On Saturday Piper joined me for the March Pickle Run in Ridley Creek State Park. Like last month’s pickle, this was a 5K prediction run on a paved out-and-back course. In February I conservatively guessed that Piper and I would finish in 24:30 but then we crushed the course in 23:47. This month I was more aggressive and entered 23:30 as our expected finish time.
Piper and I lined up towards the front of the pack (last month we started too far back and had a challenging time weaving through the crowds) and crossed the start line at 10AM. My game plan was to run the first mile very conservatively — maybe in 7:45 like my 10K last week — but of course there are no watches allowed in the Pickle Run so I don’t have any idea how long the first mile lasted. All I know is that I felt really comfortable and very happy to have Piper trotting along at my side.
After the first mile I realized that Piper and I were in third place. Over the next quarter mile we picked up our pace and steadily gained ground before passing the man in front of us. With that task complete, I suddenly remembered that the organizers of the Pickle Run hide “pickles” (cucumbers with pipe-cleaner arms and googley eyes) around the course for runners to find during the race. I once glimpsed a pickle during a race last year but have never claimed one for myself… until Saturday! About a minute after I started searching I spotted a pickle nestled in the brush about 10 feet off the path. I let out a little squeal of excitement, and, much to Piper’s confusion, swerved off the road to claim my prize. The pickle collection went smoothly and Piper and I were back on the course in seconds.
Last month when Piper and I hit the uphill climb at the turnaround point Piper lagged behind and seemed a little tired. This month the weather was much cooler (40°) and together we powered up the hill with the race leader just barely in sight. After about a half mile of running with the pickle in my right hand I finally looked down at it and realized that it had a big smiling “mouth” made out of sprinkles and peanut butter. The sprinkles were starting to melt onto my palm but all I could think was how much Piper was going to love the peanut butter when we finished!
I would have loved to know our split for the final mile because it felt FAST. We gained ground on the leader and I was strong and in control. Piper heeled perfectly by my side, trotting at a rapid clip with her mouth firmly closed… I guess we still weren’t moving fast enough to exert Piper in 40° weather! Before I knew it we were turning onto the narrow path that twisted up to the finish line. I watched the leader cross the line about 15 seconds ahead of us and then we sprinted through the finish.
Our official chip time was 23:36 — 11 seconds faster than last month and a new course record for me. Plus we found a pickle!!! I scooped off some of the peanut butter around the pickle’s pom-pom “nose” and fed it to Piper right after we finished. 😄
Running with Piper is bringing me such joy. She is well-behaved, makes other runners smile, and I truly feel like I have a companion out there on the course with me. Plus she’s always good for a laugh… Piper may or may not have stuck her entire head under the stall next to me in the ladies’ restroom just to say hi to our neighbor right before the race. Whoops!
As we watched the post-race awards Piper waited patiently beside me, taking the occasional lick of pickle “hair” (more peanut butter and sprinkles) and making a big to-do of licking her lips and nose very thoroughly after each taste. Our finish time was only 6 seconds off my prediction, so we won a second pickle in addition to the one we found on course. Double treats for Piper!! Exactly the prize she deserved for her new 5K PR.
Miles since last post: 18.5
Days since last post: 4
2016 MILES: 394.3
• March ’16: St. Agnes 5K (3/5), 3-2-1 Loop 10K (3/12) [10K PR]
• February ’16: Pickle with Piper (2/20)
• January ’16: Pickle Trail Run (1/30)
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR], Brian’s Run (12/5) [5M PR], Reindeer Romp 5K (12/13)
• November ’15: Trinity 5K (11/7), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/26) [5K PR]
• October ’15: BAAR 5K (10/3), Double OyVey 10K (10/25) [10K PR], Boo Run 5K (10/31)
• September ’15: Run-A-Muck Trail 5K (9/19)
• August ’15: Boxcar Mile (8/13), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/27)
• June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
• May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3) [10M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
• April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11) [10K PR], Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26) [5K PR]
• March ’15: Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21), Pickle Run #3 (3/28)
• February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
• January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
• December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5) [2M PR], Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7) [5M PR], Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1) [5K PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
• October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
• September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
• August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [5K PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18) [5M PR]
• June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
• May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [5K PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
• April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3), Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
• March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
• February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
• January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
• December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [5K PR]
• November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
• October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [5K PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)