Sunday, July 31, 2011

Race Recap: Beach Palooza 5K

This is most FUN you will ever have at a race... guaranteed!  In fact, you'll probably forget it's even a race. After we ran the Beach Palooza obstacle race in Daytona Beach last year, we eagerly encouraged all our friends to join us for the Chicago one this summer.  Thankfully we had takers!  Six adults and no kids, our day on the beach was incredibly fun!

Words can't do it justice, so enjoy the story in pictures...

Hubby and I ready to race.

Goofing around, waiting for our 11:30 am start.  There were a total of 6 waves, every half hour.

The 5K started on Montrose Beach and then we climbed up boulders into the nearby park.

Our friends making their way across these tricky ladders.

Hubby's balancing act on the teetering slopes.

Me coming through what we dubbed the "car wash"

My friend Katie & I after the Water Noodle Forest.

The Giant Beach Ball maze, followed by an Artic Plunge before the finish!

After the Finish Line, we jumped into Lake Michigan to cool off.  I love this picture with the Chicago skyline in the background!

And then enjoyed the free beer at the exceptional beach party!

And mingled with the natives... 
Hey look - it's Fred Flintstone & the Gang!  

And who doesn't like half-naked men on the beach?!

Check out the Beach Palooza website here.  They host numerous races around the country.  It's totally worth the travel for this kind of racing fun!  And the event is organized wonderfully by Red Frog Events.

Now what could top a day like that?
I did 18.3 miles this morning! 
Enjoy summer, but never taking my eyes off the Marathon.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Five!

1.  SOAKED!  I attempted my 18 miler this morning.  Two miles in, it suddenly got dark, very dark.  By time I hit the wooded part of the trail, the wind started to blow hard.  Dead branches from the trees shot down like missiles.  And yet I continued forward through the thunder.  Finally after 3.5 miles, the rain hurt and the lightening started.  I started to feel like I was in the beginning scenes from The Wizard of Oz.  So I gave in and headed back.  Forty minutes later, running through the downpour, I was completely SOAKED.  Guess my long run will have to wait until Sunday...  7 miles, 73 minutes, 10:20 pace
BEFORE... heading out before the storm!

AFTER... soaked to the bone!

2.  BEACH BUMS!  Tomorrow we head to Chicago for a really fun race... Beach Palooza!  It's a 5K on Montrose Beach with wacky obstacles along the way (think beach balls and water noodles!).  My hubby and I enjoyed running this race in Daytona Beach last year for our anniversary, so when they announced a Midwest location this year, we signed up right away!
Nov 2010 Beach Palooza in Daytona Beach, FL

3.  FRIDAY FUNNY!  Saw this joke on I <3 to Run facebook page... and had to share for a good laugh!

4.  YOU LIKE ME!  You really really do!  My Facebook page -Run with Jess- surpassed the 200 mark, so I'll be doing a giveaway on Facebook!!  Come on over here and sneak in on the giveaway... Psst, thanks Runner...maybe!

5.  FRIDAY RACE SALUTE!  Good Luck to everyone racing this weekend, especially Kim at (Just) Trying is for Little Girls and Tonia at Racing with Babes as they tackle the San Francisco Half Marathon!  Are you racing?  Leave a comment so I can send you positive energy waves (magic!) before your race day.

Don't forget to check out the August Spin® Challenge!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

3 Things Thursday: Challenge!

1.  Spin® Challenge!  If you follow me even slightly, you know I'm a fanatic when it comes to Spinning®.  In my opinion, it's the best cross-training to mix into your running program.  So this summer, I'm encouraging you and your friends to put a Spinning® class to the test!  This Challenge is for amateurs and the bike experts... virtual ride with me and win prizes in the process.  Click HERE for all the details on my August Spin® Challenge.  Starts in 4 days!  Throughout the Challenge month, I'll post more detailed information about why/how to Spin®.

Spinning® is a registered trademark of Mad Dogg Athletics.

2.  If you're up for Summer Challenges, how about the Presidental Active Lifestyle Award?  Your fitness routine is probably already there... commit to be active for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week... and track it.  "What gets measured gets managed."  If you sign up under's team here, you can save $10 off one of their races... that includes the Rock 'n Roll events!

3.  And now the hardest challenge of all... I challenge myself to consume NO chocolate or ice cream for the next 24 hours.  Can I do it?!?!?  I think that challenge will be harder than my 18 miler this weekend... 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gotein Winner!

The Gotein giveaway is now over.  If you missed the review, check it out here.  It's worth a try!  Congratulations to ...  

She's a smart lady following me on Facebook!  If you don't already, click HERE and like me!  I'm doing a Facebook giveaway when I hit 200 likes!  :)

Mel's Mom... Email me at your mailing address so I can ship out your sample Gotein pack.

Fight for it!

Sometime you gotta FIGHT for the good life!
There's some things in life that require a little more effort than normal.  These are usually the best things in life too.  It's just the way it works...

"Nothing good comes free or easy."

I've been in a bit of a slump lately.  I tossed and turned last night with an upset tummy, missing my 5am run, but forced myself onto the gym treadmill by mid-morning.  As the miles ticked off, I miraculously started feeling better.

"That which does not kill me, makes me stronger."

By mile 5, I decided to throw in a speed interval.  I jacked it up to 7mph for a 400m sprint. Hmmm, that kinda felt good.  So I did it three more times before hitting the 8 mile mark.

Running intervals requires mental focus for me.  I focus my thoughts to get my mind off what my legs are doing.  Today I answered the question... "What do you fight for?"

"We must become the change we wish to see in the world."  ~Gandhi

I fight for my health.  It's not always an easy road for me.  I had pretty lazy habits for many years, and they don't change overnight.  It's still hard for me to say no after two beers when I just wanna let loose.  It's really really hard to pass up the bowl of ice cream.  And there are times when I'd rather just skip a workout.

I fight for my marriage.  We're approaching our 7 year anniversary this year.  With two little kids and busy work schedules, it's not always a smooth ride.  But I'm still married to the greatest guy I know and want to keep it that way.   It's the foundation of so many wonderful things in my life.  Am I always the world's greatest wife?  Absolutely not.  Got a long way to go... but it's worth the fight.

I fight for my kids.  Who wouldn't, right?!  But it's not always easy in today's world to do what's right, and not what's easy.  It was hard to quit my job five years ago to stay home with my kids, but so worth it!  I don't always have the time to sit down and talk with my almost-5 yr old about her behavior, but I make the time.  The better mom I am now, the better person and future I hope those two little darlings will have.

I fight for what is right.  All this mental talk got started after watching the news during my warmup miles.  The President's speech last night struck a nerve with me.  (Did I ever mention I was a Political Science major in college?)  I won't get into the politics of it, but I let my representatives know how I felt today... just like the Prez asked.

Okay, so when you're hanging on for the last 100m of a sprint... 
What are you fighting for??!?!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Three Things Thursday: Reset!

If you're following my training, you've probably already noticed that I have deviated, er abandoned, the Run Less, Run Faster plan.  It worked so well for my spring half marathon, but this summer it's been hard for me to zero in on the intervals, paces, tempos, etc.  

The other day, I stumbled across a blog HERE by Alex Respess from ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.  He talked about integrity to yourself regarding workouts.  Don't over-promise yourself... the only result is self-disappointment and loss of motivation.  So after six weeks of feeling like I'm "behind" on the training plan, I adjusted it.  I had to make adjustments for our busy summer schedule, vacations, and such.   I have no time goal for my first marathon.  I just want to reach the starting line healthy, enjoy the journey, and cross the finish like a rockstar!  New plan posted here.

I have totally flubbed here too.  The hours, days, weeks of summer fly by... It seems like everyone is running a different direction all the time.  Our family sit-down dinners have become the exception rather than the norm.  Net result... we're eating a lot on the go, which always means crap food.  Instead of losing, I've managed to gain a couple pounds.  As runners we're always trying to get faster, but I need life to sloooow it down right now!

I think I found the new quote for my treadmill dash...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Heat Wave!

I'm not going to complain about the heat today... because I still like it better than the ugly cold white stuff.

I got up this morning at 5am for a run.  The windows on the main floor were all steamed up.  <hint>
I opened the patio door and some water dripped onto the floor.  <hint>
I stepped outside and my skin immediately got clammy.
Yup, good ole Midwest Humidity!

Shamefully I admit, I did not go for a run.  Instead I crawled back into bed and chatted with my hubby for a couple minutes before he had to go to work.  A couple hours later, I finally made it into my sneakers.  With the kiddos in tow, we moved our morning operations to the cool basement, where we watched a movie while I got my 6 miles in for the day.

Big Girl was on a camera kick this morning, and I was her prime target... so you are treated with some proof fashion shots of my run.

I really need some new quotes for my treadmill dash... Any Suggestions?

Look real close... Can you name the movie we watched??

After lunch, we took a drive to the grocery store...

On the way back...

Whew!  It's been hot this week!  
Hope you all are staying hydrated and safe... run inside or early morning.  
If your temps are below 85, please don't brag...
RuN HaPpY!

Don't forget to enter my Gotein Sample Pack giveaway HERE.  Ends 7/25.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gotein Review & Giveaway

Awhile back I received some complimentary samples from Gotein.   It's been popular around the running blogs for the past month, so I thought I'd wait and try all my samples to provide a thorough review for you.  If you haven't heard of Gotein yet... it's a protein supplement in the form of a powder that you add to water for a convenient drink on the go.

Protein repairs body cells, builds and repairs muscles and bones
(think post-run recovery!)

Protein provides an excellent source of energy and helps in the process of the human body's metabolism (think weight loss!) 

Gotein comes in convenient stick-like packages... packs 17g of protein with only 110 calories.  Mix the powder packet with your water bottle within 20-30 minutes after your workout (for muscle recovery) or 30-45 minutes before a meal (to curb hunger).  Both Strawberry and Vanilla flavors are gluten-free.

Gotta be honest, I'm not a big fan of the powder-mix drinks.  They always come across chalky-tasting to me.  The powder seems to only partially mix and the chunks gross me out.  Gotein was a pleasant surprise!  I tried the Chocolate first (duh!), and was so delighted that it went down smoothly and tasted good (no chalk here folks!).  The flavor is not as rich as say, chocolate milk, but enjoyable.  Strawberry was okay.  Vanilla I found boring, like watered-down creamer.

I love chocolate milk, but my tummy doesn't always agree with dairy products after a hard workout... All six times I tried Gotein after a long run, my tummy had zero issues, so that was an added plus for me.

Results?  This past month, my long run recovery has been very smooth considering the substantial increase in miles.  Not sure where to attribute the progress though, sicne I also started taking ice baths.  One thing is clear... I don't want to mess with the routine!

Gotein is offering an introductory special of 12 packets for $17.95 (one per household) on their website HERE.  Otherwise, the packets normally run 12 for $24.95 + shipping.  Unfortunately, a little pricey for my budget, and our local stores don't carry it yet.

Win a Gotein Sample Pack!
Enter this giveaway by completing any of the below options.  
Be sure to leave a comment on this blog post  for each to submit your entries.
Giveaway contest ends Monday, July 25 at 6:00 pm CST.

•  Tell me what you currently use for a post-run protein boost  (+1 entry)
•  Like Run with Jess on Facebook HERE (+1 entry)
•  Like Gotein on Facebook HERE... and tell them  Run with Jess sent me!  (+1 entry)
•  Follow Run with Jess on Twitter HERE (+1 entry)
•  Follow Gotein on Twitter HERE  (+1 entry)
•  Follow this blog via Google Friend Connect... click button on the right side bar.  (+1 entry)
•  Spread the news about this giveaway by sharing on your blog, twitter or facebook.  (+1 entry for each)


Saturday, July 16, 2011

My First 20 miler

I woke up this morning not feeling it.  It was 4:30am, dark and slightly raining.  Really?  20 miles... today? After laying there thinking up a long list of excuses, I finally stretched my booty out of bed and got dressed.  The weekend is booked solid... This morning is truly my only chance to run.  Get. It. Done.

I parked the car at the trailhead in East Peoria and headed out at exactly 5:36am.  Even as I hit mile one, I was still convincing myself that today was not the day to be doing 20.  The rain had stopped, but the air was humid and damp feeling.  Temps in the mid-70's.  I made my way across the Bob Michels Bridge and along the Peoria Riverfront.  Surprisingly a lot of activity for six in the morning... the vendors were setting up for the Saturday morning marketplace, the fisherman were launching boats at the marina, and late night partiers were picking up their cars from the Friday night riverfront concert...

The climb up the Bob Michel is tough; but for some reason, I love running this bridge!!
At mile eight, I stopped at the top of the bridge, took in the view and ate my GU Chomps-Watermelon.  By mile ten, I was done with my first out and back.  Quick stop at the car to refill my water bottle with more nuun-enriched water.  Then I headed the opposite way on the trail towards Morton.  I finally turned on my music (Yes, I just ran the first 10 in silence!!).  

Miles 10-12 were tough as it was a long gradual incline, but I kept reminding myself that miles 18-20 will feel like cake...

The sun started to peek out from the clouds... and when it did, it was HOT!  The blacktop was still wet from the rain, and I could see STEAM rising off the pavement.  Needless to say, I started to sweat profusely and tire.  The trek out to 15 seemed to take forever.  But once I hit the turnaround, I seemed to get that "heading home" second wind (or maybe it was my second fueling with GU Roctane kicking in?).  The five miles back to the car went fairly quick and easy.

My goal pace for today's run was 11:15 min/miles (marathon pace 10:30 + 45 sec).  I ended up averaging 11:22, but with 3 water stops, I think I was close enough.
20.65 miles
3:55 minutes
11:22 avg. pace

I felt that last week's ice bath had a noticeable effect on my muscle recovery, so I gave it another go.  My legs are now wrapped up in compression socks and feeling quite good considering what I just made them do!

The only downside of today's 20 is that I ended up with painful chaffing in some new places.  I saw this product in the store a couple weeks ago, and thought it was so funny that I took a picture... but holy crap, this is FOR REAL people!!

Giveaway Winner!

When I won the Family Fan Club giveaway a month ago, I was ecstatic to create a new running shirt...  now one of you get the same opportunity!  If you missed my review of Family Fan Club, read it here.

And now.... the winner drawn by is...
Check out Jen's blog at runner... maybe.  She's full of all kinds of good running adventures.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Toe Kick!

Occasionally, I find myself getting a little sloppy on the run.  So I try to focus on different aspects of the proper running form.  Several months ago, the Editor's Letter in Runner's World (read it here) got me thinking about the "toe kick" aspect of the running stride.  He talked about lacking a back kick, making his toe-off less effective.

It got me thinking... Am I using the toe kick?  
Answer:  Not nearly to it's full potential!!

Now during my runs, I focus on my push-off a little more.  I typically land on my mid-foot/heel.  As I roll onto the ball of the foot, my leg, knee and ankle are fully extended.  At this point, I focus on the toe-off before lifting the leg up for another stride.  It seems like something so minor... but once I monitored it, I realized how lazy I was running.  The toe kick focus has helped me find an extra forward propulsion with minimal effort.

As I remind myself to "toe kick" during a run, I also can't help but think of the Toe Pick scene below from The Cutting Edge, one of my favorite movies.  It always brings a smile to my face.

The Takeaway... If you don't use it, you'll fall flat on your face!  LOL!

This morning, I beat the sunrise and got almost 7 miles done before 6:00 am.  It was a cool 62 degrees when I started.  After a week of hot humid summer, the cool air felt so good on my skin and in my lungs!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win a $30 gift card from Family Fan Club.  You can pick out - or even create - a new race shirt!  Promotion ends TODAY at 6:00pm.  Enter <here>.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Race Recap: Main Street Mile

Friday night I ran this quick little 1 MILE race.  When was the last time you seriously pushed yourself and time trialed just one solo mile?!?!  For me, it was probably high school... and even then, I don't think I pushed myself as hard as I did Friday night.

The race had a small field of runners (384), split into three heats...
Heat One:  > 8:30 min/mile
Heat Two:  6:00-8:29 min/mile
Heat Three:  < 5:59 min/mile
I was in heat 2, predicting/hoping I could get around 8:00 mark.

The draw of this race is that it's all downhill, one steep hill in the middle...

It was an easy quick start, with congestion next to none since the entire Main Street was shut down for us.  The only split I caught was at 1/4 mile, which was 1:40.  I felt like I was being eaten up in the first half mile.  However, on the big downhill, I started to catch some runners in front of me.  (I've been training a lot on hills lately and feel like I've gotten better at running steep downhills without hurting or slowing down.)

I had plenty of gas for the second part of the mile. Main Street was lined with cheering fans and the ELITE Drum Corps, making it a pretty exhilarating run into downtown.  As you can see from the picture below, my arms were pumping, giving it everything I had to the finish.

Photo by the awesome Jenn at Losing 100
As I crossed the line, the clock read 6:58 and I was thrilled beyond measure!!  Unfortunately, I found out the next day that there were clock problems in heat two, adding roughly 30 seconds onto everyone's time...
Official chip time 7:24.  
#11 out of 27 in my age group
#222 out of 384 overall

The overall male winner finished in 4:02;  female winner was 4:43.
Holy crapola!  That is FAST!   It was fun to watch them speed across the finish!!

Don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY (here) 
to win a $30 gift card for Family Fan Club attire!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My First Ice Bath!

I took the plunge!  After a year and half of weekend long runs, I finally gave the infamous "ice bath" a trial run.  Sounds insane, right?!  It turned not to be nearly as bad as I had envisioned.

I hit the trail at 6:00am this morning and ran 15.2 miles.  My pace averaged 10:39 which is spot on for my target pace at this point in training.  (My goal is to run the marathon at a 10:30 pace in September.)

Once home, I immediately started the coffee.
Started cold water in the tub.
Bathroom break.
Poured myself a cup of coffee and placed it by the tub.
Pulled out the tray of ice & recruited my girls for help.
Pulled sweatshirt on (no need to freeze on top!)
Sat down in the cold water.
Add ice overtop the legs.
Relax for 8-10 minutes.

Why an Ice Bath?
Cryotherapy (cold therapy) constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown.  Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a return of faster blood flow, which helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body.  Not only do ice baths suppress inflammation, but also help to flush harmful metabolic debris from your muscles.  (source)  

Afterward, I warmed up in my hot pink compression socks (from The Recovery Sock) and elevated my legs for some much needed rest.   Five weeks done in Marathon training (145 miles!)... 12 to go and I'm feeling GOOD!

Have you ever done an Ice Bath?  Does it actually aide in your recovery?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Five for Friday!!

1.  I'm learning why marathon plans have "recovery weeks" after 18-22 mile runs.  Last week, I logged over 36 miles... 18 on Sunday, followed by a 5K race on Monday.  My whole body was T.I.R.E.D come Tuesday.  Through the past year, I've really learned to listen to my body to avoid injuries.  So I slowed it down this week... only logged 12 miles all week!  But I must admit this morning's run felt very refreshing.  I'm looking forward to 15 tomorrow morning - especially since my favorite paved trail is OPEN once again after a month of construction/repaving.  Do you listen to your body - or stick to the plan?

2.  My 37th birthday falls on a Saturday this year, so I've been searching for a half-marathon in the Midwest to run that day.  To avoid the depressing fact that I'm inching closer to 40, I find it invigorating to run on my birthday. With the past couple years of running, I definitely feel like I'm getting younger instead of older!
Yesterday, I got an email.... Just Announced!!  ZOOMA Women's Half Marathon Great Lakes on Saturday, Oct. 22 in the beautiful resort town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  The course runs along the shores of Geneva Lake, a little hilly, but sure to be breath-taking with the fall colors.  If you register before July 16, use discount code ZOOMAGL11 to get $10 off a half-marathon entry and $5 off a 5K entry.  Come run my birthday with me!
Just imagine running this in the fall colors!??!

3.  There are a ton of cool giveaways going on in Bloggyville this week.  I've updated my Giveaways page.  Be sure to check it out to win some cool running goods... including my Family Fan Club $30 gift card giveaway for a new shirt or other custom item!

4.  I had a cupcake tasting yesterday for a wedding client.  I spent most the day baking six different flavors of cupcakes, each with their own flavored frosting.  I couldn't help but sneak a few.  Butter Pecan with maple frosting rocked my world!  Definitely NOT good for the marathon diet...

5.  Are you racing this weekend??  Comment here if you are so I can send positive race waves your way!!  Here is your FRIDAY RACE SALUTE!  Kick some butt!

Special mention to Kurt at Becoming an Ironman.  I've been following his training for months now, and this weekend he competes in Ironman Providence.  That's 70.3 miles...  I just know he's going to rock it!  And if you want in on a fun contest, predict his finish time here.