Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Practically Wordless Wednesday

So where the heck is the Marathon Race Recap?!?!!
Yeah, it's coming... This is a tough one to write!

In the meantime, sign up for The Cupcake Classic virtual race!

to benefit my DetermiNation team for the American Cancer Society.

Have a super day!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Cupcake Classic virtual race!

The Cupcake Classic has gone virtual into the blog-o-phere!

I'm hosting a women's fun run here in Peoria, IL to celebrate my 37th birthday.  What started as a group of ladies running together has blossomed into a truly special event!  I'm now expecting 100 women to show up that day, which means I have a lot of cupcakes to bake!  Many requests from my fabulous blog followers have followed... please do a virtual race too?!?   So here you are...

The Cupcake Classic
~ 3.7 miles ~
Week of Oct. 17-23

WHAT:  A virtual race is running a specified distance (3.7 miles here), timing yourself, without actually being present in the race location.

WHEN:  Anytime during my birthday week, October 17-23

WHERE:  Pick your favorite local route or jump on the treadmill.

WHY:  Fun, Fitness, Friendships... and duh, PRIZES!

HOW:  Register by entering your name HERE.  To keep up with virtual race updates, you need to either be a follower of my blog (click on the "Join this Site" button in the right sidebar) -or- like Run with Jess on Facebook (click here).  I will email out the official race bib before Oct. 17.  Absolutely FREE to participate!

After your run, email your race time to me at no later than Monday, Oct. 24 at 11:00am.  Your race time will get you +1 entry into the random prize drawing.

+1 for submitting a photo.
+1 if that photo contains a CUPCAKE!  I highly advise you bake up a batch and have it waiting for you at the finish!

+2 if you're wearing one of the official "will run for cupcakes" technical shirts on sale (SOLD OUT - Thank You!).  Proceeds benefit my DetermiNation fund for the American Cancer Society.

+1 for every dollar you donate to my DetermiNation race team for the American Cancer Society.  Click HERE to donate. I know times are tight, but even a small donation can get us to the finish line in the fight against cancer.  A $10 donation will get you 10 bonus entries into the prize raffle! Thank you!

Now grab The Cupcake Classic logo above, share on your blog, 
Facebook and/or Twitter and help spread the word on this fun virtual race! 
Thank You!

Special Thank You 
to these sponsors for donating prizes to The Cupcake Classic virtual race

Visit GU Energy Gels HERE

Visit Ryders Eyewear HERE

Visit BuildASign HERE to make your own sign or bumper stickers!

Visit BondiBand HERE

Visit Sexy Mom's Running Club HERE

Amazing runner's jewelry.  Visit Jessica's Gifts HERE.
You know there's nothing I love more than a little sparkle on the run.
Visit Team Sparkle HERE for dazzling skirts & race legs.

Home of my 1st Marathon!  Mark your calendar for Sept. 23, 2012.
Race details HERE.

Check out the high quality running apparel at Pearl Izumi HERE

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Marathon: Pre-Race Activities

What an amazing weekend at the Quad Cities Marathon!  On Friday night, I packed and had a relaxing evening with the family... in bed by 9pm.  I've always heard that good rest is important the whole week before a race, not just the night before.  For me, I try to make the week before a big race as relaxing and stress-free as possible.

Race poster
Saturday morning, we hit the road about 8:30am,  With only one turnaround trip (we forgot the girls' swimsuits!), we made it to the Quad Cities shortly after 10:00 am.  We went straight to the Race Expo. I've learned in the past that the best stuff is available early... by late in the day, they've sold out and the freebies are gone.  I got stopped first by the Quad Cities Marathon (QCM) official merchandise.  With this being my first marathon, I wanted to get a nice jacket of some sort.  I was a little nervous to buy, thinking it would jinx me... What if I don't finish or get injured?  But I knew they'd be gone (they were by the afternoon!)  So the Asics long-sleeve black pullover with the QCM logo on the back was mine!  Perfect fit, plus I got a free license plate frame with the purchase.

Next we headed upstairs.  I was dying to find out my race number!!  I'm kinda stereotypical about my race numbers... I like them to be ODD numbers, so I literally jumped for joy when I saw #175 by my name.  Yes, people look at me weird...

Women's race shirt... Men's were burgundy with gray.
The goody bag was your typical race bag with lots of flyers... but the shirts were great! No uni-sex shirts here, we got a nice semi-fit women's tech shirt that was super soft material and a cool design in burgundy and pink.  We also received a neat QCM poster, which when framed has earned a spot on the wall next to my treadmill.

We wandered around the expo a bit.  It was pretty busy and the kids weren't having it, so I picked up a pair of compression leg sleeves and we were out the door.  Thankfully, we were able to check into the Radisson hotel early.  Just as we got everything up to the room, my parents arrived from Wisconsin.  Together we enjoyed a nice lunch at the River House (Yum!) and then headed back for the Kids Micro-Marathon.

We've taken the kids to quite a few "kids races" and let me tell you... this one was EXCELLENT!  We arrived a half hour before race time.  They had several bouncy houses going, a DJ, and a couple dancers who put on a rockin' show for the kids.  There were several mascots from area businesses who mingled, played, and danced with the kids.  They even put on their own mascot race.  My girls were in heaven.

As they prepared for the race, I really liked it how they explained race etiquette to the kids.  "If someone falls down in front of you, you don't run them over.  Instead, you stop and offer a hand to help them up."  They went on to talk about how it's not a race against other kids, but instead a run to see how good YOU can do.

So both my Big Girl and Little Girl lined up to do the 1/4 mile race.  Big Girl took off and I stayed back and ran along with Little Girl.   Grandma and Grandpa were waiting with cheering signs down the riverpath, while Daddy waited at the finish line.

Big Girl continued on to do the second race, the 1/2 mile.  By time she was done with that, she was pretty tuckered out... but both girls proud of their medals.

Hubby landed the job of handing out the race medals to the kids!
(Yes, he's wearing Happy Joe's dog ears... Isn't he fun?!)
Afterward, they had all kinds of snacks for the kids, including yummy pizza from Happy Joe's, who sponsored the Kids Micro-Marathon.  The bouncy houses stayed up until the last person left... and the DJ, dancers and mascots had a Dance Party in the lawn for the kids.  My girls didn't want to leave...

After an afternoon of fun like that, my girls were tuckered out.  While they took a short nap, my parents and I found coffee and discussed "the plan" for race day... our time schedule, reviewed the course map and ventured outside to watch the crew setting up the start/finish line.

The finish line is ready for me!

In the evening, my parents entertained the kids with swimming and card games while hubby and I headed back to the Race Expo for the Pasta Dinner & Speakers.  The pasta was okay, as expected in a large banquet setting.  I went with the Penne style that had a marinara sauce with mushrooms and tomatoes in it.  We also got flatbread, cookie and drinks.  I thought the table centerpieces were kinda cool...

The speakers was TOP-NOTCH!!  First, we were introduced to all the elites in the room.  Then two-time Olympian Arturio Barrios gave an entertaining recount of his first road race in America.  Barrios has set five world records, including the first to run a half marathon in less than an hour.  Yeah, he's pretty amazing stuff!  

Next up was none other than Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer of Runner's World.  His talk was not only entertaining, but down right inspirational!  He's a true legend in the running world, and I highly recommend hearing him speak if you ever get the opportunity.  I had a chance earlier that morning to talk with Bart at the expo, where he signed my copy of his book, My Life on the Run.

Anxious for race day to arrive, I went to bed before 9:00pm.  Between my anxious nerves and six people trying to snore sleep in one room, it was a rough night of sleep... 

Race Day recap to come soon!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I am a Marathoner!

Short but sweet update... I did it!  

I am officially a Marathoner!!

The race was awesome.  
I felt pretty solid the whole time.
My outfit was a big hit on the course.
All Smiles!

Official time: 4:43:27
(10:50 pace)
Race recap to come...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Marathon Mile Dedications

I get asked a lot... "What do you think about for that long?" while running.  Everything!  On Sunday as I tackle my first marathon, here are a sampling of things/people that will cross my mind.  To you, I dedicate these 26.2 miles...

1 • Runners Unite!  So happy to be a part of the runner community!  I've met some really cool people and made friendships that I know will last a long time.
2 •  All my blogger friends - Starting a blog this year has been the most rewarding activity ever. There just aren't enough miles in a marathon to name you all.  You've been so encouraging - and your advice priceless!!  Thank you!
3 • My neighbors - who by now must all think I'm crazy, running up and down our street.  Several have helped me in my training by watching the girls when I'm stuck in a pickle.  And everyone always has such nice encouraging things to say!  I just wish more would run with me.
4 • Jennifer S. - One of my newest friends who is quite possibly the happiest and most motivating person I've ever met.
5 • My in-laws - Always supportive and offering to watch the girls when I "need" to run.  Love you!
6 •  Bekah - So proud of my girl, who just a year ago hated to run.  Read her story HERE.

7 • Kristen - My Spin & WRB Challenge partner!!  Together we're the Triple-F's... Fabulously Fit Friends!  After baby #2, she's working hard to get herself back.
8 • Grandma Helen - Always has a big hug and proud of me.  Love you!
9 • Angie - The only person I know who will run at 5am with me!  She's fast and pushes me along.

10 • Danelle - A childhood friend, we've cheered each other on all summer in our training. So proud of her for rocking her first half marathon last weekend!
11 • My cousin Julie - I know there's a runner in there somewhere!  You can do it Jules! A healthier you awaits...
12 • Military families - The absences are hard. Sacrifices heart-wrenching. God Bless the U.S. solidiers and their families.

13 • Danyelle - who convinced me to run my first half marathon... and I've never looked back.
14 • Hot Pants runners - This group of ladies are so inspiring to me, not only for their running, but their close friendships.
15 • Dawn - One of my best friends! Not a runner, but a super fit hot momma! When hubby has to work, she watches my girls for me so I don't miss out on my Sole Sisters.  In fact, she's the closest thing I've ever had to a real sister.  xoxo
16 • My Dad - He is here cheering on my marathon instead of bow-hunting.  This is huge, folks!  He hasn't always "gotten" my running, but always has my back.
17 • Cancer survivors - I do a lot of fundraising to fight cancer.  Currently, DetermiNation!  What can I say... Cancer sucks!  And just when I think it's getting tough... I'm thankful that I'm healthy enough to be out here, even if I am running in the rain...
18 • Cathy - I love talking running with you!  I may never be able to keep up with you speedy-gonzalez, but I still enjoy our running friendship.  Good Luck in Chicago!
19 • Race Spectators - For all the people who will hold signs, call out my name and cheer me on, thank you for being out here.  It makes the experience so much more fun!  I don't think they realize how much a runner like me appreciates it.
20 • Grandma Lillian - I know you're cheering me on from above.  Give me strength to push past the "wall".

21 • Sole Sisters - I love each and every one of you.  This will be a hard mile, so I'll imagine all of you by my side on a typical Wed night run. Thanks for being my partners in crime.

22 • My Mom - My biggest cheerleader, always and forever.  She makes me believe I can do anything.

23 • My Hubby - When it gets hard, he's the one I turn to.  Always my ROCK.

24 • Big Girl - My runner girl.  You changed my life when you made me a momma!  
25 • Little Girl - My little dickens, I love you so much!  She's my favorite running buddy (of course she gets to ride in the stroller with snacks while I sweat my butt off!)

26 • This one is all for ME!  I'm in the happy spot in life right now... and so much of that I owe to running.  As I look back just 3 years, I have a big smile at how far I've come!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

3 Things Thursday

1.  What do a Marathon and a Wedding have in common??  
A whole lot more than you think...  
  • Training plan to get in the best shape of your life!
  • Meticulous planning of "the outfit" for the big day
  • Fresh grooming to look good & feel fresh... Haircut, manicure, pedicure... check!
  • Planning out every detail of the day... and providing family with an itinerary. OCD?!
  • Everyone asking you if you're nervous or excited... which of course, I am both!
  ... and in the end, you never know just how it's going to play out!

2.  I got in!!  The Radisson is the host hotel for the Quad Cities Marathon this weekend, located right by the start/finish line.  It's been booked up since I registered back in May.  There's not any other hotels in walking distance, so we were stuck across the state line in Iowa.  I've been calling every day/night this week, trying to snag a cancellation at just the right time.  This morning, luck was on my side!!  Woo-Hoo!  We got a room in the Radisson, which is also hosting the expo.  Sweet!!

3.  Determined for DetermiNation.  I hate cancer... who doesn't, right?!   I'm excited to announce that I just joined the DetermiNation team for the Indianapolis Monumental Half-Marathon on November 5 to help fight with the American Cancer Society. 

So.... please consider ordering one of my "will run for cupcakes" technical shirts.  They are super cute, great quality and a terrific deal (only $15 + $5 shipping).  Proceeds from each shirt sale will be donated to the American Cancer Society-DetermiNation team.  Click HERE for detailed shirt information or just email me at to place your shirt order.

Or you can donate directly to my DetermiNation team  HERE.  Thank you for your support!!  I've got 6 weeks to raise $550 for the fight against cancer.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Race Prep

Down to the last couple days before we leave for the Marathon... I'm slowly checking off items on the Pre-Race To-Do List...

1.  RACE OUTFIT.  I'm banking on a little magic from my Team Sparkle skirt, along with a pair of their race legs (which I may use as arm warmers depending on the weather).  I ordered a green version of my favorite Nike tank, and it arrived yesterday.  Last night, the girls and I got busy customizing our shirts for race day.  I'm thrilled with the outcome.  Sunday is a big game here in the Midwest... Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears.  The oldest rivalry in football begins just hours after the marathon.  I clearly side with the defending World Champions!
My Packers themed outfit will surely ensue comments along the course!
The girls got to design their own race shirts too.  Big Girl wants to run the
 1 mile, while Little Girl will do 1/4 mile in Saturday's kids runs.

2.   RACE STRATEGY.  While I'm trying not to focus on a "time" for my first marathon, as a runner that is hard to do!!  I don't really know what to expect, but judging off my 20-mile training runs, I'm mentally planning a strategy so I don't blow up at the end.  The first couple miles, I know my adrenaline will be pumping.  My last half marathon, I busted out an 8:42 in the first mile.  Yeah, I gotta reign that in this time around.  I plan to time-check myself frequently to make sure I start slow enough.  My goal is to keep pace above the 10 min mark.  I run best when I can keep myself at an even pace.  I'm hoping to finish somewhere in between 4:30 and 4:50, which would be somewhere in the 10-11:00 min range.
Chase Chart... Click to enlarge

3.  CHASE CHARTS.  A lot of figuring out my race strategy is to help out my cheerleaders.  My family finds it helpful if I can give them approximate times when I'll be crossing mile markers.  At any time, they can look at the map and see where to catch me next... especially since my hubby is running the 5K at the same time.   The best Chase Chart I've found is at Races2Remember.  Enter in race starting time, your "earliest finish time" and then your "latest finish time" and it spits out a nice chart with clock times.  So my family will know that sometime between 9:13 - 9:20 am, I'll be passing the 10 mile marker.  This is especially helpful in bad weather!

4.  PLAN FUEL.  I'm still debating on how to fuel during the race.  The race will have GU on the course, but haven't released the flavors yet (gotta admit, I'm kinda picky on that).  I will surely run with my handheld bottle containing nuun.  That has been the best addition to my runs this round of training.  I'll probably throw a couple GU's in the pocket to be on the safe side and then give a couple to my family in case I need them along the route.  It's always been a tough balance for me on taking too much food/drink on the run.  I train well, but tend to overdo it in a race.  This is one race I can't afford a tummy ache (like poor Rachel last weekend!).

5.  TRAVEL PLANS.  I'm so happy I have family coming with to watch me run the marathon!  But that requires a little bit more planning in the travel arena.  Thankfully, we've got the whole pre-race dinner figured out.  My wonderful parents are going to hang at the hotel with the kids while hubby and I take in the pasta dinner, expo and speaker (Bart Yasso!!!).  My kind of Date Night! 

Typing this is reminding me on other things on the checklist... O'dear, I better get to it!

Check it out... I'm now a custom web address!

REMINDER... The Cupcake Classic tech shirts are still for sale.  Get your order in before Wednesday, Sept. 28.  Click here for more details.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable

My brain is all over the place this week... Ahhh! Take a look to the right at my counter... less than 5 days until thee Marathon.  Yes, it deserves to be capitalized.  So I apologize in advance, but blog this week is going to be all about the Marathon and may get a little emotional...

Check out this video I stumbled across on Mom's Home Run.  I picked up my first cigarette at the age of 14 (sorry, Mom!), partied with them throughout college, and pretty much made smoking a part of life despite several attempts at quitting.  It wasn't until I had children that I really tried to cut out the cancer sticks.  Even then, the stress of caring for two small babies had me sneaking out into the garage for an escape.  It wasn't until I took up RUNNING that I finally gave nicotine the kick to the curb.  To start running is probably the single best decision I ever made for myself.  So this little advertisement makes me melt, especially as I'm on the verge of conquering the Marathon...


I've been holding out awhile now... trying to think of a "real name" for my blog, which obviously has never come to me.  So Run with Jess it will stay, for at least a year.  I made the plunge and bought the address no more blogspot in the address!  I'm hoping it still works with everyone's readers.

I had a beautiful morning run yesterday with three of my Sole Sisters.  We went 7.5 miles along the riverfront and over the bridge.  We kept it smooth and consistent, just under an 11:00 min pace.  It felt comfortable, as I chatted away the whole time.  It got me thinking race strategy for Sunday's marathon.  A 10:40ish pace may be a good pace for me to go out the first half and then see how I feel from there.  Secretly, I want a decent time (what runner doesn't!), but I also don't want to die at mile 23.  Thoughts of "how to run my marathon" have consumed me... Sorry kids, momma may miss a couple things this week... like say swim lessons yesterday!  Opps!

Were you ever a smoker?  How did you quit?

Marathoners... how do you determine your race strategy?  Advice welcome!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Race Recap: Pumpkin Classic 10K

Most handsome cheerleader I'll ever have!
This morning I ran the best race of my life!  Why?
I had fun!
and I ran well!

If you could look through the computer right now, I'm still smiling!  This is especially satisfying because just last night I was doubting whether I should even run today.  I've had a terrible twitch/pain in my left shin the past couple days.  So in one respect, my legs were well rested.  But I was really worried about further injury threatening my marathon next weekend.  I literally slept with an ice pack on my shin last night.  After a mile warmup this morning, I deemed it okay to go.  I really wanted to "race," but promised myself if I felt any pain, to ease up and save it for the marathon.

Before the start, I met up with the Sole Sisters.  We had almost 30 women running either the 10K or the 2 miler.  It is so invigorating to start off a race with a little pep rally like that!  Our group is only 4 months young, but we've all gotten so close and encouraging to one another.

We missed a handful of Sisters who were doing their pre-race warmup.  Love these ladies!
Both the 2mile and 10K started together.  It was a very congested start, took a good 1/2 mile to fall into pace.  In fact, I jumped up on the sidewalk just to get out of the mass.  I'll never understand why slow runners and walkers line up in the front of the pack?

My legs felt so good and I was ready to run!!  I told myself to hold back a bit... 6.2 miles can be a long hard sprint!  After time-checking the first two miles (8:58 average), I fell into a good steady pace.  Fellow Sole Sister Emily ran neck and neck with me.  We became a good push for one another.  When I felt myself lighten up, she was strong, and vice versa.

Mile 3... 8:49 split.  Sweet!
Mile 4... 8:50 split.  How am I doing this?

I made a point of having fun in this race.  I gave a fist pump and shout out to the bands entertaining on the course, a thank you to the volunteers I passed, and a hello to nearly every spectator on the course (there weren't many in the middle miles!).

Mile 5... 9:07 split.  Gettting harder to hold that sub-9 pace.
Mile 6... 8:54 split.  Something about that final mile that puts a little pep in your step!

Now the worst part of the race was the last .2 mile.  Along with the race, there is a Pumpkin Festival happening in the city of Morton, which includes a pancake breakfast and a parade this morning. As we turned that final corner, we ran into the center of the festival grounds.  Good part was there were a ton of people lining the streets... but not exactly cheerleaders.  They kept crossing the street in front of runners.  At the end, the course narrowed so much that it was hard to see where to go.  I saw the blue timing mat and stopped.  But wait... that wasn't the finish?!  About 20 yards ahead was actually the finish.  So many people were crossing the race route and standing in front of the finish clock that you could hardly make out the finish line.  They definitely needed some kind of tape or barriers along the final stretch for the safety of everyone.  As I was cheering in the remaining runners, there were people just randomly walking out into the course and nearly colliding with runners sprinting in their finish.  They literally had no idea a race was even going on, just trying to get to the pumpkin pancakes!  Weirdest finish I'd ever seen.

I eventually made it over the second timing mat for a finishing time of 55:12, according to my stopwatch.  That averaged an 8:53 pace!!  I was thrilled beyond measure with that time for a 6.2 mile run!  Woo-Hoo!   (Note: Our local timing folks don't do timing mats at the start, thus everyone gets the same start time no matter where you're lined up.  Stupid in my opinion.  So chip times are gun start times; today adding a good 35 seconds on my "official" time. I'm so thankful for my sportwatch to track my true start-to-finishline time.)

I'm on such a Runner's High right now... I hope I can carry that into next weekend for the Quad Cities Marathon!  I just gotta slow it down and go another 20 miles... Easy, right?!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Race Salute!!

I think everyone and their mother is racing this weekend!!  Who can blame us?  For most of the country, it's perfect fall weather... nice and cool, where all that hot training in the summer sun is finally showing some speed!  Good Luck everyone!

First of all, BIG KUDOS to.... Danielle, Racheland BadgerGirl at the Fox Cities Marathon on Sunday!!  I ran the Half in Appleton, WI last fall.  The course is excellent, race organization is top-notch, wonderful crowds and perfect weather.  It still stands as my "best race," even though I've since beaten the time.  Danielle is running her very first Half-Marathon.  I nudged her last spring to register, and have enjoyed watching her training progress all summer on facebook.  Rachel is running her first FULL marathon.  We did a 16 mile long run together when I was on vacation in Wisconsin (see story here).  Best running mate ever!  I wish her all the best and look forward to the race recap.
Rachel and I after 16 in June

Lots of bloggers running the You Go Girl! Half Marathon & 10K in Tacoma!  Good Luck to Kim, Carla, Mel, Kerrie and the many more ladies I know are out there!  Both Kim & Kerrie are shooting for their first sub-2.  I hope they rock it so they can share the secret with me...

SuperMomE12 @ See Mom Run Far will be at the Top of Utah Mountain Marathon on Saturday, trying to get under 3:30 for the marathon... Holy snikes! That's fast!

Last but not least, all my SOLE SISTERS who will be running with me in the Morton Pumpkin Classic 10K and 2mile race on Saturday.  There are so many of us running... I'm sure I'll miss a few, but here goes... GOOD LUCK to Bekah (read her story here), Anna, Stephanie, Dianne, Kathleen, Deanna, Monica, Karyn, Gail, Robyn, Tracy, Susan, Lindsey, Laura (x2), Jennifer (x2), Toby, Fro, Nicole, Patty, Crystal, Cami, Kassie, Stacey, Heather and me!

If I missed you (hey, I'm far from perfect)... please comment what race you're running, 
I'll add you in & send positive race waves your way!

REMINDER... The Cupcake Classic tech shirts are still for sale.  Get your order in before Wednesday, Sept. 28.  Click here for more details.