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 πŸ™‚

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

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

Bayshore Half Marathon RecapΒ 

Reflecting on my experience at the Bayshore half marathon this weekend and decided to post my recap now while it’s fresh on my mind! 

By far the training for this half brought the most physical breakthroughs and I pushed myself harder than I ever had before. My pace is getting quicker and I’m really learning to keep my pace consistent as well as my breathing. 

The Monday before the half I had a great 6 mile run. My husband was traveling for work the next two days so I knew I wouldn’t have time to get another run in until Thursday. On Tuesday randomly my left foot started hurting on the outside. I had the same exact pain back in November and I rested for 6 days and it was fine. I chalked this hurt up to it being in my head before the race but still stayed off of it as much as possible. Thursday I decided to do my 3 mile shakeout run and it didn’t hurt during the run but immediately after it hurt. Still I kept thinking it was in my head. 

We left for Traverse City on Friday morning, the day before the race. The weather had been a point of discussion with everyone the entire week. Highs of 85 degrees and high humidity was what the forecast called for and maybe rain. Being that I live in Michigan, almost every single long run I’ve had this training round was between 30-45 degrees so I knew I wasn’t prepared for the heat but you can’t train for weather conditions and I didn’t want to make it an excuse.

We got up there, met our best friends who were also doing the race, and went to packet pickup. Packet pickup was awesome because we were able to meet some IG friends that were also doing the race! It’s really fun to meet people you have talked to for a year in real life! 


After packet pickup we went to dinner and then decided to drive the course. The half starts at a different point than the marathon and 10k and this was the first year they allowed a certain amount of people to park at the half start. In years past everyone was bused to the start. We really just wanted to see where we had to go and how long it would take to get to the start from our hotel. The scenery is absolutely beautiful and we had fun stopping at some scenic outlooks. 


Then we drove back down the course. Everyone said mile 1 was the only “real” hill but driving it made us all a little nervous. Not just one hill- rolling hills for almost 2 miles. Then it turns on to the lake and it’s pretty flat from there. The course is beautiful- I would recommend it to anyone! There is definitely a reason it sold out in 11 minutes! 

The morning of the half I got up, did my pre long run routine and taped my foot because it was slightly bothering me still. Even though it was hot I opted to not wear shorts because my crops support my knee well and I had trained more in them. 


When we got to the race start it was already extremely humid and starting to heat up at 6:45. Race time was 7:30- last year I was told that it was around 35 degrees at the start. The lines were long for the bathrooms but we all got in and to the starting line by 7:10. 


As I stood there right before the start I knew I needed to go to the bathroom again but I didn’t have time at that point. And all of a sudden we were off…

Mile 1-Surprisinly wasn’t as bad as I thought. I felt strong, my time was great, my pace was on for mile 1. 

Mile 2- I stopped to go to the bathroom- I had to. I knew it would hurt my time but I couldn’t be miserable for another 11 miles. I was ahead of my goal pace at that point so I figured it was the best time to stop.

Miles 3-8- I made up my time but was starting to fade from trying to make up my time. I passed my husband who has been injured through training and he told me to keep going and that I was on track. That made me feel strong and I pushed as hard as I could. I stopped at every single water stop- it was so humid and hot and my body needed the hydration. 

Mile 9- This is close to where it starts to turn off the water and I could feel my body hurting and sweat pouring out of me. My breathing was heavy and I tried to control it and take deep breaths. 

Mile 10-12 – I knew I was going to be close to my goal to get a sub 2 but started thinking about my B goal which was just to PR. 

Mile 13- Probably the longest mile of my life thus far. The course goes through a college at the end, up some small hills, and ends on a track. I pushed myself fast in the end and I didn’t know if I had got a PR but knew I missed the sub 2 and was already at peace with it before the race ended. 

My official time was 2:02. The same exact time I ran my first half in back in October. That day was 40 degrees and perfect running conditions and I also ran with a pacer at my first race. I said it on my IG post and I will say it again- I  feel so proud of that time in the heat and humidity. There will always be another half and maybe if it would have been cooler I would have got a sub 2, I will never know but I know that I do not at all, even a little bit feel disappointed with my time. 

What I am upset about is my left foot. It’s hurt right now. It didn’t hurt horribly bad through the half but as soon as I stopped it was throbbing! I can’t walk flat on it, for once in my life wearing heels helps the pain. If it is the same injury I had on my right foot some rest and ice will do the trick but just to be safe I’m going to make an appointment with the sports chiropractor this week. 

Half marathon number 3 in the books and I will definitely do Bayshore again! It’s a beautiful course and it was very well organized! Maybe next year I will get that 35-40 degree start time everyone was talking about πŸ˜‰ 


Marathon training starts in a couple weeks so I’m hoping to heal, rest, and then hop back into the crazy marathon training cycle! Ahhhh! 

Run Happy!! 

– Jess 

Bayshore Half Training Continues…


The last four weeks have been pivotal in my training for the Bayshore half at the end of May. I’ve really pushed myself out of my comfort zone on my long runs hitting long run paces I had never before and I think I’ve finally found my rhythm. 

The last four weeks have also been probably the most stressful and pressure filled weeks for me at work. This has made me moody, tense, and very exhausted. My morning runs have suffered from this, in my opinion. I’m getting them in but I am more tired than I have ever been and have a hard time pushing my paces in the morning because I know how exhausted I will be later in the day at work mentally. 

So I’ve embraced the long runs. By Saturday I need to decompress, to let everything go, and honestly I’ve been having some conversations with God on my long runs. I’ve always had a hard time “zoning out” like some runners can but lately on my long runs I’m learning to just take it all in and be all in the run. 

In the last four weeks my left knee has started to hurt much more but KT tape has helped tremendously with that pain. I also went through almost two weeks of a numbing pain in the arch of my left foot. So I decided to do something this girl thought she would never do- I gave up high heels!!! I’m 5 foot and I have worn heels every day to work since I started working. I haven’t worn them now in 12 days and my foot pain is completely gone. Of course I will have to wear them for certain meetings and occasions but for now, I bought some very cute flats and I’m embracing being short! 

So how are my weeks going… 

Week 5- 19 miles. This was a cut week. I was on vacation with my family and had a 5k on the weekend so I didn’t long run. That was when I got my new 5k PR! This is when my knee pain started to come back so I decided to not do any other smaller races until after the half. Racing, no matter what the distance, forces you to push your body harder than usual and I don’t want to take the chance of another injury. 

Week 6- 27 miles. This long run Saturday was the first 10 miles I had run since my half in January. I ran it 11 minutes faster than the first 10 miler I ran last August! This is when I started having more confidence in myself. I started using my virtual pacer on my Garmin and set it to 9:15- it beeps if I’m ahead of pace or behind pace. It kept me going and paced me through the entire 10 miles. 


Week 7- 28.70 miles. This was a rough week. I was traveling for work, one of my morning runs called for 8 miles but I could only get in 6. I was exhausted the entire week and my foot hurt really bad. By the end of the week I was starting to lose the confidence that I had gained from prior weeks long runs. My long run called for 11.5 and I did it- at 9:15 pace and I was proud of that especially for the conditions and the pain I was in. As you can see my splits were not great the last half as I was going up the 2% grade. 


Week 8- 30.5 miles. This was my heaviest week of miles so far in training and my most consistent. I did speed work, kept my easy paced runs easy, and pushed myself on my long run! Another factor in my training right now is my husband. He has bad shin splits. We only run together on Saturdays but I’m worried about him and want to run on whatever path and grade that will be minimal pain for him. My kids were going to my inlaws early on Saturday morning so we decided to try a new route. I urged him to not do this route because it’s all pavement and I heard it was a little hilly but he said he would be fine. So we went- and it was HILLY! When he passed me in mile 2 I was instantly worried about his shin. I knew he wouldn’t want me to worry and would want me to just finish my run. He always finishes before me which means he waits awhile for me. We had 10 yards of mulch waiting for us at home with a storm coming so I kicked it in high gear in my last 4 miles so he wouldn’t have to wait as long… Maybe this is a tactic I need to use more often πŸ™‚ Negative splits and a sub 9:00 minute average on 12.5 miles. My fastest long run yet and I felt good after too! I can tell my endurance is building and my ability to push myself and pull back when needed is really working now! 


When I started training for my first half my paces were ALL over the place. I ran by feeling and would burn myself out early. I’m learning to calm down in those early miles, take it easy when needed, and push harder when I know I can! While training for Detroit my long run pace was 9:45-10:00 and when training for Key West my long run paces were around 9:30. 

I have 4 weeks until Bayshore, still chasing my unicorn- the sub 2 half! I know for so many that seems so easy but for me right now, it’s my goal and I hope that on race day I can achieve it! Either way I have pushed myself harder for this training than ever before and in the end I’m proud of that! 


4 more weeks of training – hoping for no more injuries, praying my husband will heel, and hopefully continuing to make small progress that will help me on race day. Earning my medal- one training run at a time! 

#runhappy 

– Jess 

Big House 5K Recap!

This past Sunday I ran the Big House 5k, a race that ends at the 50 yard line in the University of Michigan’s football stadium. Last year it was the first “real” 5K I did after I decided I would give the whole running thing a try. Last year I finished in 29:46. It’s a hilly race, the city of Ann Arbor is not flat and the elevation change is quite significant. The first full mile is up a hill. When I went back the night before the race to look at my Runkeeper from the previous year I realized that it was a long 5k. My Runkeeper said 3.25 but Runkeeper was always off a little so I thought it could just be that. Also, the forecast called for 25 degrees and snow the morning of the 5k so I honestly was not pumped about this one. I told Justin the night before that I just wanted to have fun with it and do my best but was not expecting a PR.

We got down there, picked up our packet, and then sat in our car for about an hour until it was time to walk to the start line. It was too cold to stand outside. I decided to play around with my Garmin and set my virtual pacer to 8:15. I’ve never used it before but I ALWAYS go out fast in the first mile and burn myself out. I didn’t want to do that this time, especially knowing the first mile was a hill. All my training has been a easy pace first mile so I wanted to stick with that and let my body get into the swing of things. I don’t think I’ve ever been so calm before any race. It was freezing and I was dancing around to the fight song before the race, just trying to have fun with it.

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Once I crossed the start line, I did something I’ve never done before in a race. I didn’t bob and weave through people! I found a spot, watched my pace, and started up the hill. My virtual pacer kept beeping “ahead of pace” and I would slow a little and take it easy. I watched people pass me and didn’t care about it! I knew that I was running at my pace and was hoping it would help me in the long run. Once I made it up the hill and to mile 1 I felt good with a 8:23 pace so I picked it up. I ran my second mile at 8:06 and knew if I could keep it up I would PR! The people that had passed me in the first mile were slowing and I was passing them. I was finally listening to what my running coach has always told me to do!  I ran my third mile at 8:09- I couldn’t feel my feet or my hands at that point but temporary pain because it was only a short distance run!  You cross into the third mile right before entering the stadium. It’s SO fun running down the tunnel with “Hail to the Victors” over the loud speakers and the cheerleaders cheering you on. My watch was already past 3.1 when I hit the field to finish. I could see the time and knew that even with the extended length of the race I still finally had a new PR for a 5K!!

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Every race is a lesson and this one was no different! On the way to the race that morning I said to Justin “maybe I’m just not good in racing conditions”, I can run good training runs but under certain circumstances, maybe I just can’t do it. I don’t think I was being hard on myself, I think I was just really trying to understand WHY I can’t run the same runs I run outside or on the treadmill 4 days a week when I do a race. I let it get inside my head and with this race I went in with no expectations but to do my best and have fun- to remember that I love doing this!

This race proved that I CAN do it! in March when I did the Get Lucky race, I came 30 seconds short of a PR on a 3.09 mile course on a beautiful perfect condition flat race. In freezing weather I came in 33 seconds faster than my PR on a 3.20 mile hilly course. EVERY run is different, the conditions, your body, and your mentality for the race. If you get down on yourself and give up then you will lose the love and the fun of racing!

If the course would have been 3.10 my time would have been a sub 26 but instead I came in at 26:01 at 3.20 miles(8.09 average according to my garmin) and my previous PR was 26:34. You would have thought I ran a marathon, I was so happy with that PR! Some of you will laugh at that because it’s still not fast compared to many and my hubby who was disappointed with his 6:49 average pace run(insert mean face emoji). Just kidding- I’m always ridiculously proud of him!!

Here are my last year stats compared to this year stats! Seeing how much I improved in one years time was an eye opener for me. Just pacing myself, learning how to breath, learning my stride and everything that comes with training is finally starting to kick in! As a newer runner, it’s amazing what you can do with practice. Don’t give up on yourself if you think you are not making progress- because not everyone makes progress fast- it takes practice and a lot of good and bad training days! I’m proud of how far I’ve come in a year!!

It was a great race and we had fun running in the Big House- definitely a race worth doing and for a great cause! GO BLUE!!!

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As always – Run HAPPY!!

-Jess πŸ™‚