Pretend it’s May 27th… Recap of the Elwyn 5K!

Elwyn Weather 20 min before the race

Just before the race. Looks like perfect running weather to me!

This race recap is a bit late. I wrote most of it during Memorial Day weekend but then got distracted with a trip to California (more on that in a future post!) and somehow it took me 3 weeks to actually publish this. Please just pretend it’s May 27th as you’re reading this… thanks! 😉

I woke up at 5:40AM last Saturday and immediately checked the weather: 100% chance of rain at 9 o’clock with a massive storm on the way. I had two choices: 1. put my iPhone down and fall back asleep or 2. roll out of bed and get ready for a 5K that I wasn’t even registered for. Can you guess what I did? One $30 on-site registration fee later I was standing under some ominous-looking clouds ready to begin the Elwyn 5K.

I ran this race in 2014 and remember the course well. We’d start with just over a mile of pavement with some nice downhills before turning into the woods for a short section of steep uphill trail. Then the course would hit a series of rolling hills on grass before paralleling Rt. 352 for a slight but seemingly never-ending incline. Finally, after a few more twists and turns, we’d reach pavement again for a fast quarter mile to the finish.

Elwyn Start

The Start. Photo Credit: Elwyn 5K

I flew through the pavement section feeling fast and surprisingly light-footed in my Cascadia trail shoes. Thanks to the plentiful downhill my average heart rate was only 174 bpm (very low for me mid-race!) and mile 1 was over in a speedy 7:14.

Mile 2 is the hardest segment of this course. The wooded section was almost completely uphill but I was thankful for the wide and well packed trail (a big difference from the previous weekend’s uneven single-track at Rocky Run!). After powering through the woods I emerged in a field, ready to take on the grassy section of the course.

As I remembered from 2014, the uphill stretch along Rt. 352 lasted forever. I focused on keeping pace with a woman ahead of me, but mostly I just felt like I was in a holding pattern for the remainder of this mile. I had run the final 0.75 miles of the course on my warm up so I knew that once I made it past the 2nd mile split I would almost be to the easier terrain. Mile 2 finally beeped by in 8:46. (It’s worth noting that this was a full 30 seconds faster than my middle mile 2 years ago!)

Elwyn 5K Stats_

I felt a surge of energy as soon as the course veered away from 352. The grass was freshly mowed (easier to run on!) and I knew that I had only a another minute or so on grass before the return to pavement. Once I hit the pavement I picked up my pace big time. I had originally thought I might be able to catch the woman I had been following on the grass, but she also sped up significantly so I settled for just making sure that I was running as fast as I possibly could. Looking at my Garmin stats, I think I averaged about a 7:20-7:25 pace during this final 0.3 mile paved stretch.

Elwyn 5K Finish

Booking it to the finish line. Photo credit: Elwyn 5K

My final mile split was 8:17 but I was too busy focusing on the finish line to check my watch.  I zoomed across the line in 24:21, nearly TWO MINUTES faster than my 2014 time!!

Fortunately the rain held off for the entire race and it wasn’t until the awards ceremony that the skies opened up. I had left my rain coat in the car a quarter mile away so I ducked out early, very happy with my time and pleased that I decided to sign up for this race rather than sleep in for a few extra hours. 😄

Miles since last post: 138
Days since last post: 27
2016 MILES: 833.9

Past Races:
• May ’16:
Media Mile (5/7) [1M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/13), Turtle Trot Trail 5K (5/15)
• April ’16:
Evolve IP 5K (4/2), Empower the Children 5K (4/17), Haverford Twilight Run (4/23) [5K PR Tie]
• March ’16:
 St. Agnes 5K (3/5), 3-2-1 Loop 10K (3/12) [10K PR], Pickle Run (3/19)
• February ’16:
Pickle with Piper (2/20)
• January ’16:
Pickle Trail Run (1/30)
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR], Brian’s Run (12/5) [5M PR], Reindeer Romp 5K (12/13)
• November ’15:
Trinity 5K (11/7), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/26) [5K PR]
• October ’15:
BAAR 5K (10/3), Double OyVey 10K (10/25) [10K PR], Boo Run 5K (10/31)
• September ’15: Run-A-Muck Trail 5K (9/19)
• August ’15:
Boxcar Mile (8/13), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/27)
• June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
• May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3) [10M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
• April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11) [10K PR], Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26) [5K PR]
• March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21), Pickle Run #3 (3/28)
• February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
• January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
• December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5) [2M PR]Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7) [5M PR], Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)  [5K PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
• October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
• September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
• August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [5K PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18) [5M PR]
• June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
• May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [5K PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
• April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3), Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
• March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
• February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
• January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
• December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [5K PR]
• November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
• October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [5K PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

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Turtle Trot 5K at Okehocking

Okehocking Preserve, Ridley Creek State Park, and the Darlington Trail are by far my favorite places to run and hike. All three spots are close to my house (I can run to them!) and their trails offer sweeping views, peaceful woods, and wickedly steep hills. I’ve raced at Ridley Creek and Darlington multiple times but until recently a race had never been held at Okehocking. Thankfully that changed on Sunday, May 15th when Okehocking played host to the inaugural Autism Village Turtle Trot.

407 Start of the Turtle Trot

I arrived at Okehocking early on Sunday with Matt and the camera in tow. The weather was sunny and in the upper 40s… a bit chilly for spectators but absolutely perfect for running. After countless solo loops on Okehocking’s trails – most recently in the snow on April 9th! – I was eager to learn where the official race course would go. Bill Frawley, the course designer and co-owner of my favorite shoe store, The Running Place, was kind enough to point out the major turns and confirmed that the worst of the course’s extreme uphill climbs would be conquered during the first mile.  Sounds good to me!!

Okehocking Turtle Trot 5K Stats_

The race started up a steep hill, wrapped around the preserve’s off-leash dog park, then descended to a bridge spanning a small creek. After the creek it was time to climb again, this time to the long ridge line that runs along the whole north edge of the park. I know from past experience that I can just barely see my house from this ridge, but on Sunday I was too focused on the run to be house-hunting. After 130 feet of elevation gain, mile 1 beeped by in a surprisingly speedy 8:33.

During mile 2 the course plunged down a hillside, passing the preserve’s beautifully restored barn before entering the marshy area at the western edge of the park. Bill had warned me that it would be muddy here, but for the most part the ground was firm and fairly easy to navigate. Or at least it was until the very end of the marshy section when the course turned away from Ridley Creek and the entire trail turned into several feet of thick, deep mud. I splashed and squelched my way through and broke free from the woods just as my watch beeped an 8:30 second mile split.

I often end my own Okehocking runs with a mile-ish clockwise loop in the middle of the preserve through the woods and back towards the area where the race’s finish was located. I understood beforehand that the race’s final mile would be similar to a backwards version of my loop, but I wasn’t thinking about how the change in direction would impact the hills. Perhaps at this point in the race I was just more tired than I usually would be in a casual run, but mile 3 felt like it was ALL uphill. During this mile I realized that I was going to pass Matt so I tried really hard to look like I was running with good form, but then resumed my tired shuffle as soon as I had passed the camera. 😁

503 Mid-Turtle Trot

Finally the hills were done and the finish line was in sight. I ignored my watch’s 8:56 split (I would have been shocked that I ran the final mile in under 9 minutes!!) and sprinted into the finish. I crossed the line in 26:49, just 6 seconds slower than the Rocky Run 5K that I had run two days earlier. I ended up second place overall female and as a prize received an adorable little handmade turtle ornament that will definitely get a place of honor on our next Christmas tree.

Mile 3’s unexpected uphills aside, I loved everything about this course. I was grateful that most of the hills were over with in mile 1, I appreciated the hard, packed trails (a big change from Rocky Run’s rutted, lumpy grass), and the views made every climb totally worth it. Now if there was just some way to make the weather at ALL RACES be 48° and sunny… that would truly be perfect!

574 Turtle Trot Finish

Miles since last post: 0
Days since last post:0
2016 MILES: 695.9

Past Races:
• May ’16:
Media Mile (5/7) [1M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/13)
• April ’16:
Evolve IP 5K (4/2), Empower the Children 5K (4/17), Haverford Twilight Run (4/23) [5K PR Tie]
• March ’16:
 St. Agnes 5K (3/5), 3-2-1 Loop 10K (3/12) [10K PR], Pickle Run (3/19)
• February ’16:
Pickle with Piper (2/20)
• January ’16:
Pickle Trail Run (1/30)
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR], Brian’s Run (12/5) [5M PR], Reindeer Romp 5K (12/13)
• November ’15:
Trinity 5K (11/7), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/26) [5K PR]
• October ’15:
BAAR 5K (10/3), Double OyVey 10K (10/25) [10K PR], Boo Run 5K (10/31)
• September ’15: Run-A-Muck Trail 5K (9/19)
• August ’15:
Boxcar Mile (8/13), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/27)
• June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
• May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3) [10M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
• April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11) [10K PR], Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26) [5K PR]
• March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21), Pickle Run #3 (3/28)
• February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
• January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
• December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5) [2M PR]Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7) [5M PR], Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)  [5K PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
• October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
• September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
• August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [5K PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18) [5M PR]
• June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
• May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [5K PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
• April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3), Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
• March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
• February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
• January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
• December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [5K PR]
• November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
• October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [5K PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Rocky Run Trail 5K

We’ve had an unusually cold, wet spring this year. Not so great for my basil plants (which turned black and died after a week of rain) but very nice for runners like me who prefer cool weather races. I’ve been trying take advantage of this “nice” weather by running as many races as possible, including two trail races last weekend and one this weekend.  That’s a lot of trails! And also a lot of race recaps that I need to catch up on. Here’s the first of three…

On Friday the 13th of May I ran the Rocky Run YMCA’s Trail 5K for the third year in a row. Last year I led the women for the entire race, but then got passed decisively in the final quarter mile. I never knew placing second could feel like such a huge defeat until that moment! This year I vowed to do things differently. I wanted to start out slower to ensure that I’d have energy left at the end. That way I could be the person doing the passing, or at least putting up more of a fight if a woman tried to pass me.

I crossed the start line with a small field of 5K runners at 6:30PM. I had initially thought I’d just tuck in behind whatever woman looked like she was going the fastest, but then I realized that I was that woman so I set off behind the men at a comfortable pace. After 0.4 miles of pavement the course plunged down a hill and entered the woods.

It had rained all week so the steep descent on single-track trails was a slippery, muddy mess. I was very thankful for the big treads on my trail shoes and only found myself reaching out to catch my balance on a tree a few times as I picked my way down the hill. The trail eventually flattened out and the terrain changed to thick, wet, lumpy grass with a few ruts and rocks thrown in for good measure. Definitely better than the mud slide, but still not the easiest footing.

I trudged along, very aware of the fact that I was once again sitting in the first place female spot. That’s a stressful position to be in when you know that you have a huge, muddy uphill waiting for you towards the end of the race! As I neared the turnaround point I could hear a woman close behind me saying “good job!” to the men who were passing us on their way back to the finish. I remember thinking “Uh oh… she must be feeling REALLY good if she’s still talking at this point of the race!!” I hit the turnaround with her about 15 feet behind me and started the long climb back towards the YMCA.

Rocky Run Trail 5K Stats_

The lumpy grass seemed twice as hard to navigate the second time around but I was utterly determined not to give up my lead. With less than a mile to go I passed a little boy and again heard the woman behind me, enthusiastically urging him on as she also passed him. How was she still this cheerful??? (Note to self: talking a lot during a race is a great way to psych out the runner ahead of you!!)

I reached the steep uphill feeling tired and somewhat detached, like my brain was floating through a foggy haze. Even through the haze I could feel how badly I wanted to stay ahead. I pushed up the slope and suddenly emerged out of the woods sooner than I expected. There was still a steep section of parking lot ahead of me, but I was back on firm ground!! At this point last year I had nothing left but this year I actually felt a little surge as my muddy shoes hit the pavement. I powered my way up to the top of the parking lot and looked behind me with 0.3 miles to go… the cheerful woman was nowhere in sight!!!!

Even though I had not seen a woman behind me I wasn’t going to leave my victory to chance. I gave the final loop around the Y’s playing fields everything I had and somehow was able to find enough speed to pass a guy in the last turn of the race. I sprinted across the finish and smiled when I heard the race timer say “first place female!”

Rocky Run post-race

I finished in 26:43. Only 7 seconds faster than last year, but with more challenging conditions and significantly better execution and outcome. I didn’t give up my lead and I fought hard right up to the end. Woohoo!!

My first place prize was a 75 minute massage at the Y. I think I’m going to need it after all of these spring races! Next up: a recap of the Turtle Trot trail 5K that I ran 38 hours after Rocky Run…

Miles since last post: 46.4
Days since last post:10
2016 MILES: 695.9

Past Races:
• May ’16:
Media Mile (5/7) [1M PR]
• April ’16:
Evolve IP 5K (4/2), Empower the Children 5K (4/17), Haverford Twilight Run (4/23) [5K PR Tie]
• March ’16:
 St. Agnes 5K (3/5), 3-2-1 Loop 10K (3/12) [10K PR], Pickle Run (3/19)
• February ’16:
Pickle with Piper (2/20)
• January ’16:
Pickle Trail Run (1/30)
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR], Brian’s Run (12/5) [5M PR], Reindeer Romp 5K (12/13)
• November ’15:
Trinity 5K (11/7), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/26) [5K PR]
• October ’15:
BAAR 5K (10/3), Double OyVey 10K (10/25) [10K PR], Boo Run 5K (10/31)
• September ’15: Run-A-Muck Trail 5K (9/19)
• August ’15:
Boxcar Mile (8/13), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/27)
• June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
• May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3) [10M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
• April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11) [10K PR], Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26) [5K PR]
• March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21), Pickle Run #3 (3/28)
• February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
• January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
• December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5) [2M PR]Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7) [5M PR], Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)  [5K PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
• October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
• September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
• August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [5K PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18) [5M PR]
• June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
• May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [5K PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
• April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3), Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
• March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
• February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
• January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
• December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [5K PR]
• November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
• October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [5K PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

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)

Run-A-Muck Trail Race

On September 19th I ran Willistown Conservation Trust’s “Run-A-Muck” trail race for the third year in a row. Two years ago this was my first race ever and I worked really hard to cross the finish line with an average run/walk pace of 9:40/mile. Last year I did some major hill training prior to the event and was able to run the entire course, crushing it (and beating my brother and Matt!) with an average of 8:30/mile.

1482 RaM Start

My performance at this year’s Run-A-Muck was a mixture of the two prior years. I started out strong, feeling fast and under control with a first mile split of 8:10. Then the never-ending, rolling hills began and I felt my legs getting heavier and slowing down with every step. At that point I decided that I just had to make it through the two mile marker and then I would allow myself to walk up the insane hills in mile three if I needed to.

My Garmin beeped a 9:13 second mile just as I commenced a steep climb on a wooded single-track trail. This is where the course climbs 100 feet in a mere 0.15 miles!! Somehow I ran this whole section last year, but this year sanity prevailed and I walked — no, trudged — up it. After that walking break I jogged the downhills and flats but just couldn’t make myself run up any more hills.

Run A Muck Trail Stats_

Thankfully, the Run-A-Muck course ends on a downhill. I crested the final hill with just enough energy to manage a somewhat strong-looking kick to the finish. I was so happy to be almost done that I smiled the whole way in, as captured in grainy detail on Matt’s cell phone. 😄

1510 Almost to the finish!

1513 Finish

After the race was over Matt, Piper and I hiked the “muckers” (walking) course and then enjoyed an outdoor country supper under a big tent with live music, free beverages, and great company. This may have not been my best race performance, but it was certainly a fun night!! I’ll definitely plan to take on the Run-A-Muck course again next year, but maybe I should do a little more hill training first! 😄

Miles since last post: 148.8
Days since last post: 31
2015 MILES: 1295.1

Past Races:
• 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)

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)

The Pickle Run #2: Trail Edition!

Last Saturday I ran the February Pickle Run at Ridley Creek State Park.  After running the all-road course at the January Pickle, I decided to give the trails a try in February and I am happy that I did!

The race traversed “3.8ish” miles of hilly, winding, snow-covered trails.  The trail course started out with the road-runners for the first half mile or so before veering into the woods where the first 10-15 minutes of trails flew by in a blur.  I was sandwiched between two guys and the three of us zoomed through the forest making great time with no other runners in sight.

The guy in yellow took the lead through the entire trail section and I stayed tucked in right behind him (as this photo illustrates... you can hardly see me!) Photo Credit: RunningMadPhoto

The guy in yellow took the lead through the entire trail section and I stayed tucked in right behind him (as this photo illustrates… you can hardly see me!) Photo Credit: RunningMadPhoto

Of course all of that fun downhill couldn’t last forever… with about 1.5 miles to go we turned onto the “white” trail and immediately started climbing.  And climbing.  I technically never walked, but I’m pretty sure that I was shuffling along at 15++ minute mile pace.  Finally the trail leveled out and I realized how completely dead my legs felt with another mile still to go.  Trail running is HARD!

Pickle Trail Run (2-26-15)_

Right before crossing over the multi-use roadway on the yellow trail the course plunged down a really steep hill.  Halfway down the hill I spotted one of the race’s signature googly-eyed pickles leaning up against a fallen tree but was too tired to go back up the hill for it.  I yelled “PICKLE!!” and the guy behind me mustered up the strength to turn back for the prize.  (Runners who find pickles on the course get silly awards like old VHS tapes and fake wall-mounted fish.  It’s all fun at the Pickle Run!)

The race finally returned to pavement with less than 1/4 mile to go (or something like that… this was a prediction run so no watches allowed!) and the tired trail runners rejoined the 5K road runners who were also in the homestretch.  I was thrilled to be back on pavement and I picked up my pace and sprinted into the finish.  Trail pickle complete!

Annie Pickle Run Finish

Photo Credit: Run the Day

My finish time of 35:40 means that I ran at an average pace of 9:23 per mile.  Slower than road race pace, for sure, but also much faster than my mid-week trail runs so I’m happy with that!  Before the race began I haphazardly guessed that I’d finish in 36:00 not really knowing what the conditions would be like.  Wildly, this meant that my prediction was only 20 seconds off which was good enough for 3rd place and another pickle-in-a-beer stein award.  Awesome!

My next race is March 7th… the last of the Athlete’s Closet Winter Series.  I have been sticking with my speed work and tempo runs and I am looking forward to running FAST on the nice, even pavement!!

Miles since last post: 32
Days since last post:  7
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2015 MILES: 267.2

Past Races:
•  February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7/15)
•  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)