I DID IT! Two PR’s in one weekend! {Recap of Jingle Elf & Brian’s Run}

Last weekend I ran two races: a festive 2 miler on Friday night and a hilly 5 miler on Sunday. I think this was my best weekend of racing ever. I went into the weekend hoping for PRs in both races and ended the weekend with times that exceeded even my most ambitious goals. What a great feeling!!

At the Jingle Elf Run, participants receive an elf hat instead of a t-shirt. Naturally, I made Piper wear mine in exchange for some really good treats.

Jingle Elf Run [2 mile]

December 1, 2017 | West Chester, PA | 29th overall, 2nd F!! 67.7% age percentage (results)

On Friday night I braved the parade traffic and made my way into nearby West Chester for the Jingle Elf Run, a fun little race that goes off just before the massive West Chester Christmas parade. The course makes two loops through downtown on the mile-long parade route, which is lined with enthusiastic spectators happily awaiting the parade’s floats, marching bands, and Santa’s arrival.

My previous best 2 mile time of 14:28 was from 2015, when I sprinted the first mile in 7:02 and faded to the finish with a 7:26 second mile split. This year I was determined to run a more evenly paced race and set a goal time of 14:20. I spent a lot of time thinking about my race strategy beforehand, and I had decided that I would set my Garmin to auto-split at each 1/2 mile increment. I wanted to run the first two halves in 3:35 (7:10 pace) and then see if I could go faster in mile 2.

The race began promptly at 6:30PM. I felt like I was jogging through the first split but I was reassured when my watch beeped 3:33. Close enough! Before I knew it I hit the mile mark and a 3:30 split. So I had just run the first mile in 7:03… nearly identical to 2015. But unlike in previous efforts, I still felt fresh and ready to start pushing the pace for the second lap.

When my watch beeped a third split of 3:33 I knew I had met my goal. I remember smiling a huge smile in the middle of Gay Street as I ran past little kids, policemen, and locals ringing cow bells. I was going to PR!!! With a half mile to go I lost all sense of pacing and just RAN. I zoomed down Matlack Street and took the final turn onto Market and its long, gradual uphill to the brilliantly lit finish line. In seconds I was crossing the finish with a new PR of 14:04… 16 seconds faster than my goal and 24 seconds better than my previous 2 mile PR!!! That last half mile split? 3:24.7!

I ran a cool down with my friend Chris, then we both ran back to the local running store to check out the official results. One of the guys in the store greeted me and said, “You got second place, right? Great job!” to which I replied, matter of factly, “Oh no, not me. But I PR’d so I’m happy!!” But then 30 seconds later the results loaded on my phone and ohmygod I WAS the second woman to cross the finish!! Placing in this race was totally not on my radar. Before I knew it a white envelope marked 2nd Female had appeared in my hand and I thanked everyone in the store profusely before running the half mile back to my car with the sealed envelope clenched in my fist.

From the quiet of my Subaru’s driver’s seat I opened the envelope and was delighted to find a $75 cash prize. What an unexpected surprise! But I’m still happiest about my 24 second PR. 😄

Brian’s Run [5 mile]

December 3, 2017 | West Chester, PA | 89th overall, 7th AG, 64.8% age percentage (results)

Sunday afternoon I was once again chasing down an old PR from 2015, this time over a hilly 5 mile course in the northeast part of West Chester borough. This was my fourth year running Brian’s Run and my goal was less specific than my detailed breakdown of Friday’s race. At Brian’s Run, all I wanted to do was to beat my 2015 time of 38:28. I re-read my recap of the 2015 race several times before Sunday. I am still very proud of that race and knew that it was not going to be easy to to beat 38:28. Nevertheless, my 2 mile PR gave me confidence and I went into Sunday feeling cautiously optimistic.

Mile 1 – 2015 Split: 7:25
You can’t win a race in the first mile, but you can ensure that the rest of the race will be miserable by going out too fast. I repeated this to myself during mile one and checked my watch multiple times to stay on my goal pace. I finished this mile right on target in 7:27.

Mile 2 – 2015 Split: 7:29
Here the trick was to keep up the pace without pushing too hard. I stayed steady for the first part of this split but about a mile and a half into the race the course had some nice downhills. I figured I had already met my goal of not going out too fast by that point and I allowed my legs to pick up speed and momentum as I zoomed downhill. Mile 2 was over in 7:20.

Mile 3 – 2015 Split: 8:03
Here’s where the course gets challenging. I entered the aptly named “North Hills” neighborhood and hit a series of rolling hills that felt mostly uphill. In three years of running this race I have never finished miles 3 or 4 in under eight minute pace. That all changed on Sunday when my watch surprised me with a third mile split of 7:41. This was faster than I thought I had been going gave me a little boost during the race.

Mile 4 – 2015 Split: 8:13
Always my slowest split of Brian’s Run, the 4th mile includes a never-ending climb back up to the main part of town. Just as this mile was getting going I checked my watch at the 5K split… 23:11! Not bad but I still had hills ahead of me. I focused on using my arms and visualized how happy I’d be when the race was over and I had PR’d. I was thankful and once again pleasantly surprised when this split beeped by in 7:53.

Mile 5 – 2015 Split: 7:18
As I entered the fifth and final mile of Brian’s Run, I ran past a group of my fellow West Chester Running Club-mates who were standing at the top of the Matlack hill, cheering loudly. I heard “Go, Annie!!” and I gave a weak little wave before setting my sights on the slight downhill ahead of me. I had a PR to beat and a stadium to get to, preferably in under 7:18.

I pounded down Chestnut Street and entered the Henderson High School track, determined to beat my PR by as much as possible. I ran the final quarter mile around the track on overdrive with every part of my mind and body focused on GO-GO-GO!! With 100 meters left a woman behind me started to make a move to try to pass me. That was all the encouragement I needed and I somehow found the energy to hold her off and sprint to the finish.

I ran my last mile of Brian’s Run in a shocking 7:04 (!!) and I crossed the finish line in 37:24. Not only is that a new 5 mile PR, it’s MORE THAN A MINUTE faster than my old personal best!!!

All smiles at the finish line.

I still can’t believe I ran that fast. In fact, if someone told me beforehand that I would need to average a 7:29 pace on Sunday, I probably would have been a nervous wreck and I definitely would have gone out too fast in the first mile! It was much better to be surprised in miles 3 and 4 with those fast splits and then have a little energy left to finish strong.

A few West Chester Running Club members at Brian’s Run

I smiled the whole drive home and kept spontaneously breaking out in a huge grin at random intervals throughout the remainder of Sunday evening. Two PR’s in one weekend… I DID IT!!!! 😄

Miles since last post: 3
Days since last post: 1
2017 MILES: 1238.6
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Piper’s PR at the St. Agnes 5K

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

post-race-selfie

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

annie-piper-st-agnes

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

So about the race… Continue reading

St. Agnes 5K

Yesterday I ran a HUGE 10K PR at the 3-2-1 Loop Race!! But I can’t tell you about that yet, because first I need to recap last weekend’s St. Agnes 5K.  The 5K was a solid performance but just isn’t as exciting as my PR so I’ll keep this short!

Prior to March 5th, I hadn’t run a solo* 5K since December 13th.  That December race was more of a recovery run (immediately after a 5M/2M double) so in my mind, I hadn’t really raced a 5K since Thanksgiving Day.  After more than 14 weeks (including the holidays, a trip to Vegas, and zero speedwork), I decided it was time to get a new benchmark 5K time.  (*I’m not counting the 5K I ran with Piper because it didn’t really reflect my solo running ability… she pulls a bit!)

The St. Agnes 5K was held in West Chester, PA on the same downtown, double-loop course as the 2015 St. Pat’s 5K.  Last year on a rainy, 46°F afternoon I finished in 23:39.  This year the sun was out but the weather was much cooler at just 30°F. At 9AM I lined up with 135 other runners and we were off!

I took advantage of some early downhill and before I knew it the first mile was over in 7:24. Then the course swung right onto Market Street and I began a long, steady incline, passing the finish line and looping back around to the start. I got a breather during a nice downhill and mile 2 ended mid-hill with a 7:49 split. Not too bad, but I still had to climb up Market Street once more before I was done.

St Agnes 5K Stats_

Last year I ran my final mile in 7:33 but had no energy left to kick up the hill for the final 0.1 mile. This year my third mile was slightly slower (7:44) but as the finish clock came into view I surged into a sprint, powered up the hill, and flew across the line. My final time? 23:38… 1 second faster than last year!

Source

Finishing strong up Market Street! Photo Credit: St. Agnes 5K

I was happy with my time but not overwhelmingly so. Sure, the weather conditions were a little tougher than last year, but the race felt hard and I was really tired afterwards. I remember thinking that I had a lot of work to do to get back into “spring racing” shape…

But that was BEFORE I ran yesterday’s 10K!!  Recap of that race is coming very soon! 😀

Miles since last post: 65.2
Days since last post: 14
2016 MILES: 356.4

Past Races:
• 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)

Brian’s Run 5 Miler

This afternoon I raced the 5 mile Brian’s Run in West Chester, PA. Last year I ran a huge personal best of 39:11 at this race and still think of that performance as one of my top three best races ever. 2014’s race was so good that I actually had second thoughts about registering for Brian’s Run this year… I just didn’t think there was any way I could improve on last year’s time.

Just before Thanksgiving I set my doubts aside and signed up for Brian’s Run, resolving to simply do my best and not worry about last year’s time. Then I ran a 5K PR on Thanksgiving Day and a 2 mile PR two days ago and started to think maybe… maybe there WAS some way that I could run another 39:11… but probably not.

Perfect day for a race

I arrived at the race about an hour early, picked up my bib and immediately bumped into a friend from my running club. The weather was gorgeous for December – mid 50s and sunny without a cloud in the sky – so we decided that we’d race in short sleeves (a wise choice) before running a short warm up together.

The race began promptly at 1PM and I crossed the start line with 487 other runners. My race plan was to basically just try to equal my splits from last year’s race, so that’s how I’ll recap each mile.

Mile 1 – 2014 Split: 7:33
The course starts by looping through the neighborhoods next to Henderson High School. I only glanced at my watch once during this mile to look at my average pace… 7:15. Too fast! I dialed it back slightly but then purposefully did not look at my mile split. I figured there was nothing I could do about it now and it was better NOT to know so I wouldn’t spend the next four miles over-thinking my overall race time. If I had looked, I would have seen a 7:25 split.

Mile 2 – 2014 Split: 7:42
The second mile swings by the high school (the start/finish point) before veering northwest into the hilly portion of the race. At this point I switched on my music (I ran the first 1.5ish miles without it) in an attempt to take my mind off the hills. The second mile includes a nice section of downhill, so I was pleased but not shocked to see a split of 7:29.

Mile 3 – 2014 Split: 8:06
The third and fourth miles of this course are tough, with rolling hills and lots of turns. I was really happy to have my 5K playlist streaming through my earbuds and I used the upbeat songs to try to increase my cadence and keep my pace up. I was excited to see my third mile split of 8:03… maybe there was a chance I could come close to last year’s time.

Mile 4 – 2014 Split: 8:16
I made a point of checking my 5K split as this mile began. I went through the 5K in 23:42, the same time I had raced The Boo Run in just 5 weeks ago. Only now I had another 1.9 miles to go! The fourth mile finished off with a huge climb and I was thrilled to see my watch report an 8:13 split. It was then that I realized I could definitely PR this race!

Mile 5 – 2014 Split: 7:31
In 2014 that final split time of 7:31 was an absolute record for me. I have never even finished a 5K’s final mile faster than that! This year I pounded into the fifth mile knowing that a PR was completely within reach; all I had to do was run FAST for a few more minutes.

This race finishes with 1 1/2 laps on the track in Henderson High School’s stadium – the same place I ran the Boxcar Mile in August. As part of the chip timing you get your final 400m split and I knew that last year’s time had been 1:50. With that in mind, I decided that as long as the clock was not past 37:11 when I passed the finish for my final lap, I was definitely going to PR.  Imagine my surprise when I passed the clock at 36:42! Just one lap left…

The last lap was really, really hard. At that point I didn’t care that my PR was basically locked up; I just wanted to go as fast as I possibly could. It turns out that the fastest 400m I could muster at that point was a 1:47 (7:08 pace) which put me across the finish line at precisely 38 minutes and 28 seconds… A 43 SECOND PERSONAL BEST!!!! And the final mile split? 7:18!!!!!

Brians Run Stats_

Wow. I really didn’t see this PR coming, and certainly never imagined that I was capable of PR-ing by 43 seconds! Moments after crossing the line I got a text from Matt who had been watching my race via Garmin’s LiveTrack function: “Did you just crush your PR?” Why YES!! I DID!!!! Best feeling ever.

Happy Selfie Post Brian's Run

I joined up with another running friend after the race for a nice, long, happy cool down (we both PR’d) and then drove straight home to shower and write this post. (Well, I had to write the Jingle Elf post first, but you get the idea.) I have now been lucky enough to PR three different race distances in a row. Each of them were exciting, but this 38:28 finish at Brian’s Run takes the cake. Best race ever!

My next race (and possibly my final race of 2015) is the Reindeer Romp in Havertown next Sunday. Before today’s race I was planning to just take it easy at the Romp and run it for fun, but now I’m thinking that I might be in position to come close to another PR… we’ll see what happens!!

Miles since last post: 0
Days since last post: 0
2015 MILES: 1607.1

Past Races:
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR]
• 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)

Jingle Elf 2 Miler

Guess what? I ran TWO races this weekend.  I’m home from the second race (Brian’s Run 5 Mile) and enjoying a well-deserved chocolate covered marshmallow Santa as I type.  I’m SO EXCITED to tell you about how Brian’s Run went but I like to keep things in chronological order so I’ll start by recapping the weekend’s first race.

On Friday night I ran the Jingle Elf Run for the second year in a row.  This 2 mile race kicks off the enormous West Chester Christmas parade which means that the runners are treated to amazing crowd support from the hundreds of families waiting for Santa along the parade route.  It also means that parking in town is insane, but I learned that lesson last year and this year opted to park at my brother’s house and jog into town as my warm up.

Last year I set my (automatic) 2 mile PR at this race with a finish time of 14:33.  This year I was hoping to better that time and I got my wish!!  I started off fast and before I knew it I had completed the first loop around town with a 1 mile split of 7:02.  (Which actually wasn’t quite as speedy as last year’s blazing 6:52… proof that I am making incremental progress in my quest to not start out too fast!!)

Crossing the finish line -- look at the huge parade crowd!

Crossing the finish line — look at the huge parade crowd!

I continued into the second lap, hoping I would be able maintain enough speed to beat last year’s time.  I felt much slower as I entered the long stretch down Gay Street so I tried to focus on the crowd and use their energy as motivation.  I high-fived a few kids and was so relieved when the gentle downhill turn onto Matlack Street finally came into view.  I zoomed down the hill, turned into Market Street, and pushed hard towards the homestretch.  I crossed the finish mats in 14:28… a 5 second PR!!

Jingle Elf Stats_

I ended up 34th overall, 11th female and 3rd in my age group. Not bad! I loved this little race and will definitely plan to do it again next year.  The crowd support is great, it’s an unusual, fun distance, AND it’s a great way to “warm up” for Brian’s Run on Sunday.  More on that race in the next post…

Miles since last post: 15.1
Days since last post: 3
2015 MILES: 1607.1

Past Races:
• 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)

Boxcar Mile

When was the last time you raced a single mile? Before last Thursday, my only attempt at the mile was in 2003. I was a senior in high school and had just torn my ACL, meaning that I wasn’t able compete in my usual hurdles or jumping events. I still wanted to participate in my final season of high school track so I attempted the mile (ouch!!) before resorting to shot put for a few weeks. I don’t remember my exact mile finish time, but I think it’s safe to say that between my lack of preparation for that distance and knee injury there’s no way that I finished in less than 8:30.

High school hurdles. Luckily there are no photos of my super slow high school mile!!!

High school hurdles. Luckily there are no photos of my super slow high school mile!!!

Fast forward to 2015. I now consider the 5K to be a routine race distance and haven’t raced anything shorter than 2 miles in years. It’s rare for any local race to be less than a 5K, so when I got this email in mid-July I was immediately intrigued:

RunCCRS Boxcar Mile Email

Yes… a SINGLE MILE ON A TRACK (!!), at a local high school. Basically an exact repeat of my 2003 event, except this time I would be way better prepared. I signed up and put down a seed time of 6:55… maybe wishful thinking for an August race, but hopefully not too far out of reach.

Thursday, August 13th arrived before I knew it. My heat of the Inaugural Boxcar Mile was scheduled to start at 7:05PM and I eagerly toed the mile start line with 24 other runners. I had a fairly detailed plan for such a short race, with each quarter mile broken down by goal time (1:38, 3:25, 5:08, 6:50). Here’s how things turned out:

Boxcar Mile Stats_

As usual, I went out a little too quickly. I immediately realized this at the 200m (1/8 mile) mark when I saw that I was on pace for a 6:07 mile. Whoops! I dialed my pace back slightly but still went through the quarter and half a little fast. As I expected, the third lap was the hardest. I tried to keep up my pace but slipped a little from my goal time, going through the ¾ mile mark in 5:11.

1132 Digging deep in the last lap

It all came down to the final lap. I gritted my teeth (literally, see above photo) and dug deep for some extra speed. As I rounded the final turn I could see the clock ticking away in the high 6:30s… better hurry up!! I found some tiny last bit of energy and ran as hard as I could through the finish, crossing the line in 6:56.52. Sub-7:00!!!!

Mile Finish!!

It certainly wasn’t easy, but I was VERY happy to squeak in under that 7:00 mark. I think I can run even faster, especially in cooler weather with a smarter first lap. Now if only there were more mile races around here!

After the amateur “Citizens Races” were over, the pros came out for the real show. The Boxcar Mile is part of the nationwide Bring Back the Mile race series and Thursday’s race sponsors were offering more than $8000 (!!) in prize money to professional runners who beat specific qualifying times. Cool! We watched and cheered as the pros battled it out on the track, with three woman finishing sub-4:37 and three men flying through the finish in less than 4 minutes!

Watching these amazing runners zoom around the track was really inspiring (but also made me feel really slow, HA!). I loved witnessing this level of talent at a local venue and the experience felt extra special because I had also just raced a mile around the very same track. I will definitely run the Boxcar Mile again next year and highly recommend it to anyone in the area… even if it’s just to come out and watch the pros!

When was the last time YOU raced a mile?

Miles since last post: 119.6
Days since last post: 26
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.82
2015 MILES: 1079.4

Past Races:
•  June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
•  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)

St. Pat’s 5K

It rained all day Saturday, meaning that Piper stayed inside and kept herself busy doing this:

I, on the other hand, was pleased to discover that even if the weather was gloomy and rainy it was still a full 21° WARMER than the previous Saturday.  After the winter we’ve had I now consider 46° and drizzly to be EXCELLENT running conditions so I decided to take advantage of the (relatively) nice weather by signing up for an afternoon 5K in downtown West Chester, PA.

Seeing as how this was the St. Pat’s 5K, it was only appropriate that race registration occurred in Kildare’s, an Irish-themed pub.  I paid my entry fee, picked up my tech t-shirt, found a hiding spot for said shirt by the bar since I wasn’t planning on wearing it in the race, and headed out for a brief warm up.  Before I knew it I was lining up with 175 other runners and walkers and we were off!  I wasn’t familiar with the course but another runner at the start had explained that it was just two loops of a big square.  Simple enough!

After a winter of hilly 5K courses I would really have liked to PR, but unfortunately I finished just 7 seconds shy of my goal on Saturday.  Nevertheless, I ran what felt like a great race and I am so proud of that third mile split!!! 7:33!

St Pat's 5K Stats

The race finished up a long, gradual hill.  Although I was able to pick up speed going into the finish I wasn’t able to kick quite hard enough to beat my 23:32 PR.  It’s all good though, because my official chip time of 23:40 was good enough for 6th place female and 2nd in my age group!  The age group award was a gift card to Kildare’s so I guess I’ll be returning for an Irish dinner (or drink(s)) in the near future!

Obviously I would have loved to PR, but I’m really not too upset about it, especially because less than 48 hours before the race I was doing this:

Crazy, insane trail hill repeats!  There’s a hill at Okehocking Preserve that is roughly a 13% grade… that’s 87 feet gained in elevation over 200 meters of pure, twisting uphill!  I voluntarily chose to run up this hill four times in a row on Thursday and finished up the day with another 2 miles of hilly trails, so overall I’m pretty psyched that I was able to complete Saturday’s race within 7 seconds of my 5K PR!

Trail Running at Okehocking

Plus, this view from the top of another, even higher hill at Okehocking made Thursday’s trail run totally worth it. 😃 #runhappy

The next race that I’m registered for is the final Pickle Run on March 28th but depending on the weather I may sign up for another impromptu race next weekend.  What do you think I should do? A hilly trail 10K on Saturday or a flat 5K Sunday?  Lately I seem to be a glutton for off-road punishment so that trail race is looking sort of appealing…

Miles since last post: 16.5
Days since last post:  4
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2015 MILES: 345.7

Past Races:
•  March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7)
•  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)