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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A Belated Double Race Recap

After finishing the Broad Street Run on May 3rd I was on top of the world. I had survived the crowds, I accomplished my time goals, and I felt like I gave the race my very best effort. What I was NOT feeling was the urge to race again anytime soon. I’m sure that this is a fairly normal reaction after the exertion of a 10 mile race, but it was an unusual feeling for me. Leading up to Broad Street I had been a total racing junkie, eagerly participating in ten 5Ks, and two 10Ks since the first of the year. For me not to feel excited for my next race was very strange.

I felt tired, sluggish, slow, and achy in the days following Broad Street and did not feel any more excited about racing as the next week passed me by. Now, normally when you don’t want to race the solution is simple – just don’t sign up for a race!! – but unfortunately for me, I had already signed up for two races in the same weekend two weeks after Broad Street. I wasn’t feeling very confident about these races, but I was determined to show up and try my best!

Funny beer line

Still smiling after Race #2 of the weekend (probably because there’s BEER!)

Race #1 – Rocky Run 5K Trail Run – Friday, May 15th

My first race post-Broad Street was the Rocky Run YMCA’s 5K trail race in Media, PA. This was my second year running this race. Fatigue and soreness aside, I was MUCH more prepared for a trail race this year than I had been at this time last year. I’ve been doing lots of trail running (including running on the very trails where the race was taking place) and I’ve already run 3 trail races this year. With this in mind I went into the race feeling calm (but not exactly pumped) and interested to see what I would do compared to last year’s time.

Rocky Run 5K 1

The race began promptly at 6:30PM and I set off with 90 other 5K-ers, being careful not to go out too quickly. Matt and Piper cheered me on from the parking lot just before the course turned down into the woods behind the Y. The course was modified slightly from last year, with a new surprise uphill in the first mile and then a super-steep, eroded, single-track downhill almost immediately afterwards. This is my least favorite type of downhill because I work so hard to stay upright that I feel like I don’t get any time for recovery. Oh well!

The course continued downhill to the turnaround point where I realized with great surprise that I was currently the first place woman! I knew that I had a mile and a half of uphill ahead of me so was a little concerned about holding onto my spot, but tried to stay strong and mentally positive as I ran back towards the Y.

With a half mile to go I climbed a steep hill and emerged out of the woods at the bottom of yet another hill in the Y’s sprawling parking lot. Before the race I had imagined myself feeling renewed strength at this spot, a combination of being back on paved ground and knowing that the finish was close, but in reality by the time I hit this point I was totally drained. I shuffled up the hill as Matt cheered and encouraged me to finish strong. I had just turned into the final loop leading to the finish line when a woman zipped by me looking strong, happy, and downright perky. I huffed out “Good job.” as she streaked by and she kindly told me I was doing a good job too. By the time I panted across the finish line in second place I was completely and utterly spent. The photo below says it all… this is EXACTLY how I was feeling at the finish!!

Rocky Run 5K - this face exactly sums up how I was feeling at the finish!

Although I wasn’t impressed with how I ended the race, overall I was very happy with my time and second place finish. I completed the race in 26:50 which was 50 seconds faster than last year!! The course was also a little harder this year with that extra up-down in the first mile so this improvement was definitely encouraging.

Rocky Run 5K

Race #2 – Run for Victory 5K – Sunday, May 17th

Less than 48 hours after the trail race, I pinned on my bib for the Victory 5K in Downingtown, PA. Last year’s Victory 5K was a total breakout race for me. After a spring of 5Ks this is the race where I finally went sub-25, blowing away my old PR by almost a minute with a 24:17 finish. I knew that I didn’t have another PR performance in me this year, but I was hoping to at least match last year’s time on the fast, flat course.

Victory 5K

Unfortunately Sunday was not my day. I struggled through the race and barely squeaked through the finish under 25:00… my slowest road 5K since before last year’s Victory Run. Eek! I’ve (over) analyzed my performance in the weeks following Victory and here’s what went wrong:

  1. First and foremost, I was tired. I had just raced on Friday and was still feeling sluggish from Broad Street 2 weeks before.
  2. I had little motivation. I had just PR’d the 5K less than a month before at the Haverford Twilight Run so I felt ZERO need to even daydream about earning a new PR at Victory. I think this translated into me deciding beforehand that I didn’t need to show up with my A game. (But I don’t know if I could have even if I had wanted to… see #1!)
  3. It was HOT!!! May 17th seemed to be the first really humid day of the year. Victory’s 1PM start time put us squarely in the direct sun and heat of the day. Blech.
  4. I was burned out. Although I hate to admit it, after 14 races in 2015 I was completely burned out on May 17th.

I’ve been “streaking” since July 1, 2013. During all of these months with no rest days I have sometimes felt tired or sick or sore, but I have never felt truly burned out. Not until 1:25PM on May 17, 2015. It felt terrible. My body wasn’t running fast and my brain no longer cared. I got in line for my free post-race beer and agreed with Matt that it was time to take some time off from racing. (But not to end the streak… gotta keep that going!!) 🙂

Looking really happy to be done the race

That’s the super-long beer line behind us.

So… not racing is exactly what I’ve been doing for the past month! I have continued to go to my Tuesday night track workouts, but beyond that have mostly been satisfied with slow runs (sometimes with Piper in tow towing me), hikes, and miles on the elliptical. I’ve gradually seen my times pick up on Tuesdays but the heat and humidity has been awful this spring and I’ve mostly continued to feel hot and slow.

Hopefully the last month will pay off and give me the mental and physical strength to break out of my burned-out funk tonight. Oh yeah… did I mention that in 2 hours I’ll be lining up for my first race post-Victory? It’s still really hot and humid out (even hotter than Victory, actually) and I’m still not sure that tonight’s the night for a PR, but I’m excited to give the Media 5 Mile Race my best shot! Wish me luck!!!

Miles since last post: 180.4
Days since last post: 40
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.83
2015 MILES: 798.6

 Past Races:

•  May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3), Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
•  April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11), Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26)
•  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), 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)

Tyler Trail 10K Race Recap

Stream Crossing!  (Image © 2015 Eric Mundy and John Greenstine. Source) https://plus.google.com/photos/115911381219551998085/albums/6136825500143490737)

Stream Crossing!
(Image © 2015 Eric Mundy and John Greenstine. Source)

Three weeks ago I ran my first 10K on snow-covered, narrow, insanely hilly trails. It was HARD!  I survived that race but met none of my goals (except finishing) and came away from it hoping that I could learn from my trail 10K experience and be stronger at the next race.

The next race (aka my opportunity for trail redemption) arrived in the form of the Tyler Arboretum Trail 10K last Saturday morning.  How did it go?  Well, let’s look at it in terms of my goals from the previous 10K…

  1. Don’t walk.  SUCCESS!
  2. Average better than 10:00/mile pace.  SUCCESS!!
  3. Finish in under an hour (9:39 pace).  SUCCESS!!!

I am so proud to share that I met ALL of my goals, finishing this fun, challenging trail race with a new PR time of 58:34… 12 1/2 minutes faster than my previous trail 10K!  Here I am immediately after the race when I saw my time. Woohoo!

Yay! I did it!

The 6.2 mile course wound around Tyler Arboretum, a private, 650-acre arboretum that borders Ridley Creek State Park.  The course included many rolling hills, four stream crossings, and beautifully maintained, wide trails.  I ran without music (unusual for me!) which gave me lots of time to think during the race.  With that in mind, I’m going to split my recap into a series of observations that I made while running:

Trail Runners are really nice!

During my previous trail 10K I realized that no one around me was listening to music.  Instead they were politely saying “on your left” when they passed me or “nice job!” when I passed them.  Crazy!  I felt like a total newbie with my iPhone and ear buds and quickly turned my music way down to better hear my fellow trail runners.

During the Tyler 10K I left my phone in the car and definitely enjoyed being able to hear all of the banter around me.  Runners were chatting about hills, encouraging one another, and, when two runners fell right in front of me on a downhill stretch, checking to make sure that everyone was OK and able to proceed.  Trail runners are NICE!!

Tyler 10K 1

I happily joined in on the occasional chit chat and had a nice exchange with an older guy who panted out “let’s go Pink, see you at the top!” as he passed me on a steep uphill climb.

I like stream crossings.  A lot!

The Tyler 10K course included four stream crossings.  Runners had three options: (1) be a superhuman and leap across the creek in a single bound, (2) slow down and tip-toe across some slippery rocks, or (3) run straight through the water.  After a winter of running in snow, ice, and mud, I’m pretty accustomed to running with wet feet so I went into the race thinking that I would go with option 3… unless the rocks looked easy, in which case I’d try to stay dry as long as I could.

The first stream crossing felt like it came up really quickly and before I knew it I had already swerved around a few people who were slowing down to do the rock thing.  I plowed through the water and emerged on the far bank, happy and wet.

I continued to splash through the remaining three stream crossings, simply choosing the path of least resistance.  It was great fun!  (For proof just look at my insanely happy expression in the photo above… who in their right mind looks that excited to get their feet wet??) 😉

Heart Rates and Hills, oh my!

I think of myself as a runner who likes, even embraces, hills.  I do a lot of hill running in my neighborhood and on the trails at Okehocking Preserve and I know that even if I get really fatigued going up a hill I can usually recover quickly once the terrain levels out.  Unfortunately my confidence took a big hit during the previous trail 10K when I had to slow to a walk SEVERAL times on hills, and I left that race thinking that a goal of “don’t walk” for a trail race might not be attainable for me.

With that backstory in mind, I went into Tyler hoping that I could make it up the hills without walking, but completely unsure about my ability to do so.  When the first major hill loomed into view after the stream crossing I looked up and saw many people walking, but I also realized that I could actually see the crest of the hill and it didn’t look so bad!  I jogged up the hill, passing a few walkers in the process, and recovered at the top.  Hurrah!

I realize that there is a point at which it becomes more energy efficient to walk up a hill during a trail race.  I’m not sure exactly where that point is for me, so I resorted to looking at my heart rate to help me determine how much effort was too much.  I know that my max. heart rate during a 5K seems to be somewhere around 198-202 bpm and in a speed workout it’s not uncommon to finish each interval at around 190.  I fixated on that 190 rate and checked my Garmin on uphill climbs to make sure that my heart rate stayed below that number.  None of the hills were too crazy so it all worked out and I never had to walk!

Tyler 10K Stats

I definitely have some room for improvement on downhills.  I would love to be able to zoom down slopes like a mountain goat (or like many of my fellow competitors on Saturday), but I’m scared to really let myself go all out.  I have enough trouble seeing rocks and roots under leaves on flat ground, much less as I’m flying down a hill.  I figure that for now I’ll be satisfied with letting the speedy downhillers pass me on the descents and then I’ll pass them back on the climbs.  😉

I am really excited about Broad Street.

Many times during a hard 5K I’ve found myself thinking “Why do I race? Is this even fun? This is so HARD!” Of course, I always feel happy the moment a race ends, but my point is that racing is not always my favorite activity while the race is actually going on.  So, imagine my surprise on Saturday when, at around the 4 mile mark, I found myself daydreaming about the Broad Street Run!  Granted, I was thinking that I would hopefully feel better at the Broad Street 4 mile marker then I was feeling at that point during the trail 10K, but overall the idea of running another 5-6 miles on pavement really didn’t seem too bad.  The 10 mile Broad Street Run is 20 days away and I am pumped!!!!

~~

In the final half mile of the 10K there were two runners right in front of me: a man and a woman.  I set my sights on the woman and slowly gained on her.  As the finish line came into view I decided that I was definitely going to pass her (even though trail runners are really nice it’s still a race, after all!) and with a hundred yards to go I somehow started sprinting.  I passed both runners and blasted across the finish line (Garmin says my pace was 4:13 at the end????!) before collapsing in a happy, tired heap.

Sprinting into the finish

According to the official results, I finished 7th in my age group, 24th female, and 104th overall out of 388 runners!

All in all, the Tyler Trail 10K was a fantastic experience.  I learned that I am stronger than I thought I was, I “unplugged” and enjoyed the runners, scenery, and the thoughts rambling around in my head, and I know for sure that I’m having a blast racing!

My next race will be with Matt!  We’re running the Empower the Children 5K in Havertown, PA next Saturday.  Then it’s on to Broad Street!!

Miles since last post: 78.4
Days since last post: 15
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2015 MILES: 486.3

 

Past Races:
•  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), 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)

Double Trail Run Weekend

This weekend I ran TWO 5K trail races and I had a great time!  The first race was the Rocky Run 5K hosted by the Rocky Run YMCA in Media, PA on Friday night.  This race was originally scheduled for May 16th but it had to be postponed due to extremely heavy rainfall (over 2.5″ inches in 8 hours).  Postponing the race was a good call – the extra two weeks gave the winding trails behind the Y time to dry out and Friday’s weather was absolutely perfect.

Annie Rocky Run 5K

The Y’s 5K course started out on a short pavement loop before entering the woods on the Rocky Run Trail.  (This trail is part of a large network of trails in Middletown Township including the Darlington and Linvill Trails… if you’re in the area I’d highly recommend checking them out!)  I’ve spent a lot of time hiking on these trails but I’ve never actually run on them so Friday’s race was a new experience for me.  The first 1 1/2 miles seemed pretty easy and I felt good as I dodged tree roots, mud, and rocks.  At the halfway turnaround I discovered that I was the 2nd place woman (woohoo!) which put some pressure on me to keep up my pace for the second half of the race.  I didn’t know how far behind me the 3rd place woman was, but I do remember the second half of the race feeling MUCH harder than the first half, probably because it was almost entirely uphill!

Rocky Run 5K Runkeeper Stats

The last mile wasn’t pretty, but I held onto my second place spot and finished in 27:40, good enough for 14th overall out of 88 runners, 2nd place female, and 1st in my age group.  The overall female winner was actually also in my age group but I got the AG award since she got the overall award.  🙂  The Rocky Run 5K marked the first time I’ve won an actual prize in a race — a $25 gift certificate to a local running store!! — and also helped me realize that I might REALLY like trail runs!

After my great off-road experience on Friday night, I decided to sign up for another local trail race on Sunday morning.  This race was Radnor Conservancy’s Race for Open Space 5K Trail Run.  It was held at the Willows mansion/park in Villanova, PA which is actually where my parents got married back in 1983!  Despite the Willows only being about 20 minutes from my house I’ve never actually been there, so it was pretty neat to visit the alcove and gardens that I’ve only ever seen in old wedding portraits.  I was surprised to discover that my parents’ wedding ceremony site is now a parking lot… I guess modern-day weddings happen somewhere else on the property??

Much like the Rocky Run 5K, the Race for Open Space started on a short stretch of pavement before entering the woods on winding, hilly trails.  My Runkeeper App couldn’t get a good GPS signal during the race and it reported that I had already run 5 miles after only 7:46 had elapsed.  Whoops!  The Runkeeper app continued to malfunction throughout the race (at one point it told that my mile split was 81 miles per hour!!) but it was useful just to know the race time even if the miles were way off.  I thought that this course seemed harder than the Rocky Run course so I was pleasantly surprised when I finished in 25:49… nearly 2 minutes faster than Friday’s time.  Yay!!

My 25:49 finish was good enough for 31st overall out of 96 runners, 10th place female, and 1st place in my age group.  🙂  Considering that I had not originally been planning to run any races this weekend, I was pretty thrilled with how my two trail races turned out.  Now I really can’t wait to do the Run-A-Muck trail race in September… I have a feeling that I am going to be able to improve significantly on my 35+ minute time from last year!!

My next race is the Media 5 Miler on June 20th.  This is a road race (which should feel easy after tree roots, rocks and mud!) and, with over 1500 runners, it will be the biggest race that I’ve run in so far.  Less than 3 weeks to go!

Miles since last post:  53.8
Days since last post:  13
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.81
2014 TOTAL MILES: 721.3

Related Posts:
•  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)

Over the Hills and Through the Woods… the Elwyn 5K!

On Saturday morning Matt and I ran the Elwyn Maximum 5K, a road/trail/XC race held on the beautiful grounds of the Elwyn school just west of Media, PA.  This was our first off-road race since our racing debut at Run-A-Muck last September.  All of my races since Run-A-Muck have been on pavement and I had forgotten how much harder it is to run off-road.  (This also made me realize how hard Run-A-Muck really was… I’m lucky I didn’t quit running immediately after that race!)  Mixed surfaces aside, the race course was beautiful, the other runners were friendly and supportive, and I had a blast!

Annie after Elwyn 5K

After going out way too fast in the St. Tim’s 5K last week, I was determined to run my first mile at a reasonable pace.  I curbed my competitive instincts at the start and let people run by me, keeping myself to what felt like a comfortable jog.  The first mile ended up being mostly downhill and was all on pavement, so my split was still pretty quick at ~7:34, but I felt much more under control at the 1 mile marker than I was during St. Tim’s.  This was good because the next 2 miles were very challenging, with trails, grass, and loooong up hill climbs!

At around 1.25 miles the course left the road and entered the woods, where we were greeted by a steep climb up a wood chip trail.  Then we exited out into a soggy, grassy field (where I passed two people… that never happens in the middle of a race!!) and started a steady 0.8 mile climb that felt like it lasted forever. (And those people passed me back, oh well!)  The wet grass footing was challenging but I pushed through, knowing that eventually we’d return to pavement.  At one point around mile 2 we ran down a short driveway and I remember feeling so excited that we were back on the road, only to realize that the volunteers were actually directing us to yet another field for another 3/4 miles of XC running.  During this last stretch on the muddy grass I was only about 50 feet behind Matt, but just as I thought I might try to pass him he put on a burst of speed and pulled ahead.

We finally returned to the road with about 0.35 miles left to go.  I was SO HAPPY to have pavement under my feet again!  I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that I apparently also had enough energy left to pick up some speed and run my third mile faster than my second.  Woohoo!  I finished in 26:17… FASTER than my St. Tim’s run despite this course being much, much more challenging.  I know that the trick was going out with a more controlled pace and I can’t wait to get a chance to try out that technique on an all-road course!

Matt finished strong, passing a few people right at the line for an official time of 26:12.  He ended up 2nd place in his age group and won this fancy blue Elwyn mug.  Doesn’t he look happy?  🙂

Matt with his Elwyn 5K Mug

Our next race is Victory Brewery Company’s Run for Victory 5K on May 18th.  They have a beer garden and BBQ after the race, which is apparently a very fast and flat ROAD course.  Looking forward to it!!!

Miles since last post:  42.4
Days since last post:  8
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.85
2014 TOTAL MILES: 605.0

Related Posts:
•  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)