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)

Run A Muck Trail Race

Yesterday afternoon at 4PM Willistown Conservation Trust‘s annual Run A Muck cross country race began.  28 minutes later, I beat Matt and my brother and finally got the chance to see how far my running has progressed over the past year.

Last year’s Run A Muck was my first race ever.  The course was long (3.6 miles), extremely hilly, and just plain HARD.  Last year I took lots of walking breaks, poured water over my head at every water station, and dragged myself across the finish in 35:16 — around a 9:47/mile pace.

This year’s course was still ridiculously hard, with a 100 foot climb in just 2/10s of a mile, gratuitous uphill and downhill repeats, and a wooded section that was basically a staircase (going up, of course).  But that’s where the similarities end. This year I was much better prepared and I’m excited to report that I finished the 3.3 mile course in 28:08!  That’s an average pace of 8:30… more than 1:15 per mile faster than last year!

Run A Muck Runkeeper

In addition to finishing with a much better time, I also ran the whole freakin’ course.  The WHOLE thing!!  This may not seem that impressive – it’s just a 5K, after all – but let me tell you… the last 1.5 miles of this course were brutal.  Towards the end it seemed like EVERYONE was walking.  I thought about walking for a moment (you know, the old “I could probably walk up this hill just as fast as I’m running it” argument) but I kept moving (albeit slowly) and ended up passing a bunch of people in the last mile.

Speaking of passing people… I beat Matt AND my brother in yesterday’s race!!  I pulled even with Matt around the 1 mile marker and was planning on running with him when a woman passed us and I decided to try to run with her instead.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to keep up with her for long (she was the eventual female winner), but that little spurt of speed took me past Matt for the rest of the race.

I caught up to my brother Billy with around a mile to go.  He was walking up a wickedly steep hill (along with everyone else around him) and at first I didn’t realize it was him.  In past races Billy has been much faster than me – back at Victory in May he beat me by more than 2 minutes – but I guess my long runs and track workouts are paying off.  I trudged past him at a slow jog as we crested the hill and just kept on going.

The last few minutes of this race felt like they lasted forever.  I was exhausted.  Mentally I’d gotten a little boost when I passed Billy, but then two women passed me near the end looking super strong.  I had been sitting in 2nd up to that point and picked up my pace in an effort to keep up with them, but I lagged behind as they powered up the final hill and cruised down to the finish a few seconds ahead of me.

My 28:08 finish was good enough for 17th overall and 4th place woman.  Billy crossed the line in 28:24 (19th) with Matt close behind at 28:51 (21st).  The full results are here.

Matt and I cooled down with a nice hike along the Run A Muck walking course.  All of the land that Run A Muck traversed is privately owned and open just for this event, so it was nice to get a chance to walk around and take some photos of the beautiful (aka EVIL!!) rolling hills and farmland that we’d just run through.

After our hike we joined back up with my family to partake in an outdoor “country supper,” complete with chili and cornbread, beer complements of Victory Brewing Company, and a live band.  All in all, this was a fantastic event that I’ll definitely do again next year.  Maybe in another year I’ll be able to run even faster!  🙂

Miles since last post:  29.7
Days since last post:  6
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2014 TOTAL MILES: 1272.5


Related Posts:
•  Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13/14)
•  Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28/14)
•  Radnor Red Steeplechase 5K (8/17/14)
•  Riddlewood Swim Club 5K (8/3/14)
•  Swarthmore Lions Independence Eve 8K (7/18/14)
•  Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10/14)
•  Media 5 Miler (6/20/14)
•  Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1/14)
•  Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30/14)
•  Run for Victory 5K (5/18/14)
•  Elwyn 5K (5/3/14)
•  St. Tim’s 5K (4/26/14)
•  Rick’s Run 5K (4/19/14)
•  Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/14)
•  Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4/14)
•  New Year’s Eve 5K at the YMCA (12/31/13)
•  Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14/13)
•  Turkey Trot 5K (11/28/13)
•  Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2/13)
•  Oy Vey 5K (10/27/13)
•  Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19/13)
•  Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21/13)
•  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Run-A-Muck 5K

We made it!!  Matt and I successfully completed the Willistown Conservation Trust “Run-A-Muck” 5K race yesterday afternoon.  The race ended up being longer than a 5k and it was SUPER hilly, but we finished!

My original goal was to beat 32 minutes (i.e. run 10 minute miles) so when I came over the last hill and saw the finish line clock at 35 minutes I was a little disappointed.  That is, until Matt told me that his and other runners’ GPS running apps were saying that the race was more like 3.65 miles long.  That means I DID meet my pace goal, woohoo!

In addition to meeting my goal I was also the 8th female and 34th overall to cross the finish line which was pretty cool and unexpected.  Granted, there were only about 105 runners AND one of the females ahead of me was an 11-year-old girl, but eh… oh well!  🙂  (By the way, I learned that little kids can be ridiculous runners!  I guess they just never get tired?  Crazy!)

Run-A-Muck Map

The course was tough… it took us through beautiful horse fields, around several ponds, up what seemed like a near-vertical climb in the woods (I walked it), and along a dirt road.  I started out WAY too fast (7:30-8:00 mile, eek!) and then I paid for it on every single steep uphill climb after that, but it was a good learning experience and I think this will just make future races that much easier.

Overall, the race was hard but the feeling of accomplishment after crossing the finish line made it totally worth it.  I’m already looking for another local 5K to enter in October… looking forward to it!  🙂

Kirkwood Preserve

Guess what?  In 2 hours I will be running in my first distance race since 1999!!!  The 5K is hosted by Willistown Conservation Trust, a local non-profit land preservation organization in Willistown Township, Pennsylvania.  To prepare for the race I’ve been running like crazy on my treadmill AND, because the real world isn’t as flat and smooth as a treadmill, Matt and I have also been hiking (and sometimes jogging) in lots of local parks and preserves.

This week in honor of the upcoming race we visited Willistown Conservation Trust’s Kirkwood Preserve.

Kirkwood PreserveKirkwood features 83 acres of grasslands along a stretch of the picturesque Crum Creek.  The preserve has been classified as an “Important Bird Area,” meaning that you’re likely to see some endangered grassland birds on your hike.  More importantly (for me, at least) this also means that dogs are strictly prohibited from all areas of the preserve.

Kirkwood Tree

I actually have a very personal connection to the rolling hills of Kirkwood Preserve because I grew up about 2 miles away from here.  When my brother and I were kids we would walk here from our house with my mom all the time.  This was back before the land was preserved (it was just a cow farm then) and we spent hours and hours of our childhoods here hiking, playing, cross-country skiing, fishing, picnicing… you name it!  With all of those memories in mind it was really neat to come here with Matt and see that the land is still here and open to all.  (Of course the barbed-wired cow fences are all gone and the fields are full of natural grasses now, but that’s fine with me!)  Here are some photos from our walk:

Kirkwood Preserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset and has well-mowed walking trails.  We did the outer loop on our visit and our total walk was just shy of 2 miles.  The only access to the preserve is via the gravel parking lot on Grubbs Mill Road.

Kirkwood Map

OK… time for Matt and me to start stretching and getting ready for the race!  Here’s my running tally as of yesterday evening:

Miles since last post:  60.2
Days since last post:  11
Average Daily Miles since July 18th: 5.56

Wish us luck at 4pm…!  🙂

Kirkwood Jump

Other local hikes, parks, and preserves:

Ridley Creek State Park (Edgmont Township, PA)
Okehocking Preserve (Willistown Township, PA)
Darlington Trail (Middletown Township, PA)
Linvill Trail (Middletown Township, PA)
Stroud Preserve, (West Chester, PA)