Let it snow! Long enough for a run, at least.

We experienced some very odd weather in southeastern Pennsylvania yesterday… it snowed! And not just cute little spring flurries. This was real, accumulating, white-out conditions SNOW! The storm started mid-morning and dumped 4-5 inches on my daffodils, budding trees, and sugar snap pea shoots. There was nothing I could do to protect my garden so I decided to take Piper out for a trail run at nearby Okehocking Preserve instead.

Okehocking Snow Run

We ran a big loop around the preserve, enjoying the muddy trails, slippery hills and snowy grass. This might have been a freak storm, but it sure was pretty!

Okehocking in the Snow

I brought my Go Pro along and had fun running towards it on the trail. Matt gave me the Go Pro for my birthday last November and I’m still learning how to take advantage of the tiny camera’s super wide-angle lens and various shooting modes. Yesterday I played around with the Go Pro’s continuous photo mode and tried to avoid stepping on it each time Piper and I zoomed by.

Luckily no one else was out in the storm to witness this behavior… Piper thought we looked pretty silly.

Look at the camera, Piper

The storm ended at 5PM and immediately started melting. Our backyard is still blanketed in snow more than 24 hours later, but the temperature is supposed to rise to 62°F tomorrow so the snow should disappear soon. As much as I enjoyed my winter romp with Piper, I’ll be OK if I don’t see another snow flake until November!!

Okehocking Preserve (4/9/16)

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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)

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)

Snow Puppy

As I type this my little Piper pup is on the couch next to me, exhausted from today’s hiking adventures.  She is sleeping on her back with her hind legs splayed open (she’s not the most ladylike puppy I’ve ever met!) and her breathing sounds like something between a snort and a snore.  She’s been sleeping this way for at least an hour – a long time for a nap in Piper’s world! – so I’m taking advantage of this afternoon lull to do a quick photo post!

3331 Piper

Last Tuesday we got about an inch of snow in eastern Pennsylvania and I snapped some photos of Piper playing in the back yard on my lunch break.  Piper seemed totally undeterred by the sub-freezing temperatures and had a blast romping around in the snow, chasing sticks and snatching up the occasional mouthful of snow… she loves this weather!!

We’ve had Piper for 11 weeks now.  Only 11 weeks!!!  It seems like she’s been a part of our family for MUCH longer than that!  Matt and I are having a blast with her and I can’t wait to see what the next 11 weeks bring!!  😄

Snow Day!

Happy Thanksgiving eve!  It snowed in eastern Pennsylvania today.  The snow might have been less than ideal for people traveling along the I-95 corridor for the holiday, but Matt and I were off from work and had a blast playing with Piper in her first snowstorm.

Little Piper puppy in the snow

Piper took the snow in stride.  She spent the first several minutes trying to eat the mysterious white stuff, then joined Matt for a slippery game of fetch.  I snapped some photos as they played.

After our playtime in the snow we went inside for hot cocoa (for us) and nap time (for Pipe).  So far she’s been great about settling down for quiet snuggle time on the couch while we watch tv (or edit snow day photos).  I’ll have to take a photo of her actually sleeping someday (my mom still doesn’t believe that Piper EVER sits still!) but for now I’ll leave you with this gem.  I love this wacky puppy!

I'm Helping!!!

February’s Icy Start

Snowy Winter Road

Let It Snow!On December 1st Matt and I bought a charming little decorative sign that cheerfully proclaimed “LET IT SNOW!” We hung the sign in our kitchen and since then our town has received over 3 1/2 feet of snow, resulting in 5 snow days and 2 late openings and early closings at work.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Last Wednesday’s ice storm was the season’s most disruptive storm by far (as of today, at least!).  After a snow storm on Monday weighed down our trees with 7-8″ of heavy, wet snow, a wintry mix arrived late Tuesday night and coated everything in a thick layer of ice.  We lost power in the middle of the night (along with 620,000 other PECO customers!) and the only sounds we could hear when we woke up were the violent cracks of tree branches snapping under the weight of snow and ice.  Look at our sad, sad pine trees…

In addition to the extensive pine tree damage we also lost half a tree in our front yard as well as several large branches.  My mom’s yard fared even worse… Matt and I had to remove a tree from her driveway (before / after) in order to get to her house and upon our arrival we discovered her once-beautiful weeping willow tree had uprooted under the weight of the ice and was keeled over on its side in the snow.

It wasn’t all bad, though.  My mom and stepfather have a generator so our whole family ended up at their house for the day.  We spent our ice storm day chatting, drinking coffee, and completing a huge 1000 piece puzzle before enjoying a yummy dinner together.  On Wednesday night Matt and I received word from our neighbors that our power was back on (woohoo!!!) so after our day of fun we were able to go home and gratefully enjoy heat, running water, and internet.  🙂

Here are some photos that I took on Wednesday during the ice storm.  Brr…

Icy Pine Needles

526 Frozen

Icy Needles

Ice Fence Rails

Matt and I contemplated taking down our Let It Snow sign today but decided to leave it up a little longer.  We’ll see if it’s still hanging in the kitchen after the storm that’s forecasted to hit us on Thursday…  8-12″ of snow!!!  What a winter!

Snow Day!

It snowed again today!!  The snow started falling at 7:30AM and didn’t stop until another 3-4 inches were heaped atop the snow that we got on Sunday.  Yay snow!  Matt took a “snow day” (aka spent some quality time with his early Christmas present, an Xbox One) and I went into work for a few hours and enjoyed a productive morning in the nearly empty office.  Once the roads were plowed I came home to play with Bailey in the snow.  Did I mentioned that I LOVE snow??!!

Dashing through the snow!

Bailey loves the snow, too.  Here are some photos from this afternoon… see the one where I totally whacked her in the head with a giant snowball?  Oops!!

After playing with Bailey I shoveled the whole driveway… talk about a work out!  Now I just have to find the strength to get up off of this comfy couch and go run my daily mile(s) for the Runner’s World Holiday Streak.  Today will be day 163 of my streak, woohoo!

Did you have a snow day today?  How did you spend your day?