Monday, April 18, 2011

Earth Day Half Marathon, St. Cloud, MN

Last year during the Earth Day run in St. Cloud I ran my very first 5K.

My oh my, what a difference a year makes. This year I took on the Earth Day Half Marathon

This was my second go at the half marathon distance. I didn't really have a time goal in mind, I only wanted to beat my first HM time of 2 hours 14 minutes.

I woke up to snow on the ground, 20+ mile an hour gusts with a steady 12 mile wind and 34 degrees. Good times. I had to keep telling myself that the cold wouldn't matter; once I started running I knew that I'd be fine because I'd warm up. My husband wasn't running this one, so he got to be the photographer.

When we got to the race I decided to try running with a Pacer. I spotted the 9:55/mile Pacer (shooting for a 2:10 half marathon time) and decided to see how it went.

Before I knew it, we were off! For the first quarter of a mile I had no music...somehow my headphones came unplugged so I had to monkey with that. I can't run without music! I got it squared away and didn't let it rattle me. The race was scenic; winding along the Mississippi river near the St. Cloud State University campus.

Tony took this photo at about mile 6; I was totally in the zone and didn't see or hear him call my name.

The spectators were awesome for this race--my favorite sign: "Ladies! This is easier than Labor and Delivery!" We wound through several neighborhoods, and lots of people were handing out orange slices and banana halves to the racers. I was thankful for that more than once.

The miles ticked by and I was about 30 seconds in front of my pace group giving me a comfortable cushion. I felt awesome and I just knew I was going to hit a PR. Near the 13 mile mark I saw the hubs again:

My official chip time was 2:09:02!
My splits:
Mile 2-9:40
Mile 3-9:46
Mile 4-9:32
Mile 5-9:42
Mile 6-9:50
Mile 7-9:55
Mile 8-9:49
Mile 9-9:40
Mile 10-9:51
Mile 11-9:44
Mile 12-9:45
Mile 13-9:20

Here I am after getting my medal. Instead of disposable bottles of water we got the aluminum one that I'm holding; it has the race emblem on it. I love it!

Showing off my medal--I'm still kind of out of it here! It was cold so I knew I'd want to head inside to the field house before I cooled off too much!

Showing off the "bling" in the field house!

I don't have a lot of time before my next half marathon, so I punched in the numbers on Runner's World's smart coach. I think I'm going to shoot for 2:05:30 for Grandma's Half in June!!!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Weight Goal MET!

Yesterday was a milestone day for me. I met my weight goal. I haven't been 150 pounds in a very long time. In fact, in early 2009 I was 255 pounds. I spent the day basking in my accomplishment. I had to do the math. 1 pound is equivalent to 3500 calories. I've managed to rid my body of 367,500 calories by reducing my daily caloric intake and burning calories through exercise. WOW. That's a lot of calories.

From the very beginning, exercise has been a huge component. I have never eaten less than 1600 calories per day. I tried to cut back to around 1300 and found that left me STARVING and triggered over-eating, so I figured the extra 300 calories per day was worth it to me to keep from binging. Yes, the weight came off a little slower, but it STILL CAME OFF.

I haven't figured out exactly how I'm going to celebrate this accomplishment. I have a few ideas, though! :)

This afternoon I'm going for my long run before the next winter storm hits. Yes, Minnesota is in a winter storm warning. Tonight we'll get freezing rain turning to snow, and then the predictions for accumulations are anywhere from 6-10 inches. I'm glad I got out and ran outside this week while I still could. The treadmill will be back in the mix after today.

I was also lucky enough to win a Bondi Band courtesy of the Blog, 2 Fat Chicks with a Mission. Bondi Bands have been on my radar for awhile, and I've really wanted to try one out. I keep hoping that they'll be at a running expo that I attend, but so far no such luck. THANK YOU to Erin & Heidi! I can't wait to try it out and write a review!

Happy Running!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Back-to-Back-Running and I don't agree

I ran the last 3 days in a row, and BOY OH BOY can I tell! My legs feel heavy today and my right shin is KILLING me. Seriously tender to the touch, and all I want to do is ice it! OUCH!

When at all possible I try to leave a rest day in between my running days because if I don't I pay for it. With the spring-like temps the last few days I just couldn't resist running outside.

I am one of the unlucky ones who seems to suffer from shin splints in cycles. I'll feel great and then all of a sudden I'll have them something AWFUL for a couple of weeks. I've tried stretching, massaging, new shoes, and NOTHING seems to help.

My husband found out about a "gait specialist" who works at a running store in the Twin Cities. I think it will be worth the money to see if she can help me out. All I want to do is train pain-free! I have a full schedule of races coming up. The Get Lucky 7K is about a month away, and a month after that is my first half marathon.

Does anyone have any remedies for shin splints? I'm all ears.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Joys of Body Glide

I remember thinking at my first 5K--watching some serious runners lather on the body glide, that I would NEVER use that stuff.

All it took was for me to experience the extreme discomfort of chafing after a run, and I was seeking this stuff out. Body Glide--It comes in a deodorant-like stick and you just swipe it across your skin in places that you want to avoid chafing. Some of the worst places for me have been around my arm where my arm band for my iPod sits, the band from my sports bra, under my arms where a tank top has rubbed, my thighs--from my shorts. All of these areas can be very painful and usually you don't realize your skin has been rubbed raw until you get in the shower after a long run--then OUCH!

I typically use body glide on any run that is 5 miles or longer...if it's hot out and I know I'm going to sweat more I used it for shorter distances too.

You can get body glide at just about any sporting goods store. I spent about $6 for mine and still haven't used even half of it. It's worth the investment!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

STRESS--I want to run SO BAD!

Throughout my weight loss I've come to grips with the fact that I'm an emotional eater. In fact, that's how I gained the majority of the weight. Any time life got tough I turned to food for comfort. If I was sad, I ate. If I was angry, I ate. If I was stressed, I ate.

Over the course of the last 18 months I've transitioned from controlling my stress through eating, to controlling my stress through running.

As you read in my last post, I had 2 really good runs on Saturday and Sunday. Monday & Tuesday I knew with my family's schedule that it was going to be impossible to get a run in. We've had wind-chill warnings in our area so running outside has been out of the question. I have been looking forward to today because I was anticipating a good, long run.

Yesterday afternoon after I got my 3-year-old down for a nap, I threw in a load of laundry and came upstairs to put our lunch dishes in the dishwasher. Just as I was starting the dishwasher I heard what sounded like a large amount of water hitting a wall, followed by running water.


Initially I thought a pipe had burst, but as I ran into the utility room I discovered our water heater went kaput. AWESOME. water was shooting out of the top of it EVERYWHERE. I shut off the water valve and started cleaning up the mess. Thank goodness I was home when it happened.

BTW--this is the second water heater that's done this to us in 7 years. Thank God for that warranty!

Long story short--I have no hot water for a shower, or anything for that matter. I'm hoping that the hubs and my father-in-law can get it taken care of this evening early enough that I can still get a solid long-run in and enjoy a hot shower afterward.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Running is Cheaper Than Therapy

If you've been following my blog, you know that I injured my back the end of January. It was the weirdest thing, I didn't even know that I did it until after I had finished a 5 mile run on a treadmill of all places. I was laid up for about a week just icing it and trying to let it heal.

Saturday I felt pretty good so I decided to get an outdoor run in. I put on all my layers, had the hubs help me get the YakTrax on my running shoes and I was OFF! It felt amazing to get out there in the brisk winter air.

When I run, I think. I realized that for the whole last week with no running, I hadn't had a chance to organize my thoughts. I only wanted to test out my back, so I didn't push past 3.25 miles. (The freezing rain helped me to have some control with the distance too)

Sunday I had designated as my "long run" day. We got about 3-4" of snow overnight and while I could see that our road was not plowed, I thought that once I got to the main roads that would be the case. Once again I threw on all my layers, my YakTrax, & my Garmin watch. I cranked up my iPod and headed out.

Right away I took a couple of deep cleansing breaths, felt the snow crunching under my feet, and started out. Boy-oh-boy the joke was on me. I was hoping to do 5 miles, but ended up calling it a day at 4.25 because NOTHING was plowed. YakTrax are wonderful, but they are not snow shoes.

I really started to hit a wall at around 2 miles. I was having a hard time getting into a rhythm and like I mentioned before, I started to think.

This week was hard. REALLY hard. I didn't have my running as an outlet. I have a special needs son who got a new diagnosis and as I trudged through the snow I'm not sure if it was the weight of that diagnosis or my frustration with the poor road conditions that got me, but I started to cry. I couldn't stop the tears. It was one of those good, cleansing cries though, and it seemed to be over as quickly as it came on.

All I really know is that by the time I hit 3 miles I was feeling so much better in both body and spirit, and I was able to complete my run strong.

I'm gearing up for The Get Lucky 7K on March 19th, and while it's only 4.2 miles, I know I have a Half Marathon coming up in April. I'll be looking to start stretching out the distances in the next few weeks.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I've been in a funk, so-to-speak. Minnesota's winter weather is totally OUT OF CONTROL. I've been forced to train on a treadmill, which is my LEAST favorite place to train. Last Saturday I hurt my back and have not been able to run since. BLECH! It has been one of those weeks...couple the injury with a stomach bug that's gone through our house and it has not been fun. I am SO ready for the weekend. I'm hoping to run tomorrow as long as my back is still feeling good!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

As Promised, Polar Dash Race Report

Let me start by saying that when I woke up New Year's Day and saw the forecast for the Twin Cities, I *might* have been rethinking this race. The race was at 11AM and the forecast said 9 degrees, 19 MPH wind out of the SW, and that it would feel like -12. YUCK!

I got ready in all my layers--a Nike dri-fit 1/4 zip mock neck shirt, a Columbia fleece hoodie, and my "Running Room" windbreaker to keep out that wind. I wore a pair of base-layer running tights under my Under Armour Cold Weather pants; 2 pairs of smart wool socks, a performance face mask and winter hat, fleece gloves, and my YakTrax for traction.

As we walked over to the race village I really wasn't shivering (believe it or not) the only areas that were chilly were my fingers and toes.

Needless to say with the temps that cold, we didn't arrive too early. Before we knew it, it was time to head to the starting line. There were lots of people jumping to try to warm up, and before we knew it, we were off!

It felt awesome to get the blood pumping and I was thankful for the YakTrax since we had lots of ice and snow to deal with! The first half of the race was uphill, and with the cold air that proved to be a challenge. I kept pulling my face mask down because I felt overheated, but the cold air proved to be tough to breathe in, so I'd pull the mask back up. Through the whole race I was comfortable. I was happy to reach the turn-around point because I knew that meant I'd be running downhill the whole way back. It felt great and I settled into a cruising pace. I ran without my Garmin watch so I only ran according to how I felt.

I knew when I crossed the starting line that the clock was over 2 minutes, so when I saw 30 as I crossed the finish I was pretty sure I had a PR--the hubs confirmed it for me later when we saw our results. 28:37!!!!

Here's the breakdown:
Average Pace: 9:13
Overall Place: 200 out of 972
Gender Place: 78 out of 614 women
Age Group Place: 20 out of 124 Females in the F30-34 Group
I passed 133 Runners in the overall category
I was passed by 29 runners in the overall category

I'll take it!

The added bonus for me was that I actually beat my husband. That NEVER happens; he's a lot faster than me. The difference is I've been running more lately, so I know not to get used to it. I will gloat for a little while though!

It was a great way to kick off 2011...I can't wait for the race season to get into full gear!

If you are in Minnesota I HIGHLY recommend Team Ortho's Events. I am a Monster Series Racer, which means I will be completing all 5 of their major races. Check them out! I promise you won't be disappointed

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

No time for excuses

Over the holidays I had several people comment on my weight loss. It always feels good to be recognized and validated. What was amazing to me, was people's reactions when I answered the question I always seemed to get: "So, what's your secret? how did you do it?"

The answer: Good old fashioned diet and exercise. Move more. Eat less.

It seemed like everyone I talked to was hoping for a magic pill or a quick fix. The truth is, this has been a LIFESTYLE change for me and my family. We've given our diets a complete make-over.

One thing I'm noticing the further into this "journey" I get, is that I have little patience with excuses...mainly because I used to be The Queen when it came to making up reasons not to exercise.

I've had a lot of people tell me that they "wish" they could run followed by one of the following excuses:

1)It hurts.
Guess what? The first run I ever went on lasted approximately 2 blocks. My chest hurt, my knees hurt, I couldn't breathe and I felt like I might die. I was well over 200 pounds and it was not easy.

2) I don't have time.
Well, seeing as I'm a wife and mother, I know all about the time excuse. My work day begins at 4:30 AM. I work part time, and then come home and chase my 2-year-old. I have to wait until my husband is home at 5, or take my toddler in the baby jogger to get a run in. More often than not I'm exhausted before I even lace up my shoes, but I still make myself get out there and do it.

3) I don't have the energy.
See above note about exhaustion. Plus, before I started exercising I was tired all the time, too. I decided that I was sick and tired of being TIRED.

I've come to realize that in order for someone to get serious about weight loss they have to be ready. There is absolutely nothing I can do to help someone lose weight if THEY don't WANT to.

I also try to encourage folks that find running to be a daunting task, to find something they enjoy doing. Maybe running isn't their "thing", it just happens to be mine.

I firmly believe that anyone can become a runner at any age. It took me 30 years to take the plunge; prior to 2010 I don't think I'd ever run 3 consecutive miles. There's a quote that sums up my feelings on running best:

"It is very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants to quit" ~ George Sheehan

Happy running! If you really WANT to become a runner, you can become one!

Monday, January 10, 2011

I LOVE YakTrax

I live in Minnesota. Basically from November until quite possibly APRIL (oh how I wish I was kidding) it looks like this:

It's safe to say we have A LOT of SNOW.

I like to run. A lot. I make no secret of this. The problem is I really REALLY dislike running on a treadmill. For me to go longer than 3 miles on a treadmill is like TORTURE. I get super bored and just check out. Lucky for me there's this nifty little invention called YakTrax.

They are rubber with steel coils that stretch over the bottom of your shoe to give you traction in ice and snow pack. I picked mine up for about $25 and they are worth every penny.

This is how they slip over the front of the shoe.

And this is the view from the back.

I'll admit, I was skeptical the first time I put them on but they SERIOUSLY work. I ran a 5K on New Year's Day and set a PR with them. They are AWESOME. The only time I've felt even a little bit of a slip with them is on glare ice because the coils have nothing to grip. Check them out! I promise you won't be disappointed. I use YakTrax Pro for running, there is a variety for walkers, too.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The start of something

So here I am...starting a running blog. Hi, I'm Jessica. I'm 31 years old and in the last year and a half I've lost 104 pounds. I had that "aha" moment when I saw a photo of myself at 255 pounds and was reduced to tears. Now, 18 months later I weigh 151 pounds and can call myself a runner. 2010 brought much success for me. I finally took control of my health and fitness and TRULY found a love for running. I started out slowly by running a handful of 5Ks and quickly decided I wanted a bigger challenge. I registered for the Team Ortho Monster Dash 10 Mile and started training. Over the summer I started to feel like I could handle a half marathon and started training for one. In August I completed my first Half Marathon in 2 hours, 14 minutes, and 21 seconds. I ran the whole thing. I closed out my 2010 racing season by running the Team Ortho Monster Dash 10 Mile race in 1 hour, 40 minutes, and 50 seconds.

I'm a wife and mother to 2 kiddos-- a son who just turned 6 yesterday and a daughter who will be 3 the end of this month. My husband is also a runner, so our training at the same time can make it interesting for both of us to get our mileage in. We are both very supportive of each other and that really helps. The hubs is planning to run a FULL 26.2 this year; I'll be cheering him on.

So why a blog? Well--I want to have somewhere to talk running--gear--race reports--training etc. I'm hoping that maybe along the way I can help someone feel like it's not too late to become a runner.

I've added a couple of widgets to the blog that show my upcoming races and my mileage logged.

Coming soon: A race report from Team Ortho's Polar Dash 5K which is how I rang in 2011 on New Years Day.

Thanks for stopping by!