PR ALERT!!! Haverford Twilight Run Recap

I ran a 5K PR last night at the Haverford Twilight Run and I am one happy runner!!!  My previous PR of 23:32 was set on November 1, 2014.  That was TWELVE 5Ks ago. (Plus two 10Ks, one 5 miler, one 2 miler and one trail race… I like racing, what can I say?).  In four of those 5Ks I crossed the line within 9 seconds of my PR time, but the elusive new record remained just out of reach until last night’s race.

I did not go into the Twilight Run thinking that I was in a position to PR.  After last weekend’s problematic 5K (terrible first mile pacing leading to my slowest 5K in months) the Twilight Run was my last chance to try to get my pacing under control before next weekend’s 10 mile Broad Street Run.  I signed up for the race on Wednesday with this sole purpose in mind and set two very firm goals for myself:  Run the first mile in 7:36 or slower and run one of the remaining two miles faster than the first mile.

Saturday’s weather was perfect: 57° and sunny.  The evening’s festivities kicked off at 5PM sharp with a kid’s mile challenge and I felt relaxed and happy as I watched all of the kids finish their race with huge smiles on their faces.  Then it was time for the 5K to start.  There were around 180 runners and I purposefully picked a starting position much farther back in the pack than I normally would, hoping that this would keep me from getting caught up in the excitement of the first mile.

Start of the Haverford Twilight 5K

Usually when the gun goes off I blast through the start, then spend the next few hundred yards dodging and weaving and generally running way too fast.  But not last night.  Nope, the gun went off, the crowd around me slowly moved into a jog, and I started my watch when we eventually meandered across the start line.  I fell into stride behind a group of runners and resisted the urge to zip around them.  I saw Matt about a quarter mile in and was feeling so relaxed that I goofed off for the camera (from too far away for the iPhone photo to turn out, unfortunately) before taking a leisurely right turn onto Darby Road.

The course was basically a big loop with two turnaround points.  I kept my pace very controlled through the first turnaround (about .65 miles in) and then sped up slightly as I doubled back towards the starting point where Matt was cheering.  Just as I passed Matt my watch beeped the first mile… 7:32.  A tiny bit faster than I was hoping for but overall much better than last week’s wild 7:16 split!

Checking the first mile split.

Checking the first mile split.

I cruised along during the second mile, focusing on my running form and cadence and clapping for the leaders as they passed on their way back to the finish.  I didn’t look at my watch until just after the second turnaround when it beeped again… 7:23.  WHAT?!??!  I was shocked.  That is the fastest second mile I have ever run.  WOW!  I realized at that point that I was absolutely on track for a PR.  All I had to do was keep up a reasonable pace for the third and final mile.

The third mile was hard work.  I really pushed myself and looked at my watch a lot to check my average pace for that mile (a feature that I love on my Garmin!)  I kept an eye on the road ahead, hoping to see the library on the corner which marked where I would get to turn towards the finish.  I knew if I could just get to the final quarter mile straightaway I would be able to hang on.

Mile 3 beeped by in 7:38 (I did it!!) but by then I was running too hard to really process the split.  I could barely see the finish line clock, then realized that it was quickly ticking away through the 23-teens.  I ran harder and watched the 20s go by and then blasted across the line just as the clock struck 23:32 (my old PR), making sure to hit my watch as I crossed.

My official finish time?  23:25!!!  Yep, my super slow start not only helped me run a faster second mile, it also gave me 7 extra seconds of clock time to work with!  Double win!!

Haverford Twilight 5K Stats

My new PR time was good enough for 39th overall, 10th woman (with 5 of the females ahead of me being teenagers!), and 2nd in my age group.  Woohoo!  I ate a celebratory banana and ran a cool down, then Matt took me out to Iron Hill Brewery (my favorite) for a PR dinner. 😄

After the Haverford Twilight 5K

At the Twilight Run I learned that it is possible to start a race “slow” and still have energy to speed up later in the race.  I also learned that it’s much more pleasant to run a faster second mile and pass people than it is to slow down in the second mile and feel like you are losing ground.  After last night’s PR success I am looking forward to putting these lessons to use on Broad Street next Sunday.  One week to go!

Miles since last post: 8.5
Days since last post: 2
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.85
2015 MILES: 555.1

 Past Races:

•  April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11), Empower the Children 5K (4/18)
•  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)

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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)

Tyler Trail 10K Race Recap

Stream Crossing!  (Image © 2015 Eric Mundy and John Greenstine. Source) https://plus.google.com/photos/115911381219551998085/albums/6136825500143490737)

Stream Crossing!
(Image © 2015 Eric Mundy and John Greenstine. Source)

Three weeks ago I ran my first 10K on snow-covered, narrow, insanely hilly trails. It was HARD!  I survived that race but met none of my goals (except finishing) and came away from it hoping that I could learn from my trail 10K experience and be stronger at the next race.

The next race (aka my opportunity for trail redemption) arrived in the form of the Tyler Arboretum Trail 10K last Saturday morning.  How did it go?  Well, let’s look at it in terms of my goals from the previous 10K…

  1. Don’t walk.  SUCCESS!
  2. Average better than 10:00/mile pace.  SUCCESS!!
  3. Finish in under an hour (9:39 pace).  SUCCESS!!!

I am so proud to share that I met ALL of my goals, finishing this fun, challenging trail race with a new PR time of 58:34… 12 1/2 minutes faster than my previous trail 10K!  Here I am immediately after the race when I saw my time. Woohoo!

Yay! I did it!

The 6.2 mile course wound around Tyler Arboretum, a private, 650-acre arboretum that borders Ridley Creek State Park.  The course included many rolling hills, four stream crossings, and beautifully maintained, wide trails.  I ran without music (unusual for me!) which gave me lots of time to think during the race.  With that in mind, I’m going to split my recap into a series of observations that I made while running:

Trail Runners are really nice!

During my previous trail 10K I realized that no one around me was listening to music.  Instead they were politely saying “on your left” when they passed me or “nice job!” when I passed them.  Crazy!  I felt like a total newbie with my iPhone and ear buds and quickly turned my music way down to better hear my fellow trail runners.

During the Tyler 10K I left my phone in the car and definitely enjoyed being able to hear all of the banter around me.  Runners were chatting about hills, encouraging one another, and, when two runners fell right in front of me on a downhill stretch, checking to make sure that everyone was OK and able to proceed.  Trail runners are NICE!!

Tyler 10K 1

I happily joined in on the occasional chit chat and had a nice exchange with an older guy who panted out “let’s go Pink, see you at the top!” as he passed me on a steep uphill climb.

I like stream crossings.  A lot!

The Tyler 10K course included four stream crossings.  Runners had three options: (1) be a superhuman and leap across the creek in a single bound, (2) slow down and tip-toe across some slippery rocks, or (3) run straight through the water.  After a winter of running in snow, ice, and mud, I’m pretty accustomed to running with wet feet so I went into the race thinking that I would go with option 3… unless the rocks looked easy, in which case I’d try to stay dry as long as I could.

The first stream crossing felt like it came up really quickly and before I knew it I had already swerved around a few people who were slowing down to do the rock thing.  I plowed through the water and emerged on the far bank, happy and wet.

I continued to splash through the remaining three stream crossings, simply choosing the path of least resistance.  It was great fun!  (For proof just look at my insanely happy expression in the photo above… who in their right mind looks that excited to get their feet wet??) 😉

Heart Rates and Hills, oh my!

I think of myself as a runner who likes, even embraces, hills.  I do a lot of hill running in my neighborhood and on the trails at Okehocking Preserve and I know that even if I get really fatigued going up a hill I can usually recover quickly once the terrain levels out.  Unfortunately my confidence took a big hit during the previous trail 10K when I had to slow to a walk SEVERAL times on hills, and I left that race thinking that a goal of “don’t walk” for a trail race might not be attainable for me.

With that backstory in mind, I went into Tyler hoping that I could make it up the hills without walking, but completely unsure about my ability to do so.  When the first major hill loomed into view after the stream crossing I looked up and saw many people walking, but I also realized that I could actually see the crest of the hill and it didn’t look so bad!  I jogged up the hill, passing a few walkers in the process, and recovered at the top.  Hurrah!

I realize that there is a point at which it becomes more energy efficient to walk up a hill during a trail race.  I’m not sure exactly where that point is for me, so I resorted to looking at my heart rate to help me determine how much effort was too much.  I know that my max. heart rate during a 5K seems to be somewhere around 198-202 bpm and in a speed workout it’s not uncommon to finish each interval at around 190.  I fixated on that 190 rate and checked my Garmin on uphill climbs to make sure that my heart rate stayed below that number.  None of the hills were too crazy so it all worked out and I never had to walk!

Tyler 10K Stats

I definitely have some room for improvement on downhills.  I would love to be able to zoom down slopes like a mountain goat (or like many of my fellow competitors on Saturday), but I’m scared to really let myself go all out.  I have enough trouble seeing rocks and roots under leaves on flat ground, much less as I’m flying down a hill.  I figure that for now I’ll be satisfied with letting the speedy downhillers pass me on the descents and then I’ll pass them back on the climbs.  😉

I am really excited about Broad Street.

Many times during a hard 5K I’ve found myself thinking “Why do I race? Is this even fun? This is so HARD!” Of course, I always feel happy the moment a race ends, but my point is that racing is not always my favorite activity while the race is actually going on.  So, imagine my surprise on Saturday when, at around the 4 mile mark, I found myself daydreaming about the Broad Street Run!  Granted, I was thinking that I would hopefully feel better at the Broad Street 4 mile marker then I was feeling at that point during the trail 10K, but overall the idea of running another 5-6 miles on pavement really didn’t seem too bad.  The 10 mile Broad Street Run is 20 days away and I am pumped!!!!

~~

In the final half mile of the 10K there were two runners right in front of me: a man and a woman.  I set my sights on the woman and slowly gained on her.  As the finish line came into view I decided that I was definitely going to pass her (even though trail runners are really nice it’s still a race, after all!) and with a hundred yards to go I somehow started sprinting.  I passed both runners and blasted across the finish line (Garmin says my pace was 4:13 at the end????!) before collapsing in a happy, tired heap.

Sprinting into the finish

According to the official results, I finished 7th in my age group, 24th female, and 104th overall out of 388 runners!

All in all, the Tyler Trail 10K was a fantastic experience.  I learned that I am stronger than I thought I was, I “unplugged” and enjoyed the runners, scenery, and the thoughts rambling around in my head, and I know for sure that I’m having a blast racing!

My next race will be with Matt!  We’re running the Empower the Children 5K in Havertown, PA next Saturday.  Then it’s on to Broad Street!!

Miles since last post: 78.4
Days since last post: 15
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2015 MILES: 486.3

 

Past Races:
•  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)

The Pickle Run #3

Guess what?  I won a race today!!  It was a prediction run – the third and final Winter Pickle Run – and somehow I managed to cross the finish line first AND do so within 1 second of my predicted time… crazy!!

6491 Pickle Run

After a tough 10K on the trails last week, I opted to run the all-road 5K course in today’s race.  Both the road and trail runners started together for the first 0.7 miles and by the time the trail runners veered off into the woods I had no clue as to how many runners were ahead of me on the road course.  Well it turns out the answer was… NONE!  I realized this at the halfway turnaround point and spent the entire second half of the race pushing to hang onto my lead.

This is on the way back... now I know I'm in the lead!

This is on the way back… now I know I’m in the lead and I’m focused on trying to keep it that way!

I didn’t want to psych myself out by looking back and seeing someone right on my heels, so I kept my eyes on the road ahead and ran like imaginary demons were chasing me.  Go go go!!!  I was listening to music and at one point I thought a walker on their way out to the turnaround said something like “she’s right behind you!” but apparently that was all in my head, because when I finally made the last sharp little turn to the finish line I glanced to my left and there was nobody in sight.

I hustled to the finish line with absolutely no idea of my time.  The clock was turned to the side so I couldn’t see it until just as I crossed… 23:43 clock time – EXACTLY my predicted time!!

March Pickle Stats

I’ve run this course two times, first in October for Martin’s Run (23:53) and again in January at the first Pickle Run (24:06).  With that in mind I am really happy with my official chip time of 23:42 from today’s race!!  I’m not gonna lie… after the Granogue 10K last weekend I spent the entire week feeling sore, fatigued and not particularly quick so today’s performance was also a major confidence booster.

As you might have guessed from all the photos, Matt joined me at today’s race with the camera AND Piper in tow!  Piper watched the runners go by and checked out my googly-eyed pickle prize at the end of the race.  All of that activity tired her out… she’s currently passed out on Matt’s lap.  😊

6498 Piper watching the picklers

My next race won’t be until April 11th when I tackle the trails at the Tyler 10K.  That’s right… after four races in a row I’m actually taking a weekend off!  I don’t know what I’m going to do Saturday morning… maybe sleep in??  Sounds good to me! 😄

Miles since last post: 31.5
Days since last post:  7
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2015 MILES: 407.9

6486 Pickle Run

Past Races:
•  March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21)
•  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)

Granogue 10K Trail Run

Today I learned that 10K trail races in the snow are not for the faint of heart.  Or the faint of ankles, knees, or breath, for that matter.  Luckily I must have just enough of each of these because this morning I finished my first ever 10K!

Feeling good 2.5 miles in

Let’s jump right to the chase… the Granogue 10K Trail Run was 6.2 miles of snowy, slushy, slippery trails with wildly steep hills and gorgeous, sweeping views of the Brandywine valley and creek.  In other words, this was a hell of a race to pick as my first 10K!  I had fun but MAN was it hard!!

Trail conditions

Going into the race I had a few lofty goals including (a) finish under an hour, or (b) at the very least maintain a pace under 10:00 min./mile, OR, if all else fails, (c), don’t walk.  Well, let’s just say that I promptly reassessed those goals when my watch reported that it had taken me nearly 10 minutes to slog through the very first mile (usually my fastest).  At that point I quickly realized that I had left out the most important goal of all: (d) finish the dang race!

Granogue 10K Stats

Finish I did, but not without a healthy dose of uphill walking.  For a while I was hoping that I wouldn’t need to walk, but then the course took a sharp turn up and away from the Brandywine Creek at around the 3.2 mile point.  According to Garmin this hill gained 169 feet over just 0.15 miles.  A 21% grade, eek!  After a short bit of slow uphill running I realized that all of the other runners ahead of me were walking and I mercifully slowed down to a power-hike-type walk where I pushed on my quads with my hands with each step.  (I think I read about this technique somewhere online?).  This seemed to work as I didn’t lose any ground on the hills and was able to return to a jog at the top.

The course switch-backed through the woods, up and down gullies and ravines and, at one point, under what’s called “Glue Sniffer’s Bridge” (wonder what that story is?) before scaling the hill back up to the Granogue Estate.  At this point my brain was fried and I was just putting one foot in front of the other… but then I saw Matt!  He came to the race to cheer me on and take pictures and it definitely gave me a boost to see him standing by the side of the trail.

Thumbs Up during the 10K

After an eternity my watch finally beeped off the 6th mile split and I knew I was in the homestretch.  With another short uphill (of course!) the finish line was in sight and I ran as hard as I could, worried that a woman I had just passed might be right on my heels trying to beat me across the line.  I wasn’t 100% sure where the actual finish “line” was (there was just a big chute) so I kept running hard until I nearly collided with the guy who needed to tear the number off of my bib.  Whoops! Matt met me immediately after I exited the finish chute and took this photo… I was definitely in the middle of saying “WOW, that was SO HARD!!!”

WOW that was HARD!!

All in all this was an extremely challenging course made even more difficult by the slippery snow conditions.  Some of the downhills were almost as taxing as the (non-22% grade) uphills because it was tricky to stay upright on the slushy, muddy ground.  I think that I will like the 10K distance in the future – especially on a road! – but I have to admit that today was a little overwhelming.  I’m not sure if I would run Granogue again next year (definitely not with snow on the ground) but we’ll see… maybe by then I’ll be more experienced with both trails and 10Ks which will make this course seem easier! 😀

Plus, you can’t argue with these views… Granogue Estate sits (very) high on a hill facing the First State National Monument (aka Woodlawn Trustees nature preserve) with the Brandywine Creek and a seldom-used freight train line in between.  It’s beautiful here!!

I’ll be racing again next weekend, but I don’t know yet if I’ll be opting for the Pickle Road or Trail course.  After today pavement sounds nice, but depending on the conditions I might want a chance to redeem myself on the trails before the Tyler 10K trail race on April 11th.  I’m hoping that Tyler is easier than Granogue!!!

Miles since last post: 30.7
Days since last post:  6
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2015 MILES: 376.4

Granogue 10K

Past Races:
•  March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14)
•  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)

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)

Athlete’s Closet March 5K

Last Saturday I ran the final 5K in the Athlete’s Closet Winter Series.  After a lackluster finish at this event in February my goal was to beat my previous course-best time of 23:47 from January.  I worked hard during the weeks leading up to Saturday’s race and I was fired up and ready to run FAST!

Unfortunately I did not get a chance to better my official course time.  Just before the race began the race director announced that the course had to be cut short due to snow and ice on a section of the road.  😞  On the bright side, he reminded us, we’d all get automatic PRs for running a 5K “minus a little bit” so at least I had that going for me! 😉  Ultimately the shortened course really wasn’t that bad but I’ll admit, I was sad to miss my chance at an official course PR after a month of hyping myself up!

Even with a short course I could still try to run my fastest pace of the series.  I couldn’t remember exactly what a sub 23:47 5K translated to in terms of pace so I focused on trying to stay in the mid-7:30s.  The first mile ticked by feeling relaxed, controlled and, dare I say it… easy in 7:22.  7:22!!! Whoops, a little TOO fast.  But I felt good so I rolled with it.  The second mile chirped by in 7:47 and I reasoned that I was pretty much on target with an average pace right around 7:35.  With less than a mile to go all I needed to do was hang on…

Athlete's Closet March 5K Garmin

According to Garmin I slowed down a ridiculous amount on the final uphill stretch (I think that’s a technological glitch… I have no recollection of that!) but I still managed to squeak through the finish in 21:48.  The race distance was 2.85 miles and my average pace was 7:39.  Was that good enough to beat January’s pace…..??  It turns out that YES, it was!!  If the course had been the full length and IF (big if) I had kept up the same pace, I was on track to run a 23:42 5K… 5 seconds faster than my January time on this course!  Woohoo!

AC 5K Finish

Seconds before crossing the finish line.  I think I’m preparing my fingers to turn off my watch.  Photo credit: Athlete’s Closet.

My finish time was good enough for 10th place overall, 3rd place woman and, for the 4th time in the race series, 1st in my age group. 😄

Before the race I promised myself that if I ran fast I could buy my first-ever pair of trail running shoes.  I think 7:39 pace qualified as fast so a few hours after the race I picked up these beauties:

Brooks Cascadia 9 shoes

Brooks Cascadia 9s.  They’re last year’s model which means that they were on sale!  I took them for a spin on Sunday at Ridley Creek State Park and they were nice and comfy despite the treacherously slippery slush and snow.  My GSP trail-trotting buddy approves!

The next race that I’m registered for is the final Pickle Run on March 28th.  I have a feeling that that won’t actually be my next race though… I’m pretty sure that I’ll be signing up for either a St. Paddy’s Day 5K this weekend or a 10K trail race on the 21st.  Or both.  We’ll see!  😄

Miles since last post: 62
Days since last post:  13
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2015 MILES: 329.2

Past Races:
•  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)