Springtime Update!

Oye. I can’t apologize enough for the break in blogging I’ve taken recently – I have good reason though! Work has been gearing up in anticipation of a big product launch and a lot of events that I’m managing, and I also came down with a nasty stomach bug that knocked me out for pretty much the last 4 days. BUT – I have been running, and happy, and all the things that you keep coming here to read about, so let’s recap the past two weeks with a LOT of pictures!

After my hooky day in the city, I had a pretty OK long run that weekend. It was definitely not the great 10 miler I had the week before, but I know exactly why that was the case: I had no water. 
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The time on the watch up there is a lie, because I stopped the watch each time I took a break to heave for breath and work the paste out of my mouth, which was about 4 times after mile 5, when I ran out of agua and the temps soared past 65.

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But, the weather was nice and I was able to finally wear my new Skirt Sports Happy Girl skirt in Psyched – a print that while sufficiently loud for my tastes, matches nearly everything I own!

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Want some Skirt gear of your own? Use code JRH20 at the new SkirtSports.com and get 20% off your order!

After that learning experience, I took on the next week of training with a little less intensity than I wanted. My first run of the week was banging, thanks to Mr. Kenny Loggins here (any Archer fans out there get why I was so stoked when this was the first song of my run??)
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But after that I did some biking on Wednesday to cross train, and Thursday was lost due to it being St. Patrick’s Day. I DO celebrate other high holy days aside from Christmas, you know.

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So does Sammy “I’ll Allow This” Gamgee

I also was super stoked to get my shipment from Swanson Health Products:

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Full disclosure – these folks reached out to offer me a gift card to order whatever I wanted in exchange for a shout out here, but after one order I can honestly say they’re freakin’ awesome!

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This chocolate bar I ordered from them: EVEN MORE awesome.

I’d never heard of them before, but once I took a look at their website I was sold. They’ve got everything you could possibly want: vitamins, snacks, cooking stuff, juices, you name it they’ve got it. And the prices are really more affordable than I expected too. I’m a big fan of the brown rice pasta pictured up there, and of course that amazing chocolate bar (the wrapper of which I had to fish out of the garbage for a picture because I ate it so fast). The Tart Cherry vitamins were also a great find – I’ve been meaning to try them out and thanks to their deal of the day I was able to get two bottles for the price of one! Give them a visit and let them know I sent you 😉

That weekend – yes, after skipping my second run of the week, bad runner – I took on 9 miles. And it was not very good.

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This is another case where the numbers lie – I carried a bottle of water with me and managed to get my hydration situation under control, but the last 4 miles were allll aboard the struggle bus thanks to skipping my second run. I just felt out of shape. You know what I mean. I managed to push through a much slower second half than first half while having flashbacks of horrible race experiences where I burned out too early and vowed to take on the next week with renewed intensity – but not after a pretty awesome weekend filled with hockey, BB-8, and Starbucks (Cherry Blossom Frappuccino, I love you)!

My first run that week was better – my usual 4 miles at a bit slower than I wanted, but still solid pacing. I swam on Wednesday for the first time in a while and remembered just how awesome swimming really is (thanks for coming with me, Kevin!), and then took on another 3 miles on Friday to break in my new Brooks Transcend 3’s.

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Saturday night I went out to a bachelorette party at Pinot’s Palette, where you can bring wine and snacks and paint a masterpiece – which was a stinkin blast!

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I did take it easy on the wine and snacks though, because I had a long run early the next morning before Easter festivities:

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And while the pacing on this looks slower compared to other long runs, I’m actually extremely proud of myself: the first 5 miles were excruciatingly slow thanks to a 2 am bedtime, and yes, SOME wine, at a total of 1:02. I told myself those whole 5 miles as I saw my pace hover around 12:15 that this run was about endurance, not pace. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. But after my gel at mile 5.5? I ran those last 5 miles in 56 minutes, baby! My final mile was even in the 10’s, I almost screamed. It was TOUGH, and took a lot of focus especially in that final mile or two when I just wanted to walk, but I did it and proved to myself that I could come back from a sucky start.

I vowed to look at training not as *just* training but as a way to build my confidence in long distances, and with each long run this cycle I’m learning something new and loving it. Nevermind the fact that I woke up late Sunday/early Monday with the stomach flu to end all stomach flu’s. Seriously, I was curled up on the bathroom floor at one point, crying and begging Jesus to take my pain away. He must have been super surprised to hear from me then, of all times.

BUT the plus side – if there is one – is the 4 days I had to take off to recover gave me time to heal from blisters, calf pain, and general soreness. I’m ready to rock a few miles tonight as a shakeout before Saturday’s 11K down in Atlantic City for the April Fool’s Race Series for sure! This race is about fun – coming off a bad illness like this I know I lost a lot of strength (I broke a sweat taking the stairs at work today), so I’m not going to push myself. It’s not worth it with my goal race coming up in May.

So that about does it for me, kids! How’s your training going? Tell me all about it in the comments!

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Playing Hooky

Last week was one of those weeks that had me screaming for mercy by Tuesday.

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Seriously, my run Tuesday night wasn’t about training; it was running off the crazy. Thank god my Spring Moves app gave me a nice boost by randomly playing a Pumpkins song at the start. I’m really digging this app – not only is it music I like, it’s also timed to match the pace of my running (even angry running like this)! Check it out for free for a month by texting JESSRUNSHAPPY to 41411 🙂

So long story short, I ended up doing some unexpected speedwork: I burned out with a super-angry 9:50 first mile and fizzled out with a killer headache by the 5K mark. But thanks to the angry mile, that final pace? #killinit! After that, Wednesday turned out to be a beautiful new day. No, for real: it was like 75 degrees out.

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Actual footage of me on Wednesday.

When I learned that Thursday would be more of the same, I focused REALLY hard on Wednesday to take care of everything at work, and played hooky Thursday! Well not really – I had some family stuff I needed to take care of in the morning anyway. So I asked my boss, checked with my coworkers to not leave anyone in the lurch, and submitted the day off to HR, and I was OFF. Destination: Manhattan!

I had been itching to run in Central Park on my own since I started racing there last year, but I honestly didn’t think I had it in me. How was I going to carry all my stuff with me? What if I got too hot or too cold? Where would I run?

I finally realized that the only thing keeping me from this adventure was ME. So I took care of my business Thursday morning, loaded up my running pack with a clean change of clothes, ran the mile from our house to the train station, and got into Manhattan around noon. My goal was to do 4 miles around the park loosely following the path I’d run in recent races, so after a quick subway ride to 81st street I got out at the museum and took off across Central Park to the East side where I found my landmark: 1040 Fifth Avenue.

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When I see those terraces I just feel peace. Don’t know why, but I’ll take it.

It was a beautiful day: a little warm and muggy at 70-ish degrees, but overcast so not too hot. There were tons of people everywhere, laying on blankets in the grass, running, biking, taking pictures, juggling, singing, so it felt like a party everywhere I went. I even ran through a CBS shoot of Limitless, so keep an eye out on future episodes for me wandering through the shot in my little blue backpack.

I stayed more or less on the main path but went off on little side paths that seemed interesting, like up on the Reservoir Running path, or around the statue of the King of Poland on horseback. Rocking along to my music and taking in the sights – this is what running is all about. Going into the city was easy, I thought, why didn’t I do this sooner??

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After about 40 minutes or so I’d hit 3 miles (with all the stopping for pics and what not), and my knees were screaming. A quick check of my health app showed that I’d done more than 8 miles already with all the extra walking – no wonder I was tired! I also hadn’t eaten or drank anything, so I stopped at a little pretzel cart for water, took a gel, and decided to call my run at 3 miles.

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Well, my body had other plans. Once I got out of the park and saw the straight shot of Central Park West ahead of me, I thought, “Let’s try for 3.5.” Within minutes, 3.5 miles turned into almost 4, and I was COASTING at an even faster pace with nothing in my way to stop me. Turns out that little fueling stop was just what I needed, because I finally made it back downtown to Columbus Circle at 4 miles UNDER 11:00/mile!

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I was so psyched! The last mile just blinked by, and that pace? As I hobbled down the subway steps at 59th street to get back to Penn Station, while my knees were killing me, I still felt invincible.

After inhaling a turkey sandwich and picking up a brownie to split with the Mister later that night, I smiled to myself the whole train ride home. It just goes to show; sometimes you need to switch things up and go for it, even if “it” seems impossible. I’ve learned the anxiety I feel about something is almost always scarier and more paralyzing than the actual thing itself, whether it’s a big race or a solo adventure in Manhattan. Once I’m in the thick of things I almost always say to myself, “THIS is what you were afraid of?”

How about you – have you gone out of your comfort zone lately? What happened? Tell me all about it!

Best. Weekend. EVER.

After a solid week of training last week, I took my rest day Friday pretty seriously:

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And drank WAY too much Merlot with some of my favorite ladies in the world. I regret NOTHING.

Once I washed the chlorine out of my hair on Saturday, I aimed for “active recovery” which meant movement but nothing too strenuous: perfect for a day wandering around NYC with hubby!

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This was a selfishly-planned trip on my part: we went in to see the Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit in Times Square, which I’d been silently fangirling over it since I clicked “Buy Tickets” earlier in the week.

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Me, since last Monday.

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If I was this excited over cardboard, you did NOT want to see me when I rounded a corner and came face to face with the real Chewy.

And BOY was I not disappointed:

GUYS I MET YODA. THE REAL YODA.

Okay. I’m better.

NO WAIT I’M NOT, I ALSO SELFIED WITH BB8:

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I may also be crying just a little bit in this picture.

Alright, I’m all good now.

After a few hours wandering around and snapping pictures, I had my fill of riding the emotional rollercoaster of seeing Carbonite Han, Amidala’s crazy get ups, Rey’s scavenger gear, and all the rest of it. To ease back into reality, we went for a nice early dinner at a British pub, complete with a Shirley Temple because I’m a big girl and I can order my own big girl drinks.

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Once we finished dinner we did a little shopping (and I may or may not have dragged Mike into the Disney store where I purchased Star Wars gear, #sorrynotsorry) and we made it back to Penn Station just in time for the 6PM train. I was a little worried that I’d burnt out my legs before the 9 miles I had scheduled for Sunday, but evidently those worries were all for nothing.

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Spoiler Alert: I nailed my best 10 mile run EVER.

I set out down in Asbury and ran right into Jenny who was just about to finish her 8 miles (what up, girl!!). I struggled through the first mile because I had overdressed: I had to peel off my extra arm warmers after half a mile and ran them back to my car so I didn’t have to hold them for 2 hours. It was kind of a mess.

But even with the stutter start I kept an eye on my pace and managed to stay under 12:00/mile the whole first half. I told myself I’d spin around at mile 5, around Spring Lake. It was nice to charge down the boards at a decent pace like that, and once I fell into a rhythm by mile 3 I felt pretty unstoppable. The St. Patty’s Day parade was happening in Belmar so it was fun seeing all the folks (and pups!) in their green gear – I even spied a few bagpipers!

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And the seashell mantras are back again too, hooray! Love spotting these random beauties along the route.

I was particularly impressed with my consistent pacing: between 11:20-11:55 basically the whole time! My only stop was at Mile 5 when I took my gel and finished the last of my water. I paused my watch and gave myself one full minute to stretch, but when I started up again I was hit directly in the face with a wall of freezing wind. GREAT, I thought, there goes my pace!

My too-warm (now super sweaty) shirt was COLD. For a half mile or so I thought I might be ruined, but after glancing at my pace and seeing a pretty effortless 11:55, I changed my mind. By Mile 6 I had warmed back up, the wind calmed, and my pace was still around 11:45. At Mile 7 I took inventory: everything felt surprisingly great, despite having run 7 miles at one of my best paces yet! Suddenly I thought: wouldn’t it be great to do 10 miles? I know the schedule says 9, but imagine the ego boost you’d get nailing a double digit run so early in your training! Let’s see how we feel at mile 8.

Well, as you can see by the Garmin shot up there I stuck it out for 10, and ended up NAILING my first double digit training run since October. My legs were ready to call it quits at around Mile 9, but I wasn’t experiencing the real pain and tightness in my hips, knees, and calves that I’d felt in previous training runs. So I pushed through that final mile on pure adrenaline really, and celebrated with some “boardwalk running” pics.

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It was so great – I stretched a little on the boardwalk and practically floated back to the car (well, hobbled, but you get the idea), then headed home for a quick lunch before heading over to a friend’s to meet her new baby and spend some quality time with her family.

By the time I got home at 7pm, I was ready for BED in a big way. This was one of my busiest but most fulfilling weekends yet, but I loved every second of it. How about you – how did your weekend go? Tell me all about it!

Friday Favorites: Too Much Coffee Edition

I know what you’re thinking: three posts in one week? Who is this chick and what did she do with the old, lazy blogger Jess? Well, let’s just say I’ve had too much coffee and not enough breakfast this morning, so my new-found abundance of energy means you get a bonus post this week. So because I haven’t done one in a while, let’s check out some Friday Favorites: Too Much Coffee Edition!

House of Cards

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Never before has a TV show (or movie, for that matter) made me DESPISE characters so much, yet compelled me to keep watching like House of Cards. There were even times after certain events involving Corey Stoll’s character and poor Rachel, where I had to take a break from watching for a few weeks because I was so gutted. I hated these people for what they did, and couldn’t imagine ever caring enough about them to watch the show again. Yet, like a moth to a flame I kept coming back. Hate watching? Maybe. All I know is that Season 4 is officially out as of this morning and I’m REALLY looking forward to binging as much as I can this weekend.

Star Wars on Blu Ray

Guys. You guys. Linda, honey, just listen. I know I’m a geek for loving on Star Wars, but I don’t CARE anymore. At first I tried to play it off: no, I’ve had this Death Star blueprint shirt for a while, just never wore it. Yeah, I figured I’d get a Kylo Ren blanket cause the cats really like that soft smushy material and it was on sale.

Rey practicing the snow fight? Adam Driver interviews? A BB-8 puppet in action?? KYLO REN ON THE FALCON, YOU GUYS?! I have no more chill.

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See what I did there?

I can no longer hide it. When they announced the home video release date of the Force Awakens yesterday along with the DVD trailer up there, all hope for a normal future was lost. I’ve officially blocked off my calendar from April 1-15 for an extended two-week geek out while I watch all the deleted scenes, making-of documentaries, and memorize every single scene. I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it. I’m about to binge-watch Star Wars til my eyes bleed and I think I like it.

Coloring

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They had me at “anti-stress”.

Back in college my parents would send me little care packages every few months. One time my mom decided to throw in a dollar store coloring book and a pack of crayons as a joke “for stress relief”. Well, I colored the HELL out of that thing. And I even mailed home a few pages for them to put on the fridge, because I evidently never emotionally matured past the age of 9.

I like to think that my mom was the firestarter of the adult coloring book trend (not to be confused with adult coloring books, ya perv). They’re billed as stress release, anti-tension, mind calming things, and I’m here to tell you: it’s true. All of it. (see what I did there again? GOD I’m on a roll!)

Every few nights I take out my pencils and one of my coloring books (yes I have 3), pick a page and get lost. Bonus: I’ve been trying to get better about how much time I spend on my phone in the evenings, and this is a major aid there. Plus my hands are too busy coloring to snack too! Extra bonus!

I’ll color you a page and post it here for you to hang on your fridge if you want. You know. For decoration.

That’s about it for my Friday Favorites – I’ve had a good 24 oz. of water while typing and the caffeine is starting to wear off. So now it’s your turn: Have you ever gotten emotionally involved with a TV show? What do you secretly geek out over (and if it’s Star Wars, can we be best friends)? Want to color with me?? Bring your own pencils and we’ve got a date.

Gimme a Beat

I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in NJ, it’s finally staying lighter later and that makes me one happy runner!

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I swear I’m part plant for how much I love the sun.

Tuesday night I decided to make the most of this new brighter evening time and went for a run after work. It was chilly but manageable, but overall, it was a super 4 miles, mainly because I had the right running tunes.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you probably know that music plays a huge part in my life, especially in my running. New music gets me motivated for training runs when I’m burnt out. A perfectly paced song keeps my legs turning over at the right speed and prevents me from slowing down when I’m in the middle of a brutal long run. And at the end of a tough race, I rely on music to send a fresh surge of adrenaline through my veins and carry me over the finish strong. In short: music is my LIFE. So when the folks at Spring Moves shot me an email, I was intrigued.

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Spring Moves is an iOS app that tracks your running cadence by Steps Per Minute, and plays music to match your pace. I was skeptical at first – would it eat up my battery (nope), would I be able to skip songs (yep), would it be crappy music I’d never heard before (nope)? Besides, I’d tried to make my own BPM mixes before and found that the pacing was never consistent enough, and I’d burn out trying to keep pace with music that was too fast. All that skepticism went away after a few runs with Spring, I’m pretty sure I’ve found my magic bullet.

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Not to mention some fancy Spring headphones!

To start, you select as many genres of music and artists you like. To be sure I’d get a good mix, I went crazy and picked metal, alternative, rap, remixes, and electronic. With more than 25,000 songs in their database, I wasn’t disappointed! Since I started using the app I’ve covered about an hour’s worth of music and only skipped a handful of songs. It’s all stuff that I enjoy but wouldn’t have considered running to because I wasn’t sure of the pacing. But once I got going and the beat kept me moving? Look out!

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How can you be disappointed when they play Nirvana?

Over the course of my runs, I heard System of a Down, Ingrid Michaelson, Black Sabbath, Eminem, Gorillaz, and more. The songs were all originals, slightly tweaked to match my footstrikes at around 164 SPM. In turn, the tunes pushed me to keep turning my legs over even when I felt like slowing down going uphill or towards the end of my run. They even left the curse words IN, you guys! I know it’s not for everyone, but I LOVE when they leave the curses in – there’s nothing like hearing Kendrick Lamar really lay into a beat while I’m pushing up a tough hill – but if that isn’t your thing you can eve change the settings to exclude explicit songs.

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And they even cheered me on when I finished!

Because I was so impressed with the app, I signed on to be a Spring Influencer to share the love with you guys. Want to try Spring for free? Text JESSRUNSHAPPY to 41411 and get one free month of workout music tailored to your pace!

The best part is that it’s not just for runners, either – if your arms are moving, Spring will pick up your pace and play tunes to match you. That means you can even Spring when walking. On those days where you don’t really feel like getting out there, this is a great way to start putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where the music takes you.

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And it took ME to an awesome 11:23/mile pace even after a full day of work.

I can’t wait for my run tonight knowing that I get a fresh selection of new tunes to keep me going. Interested in Spring? Get a free trial here (or here if you’re on desktop) and let me know what you think!

 

Coming Along Nicely

Good morning and happy Tuesday, everyone! I’m convinced that this is going to be a great day because I walked into QuickCheck for my weekly coffee treat and found 5 of my new friends staring back at me from the cover of a 3 month old magazine that fell to the back of the magazine rack! I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy at 8AM in my life.

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The past week has been positive, if uneventful, with three more solid training runs in the books and a few days of cross training and strength training to boot. Let’s rewind.

I kicked off NJ Half Marathon Training Week 4 with 4 early morning miles and reminded myself of why I don’t usually run before work: I’m so much slower than I’m used to!

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Because I’m so reluctant to get out of bed any earlier than I have to, my pre-work runs suffer from a lack of prep time. Running in the morning on the weekends is usually my jam, but that’s only because I get a good hour or two to lazily wake up, enjoy my coffee and breakfast, digest, dress, warm up, and hit the pavement. When that alarm goes off at Zero Dark Thirty, it takes everything I’ve got not to drift back off into dreamland, so I’m out the door and on the treadmill roughly 25 minutes after my alarm goes off. Not the best way to get it done, but some Internet memes are based in truth:

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Instead of letting my slower speed get me down, I used it to my advantage and aimed for negative splits, which I nailed! It was the confidence booster I needed to carry me through a cross & strength training day Wednesday, and into more cross training Thursday.

Finally, Friday morning rolled around and I hit the treadmill once more for a quick 3 miles to celebrate National Wear the Gibblers Day and the arrival of Fuller House on Netflix!

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For those of you not hip to the jive (that’s a thing, right?), The Gibblers are the crazy fun multicolored stripey Pro Compression socks that you may have seen on social media before, either on me or any of the other wacky runners in your feeds. Andrea Barber, who plays Kimmy Gibbler, is also an avid runner and Pro Compression fan – and these are her favorite socks.

So as the crazy, supportive, whack-job group of runners we are, it was only natural to create a holiday around our friend’s return to her role in Fuller House; hence, “National Wear the Gibblers Day” was born! I celebrated by laughing (and yes, crying) through the first episode on the treadmill before work, and loved every minute.

Saturday I relaxed a bit before long run Sunday, where I joined my friend Jenny down the shore to run with her as she trains for her first half marathon! It was supposed to be so gorgeous out – the impending spring has given me a ridiculous case of spring fever and I’m convinced it should be 60 degrees every day, but it’s not QUITE the case just yet.

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Those are 7 fingers for Jenny’s 7 miles, not raptor claws. OK maybe they’re raptor claws too.

We took off bright and early (and COLD, that wind was no joke) at Jenny’s pace for the first 3.5 miles. It was so nice to chat and laugh while logging the miles – it really is easier when you share the road with a friend. And we ALSO ran into speedy sis-in-law Mere as she took on her 15 miler, too! We stopped for hugs and a quick hello at around mile 3 (her mile 5), feeling like rockstars for being in the cool kids running club that day!

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Because my training plan called for 8 and Jenny’s called for 7, she turned at mile 3.5 and I kept going for a half a mile or so. Once I broke off on my own and cranked up my music it felt so great to charge down the boards and really breathe in that fresh air. At Mile 4, I spun back around and took off for another 2 miles, and passed Mere again, grabbing a high five and big cheers as she shot past at her Mile 10!

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See what I meant about the WIND??

Finally I caught up with Jenny with one mile to go and we ran it in for a total of 8 and 7 miles at a solid effort. After some chatting and stretching on a boardwalk bench, we went our separate ways, effectively wrapping up Week 4 of training for me!

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How about you: How’s your training going? Are you getting excited for the approaching spring? Did you watch Fuller House? Tell me everything!