Piper’s First Pickle

Hello, I'm Piper, and I'm a runner!

It took Piper a week to take her post-race selfie… not bad for a dog!

Piper has been galloping around the yard for months, but this winter her joints finally matured enough for her to go on an official road run with me. Yay, running buddy! But unfortunately inviting an energetic German Shorthair to go jogging with you is far easier said than done. Piper and I went on a short jaunt over the holidays and she pulled me all over the road until my hips were out of alignment and I started seriously second-guessing how fun it would be to have a four-legged running partner.

Fed up with being – quite literally – jerked around, I purchased a “Gentle Leader” head collar for Piper in late December. The gentle leader works by redirecting a dog’s forward motion and turning their head back towards you when they pull. It only took Piper a few minutes to figure this out and I was thrilled to find that my wild, lunging beast was quickly transformed into a tiny, prancing racehorse who seemed to be perpetually trotting towards an imaginary starting line with a short, bouncy, energetic stride. Splendid!

Gentle Leader

As soon as I determined that the Gentle Leader was our go-to headgear for running, I starting looking at running leash options. If I gave Piper too much room to roam, she’d turn back into the beast and pull until the Gentle Leader left rub marks on her face — not good! Throughout January I experimented with tying knots in a long bungee waist leash to shorten it and keep Piper under control. We enjoyed a few positive runs together with the knotted leash so in February I decided it was time to invest in some new equipment… namely a short bungee leash and a padded running belt for me that the leash could attach to.

My new gear arrived in mid-February. I was so excited to try it that I immediately took Piper out on a mile and a half trial run on a blustery 25° afternoon before happily proclaiming that the belt-leash-gentle-leader combo was a success. Piper was officially jogging at my side without pulling (much), and the leash attached to my waist, allowing me to use my arms to run rather than hold Piper. Perfect!

Piper had her racing debut at The Pickle Run on February 20th. I contacted the organizers in advance and they said that dogs were allowed as long as we started towards the back of the pack. Like all Pickle Runs, this was a prediction run, so I estimated that we’d finish in 24:30, significantly slower than my course-best time of 23:42, but still hopefully a respectable first 5K time for little Pipe.

013 Annie and Piper cropped

The start ended up being the hardest part of the race. Typically at a Pickle Run I position myself in the first 3-4 rows behind the start line, but Piper and I began behind at least 100 people. We spent the first half mile dodging and weaving around other participants (which is not easy to do with a prancing, snorting racehorse attached to your hip!) and finally got some breathing room near where the trail runners turned right to follow their muddy off-road course.

Piper and I stayed on the road and steadily gained ground on the runners ahead of us. At the halfway turnaround I realized that we were sitting in 5th or 6th, but at that very moment Piper seemed to lose some steam. I forgot to mention earlier that the weather was a freakishly warm 60° (in February!) so this was the hottest run that Piper had ever been on. I was very aware of that fact as she seemed to lag behind me going up a hill. Piper continued panting (and snorting, and grunting, as usual!) so we slowed down a bit for what was maybe the 1.5-2.0 mile section of the race.

Smiling for the camera mid-race

Piper knows exactly where the camera is.

With about a mile to go Piper spotted Matt standing on the side of the path taking pictures. She immediately perked up, smiled for the camera, and then took over setting the pace for the final stretch of the race. We FLEW through that last mile (I would LOVE know our split, but no watches are allowed in a Pickle Run!). Before I knew it Piper and I were zooming across the finish line. As we crossed I turned to look at the clock… we finished in under 24 minutes!!

January Pickle Run Stats_

Together Piper and I ended up 4th overall with a chip time of 23:47. That’s just 5 seconds off my course best time!!! I still can’t believe Piper and I ran that fast, especially with the tricky start and slow turnaround up the hill. WOW!

I’m really excited to see what Piper and I can do in other races this winter and spring. Next up we have the March Pickle Run on the same course as February’s Pickle. I’m thinking we should start a little closer to the front of the pack since it seemed like we caused more disruptions weaving for a half mile than we would have if we had just started with people running a similar pace. We’ll keep practicing together (just did 5 miles today!!) and hopefully we’ll have as much fun in March as we did in February!

DSC_0048 Pickle Run (2-20-16)

Links to our running gear:
Gentle Leader Dog Head Collar
Spindrift Daisy Runner Belt
Mongrel Bungee Leash Extension

Miles since last post: 115.8
Days since last post: 24
2016 MILES: 291.2

Past Races:
• January ’16: Pickle Trail Run (1/30)
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR], Brian’s Run (12/5) [5M PR], Reindeer Romp 5K (12/13)
• November ’15:
Trinity 5K (11/7), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/26) [5K PR]
• October ’15:
BAAR 5K (10/3), Double OyVey 10K (10/25) [10K PR], Boo Run 5K (10/31)
• September ’15: Run-A-Muck Trail 5K (9/19)
• August ’15:
Boxcar Mile (8/13), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/27)
• June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
• May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3) [10M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
• April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11) [10K PR], Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26) [5K PR]
• March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21), Pickle Run #3 (3/28)
• February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
• January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
• December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5) [2M PR]Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7) [5M PR], Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)  [5K PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
• October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
• September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
• August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [5K PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18) [5M PR]
• June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
• May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [5K PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
• April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3), Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
• March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
• February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
• January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
• December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [5K PR]
• November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
• October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [5K PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Pickle in the Snow

Matt and I returned home from Sedona to a snow-covered Pennsylvania. The snow was so deep on our driveway that we could barely walk up it (suitcases made that even more challenging). Piper resorted to bounding gazelle-style across the backyard, leaping up and over the snow with every bouncing stride. The snow was beautiful but definitely not easy to get around in.

With that in mind, the last thing a sane person would do is sign up for a trail race the following Saturday (yes, a TRAIL race, in the deep snow!) but apparently I must have still been on a vacation-induced high because on Wednesday I found myself typing in my credit card details on RunTheDay.com for a a last-minute registration to the Pickle Run. I think I was imagining that the trails at Ridley Creek State Park would have somehow been groomed or otherwise packed down by snowshoers or something like that, but oh boy, was I wrong!

RunningMadPhoto2

Photo Credit: RunningMadPhoto

I arrived at the park on Saturday morning feeling totally ready for a trail run. I was wearing my trusty Brooks Cascadia trail shoes with Yaktrax strapped over them for optimum traction on the snowy terrain. Like all Pickle Runs this was a prediction race so I conservatively guessed that I’d finish the “3.4ish” mile course in 36 minutes.

The first half mile of the race was on pavement and I click-clacked along in my Yaktrax, feeling like I was making great time. Then the trail picklers veered off from the road-runners into the woods. For several strides we were on a dirt path – easy enough – but then the course marker pointed us off the path, over a drift, and into the snowy wilderness. I took my first steps in the snow and felt my feet sinking and ankles bending every time I hit a foot hole made by runners ahead of me… this was going to be HARD!

The deep snow and random divots were soon joined by a single set of cross-country ski tracks. Initially I thought they would make the trail better, but it took about 2 seconds for me to realize that my feet are much wider than a ski and the tracks only served to create two continuous, foot-busting trenches straight down the middle of the path. Ouch ouch ouch.

During this first mile in the woods a few runners passed me. I was seriously impressed that they were able to move at any pace faster than a slow, careful crawl and happily told them all “good job!” as they trudged their way around me. I kept thinking that I should be able to find a set of footprints and run in them, but that just wasn’t happening… maybe the snow was too deep? Or my stride was too short? Whatever the case, I plugged along for over a mile through the deep snow, just focusing on putting one foot ahead of the other (and not putting that foot in an XC ski rut!).

Photo Credit: RunningMadPhoto

The “good” part of the snow-covered trail. Photo Credit: RunningMadPhoto

The course finally turned onto a section of trail that had been travelled more heavily and was therefore easier to navigate. I remember calling out “THIS is more like it!!” and hearing the guy behind me say “This is what I though the whole thing would be like!” Me too, buddy, me too! By that time my feet were exhausted, my left ankle was tender (crunched it inwards on one of those dang divots), and for some reason I kept accidentally kicking my right ankle/calf with my left Yaktrax-ed shoe. Oww! As a result I didn’t really pick up my pace on the smoother trail, but at least I wasn’t dodging ski tracks anymore.

The course blissfully returned to pavement with 1/4 mile to go. I had been eagerly awaiting this moment and it felt amazing to finally have firm ground under my shoes. I picked up my pace and sailed into the finish, thinking that I was probably coming in at the 38-39 minute mark. Imagine my surprise when the clock said 50:22. Yes, it took me FIFTY MINUTES to run 3.8 miles!!! Holy smokes, no wonder it felt hard!

After crossing the finish I looked down at my feet. The deep snow had caused my Yaktrax to slide completely over the toes of my shoes until the metal coils came to rest near my insteps. No wonder I kept scraping my right leg with my left foot! Luckily I only had a few scratches; no harm done.

So about that 36 minute prediction… I was nowhere near my real time of 50:22. Most of that was obviously the snow, but I was also surprised when the course ended up being exactly the same as last year’s “3.8ish” course, not some different, shorter 3.4 mile loop as I had hope based on the race description. Oh well, at least it’s just a Pickle Run and all for fun anyway!

There are two more Pickle Runs this winter: one in February and one in March. I preregistered for all trail runs, but after January’s snowy experience I think I’m going to switch my February entry to the road. The good news is that if Piper and I keep doing short practice runs together my little GSP might be ready to join me for the road Pickle on February 20th… fingers crossed that that works out!

Watch out February pickle, Piper's coming for you!

Watch out February pickle, Piper’s coming for you!

Miles since last post: 165.6
Days since last post: 33
2016 MILES: 175.4

Past Races:
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR], Brian’s Run (12/5) [5M PR], Reindeer Romp 5K (12/13)
• November ’15:
Trinity 5K (11/7), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/26) [5K PR]
• October ’15:
BAAR 5K (10/3), Double OyVey 10K (10/25) [10K PR], Boo Run 5K (10/31)
• September ’15: Run-A-Muck Trail 5K (9/19)
• August ’15:
Boxcar Mile (8/13), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/27)
• June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
• May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3) [10M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
• April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11) [10K PR], Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26) [5K PR]
• March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21), Pickle Run #3 (3/28)
• February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
• January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
• December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5) [2M PR]Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7) [5M PR], Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)  [5K PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
• October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
• September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
• August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [5K PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18) [5M PR]
• June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
• May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [5K PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
• April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3), Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
• March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
• February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
• January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
• December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [5K PR]
• November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
• October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [5K PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

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)

Ridley Creek State Park Orange Trail

As I type this it is 67 degrees outside… easily the warmest day of the year!  I’m about to go on a nice, long run and I’m definitely looking forward to running in a t-shirt!!!

Before I embark on my run I want to share some photos from a hike that Matt, Piper and I took last weekend.  We explored out a different part of Ridley Creek State Park on Sunday and it was beautiful!

Ridley Creek

We typically stay on the west side of Ridley Creek but on Sunday we ventured eastward to the park’s Orange Trail.  This single track path follows the eastern bank of the creek before looping back through a hilly forest.  The trail is well marked with orange blazes and the entire lasso-shaped loop was about 2.35 miles long.

Oddly, the official DCNR map shows a shorter orange loop than what was marked in the woods, so I overlaid the outline of our actual hike on the above map.

Oddly, the official DCNR map shows a shorter orange loop than what was marked in the woods, so I overlaid the outline of our actual hike on the above map.

Piper had a blast, as usual.  She is getting very comfortable climbing on boulders, logs, dirt piles and anything else we find in the woods.  She also really wants to go in the water but it’s still pretty cold out so we still haven’t really let her get more than her paws wet.  I can’t wait for warmer weather!!

All in all this was a pleasant little hike with great views of the creek.  I’ll definitely return to the Orange Trail, maybe for a run or a summer picnic by the water.  Piper still doesn’t even know that summer exists, but soon enough she’ll see what I keep raving about! 😀

What are you looking at?

“‘Summer?’ I’ll believe it when I see it!”

Ridley Creek State Park
351 Gradyville Road
Newtown Square, PA 19073

The Pickle Run #2: Trail Edition!

Last Saturday I ran the February Pickle Run at Ridley Creek State Park.  After running the all-road course at the January Pickle, I decided to give the trails a try in February and I am happy that I did!

The race traversed “3.8ish” miles of hilly, winding, snow-covered trails.  The trail course started out with the road-runners for the first half mile or so before veering into the woods where the first 10-15 minutes of trails flew by in a blur.  I was sandwiched between two guys and the three of us zoomed through the forest making great time with no other runners in sight.

The guy in yellow took the lead through the entire trail section and I stayed tucked in right behind him (as this photo illustrates... you can hardly see me!) Photo Credit: RunningMadPhoto

The guy in yellow took the lead through the entire trail section and I stayed tucked in right behind him (as this photo illustrates… you can hardly see me!) Photo Credit: RunningMadPhoto

Of course all of that fun downhill couldn’t last forever… with about 1.5 miles to go we turned onto the “white” trail and immediately started climbing.  And climbing.  I technically never walked, but I’m pretty sure that I was shuffling along at 15++ minute mile pace.  Finally the trail leveled out and I realized how completely dead my legs felt with another mile still to go.  Trail running is HARD!

Pickle Trail Run (2-26-15)_

Right before crossing over the multi-use roadway on the yellow trail the course plunged down a really steep hill.  Halfway down the hill I spotted one of the race’s signature googly-eyed pickles leaning up against a fallen tree but was too tired to go back up the hill for it.  I yelled “PICKLE!!” and the guy behind me mustered up the strength to turn back for the prize.  (Runners who find pickles on the course get silly awards like old VHS tapes and fake wall-mounted fish.  It’s all fun at the Pickle Run!)

The race finally returned to pavement with less than 1/4 mile to go (or something like that… this was a prediction run so no watches allowed!) and the tired trail runners rejoined the 5K road runners who were also in the homestretch.  I was thrilled to be back on pavement and I picked up my pace and sprinted into the finish.  Trail pickle complete!

Annie Pickle Run Finish

Photo Credit: Run the Day

My finish time of 35:40 means that I ran at an average pace of 9:23 per mile.  Slower than road race pace, for sure, but also much faster than my mid-week trail runs so I’m happy with that!  Before the race began I haphazardly guessed that I’d finish in 36:00 not really knowing what the conditions would be like.  Wildly, this meant that my prediction was only 20 seconds off which was good enough for 3rd place and another pickle-in-a-beer stein award.  Awesome!

My next race is March 7th… the last of the Athlete’s Closet Winter Series.  I have been sticking with my speed work and tempo runs and I am looking forward to running FAST on the nice, even pavement!!

Miles since last post: 32
Days since last post:  7
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2015 MILES: 267.2

Past Races:
•  February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7/15)
•  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)

Trail Running: I’m Hooked!

Big news on the blog today… I think I’m turning into a trail runner!  It all began on January 17th when I avoided the trails and chose the easier road course at the Pickle Run.  After the race was over two Trail-Picklers cheerfully informed me that the trails were WAY more fun than the boring out-and-back road course.  They suggested that I give the trails a try in the future and I took their advice to heart.

Yaktrax Trail Run

The Sunday after returning home from Vegas I took Piper out on a walk/jog in Ridley Creek State Park to see for myself how fun this whole trail running thing could be.  I LOVED IT!! The snowy trail wound around in the woods, up hills and over little frozen creeks.  Every once in a while the trail would intersect the paved multi-use park road and Piper and I would dash across, pausing just long enough to glimpse a few road-runners before diving back into the woods on the other side.  Piper shouldn’t be running any significant distance yet since she’s still very young, but we couldn’t stop ourselves from breaking out into a slow jog on the beautiful trails.  Piper’s tail was up in the air and wagging the entire time.  😊  (Side note: Piper is going to be an awesome running buddy someday!!)

I headed out onto the Ridley Creek trails again on Tuesday, this time ready for a more serious run and armed with a new pair of Yaktrax to help with traction on the snow and ice.  I parked at area 14 and enjoyed a hilly route that followed sections of the blue, white and yellow trails.  I completed 4 miles in 44:44… a lot slower than my normal road runs but given the rough terrain and snow that was fine by me.

Saturday I was at it again, now venturing out on the Darlington and Rocky Run sections of my beloved Middletown Township trails network.  The area around the parking lot looked melted and muddy so I initially left my Yaktrax in the car, but promptly turned around and grabbed them after immediately hitting a section of trail that was pure ice.  (Apparently ice stays on the trails even when it has melted everywhere else.  Who knew?)  This run was hillier than my forays in RCSP but quite enjoyable nonetheless.  After 5.1 miles at a slightly improved 10:12 pace I think it’s safe to say that I am officially hooked on trails.

Middletown Trails Run

In other big news…  After thirty-four 5Ks and four 5-milers I’m finally trying a new race distance – a 10K!!  I’ll be running the Tyler Arboretum 10K on April 11th.  It’s a trail race (!!!) with four creek crossings and – I quote – “TONS of elevation changes” so it’s a good thing I’m embracing this whole trail running thing now!!  Tyler Arboretum is right next to Ridley Creek State Park but I’ve never actually been there since they charge admission and don’t allow dogs.  I’m definitely looking forward to my first 10K!

I still have a lot to learn about trail running but here are a few things I’ve picked up so far:

  1. Trail running is different (harder!) than road running.  Just because the pace is slower doesn’t mean you’re not working as hard.
  2. Ice and snow remain on trails even when everything else is melted.  Yaktrax are awesome!
  3. Trail running is much more peaceful than road running.  Just you and the woods.  And your audiobook if you’re me.  (I’m 7 hours into Seabiscuit.)
  4. Trails are a great alternative to icy winter roads with their icky, salty, slushy shoulders.  I’d rather plan for constant ice and snow on the trails versus trying to dodge ice (and traffic) on the roads.
  5. Don’t get lost.  Run somewhere you’re familiar with, plot your route ahead of time, use a mapping app on your phone… whatever you need to do.  I would want to hike a new trail with Matt and Piper first to get a feel for it before attempting to run anywhere new alone.
  6. Tell someone where you’re going.  I let Matt know my plan and also use the cool “LiveTrack” feature on my Garmin so he can watch my run in real time on his phone if he wants to.
  7. Be safe!  So far I have felt very safe at Ridley Creek State Park and on the Middletown Trails, in part because they’re places I go all the time and also because honestly, what crazy predator would be hiding out in the woods on a 19° winter day on the off chance that a lone runner passes by?  Still, if I’m going to be running solo I might need to invest in some pepper spray…?

Runners!! What trail running tips would you add to my list??

The Pickle Run #1

Last Saturday I ran the first of three Winter Pickle Runs in Ridley Creek State Park.  “Pickle Runs” are fun, prediction-style races organized by the local race-timing organization, Run the Day.  The “winners” of the Pickle Run are the participants that most accurately predict their finish time in advance.  This makes for a relaxed, jovial atmosphere and gives everyone a chance to take home one of the big prizes: a googly-eyed pickle in a beer stein!

My Pickle Prize!

Note to Self: Do not leave your pickle on the counter for a week while out of town in Las Vegas. It will be gross and deflated upon your return!!

Saturday’s Pickle Runners chose to run either a 3.1 mile road course or a 3.8-ish mile trail course.  I opted for the road option which ended up being identical to the 5K route that Martin’s Run followed back in October.  The trail course, which split off from the road after the first half mile, would definitely have been more exciting than my out-and-back road route, but apparently it was also very icy in the woods which made the trails a little treacherous for my non-yaktrax-clad Mizunos.  As long as ice isn’t an issue next month I will probably run the trail course in the February pickle.

Although I always knew exactly where I was on the road course in terms of mileage, I really missed my Garmin’s pace updates and splits.  I usually go out way too fast so it was tough not having any guidance during the first mile.  By the second mile I was feeling pretty slow but then had my spirits unexpectedly lifted at the halfway turnaround point when I realized that there was only one woman ahead of me on the road course.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make up any ground on her after the turnaround and two other women ended up passing me in the final mile but I still finished the race in a solid 24:06.  Not bad for a 19° January morning!!

My predicted time was 23:53 (my official results time from Martin’s Run) so my actual time ended up being off by 13 seconds.  That was good enough for 5th place overall in terms of prediction accuracy, woohoo!  The first place person was only off of their predicted time by a mere 2 seconds.  Considering that no one had watches or any idea of the time that’s pretty amazing!!

My next race will be the third 5K in the Athlete’s Closet Winter Series on February 7th.  In the meantime I get two whole weekends off from racing.  After a long business trip to Las Vegas last week (and a super-cramped red-eye flight home all night last night, ugh!) I am looking forward to spending some quality time relaxing on the couch with Matt and Piper!

Miles since last post: 82.3
Days since last post:  18
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.85
2015 MILES: 109.5

Past Races:
•  January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3)
•  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 Day 5K (9/27)
•  August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase 5K (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)