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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A New Running Record for October…

I set a new record this October: most races run in a single month! Here are recaps of all five of them. 😄

Michelle’s Miles 5K

October 1, 2017 | Newtown Square, PA | 22nd overall, 2nd F! (results)

The first day of October really felt like fall, with crystal clear blue skies and a nice chill in the air. I couldn’t pass up this perfect racing weather so Matt and I woke up early and signed up for the 10th Annual Michelle’s Miles 5K on site at the Episcopal Academy. On the way to the start line I saw a familiar face – my Uncle Rory! He and my cousin, Danae, were also running the race. Yay for family!

The course took us on two different loops around Episcopal’s beautiful, college-like campus and we ran on pavement, grass, gravel, and the all-weather track.  There was more off-roading than I had anticipated, but I felt strong throughout the race and was happy to discover that I was the 2nd place female finisher! I was even happier about this when I realized that Michelle’s Miles had CASH PRIZES for the top 2 (or maybe 3?) finishers. I cheerfully spent my $50 prize money on new trail shoes at my favorite local shop, The Running Place, a few weeks later.

One Stride at a Time 5K

October 8, 2017 | Media, PA | 7th overall, 1st F! (results)

This was “MY” 5K and I am so thankful for all of the friends and family that helped make it a great success. Team Thorne raised $375 and in total the event raised $12,368.79 to help local families!! Thank you to Bill, Suzanne, Rob, Jean, Tom, Kristen, Lyra, Mike, Jocelyn, Olivia, Teddy, Rob, Meredith, Dixie, Nick, Amy, SuperLucas, Elias, Bob, Cheryl, Bob, Roe, Tony, Karen, Brian, Shelby, Kate, Elle, and Liia.  And thank you to my course-design partner, Eric Traugott… between the summer runs and the actual event I’m sure you agree that we spent waaay too much time on Williamson’s campus in 100% humidity!

The weather on October 8th was less than ideal, with oppressive humidity, tropical heat and the occasional rain shower. Nevertheless, 107 brave, sweaty souls reported to the starting line at 9AM to happily run and walk the course. I liked running the race, but my favorite part of the day was seeing everyone else enjoying this event after months of planning.

I’ll be sure to post next year’s date for the One Stride At A Time 5K as soon as it is confirmed. Hope to see even more of you out there in 2018!

Willistown Conservation Trust’s Run-A-Muck 5K

October 21, 2017 | Newtown Square, PA | 31st overall, 8th F (results)

Run-A-Muck holds a special place in my heart because it was the first 5K I completed after starting my run streak (and my post-college running ‘career’) in 2013. Run-A-Muck is a trail race that traverses privately owned farmland that’s been preserved by Willistown Conservation Trust. This year’s course was new (to me – it was actually new last year but I missed the race) and included a stream crossing, a haunted bamboo forest, and an insanely steep climb during the final quarter mile.

Although I was wearing snazzy new Saucony Peregrine trail shoes (bought with my Michelle’s Miles winnings!), this race just didn’t click for me. I didn’t have any spring in my step and I felt a little gassed right from the start. In hindsight, I don’t think I ate enough food in the hours before the race (the 3:30 start time threw me off!) but meh, lackluster races happen! Lack of pep aside, my favorite moment of the race was when I splashed shin-deep through Crum Creek on the way back to the finish line. The weather was hot and that cold creek water felt GREAT!

Run for the Mill 5K

October 28, 2017 | Glen Mills, PA | 21st overall, 3rd F (results)

Trail run redemption time. A week after Run-A-Muck I decided to tackle another trail race, this time the inaugural Run for the Mill 5K at nearby Newlin Grist Mill. Matt, Piper (and in the past, Bailey) and I have hiked in this park before and I love the perfectly straight industrial trail, remnants of an old railroad bed, and the dam and waterfall. Although I did not know the exact course we’d be running, I knew that the parking area (and start/finish) was at a lower elevation than most of the park, so this pretty much guaranteed that there’d be some nice downhill in the second half of the race.

I was not disappointed. After a flat and fast first mile the course turned up a hill and we climbed and climbed and climbed! Unlike at Run-A-Muck, I felt energized and actually passed a few guys during the ascent. Yeah! I knew there were a few women ahead of me but didn’t know how many. Towards the top of the climb I passed one woman and didn’t look back. Finally, almost exactly as my watch beeped the start of mile 3, the uphill was over and the real fun began.

I zoomed through mile 3, enjoying 100 feet of elevation drop in the first half mile. I felt in control and very happy with my new trail shoes, which felt light and were hugging my feet perfectly as I tore down the hill. Before I knew it the finish was in sight and I cruised across the line with a time that was 3 minutes faster than the week before.

I ended up in 3rd place, which earned me a gift certificate to Chester County Running Store and – even better – an amazing medal that was HAND FORGED in Newlin Grist Mill’s blacksmith shop!! This is hands down the coolest (and heaviest!) medal I have ever received!

The Boo Run 5K

October 29, 2017 | Wallingford, PA | 4th overall, 1st F!! (results)

It wasn’t my plan to run back-to-back races, but I woke up on Sunday wanting to race again. I knew that The Creative Living Room was hosting their 3rd annual Boo Run at 2PM so I started off my day with a super hearty breakfast and kept an eye on the massive rain storm that was forecasted to dump 2-3 inches of rain on Southeastern PA. It poured all morning and was still pouring as I left for the race, but by that point I was determined to go and figured that a little rain couldn’t stop me from enjoying a race.

I arrived, paid my entry fee, and got some quick pointers on the course, which was different than the previous two years. Come to think of it, this course has changed each year. The Creative Living Room is fortunate to have so many 5K route options at their doorstep! I love racing in Wallingford and was excited to see where this year’s course would take me.

Boo Run start line. (Photo: The Creative Living Room)

At 1:40 the rain magically stopped and didn’t start up again until my drive home. Perfect!! Soon we were off and headed straight to Matt’s childhood neighborhood! We looped around, passing directly by his old house and a house of one of Piper’s Nosework classmates, before turning back towards the start line and a different neighborhood loop. Despite the soggy weather the course was perfectly marked and there were volunteers pointing the way at every single turn. Now that I’ve helped to organize a 5K I realize what a feat that is all by itself!

I could see from the start that I was the first woman and I held onto that position for the rest of the race. I jockeyed back and forth with a few guys and cruised through the course with relatively even splits, finishing in 22:25.  (My garmin said the course was a tad short so that’s not as close to my PR as it looks!) I was very pleased with my race considering I ran a trail race yesterday!

As was the case at previous Boo Runs, the organizers went all out with post-race food, drinks, kid-friendly activities and prizes. I won a goodie bag from Bryn Mawr Running Company and was impressed by all of the sponsors and donated prizes the Boo Run had for the runners. Once again, now that I’ve organized a race I have a whole new appreciation for these details!! I will definitely try to return to the Boo Run again next year.

Actually, I will be putting all FIVE of these October races on my calendar for next year. Each offers an interesting local course and supports a great cause. Now if I could only figure out how to guarantee another Newlin Grist Mill blacksmith  medal… that thing is awesome!!

Miles since last post: 194.7
Days since last post: 50
2017 MILES: 1112.1
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Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

Next Sunday I am running the One Stride At A Time 5K in Media, PA. To me, this is much more than “just another 5K.” Why? Because this is the FIRST race that I have personally helped organize and I designed the course!!

For the past five months I have been working to plan this event with a wonderful team from Child Guidance Resource Centers, a private, non-profit behavioral health organization based in Havertown. All funds raised on October 8th will directly support local families struggling with addiction, mental health, and behavioral health needs with a focus on awareness and prevention of drug and alcohol abuse.

So where does that “Money-Where-My-Mouth-Is” title come in?  Ultimately the goal of this 5K is to fundraise, and I am hoping that my own “Team Thorne” can pull together a respectable contribution to support programs for local families struggling with substance abuse. But I’m not just asking you for a donation, I’m throwing down a challenge of my own: for every single donation made to “Team Thorne” by race day, Matt and I will personally make a $10 donation of our own!

That’s right, for every donation YOU make to Team Thorne, Matt and I will add another $10. Please consider giving to this worthy cause!

https://www.runtheday.com/donations/46915

My goal is to raise another $370 between now and next Sunday. Any donation, no matter the size, would be greatly appreciated!

It’s technically called Team Thorne, but I’ve been waiting for an excuse to share this logo for months!

For my local friends and family, it would mean the world to me if you joined me at the One Stride At A Time 5K on Sunday. Running is not a requirement! You can walk the 5K course, walk a 1 1/2 mile loop, or alternate between running and walking like my mom plans to do. (We’ll see if she lets my stepfather win or if she tries to out-sprint him at the finish!) 😊

Williamson’s Rowan Hall, aka the location of our mid-race water station!

The race will be held at the beautiful Williamson College of the Trades on Route 352 in Media. Williamson’s campus is private and normally closed to the public, so it will be a special treat to see the rolling hills, tree-lined roads, and interesting architecture at the school. Because I helped to design the course, I’ve already run multiple loops around campus and every time I’m there I feel like I’ve earned super-exclusive access to a secret spot.

The 5K has a Superhero theme and is extremely kid-friendly, so bring your kids (and their costumes!) and strollers. Leashed dogs are welcome as well, but I’m sorry to report that Piper will not be in attendance since Matt and I will be busy volunteering before and after the race. In addition to the 5K at 9AM, the mornings’ festivities will also include a kids’ timed mile (8:30AM), a costume contest, and a raffle.

To register for the 5K, visit https://www.runtheday.com/register/detail/one-stride-at-a-time.  Join “Team Thorne” during registration if you’d like to… we are the biggest team in the event!

To donate, visit https://www.runtheday.com/donations/46915. Donate in honor of “Team Thorne.” And remember, for every donation to Team Thorne, Matt and I will make a personal donation of $10. Thank you!!!

That’s it for tonight, friends. Hope to see some of you at Williamson on Sunday and more of you in the Team of Thornes online!!

 

It’s definitely time to blog: I now have FOUR PRs to recap!

I’ve been terrible about recapping races lately, but after today’s awesome 5K I have FOUR new personal bests to share. So without further ado, here they are!

Haverford Twilight 5K

April 22, 2017 | Haverford, PA | 41st overall, 8th F, 3rd AG (results)

This was my third year running this race and I really wanted it to be my best yet. Last year I tied my PR (23:17) on this course by running the first 2 miles really fast and dying in mile 3. I did not want to repeat that mistake this year, but somehow I still managed to start the race much faster than I planned. In fact, I was within seconds of duplicating my too-fast times from 2016. Whoops! Fortunately for me, I was much stronger this year and was able to run a 7:30 third mile (compared to 8:00 the previous year!!) which made all the difference. I crossed the finish line in 22:54, thrilled with my new sub-23 personal best.

(Technically I had run faster than 22:54 twice before, but both previous efforts were “asterisk” PRs. One was a point-to-point downhill course (22:38) and the other was majorly Piper-assisted (22:43). Therefore, I happily accepted this Haverford Twilight time as my “official” 5K PR.)

The Broad Street Run 

May 7, 2017 | Philadelphia, PA | 6838th overall (oh yeah!), 1627th F, 348th AG (results)

The mother of all Philly races. Two weeks after the Twilight 5K I joined 40,000 runners (see, that 6838th place looks better now) in a 10 mile run down Broad Street. I ran this race in 2015 and this time around my primary goal was to beat my previous PR of 1:23:54. My secondary goal was to go sub-1:20, but that ended up being a little too aggressive for the day. I started off on pace for a fast time, but at around mile 7 hit a wall and had to work reallllly hard to earn my new PR. I finished about 2 1/2 minutes faster than my 2015 time with a time of 1:21:28. Hurrah!

FranksWine Downhill Mile Road Race

August 24, 2017 | Wilmington, DE | 46th overall, 9th F, 3rd AG (results)

Usually I don’t race in August, but when I realized that the weather was going to be unseasonably cool and discovered that this race ended a block from my brother- and sister-in-laws’ place in Trolley Square, I figured it was meant to be. Matt and I parked at the finish line, jogged to the start, then proceeded to race the fastest mile of our lives. I felt completely in control the entire race, and happily watched my quarter mile splits tick by evenly. I sprinted at the finish and earned a new PR of 6:20, 26 seconds faster than my previous best at the Media Mile in 2016.

Pints in the Square 5K

September 9, 2017 | Newtown Square, PA | 17th overall, 2nd F!! (results)

This was today’s race and the PR that finally got me to write this recap. I hadn’t raced a 5K road race since the Twilight Run in April and I was interested to see what sort of shape I was in after a long summer of treadmill runs. With that in mind, my goal was more to run a strong race (low 23s?) rather than do anything crazy. But apparently my legs didn’t get that message.

A few minutes into the race I realized that the first place woman was not especially far ahead of me. It wasn’t time to get too excited about that – I still had 2.5 miles to go! – but this surprised me. Two more woman passed me during the first mile, but by the time I hit the halfway point I had decided that I really wanted to finish this race in the top 3.

During mile 2 I squeaked ahead of the 3rd place woman. I tried to look really strong while doing this, telling myself it would psych her out; no idea of that worked but it helped boost my confidence! As I began mile 3 I could see the 2nd place woman quite a ways ahead of me. At that point I got super corny and said to myself “I can either be the hunter or the hunted,” meaning that I could either run mile 3 like I was going to chase down that 2nd place woman, or I could run it scared and worried about who might be coming up on me.  I didn’t think I could actually catch 2nd place, but I chose the more optimistic approach and, for mile 3, I became the HUNTER!

And hunt I did. Ever so slowly I gained on her, inch by inch, turn by turn. I focused on her back and pushed with every stride. With a half mile to go she was still too far ahead for me to entertain the possibility of overtaking her, but I kept hunting. Finally, with the finish line in sight, I had pulled within 50 feet. There were two walkers on course and I made my move around them, swinging wide to the right and zooming towards the finish. I never looked to see how the other runner responded, I just sprinted as hard as I could.

Just before crossing the finish line (in 2nd place!!) I noticed the clock, ticking from 21:59 to 22:00. Wait, what??! I had been so focused on hunting that I had lost all sense of time. It was not until that exact moment that I realized I was on track to PR by nearly a minute. I bounded over the finish line and stopped my watch at 22:03, 51 seconds faster than my April PR!

Now, I have to admit that an hour later I learned that the runner I passed did technically beat me by chip time, but the race awards were given out based on gun time, so I think it’s fair to blog-brag about my 2nd place honors, don’t you? 😉

At the beer festival with our neighbor, Bob. (Photo by Roe!)

Following the race Matt and I met up with our neighbors at the craft beer festival portion of the event and, after a few hours of good beer and company, we returned home and I got right to work on this long-overdue post. It feels fantastic to finally catch up on my race recaps! Watch out world… I’m back and I am the HUNTER!  (I couldn’t resist!) 😄 Continue reading

Piper’s PR at the St. Agnes 5K

Today Piper earned herself a new 5K record of 22:43! That time came within 5 seconds of my own personal best, which I set on a PR-friendly, point-to-point net downhill course in December. With that in mind, I’m going to consider today’s finish at the St. Agnes 5K my own new “loop course” personal best as well, albeit with an asterisk next to it for *Piper-assisted.  😄

post-race-selfie

As the asterisk indicates, I do know that at least some of our speedy time can be attributed to the fact that Piper sets a grueling pace and pulls me forward just a little bit throughout the entire race. (Except when we passed a cat in the first mile, then she pulled left!) Piper is a very serious running buddy who never lunges at other dogs, never veers off course, and never, ever stops to sniff or pee during a run. Once we’re moving Piper rarely breaks out of her rapid-fire trot stride; all she wants to do is go, go, GO!!

annie-piper-st-agnes

Here we are near the halfway point. Piper’s tongue is making a rare appearance. (Photo credit: St. Agnes 5K)

So about the race… Continue reading