Thursday, December 31, 2009

A decade in review

I did my year in review the other day, now it's time to take a look back on the entire decade.

2000: Y2K had everyone all in a tizzy, but I was in 8th grade and figured there was no way the world was going to implode, that my small savings account would have no money in it, or that any of the other doomsday things would actually happen. Turns out I was right. I was a smart little kid. Also started my freshman year of high school in the fall.

2001: Very briefly dated my very first boyfriend ever. Six months later dated my second boyfriend. Neither lasted more than a few weeks. Sat in my sophomore year home room, as I watched the news and thought there had been a horrible accident when a plane flew into the World Trade Center. Realized it wasn't an accident as I watched the second plane fly into the other tower.

2002: I started my junior year of high school. I took the SATs for the first time and did so-so. I'd take them two more times before I was sort of happy with my score.

2003: I was still a junior in the beginning of the year and scored a dancers role in our school's production of Guys and Dolls. I went to prom. Visited college campuses and sent out applications.

2004: Narrowed college decision down to Temple or UMD. Chose UMD in the end, one of the best decisions ever. Went to senior prom. Graduated from high school. Started college.

2005: Felt like a pro at the whole college thing by my second semester. Figured out I'd be able to graduate a semester early. Made some of my best friends to this day. Scored my first job on the staff of the college paper and started teaching fitnesses classes at the gym on campus. Took a day trip to NC to watch the soccer team win the National Championship.

2006: Registered, trained for and ran my first marathon. Quit said job at school paper because it was running me into the ground. Took heavy class loads both semesters because I'm an overachiever. Started the blog. Moved into my first apartment with my friends.

2007: Ran my first half marathon with strep throat. Won a bunch of "I'm an overachiever awards." Graduated college a semester early with a 3.9. Still hate those two B+s to this day.

2008: Went on my first cruise ever with my college roommates. Started my first job as a newspaper reporter. Ran another half marathon. Spent the entire summer in physical therapy for my knee problems. Missed many great races because of it. Left reporting job after 10 months to start current government job. Met and started dating the BF. Watched the Terps win another soccer National Championship.

2009: Ran seven races, three of which were half marathons. Have hopefully left knee problems in the past. Lost much of college weight. Celebrated one year anniversary at said job. And various other things you can read about in my year in review post.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What's next for the blog

Last night I finally bought myself my own domain name. If you haven't updated your bookmarks, make sure you do that!

Jessruns.com

I plan to make some changes to the blog in the next year. There will definitely be a redesign and a potential move to WordPress. I still have a lot of kinks I need to work out on that front, but it's mostly a done deal in my mind. I just need to make it a reality.

I can't give you a firm timeline on when everything will be done. As this is a project I'll be tackling myself, and not hiring outside help for, I'm going to have to work it around my other work, life and training responsibilities. That's why it's my 2010 project. By this time next year, I hope to have a beautiful new look and feel and some more basic functionality. (I'm also hoping this won't actually take a whole year, but I'm a perfectionist, so it might.)

Also if you have questions, comments, etc. about the blog, about my training, about anything really, please feel free to contact me at my new email address: jess@jessruns.com.

I think that's it for basic updates.

Just a quick question for all you who use self-hosted WordPress. Who do you use as your host? I've heard both good and bad things about BlueHost, so even though they come highly recommended from WordPress I'm not sure how I feel about them.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Update your bookmarks!

My new domain name is www.jessruns.com.

It's the first step in a larger blog overall I hope to work on in the coming year. More details to come.

2009 Wrap up

Where has this year gone? I can barely believe that 2010 is just a few days away. I'm a little sad to see 2009 go, it's been a pretty great year for me, but I have high hopes that 2010 will be even better.

Some 2009 Highlights:

Running three half marathons, setting a PR in one and then smashing it a few months later.


Convincing the BF to run a half marathon with me.

Celebrating my one year anniversary at my job.

Not one, but two cousins getting engaged at the holidays.

Raced two new distances (which means automatic PRs!)

A great weekend at the beach with friends.

Experiencing my first Nascar race with the BFs fam.

My cousin having a baby.

My main running goals for 2009 were to focus on middle length distances, tackling nothing more than 13.1, but trying a bunch of new distances as well. I'm happy to say I was definitely successful in that. I give myself an A+. I ran in seven different races throughout the year. Three of them were half marathons and the other four were 5Ks, 8Ks and 10Ks.

My other goal was to be better about tracking my mileage. I give myself a C for this. There were months when I was great about tracking mileage. I wrote it all down or logged it in Mapmyrun. But there were other times I just sucked at it. It's something I still plan to get better at in 2010.

I've also been lucky this year to get to spend more time with my extended family and make several trips back home to PA to visit my parents. My cousin and I have been unsuccessful in running a race together (we got snowed out two weeks ago), but hopefully that's something we can make happen in 2010.

And finally, I was so thrilled that the BF ran the Virginia Beach Half Marathon with me earlier this year. It was definitely one of the highlights of the year, running that race with him and my mom. I'm not sure whether the BF has another half marathon in him or not, but maybe there's room for the occasional 5K.

Stayed tuned for my 2010 goals and a potential race calendar!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Trying to embrace the off-season

Merry Christmas Eve blogland!

I safely made it home to Allentown on Tuesday night and enjoyed spending yesterday relaxing with the family and running some last minute errands.

It's cooooold up here as I learned on my run yesterday. Apparently my ear warmer is not in fact warm enough and my ears were killing me about a half mile in. My chin was pretty cold too, maybe I should have worn a scarf.

Either way, I got in 4.2 miles around the old stomping grounds. It was wonderful to run on nice open roads with minimal traffic and no stop lights.

But now, I think my body is telling me it's ready for the off-season. My right hip really started to get sore during the run yesterday, and it continues to nag at me this morning. I'm thinking maybe it's time to refocus my energy on cross training. Time to give the body a little bit of a break from running and focus instead on building a strong base for next year through strength training and other forms of cross training.

I may still try to sneak in another run or two while I'm home on roads I love, but only if my hip cooperates. If not I'll stick to riding my parents' bike and my Jillian DVDs.

In non-running news, I'm looking forward to spending the next few days with friends and family. Today is our big Christmas Eve party with very close family friends. I'm thrilled because I haven't seen many of them for several months. This party is definitely my favorite part of Christmas.

I hope you all have a fun time with friends and family. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cabin fever 3.5

Being pent up inside all weekend because of the snow led to some serious cabin fever yesterday. The federal government closed because transportation was a disaster and many communities hadn't been plowed yet. So with an unexpected day off, I found myself with lots of extra time on my hands.

I did some productive things, like get packed up to head back to PA for the holidays, and did some unproductive things, like watching several hours of an Intervention marathon.

All the lack of productivity and just general laziness of the weekend caused me to go pretty much bonkers by noon. I needed to get out of the house and do something physical. Since running outside was out, (I bit it on the way in to work this morning on an icy sidewalk. No worries only my pride was harmed.) I headed over to my fitness center to hit the treadmill.

Being out in the brisk air was kind of nice and the fitness center was chilly instead of its normal uncomfortable stuffiness. I decided to push it on the treadmill because I had tons of pent up energy.

I did 3.5 miles at speeds varying from 6.0 mph to 7.2 mph. Lots of good sprinting and fast running.

It was great to be running again, expect for when my right calf seized up with about 10 minutes left in my run. I also noticed my hips were starting to nag at me again. Curses, stupid IT band. After the run I did a ton of stretching to help loosen things up and everything feels good today.

Today's my last day in the office before the holidays. I'm heading back to PA tonight (assuming the roads don't thaw and ice too bad by the time I get off work) and working a half day from Allentown tomorrow. I'll be home for almost a full week. With precious little on the calendar, I'm hoping I can get some nice runs in. I failed miserably with that over Thanksgiving, but I have higher hopes for this break because as of now, it's less jam packed. I'm also packing my Jillian DVDs so even if I can't run, I can hopefully still get some activity in.

In other random, but fabulously exciting news, my cousin got engaged this weekend!!!!! I'm so very excited for her and her fiance. When she called to tell me the news, I quite literally screamed with delight. Congrats to you both!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snowed out

Well Mother Nature, you did it.

You went ahead and completely ruined my weekend by dumping something like 23 inches of snow on the D.C. area.

My race on Saturday was not canceled, however. In fact, a girl I used to work with still ending up running it. When I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and looked out the window and saw that we had at least an inch or two and more was falling fast, I knew there was no way I was driving about 45 minutes north to run the race and then have to drive back home once it was over. It just wasn't going to happen. Plus I don't have Yak Trax or anything like that, so I probably would have bit it face first into a snow bank. I had no desire for that kind of humiliation first thing in the morning.

The BF and I did venture out later to head over to his mom's house for his family's Christmas. His grandparents had come up on Friday and therefore avoided the snow, but his two uncles from Virginia never made it. So the snow pretty much ruined their Christmas celebration.

When we got back to my house Sunday night we found my car looking something like this:



(Note this is the car parked next to me, because I didn't think to snap a picture of mine before we dug it out)

The BF and I spent about 20 or 30 minutes shoveling all the snow from around my car, plus clearing a path through where the plow had plowed me in. I think if I had to today, I could get my car out and get somewhere in the case of emergency.




But since the federal government closed today because of the snow, I plan on spending the day curled up in bed with some hot chocolate and a good book.

Hope you all are having wonderful Mondays!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dear Mother Nature

Dear Mother Nature,

You suck.

See, I used to think we had an agreement. I would tolerate your wicked cold temperatures and even the occasional snow and sleet/freezing rain crap that you like to dish out this time of year, and you would not let said snow and sleet/freezing rain ruin my weekend plans.

But this weekend you have broken you're part of the deal.

This massive snow storm, that's supposed to dump somewhere near a foot of snow on us this weekend is ruining everything.

My good friend was supposed to leave tomorrow to move to NYC where she got a new job. Her going away party was supposed to be tonight. Guess what Mother Nature, because of your stupid snow storm it was canceled because she can't drive five hours in driving snow because people are idiots on the road.

Oh, and that race I was supposed to run tomorrow morning. It's in a park! Not even on real roads that they can plow. If there's too much snow it's going to be converted to a fun run through the grass. If I can even get to Baltimore tomorrow morning.

And lastly Mother Nature, you are threatening to ruin the BF's family Christmas celebration, which is on Sunday due to scheduling conflicts around actual Christmas.

If this is a preview of what the rest of the winter is going to be like, we're in for an ugly couple months, my friend. I'm not really a mean person, in fact, Mother Nature, I'd like us to be friends. So if you could do a little something about this snow storm, maybe delay it til Monday, or push it around us somehow, I'd appreciate it. But if not, could you at least limit the amount of snow we get for the rest of the winter?

I think you owe me that much.

Thanks so much,
Jess

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

To rest or to go short?

After Sunday's race, I've been doing a lot of resting, mainly because my calves and IT bands are revolting against me.

It seems that no matter how much stretching and rolling out I do, my muscles prefer to stay all knotted up. My left and right hips are really hurting now too, which I can say with almost complete certainty is related to my IT band.

I was hoping to get one short run in before Saturday's five mile race, but I'm wondering if my best bet now would be to just keep resting and stretching and then take it easy in Saturday's race. It's my last race of the season and I'd like to go out on a high note, maybe not necessarily with a PR, but with a fun race experience and a strong finish.

I really don't want to pack it in for a winter of cross training and maintenance running on a sour note.

So what do you think? Rest up or try to fit in something short today or tomorrow?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jingle All the Way 10K Race Report

Quick stats:
Time: 56:13
Average pace: 9:03
641/2255 women
163/402 age group

One sentence summary: I was negative splitting this course like crazy until the last 1.2 miles and then I thought my legs might fall off and I just ran out of gas.

Full report:
Alarm blares at 5:30 a.m. Groan, hit snooze. Alarm goes off at 5:35. Drag body out of bed. Brush teeth, splash water on face, attempt to wake up.

Check weather. Currently 34 degrees and raining. Just dandy.

I had my planned race outfit laid out and pulled on my Under Armour tights and my cold gear mock neck top. I threw a lightweight Under Armour fleece on top of that. Added an ear warmer and a baseball cap to keep the water off my face and pulled on the throw away clothes that came in my race packet.

I pulled on my sneakers, which had jingle bells attached to the laces. They came in the race packet and everyone is supposed to wear them on their shoes so you all jingle the whole way.

On top of all of my running stuff I pulled on a pair of sweatpants and my ski jacket.
I was so bundled up and still froze my butt off waiting at the start line.

The BF is pretty much a saint for many reasons including the fact that he also woke up at 5:30 a.m. after being out the night before with his friends, drove me to the race and stood around in the cold and the rain to hold my crap while I ran.

Plus he also took all the pictures.

Waiting for the race to start and trying not to freeze.

No one where I was standing actually heard the gun go off, but all of a sudden everyone started moving.

I went the first mile without my music listening to the sounds of the jingle bells on everyone's feet. But not long after I hit the mile one marker I decided it was time for my own sounds. I blasted a new playlist I made full of Christmas tunes, because hey, 'tis the season!

The course was a really, really flat out and back. I think there was one little uphill on the way back when we crossed a small bridge. Otherwise, flatness. I cruised through miles one and two. One was a little slower because everyone was trying to find their own pace and was dodging around people to find running room.

I made it past the mile two marker before the lead pack started to come through causing the road to narrow to allow for runners on both sides. It was tight at parts once the leaders passed and after I hit the turn around just past the 5K, but I was still making good time.

I was pushing my legs to go faster and was surprised by how well they were responding after having so much time off between me getting sick and just being busy.

I struggled a little bit during mile 4, but was still able to run really strong until mile 5.

The race went rather downhill from there.

There was this guy running at about my pace near my left shoulder, so I decided I would try to stick with him, figuring if I could do that I would hold on to a decent pace for the last 1.2.

I was able to stay with him for a little bit, but then I got a bit of a pain in my hip and ankle and had to stop to walk for a minute. I picked it back up again, but every so often when I would land on my left foot, my left ankle hurt a bit.

I dropped off my speed and just tried to push through the finish.

I saw the finish line approaching and tried to muster some speed to finish fast, but I just didn't have much left in the tank.

I crossed the finish line in 56:13, an awesome time for any day, let alone coming off sickness, and a time I'm very happy with.


I hobbled around after the finish, grabbed some water, was found by the BF and did some stretching. I was sore. BF and I stuck around in the rain afterward for the random prize drawing because they were giving away two Garmins. (Again the BF is a saint for standing around in the rain with me.) I didn't win a Garmin, but I did win a $25 gift certificate to my running store. Sweet!

Overall it was a fun race. I wish it wouldn't have rained, but what can ya do?

If I would change anything, I would have eaten something other than just a Clif bar two hours before the start. Maybe then I would have had more energy at the end.

It was a great race, lots of fun and one I'd definitely consider doing again.

To end, here's a random picture the BF snapped of a joggler.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Race goal: Get to the start line healthy

I'm not at all prepared for my 10K this weekend. I'm still kind of sort of sick. My head has cleared for the most part, but I've got something going on with my nose and throat and it's not a lot of fun.

Packet picket up is today. On my lunch break I'm going to hustle and grab my stuff because I still have high hopes that by Sunday I will be feeling well enough to run.

Right now, I could probably run the race, but it wouldn't be very fun and I think it would make me feel crappy. I'm looking to get better, not worse.

For now, my only race goal is that I make it to the starting line on Sunday and that I can finish the race and not still be sick.

Cross your fingers for me!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Today's diet

consists of OJ, Zicam and Coldeeze.

I woke up with a nasty cold, which may explain some of my complete lack of desire to do anything but sleep lately.

I'm working from home today hoping to kick this crap. I'm in the middle of a big project at work, have a hugely important meeting on Friday and race this weekend. Can't afford to be sick.

Now if only my immune system would get that memo.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tiredness

Last night I managed to some how motivate myself to do the Shred, but I really wasn't feeling any kind of work out at all. I got home from work and wanted to crawl into bed and sleep for hours and hours.

I haven't been getting to bed late lately. Hell this weekend, I didn't go out Friday or Saturday, but for some reason I've been overly tired and not in the mood to work out.

That's no good with two races coming up.

I need to snap myself out of this funk ASAP.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Meet the Halls

The Halls are very cool people, at least that's what I gathered from the few minutes I chatted with them at Pacers this weekend.



It went something like this:

Jess: Hi [Hands Ryan Runner's World Magazine]
Ryan: Hi

Jess: Was it chilly on your run this morning? [They did six miles the day after D.C.'s first snow fall of the season.]
Sara: No it was actually beautiful out.
Jess: Oh that's good.
[All smile for picture]


Sara: What races do you have coming up?
Jess: A 10K this weekend and five miler the weekend after.
Sara: Oh that's great.
Ryan and Sara: Good luck.
Jess: Thanks! It was nice to meet you both.
[Walk away like a normal person until I get into Starbucks then turn to BF]
Jess: Oh my gosh I just met Ryan Hall. Oh my gosh I just met the Halls. Holy crap did that really happen.

Yup. Way to keep your cool Jess.





P.S. Check out my guest post today over at Amber's blog!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Classes for next semester

This has not been a good week on the workout front for me. I've done a whopping one day of anything strenuous, which is no good for the HBBC.

I just haven't had any motivation and I've been run down and overly tired. Plus my nose is running off my face. I hope I'm not getting sick.

In other news, my Web design class is wrapping up for the semester and I'm trying to plan what I want to take next semester. This class was online, which was great for my schedule. I could work class around my job and my workouts. It was perfect. If you're super curious, here's the page I designed for my final project. The theme was social justice and we had to center the website around a Smithsonian exhibit we visited. I picked Animal Conservation at the Zoo because I had just been there for my birthday.

I'm not sure what my plan is for next semester. I'm toying with the idea of taking the advanced web design class, but I'm also thinking it would be fun to take some sort of health/nutrition class. I mean come on, I write a running blog, it's pretty obvious that I'm into healthy living and all that.

I'm not really taking the classes for anything other than personal development. I miss learning like crazy. I've toyed with the idea of grad school, but the GRE and huge amounts of debt aren't things I want to deal with in the near future. Plus I also don't know what I'd study. I mean I love health and fitness and the idea of getting a Masters in public health seems cool, but I also really like web stuff and it'd be fun to study that too.

So, I don't know what my plan is. Part of me thinks it's silly to spend the money on classes if the credits aren't going toward any sort of degree, but the nerd part of me that loves homework and learning doesn't want to stop.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

No More Trouble Zones Review

When I was Black Friday shopping, I picked up Jillian Michael's No More Trouble Zones DVD from Target. I was hoping to find a good alternative to the 30 Day Shred when I wanted to mix things up.

I popped the DVD in last night not knowing what to expect other than a circuit-style workout Jillian is famous for.

Unlike the 30 Day Shred, No More Trouble Zones is 40 minutes of circuits sandwiched by a five minute warm up and cool down. If you're in a time crunch, the DVD lets you pick certain circuits to do individually. Each circuit is about five minutes and combines at least two or three muscle groups.

Things started off about how I'd expect. The warm up included some things that I was familiar with from the Shred, and then boom it was time for the real meat of the workout.

I had expected the circuits to include some intense cardio bursts similar to what the Shred offers, but that's not how No More Trouble Zones is set up. Instead NMTZ is made up of a bunch of intense strength circuits. I liked the focus on solid strengthening moves, but I really missed the cardio. I kept hoping I'd have Jillian yelling at me to jump rope or do some jumping jacks or something.

Despite missing the cardio, No More Troubles Zones is still intense. By the end I was modifying planks like crazy and my shoulders were on fire. This morning I'm really feeling some of the leg work in my hamstrings.

While I definitely like the Shred better, NMTZ will definitely have its place in my workout rotation, especially in the "off-season" when I tend to focus more on building strength.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Back from PA

I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgivings and enjoyed eating lots of food and watching lots of football.

I know I did.

I also know I didn't work out once the entire time I was home. Remember how I said I wanted to run every day, yeaaa..that didn't happen. What was supposed to be my relaxing long weekend, turned into a frenzy of activity trying to see everyone I hadn't in a long time and spend time with friends and family.

But you know what? Overall, I'm not that upset about it.

Sure it would have been nice to get a workout in, but between walking around malls and all around NYC, I was at least staying active. And spending time with family and friends that I don't get to see very often trumps the need for me to get a run (especially when I'm not really training for anything).

I did however pick up a new Jillian DVD when I was out shopping on Black Friday (yes I'm one of the crazies) so I'm really excited to give that a try sometime soon, maybe tonight when I get home from work.

Anyway, I'm excited for the short week -- I had off yesterday -- and for the fact that it's December. I have two fun races on the calendar and there's Christmas!