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Extreme North Dakota Racing – My first 25K

March 24, 2017

My last half marathon took place back in January so I figured it was time to register for another race. After searching around on the Internet, I realized that Extreme North Dakota (END) Racing was hosting a run south of Fargo, ND. When I registered for the 25K, I thought this would be just another race. One similar to all the others I do. I was wrong….very very wrong.

If you ever plan on doing an END race, I have a few tips for you:

1. Read, read, and read.

Read the e-mail from the race director. Read the blog post from the race director. Read the website. Read the suggested gear list. Read anything you can about the race. I have never been so unprepared for a race and that is 100% my fault.

The race director sent out informative e-mails prior to the race. I quickly skimmed through all of them. I remembered reading that racers should have a cell phone in case someone were to get lost along the way. Although I remember thinking that was a strange statement, I didn’t think much of it as I normally run with my phone anyway.

The morning of the race, I got into my car and hit the road. My GPS told me that I would arrive to my location at 2:00PM. This was a problem being the race started at 1:00PM. I called Jared, quickly vented about how I should have calculated the route ahead of time, and when he asked if I was going to turn around, I said “no” and kept driving. I don’t race for ribbons; I race for the thrill and for exercise. Even if I started late, I would still get the physical and mental benefits from the exercise I would be doing.

2. Arrive early.

Now reading the website (a few days late), I realize that END races are in unique locations.

I was able to magically make up time on the interstate and made it to my location at 12:50PM. Remember that e-mail I skimmed through from the race director? Well in it, there was an address of where we needed to be. However, when I took that address and put it into my own GPS, it brought me to the middle of a cow pasture. This cow pasture had limited cell phone service so I did my best to find my way to the correct location, which ended up being seven miles away. Uffff. (For the record, the address provided was correct. My app I just could not figure it out.)

By the time I unloaded Argo, got dressed, ran to the bathroom and got to the start line, I believe it was close to 1:10PM. The first few miles of the course were beautiful! The rolling hills were the perfect running terrain. At this point, Argo and I started catching other runners. I thought it was strange that they had water backpacks on but thought that they must just be really thirsty people!

Around mile six (of 15.5), I understood why everyone had waterpacks. There were not aid stations. Remember that e-mail I skimmed through from the race director? This was also clearly stated in there. I wasn’t worried about Argo hydrating because I would stop and let him drink from puddles and eat snow. However, I was getting pretty thirsty and desperate. I was so thirsty that I kept debating to myself, which would be the cleanest option: dusty snow or muddy water from the puddles?
I ended up eating the dusty snow.

At about this point, the terrain changed quite a bit. Instead of rolling hills, we had some (North Dakota) mountains. Looking at others’ shoes, I saw that I also made a HUGE mistake. I was wearing my Hoka One One shoes, which were NOT made for hiking and had zero support when it came to side-to-side stabilization. I could not get traction in the mud!

Around mile nine, I reached an aid station. While everyone filled up their waterpacks, I shyly asked if they had water bottles. The volunteers were able to find me one and Argo and I hit the road again. One of the many benefits of running with Argo is that he knew the correct path to run. There were a few times when I would stop to see which trail to follow and he was able to pull me the way of other runners before us.

3. Expect solitude.

If you want fans to cheer you on, you must bring your own.
There were many times when I didn’t see people for miles, which I actually prefer.

Approximately two hours and nine minutes after starting the race, Argo and I crossed the finish line. Even after qualifying for the Boston marathon, I have never felt more accomplished than I did finishing my first END race. This race pushed me physically and mentally. I wanted to quit when I realized I would end up being late. I wanted to quit when I arrived in a cow pasture. I wanted to quit when I had to hike up the North Dakota mountains (elevation 15 feet). However, I was able to get myself to keep going.

4. Plan for a grueling race.

The race challenged me mentally and physically. On paper, it didn’t look tough but as I was driving home, I swore I would never do another one of these END races again.

5. Prepare to be hooked.

Although I swore I would never do an END race again, the evening of my race I was already texting my brother about making a team for the next race in April. I drank the water (or ate the dirty snow) and now I am hooked!

Snacks- How do you get your protein?

January 6, 2017

This week, Molly from My Name Is Yeh, has been popping up on my social media feeds. If you take a look at her site, you will know why.  When I went to check out her blog, I saw beautiful creations that I will never attempt to make such as the Vegan Chai Cheesecake With Earl Grey Fig Sauce. Embracing my own culinary skills, I will share with you one of my favorite snacks… that I am sure your dog could make …WHILE BLINDFOLDED! As always, I am setting the bar nice and low.

How do you get your protein? 

When I mention to people that I do not enjoy consuming animal meat, the above question is what I am usually asked. One way is through nuts! However, when I go to our local Target and see trail mix, I am always discouraged by the price. As a way to save money and better control my snacks, I will create my own trail mix. Below is one of my favorite mixes and the recipe I used as a guide.

Sue’s Camp Mix (Original Recipe) 

2 cups canola oil
1 tsp dill
1 pkg ranch original or spicy dressing

Beat oil + dressing in a measuring cup. Microwave mixture for 1.5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine:
1 small box cheese crackers
1/2 bag of butter pretzels
dry roasted peanuts to your liking

Pour dressing mixture over snacks a little at a time. Stir well to coat. Let mixture dry until no longer shiny. Stirring occasionally. Store in covered container. 

And my version…

Snack Mix – Jess Remix

2 cups canola oil

1 pkg original ranch

1 pkg spicy ranch

Beat oil + dressing in a measuring cup. Microwave mixture for 1.5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the following items (many of which I don’t know the names of):

Pour dressing mixture over snacks a little at a time. Stir well to coat. Let mixture dry until no longer shiny. Stirring occasionally. Store in covered container. Eat the entire container in one sitting when you decide to give up on your 2017 resolutions. 


Logging Miles in the Winter

December 31, 2016

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy…” – Elle Woods


(Photo by the Grand Forks Herald)

When Jared gets home from work, he can usually tell if I squeezed in a workout that day due to my demeanor. Unfortunately, running in the middle of winter is tough to do when you live in North Dakota. Here are some things I do to allow me to log my miles even if there is snow on the ground.

1. Find a running buddy
I have a dog, Argo, that LOVES to go running with me. Knowing that he will eat our entire house if he is not exercised is great motivation for me to get moving.
(I have been using this hands-free leash for months and it prevents one arm from getting sore.)

2. Learn to love the dreadful treadmill

My rule is that if the temperature (with windchill) is above zero degrees, I will run outside. If it is below, I will run on the treadmill.

A few years back, we purchased this treadmill and it has held up great! We already had one functioning treadmill but when our neighbors moved away, we jumped in and bought a second one. Why? So Argo and I can run side-by-side in the basement!

Treadmill training is brutal so I have little tricks to save me from boredom. These include only allowing myself to watch my favorite television shows while on the treadmill and covering up the display so I can’t look at my distance or time.

3. Lower those expectations
When I run on the treadmill, I do it at a SLOW pace. When I run outside in the winter, as to not fall on my face, I shuffle my feet. The things I just listed simply make me run slower. On my outdoor runs, I just run for a certain amount of time OR miles but never both. If I tracked both, I would be too discouraged by my pace after seeing my miles per minute report.

4. Get some great gear!

Do you remember the show What Not To Wear? If you saw what I wear running, you would want to nominate me for a similar style makeover. If I had to pick two game-changing pieces I wear outside, it would be my facemask and pants.

We all know what a facemask does, I don’t need to tell you that. I love my Cold Avenger mask and it makes a huge difference. It manages extra moisture away from skin and allows for 100% free breathing where other masks eventually freeze up. It also comes in two pieces so if you become too warm, you can take of the ventilator.

I was gifted North Face windproof pants a few years ago and have worn them faithfully since. If they were waterproof, I would actually wear them downhill skiing in addition to running. The only downfall is that they have an unflattering waistline that digs into my hips. I have yet to find a pair of pants that tops these.

5. Set a goal 

Runners are naturally crazy people. Some of us crazies will actually run races in the middle of winter. I have set a goal to run a half marathon in January. Although I will have to travel five hours to get to the start line, I look forward to the experience! Someday, I will run the Antarctica full marathon but until then, the midwest will suffice.

(Photo by the Grand Forks Herald.)

Running without pain.

December 8, 2016


I couldn’t walk without pain.

I trained responsibly for the Fargo Half Marathon. I followed a training plan, actually rested on my off-days, cross-trained, and did strength training. However, after the Fargo Half, I was in quite a bit of pain. Although my entire body ached, my shins were screaming the loudest.

After a two-week rest, my shins were still wounded. I wanted to begin running again but I didn’t want chronic shin pain throughout the summer. In a last-stitch effort to save my favorite hobby, I visited our local running shop, See Dick Run, to get a running analysis and shoe recommendation.

(Before going to See Dick Run, I was running in the Brooks running shoes. Specifically, the Glycerin 11s.)

When I arrived at the shop, the salesmen, Adam, did a quick ipad recording while I ran down the sidewalk. Afterwards, we analyzed the clip, chatted about my goals, and he suggested I try on the ugliest running shoes I had ever seen… The Hoka One One Cliftons.

I wanted to hate these shoes because I couldn’t imagine wearing them in public. They make me look like I am trying to add two inches to my beastly height of 5’2 (and ¾… can’t forget that ¾ inch.) Nevertheless, when I laced them up and went for a run down the sidewalk, my outlook changed.

These shoes are magical. They made me feel as though I was walking on clouds! In the following months that I wore my Hokas, I was finally able to run a full marathon (26.2 miles). This was a goal I had previously never accomplished due to injuries.

A few weeks ago, my shins started to hurt again and I knew it was time to visit See Dick Run. This time, the owner, Richard, was in the shop with his adorable daughter. I tried on a few different types of Hokas but ended up sticking with the Hoka Cliftons.

If you haven’t tried the Hoka brand of shoes or have not been into our local running shop, please give them a shot. See Dick Run has a treadmill in the shop so you can even try running in them before you make your purchase. The staff is very welcoming and supporting a small business is one way to help your community!

Who: Richard, Adam, and YOU…treat yourself!
What: Hoka shoes
Where: See Dick Run
Why: Because Cinderella is proof that a pair of shoes can change your life.

Running Gear – Staples

October 28, 2016

When I was in high school, I felt chest pain every morning I woke up and knew I had a race that day. I loved running but hated racing. Thankfully, a trainer from my gym introduced me to one of his professors who offered sports psychology consults. After a few consults, we came up with a game plan to help my race anxiety. One of the things she encouraged me to do was to set out my running clothes the night before a race. This is a habit I have continued for the last 8 years.

I am going to run a 10k tomorrow and as I was laying my clothes out, I realized how much my wardrobe has changed over the years. Finding the perfect race gear is a lot of trial and error. What works for one person, my not work for another. These are my current staple pieces:


 // Hat // Socks // Bra // Long Sleeve // Pants // Blister Guard // Shorts // T-shirt // 

Links provided for the convince of my Secret Santa! Ho ho ho! 🙂

Brand: Nike
Why I like it:
Ok… I lied. This is the only thing that hasn’t changed over the years. This nike hat I have is over 10 years old and it still fits great, washes easily, and protects my dark hair from the hot summer sun.

Brand: Asics
Why I like it:
These socks have a tab on the back that protects your skin from the back of your shoe. That is a place I normally get blisters so this is a simple way to prevent them.

Brand: Moving Comfort
Why I like it:
The straps are adjustable. Before the race, I strap “the girls” down by simply tightening the straps. After I am done running, I will loosen them. As a breastfeeding mom, this also comes in handy.

Long Sleeve
Brand: Nike
Why I like it: 
This top is a favorite because….1. it doesn’t ride up 2. the half-zip makes it breastfeeding friendly 3. there are thumb holes which are great in the fall when you forget to wear gloves

Brand: Nike
Why I like it:
The pants are high-rise which helps support my middle-region. They have enough stretch so they are easy to get on and still allow you to breathe. They are not too loose so they don’t fall or sag during the run.

Blister Guard
Brand: Baid-Aid
Why I like it:
They have a great seal! I never have to worry about them falling off during a race. I actually wrap each toe with a bandaid before half and full marathons so my toe nails don’t fall off mid race.

Brand: Lululemon
Why I like it:
These shorts are high-rise and once again, I love that middle-region support.They are also long enough so that my athletic thighs don’t rub when I run. As with most running shorts, there is a little pocket that allows me to hold my car key while I run.

Brand: Lululemon
Why I like it: 
This is a thin top which is perfect for the summer months and also for layering. It does a great job of staying in place and does not ride up when I move.
(TMI: It is nice and long so if I pee my pants while running, I can pull my top down to cover it up!)

What gear would make your list?