Find Me at the Barre

The town I live in recently opened a Pure Barre studio. I really wanted to try it because I have extreme FOMO(fear of missing out) and also because I’ve heard so many good things about it. A runner friend from my town is one of the instructors and told me I would love it for cross-training benefits. If you have read my past fitness posts you know that I did Pilates as a main form of fitness after I had Hudson and before I found running. Pilates was great but the class schedule at the studio I went to didn’t work out for me when I wanted to focus more on running.

I do the same workout routines pretty much every week- run and strength train. Even finding time to strength train is extremely difficult so I really didn’t know how I would fit this in too but it came at a perfect time. The studio opened up a week after the Chicago marathon and I had purchased a 5 week opening special so once I felt like I had recovered from the marathon I went to my first class.

I was nervous- you need special socks, I am not a dancer, what is all this lingo they are talking about…all of these thoughts were going through my head. I went to an early morning class for my first class and the instructor was amazing. She went through everything I would need, explained some of the terms(tuck, freeze, lift tone and burn) and I went with it. Due to the fact that the studio had just recently opened many newbies were in the class too so I didn’t feel like I was the only one who didn’t know what I was doing. In fact in every class the instructors walk around and help you make adjustments to your form so you are properly working the right muscle groups. I left feeling great and knowing that I had found something that would hit the muscle groups that I tend to work the least. My hip flexors and core that I don’t dig deep enough for are both a main focus in Pure Barre and that was enough to get me to my second class.

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Pure Barre uses small movements that literally are focused on lifting, toning, and burning your muscles. Anyone can do it and it’s low impact so it’s perfect for a recovery day and I like to do it as a second workout (if I can) on an easy run day. My studio in Clarkston, Michigan has so many times each day to choose from which is a huge benefit for someone like me that is a Mom but wants to run, works a full-time job, and also wants to take a 55 minute class. In one month I’ve went to 13 classes and I feel like my core, arms, and legs are getting stronger because of it. Also when my hamstrings or hips feel tight from a hard workout it has been a good form of release and stretching for those muscle groups. I also find that it helps with flexibility and strengthens my joints.

Overall I’m really happy with the addition of this in my routine and plan on keeping it in my schedule 2-4 times a week. I think it is going to make a big difference in my performance and strength as a runner so stay tuned for more!

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Have you tried Pure Barre?? Let me know your thoughts and how it has helped you!

-Jess

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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

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

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!

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

Run Happy

-Jess

Trail to the Victors- Big House 5k- 2017

This is my third year running this race and it definitely holds a very special place in my heart. I started running in February 2015 so as a “runner” this was my first official 5k. I had done one other a couple years prior but walked most of it and also did a fun color run, but this is the first 5K that I tried at as a runner. It also is just an amazing race, being a big Michigan fan it is so awesome to finish the race on the 50 yard line of the Big House. Over 5,000 runners do this race because of just that, it’s something special and different!


It was so fun meeting up with some of my friends from Instragram (Amanda and Angie) before the race and just hanging out with Justin(who was trying to get a sub 20 min 5k). We all talked until about 5 minutes before the race started and then lined up and got ready to go!


Since this was my third year doing the race I knew just what to expect. I got a PR last year at this race and like last year I wanted to run the race smart. The largest climb is in the first mile and I talked to my running coach @run4prs prior to the race and she told me to try to stick with a 8:10 mile for the first mile so I didn’t use all my energy which I have done in other 5k races. I ran the first mile in 8:07- perfect. As soon as my wrist vibrated and I saw the 8:07, I told myself it was time to speed it up a little bit but not use too much energy still. I think 5k’s are SO tricky, like I said in my last blog post they are definitely not my favorite. I like to settle into the run, not run as fast as I can. The second mile in a 5k is always the longest mile for me and this was no different. So many turns and corners I felt like I was never going to get to mile 2. Mile 2 clocked at 7:56 and I was happy with that. In that last mile I was running against the wind and I felt like I was really slowing down. I didn’t have my watch set to show my overall time but to just show my lap time so I could focus on keeping my pace. I really thought I was losing pace and I was a little because mile 3 clocked at 8:03 but I was still happy with that. Right when you reach mile 3 it just before the tunnel into the stadium and you can hear the loud speaker and the fight song playing. It definitely pumps you up running into the field and on the field. On my Garmin the last .18 clocked at 7:07 pace- I saw my husband on the sidelines and the clock at 25 minutes and just ran as fast as I could to the finish.

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Official time- 25:20 and a 20 second PR. My husband got a minute PR with a time of 19:47 so I was extremely happy for him because he has been trying to get a sub 20 minute 5k for a long time now!

This race never disappoints, we have had cold weather, snowy weather, and then this year it was beautiful but each time the atmosphere is just fantastic and I would highly recommend it to anyone! One of the best things for us is that it starts at 8:30 so not a very early start and we were done, took pictures, and out of there by 9:15. We can get back home to our kids and not out all morning!

I’m SO happy to say that each year I have improved. 29:46 the first year and 26:01 last year. It’s a slow process but I am feeling much more confident in all my runs lately and I definitely need that for my next two half marathons and going into marathon training this summer.

Here are my official Stats this year:


Run Happy Friends!!!


What’s your favorite 5k? I think everyone has one that holds a special place, what is yours?

XOXO

Jess

Detroit Corktown 5K Recap- 2017

I AM ON A ROLL- Two blog posts within 2 weeks, I’m going to give myself a little pack on the back. 🙂  I don’t do enough short distance races so this year I decided to sign up for some more 5K’s to just help me with my speed. My current 5K PR is 25:40, not super fast but for someone who ran her first 5k over 45 minutes, I think I’ve improved over the years!

The Corktown 5K is just one of the races here in Michigan. It’s huge, it’s followed by a parade, and it’s in you guessed it- Detroit’s Corktown district. This year was the 35th Anniversary of the race so it’s older than I am and every year people from all over Metro Detroit flood the streets for this event. I LOVE ST. PATRICK’S DAY- I’m 33 and since I’ve been legal to “go out” on the day I’ve taken a vacation day for every St. Patrick’s Day except for the two years I was pregnant with my sons. My family is Irish and do the same- it’s just always been a tradition. However, I’ve never done this race but to be fair I’m still somewhat new to the running game.

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I’m off track so back to the recap. My friend Katie was running the race this year and I decided to sign  up too. Coming off of the Princess Half two weeks ago, I am just ramping back up my miles this week so I was a little bummed to not have a long run on Saturday. Actually I hated it- my husband had to run 13 miles for a half he is doing in two weeks and I’m so used to running on Saturday mornings, I really just felt off all day. I don’t like to run the day before a race, even a 5k, so I took the day off and pouted a little all morning.

I also have to back up and say that the week prior to the race was quite the week! We had the second largest power outage in Detroit’s history this week. A horrible wind storm came through on Wednesday and knocked everyone’s power out, we somehow were nestled in a area with power but my office was out for almost 4 days. Saturday before the race at 4 pm I got a text from a neighbor saying we lost power(they had to take ours down to fix others) but we got it back around 7:30 so it wasn’t too bad but I guess it was just enough for me to not remember to charge all my devices.(That part of the story coming later)

The race was the day of Daylight Savings Time and even though the race didn’t start until 10, we had to leave by 8 and I had to meet my friends by 7:30 so I still got up fairly early.The weather high for the day was 20 degrees- at the start of the race it was 14 degrees with a real feel of 5. I will be honest, I do not like running in the cold- I find no pleasure in it and I have two little guys in my house that get me sick ALL the time, I don’t need another contributing factor and if I get sick they get sick and I’m sure all parents can relate that it’s just not pleasant having sick children. I had already signed up for the race so I figured I would layer, layer, layer and just go with it at this point.

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I wore 2 pairs of running pants which I’ve never done, three layers of shirts gloves, mittens, long socks, and a hat…I was still freezing! We got there and it wasn’t tooo bad to park, alot of the bathrooms were open, and it was a quick walk to the start line. On the walk to the start line I tried to turn on my wireless earbuds and they were dead! I instantly started to panic, that is a FIRST WORLD PROBLEM, but I’ve never ran without music or an audiobook in my ear so I freaked out a little bit and had nowhere to put them so I would have to run with them in my ear anyway.

The race is big, did I mention that? The Boston Marathon race director, Ryan Hall, and Desi Linden were all on the stage talking before the race and I thought that was really fun. I tried to stay warm, move around, and stretch out my legs before the start. I was in the first wave of runners so the time went off and out we went. My first mile felt good- cold but good- I ran it probably too fast but in a 5k you don’t have much time to make up time like in a longer distance race so I wanted to run as fast as I could. My first mile was 7:49 on my Garmin and I was trying to slow down a little because I knew I was running too fast for me. In the second mile I started to notice my breathing much more. I have asthma and running in general can be hard some days but in the cold it’s really hard. Not having music at this point I think hurt me. I couldn’t drown out my breathing and instead I started to worry about it and pulled back a bit. My second mile on my garmin was 8:34. Coming back down the course I wanted to try to gain some speed, I was doing good at maintaining around a 8:30 pace in the third mile until I got to the brick road portion of the run and I hate running on uneven brick roads. My third mile clocked at 8:40 and the .14 on my Garmin to finish was a 7:42 pace. Official time was 26:04. Not a PR, but I will say this about something I noticed with me in this race- last year when I ran a St.Patty’s Day race I stopped a couple times and walked when I was tired. I feel like I’ve reached a point in races where instead of stopping because I know I’m not going to PR, I still keep going to try for the best time possible, and that is a breakthrough for me!!! For some this might seem like common sense but for me when I can’t breathe, stopping to catch my breathe has always been my fall back, and I’ve been consistently working on that in training. No stops, no pauses, just pull back to a slower speed if needed.

The race was very organized, the medals were nice and festive, and although it’s a large race and did feel a little crowded it wasn’t too bad. It was fun and I had a great time with friends after to kick off my favorite holiday.

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Since the 5k and I’ve had time to think about it, I really do feel like maybe short distances are just not my thing. I can run a 8:30-9 minute mile now and maintain that in distances and I like doing that more than running fast for a short distance. I just burn myself out too fast I think. Maybe I will get a 5k PR in one of the other races I have scheduled this year, but if I don’t I will always still celebrate that I’m out there running and doing something more than I thought I ever would with these lungs of mine.

Here are my stats:

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What is your favorite distance to run? 

Check out my new upcoming races page- Are you running any of these this year?

Upcoming Races 

RUN HAPPY!!!

Jess 🙂

 

 

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2017

I haven’t blogged in a LONG time, but really felt a strong urge to blog about the Disney Princess Half Marathon. The main reason being that before the race I searched for other blogs about the race to try to find inspiration or information about the course so I figured I would throw my two cents in, for what it’s worth.

Prior to the half I had at least 15 people tell me that “you can’t PR at a disney race” or “just enjoy the race, stop for pictures, you pay a lot to run the race”. I searched for blogs that said someone had PR’d at Disney however each one said the exact same thing. I felt a lot of negativity about it and talked to a fellow IG friend @mittenrunner who had done it last year and had the same thoughts as me about the race going into it. She told me to ignore what people had to say and go for it. I was spending 5 days ate Disney with my family so I had plenty of time for character pictures with them, it was not on my bucket list for the race to stop for pictures.

That being said, after the first couple days of being on vacation with my family I was questioning whether I would be able to pull out a good race. Taking a racecation to Disney with your family is hard. On Friday alone I walked over 12 miles in the Magic Kingdom- Saturday I walked 8 miles at Animal Kingdom- and Sunday morning was the race. Sleeping was hard with my two year old and eating resort food is not exactly the best pre-race fuel. My husband kept lovingly saying “this is what you signed up for” and he was right. I was first there to be with my family and did not want our time to suffer on vacation because I was doing a half marathon.

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Race day morning I woke up around 2:30, moved my son to his side of the bed, and quietly got ready with my iPhone light in the bathroom because I did not want to wake them up. I chose to have my husband and kids stay back due to the early time they would have had to be up to catch the bus as well and I wanted them to be fresh for the day ahead.

I put all the things I needed in my checked bag and walked to the bus stop in the dark. The buses were running great at my resort. I was lucky to walk right on a bus and did not have to wait. When we pulled in to Epcot there was a flood of women walking towards the park. Finally you come to the area where you check your gear and many women were sitting strecthing while a DJ played. I sat down, drank my pre-run drink and had my banana that I had got from the resort the night before. At this point it was around 4:15 am. Gear check was great- simple and easy. After that I started the long walk to the corrals. It really is a long walk, people were not kidding about that! There is a large amount of porta-pottys before you get to the corrals so I tried going to the bathroom here thinking it would be my last chance. I then walked to my corral(Corral C) and sat down and chatted with some women. On the way to the corrals between F-G there were more bathrooms so I decided at 5 to go back and go once more. Once I got back the corral was much more filled but I worked my way up to the front and starting talking to some ladies and listening to the entertainment. Figuring out the whole skirt plus shorts plus my running buddy pouch was a little bit of a debacle but at that point I had to just go with it!

After A and B were released I felt a strange feeling of calmness that I usually don’t feel before a race. I was ready for this and ready to run disney! The first few miles you run on the highway and it was dark(my kind of running) so I just got in my groove and settled into a pace that felt good- but honestly was way too fast for the first miles of a half. When we come up to around mile 5 the crowds were lined up before you reach the park and I was cheering and enjoying the crowd, honestly not paying attention to my time and it felt great! When you reach the park and you turn on Main Street it is seriously a beautiful site! You can see the castle and it looks beautiful lit up at night. The energy was so great and I was definitely riding that high.

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Funny side note- when I was running to the castle “Highway to Hell” came on my playlist. I had mixed feelings about having that on while I was running through Cinderella’s castle but it obviously pumped me up!!

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Coming out of the park around mile 7, I knew from what I read I had little crowd support until the finish and that it would be all me against myself. Only a couple times did I feel like I was crowded but never to the point where I couldn’t maintain pace(like some people had told me). The sun started to come up and it started to get hot. I took my first fuel(my sports beans) a little before mile 8. This is normal for me- I don’t usually fuel before mile 7 because of my sensitive stomach. My pace had started to slip a little but I pushed myself and never stopped. In my mind I kept saying “you can rest your feet at the pool later, don’t stop now for rest.” Everyone said the overpasses were tough and I took it with a grain of salt because I run a lot of hills around where I live so I figured it wouldn’t be too bad. However at the end of a half marathon, they hurt. I personally had a hard time finding my footing on these, I felt like I was running sideways and up a hill at the same time. It took energy just finding where in the road was the best place for me to run. I felt a huge surge of relief when I saw Epcot but once you are there you have to go a mile or so once you get into the park! I dug deep and finished with an official time of 1:57.57 and I high fived Mickey at the finish!!!  A 5 minute PR over my first half marathon in October 2015. I cried tears of joy and I think the volunteers thought I was hurting but I was just so thrilled to finally break the sub 2 mark. After you finish you follow a line where they give you a personal box of food and goodies with a nice clean tote! I thought this was a cute touch! I picked up my gear and was back at my resort by 8:30! I didn’t feel like I missed much with my boys and I was just on a runners high all day!

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Looking back I wouldn’t have done anything different. When you sign up for a vacation run you forget about all the variables that can hurt you- the warmer temperatures, the exhaustion of traveling with two young kids, the pre-race food, and the little to no sleep in a place that is not home with a two year old sleeping next to you. I think though because of this I “let it go” I let myself run for fun and enjoy the moments while I ran instead of putting the pressure of the PR on myself like I have for every other half marathon. I do not regret at all not stopping for character pictures because I got plenty of those with my kids. Run Disney really does put on a great race and it’s very organized- I would highly recommend it to anyone! I had a great vacation with my family in Disney World and was able to get a new PR! What’s better than that?!

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Official Stats: 

Division Finish (30-34) – 105/ 3264

Finish Overall (Women) – 697/18,499 (it’s definitely a huge race!)

Have you ran a Disney race before? What’s your favorite? 

 

-Run HAPPY!!!!

Jess 🙂