You’ve heard me talk a lot about the Pennypack – the creek, the rail trail, and the nature preserve. These three things are all located together in one area – the rail trail blends into the nature preserve. Together, they create a complex of trails that I use for exercise – running or walking. A recent post mentions both areas but focuses on the nature preserve – the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust.
I’d been seeing signs for a 5K trail run sponsored by the Trust as I went along my way in the parks – I suggested to my husband that we sign up – we did – so we arrived Saturday morning to do the run.
Let me back up. Ten years ago we did a lot of running – a 5K almost every weekend. We did 10K’s. We did a half-marathon. I took it pretty seriously and I won a boxful of medals. Then I had my accident in 2012 that led to my long-lasting health issues. That was the end of my focus on running and I did only one race since 2012, I think – in 2017. Look here to see what that was all about, including pictures of me actually running…)
Things are better now, and when I saw those signs, I took them for a … sign. I wanted to try to run in a race again. And, my husband is now in shape to run, too – remember his knee injury? It left him a little less mobile, but he’s made up for it in determination to get back to as near to his old self as he can and he has worked hard to do so.
So, at about 8 AM on Saturday, we parked the car and walked into the preserve to check in. It was a beautiful sunny day, but chilly and very windy – it had rained very hard the night before and this was the last of the storm blowing out. We picked up our numbers:
They hand you the number at random. I was 5683, the odd-numbered one, which pleased me, because somehow I think odd bib numbers are luckier. Also, you can tell which one I wore from the safety pins – my husband always uses 4, I use only 2. Yes, it is luckier.
These days, the bibs now have a chip stuck on the back – you pass over a plate as you start and finish to activate it and give you your time. No more pushing to the front at the start so as not to lose time to competitors when the start goes off. The chip knows all.
We also got T-shirts! Aqua and orange. You will see people wearing them in my photos, but I don’t do it at the race. It’s not bad luck but it’s not…good luck, either.
We joined the crowd milling around outside to wait. That’s my husband wearing the red cap. Remember that, it’s an important detail.
I took a couple of photos from the visitor center. The trust is comprised of a variety of parcels of land with various histories. Most of what we ran over today was a sheep farm, now planted in native grasses to attract birds and wildlife. Near the finish, though, it’s lightly wooded.
Before the event, I participated in a yoga warm up. The Trust offers yoga classes in which the participants move along the trails doing poses. I thought that sounded appealing. Today, though we stayed in just one spot, it made for a nice stretch. I am across the circle wearing the gray sweatshirt (pink long-sleeve shirt and black short-sleeve shirt under it. I was cold And I never go out without my belt pack. I might need a tissue. To write something in a notebook. And of course my phone rides along though it never comes out in a race. No.).
All right. Now it’s time to run. We headed for the start. And then – the horn sounded and off we went. I have no photos from during the race (although people did take them, I saw them pull out their phones…not me. When I’m running, remember, I am RUNNING ONLY and doing nothing else.)
I do have some photos from the other day of places we ran today. A quick look:
We ran a short distance along the creek and covered this broken road section. This time, I ran over it and didn’t give it a thought – the last time, I fearfully tiptoed. See what being in a race will do for you.
Here are a couple of views of fields we ran over. A significant section of the race looked like this and the hills are deceptively difficult. In today’s race we entered the fields at this gate, but we turned left immediately and went out in a big circle.
All right. Time passed, my legs kept going, and I finished the race. It took me 41 minutes, 9 seconds. Not bad, I thought. Good enough for 3rd place in my age group (women ages 60-99, if you are interested, and yes, they did say 99. There were 19 people in this category, but no one even near 99).
Hey, that was nice. I felt happy about it. But to put it into perspective – a boy 8 years old won second place in the entire event (not his age group, the whole event). Took him 20 minutes, 22 seconds. Well, now that is impressive, I think.
Then I circled around to stand right before the finish to watch for my husband. Here he comes: (the red cap he is wearing your clue)…
Now he passes me as I yell so loud that people turn around and look, but I don’t care:
And he runs through the finish line (this is also where we started, by the way). He beat his goal time by a good margin. It’s a real achievement, what he did, returning to running after his knee injury, and this course and terrain were challenging for people with good knees. Fantastic job he did, I think.
After we caught our breath, we went back up to the visitor center area and picked up our swag. You see people carrying those green bags?
Us too. At every race, the sponsors often give little gifts to the participants. Here, we received information packets and a few other things:
With our entry fee we also became members of the PERT. That’s great, I thought. And… the best thing was, we each received a tiny milkweed seedling to plant at home. Which we will do. Actually, we came home with three of them – a lady told me of her bad gardening karma and how one of the volunteers suggested she give her seedling to me. Not sure why me, as neither of these people knew me. Maybe it was because I reacted with such enthusiasm when the volunteer gave me mine.
All right. We got a bottle of water and could have had more drink and food if we’d wanted – they had a lovely array of fruit and so on, plus, if you stayed longer, you could buy a beer and eat a sandwich. Plenty of people were doing so. But we decided to head for home before our muscles stiffened up too much.
Successful day. I’m happy we participated and that we endured and finished. It encourages us to try another one. Happy Running! Happy Spring! Thank you to the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust for inviting us!