Happy Friday!

Hey guys – Things have been relatively quiet the past few days (and will hopefully stay that way for the next few!) so here’s a quick little update.

My father is a Feature Writer for our local newspaper and from time to time he’ll have the opportunity to put snippets of his own good news in the paper (it’s a really local paper). So when he discovered my blog a while back and read up on my adventures, he encouraged me to submit a story to the paper in my own words. I thought it’d be a cute idea, but never really followed up on it, until one Saturday a few weeks ago when he called me and said “You’ve got a column in May’s paper, get the final story submitted by midnight tomorrow.” Talk about making me an offer I couldn’t refuse!

After bouncing some ideas around with him, he suggested I write up a story about the lead up to the NYC Half Marathon, specifically about the media coverage I got through working with the New York Road Runners. So I got to work at 9pm that Sunday (how last-minute can you get) and came up with a fun little recap – you can check it out via PDF here. It appears on Page 23, and continues on 25. I know this is stuff that you all have probably seen before on here, but I thought it was still kind of fun to see my picture in the paper and wanted to share it!

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On an unrelated note, I’m hitting the beach this weekend forΒ a little girls-only timeΒ with my mom in Atlantic City, and let me just say: I. Cannot. Wait. It’s been a long winter, and the beach is calling my name!Β Of course I’ll pack my running shoes and my camera – maybe I’ll recreate the last picture I had taken when I last ran on the boardwalk πŸ™‚

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That’s about it for me – how about you guys? What are your weekend plans? When was the last time you partied it up in AC? What are your favorite slot machines? Mine are the Goldfish penny slots πŸ™‚ Have a great weekend!

Race Recap: Run the Vineyards 5K

I love running. And I love wine. So an event that combines these two things? Yeah, that’s pretty much a guaranteed must do. So when I spotted the Run the Vineyards 5K Series, I laced up my sneakers and dusted off my wine-drinking shorts (full disclosure: every pair of shorts can be wine-drinking shorts when you’re me).

IMG_5568The races take place at vineyards in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and this one was at the Hopewell Valley Vineyards in Pennington, NJ. I’ll admit: I was so excited for a wine-related race that I blindly signed up for this one after a quick glance at where it fell on the map. I saw Princeton and Trenton around the area and thought “Meh, can’t be that far!” Well, I was kinda wrong. It was more than an hour away! But it didn’t matter – on the morning of the race, traffic was light and we arrived 15 minutes earlier than planned.

IMG_5577 We were so early in fact that we got to chill on a nice shady little bench after using the vineyard’s gorgeous restrooms (instead of the quickly-getting-more-crowded port-a-johns)!

IMG_5648IMG_5576Overall it was super easy to find the place, and the parking lot was set up just steps away from the starting line in a big open lot, which was great. We popped the trunk of our SUV, had a seat, and relaxed while the crowd got thicker and the sun got warmer. After about a half hour or so I met up with a few co-worker friends, pinned on my number, and we made our way to the starting area.

IMG_5632What up, Alex?

It looked like it was going to be a small race – the results say there were less than 350 runners!

IMG_5620Thanks, race photographer hubby!

Once the gun went off we cleared out of there and took off up a slight gravel hill onto the main road outside the vineyard. It was a gorgeous place: hills and mountains, lots of trees lining perfectly paved roads, big farm houses dotting the landscape – if they were to ever hold a longer race in that area I’d jump right on it!

IMG_5583We started off down the main road under nice bright sunshine and a cloudless sky, and I was feeling good – no tightness anywhere, knees were fresh, life was good! As we made the first and second turn through the first mile I realized that we were going almost explicitly downhill. Not by a huge amount, but still enough to know that I didn’t look forward to going back up them at the end of the race!

IMG_5585By mile 1.2, the speedier folks at the front of the pack had already turned and were making their way past us, and I realized the turnaround was only a quarter mile away. That was it?! It felt like nothing! For the past 6 months my shortest training runs were 4 miles, so I guess now 3.1 miles is like a warm up. Good to know.

I was feeling the heat by the turnaround though, so I grabbed a big cup of water (thank god for that!), sipped and walked, tossed the cup in the trash, and took off again up the rolling hills I’d just run down.

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The hills weren’t as hard as I thought they’d be though – or maybe it’s all the hill training I’ve been doing lately? – but either way, I alternated between walking and running when the sun was too hot. By this point it was already in the 80’s and the shade was far behind in the first half of mile 2, and I was pretty happy with my 11:45-ish pace. I wasn’t looking to break any records, I just wanted to have a good time at a no-pressure race again!

So by mile 2.5 I saw the entrance to the vineyard again and started to crank it a little harder. My music was bumping, my legs were still feeling strong, and I actually picked a few people off here and there! It was fun. We turned the corner and ran back down the hill we scaled at the start, past the finish line, around the vineyard building, and back up through the vineyard for the final .25 mile or so.

IMG_5600That’s when I hit a wall – literally, the ladies in front of me stopped to walk. I don’t know if you can see it up there, but there’s wire holding up the vines on either side of us – so I couldn’t pass them without being a huge jerk and literally nudging them away! I walked for a little bit behind them but soon heard the footsteps of other runners surging behind me, and that’s when I finally said screw it and dropped the hammer to pass them.

It was fun pushing that hard; I felt my ankles rolling on the uneven dirt, and spotted the clock at the finish line: 36:54. Under 37 would be awesome! I gave it all I had, but evidently that bottleneck in the vineyard was too much – I crossed in 37:02.

IMG_5624That’s one ticked off runner.

My Garmin said otherwise, though, and the race results are actually better than my Garmin: 36:39. Not my best, not my worst, and an overall fun race!

IMG_5602Afterwards we went back to the car where I changed into flip flops (ah the benefits of having the car right there!), then we all met up for some post-race chatting, delicious wine in our commemorative race glasses, and live music in the courtyard. We even went inside to explore the winery where I hit the mother lode:

IMG_5640Pop the trunk, I’ve got my wine.

We even found a place where the walls were made of wine…

IMG_5607… and a whole slew of little wine bottles that look like they ran marathons of their own! Look at all their medals!

IMG_5614After that we took a stroll back up the hill to the entrance where a giant cow statue was calling my name..

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Well, not literally, but how could I pass up a photo op with a giant copper cow?

And with that, we called it a day! I would definitely consider doing this again next year. It was very well organized, on a beautiful course, and the post-race festivities were awesome.

Trying out the DeskCycle

If you’ve seen some of my recent Instagram posts, you’ll notice that I’ve been doing some different cross training this past week, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to tell you all about it!

IMG_5426aAfter throwing my name into the pool for a “calling all bloggers” post on the Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador page, the folks at DeskCycle contacted me asking if I’d like to review their flagship product. I felt like I’d won the lottery! I accepted, and last Monday I received a note from our office warehouse manager saying that I had a package downstairs. It was like Christmas morning!

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Once my lunch hour rolled around I quickly got to work on putting it together – and surprised myself when I got it all right on the first try in under 10 minutes! Ikea furniture takes me like 3 hours and half a bottle of wine, so I was impressed with myself. The directions were super easy to follow and they even included that cute little wrench you see in the pic up there to help speed things along.

I was also very surprised by the high quality of this thing – it was SOLID. I had a little difficulty getting it up to my desk because the box was so heavy (maybe that’s a sign that I need some Desk Arm Weights?), and the pieces are heavy metal, ensuring that it’ll stay put no matter where you place it. Really impressive!

IMG_5433The coolest part was this little egg-shaped desktop display that connects to the bike and gives me a live feed of my speed, distance, calories burned, and total pedaling time! It’s extremely motivating to see that little thing staring me in the face, urging me to pedal some more. But I’ll get to that in detail later.

IMG_5429Once I got it all set up and under my desk, it took about 15 minutes to adjust the height of my chair and distance I needed to sit away from it in order to not bash my knees into the underside of my desk with every rotation, but luckily I’m a fast learner.

After a handful of co-workers all wandered by to take their turn trying it out (I had 4 coworkers who practically threw their credit cards at me to order their own once they tried it out), I settled in after lunch for some actual WORK, adjusted the handy little tension knob right between my feet to a level of 2 to start, and pedaled away.

It was virtually silent – the number one question I received on IG when I first posted about it – so unless you work in a library or office where you can literally hear a mouse fart, you don’t need to worry about annoying anyone. The only related noise I’ve heard in a week of using it is my chair squeaking as I pedal, but that’s my chair and not the bike!

I soon fell into a super focused zone as I compiled stats and did my day job work, and about 10-15 minutes into my ride, I found myself really sweating!! Usually I’m the one huddling up in a thick cardigan and complaining about how cold I am, but just a few miles on this thing and I was burning up! It happened so quickly that I had a brief moment of confusion before I realized that yes, I’d been biking, and… holy crap I did like 3 miles already! That was when I was hooked. Throughout the rest of the day, I’d pedal some more, step away from my desk to take care of something, come back and start up again. Before I knew it, 5pm rolled around, my legs were jelly, and I had completed more than 10.1 miles in 47 minutes!

IMG_5441That was all it took to hook me – now it was a game. I HAD to beat my mileage the next day! So Tuesday rolled around and I started my biking even earlier. I cranked up the tension to 3 this time, and felt the difference immediately. It also made me experience some “drifting” for the first few minutes too, which was a little annoying. I would pedal harder, only to push myself away from my desk and the bike, then have to wheel myself in again.

The folks at DeskCycle already had me covered though, because the bike comes complete with this neat little velcro Tether Strap that you can loop around your chair base and the front stand of the bike. Once you get it hooked around nice and tight, you magically stay put with no effort at all! Once I took care of that, I was able to crank out 15.5 miles throughout the day, with a total of 55 active minutes and 572 calories burned! I again sweat through my shirt after a few particularly strenuous bursts of cycling while filing emails, and while I’m not 100% sure how accurate the calorie counter is, 15.5 miles is nothing to sneeze at! Even if I burned 1/2 of those calories, that’s still something!

IMG_5452The competition with myself became fierce – my legs were super tired at the end of every day, but it was a great feeling getting this hard work in when I was sitting at my desk. I’m usually bushed by the end of the day, and pushing myself for a ride or run after a full day is sometimes a struggle. But with this fun little device, I was getting a good hour’s worth of workouts done each day while also working!

Wednesday I clocked a total of 17.1 miles in just over 59 minutes, and Thursday I managed to get in 18.2 miles in 66 minutes! It became a game – my coworkers would see me sweating as we held impromptu meetings around our desks and I pedaled away, and every few hours someone would yell out “How many miles are you at now?” and no matter what the number, their responses were always something like “I have got to get one of those!”

IMG_5516Friday was the final day of my self-imposed challenge, and I managed to clock a total of 18.5 miles, beating Thursday’s mileage by a hair. It’s true that 2.5 of those miles were running in the morning because I hadn’t run in days! But the 16 miles I biked throughout the day were still 16 miles, and I was amazed at the numbers I racked up over just one week’s use:

  • Total Miles Biked: 77 miles
  • Total Active Minutes: 4:44:09
  • Total Calories Burned: 2,828

All told, I was thoroughly impressed by the DeskCycle. I went into this thinking it might be a fun thing that I’d use and get tired of because it was too flimsy or didn’t give me a good idea of what I was doing, but this far exceeded my expectations. I get such a sense of accomplishment seeing those little numbers add up, and the wobbly-leg feeling I get at the end of every day tell me that I’m doing something right! It’s a super high-quality bike that will get your blood pumping while you’re doing every day tasks at your desk or even on the couch at home! My husband is dying to get one, and while I’ve promised him I’ll bring it home for him to try out, I have to admit: I think I’m just keeping this one and getting him one for our anniversary so I don’t have to share!

For more information or to get a DeskCycle of your own, check out their website – and tell them that JessRunsHappy sent you!

Disclosure: DeskCycle provided me a free sample in exchange for my honest review. Receiving product did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

Monday Motivation. On a Tuesday.

Back when I started my fitness journey in 2004, I had a big crush on Joaquin Phoenix. I technically still do, actually. πŸ™‚ And despite the negative reviews and cheesy premise, I really enjoyed the movie The Village and watched it pretty much weekly on DVD. I especially liked Bryce Dallas Howard in the film – she was spunky and fun and… well, she got to kiss Joaquin Phoenix and that was cause enough to be jealous if you asked me!

She stood out for another reason though, too: she wasn’t stick thin. In publicity photos she looked like a normal sized woman, with some hips and curves and freckles and all. And at 270+ lbs, that gave me hope. With hard work, maybe I’d get to “normal woman” status myself. I’d watch the DVD and read every interview she did, and found even more inspiration.

You see, in one interview, Bryce was asked something like “How do you get in character, how do you get the job done?” And she simply replied, “Get out of your own way. Forget about yourself.”

11374500_1396725907323335_330485219_nThat really struck a chord with me. Even though she didn’t mean it in terms of fitness or working out, those simple words really boiled down to the perfect mantra. So I wrote it down on a post-it note and Bryce became my spirit animal. Every time I wanted to quit – when I was too tired from exams or work to drag myself to the gym at 9pm, when I told myself I could skip that day’s workout, I realized that I was the only one standing in my own way. I had to forget about myself and just do it.

So every day I’d get up and see this quote on my mirror and I’d move out of my own way. I moved every day and kept moving. And no matter where I go, that post-it has been on every mirror I’ve owned for the past 11 years.

Today, I challenge you to get out of your own way and get something done – forget about yourself and just do it! Who knows: you might surprise yourself.

Jess Runs Happy is now on Facebook!

Dust off those dancing shoes and put on your party pants: it’s time to celebrate!

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Why?

Because Jess Runs Happy is finally on Facebook!

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That’s right: to spare my non-running friends and family from my endless running posts, I bit the bullet and created a Facebook Page for the blog! It’ll be a fun place to connect with me as well – I’m working on making it an all-in-one resource for everything I’ve got going on as far as blog posts, IG posts, and Twitter are concerned.

So head on over and give it a Like if you’re so inclined – and spread the love, too! I can’t wait to see you there.

The First 10 Minutes of Every Workout

Confession time: the first 10 minutes of every workout I do – running, strength training, cross training, you name it – are sheer hell. I spend the whole time just going through the motions while one long “UUGGGHH” drones on silently in my head. It takes a good 10-15 minutes before I’m feeling the burn, sweating it out, and reaping the benefits of the whole fitness thing.

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This is especially the case when I work out in the mornings. I simply cannot drag myself out of bed, get warmed up and get an efficient workout in less than like 2 hours, and I’m not losing 2+ hours of sleep if I don’t have to, dammit. By the time I get in a groove, I need to start cooling down, showering, and getting ready for my day. First world problems, IΒ  know.

Having said that, I keep trying to fight the system by waking up early for a morning run every now and then. And while these runs are always technical successes in that they are runs that take place in the morning, I can still safely say that I hate morning workouts.

IMG_5303Every time I try to run before work, I only manage to get about a half hour (or 2.5 miles) in before the morning routine has to start, and then I’m exhausted for the rest of the day. Sure, it feels good knowing my workout is done, but the pros don’t really outweigh the cons there.

IMG_5314But of course that sunrise was really something to see, and I would have missed that if I slept in.

I know what my problem is: I need to build it into my schedule just like everything else to make it a habit. Once my body realizes this is the norm with more frequent sessions, it won’t be so bad. But until then, I’ll tough it out and try to enjoy myself.

IMG_5302I also battled the “first 10 minute scourge” this weekend when I did my favorite HIIT workout in the living room Saturday morning.

IMG_5328Back when I first started working out in 2004, I relied heavily on group fitness classes to stay motivated. Looking back, I’m like 90% sure the strict start times and “follow me exactly” routines were the sole reason that I was so successful back then. Working out on your own time, by your own rules, and doing your own made up routine? It’s really hard to stay focused. Especially when you’ve got a nosy cat and a husband watching Bob’s Burgers and laughing in the next room.

IMG_5332I would do one set and get distracted by the mailman or the cat or my own short attention span, but I finally managed toΒ  struggle through the full 40-or so minutes (burpees included)! The humidity outside was a real killer, but I felt nice and accomplished afterwards – even if my legs and glutes were screaming for mercy.

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And that’s the happy, sweaty truth I have to keep reminding myself of: even though the first 10 minutes of every workout suck a pretty big windbag, the last 10 minutes are probably the most rewarding and blissful moments of my day. And SO worth fighting through that wall to get to πŸ™‚

How about you? Do you suffer from the same affliction? How do you conquer the first 10 minutes?

Review: BioSkin Q-Baby Patella Tendon Strap

A few weeks ago, a rep from BioSkin contacted me about writing a review in exchange for some gear and I jumped at the opportunity: I’m always looking for new tools to help build my strength & improve my running. Plus I love sharing info with you guys – it can be hard to weed through the endless stream of running-related products out there and I rely heavily on runner reviews of products before I buy, so now’s my chance to give back with a review of my own!

After offering to send me a pair of compression calf sleeves, I asked the rep if I might be able to try out one of their knee braces instead. I explained that ever since my knee surgery, I’ve dealt with recurring knee injuries; most recently the patellar tendonitis flare up last summer that caused me to drop from the full marathon to the half in October.

The rep was super helpful and offered their Q-Baby Patella Tendon Strap. After my injury last summer I picked up a similar (albeit much cheaper) little tendon strap from the local running store and found it to be immensely helpful. Until it gave me a rash while running and stretched out to the point of being unusable after a week. I had high hopes for this BioSkin brace, and I’ll spoil the surprise for you right now by saying I was not disappointed!

IMG_5348The brace arrived much quicker than expected, along with a handful of snack samples and a fun ladies cut t-shirt too. This made me laugh – in the rep’s initial email, he actually said “I see that you like to take the occasional running selfie, so how about we give you a shirt, too?” I was super impressed – the man had done his homework!

IMG_5345 IMG_5346aThe next morning I decided to test this baby (literally, the Q-Baby – what a cute name for a brace) in some pretty harsh conditions: by 9am it was already 80 degrees and rising, at about 75% humidity. Because the sun was so hot, I opted to run under the shade of Holmdel Park, which worked out great: I was able to really put myself – and the brace! – to the test with hills, uneven trails, and lots of other knee-crushing fun. If it could survive an hour or more of sweat and challenging terrain, it could probably survive anything I’m capable of.

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I was a little intimidated at first by the setup of the brace – it’s comprised of two parts that all velcro together – but the instructions were super easy to follow and I got it right on the first try. The design and quality stood out immediately: because the strap narrows down in the back, you don’t get the itchy discomfort of leftover velcro rubbing on your skin with every step, and the second part of the brace served as reinforcement to the first compressive strap. This means that even if the initial brace with the compressive pad stretched out like my old cheapie brace did (which the Q-Baby did not, more on that later), the second strap that wraps around it will still be there to hold the pad against the tendon and ease your pain.

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After a few hops and laps around the yard without any brace slippage or pain (hooray!), I hopped in the car, picked up my running buddy, Kevin, and we headed to the trails. Once we warmed up and started to pick up the pace, the sweat started to drip pretty much everywhere. It was one of those humid days where your legs instantly get a sheen of sweat as soon as you step outside, but that did nothing to move this brace. In the first mile we trekked over rocky hills and a cute little bridge and I absolutely forgot about the brace on my knee. No pain in the patella, no uncomfortable rubbing from the brace, nothing!

IMG_5401At mile one we made a bathroom stop, and that was the only time I adjusted the brace all day. It wasn’t slipping, but I tightened it more for reassurance than anything, because we were ready to attack the next 4 miles with intensity. We’d coast down hills in one mile then double back to see if we could keep pace on the way back up, and breathlessly fought each rolling hill. It was hard work, especially in that heat, but we had a blast!

IMG_5390From the moment we started until the very last steps, my knee felt great. In humidity it tends to act up, but the brace was like a little security blanket that kept it happy and allowed me to really push myself. I was even able to shift my weight and experiment with different ways of tackling the hills, like focusing on using my glutes on one, then using my hamstrings on another. I was able to use my legs in ways that I’d been previously afraid to because of my tendonitis, thanks to this brace!

IMG_5395When we finished our 5 miles in 1:15, I expected the strap to be stretched out and basically unusable (just like my old cheapie brace). But even after more than an hour of bending, sweating, and running, I was shocked to find that with the exception of some streaks of sunblock, it’s still in perfect shape and ready to rock again. I can’t wait to take it out on another run and see what else I’m capable of!

Have you tried BioSkin before? Are you digging any other compression/braces to ease your aching joints? Share your opinions in the comments!

Disclosure: BioSkin provided me a free sample in exchange for my honest review. Receiving product did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

My New Favorite Go-To Snacks

As if you couldn’t tell by my Instagram pics, Tweets, and the variety of posts I’ve written on the subject: I freakin’ love food.

But now that the weather is getting warmer and I’m forced to shed my winter running layers to exercise outdoors comfortably, those extra few pounds wobbling around my middle have got to go. To get rid of them though, I’ve got to fight my number one problem: night-time snacking.

spI swear there’s like a magnet in my body that draws me into the kitchen every night. And no matter how healthfully I’ve eaten all day, I sabotage myself by binging on whatever junk food we have lying around the house. My mind tricks me into thinking I’m hungry, but I don’t crave things that would actually satisfy that hunger like a banana or roasted chickpeas. No, I’d rather go for the Pirate Booty or the Chewy Chips Ahoy.

Frankly, it’s a problem I’ve battled on and off for years, and I’m slowly getting better. But while I don’t always win the battle, I’ve learned a few things about my body that I’ve turned into ammunition against the nighttime snack attack:

1. Eating sugar makes me crave more sugar. Other people may be different but this is 100% the case for me. As soon as I finish a Hershey’s Kiss, I want another one. And another and another until I wake up from a chocolate-induced coma, covered in little foil wrappers with a sugar crash headache. Not pretty. To fight the sugar-begets-sugar Monster, I rely on some not-so-sugary treats that feel like real indulgences. Lately, this means stocking up on my newest favorite Chobani Flip flavor: Chocolate Haze Craze.

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The Greek yogurt has extra protein to fill me up, and the chocolate chips/hazelnuts that you stir into it tastes seriously so much like Nutella you may find yourself licking the container (not like that’s ever happened to me…) It’s the perfect “dinner is over, this is my dessert” signal to my brain, and not SO sweet that I find myself craving more chocolate after I’m done.

2. I need to snack a little more throughout the day to stay satisfied. This means bringing more healthy choices in to the office with me, which means I need to do some prep work ahead of time. To make it easier on myself, I’ve been digging Wasa crisps – delicious, crunchy little flatbreads – with some good old Laughing Cow cheese.

cheeseBesides the yummy crispy/creamy combo, I think the fact that I’m adding stuff together to make a snack kind of tricks my stomach into thinking it’s getting a meal, which helps!

3. My tastesbuds equate super-flavor = super-satisfying, so I’ve branched out and experimented with flavors that I’m not really used to. For years I’ve shunned spicy things because I felt like it dulled my tastebuds and burned too much, but my Naturebox delivery this month included a bag of Jalapeno Cashews that I chomped RIGHT through in a week or two. Who knew?! I also love me some Blue Diamond Salt & Vinegar Almonds.

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I make it a point to always have a jar of these bad boys around: in the office, at home, hell, even in the car! See that little “Intense Taste!” sign on the package? It’s not kidding! After savoring a small handful one at a time, my mouth is coated in that familiar boardwalk-fries flavor and the craving to eat all the things has subsided thanks to the extra protein in the almonds. That’s a win-win to me!

So now that I’ve shared my favorite snacks, it’s time to share yours! Tell me: what are you snacking on? How do you fight the hungry monster?

And the Giveaway Winner is…

Drumroll, please….

Congratulations to Tina Garstad! You’re the winner of my SkirtSports 13er Giveaway, and you’re going to be running the Skirt Sports 13er for free! I just sent you an email with details, so go read up and get ready to show everyone how #REALWomenMove!

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I want to give a big THANK YOU to everyone who participated in this giveaway. It was so exciting to “meet” all of you through this awesome opportunity, and if you stumbled on this little blog because of the contest I hope you’ll stick around for the ride even though the contest is over!

Lastly – if you didn’t win this giveaway, don’t worry: there are a LOT of exciting things on the horizon here at Jess Runs Happy, (including more giveaways) that I can’t wait to share with you. So stay tuned, spread the word, and have a great day!

Martinis, Flowers, & Ron Burgundy: My Week in Pictures

Instead of boring you with a wordy post about my week in running and fitness fun, let’s review the week in pictures! On a really gorgeous Saturday last week, I ran 5 miles in a Skirt Sports skirt (the Happy Girl):

IMG_5044I even figured out how to use the timer on my phone, too!

IMG_5064It was a perfect running day: warm but not too hot, gentle breeze – I wish every day could be like that!

IMG_5047Later in the week I continued my daily strength training (no pics for that, sorry – it’s kind of weird being the girl taking selfies with your coworkers in your office gym). But I also did some non-gym healthy things, like eat some big-ass strawberries every day for dessert:

IMG_5110I also went upside down and continued my Runners Yoga program.

IMG_5113And because life is all about balance, I had an amazing hibiscus martini at the Cheesecake Factory for date night:

IMG_5125Saturday I met up with some friends – one is training for her first 5K in the fall! – and the other brought his pup, Pepper, to keep us company.

IMG_5153Isn’t she the cutest running partner ever?! Although the weather was something out of a Stephen King novel: light drizzle, whipping wind, and the temps fought to break 50 degrees.

IMG_5155After we parted ways at 3.5 miles, I went out for a full-on sprint mile alone to feel the burn without music, which is a new thing for me. It was oddly calming to focus only on my feet hitting the pavement and the crashing waves right next to me.

IMG_5167And of course I had to get a timer shot to show off my new leopard-print capris (!!!). When I got home I discovered that our neighbor’s tree threw up pink flowers all over the place, but it’s OK – it makes some pretty pictures:

IMG_5182 Sunday I had Mike drive me 5 miles away at around 8:30, and the weather was brutal. It started off at 80% humidity (UGH) and about 75 degrees. I only brought a tiny water bottle with me and blew through it by mile 2.5, but now I know: always wear the water backpack! Once I got going, the sun came out and it turned into an absolutely gorgeous (albeit HOT) day.

IMG_5200I made it 5 miles to my parent’s house where I called Mike for a ride home. Bless his heart for being my running chauffeur – that sun was cranking up the temps to 80+! Which meant it was not a good day for capri’s. Oh well – live and learn!

IMG_5211The rest of the day was super busy: we split up Mother’s Day by taking his mama out to her favorite Chinese buffet (OHH the delicious carb-filled goodness!) at noon, and later I took my mom out for a jaunt around the Keyport waterfront flea market (after nixing our plans for a Long Branch trip due to the heat), then we got salads and BS’d for an hour at her favorite diner. It was one of those perfect days where everything flows so nicely, but I was most certainly ready for bed before the sun went down!

Which brings us to Monday, when this little cutie became my spirit animal:

oopsSee, what had happened was…. I spotted a Mother’s Day coupon code for the AC Half Marathon in October and couldn’t pass up a great deal! The prices are only going to get higher, and after looking at the courses and start times of a handful of other races that month, I finally decided to pull the trigger.

acI just had to. This is the course where I tore my ACL, returned to set my current half PR, and where I’m sure I’ll set a new one. There’ll always be a special place in my heart for this race. Also: my mom is a penny slot queen and manages to score us a free room the night before the race, meaning all I have to do on race day is simply roll out of bed, make my in-room coffee, and saunter down to the starting line literally steps from the door. If you ask me, that beats waking up at 3:30AM for a 6:45AM start in NYC or PA any day.

yaasssBut it’s also kind of funny, because I went from saying I enjoyed my empty race calendar to booking two pretty major events within like 4 days.

Boy-That-Escalated-Quickly-AnchormanAnd that’s my week in pictures! How’s your week been?