Are You Afraid of the Dark?

The number one question I get asked is how I feel safe running so early in the morning in the dark. When I walk out of the door on even the longest days of the year I know my first hour of running will be in the pitch dark. In the winter I have a hard time running outside in the dark because the roads in Michigan are not pleasant and sometimes very icy so I usually use the treadmill but 90% of my spring, summer, and fall runs are outside.

There is something different about running early on a summer morning. It’s dark, but the birds are chirping, the sprinklers are on, and it doesn’t feel as creepy to be outside.

With all that being said, it is still scary running by yourself at 4 am. I would have to admit that every morning when I stand at my mailbox and look up the hill to go out of my neighborhood I wonder what is waiting for me on the other side. Another downside to running in the dark and so early is that your mind is just not fully awake yet. It usually takes me a couple miles to wake up and you have to be very aware of cracks in the road, animals around you, and cars that may not see you.

So what do I do to ease my fears?

  1. I run in a lighted area if I can. I take a route that is not the easiest but it goes over a freeway that has lights lining it and also through my town that for the most part is brighter than if I was just running in my neighborhood.
  2. I use a head lamp to see in front of me. It also helps cars see me although they are probably annoyed with my light coming towards them.
  3. I wear as much reflective gear as I can. (Including on my clothes, hats, and a light on my flipbelt)
  4. I wear a tag by Wear Safe that can be pressed if you are in danger and it will alert ALL of the people I have put in my network. At that point they will get my GPS location, hear live audio, and have the option to call 911 right from that screen. I have never felt SO safe when I run. It’s small and discreet so someone approaching you wouldn’t notice you pushing the tag like they would if you had to get your phone out of your pocket.
  5. I wear Road ID. If I passed out and something happened at 4 am I would like to think that someone could call my emergency contacts to let them know I am hurt.
  6. I carry pepper spray. It is very small and I’ve never had to use it but it makes me feel safe to know I have it just in case.

Running in the 4 am hour is not for everyone but for me it’s my time to fit it in. I do have to take extra precautions but most of these are things you can use in the daylight too. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings at all times when you are running and especially if you are running alone.

If you want to check out some of the products I use click on the below links:

WearSafe Tag Β – Discount code “Jessbug1122” for 15% off

Road ID

Headlamp

Nathan Reflective Vest

Flip Belt & Light

Note: I was not paid to promote this on my blog or review the products. I am an ambassador for RoadID & WearSafe and truly love both products!

What’s your favorite time to run?

Run HAPPY!

-Jess

OBX- Sunset 5kΒ 

“The quickest way to gain self confidence is to do exactly what you are afraid to do” 

I’m beginning to think we can’t take a vacation without running a race. I was definitely okay not doing this race again though. We ran it in 2015, it was my 3rd race ever, and it was awful! Running a race on the sand is no joke- sure running for leisure on the sand can be fun but when you are fighting for a good spot on sand with multiple other runners it can be difficult. Justin really wanted to do it again this year so I took one for the team and decided I would run it again. 

The race is very well put together by The OBX Running Company. The Outer Banks is a huge tourist vacation area so they hold multiple races throughout the summer for visitors. Leading up to it, I wasn’t sure if I was going to wear shoes or not wear shoes. Last time the tide was so high that I ran in wet shoes most of the time and I was miserable. When we got to the race to pickup our packet we walked down to the shore and I could tell it would be the same way this year so I decided to opt for no shoes. I lathered my feet with 2 Toms Sports Shield(that stuff is the best!) and took a chance! The last thing I wanted to do during marathon training was hurt my feet but I have a pretty good gait so I figured I would roll with it! The book “Born to Run” was playing in the back of my mind the whole time! We waited in the holding area until it was time to walk to the Corrals. I thought it was a cute touch that they had Corrals for a beach 5k! 


The horns went off and we were out of there! You start on the dry sand and run down towards the water. Of course everyone goes out extremely fast and it’s hard at first to realize you are running on sand not on a road or path. 


Once you get down to the beach there is not a lot of room so it’s either run in the water line or run up on more of the dry soft sand. Since I didn’t wear shoes I could run at the water line which was great BUT I also used muscles that I normally don’t when running. Really pushing my feet into the watery sand and at times doing high knee strides just to get through waves that were coming up. My first split was 9:37, so much slower than a normal 5k pace for me but this is not a normal 5k. At 1.55 you turn around and there is one water stop. This is the only time I stopped, had my glass of water, and threw it away before taking off back towards the finish. I knew that would slow my overall pace for my second split. My second split was 10:47. Did I mention it was 86 degrees at start time and sunny? This Michigander does not love that but I kept moving which was my overall goal. In the third mile I could tell some of the people in front of me with wet shoes were slowing and couldn’t find good spots to run so I started to look for people to pass. I’m usually not very good at this but this time it kept my mind off the pain in my legs! I knew many people were not ahead of me from the turn around so I just kept moving, didn’t worry about the pace, and plunged on towards the finish. My third split was 9:55. When you reach the end you have to run back up on the soft sand to get to the finish line. Not easy but none of this was so .16 would not kill me! 


I crossed in an official time of 31:50. 

Got my medal and a water and found Justin who said not many people between him and I had finished. This candid picture that was posted of us cracks me up- I don’t even remember fist bumping him but I guess we do that! 


For any other 5k I would be so disappointed with my time but this is not your normal 5k and you have to have that mentality if you are going to run it! Justin and I talked to the Overall Winner who actually took our picture together. He was a younger guy who obviously runs track. He ran it in a little over 20 minutes. His normal 5k time is around 15 minutes. 

I finished and got a seriously good workout at the same time. I don’t feel bad for missing leg day while on vacation this week! My feet are great- no blisters- but my calfs were pretty sore that night when I went to bed. Sore like I had just ran a hard half marathon! 


You can see me on the paper- 35th Overall, 3rd in my division however only 14 people were in my division and 233 people finished the race. Hey- I’ll take it though. I didn’t stop, I stayed strong, and I made myself proud! 2 years ago I finished in 38:58 so that’s an improvement over that time and PR for this course! Justin finished 1st in his AG and 8th overall with a 26 minute time- his normal 5k time is a sub 20.   I try to gage things like that by how I did. I am stronger than I was 2 years ago both mentally and physically! 


After that had a great Carolina BBQ set up for everyone with different Carolina beers. I’m not a beer drinker but took it anyway and it definitely hit the spot! 


Would I run this race again? Well I would say no because it’s HARD but this is my second time doing it so who knows?! I have a feeling if I’m down here and a race is going on we will do it again! The t-shirts and medals are nice and I have ran half marathons that were not as well organized as this! 


Have you ever ran a beach race? Tell me about it! 

As always – Run Happy!!

– Jess 

The Bayshore Half Marathon- 2017

I must start by saying- this is my favorite race that I’ve ever done by far! Even in 2016 with the horrible heat and humidity, I just love how beautiful and scenic the run is. 


This is my last half marathon of the year(I think). I’ve had such a busy spring of races and knowing that it was my last I wanted to end on a high note. I was hoping to PR with a sub 1:55 to just give me the confidence going into marathon training. Last year i hurt my foot pretty bad at this race and took 10 days off after the half. I really didn’t have as much time between this half and my Labor Day full so it threw everything off because I took it easy on my foot and then ended up hurting my other foot while training in the summer. I’ve been feeling pretty good so ending on a healthy high note was the plan.

I didn’t feel as nervous this year though, I felt very prepared for the race and I’ve had a really good training cycle this spring. The day before Justin and I drove up to Traverse City, we got there early and had lunch at Bubba’s which has the BEST sweet potato tots I’ve ever had! We did a little shopping and I got some OOFAS which I’m obsessed with already and just walked around downtown.


 The expo is at the local high school and it is really not an expo, they have some gear and I bought a shirt, a hat, and 2 pint glasses. It’s mainly because this year was the 35th Anniversary and they had retro gear that said 1983 and that’s the year I was born! After we went to dinner with my Michigan Runners group again! It was so fun to see everyone and talk about our goals for the race. Also, my friend Amie(@Amieontherun) is part of the group and she was the very first runners I followed on Instagram. Her sister lives across the street from me so I followed her as a friend but then watched her journey and thought it was awesome and also a little crazy! Now I am just as crazy as she is, but it’s always nice to see her at races because she is crazy good and has a similar story except she is faster than me! πŸ™‚


The night we were in bed by 9:30 with a 5 am wake-up call. We bought the parking pass out to the start line at Devils Ridge Drive which is great because you do not have to wait for the buses to shuttle you out there. I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone running the half. The half and the marathon start at two different locations. We have been able to park at the starting line two years in a row and it’s so much better than waiting for a shuttle and you can sleep in a little longer.

We got there and immediately went to the long bathroom lines. We were in the bathroom lines for probably 15 minutes and then had to go put our bibs on and get to the starting line. This half does not have corrals or pacers so you line up around your “pace time” but so many people lie about this. I lined up around the 8 minute mile because the next option was the 9 minute mile. It’s not a big to-do at the start, they sing the National Anthem, and a horn sounds you off.

The first mile of this half is the hardest. It is straight up a hill. I felt like my legs just could not move fast here and I was trying to go faster but not yet burn myself out in mile 1. Add in the people who were fast walking ahead of me so I was dodging around people, mile 1 is rough. Since I’ve done it before I knew mile 2 was a lot of rolling hills, which are my favorite to run since we have a lot of rolling hills in my area. Last year I had to stop right after mile 2 to go to the bathroom so this year once I passed those same bathrooms it was a relief for me because I always have it in my head that I have to stop at mile 2.


Splits Miles 1-6: 8:46, 7:55, 8:11, 8:32, 8:33, 8:37

I was cruising and I felt great! My goal was to finish around a 8:40-8:45 average to get the sub 1:55 and I was ahead of that so far. I saw the first marathon runner coming at me right at mile 4 and then from then on I started to see so many of my friends who were running the full pass me and it kept me busy seeing them and giving some of them high fives!

The whole race I felt pretty good, even when my pace started to slow. I tried to just look out at how beautiful it was and enjoy the run.


Splits Miles 7- 10: 8:39, 8:46, 8:46, 8:58.
Right around mile 10 is ALWAYS when I start to fatigue and this was no different. The sun was starting to get stronger and I started to get in my head a little. No matter what I tried I couldn’t get my legs to move faster and I felt like I was running at the same pace as I was in the beginning but NOPE!

Splits Mile 11-13.1: 9:04, 9:11, 9:16, 8:09

Definitely not negative splits but the end of this race is my least favorite. It has multiple turns and even though I’ve done it before I had no idea when the finish line was coming. I wanted to just walk so many times but I knew I would miss my goal if I did this so I just kept running as hard as I could even though I knew it was slower than I was running at the beginning. The race ends on a track and the crowd gets heavier at the end, I turned left onto the track and ran as fast as I could to the finish without even looking at my watch or what I would be finishing at. My official time was 1:54:54- I had barely got a sub 1:55, but I did it!! I stumbled around looking for someone I knew that had finished before me. I finally found Justin and found out he had got a 19 second PR which I was proud of since he was injured for a month. 


I don’t usually eat or drink much after a race because I usually don’t feel great but Justin and I split a Pepsi and some cookies. We never drink Pop so it was weird but tasted SO good! While standing there I ran into some girls I know from Instagram who run a local running club Buns On the Run and it was awesome to meet them in person and chat for awhile!


We caught the first bus back to the start line and talked the whole way with other runners. It was such a great race and I absolutely LOVE Traverse City. 

I always wish I could have a negative split half but I also feel like even if I would have ran a little slower at the beginning I would have still slowed towards the end. This is definitely something I will be working on in marathon training as I would like to just run a equally paced marathon. 

Official stats: (2774 people finished the half, 286 women in my category)  I also had a 1 second 5k PR πŸ™‚ 


I would highly recommend this race to anyone. The half sells out extremely fast, within 10 minutes so if you plan on doing it be look up the information and be ready on December 1st when it goes on sale! I was lucky enough to win 2 free entries into the race next year through a photo contest on Facebook- thank you to everyone who voted for me!! Thinking of doing the marathon… we will see! 


I’m happy with how the spring racing season ended for me and I’m ready for the next big step…Chicago marathon training!!


What is your favorite race that you MUST do every year?

Happy SUMMER marathon training!! 

Run Happy! 

-Jess