out if it was even possible to get to Moab in time for the race’s 10AM start. If we retrieved our rental car in advance, left Las Vegas immediately when work ended at 5PM (pacific time), got dinner on the road, and drove until 11PM (mountain time) Friday night, we could spend the night in Richfield, UT. Then we’d just need to drive 2 1/2 hours on Saturday morning to get to Moab. Totally doable!

Thankfully our long journey northeast went according to plan and Matt and I arrived at the race at 9:20AM. The ultra runners had started their longer races hours earlier (those 50 milers had to finish before dark!) so the start area was quiet and I had time to take in the sights. A huge cliff rose up out of the desert just to the north. The sky was deep blue and the ground was a beautiful red that reminded me of Sedona. The weather was perfect – low-30s and sunny. What a great day to run a trail race in Utah!

I lined up with 96 other runners at 10AM. I felt a little out of my league as I listened to people around me chatting about how they had come from Colorado and Arizona for this race. I was positive that their western heritage automatically made them much better equipped to run an off-road race at 4600′ elevation, but that was OK. I positioned myself towards the back of the pack and prepared to have a blast running in Utah.

It quickly become clear that I had started way too far back. As soon as I carefully crossed over the cattle guard near the start (that could be a major ankle buster!) I began working my way around the crowd. Finally the field thinned out and I found myself cruising along with another woman. We chatted as we ran and I learned that her name was Kristen and that she was from Arizona. (This is one of the great things about trail races; everyone talks to one another and is so friendly!!)

Shortly after mile 2 the course veered off onto an actual trail (we had been on a paved bike path up until this point) and I let Kristen (the Experienced Westerner!) take the lead. I tucked in behind her as we weaved our way up, down and around hills and rocks. At one point I felt like a slalom skier as the trail switchbacked around the desert. Fun!

After a few twisty miles we were back on the paved trail, making a beeline to the finish. With less than a mile to go, I realized that I had the energy to pick up the pace and I focused on Kristen, who was still within reach ahead of me. Kristen must have had the same thought, because together we BOTH picked up our paces and zoomed towards the finish. It quickly became clear that I wouldn’t be able to catch her, but I kept up my speed, pausing only slightly to one-step over the cattle guard (Matt said I ‘took it well’ compared to some!) before sprinting through the finish chute. Utah trail race complete!

I collected my medal (I had forgotten there were medals!) and awaited the results. Because I had started so far back I had no idea how many runners were ahead of me. Imagine my surprise when the results were posted and I was 10th OVERALL!!! By my count, I was also the 4th woman to cross the line, but later I discovered that the official results show that I was actually 3rd female overall. Cool!!!

Kicking the weekend off with a trail race was a great introduction to Moab. The race was well organized, the other runners (especially Kristen from Arizona!) were super friendly, and there was great race swag. I LOVE my new Arches Ultra trucker hat and I wore it constantly for the remainder of our time in Moab. Apparently many of the other runners felt the same way… I kept bumping into other ‘tourists’ wearing The Hat for the rest of the weekend and it was fun to compare race stories. Granted, everyone I met had raced at least twice as far as I did, but, no worries, I ran an “ultra,” too!

More on our weekend in Moab coming up next!

2018 miles: 176.3

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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I DID IT! Two PR’s in one weekend! {Recap of Jingle Elf & Brian’s Run}

Last weekend I ran two races: a festive 2 miler on Friday night and a hilly 5 miler on Sunday. I think this was my best weekend of racing ever. I went into the weekend hoping for PRs in both races and ended the weekend with times that exceeded even my most ambitious goals. What a great feeling!!

At the Jingle Elf Run, participants receive an elf hat instead of a t-shirt. Naturally, I made Piper wear mine in exchange for some really good treats.

Jingle Elf Run [2 mile]

December 1, 2017 | West Chester, PA | 29th overall, 2nd F!! 67.7% age percentage (results)

On Friday night I braved the parade traffic and made my way into nearby West Chester for the Jingle Elf Run, a fun little race that goes off just before the massive West Chester Christmas parade. The course makes two loops through downtown on the mile-long parade route, which is lined with enthusiastic spectators happily awaiting the parade’s floats, marching bands, and Santa’s arrival.

My previous best 2 mile time of 14:28 was from 2015, when I sprinted the first mile in 7:02 and faded to the finish with a 7:26 second mile split. This year I was determined to run a more evenly paced race and set a goal time of 14:20. I spent a lot of time thinking about my race strategy beforehand, and I had decided that I would set my Garmin to auto-split at each 1/2 mile increment. I wanted to run the first two halves in 3:35 (7:10 pace) and then see if I could go faster in mile 2.

The race began promptly at 6:30PM. I felt like I was jogging through the first split but I was reassured when my watch beeped 3:33. Close enough! Before I knew it I hit the mile mark and a 3:30 split. So I had just run the first mile in 7:03… nearly identical to 2015. But unlike in previous efforts, I still felt fresh and ready to start pushing the pace for the second lap.

When my watch beeped a third split of 3:33 I knew I had met my goal. I remember smiling a huge smile in the middle of Gay Street as I ran past little kids, policemen, and locals ringing cow bells. I was going to PR!!! With a half mile to go I lost all sense of pacing and just RAN. I zoomed down Matlack Street and took the final turn onto Market and its long, gradual uphill to the brilliantly lit finish line. In seconds I was crossing the finish with a new PR of 14:04… 16 seconds faster than my goal and 24 seconds better than my previous 2 mile PR!!! That last half mile split? 3:24.7!

I ran a cool down with my friend Chris, then we both ran back to the local running store to check out the official results. One of the guys in the store greeted me and said, “You got second place, right? Great job!” to which I replied, matter of factly, “Oh no, not me. But I PR’d so I’m happy!!” But then 30 seconds later the results loaded on my phone and ohmygod I WAS the second woman to cross the finish!! Placing in this race was totally not on my radar. Before I knew it a white envelope marked 2nd Female had appeared in my hand and I thanked everyone in the store profusely before running the half mile back to my car with the sealed envelope clenched in my fist.

From the quiet of my Subaru’s driver’s seat I opened the envelope and was delighted to find a $75 cash prize. What an unexpected surprise! But I’m still happiest about my 24 second PR. 😄

Brian’s Run [5 mile]

December 3, 2017 | West Chester, PA | 89th overall, 7th AG, 64.8% age percentage (results)

Sunday afternoon I was once again chasing down an old PR from 2015, this time over a hilly 5 mile course in the northeast part of West Chester borough. This was my fourth year running Brian’s Run and my goal was less specific than my detailed breakdown of Friday’s race. At Brian’s Run, all I wanted to do was to beat my 2015 time of 38:28. I re-read my recap of the 2015 race several times before Sunday. I am still very proud of that race and knew that it was not going to be easy to to beat 38:28. Nevertheless, my 2 mile PR gave me confidence and I went into Sunday feeling cautiously optimistic.

Mile 1 – 2015 Split: 7:25
You can’t win a race in the first mile, but you can ensure that the rest of the race will be miserable by going out too fast. I repeated this to myself during mile one and checked my watch multiple times to stay on my goal pace. I finished this mile right on target in 7:27.

Mile 2 – 2015 Split: 7:29
Here the trick was to keep up the pace without pushing too hard. I stayed steady for the first part of this split but about a mile and a half into the race the course had some nice downhills. I figured I had already met my goal of not going out too fast by that point and I allowed my legs to pick up speed and momentum as I zoomed downhill. Mile 2 was over in 7:20.

Mile 3 – 2015 Split: 8:03
Here’s where the course gets challenging. I entered the aptly named “North Hills” neighborhood and hit a series of rolling hills that felt mostly uphill. In three years of running this race I have never finished miles 3 or 4 in under eight minute pace. That all changed on Sunday when my watch surprised me with a third mile split of 7:41. This was faster than I thought I had been going gave me a little boost during the race.

Mile 4 – 2015 Split: 8:13
Always my slowest split of Brian’s Run, the 4th mile includes a never-ending climb back up to the main part of town. Just as this mile was getting going I checked my watch at the 5K split… 23:11! Not bad but I still had hills ahead of me. I focused on using my arms and visualized how happy I’d be when the race was over and I had PR’d. I was thankful and once again pleasantly surprised when this split beeped by in 7:53.

Mile 5 – 2015 Split: 7:18
As I entered the fifth and final mile of Brian’s Run, I ran past a group of my fellow West Chester Running Club-mates who were standing at the top of the Matlack hill, cheering loudly. I heard “Go, Annie!!” and I gave a weak little wave before setting my sights on the slight downhill ahead of me. I had a PR to beat and a stadium to get to, preferably in under 7:18.

I pounded down Chestnut Street and entered the Henderson High School track, determined to beat my PR by as much as possible. I ran the final quarter mile around the track on overdrive with every part of my mind and body focused on GO-GO-GO!! With 100 meters left a woman behind me started to make a move to try to pass me. That was all the encouragement I needed and I somehow found the energy to hold her off and sprint to the finish.

I ran my last mile of Brian’s Run in a shocking 7:04 (!!) and I crossed the finish line in 37:24. Not only is that a new 5 mile PR, it’s MORE THAN A MINUTE faster than my old personal best!!!

All smiles at the finish line.

I still can’t believe I ran that fast. In fact, if someone told me beforehand that I would need to average a 7:29 pace on Sunday, I probably would have been a nervous wreck and I definitely would have gone out too fast in the first mile! It was much better to be surprised in miles 3 and 4 with those fast splits and then have a little energy left to finish strong.

A few West Chester Running Club members at Brian’s Run

I smiled the whole drive home and kept spontaneously breaking out in a huge grin at random intervals throughout the remainder of Sunday evening. Two PR’s in one weekend… I DID IT!!!! 😄

Miles since last post: 3
Days since last post: 1
2017 MILES: 1238.6
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November Races

I just earned two HUGE PRs this weekend but before I can tell you about them I have to quickly recap my November races. Without further ado, here they are!

Panther Pajama 5K

November 11, 2017 | Wallingford, PA | 34th overall, 3rd AG (results)

I signed up for this race at the last minute and enjoyed it despite the 28° weather. The race began and ended at Matt’s alma mater, Strath Haven, and the course wound around the Wallingford neighborhoods that I have raced in several times before. I kept up a pretty good pace for the first two miles but struggled a bit with the uphill in mile 3. I blame the cold weather. 😊

West Chester Friends School 5K

November 18, 2017 | West Chester, PA | 4th overall, 2nd F (results)

This was Piper’s first race of the season! Piper is a joy to run with. She snorts and trots along happily and I get a kick out of the reactions we get from volunteers, other runners, and random people on the street. (Case in point: THREE separate pedestrians spontaneously complimented Piper during our warm up!)

When I race with Piper I forgo music and instead keep up a fairly constant banter with my running buddy. OK, it’s a rather one-sided conversation, but there’s lots of “Piper, HEEL!” “Piper, WAIT!” and, my favorite, “Piper, THIS WAY!!” which does actually get a turning response out of her. This particular race was three identical loops and Piper definitely got the hang of the course’s turns by the third lap.

Together we finished in 22:38, a new personal best for Piper and a fun morning for me. I love my pup!

Seven Summits Turkey Trot 5K

November 23, 2017 | Chesterbrook, PA | 85th overall, 16th F (results)

Bird dog.

Happy Thanksgiving! Last year we made Piper wear a turkey costume for about 3 minutes and the above photo is proof. What a goofball.

On Thanksgiving morning I ran the Seven Summits Turkey Trot 5K for the fifth year in a row. Since the course has been identical all five years, it is easy to see my progress over time:

2013   25:23
2014   23:40
2015   23:25
2016   23:50
2017   23:01 !

Yep, I ran a new course PR by 24 seconds this year! In 2015 my splits were 7:20, 7:22, 7:51. This year, by comparison, I was much stronger in mile 3 and managed 7:33, 7:19, 7:27!! I also went out a little slower which makes the rest of the race much more enjoyable. 😊 Afterwards I hugged Piper (who didn’t look as thrilled about my time as I did) and later ate a heaping plateful of mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, sausage stuffing, Brussel sprouts braised in cream, asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, and numerous other Thanksgiving delicacies. There were so many sides that I didn’t make room for turkey until the next day.

OK, those were my November races. Now I can’t wait to tell you about the two races I crushed THIS weekend! Coming soon…

Miles since last post: 123.5
Days since last post: 35
2017 MILES: 1235.6
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