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Yesterday I ran the ODDyssey Half Marathon in Philadelphia, PA. I ran dressed as the TARDIS from Doctor Who to participate in their costume contest, yes, my hat is lighting up. I’ll post a review of the race later in the week, but for now I would really really REALLY appreciate if you could click on the picture above to go to Facebook and vote for my costume by hitting the ‘LIKE’ button!

Thanks! :)

2014 Rutgers Unite Half Marathon Recap

It’s been well over a month since I finished half marathons number Two and Three and I still haven’t written about them. I’m not sure why I’m so far behind with number Three, but I’ve been avoiding number Two for good reason.

Number Two was awful to me. Since the Rutgers Unite Half Marathon was only two weeks before the Nike Woman’s Half Marathon, instead of having a nice 8 mile taper run with my Team in Training crew in Maryland, I set out for 13.1 in New Jersey.

I signed up for the Rutgers Half in early October, about a week before my first 10k in Atlantic City. That meant I had two half marathons already lined up, before I even did 6.2 miles? Seems a little crazy, but I’m typically an all or nothing kind of person, if I was going to do this running thing, then I was ALL in. I really wanted to do the Rutgers Half since it would take me on a tour of my alma mater. I was already training for the Princess Half and about to reach my fundraising goal for St. Jude, so I figured, whats another 13.1, especially with no fundraising goal? Signed up, and then completed my Atlantic City 10k.

About a week after the AC10K, I was scrolling through the Instagram #TeamSparkle pictures when I saw an awful lot of sparkle skirt wearing ladies holding blue Tiffany boxes, and many of them sporting purple shirts. It was October 20th, the day of the Nike Woman’s Half Marathon in San Fransico. It looked awesome, I wanted in, a quick google search later and I found that Nike also puts on a race in Washington DC in the spring. How perfect, I’d only have to wait six months and NOT fly across the country. Sign. Me. Up.

I couldn’t find the sign up anywhere, and I had assumed that I missed it. I stumbled onto the Team in Training Page and saw they had spaces available. Another $1800 fundraising goal? I just met my goal with St. Jude, surely I could do it again… And for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, another noble cause. PLUS it would give me a chance to meet other runners in the area. After a year in Maryland, I was still very much lacking in the friendship department, so it couldn’t hurt. I’m in. I signed up without hesitation, and then realized the scheduling mistep I had just made. Two half marathons with only one weekend off in between… Well, I signed up, no backing out now.

Fast forward six months through the COLDEST, SNOWIEST most MISERABLE winter I have ever experienced. I ran outside in snow and ice, even pulled 10 miles out in a downpour. I was one of those CRAZY people on the side of the road being splashed by cars.

The weekend before the Rutgers Half was the Team in Training statewide practice. An 11 mile run around BWI airport. I finshed much faster than I thought I would and had high hopes for an excellent half marathon the following weekend.

My sister was running her first 8k at Rutgers race weekend, that I so kindly signed her up for, without her really agreeing to it. I bought us matching black shirts and red sparkle skirts to get us in the Rutgers spirit. As I was lining up in the starting chute infront of Werblin, I stayed to the side and chatted with my sister. I was starting to get nervous and decided that this race would just be a warm up for the Nike Half. I decided then and there that my only goal was to beat my 2:57:50 finish time from the Princess Half.

I was near the back of the corral by the 11:30 min/mile pacer and glanced around. I saw a guy dressed as a ninja turtle with neon pink knee socks. I leaned in and whispered to my sister “I need to beat that guy there.” I don’t know why, but I made him my mark. On top of beating my last half time, I had to beat that guy. Turtle Guy.

The start went off, and I crossed the starting line about 2 minutes later. We headed towards Silvers apartments where I spent a lot of time hanging out with Matt my Freshman year, and called home my Junior and Senior years. We ran the back road that was always closed when I was in school, for no apparent reason. Past the Busch freshman doors, towards the dining hall, and then off towards Livingston campus. I kept with my three minute run, one minute walk routine. On my walk breaks, Turtle Guy would pass me, and then I would run past him again. I was feeling pretty good, and already three miles in. I had a Strawberry Clif Shot Blok. I was determined to fuel properly for this race and hopefully not lose all my steam like I did at Princess. I had been training with the Shot Bloks and had no problems. A quarter of a mile later my stomach decided it wasn’t having it. Maybe it was the Shot Blok. Maybe it was the 8pm birthday dinner for my Dad we had the night before consisting of steak, aspargus, macaroni salad and my award winning strawberry shortcake roll. Maybe it was the fact that the temperature was suddenly 80 degrees after months of much cooler weather. I don’t know what it was, and at that moment, it didn’t matter. I had to go to the bathroom. A mile ticked by and not a SINGLE port-a-potty. I was starting to panic. I ran off course and tried to get into the Livingston Student Center, but it was before 9am on a Sunday, the doors were LOCKED. Finally at mile 5, I saw some port-a-potties that weren’t even part of the race, they were for some contruction… Didn’t care, took off running a good way off the course to a dirty, toiletpaper-less port a potty. I will spare all details except for the fact that I had ONE tissue in my SPIbelt. At least there was that.

My stomach was pretty beat up. I had lost Turtle Guy and all hope. I was headed back over the hill towards Busch again, and thought about quitting. What was the point? I’d have another shot in two weeks, and I felt awful. Then a lady coming up behind me shouted “I really like your skirt! You got this!” I was back in.

I ran back to Busch. Back down the back road, around the apartments, back through the start line, past Werblin. I tried to forget about my stomach. As I was headed down towards Allison Road Classroom for a turn around point, there he was! TURTLE GUY! On the other side of the road, headed back. I could catch him right? Where the heck is the turn around? …Oh its pretty far down there. I knew I was hot on his tail. My run/walk intervals were shot, so I was doing whatever felt right. We headed back towards the Stadium, and then up onto the Route 18 bridge. Soon we were headed into Johnson Park and approaching mile 9. Still no Turtle Guy. I kept on trucking through the park, and again spotted him headed back towards me after a turn around. I finally caught him at a water stop near mile 10. He stopped for some reason, and I kept on going. I passed him and didn’t see him again.

I headed out of Johnson Park and up to Landing Lane. As I weaved through Buccleuh Park, I was feeling ridiculously dehydrated. My water bottle (which I refilled once in Johnson Park) was empty again and the next water stop was far away. I decided from then on out, I would walk a tenth of a mile, then run a tenth of a mile. We were already to mile 12, so the finish line was within my reach.

Mile 13 was hell. I was so thirsty. So tired. So hot. My stomach felt terrible and my hands were starting to swell up. When I finally emerged from the park and turned a corner onto College Ave, I could see the finish. I took off running with everything I had in me. To everyone cheering at the finish line, it looked like I had had an excellent race with a strong finish. I saw my family on the sidelines, my sister with her 8K medal hanging around my neck. I heard the annoucer say “Where’s Jessica at?!” And I threw up my hands in victory. He then asked if he could borrow my skirt for a party he was going to later. I crossed the finish line looking triumphant, but feeling much worse. I looked down at my watch, and while it said 2:53, I had paused it for my potty break. I offically crossed at 2:59:05. I hadn’t beaten my Princess time, but I did beat Turtle Guy.

I headed down the road to the finisher tent to grab my snack bag and a bottle of water and then headed back to the finish area to find my family. Thats when I saw Turtle Guy finish. I looked at my sister and said, I beat him! That silly little goal kept me going at least to finish the race.

When I got back to my parents house, I took a shower and the swelling in my hands started to go down. I was feeling a lot better and we went out for subs at Tastee Subs. I laid around their house for a bit, and then hit the road to drive back to Maryland.

In two weeks, I’d be running again, and I was so afraid of another bad race.

So every now and then something absolutely ridiculous and lucky happens to me. I found out this week that out of 77,087 people that entered the lottery for the 9,170 available spots in the TCS New York City Marathon, my name was drawn!

Honestly, I don’t even believe it.

Back in January I was thinking about the remote possibility of running a marathon (before I even ran one half marathon). I thought, if there was ONE marathon I would want to run, I would have to pick New York City. I was born and raised a Central Jersey girl (yes, Central Jersey IS a thing), and New York has always been “The City” to me. Even now living in Maryland, and my few years in South Jersey, Baltimore and Philadelphia could never change that. So I decided not to over think it too much and get too caught up in the 26.2 miles and let fate decide if running a marathon was in the cards for me this year. I paid my eleven dollars and threw my name in the hat knowing it was a slim-to-none chance.

On Wednesday morning (before 9am) I saw a pending charge on my credit card for $255 from New York Road Runners, and started shaking in true Jes is excited fashion… Right in the middle of mandatory training for work…. Right in the front row of the auditorium. Probably a bad place to be sitting when you’re now on your phone texting EVERYONE.

I waited all day and kept refreshing my e-mail and NYRR account hoping for an official confirmation and worried the charge might be a mistake. It finally came in around 5:30! I was in! Fate has made up her mind… By the end of 2014 I will hopefully have completed my first marathon!

A little less than a year ago I started my running journey and by the end of this year, I will have 3 10ks, 6 half marathons and a marathon under my belt and completed fundraising for St. Jude and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society?! Unreal.

In other news, the Rutgers Half Marathon is just over two weeks away, and I’ve talked my sister into doing the 8k race. Maybe next year she will be running longer races with me!

Another year another birthday! This year I’m on a mission to make more birthdays for everyone! If you can, please consider clicking on the cupcake and donating to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through my Team in Training page to help get one step closer to curing blood cancers.

Thank you.
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iPhone 5s
ISO
250
Aperture
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Exposure
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Focal Length
4mm

Another year another birthday! This year I’m on a mission to make more birthdays for everyone! If you can, please consider clicking on the cupcake and donating to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through my Team in Training page to help get one step closer to curing blood cancers.

Thank you.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend 2014 Recap

I’m not really sure where to begin, my first Run Disney weekend was a whirlwind, though I suppose its best to start at the beginning. We arrived in Orlando around 4:30 on Thursday and my Aunt Carol picked my Mom and I up from the airport and brought us to our hotel, The All Star Music Resort. Check in was quick and easy, no wait at all. We were given magic bands as our room keys and were later able to load our park tickets and fast passes on them as well!

After we checked in and unloaded our bags in our room, we went back to the front of the hotel to wait for a bus to the expo. The bus pulled up almost immediately and we were off! We arrived at the expo around 6:30 and I realized that I left our waivers in the room! Luckily there was no wait to use the computers to print out forgotten waivers. There were no lines for packet pick up either. Since I was doing the Glass Slipper Challenge, I was able to pick up my gEAR bag and Race Retreat wrist band right in the same room. My Mom was also able to pick up her ChEAR Squad items. We then headed across the way to the expo to visit the St. Jude Heroes booth to check in and pick up my Pasta Party ticket and St. Jude running gear. We walked up and down the expo rows and picked up a few items. My mom bought a Sparkle Athletic tiara visor for my sister, though she was worried it wouldn’t fit on her head. After we left the expo, we headed back to the bus area, and once again, there was a bus waiting for us!

Friday morning we met my Aunt at the Magic Kingdom. We spent the day there. I made them ride “Its A Small World” with me, even though my Mom HATES it. Dumbo was another must ride. I can be a 27 year old child, don’t judge me. At the end of the day my Mom even bought me one of those Mickey Mouse Balloons that I had been asking for since my first trip to Disney in 1989. She was a little upset by the $12 price tag, so I reminded her that it probably would have been cheaper in 1989. I picked up a few souvenirs as well. My Aunt took us out to dinner and then dropped us back at the hotel.

I began to lay out everything I would need for the 10k in the morning, since I knew my brain would not be very functional at 2:30 in the morning. I usually wake up sometime in the 4am hour, so it wasn’t that much earlier, but 2:30am is a lot to wrap your brain around. I was in bed my 8:30, and passed out by 9.

I slept much better than I expected, but before I knew it my alarm was going off. We both got ready, took a few pre-race photos and we were out the door by 3:15.

I have read a lot of horror stories about waiting for buses and getting stuck in traffic, so I wanted to be on time for the first bus. When we got to the front of the hotel, there were THREE buses waiting. We were the last two people on the first bus and we were off to the race! The DJ was in full swing, waking people up and having them dance. There were port-a-potties everywhere. Everything was very well organized and ran very smoothly. I made my way over to corral C after one last potty stop around 5am. The corrals went off right on schedule every 10 minutes and at 5:50am I was off.

I decided I was going to take it slow and aim for a finish time of 1:20 since the half marathon was the next day. I’m glad I did, because oh boy the humidity! I was also feeling very dehydrated, and I didn’t take a water bottle with me because I heard that there are always plenty of water stops. There were three. And at every single one my cup had barely a mouthful of water. I was pretty thirsty and just wanted to finish. I decided I would carry a bottle with me the next day for just in case. It was pretty cool running under the overpass where Elsa was making it snow (although I’ve had quite enough of the white stuff for this year thank you) and through EPCOTs World Showcase just before dawn.

The boardwalk was a little slippery, but much nicer on my feet than the pavement. Before I knew it I was rounding the corner to the finish line, just on my mark of 1:20. They loaded us up with water and PowerAde at the finish line, I collected my Enchanted 10k medal and Glass Slipper Challenge wristband and we were headed back to the buses.

Except we walked, very far, and still didn’t see the buses. Two Disney workers rode by us on a golf cart and we asked where the buses were, and they let us know we had gone in the exact wrong direction. Then they very nicely offered us a ride back! We hopped on the back of the golf cart and they drove us right up to a bus, where of course, there was one ready to take us back to our hotel, no waiting!

When we got back to the hotel we took showers and naps and then headed to Downtown Disney for lunch and a bit of shopping.

Then we headed over to EPCOT in the evening for the Pasta Party. There was a nice buffet of pasta, chicken, breadsticks and Mickey Mouse ice cream for dessert. We sat with a bunch of people from St. Jude and had a nice little dinner. We left a little early because it was getting late and that 2:15am wake up call was looming. I went through my ritual again of laying out everything I would need for the morning and called it a night.

At 2:15 I sprang out of bed. I was starting to feel nervous about my first half marathon. I was feeling nervous that the buses would be more congested and things wouldn’t be as easy today as they had been the day before. I got ready, and we were out of the room by 2:45. When we got to the front of the hotel the buses were waiting AGAIN! RunDisney did such a great job with the transportation. Seriously, I’m so glad I changed my hotel reservations at the last minute for a Disney Resort, it was perfect and worry free.

When we got to the staging area I headed for the Race Retreat and grabbed a bagel and some water. I took an extra water to carry with me during the race this time. I hit the private port-a-potties which were nice, and then hung out outside with my mom. We met some other runners, who reassured me that I would do just fine in my first half marathon, and kept telling me this was the perfect event for a first timer. Everyone was so friendly. I’m not one for talking to strangers, but you couldn’t help but get a good vibe from everyone. Around 4:50 I started my walk back to corral H. This time the walk was a bit longer, but I knew this from all of the other race recaps I had read. Once I was at the corrals, I took one last potty break. The lines moved relatively quickly and I had plenty of time to get into my corral. Now it was time to wait.

The race announcers were plenty entertaining and before I knew it they were singing the national anthem and the first corral was off with a bang. We slowly made our way to the start and now it was our turn. Here we go. After the ridiculous humidity on Saturday I changed my goal of finishing in 2 hours and 30 minutes to finishing in 3 hours. I started off nice and slow, trying to enjoy the scenes around me. By the time we at mile two-ish headed to the Magic Kingdom, Kim Smith went flying past us in the opposite direction. She finished in 1 hour, 11 minutes and 47 seconds.. A whole FOUR SECONDS faster than my BEST 10k time. We all cheered for her as she passed.

Before I knew it we were running down Main Street USA towards a fogged over Cinderella’s Castle. I saw my Mom on main street. Somewhere in the Magic Kingdom, I lost my headband, but there was no turning back!

My pace was picking up and I felt really good. It was humid, but it was going well. No aches or pains, feeling great. There were a lot more water stations, with a lot more water in the cups. I had a water and Powerade at every single one. At one of the stops they even refilled my bottle for me. I was making great time and was on point for finishing at two hours and thirty minutes, until I hit mile 7 where there must have been some sort of invisible forcefield. They were playing “Let it Go” from Frozen, and I think my body just let go of all of my energy. My body felt heavy, but I wasn’t in pain and my breathing wasn’t heavy, I was just TIRED. Maybe running two days in a row in humidity when I’ve been training in sub-freezing temperatures wasn’t the best. So I slowed it down. I knew I could still hit under the three hour mark since I made such great time in the first half. I decided to take it easy and take more walk breaks.

For the most part a lot of people were trying to be courteous to others. At one point though, there were three women walking with their arms linked right down the middle of a water station. This was probably the only time I actually felt annoyed by other people. There was a lot of bobbing and weaving around people, but with 24,000 runners, you can only space out the crowds so much. I finally reached the green army man who was yelling “JUST ONE MORE HILL!” but I knew this was a lie from the other blogs I’ve read. Climbing that last on-ramp was a bit of a struggle, I was tired, but I knew I was nearing the end. As we entered into EPCOT cast members were cheering us on. I saw the mile 12.3 water station and I knew I was almost done with my first half marathon. Rounding Spaceship Earth and heading back out of the park, a cast member yelled “YOU’RE ALMOST THERE I CAN SEE THE FINISH LINE!” and some women behind me were like “SERIOUSLY OMG LETS GO!” and we all just started to run as fast as we could with our last bits of energy. Everyone was so excited to be almost done. As I crossed the finish line it took everything I had to try and lift my arms in victory. I collected my medal and everything else they were handing to us, and I almost forgot all about my Glass Slipper Medal. A friendly volunteer stopped me and gave me a gentle reminder, and I hopped over in the line. I did it! My official time was 2:57:50, under my re-adjusted goal! According to MapMyRun I hit 13.1 at 2:49, and the finish line was 13.83 miles.

I met up with my Mom and we went into the Race Retreat tent for breakfast. I have a hard time eating after running, but there was bacon and home fries. I always have room for bacon and home fries… Oh and then I saw cans of coke. I hadn’t had caffiene in 10 days, and coke in even longer. Yes, my post half marathon meal was a can of coke, bacon and home fries. My Mom asked if I should be drinking water, but I drank so much during the race, I felt okay. I only have two complaints about my Princess Half Marathon Weekend and they are both related to the Race Retreat. The special Race Retreat souvenir was a pair of Princess Half Flip Flops so you can take off your sneakers and stretch your feet. Well, they only came in small and medium. The lady handing them out said that they ran large “All the way up to size ten” well, this princess has big feet, and I’m sure I’m not the only one rocking a size 12. I grabbed a pink pair in medium for my sister. The second complaint is that I had heard that there were celebratory mimosas in the Race Retreat Tent. What I didn’t hear was that you had to pay $10.50 for one. Its $120 for the Race Retreat and you can’t even get one shot of champagne in some orange juice? I’ll stick with the coke I guess.

We headed back to the bus area, this time in the right direction, and only had to wait about five minutes for a bus. Soon we were back in the room for some stretching and showering and napping. We ate a salad for lunch at the resort and then I hung out in the room for a while watching NetFlix and my Mom went to the pool. We headed over to Downtown Disney for dinner and then turned in for bed early. It was nice to know there would be no 2am alarm going off, but that in the morning we would have to pack up and say goodbye to my balloon!

In the morning we packed and my Aunt picked us up at the hotel. We spent the day at the Animal Kingdom since my Mom and I had never been there before. We rode a couple rides, my Mom screamed louder than small children. Picked up a few more souvenirs and then my Aunt drove us to the airport.

All in all it was a successful trip. When I got home, I found some exciting vacation planning booklets in the mail for my August Disney Land vacation and Dumbo Double Dare Challenge. I’m ready to do it all again… Maybe a little more excited this time because now I KNOW I can do it, I’ve never been to Disney Land, and Matt is running with me!

I recently participated in a Regional Candy Swap hosted by Heidi Kenney.  I was paired up with Jackie from Colorado. I finally had the perfect excuse to stop in the local candy store that I have been driving by billboards for every day on my way home from work for the last year and a half… Except I was in Florida, of course.  One thing I always ALWAYS have to get when I am in an airport in Florida is the yummy coconut patties, so I thought I would throw a couple of those in my Maryland care package.  When I got home, I stopped at the local shop and picked up some Maryland made goodies and sent my package on its way.

Today I got my package from Colorado! In it I found some salt water taffy.  I’ve always thought of salt water taffy as an East Coast thing, which is why I included it in my package as well.  I guess I was wrong, learn something new every day! There were also some Hammond marshmellows which I will be saving for after dinner, Rocky Mountain Sheep Horn Doodles, which are not at all what they sound like… Don’t worry, they’re just chocolate covered peanuts! And some Prickly Pear Licorice which I have been chomping on since I opened the package. I love licorice, I’m going to spoil my dinner!

If you would like to see what other people got in their candy swap click the picture of my candy!
Zoom Info
Camera
iPhone 5s
ISO
100
Aperture
f/2.2
Exposure
1/30th
Focal Length
4mm

I recently participated in a Regional Candy Swap hosted by Heidi Kenney. I was paired up with Jackie from Colorado. I finally had the perfect excuse to stop in the local candy store that I have been driving by billboards for every day on my way home from work for the last year and a half… Except I was in Florida, of course. One thing I always ALWAYS have to get when I am in an airport in Florida is the yummy coconut patties, so I thought I would throw a couple of those in my Maryland care package. When I got home, I stopped at the local shop and picked up some Maryland made goodies and sent my package on its way.

Today I got my package from Colorado! In it I found some salt water taffy. I’ve always thought of salt water taffy as an East Coast thing, which is why I included it in my package as well. I guess I was wrong, learn something new every day! There were also some Hammond marshmellows which I will be saving for after dinner, Rocky Mountain Sheep Horn Doodles, which are not at all what they sound like… Don’t worry, they’re just chocolate covered peanuts! And some Prickly Pear Licorice which I have been chomping on since I opened the package. I love licorice, I’m going to spoil my dinner!

If you would like to see what other people got in their candy swap click the picture of my candy!

When I was in Florida in July for my grandmothers funeral we all bought mini palm trees and I neglected to take it out of its packaging until November. Yep, it died. I needed to get a new one! Immediate planting requires!

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