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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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 

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

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 🙂

Get Lost in the Noise

Frequently people ask me what I am listening to or what is my favorite music to run to.

Let me start by saying I LOVE MUSIC! I love lyrics, getting lost in a song, and how hearing a song can change your entire mood.
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I’m the type of person that pretty much likes all music. I grew up listening to country music with my parents so it is still my favorite. I can always find the right country song to brighten my day. I like old school rock, rap, and alternative music that reminds me of growing up in the 90’s. I’m also a huge Coldplay and Maroon 5 fan but on the other hand Taylor Swift is always going to be one of my favorites. I listen to top 40 music and electro regularly too… So as you can see if the song hits me just right, I love it.

My absolute favorite running song ever is: ‘Til I Collapse by Eminem. If I’m in a rut and I can feel myself slowing or wanting to give up I know I can put that on and it will get me going. My standard running playlists consists of : Dr.Dre, Biggy, Blink 182, Eminem, Britney Spears, Outkast, Journey, Steve Aoki, and some other random techno songs that just make me feel speedy. One of my favorites to run to is “Pumped up Kicks” but Foster The People. Sometimes I will just throw a random country song in my playlist to change it up, it just depends on the run. I make a new playlist for every race I’m doing- even if it’s just a 5K. I use Spotify and I love how easy it is. If you want to find me on there and follow me you can see what I’m listening to on my race days.

Last year when training I stared listening to audio books on my longs runs. Initially I wasn’t sure I would like it but was trying to find something to pass the time quicker. I love reading but don’t have as much time as I use to before kids so this is a good release for me while I run. I’ve experimented with many different types of books- Memoirs, fictions, funny books, and podcasts. Now I listen to audio books on almost every run even if it’s just a short run. I love them and can’t get enough.

My favorite book I’ve listened to so far has been:

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I LOVED this book! I was so hesitant to buy this one because it didn’t seem interesting but it had great reviews and I’m so glad I did. I was obsessed with his story of going from not running to running a 50 mile ultra in a year at 50 years old. It kept me going and he is quite funny. I would recommend this book to any runner!

I also recently started listening to the Serial podcast. I finished season one and it is very interested. The only downside to this for me was that the episode time was not consistent so I didn’t like stopping in the middle of an episode if my run was over.

For a race though, I always listen to music. I just started today putting my playlist together for Bayshore next Saturday. Any must have songs you would recommend to keep me going? Leave a comment- I would love to listen to some new jams!

#runhappy

-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 🙂 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 

Bayshore Half Marathon Training- Update

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So I’m a little behind- I wanted to write a blog post about each week of my training and progress but life happens and I honestly just didn’t have time. I’m such a slacker!  So to make it easier I thought I would give a status update about the last four weeks. I’m currently in the middle of week 4.

I’ve still been going to the gym quite frequently in the morning because it is cold when I need to run and because I also lift when I go to the gym so I can hybrid train. Today while I was running on the treadmill my mind also started running and I was thinking about how my husband really does have a good thing going for him. HA, sorry Justin.

He sleeps in until 6 am while the kids are still sleeping and I’m running. He does his run right after work, so I pick up the kids, feed them dinner, put my youngest to bed, and do homework with my oldest son. On top of that he gets to run outside because at that time of the day its warmer and easier to run outside. I started to think I was getting the raw end of the deal, but then remembered that I like getting it out of the way in the morning and I can always pour myself a glass of wine right after work if needed and not have to run. So the perks are there, plus I never have to worry about missing a run if something comes up at night! 🙂 As it gets warmer though in the morning I will start doing some of my weekday runs outside because I miss running in the dark. It’s so quiet and lovely at that time of the day!

Ok- rant over- I’m honestly so proud of Justin! He is a much faster runner than I am, but has never been fully dedicated to training. He decided to get a custom plan from my trainer Run4PRS and is killing his training right now. He doesn’t post much about running but once in awhile he will – his IG handle is Jhads13 if you want to follow him. I’m absolutely certain he will have a big PR at the Bayshore half!

Back to my training:

Week 1- 20.10 miles. I ran the Lucky Dash 5K that Saturday so I didn’t have a long run.

Week 2- Cut week – 17.60 miles. My entire house came down with the flu that week so I missed one run. My long run was 6.5 miles and it was such an awesome outside run that Saturday!

Week 3- 26 miles. I ran 8 miles outdoors for my long run. I was nervous going into it because it was my longest run since my last half in January. The trail I run has a 2% grade going north on the trail. For some reason this gets in my head. I know my first miles are going to be good but coming back is all slightly uphill. When I run from the south I’ve never been able to get good negative splits.

My splits were: 9:19, 9:12, 9:18, 9:13, 9:14, 9:27, 9:30, 9:14. 

Not only was I extremely happy with my consistent splits but to have two of the uphill miles negative made me feel so confident about how far I’ve come. This goes back to my last post about the love of running. I want to enjoy the run and not look at my watch the entire time. I enjoyed all eight miles of this run! My only issue was weather! When we started it was about 25 degrees. I wear very warm running gloves but for some reason when I’m done running I lose all feeling in my hands if they are cold. This lasts about 10-15 minutes and it is very painful. If you have any suggestions or tips please leave me a note or comment 🙂

I think you can tell how happy I was coming in to the end of this run by this picture my husband took.

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Week 4 – I have 26 on my schedule again for this week. I have ran two 6 mile runs on the treadmill. The first one was speedwork with some intervals. The second was a progression run. I laughed when I finished and looked at my time because they were off by 3 seconds and such different runs. I love the consistency though and again it builds my confidence for the upcoming half.

My normal schedule is run- Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday long run. I lift and cross train on Tuesdays and Fridays. Sunday I have a complete rest day.

Next week is my son’s Spring Break and we are going on a small family vacation to Great Wolf Lodge so I’m using it as a cut week.

I’m feeling very excited about the Bayshore Half Marathon in Traverse City on May 28th! Hoping for the 1:59 but will always still be happy with finishing the beautiful course along Michigan’s Lake Michigan! Look at those views…I’m so pumped to run this and can understand why it sold out in 11 minutes!!

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I will try to be better with my updates and as always keep running happy and enjoying every step I take!

-Jess

The Plan Behind my PR’s 

 

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Very frequently people will ask me what training plan I use or how I have improved so quickly. I know many people use plans from Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, etc. I looked into all of them after signing up for my first half marathon. They are everywhere- you can google training plans and find them easily. My husband even put a training plan together for both of us to stick to using some of these internet plans. I think they probably work great for most, it worked for my husband for his first half marathon. In my mind, I wasn’t a runner at that point, I needed more and I needed customized help. As I’ve said before my schedule is hectic. I found myself missing a lot of the runs I had on my schedule due to work or travel. Sure, I could find a way to make it up, but my mileage always lacked and I wasn’t getting what I needed to build my endurance.

One of my Instagram friends posted about Run4Prs so I looked at her page and was very inspired by her story. She did not grow up running like some, started running later in life, and is now a Boston Marathoner. I emailed Victoria about her customized plans and asked her what the difference was between her plans and other plans on the market. She replied promptly that her plans are more customized to your needs. What does that mean?

  • I can’t run every day. I just can’t with my schedule. I needed a specific schedule that I could follow that would allow me to get my miles in but also not take over my life. She asks you for your schedule. If you can only run 3 days a week, no problem, she will customize it for your schedule. She also put vacations and events into the equation too. Since I was training in the summer I had many family vacations. Those weeks would be “cut back” weeks so that I would only run short mileage and then build once I return. This sets you up to succeed and not fail. 
  • She builds your plan based on your current PR’s and pacing goals.
  • She builds “workouts” in your plans. Any experienced runner will know what that means but I had no clue. I just got out there and ran each time. I  did not worry about getting certain speed or recovery days in.
  • She is very responsive about changing your program to fit your needs. For example, I had a goal that I knew was pretty much unattainable for my first half marathon. As I started training it became even more evident. She went back and changed some of my paces to fit ME and my goals.
  • You have your own cheerleader. This is a huge one!! Once in awhile when I get done with a good “workout” run I want to email her right away and tell her how I did exactly what she told me to do and I feel great!

These are just some of the highlights. If you look at her Instagram you can see her transformation into a 13 time marathoner. Sometimes it is a little intimidating because she is SO fast and can just jump on the treadmill and run 20 miles but she never ever makes you feel like you are asking a stupid question, or slow, or not good enough to run a marathon.

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I start training for my third half marathon tomorrow and this will be my third time using her customized plans. If you want to check her out her website is Run4Prs and her Instagram handle is Run4Prs. My goal is to have a sub 2:00 half marathon. That’s a 3 minute PR! I have come a long way in the last year with the help of a running coach and I’m hoping to kill it in my training cycle for the Bayshore Half on May 28th! The best part is that since I started with Victoria I feel like I’ve made a new friend- I don’t think you get that experience with Hal Higdon 🙂 

As always…

#RunHappy

Jess