SRA New Year’s Day 5K

1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi, 4 Mississippi.
THAT’S how close I came to beating my 5K PR this morning!!

After Swarthmore 5K with Piper

I kicked off my 2015 with the S.R.A New Year’s Day 5K in Swarthmore, PA.  The weather was sunny and brisk and the race was well organized with a great turnout of around 220 runners.  The course was fun and relatively flat, starting and finishing with laps on the Swarthmore College track.

I really wanted to run a new personal best in this race.  As the opening line of this post indicates, I did not quite get my PR, but I feel confident saying that I put forth the absolute best effort that I was capable of today.  Although my official finish time of 23:36 was 4 seconds short of my PR from November’s Trinity Berwyn 5K, I think this was still my fastest 5K pace ever (Trinity might have been a little short) and I certainly FELT like I was running my hardest the while time!  Apparently my new Garmin heart rate monitor agrees… I averaged 192 bpm and maxed out at 202 bpm in the final 0.1 miles… I have no idea what my max heart rate is but that’s probably pretty close!!

The first mile of the race included a lap around the track and a gentle uphill and before I knew it my Garmin was beeping a 7:14 first split.  Good start!  As the second mile began I focused on my cadence, quickly getting my feet down on the pavement, especially when I started to feel a little tired.  The second mile was over in 7:46… not quite where I wanted to be but my second mile tends to be my slowest.

SRA New Year's 5K Stats

I knew that if I was going to beat my PR I would need to maintain around a 7:30 pace.  My first two splits averaged out to exactly 7:30 but I was feeling a little discouraged (and a lot tired) at the start of mile 3.  I kept focusing on my cadence (which apparently worked… I averaged 179 steps per minute throughout the whole race!) and tried to stay strong.  I saw Matt and Piper cheering me on by the college field house at the 21 minute mark and entered the stadium at 21:47 with a lap to go.  I knew at that point that I wasn’t going to quite get my PR but I still ran that last quarter mile as hard as I could.  I crossed the line with an official chip time of 23:36, just 4 seconds shy of my goal.

Last Lap

Overall today wasn’t easy.  I stayed strong, I ran hard and then I ran even harder when I felt like I was already going as fast as I could go.  Although I would have loved to start the new year with a PR I still feel very proud of my effort in Swarthmore today.  Oh, and my 23:36 finish was good enough for 7th woman overall AND 2nd place in my age group!  I got an awesome wooden medal with downtown Swarthmore etched on it (so cool!!) which is probably my favorite piece of race swag yet.  (Except for maybe the 150 gallons of heating oil that Matt and I won in a race raffle in September, that was pretty good too. 😜)

My next race is Saturday (I guess I should stop drinking beer and start re-hydrating now??) when I tackle the Athlete’s Closet 5K course in West Chester for the 5th time.  I’ll see how I feel by then but that race will probably end up being a little more laid back than today’s speedy tour of Swarthmore!

Miles since last post: 83.8
Days since last post:  18
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.86
2014 TOTAL MILES: 1773
2015 MILES: 4.6

Past Races:
•  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)

Piper goes Viral after hiking Crum Woods

Holy Cow.  This photo of Piper has received over 23,000 views on Flickr since yesterday morning:

Piper's Famous Photo

I wonder… does having 23,000 views qualify as “going viral”?  It is certainly the most buzz any content that I’ve ever created has garnered in a short period of time!  To her credit, Piper is pretty freakin’ adorable in this photo so I don’t blame those 23,000 people for clicking on her photo.  😉  The full resolution image can be viewed here if you’re interested in seeing it in all its viral glory on Flickr.


Anyway… I took The Photo while hiking with Pipe and Matt in Crum Woods.  This 220-acre woodland is situated on the western edge of Swarthmore College’s campus in Delaware County, PA.  It features 3.5 miles of hiking trails, fantastic views of Crum Creek, and a giant railroad bridge that carries Septa’s Media/Elwyn line over the creek.

To access the Crum Woods trail we parked on the western (opposite) side of Crum Creek at the Leiper-Smedley trail parking lot off of Avondale Road and walked down Avondale to Yale Ave.  The trails in this southern section of Crum Woods were dotted with tree roots and sloped steeply down to the creek, but the path evened out to a nice walking trail once we made it north of the trailhead by the Swarthmore College fieldhouse.

I love train tracks and bridges, so it’s no surprise that my favorite part of Crum Woods was where the Septa rail line crossed Crum Creek.  Just before reaching the bridge the trail emerged out of the woods into “Crum Meadow,” where Piper licked her first frozen puddle and we had great views of the trestles crossing the creek.  The view from under the bridge was even more impressive and I may have made Matt and Piper wait around for 5-10 minutes just in case a train came along while we were under it.  (Sadly, we did not see a train.)

Leiper-Smedley Trail

After reaching the northern terminus of Crum Woods, we decided to make the hike more interesting by looping back to our car via the paved Leiper-Smedley trail on the other side of the creek.  Unfortunately Crum Woods and Leiper-Smedley are not officially connected on the northern end, so in order to access L-S we had to jog a short stretch of Plush Mill Road and skirt along the shoulder until we reached the trailhead.  We were lucky that Piper was still small enough for Matt to easily carry her during this stretch… this impromptu trail connection would not have been ideal if we had had a larger dog or small children in tow.

Our return trip along the Leiper-Smedley Trail was uneventful and mostly downhill, woohoo!  I’ve run on this trail several times, most recently going UP the trail in the other direction at the Fueled Up and Fired Up 5K in September.  The trail is well marked and has a much less exciting train bridge on it than Crum Woods… but it’s a train bridge nonetheless, so of course I took a picture!!

I definitely enjoyed our Crum Woods hike because I had never been to Crum Woods before, but overall it was a bit of a choppy walk and there are probably better hiking loops in the area.  The southern portion of the trail was a little treacherous and the northern end didn’t technically connect to Leiper-Smedley, but with good hiking shoes and a quick jog up Plush Mill Road we made it work.  Plus, Piper thoroughly enjoyed herself and was very tired afterwards… Mission Accomplished!!!

Piper having fun on the hike

Useful Links:
Crum Woods Web Site
Official Crum Woods Trail Map & Brochure (PDF)
High-res version of Crum Woods Map with our 4 mile hike overlayed (JPG)

Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K

Way back on Friday, July 18th I ran the Swarthmore Lion’s Independence Eve 8K.  (Latest race recap ever, I know!)  As the name suggests, the “Independence Eve” 8K was supposed to be held on July 3rd but due to severe storms it was postponed.  This was fine with me – the make up date ended up being a beautiful, low-humidity July evening.  I love it when the weather cooperates on race day!

After the Swat 8K Race

Swarthmore is a quiet residential town located west of Philadelphia in Delaware County, PA.  The race started near the borough hall at 7PM and the course wound through the beautiful wooded campus of Swarthmore College before coming back through the tiny town center and looping around on neighborhood streets.  There were around 100 runners (including lots of very fast kids!!) which I thought was an ideal size after experiencing the Media 5 Mile’s 1600 competitors.

Swat 8K start

Swarthmore 8K start on Park Avenue

I started off at a nice steady pace (7:58) as the first mile took us onto Swarthmore College’s campus and up a long, winding hill.  I knew the hill was coming (but was still surprised by how steep it was!) and I remember feeling encouraged by the fact that we would soon get to run back down the hill at around the 2nd mile marker.  Sure enough, what goes up must come down and I happily cruised down the hill as Milky Chance’s “Stolen Dance” pumped through my earbuds with a comfortable second mile split of 8:03.

“Stolen Dance” is my new favorite running song, second only Capital Cities’ “Safe and Sound,” which Pandora thoughtfully started to play just as I felt like I was losing some steam as I passed the 3 mile marker.  I really tried to pick up my pace, but that 4th mile still ended up being my slowest.  As I reached the 4 mile point a spectator was calling out splits.  Very helpful in theory, but actually extremely UNhelpful because she clearly had assumed that the race started promptly at 7:00:00 PM (it didn’t) SO, she was giving us times that were about 2 1/2 minutes slower than they should have been.  I was crushed for about 200 yards after hearing her call out 34:34 as I passed (how could I have slowed down to an 11 minute 4th mile?!?) until my Runkeeper belatedly chimed in to tell me that my 4th mile split was in fact 8:19 and that my total race time so far was still in the 32’s.  That cheered me right up, especially as I realized that I was on track to crush my old 5 mile PR of 42:47.  YIPPEE!!!

As the finish line clock swam into view I was completely shocked to see it still ticking away in the low 40s. !!!  I decided that I was going to cross that line by 40:30 and I sprinted towards the finish, leaning across the electronic chip line like I was back in a college 100m hurdle race (in the heat of the moment I forgot that this doesn’t remotely matter in a chip-timed distance race, but whatever..).  My clock finish time was exactly 40:30 and my chip time was 40:28.  WOOHOO!!!!!

I ran a cool down and got back to the borough hall just as the awards were starting.  I was pleasantly surprised to get a 2nd place age group medal (there were only 5 females total in my age group) but mostly I’m just thrilled by my 5 mile time.  A 40:30 finish means that I averaged an 8:06 pace and before that slow 4th mile time my 5K split was likely sub-25.  After spending all Winter and Spring hunting down a sub-25 5K time I’m tickled that I can apparently run that fast now in a 5 MILE race with a huge uphill climb.  I can’t wait to see what I can do in some road 5Ks once the weather starts to get nice this Fall!!  🙂

That’s enough blogging for today – the weather is gorgeous this afternoon so I’m headed out to a local running store’s group 5 mile run.  Happy running, everyone!


Miles since last post:  67.4
Days since last post:  16
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.79
2014 TOTAL MILES: 983.8


Related Posts:
•  Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10/14)
•  Media 5 Miler (6/20/14)
•  Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1/14)
•  Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30/14)
•  Run for Victory 5K (5/18/14)
•  Elwyn 5K (5/3/14)
•  St. Tim’s 5K (4/26/14)
•  Rick’s Run 5K (4/19/14)
•  Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/14)
•  Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4/14)
•  New Year’s Eve 5K at the YMCA (12/31/13)
•  Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14/13)
•  Turkey Trot 5K (11/28/13)
•  Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2/13)
•  Oy Vey 5K (10/27/13)
•  Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19/13)
•  Run-A-Muck 5K (9/22/13)
•  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)