Chicago Marathon -2017

I’m usually pretty good with words and writing my feelings down however I guess the bigger the experience the harder it is to write it out so it’s taken me a week to get this post finished and I honestly think there is SO much more I could say. The entire Chicago experience from the moment I found out I got accepted until the day we left Chicago was amazing. When I applied I told myself that if I got in it was God’s will for me to do another marathon. Last year I struggled so much with marathon training and the marathon itself and I didn’t want to have those feelings again. So when I got accepted I was excited but kept it on the back burner as I tried to focus on lowering my half times in the spring and winter this year.

I trained for 18 weeks through my coach Victoria, the owner of Run4Prs. I missed one 10 mile run the entire time due to my knee hurting and changed my last 22 mile run to a 19 mile run to be on the safe side. My husband Justin was training for Detroit all summer and it really helped me this year having him out there with me even though we don’t run the same pace at all. Our Saturdays were always spent getting up at 4:45 to get out to our trail by 6 am. There is a certain struggle of TWO parents training for a marathon- we definitely had some rough times but got in our training runs, even with me running at 3:30 am and him at sometimes 8:30-9pm.  Training is not for everyone- some people get really sick of training, but I actually love it. I like the clear definition of what I need to do every day. I added a lot of cross-training in this year too which really helped me although once I hurt my knee a month before I stopped cross-training because I was nervous that I would injure it more.

So flash forward to marathon weekend. We made the decision to not take our kids. We thought about taking our oldest but I am glad I didn’t now. He would have been bored out of his mind at the expo and also we did a lot of walking. It would have also been hard for my husband to navigate getting to all the spots he wanted to see me at with Chandler with him, as he used the train system to get everywhere like they suggest to do. We left Friday morning around 8 am and got to Chicago around 12:30(CST). We checked-in to our hotel and then headed to the expo.


THE EXPO- it was nothing at all like anything I’ve ever been at! Most expos have small local shops and some big name vendors but Chicago is sponsored by Nike and everything is top-notch. We were able to watch a really cool interactive video of the course and talk to other runners from all around. It was so much fun and not overwhelming to me at all like I feel at most race expos. The Nike Chicago gear is awesome- I bought way too much of it along with some special Goodr #runchi sunglasses for the race.

Saturday was all about meeting people and just spending the day in Chicago. Justin ran the 5k, which started right behind our hotel, at 7:30 in the morning. So I took a Lyft as close as I could get to the finish line to see him. He did incredibly well considering he is doing a marathon this week and needed to do an easy run.
After the race we walked to the Bean to do the WeRunSocial Meet-up and the Run4Prs meet-up! It was SO fun! We spent almost two hours there just talking to people, meeting people in person that I’ve talked to for two years, and just chatting about the race conditions the next day. Many of them had run Chicago before so I got some advice and it was awesome to hear amazing runners like Heather Schulz say the marathon gets in her head too, when she is such a speedy and great runner. This running community is truly special.

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I also met up with the Run4Prs girls who I talk to all the time and a group of girls that I text all day every day about more than running at this point- Amber and Sarah(and soon to be Julia who came the next day).

After the meet-up Justin had to run more for his last long run so I went back to the hotel and relaxed for awhile before we went shopping on Michigan Ave.(my birthday is coming up) :). For dinner we went out with Amber, her family, and Sarah to a Michigan bar so Justin could watch the game and they had a little of everything for people to choose from. It was starting to hit me at dinner that I was running a marathon in the morning! We got back and I was in bed by 9:30.

I woke up before my alarm at 4- suggested time to be at my gate was 6 am, although the race didn’t start until 8. Justin walked me as far as security would allow him and then I was off by myself! Unintentionally I ran into Amber and I was thrilled to see her! We were in different corrals but she was standing outside hers when I was walking to mine. We talked for awhile and then we ran into Rebecca(runbecca_run) who was in my corral and we talked and stood in the massive porta pot lines together. We were probably in the line for a good 45 minutes to an hour. Once we finished we all parted ways and got to our corrals. I found another friend Liz who talked with me until the time we started. I was in corral F the first corral in Wave 2. The start time is 8 am, let me tell you, 30 minutes on a hot sunny day can make a difference. The corrals were MASSIVE and I crossed the start line at 8:03. I need to get my half time down so maybe at least I can be in Wave 1 next time and start earlier!

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EVERYONE told me to not go out fast. The crowds are electric and it’s so easy to get caught up in that so I tried to be conservative, that is definitely hard to do when you don’t know at all what your pace is. My first mile clicked at 7:30 and I knew that was wrong because it was way before the mile 1 sign. I kept checking my pace band though and watching my time on my watch not my pace. SO SO SO hard to do if you are used to pacing yourself between miles. I had no idea what pace I was running until I would get to a new mile sign. I wanted to stay around a 9 minute miles and adding it up in my head I was around 8:50 something in the first miles.

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My goal at the half was to be slower than my half PR(1:54) and at the half I clocked in at 1:57 on my watch. So I knew I was doing something right, however the day was getting hot. The roads were wet from the huge amount of water hoses and sprays(which were a God send) that they were spraying and I was pouring water on me all the time. I was definitely squishy and I didn’t care- I wanted to stay as cool as possible. After the 25k mark I could feel my legs starting to slow but I knew Justin was supposed to be at mile 16 so I tried to keep up my pace so I could see him and he could give me my Generation Ucan. I stopped and got my drink from him and he looked at me and said “I know” because he knew how hot it was just standing there, he didn’t even need me to say it but then he said “you need to keep moving” so I did. Somewhere between mile 15-17 I made the decision to walk through the aid stations. I don’t regret this at all. It was hot, I needed to make sure I was drinking the entire glass and not just throwing it on my face. I knew my pace was so off at this point but it did not matter at all to me, I adjusted my goal in my mind and pushed forward. By mile 20, it looked like a scene from the walking dead in some areas. Hundreds of sponges on the roads, cups, the ground was soaked and people were stopped stretching, throwing up, and just walking with their heads down. The sun was relentless. I started thinking about my training, maybe I should run some more longs runs later in the day next year in the sun to prepare more for sunny days. It sounds awful to do but maybe that would prep me more for the sun. In my head I just kept telling myself to not think about the pain, it will be over soon, take a little jog, don’t stop moving. Over and over I repeated that and I knew I was moving at the slowest possible speed I could move but my body physically would not move faster. I tried to do some strides or surges to speed up and it would work for a minute but then I would slow back down to a slow jog. I ran past some store front windows and I thought “wow I look so slow” but I didn’t care- I was running and that’s all that mattered to me. I wasn’t giving up on this one and I didn’t want to walk until I got to the aid stations.

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When I got to the final mile I felt a huge lump in my throat, I had MADE it. The crowds were cheering and it was nothing like I’ve ever been a part of, but my mind felt fuzzy and I just needed to get to the finish and climb that last hill. Then there it was 400 meters, 300 meters, around the corner and the FINISH LINE!

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After I finished I cried, and just kept moving forward afraid that if I stopped I would fall down. I knew at mile 16 that I wouldn’t hit my goal of 4:00 hours but I didn’t know what would happen to be honest in the heat. At that point I put no time goal in my head except to PR. I crossed the finish like at 4:14.58. A 33 MINUTE PR! So a sub 4:15 on my second marathon ever! I will take it!! I was happy- SO happy!!! I could feel buzzing going off in my flipbelt, I knew it was friends texting me that were tracking me so eventually when I could gain strength enough to take my flip belt off and get my phone I looked at it. So many people thought I would be disappointed but I did not feel that way AT ALL! I haven’t even been running for 3 years yet, I was not a runner until I was in my 30’s, and I have asthma so to run a full 26.2 miles in hot and sunny conditions in 4:14 was a great time for me. Honestly it just made me realize that in good conditions I could do probably do much better and fueled me to want to do another marathon! The exact opposite of how I felt last year when I did my first full.

So then I went and sat in a porta john(just keeping it real with you guys)…this is because honestly I just needed to sit and get out of the sun and also because I had awhile until Justin was going to be at the runner reunite area. I texted my friends back and thanked God for letting my body do what it did that day.

There is a reason only 1% of the population has done a marathon- it is HARD. It requires commitment and training and if you don’t put that in, it will really hurt you on race day. Even though I didn’t reach my goal, I know that had I not trained like I did and if I would have missed runs or trained like I did last year I probably wouldn’t have even had a PR in the conditions.

I loved Chicago- and I will be back! It was by far the coolest experience I’ve ever had as a runner! I want to do every World Major now- HA!

So what’s next for me- My goal over the next 6 months is to cross-train more, I am starting a Pure Barre class too, and also get a sub 1:50 half marathon before I start training for my next full. Based of my time at the Crim 10 miler I should be able to do that with proper training. But right now I’m resting and making sure my body is fully recovered so all short and easy miles for a couple weeks. I’m excited to see my husband run his marathon this weekend- I’m so proud of him for training hard this summer! I also have a lot of other friends running the marathon and half in Detroit so I’m ready to ring the cowbell and be a spectator this weekend!

If you want to do a marathon- Chicago is awesome. It’s in early October so the weather historically can be iffy but it is so well put together and I would recommend it to anyone!

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Official Stats:

Well my match said I ran 29 miles with a few 4 and 5 minute miles just to give you an example of how off my Garmin was.

Official Time- 4:14.58

Place Overall – 14,716/44,258 finishers

Place Gender- 4,938/21,476 finishers

Place Division- 947/3,587 finishers

Thank you to everyone who followed my journey over the summer and for the constant love and support!

Run Happy

-Jess

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The CRIM- 10 Mile Race 2017

“Running is not about being better than someone else, it is about being better than you used to be”. I really don’t think there is a quote that more defines this years 10 mile Crim for me than that quote. I signed up for this race this year because it’s local, it’s a huge race here in Michigan, and I knew it would be a perfect time to do a race before the Chicago marathon. I did the Crim in 2015 when I first started running however it fell on the weekend before my marathon in 2016 and I did not want to race so I opted to sit it out. It’s an extremely fun environment and its draw people from all over the world, which is just so funny to me because of it’s location.

My husband was away so I picked up my bib Friday. The expo is huge, but I managed to get and out with only buying one pair of Balega socks that were on sale. I have a really strange pre-long run dinner and race dinner that I have every week. I eat a certain cheeseburger with wheat bread and brown rice. Every single week. I actually look forward to this meal because I don’t eat a lot of red meat. I went to my parents for dinner who live very close and brought my food to be cooked specially(high maintenance…haha).

The race started at 8 so much later than I’m used to running on a Saturday but I figured it would be good prep for Chicago and we had to be shuttled in to the race area so I was able to fuel somewhat like I will for Chicago too. I rode with my friend Katie to Flint and we met our friend Valerie and hopped on the shuttle to the race. I drink Generation U-Can before long runs and this was my first time using it before a race. I’m a huge fan because GU’s or any other type of race fuel has upset my stomach. We did the bathroom dance and then got in our Corrals.


I was in Corral C and by myself so I texted my husband that I put my live track on my Garmin and stood there telling myself over and over “It’s 10 miles, you are strong, you can do this”. My A goal for this race was 1:25, B 1:27, C. 1:30. I ran it in 1:40.38 in 2015 so I figured a 10 minute PR would be great and I wasn’t sure how the hills would affect me in the back half of the race!

The gun went off for my corral and I was on my way. I felt amazing as you always do in the first mile on a race.

Mile 1- 8:11- I looked down and thought NO WAY, I felt like I was running so comfortably and sticking to my race plan which was to run the first 4 miles around 8:40-8:30 so I wouldn’t be burned out for the hills. I told myself to slow down…but..

Mile 2- 8:06

Mile 3: 8:12

Mile 4: 8:08

Mile 5: 8:06

With each mile I felt stronger but when I turned the corner I saw the sign for teh Bradley hills and I told myself “this is going to slow me down. Little signs on the road say “3 more hills to go, 2 more hills to go…and I just grinded through that mile.


Mile 6: 8:38 and at the top of all the hills there was a water station that I stopped had a glass of water and then went on my way.

I wanted to gain some more momentum and knew I could get my 1:25 if I just didn’t fall back so I pushed harder than I ever have in a race and it paid off.

Mile 7: 8:07

Mile 8: 8:22 (more hills) This picture was taken right around the end of mile 8 and I knew I was going to get the time I wanted! At that point you just have to smile and wave!!!


Mile 9: 8:18

Mile 10- 8:14

.16 – 7:29.

The CRIM is awesome because you finish on old downtown brick roads. I saw the finish line and that the elapsed time was 1:25 which meant I was definitely beating my time since I was in Corral C. I honestly have never felt SO good and strong at the end of a race.


My net time was 1:23.32 – 17 minutes faster than in 2015. I proved so much to myself in this race. It was the perfect race to give me confidence for Chicago and to finally see some major improvements. We all train so hard to reach our goals no matter what they are. I may not be the fastest yet but in my mind I’m blown away by how well I did because I can see so much change in my endurance over the past two years.


For those of you who just started running and feel like you will never get anywhere with it- keep going! Keep having good runs and bad runs because they are all building you for the day when you have a breakthrough race!

Here are the stats as usual:


Less than 40 days until Chicago and I’m ready for whatever 26.2 will bring!

I got a new bin holder from Gone for a Run and I was ecstatic to use it first for this medal!

Check all their medal displays and more here: I have a 15% off code: JESSBUG15

Gone For a Run

What was your first breakthrough race?

Run Happy

Jess

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  – 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 5k 

“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! 🙂


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 🙂 


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 

 

Fifth-Third River Bank Run- 25K

Have you ever just spur of the moment signed up for a race without really thinking it through? That’s exactly what I did when I signed up for this race. I’m in a running group in Michigan and everyone had signed up for it and the prices were going up so I signed both my husband and I up. Justin has never ran more than a half marathon and I was texting him asking him if it was okay but he was in meetings so when he got out- SURPRISE a nice email from Run Signup saying you registered for a 25K. I’ve ran 15 miles in training, but when I signed up I had not ran it since last summer and really didn’t think about my spring schedule as a whole. It was Mothers Day Saturday so I figured Justin couldn’t be too mad at me and “why not”… “Just go with it”.


The race is in Grand Rapids which is close to 2 hours from my house. I had just done Gazelle in Grand Rapids three weeks before but the course is the complete opposite way of Gazelle but have similar starting and finishing areas. Leading up to the race I really wanted to use the race as more of a training race because my final half of the spring is two weeks after and I didn’t want to injure myself or not be able to do any speed work before Bayshore. My goal was to finish between a 9:00-9:30 average pace and I didn’t have a previous PR for this distance so as long as I could keep my average in that range I would be happy.

Justin and I drove out on Friday and went to the expo. I personally didn’t love the expo, maybe I’ve been to many expos lately but I’m one of those who like to buy at least one thing from the expo but it was all pretty much the same as always- nothing different.

We both had to work so we worked after the expo and then got ready to meet our running group for dinner. There were a total of 32 people meeting for dinner which was amazing. It’s always fun to put faces to people you see every day!


We got back to the hotel around 9 and pretty much went straight to bed. This is the truth- I’ve never slept so well before a race! When my alarm clock went off I didn’t even know where I was, I slept like a baby. Maybe it was the fact that I had not put pressure on myself for the race but either way it was nice to get a good nights sleep.

The morning was calm, we turned on the local news and the race coverage was on. This is a HUGE race. It’s the USA 25km Open Championship race so it draws attention from many elite runners. The 5k started at 7 am and the 10k at 7:40 so we were able to watch some of the coverage on TV and also from our hotel window which was really fun. We were about a block away from the start line so we were not in a hurry to get there since the race didn’t start until 8:30. We were able to watch the 5k male and female winners cross the finish line and that was awesome!


I decided to wear shorts and a tank for the race because by the time the race ended it would be almost 70 degrees, the sun was out, and it was humid. I also wore my Wearsafe tag in case I needed immediate help when I was on the course- or I died…one of the two. My essentials included Run Gum, Sports Beans, Flipbelt, a small Momentum sparklet, and my wireless headphones. I was ready to do this!!

So about the race- it’s a beautiful course. Like I said earlier, my goal was to finish comfortably so with that in mind I tried to keep my pace as even as I could.

Splits: Miles 1-9 : 8:46, 8:55, 9:05, 9:08, 8:59, 8:57, 8:53, 8:52, 9:03.

Various parts of the first 9 miles are tree covered and I felt really strong and good during those miles. I took two sports beans at mile 7 and kept pushing. It was told to me over and over that the hills come at mile 10 so I was preparing for it mentally but I was also starting to get tired. Something in my head said “instead of just a few more miles like in a half, you still have another 10k to go”.

Mile 10: my pace dropped to 9:29 but this is the largest hill on the course so I was happy that I kept the pace up and didn’t stop during this time. I powered through it.

Race during

Mile 11: I gained a little back with a 9:12 split. I owe this to the Katy Perry song- refer to my Instagram for more details 🙂

Mile 12: This was my slowest mile of the race. I ran it at 10:00 even this is because I stopped to drink water and then gatoraid and just catch my breath. I don’t do this typically in a race but mentally I needed it at that point. As I was coming from the aid station I started running with someone on the course that I didn’t know but we kept each other going and paced each other towards then end.

Mile 13- 15: 9:05, 9:38, 9:46. I was obviously dying out towards the end and the hills were beating up my legs but I kept moving and that’s what I was proud of. I didn’t walk, I just ran slower.

The end: Well my watch says it was .73 but I’m horrible at running tangents. The pace for that was 9:04. Another race that ends going up a hill and I was struggling to push through but the crowd support was amazing so I pushed through it and finished.


Official Time vs. Garmin Time


I was extremely happy with my time. Not negative splits like I would love to see in a race but I stuck with my goal and finished in the time I wanted. This really gives me so much confidence about Chicago in the fall and training for Chicago. I can tell I am getting stronger in distance running and proving it to myself in races. Even though this was a spur of the moment sign-up I am so happy I did it. The city of Grand Rapids really does put on an amazing race and I got TWO medals for running both the Gazelle half and the 25K!

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I’m also so proud of my husband who had never run that distance and had only ran 7 miles in the last couple weeks because he had been injured and was resting. It was not his best time or his goal time but he was happy that he did it and it gave him the confidence to change from the Detroit half to the FULL in the fall!


My motivation right now is so high. I have big goals for the future but I know that I need to take incremental baby steps to get there! Keep pushing, keep grinding, and one day I WILL meet my goals!

As always…RUN HAPPY!

Jess

Goodbye Terrible Two’s

Tomorrow my baby Hudson officially graduates from the terrible two’s to the amazing threenager I know he will be. It’s a little bittersweet for me- I always have a hard time with my kids birthdays but this one feels different because I KNOW I am done having children and this is the last day I will have a two year old- EVER. Hudson has been the definition of terrible two’s- a stage I thought people made up when Chandler was two because he was great. But is this just the case of “the second child” that we all hear about AFTER we decide to have a second child? Maybe.


Let me give you some details of our second year with Mr. Hudson:

  1. He doesn’t sleep well. This kid is the lightest sleeper and this was a big change going from Chandler who would sleep 12 hours every night and still take a 3 hour nap if we let him. Not Hudson though, bedtime is -I need juice, one more song, in and out of bed, opening his window in his room, and most recently he told me he would give me a treat if I slept with him- Okay, so I laughed and my heart skipped some beats when he said that with his cute little voice- but seriously kid- GO TO BED! Once he falls asleep he is up 5:45-6 every morning. Never fails- he is always awake and walking around when I get home from my workout or run in the morning. Which leads me to my second point….
  2. Things he has done since we put him in a normal bed:  A. Climbed to the top of the pantry and came in at 4 am eating muffins. B. Took a whole bottle of powder and exploded it around his room. C. Comes down to our room multiple times at night and sleeps in between my legs like a cat. D. Prepare yourself- he did the whole mass murder bedroom smear his poo everywhere on a Tuesday morning….oh and one time he took a poo in his toy box. SOOO YEAH! I think these things have passed now, I HOPE!
  3. This kid has a temper. He wants your focus ALL the time- most of this is focused on Chandler. Luckily Chan is a pretty good big brother and does play with Hudson but if he doesn’t- watch out Chan you might get a toy thrown in your face or your 3DS game flushed down the toilet. It’s changed the whole dynamic of Chandler too because he has to fight more which was never his personality. It’s amazing how a 6 year old can fear a 2 year old.
  4. I’m in constant fear that he is going to seriously injure himself because fear is just not in his vocabulary.


So I gave you the bad first. When you make the decision to have a second child you think “ahh I’ve got this, should be easy, I’ve already done it once”. Chandler was almost 4 when we had Hudson so we really thought we were experienced. The second child changes everything! The whole dynamic of your family changes and your first child who may have been close to perfect like my first child turns into someone else because now they are competing and also have someone else they can get in trouble. Everyone tells you a baby will change your life but nobody tells you how the second child changes your life. It’s simply put-exhausting every day.



Would I change it??? OOOOOOHHHH NO! Because he completed me- he completed our family. He made me whole and I didn’t even know I was missing that in my life.

So here are some of the AMAZING things about Hudson:

  1. I don’t know a kid with a bigger heart. He loves SO much it’s hard to be mad at him for the above mentioned things because in the same moment he will tell you “you are his best buddy” or just out of the blue he will tell me he likes my hair or sing me a sweet song.
  2. I’ve never got a better hug in my life than from Hudson. Every day. When I see him for the first time in the morning he runs and jumps in my arms. When I see him after work he does the same usually with some loving comment.
  3. He loves his brother. He is obsessed with Chandler and when they play together nicely it’s a magical thing for this Mom to see. Chandler has even commented on the fact that he is so glad he has a brother to play with and this past year this really came to life as Hudson started really talking and playing more.
  4. He loves to dance. Seriously, when we are anywhere and music comes on, he is up and moving.
  5. His personality is witty and funny. He does and says the funniest things, his sense of humor is great for a 2 year old and his laugh is contagious.
  6. He is mine- he is a little bit more like me. Ok, a lot a bit more like me. He is my baby boy. (Not that Chan is not- but Chandler is a little Justin- let’s face it).


I always had my money on Chandler doing big things because Chandler is my smart little child who would rather go to after school math clubs than play a sport right now. However, Hudson has a driven and motivated spirit that I think is tough right now on us but will pay off in the future.

So yes, the second child gets a bad rep but from my point of view it makes them stronger individuals in the long run.

Tonight I will spend 45 minutes putting to bed a two year old for the last time(I’m crying as I type this) and tomorrow I will welcome a new year of adventure, probably some attitude, and growing opinion of a three year old. Hudson completed me on 5-18-14 and I’m so in love with him it hurts me sometimes because I never thought I could love someone like I loved Chandler but love multiplies and doesn’t divide. I am so lucky to have 2 very different healthy boys that are growing up to have individual and amazing personalities.

Here’s to 3…and maybe a little less craziness. (Who am I kidding, I have boys- they will always be CRAZY).


Happy Birthday to my Hudson!!

True Life- I’m a Mom and I Workout. 

With Mothers Day coming up in a week I thought a good topic would be juggling both fitness and a family. I like to think I’m somewhat of a seasoned Mother now(kinda) I have two kids and my oldest is in 1st grade and my youngest will be 3 in two weeks. However, no matter how old they are it is hard finding time for yourself. 

When Chandler was born we took walks and I did some small fitness classes but after working all day I felt extremely guilty leaving him and always quit. Just like most first time Moms you do not want to miss a thing and the Mom guilt is REAL! At that time our first home was across from fairgrounds so we would go over there and run around and take 3-5 mile walks and that was the extent of my fitness. I had lost all my baby weight through dieting and just staying active enough I didn’t need anything else. 

Ironically it wasn’t until right before I decided to start trying for a second child that I started really thinking about finding some time for me. A friend of mine owned a Zumba and Fitness studio and I started going twice a week. I then got pregnant and kept it up. I would go to Zumba 2-3 times a week and I loved it. Chan was 3 1/2 and I didn’t feel the guilt I had for years because I could talk to him about where I was and I realized he had so much to do at home that he wasn’t missing me that much for an hour. 


That’s some progression pictures I took while pregnant and working out. 12 weeks- 20 weeks- and 34 weeks. 

After I had Hudson I was committed to keeping up with finding time for myself… but OH it was so much harder! While I was on maternity leave it was a dream, I could walk with him when I wanted and if I wanted to get away for an hour I didn’t feel bad because I had been with the kids all day! 

Once I went back to work it was a struggle. All the time it had taken me to get a good flow with just Chandler was gone and I was back to square one. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and would cry all the time. I had kept up with Pilates and Zumba but I had to jump through hoops to go to a class. My parents luckily live 4 minutes from me and would give me the time at night if my husband was working late. My husband was also very supportive but I felt like I was drowning and the amount of anxiety I had was unbelievable. I never thought having a second child would be such a game changer but nobody ever tells you how hard that second one really is and how much more your life changes. 

Then I found running. It was something I could do on my own time, without a scheduled class. This was my sweet spot. Was I exhausted still? Of course. I’m still exhausted-  Parenting is EXHAUSTING! There is no magic pill that makes it easy but running took the edge off parenting and work. It’s done before they wake up on weekdays, I don’t miss my time with them, and I feel good and ready for the day! 

I’ve been running since Hudson was 9 months old and it has made me a better Mom on all levels! On my Saturday long runs I do miss a little time with them, but I don’t feel guilt because when we are together it’s quality time. They were also there for my first marathon and that was everything to me! 


What’s the best part? They know I’m a runner! My oldest son asks me every morning how many miles I ran while we are having breakfast. My youngest thinks I’m sick if I’m in bed when he wakes up and not coming home from a run or the gym. They see me being active and my hope is that it creates an example for them as they grow up into Men. They see my husband running and also encouraging me as a runner. They know that it’s part of our lifestyle as a family and I love that. I don’t feel guilty about it anymore because we do so many activities together as a family and taking some time for myself is just keeping me sane. 

So many times we go to the park next to the track and they will want to race us. It’s so fun that they want this. Remember those little eyes that look up to you! 

Almost 7 years into being a Mom and I’ve been able to find something for me that keeps me happy too. Don’t feel bad for loving something for yourself. Someone once told me “Your children will grow up and leave you. If you don’t have any hobbies or don’t do anything for yourself for 18 years you will be very lonely”. Every Mom is different and maybe you are not a runner but I encourage you to do something that is just for you. I bet you will be a better Mom, Wife, Friend, Daughter for it. 🙂 

Happy Mothers Day week! 

– Jess 

Balancing Both Worlds

I often gets asked how often I strength train or cross-train and how I fit them all in with my schedule. Let me first say, it is not easy at all to train for any long distance run and strength train. At least it’s not easy for me. I’m a Mom, and I also have a career that takes 9-10 hours of my day Monday-Friday. Logging all the miles for training is hard enough, which is why I wake up at a awful early time in the morning to run before my kids or husband start the day. I have little kids that have events in the evening and I can’t run or go to the gym at night. So I’ve got the morning- that is it.

So I have to balance it and finding that balance is hard. It is the first thing that goes when I get overly tired from running, work, and life. I am DETERMINED to keep it in my schedule while training for the Chicago marathon this summer. One of the main reasons why it is easy for me to strength train in the winter is because I am going to the gym to run on the treadmill so I spend an hour strength training and an hour on the mill. As the weather gets nicer I want to run outside which takes me away from the gym in the morning.

My typical running schedule is 4 days a week. That may not seem like many days but I still log(for half-marathon training) 27-35 miles per week(around 130 miles per month). For marathon training the miles will increase.

Monday – 6-8 mile run(usually recovery from the weekend)

Wednesday- 6-9 mile run (tempo, speedwork, fartlek)

Thursday- 6-8 mile run (easy)

Saturday- Long Run

Obviously this varies depending if I have a race on the weekends or peak or tapers weeks. But that is typical when I half train.

How I incorporate strength training:

Tuesdays – 90 minutes of strength.

Wednesday – 45 minutes before run(if I run on the treadmill)

Sunday- Cross-Train.

This is how I WANT my schedule to look every week. However life gets in the way and those strength training days get pushed to the back burner.

NOT THIS YEAR THOUGH! I’ve learned over the last two years that to race yes, you have to put a lot of miles in, you have to build your endurance up for the races and hard moments of racing where you don’t think you can pull through, and you have to practice practice practice. 

BUT, I am the strongest me when I do equal amounts of lifting, leg days, and cross-train. I don’t fatigue as easily on long runs, I don’t get injured as much, and in races it gives me that extra boost of endurance to push through.

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What does that mean for marathon training for me? I plan on at least running once a week in the morning on the treadmill. Yes, we all hate the treadmill but it gets me to the gym and I can do both in the morning.

Marathon training in the summer will bring more miles and even maybe one more day of running but training for a marathon is much more than just logging miles. It’s becoming strong- physically and mentally, eating well, and learning to endure pain. I plan on doing so many things different this summer while training for Chicago and when I get to that start line I want to know that I did not cheat myself of any training. No excuses.

I’m writing this down because I believe a goal written down is much more powerful than something you put in your head.

So you will see me on the treadmill this summer running at least one day and you may think “it’s not the same as running outside” but this is the reason why I have decided to do this. Mornings will be earlier on these days- probably 3:15-3:30 but I know if I don’t give it 100% I will get tired and fall short on race day. I’m ALL in this summer!

Plank

How do you balance both? I would love to hear any tips or tricks you have?

Run Happy

-Jess

Gazelle Girl Half Marathon Recap- 2017

I signed up for the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon at the start of the year for a few reasons-

  1. I loved the idea of an all-female race and the impact that Gazelle has in the community.
  2. Everyone was signing up for races at the beginning of year and I had a little bit of FOMO.
  3. I wanted to add another “chance” to get a sub 2:00 half before I started training for Chicago in the fall.

So I’ll address reason number 3 first. Last year I had one half marathon in the spring(Bayshore) which turned out to be extremely hot and I finished in my exact PR time 2:02. It’s Memorial Day weekend so I had no other chances before marathon training in the summer last year to run to try to get a PR.

This year I had Disney in February but did not really anticipate getting a PR at Disney at the time I signed up for Gazelle. However, I did and I was extremely happy with my 1:57 at Disney. So going into this I had the Gazelle half, a 25K coming up on May 13th, and then also the Bayshore half marathon at the end of May. To be really honest, I felt weird going into this one because I had wanted a sub 2 half for so long that I had not really thought about what I wanted out of this race because I threw it in my schedule for a sub 2.

The two weeks leading up to Gazelle were personally and physically hard for me. I had a death in my family and also caught a bad sinus infection that lingered for two weeks. In fact, I still don’t feel 100% with breathing. Also, the Friday before the half I came home from work and started feeling very sick to my stomach. I went to bed early(too early) and then woke up around midnight and could barely sleep the rest of the night because I felt so awful. When we got up on Saturday to leave for Grand Rapids I was trying to make the best of it because it was nice to get away for the night without our kids so I was trying to be positive all day and enjoy the day.


The expo was from 11-5 at the Marriott and we were staying there as well so it worked out well. We got there and I went to the expo while Justin went for his long run. The expo was fun- they had a large amount of Nike Gazelle gear and also fun female vendors. They also had special drinks they made for the expo for the ladies attending which I thought was a cute touch although I didn’t have anything because again my stomach was off.

While I was there I was able to meet my friend from Instagram and also a blogger @mittenrunner and it was nice to finally talk with her as she gave me SO many tips about Disney this year and I was so grateful!


That night Justin and I went to dinner and then went back to the hotel to prepare for the next day. It was probably the most odd night before race I have ever experienced. We started a new Netflix series and watched a few episodes before bed. I was pretty calm about the race except for the fact that I didn’t feel too great but I figured a good nights sleep would help. WRONG! I woke up around 1 am with a fever and had horrible sweats. I took some Motrin and eventually went back to sleep but was not too optimistic about the next day.

When I woke up I felt a little better but I did question whether I should even do the race. I talked to Justin about it and he said to shower and give it some time. I slowly got ready and put some positive mantras in my head for the race. I still LOVED the idea of running with all girls and the empowerment of it all so I decided to go for it and just run my race. In my head I told myself “if you have to stop and rest because you don’t feel great, do it” but I had traveled to Grand Rapids so I wanted to do it!


Walking to the race I started getting excited and talking to other girls it made me forget that I didn’t feel good. I lined up, music was playing, everyone was dancing and then we were off. For the first 6 miles I hung around the 8:30 pace, and then around mile 7 I walked for just 30 seconds to eat my sports beans. I have a hard time chewing them and running so I like to walk and then I make up the time. The course was great, it was a beautiful day, and people were out for most of the course cheering us on. This is the first race in a long time that I didn’t wear a pace band, probably because my goal for so long was to sub 2 and I didn’t have a pace band set up for this race. I was determined to just have fun with it and was high fiving all the kids lined up on the course and the people in the parks cheering us on. At mile 10 my pace was slipping but I realized if I could keep that pace I would probably still have another sub 2, but wasn’t sure about a PR, but fought for those last three miles. This picture is from the last bridge you cross and I kept telling myself- “as soon as it ends the pain will subside, don’t stop, keep going”.

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To my surprise mile 12 was up an overpass that honestly felt like would never end, I finished that and thought “phew” on to the homes stretch. I had no idea what the course was like so when we started to get back into the city of Grand Rapids I thought I was in the home stretch until I turned the corner and saw one more hill which would take me to mile market 13. The crowd was steady and cheering and I kept pushing but honestly wanted to just walk up the hill. My Garmin had already vibrated that I was at mile 13 half way through the hill but I knew the course was a little long or I didn’t run the tangents right on so I pushed and kept going. I turned the corner and saw the finish line and sprinted as fast I I could. I didn’t even look at my Garmin to see if I needed to sprint to get a PR, I just RAN! When I got closer I could see the clock had just turned to 1:56 and I knew I had a PR. As soon as I crossed the finish line though I immediately started gagging. I’ve never done that before. I felt like I was going to pass out or throw up and then I saw Justin yelling my name and he came into the finish area and I took his arm and could barely walk. He wasn’t supposed to be in there so he was told, but he walked with me out of the finish area to get a water and I started to feel better instantly. He actually was the one who told me to check my official time, I was still a little out of it and did not even think about it at first! I was pleasantly surprised to see 1:56.06 – a 1:51 minute PR from Disney! Considering I almost didn’t run the race 4 hours prior to that I was thrilled with my time.


Overall, I would highly recommend this race to all women! Everyone was so nice, uplifting, and the overall event was just fun! It might be on my list to do every year and the medal was cute!


Official stats:

My watch was a little off again because I’m horrible at running tangents!

 

And as always thank you to my constant cheerleader for being there, keeping me positive, and holding me up at the end! We had a nice big pizza after the race to celebrate and maybe a cocktail 🙂 We will be back in Grand Rapids in two weeks for the Fifth Third RiverBank 25K!


Run Happy!

– Jess