Last Sunday morning, I ran the Healthy Trails 5k which took place in Tacony Creek Park in Philadelphia. I first heard about this race through Twitter, and thought it sounded like a perfect opportunity to get some friends together for a fun Sunday morning run.
My friends Katy, Janine, Tiffany, and Steph all participated in the race. We met up at Ferko playground around 8:20 AM for the 9:00 race start. After registering and picking up our race bibs and shirts, we stood around and chatted for a bit.
The weather was GORGEOUS, around 65 degrees at race time, but I knew it would be a bit warm for racing conditions. Since it was a 5k I was not too concerned about dehydration but was a little worried about my asthma. I took two puffs of my inhaler about 15 minutes before the start to prevent any breathing issues. I didn't have a goal set for this race, and was ready to "go with the flow" and feel it out during the race.
The start was a little late, but no one seemed to mind. Then around 9:10 AM, we were off! About 100 other runners and myself ran up the first hill and wound our way into Tacony Creek Park, where the remainder of the race would be held on the paved bike path.
The first mile felt a bit sluggish and my breathing was labored from trying to make my way up towards the front of the pack. During this mile, I still had no idea what my intentions for the race would be. I thought there was no way I was running faster than an 8 minute mile, but as I crossed the 1 mile marker and saw 7:37 on my watch, I knew I had a shot of beating my 5k PR of 23:27.
After mile 1, there was a water stop at which I thanked the volunteers but passed on the water. Then the course wound through the park and up an unexpected hill towards the first turnaround. I passed a few women at this point, and took advantage of the turnaround by checking out the competition ahead of me. As I passed a woman while climbing the hill, I saw that there were now only two women ahead of me. At that point, I made it my goal to keep that 3rd place spot.
After the turnaround we approached the water stop again but instead of heading straight back the way we came, we took a sharp right up another unexpected hill. On this hill I hit mile 2 in 14:45 and was surprised by my speed during the second mile (7:08). There was another sharp turnaround at the top of the hill, and I came within about 20 feet of the 2nd place woman by speeding down the hill. I passed through the water stop again, determined to catch the 2nd woman.
I chased her for the final mile of the race, pushing as hard as I could. When the finish line came into view, I saw "22:xx" on the clock and gave it everything I had to finish under 23 minutes. In the end, we both sprinted towards the finish but she ended up finishing a few seconds ahead of me.
In the end, I finished in 22:47, a brand new 5k PR. I also finished 3rd woman, and received my first overall podium finish in any race (not age group).
Overall, it was a fantastic day in the park. Everyone had lots of fun at this well-organized race. There were plenty of encouraging volunteers, and the finish was well stocked with water and snacks. I would definitely run this race again!