So Many Miles

I started to write a recap of the past 3 weeks of training and realized that “I ran, I biked, I ran, I lifted, I ran, I ate” would get pretty boring pretty fast. Let’s just sum it all up by saying that I ran SO MANY MILES and I’m super ready for this weekend’s race. Good?

If you want the long version, here are some highlights via lessons I’ve learned in the past few weeks of training – and a peek at my goals for this weekend’s race!


My shorter runs keep getting faster and faster – and I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop! It sounds strange, but even though I’m nailing 4-5 miles 2x a week at 11:30/mile or less (even 10:xx’s!), I still expect to see my pace suddenly drop back down to 13:30’s, like this is some freak random spurt of speed that I’ll lose after eating one too many Trader Joe’s mini peanut butter cups.


But I suppose the extra strength training, lower weight, and cross training are all working together and paying off just like they say they should!

Even when I twisted my knee a week or so ago (while making coffee, go freakin figure), I managed to baby it on my off day, bike a LOT to keep it moving on cross training day, and still pulled a great long run out of thin air that weekend.

Speaking of long runs, I’ve done more long runs (8+ miles) this training cycle than ever before, and it’s showing. With runs no shorter than 8 miles every weekend for the past 8 weekends (except for 2 races), and 4 solid double-digit runs including a 12 miler last weekend, I’m feeling as strong as I’ve ever felt the week before a race. Hungry, tired, mildly anxious, but strong. I managed to keep my paces under 12:00/mile for all single digit runs, and most of my double digits – this weekend during my 12 miler I treated the run like race day and didn’t stop my watch for water or fuel, just to get a more accurate idea of my finish time. And I was still pretty psyched at what I found:


My goal for the NJ Half Marathon this weekend is to run at least a 2:49:59. At the pace above, I’d finish in 2:43. I definitely pushed HARD in the last training mile to run it at about 11:30 – too hard to keep up for another 1.1 miles – but knowing that, I’m confident I’ll be able to maintain that 12-12:15 pace for another mile come race day and still rip out that strong finish. I only hope my body (and the weather) cooperates!


And on a fun semi-related side note: I was so honored to spend all day last Monday in NYC on a photo shoot for Brooks Running’s international social media campaigns! It was a true once in a lifetime experience – along with a team of other runners, we ran (and walked) almost 8 miles between Manhattan and Brooklyn and had a blast the whole time. I can’t even describe what it was like at the first set up between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, running along the water with the sun coming up and sparkling off the waves and the city bustling around us… so many times we looked at each other in disbelief and asked ourselves, “How cool is this??” I can’t wait to see how the pictures turn out and will definitely keep you guys posted as I get more info on when/where they’ll be showing up 🙂

That’s about it for me – How have things been by you guys? How’s your training going?

Race Recap: Oakley Mini 10K

It’s official: the 10K is my new favorite distance! The Oakley Mini 10K was probably one of the strongest races I’ve ever run, and my running/training confidence is through the roof right now. Let’s see how it went down:

IMG_6276On Saturday morning I met my cousin at the train station for the 5:37am train but my usual pre-race jitters were nowhere to be found: this was “just” a 10K (I’m super comfortable with that distance) and we had already tested out our travel plans a few days before so we knew exactly where to go to get to the starting line on time. It was pure fun!

IMG_6277We got off the subway at Columbus Circle and practically walked right into our corral, so to kill the next hour before the start we wandered around and took pictures pretty much everywhere we could. When the volunteers warned us about the impending start time, I kissed Mike goodbye and we smushed into our corral with the rest of the “brown bibs” (copyright 2015, Jess Runs Happy).

IMG_6287By 8am, the temps were already in the high 70’s and the humidity was around 60%. I was comfortable in the shade, but when the sun poked through the trees, it was hot. But once the horn went off, everything fell into place and I took off on my very first timed 10K!

As we fought our way up the street, I got caught up in the excitement and went out too fast at around 10:40/mile. Once I noticed and slowed down, the first mile clocked by easily in 11:15. I was feeling great: my Bioskin patella strap gave my knee the support it needed and the shade of the trees and tall buildings kept me nice and comfortable. I lost my cousin at the first water stop – I was carrying a full disposable water bottle with me and hadn’t even touched it – so I kept on running for the second mile and into the park, where the fun really started.

The spectators and volunteers lining the course made a huge difference – it’s hard not to feel energized when there’s a bunch of shirtless November Project dudes in tutus hanging off the streetlight poles banging cowbells for you! As the miles ticked by through 4.5, I was pleased with my effort. I took walk breaks halfway up each hill to keep from burning out – I knew these would affect my time but I was more interested in having fun at this race than setting an unbelievable PR, especially with the heat and hills.

IMG_6293Mile 5 selfie!

This is where I passed one or two women laid out on the grass with medics elevating their feet and icing them down – the heat was really no joke! But when I glanced down to see that I’d been running for just over an hour, I was shocked at how good I still felt. To stay on track I took some gummy bears on a walk break, filled up my water bottle at the mile 5 water stop, and decided to push for the final 1.2 miles to see what I was capable of.

I knew I wasn’t going to PR – my best 10K time on a treadmill is around 1:12, and I was already at around 1:07 with an average pace hovering around 12:45 with the walk breaks. But I told myself to make the effort to finish with an average pace under 12:30, and it turned out to be a real challenge! Once I spotted the 800 meters sign, I resisted the urge to take off so that I could finish strong: I bolted at the 800 meters sign in the NYC Half, only to fizzle briefly at 400 meters, so I learned my lesson.

Soon the 400 meters sign was in sight and that’s when I gunned it past about a dozen or so women, smiling the whole way. The crowds lining the course were unbelievably happy and loud, so I gave it everything I had for a super strong finish – and crossed the line with an average pace of 12:29!

IMG_6309I smiled the whole way through the finisher’s chute, got my medal and my flower, downed a cup of Gatorade and a cup of water, then snapped a victory selfie to remember that moment.

IMG_6302Happy runner!

Once I found Mike and my cousin about 10 minutes later, we traded stories (Mike missed my finish because one runner got sick and collapsed as soon as she crossed the finish line about 15 seconds ahead of me!) and posed for some finisher pics.

IMG_6328Then we made our way to the after party, where there were lines pretty much everywhere.

IMG_6351But with a view like that, do lines really matter?!

Soon after that we tired of the crowds and made our way back through the park to Columbus Circle once more, where we snapped a few more pics and made our way home!

IMG_6323My #1 everything 🙂

Like I said before, this race has officially kicked off my love affair with the 10K distance, and I’m already searching for more to do in the next few months! It’s just long enough to be challenging but not so intense that the training cuts into my life and drains me. Plus you get medals at a lot of them, what’s not to love about that?!

IMG_6326Overall this race gets a solid A and I can’t wait for next year!

Running Stairs & Summer in the City

Happy Friday everyone! I don’t know how it is by you, but here in NJ we are a few days into a heatwave, but I am NOT complaining after the brutally cold, snowy winter we had!

On Wednesday night I took my last run before the Oakley Mini 10K this weekend, and while it was about 80+ degrees in the shade even at 8PM, I still had a great time. I decided to take my run over to my old neighborhood and elementary school, where I haven’t run in years.

IMG_6187Running up and down the streets I used to ride my bike on as a middle-schooler made for a nice little nostalgic trip. I managed 4 slow miles before the sunset and I had to go back home for dinner – which was pretty much how my evenings would end when I lived there too!


I also added some stair running into my workout too. I discovered a whole new housing development in my old hood that I found by taking this series of 3-4 steep staircases they built into the woods behind the school:

IMG_6178Like I said: steep.

After a few flights and a whole bottle of G2, I called it quits – my legs were starting to go rubbery and I didn’t want to risk twisting my already achy knees (thanks, humidity!). But afterwards I felt those hills in places I forgot I had, so that’s got to be a good thing!

Then yesterday my cousin and I went into NYC to pick up our bibs at the New York Road Runners Headquarters, and let me tell you: it was a scorcher!  At 97 degrees and full sun, what was supposed to be a fun stroll through the city turned into a race to beat the heat.


We hopped on the local train to get into Penn Station and spared ourselves the heat by jumping on the C train to W86th.

IMG_6204It wouldn’t be an adventure without me making an ass of myself on a subway platform.

The subway spit us out right at the entrance to the Reservoir Running Track, which ran straight across to the East side of the park (where we needed to go). We were blown away at its beauty  – after walking/running through the park so many times, neither of us had ever seen this path and vowed to come back when we weren’t, you know, melting. There was even a fun prancerciser galloping along the track to keep us entertained!

IMG_6212After we made it through the park we just had to walk 3 blocks north, which is much easier said than done when it’s almost 100 degrees out. Once we hit the sidewalk we promptly burst into flames. OK not really, but you know what I mean.

One saving grace of these three blocks were the countless sidewalk chalk drawings done by the local kids – one piece really spoke to me, I’m not sure why…


At 89th we crossed the street and I snapped this pic of the iconic Fred Lebow street sign:

IMG_6216And then we finally arrived at the NYRR Headquarters, which was blissfully air conditioned and full of smiling runner-friendly faces.

IMG_6222and inspirational wall art, too!

Seriously, if you live in the tri-state area and you haven’t experienced a NYRR race, register for one right now. They are the most well-organized, friendly, inclusive, and enthusiastic running club I’ve ever seen, and everything about their races is second to none. The aid stations are perfectly organized and always stocked well, the people that both work for and volunteer with them are always kind and helpful, and you will simply not experience anything like it at a race in your life. OK, love letter to NYRR over.

IMG_6225Brown Corral runners unite!

Once we picked up our bibs and tanks and chatted with some Oakley ladies (I am obsessed with their Feedback aviators and my birthday is coming up and I prefer them in rose gold, kthnxbai), we made our way back to the train station in the ridiculous heat. Thank god my cousin brought grapes for us to snack on or they would have found us in the park sometime next week, all shriveled and delirious from dehydration, babbling about sunglasses and prancercisers.

At Penn Station, we picked up some Auntie Anne’s cinnamon pretzels and peach lemonade (not pictured because I devoured them both almost instantly), and our Manhattan adventure was over! Honestly I’m looking forward to a fun race tomorrow – even though I know it’s going to be warm so I’m hydrating like crazy today and hope to get lots of sleep before my 4AM wake up call.

Who else is racing this weekend? How do you deal with the heat? Whatever your plans, have a great weekend!