Why I Run

Thoughts on an easy 4 miler. 11/4/16

I run because I can’t imagine life without it. I can’t imagine life without my family – my husband and kids, my parents and siblings – and in a similar way, I can’t imagine life without running. And I know we eventually lose people we love more than anything and our lives continue, but things are never really the same when they are gone. Losing running would bring a similar kind of grieving. Is this selfish? Does everyone understand? Do I expect everyone to understand?

I feel this truth in my core. Running is a part of me, and who I was born to be. It is something my life needs to feel whole.

2015 – What’s Next?

2015 has been quite the year for me in both my “real life” and running life. I started off the year with a half marathon PR 1:15:(59!)  in January on un-tapered legs in the middle of my marathon training cycle. I traveled a lot and finally learned to keep up with my intense workouts and training on vacation (even in Disney World, the Most Exhausting “Happiest Place on Earth”) and while we traveled through European countries for 24 days. My training came to a new level where I had 100% confidence in making the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. Workouts have gone better than ever, my training plans have been more enjoyable than any in the past, and it’s been fun to have a laser focus on my goals and stay motivated.

Even with some setbacks – an Achilles injury that squashed my plans of racing the Garry Bjorkland half marathon in June when my training was going so well and a marathon DNF in late March – I couldn’t stay down for long. I fixed the problems, jumped back on the horse and got back to work. It’s been a big year of growth for me that left me very excited about my next 10+ years of improving and hitting PR times.

This was also the first summer I hit my mileage and workout goals all summer through the heat and humidity. Not every workout was perfect, but all the workouts got done and left me feeling stronger. While I haven’t been using social media as frequently and have definitely been slacking on this blog, I was doing some major work behind the scenes and I want to thank everyone who has helped make that possible! I’ve felt a shield of invincibility around me, while still eating my humble pie daily.

So this naturally begs the question – what’s next?! Now… I’ve already had a friend jokingly accuse me of burying the lede but there is always a huge backstory and I definitely just gave you a short version of it! But, the thing that is next for me is: having baby #3! Whoa, right?! Whoa, whoa, whoa! The most exciting, strangest news you probably never expected, is true! Early this coming spring, I’ll be snuggling up with my third little sweetie. I’m 13 weeks pregnant now, and my husband, kids and I are very excited to share the news!

So, my racing days are over for the next few seasons, but I’ll be going out in a special way, running The Great Race 10k here in Pittsburgh tomorrow! It is my son’s 2nd birthday so the post-race celebration at my house will include party hats, cake & ice cream! In the past, I haven’t raced while pregnant (not that I think there’s anything wrong with it – I just have no desire to be competitive during pregnancy). The Great Race holds a special place in my heart as it was the first race I knew about in Pittsburgh (aside from the Pittsburgh Marathon and half marathon), it starts less than 3/4 mile from my house, and my water broke while running across the Great Race start line (2 days prior to race day) two years ago (you can’t make this stuff up).

So while I’ve been feeling extra exhausted and nauseous lately (that should be over any day now, right, right?!), I’m excited to run this special race and share the course with so many awesome people. The Pittsburgh running community is the best. We are lucky to live here!

Thanks for following along and I look forward to cheering for all of you while you go after your big running goals this fall, winter, and spring!

Disaster of a Week

No, this isn’t a running disaster. This is a real life problem.

In September 2013 (4 months ago!) we moved into an old, beautiful house. We weren’t originally sure if we liked it, but we grow to LOVE it more and more every day. I feel so fortunate to have found a perfect house in the perfect location for my family. And just as I was feeling like the luckiest person ever, a little disaster struck. A few days ago, an old boiler pipe decided it had enough, and split.

DSC_0553Above you see the piece of cast iron pipe that had enough. What started as a trickle of water down the walls, ended up pouring water through the light sockets, and finally gushing water that collapsed part of the ceiling in our music room and the largest room in our basement.

Jeff was flying back from California and thank goodness my mom was here. We saved my great grandmother’s sewing machine, our guitars and amps, and some of Currie’s instruments, but as we tried to move the piano, a piece of ceiling fell on my mom’s back (along with the light fixture) and we decided it was too dangerous to enter the rooms where water was flowing. The water company came to shut off the water, but didn’t arrive for 40 minutes from the time we called so you can imagine our mess.
DSC_0521 DSC_0519

DSC_0431Our finished basement still had boxes of photo albums and books (moving in, having a baby 2 weeks later, and having the holidays around the corner doesn’t make for a very productive few months of unpacking) so we quickly saved everything that had sentimental value and the rest was ruined…

You can see pieces of the ceiling that fell on the sectional sofa and the cooler I moved to catch the water (HA, that was pointless!).


DSC_0452So that’s what we’ve been dealing with this week! All the contractors who have come in have said something along the lines of “holy sh!t”. Yeah, we have a lot of damage…

But, my runs still happened. I didn’t end of taking any days off, but a few runs were shorter than I would have liked. I wanted to do some mile repeats but the bitter cold and snow (and stress from this mess) made me delay that workout. Instead, I’m going to race a 5 miler on Sunday. The race website describes the course as “challenging” with “FYI, a great uphill finish”. I’m really starting to love hills, so we will see what I think of this course.

And Wells is 15 weeks old (as of Friday)! (Currie will be 4 years old in less than a month now!)

Sibling love of the week.

Sibling love of the day.

And here are the 15 week postpartum pics! Not racing in these briefs/buns tomorrow. I’ll wait until it gets a little warmer!

15 weeks postpartum!

15 weeks postpartum!

Question for you!

Any random house disasters to share?!

Running with a Cold, Running Dreams, Running Errands

Whew! It’s been a long time since I posted! Currie had her third birthday:

Rochester Museum and Science Center Birthday Party

Happy 3rd Birthday Currie!

Rochester museum and science center birthday party

And then she held a snake.

I had a big work project (I woke from home), then I got a killer cold. The cold started in my sinuses and was so bad in the beginning I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. Everything hurt! It’s the kind of cold that will slightly affect my breathing (think phlegm in throat while racing) during hard efforts for another month or so. The kind of colds runners dread. I’m not one to take days off unless I really need it, and let me tell you – I took a day off, another day of 1 mile, another day of 2 miles… and so on. I’m still only up to 4.3 miles as it’s hard to breathe with all the “drainage”. Eww. It came at a bad time because:

  • My mother-in-law is in town and I like to get quality running and home projects done when I have help in town. That isn’t happening. I feel lucky that she’s been here to help with Currie though!
  • It’s time to get ramping up for 2013 races. The local races are piling up, starting with Syracuse Half on 3/24/13 which I planned on running but won’t be because we have an out of town wedding that weekend. Next up is the Flower City Half Marathon at the end of April. It is the USATF Niagara Half Marathon Championships this year and has a potential $1,000 on the line for the winner who also hits time bonuses. Oh, and another $150 for an additional time bonus for USATF Niagara members.  Pretty big payday potential! And this is just the beginning. More big races, more big money coming up as the weather gets warmer.

And right now I’m running 4 miles a day. But, I know it’s better to run short and easy until I’m 100% then to prolong the sickness and more training. Taking it in stride by…

oiselle run tee

wearing shirts that say “run” a million times.

oiselle lux layer

spending money on more running apparel. Hello Oiselle Lux Layer.

So, what else do I do when I’m not running much? DREAM about running! Or running friends. Anything running related will do. If you follow me on twitter (@jenbigham) you know I had a dream a few days ago where Oiselle‘s Marketing Director + Model, Sarah, was in a music video being shot here in a Rochester thrift store. It was produced by none other than Lauren Fleshman. I was in charge of wardrobe. Hey, it could happen.

Then last night, I had a dream that my younger brother and I were flying to a highly competitive race where there was big money on the line. The race director said they would pay his flight, lodging and food. Then they told me all they could offer me was a little kale at meals. What?! I don’t know where that dream came from and I woke up before I actually got to eat. Womp Womp… Looks like I need to work on confidence?

Today, for my longest run in over a week, I ran to the library. The library is just over 2 miles away, but the route there is along busy roads, especially during rush hour. I had a DVD (that I didn’t even watch!) that was due yesterday and I needed to get it back before the library opened to avoid a 25 cent late fine. I know, 25 CENTS! Must get that DVD back immediately!

I’m no stranger to literally running my errands, but I was hesitant because the route isn’t exactly safe to run during rush hour thanks to crazy traffic. I couldn’t drive it because I only had time for a run OR a trip to the library before my Currie’s gymnastics class and you know the running was going to win. I didn’t want a fine mostly because I feel like with anything in life, once you start giving up/letting things slip/not caring in general, it just makes it easier to do in the future. Kind of like dropping out of a race. Do it once, more likely to do it again. (On a side note, I have dropped out of a race and run many successful races after that. I’ve also finished dead last in a large race where I should have been a top finisher because I just gave up. You can overcome these things, but in general I’d rather not give in, no matter how silly the task.)

So, I ran to the library. I got the DVD in without a fine. I feel better than I’ve felt all week. And I made it 4.3 miles! Things are looking up!

Do you RUN your errands? Shop when you’re stressed/sad? Do you have crazy dreams every night like me? My dreams aren’t always about running, but have been running intense this week!

Running at Disney, Family Runs, Chilly Runs

We are back from Florida! Did you know I was in Florida? I posted a few pics on Twitter and Instagram. We were in Florida for my older brother’s wedding and decided to stop by Disney World a few days beforehand since my daughter has never been there. It just so happens she’s just a few weeks away from 3 years old which means she’s free for meals and entry into the park. Nothing else is inexpensive about Disney, but it was a nice little vacation.

disney crystal palace

Lunch at the Crystal Palace our first day at the Magic Kingdom

We arrived just a few days after the Disney Marathon/Half/5k. I was a a little crushed that we didn’t plan to arrive a few days earlier so I could race. Speaking of running, we stayed at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and we couldn’t find any decent places to run. My parents were there as well and able to take Currie to the park while we ran, but doing loops around the resort was less-than-enjoyable so we went about 4 miles a day and got the rest of our exercise walking the park, riding rides (screaming at the top of our lungs) and carrying Currie around. I guess I should have asked this beforehand, but does anyone know of good places to run from the Contemporary? I would love to know for future trips!

Disney's Chef Mickeys

Dinner at Chef Mickey’s! Although we had the BOB stroller, I ended up carrying Currie quite a bit on vacation.

On Saturday, I was so excited to get in some major miles on the beach on Marco Island, where my brother was getting married. Unfortunately, our rental car didn’t have cruise control and after driving over 4 hours without cruise, my hips were sore so I settled with 4 gorgeous miles on the sand. Thankfully, I was feeling good on Sunday and was able to do 11 miles with my husband, both brothers, and younger brother’s girlfriend. What a great way to start the day. I wish at least once a week that we all lived closer and were able to train together. *Sigh*

After the run we quickly showered and went straight to hair and makeup. It takes pretty much all day, but it’s SO WORTH IT to chat with the ladies and be pampered for a change. It was just wonderful. Of course I had to take a selfie!

wedding hair

My daughter and my sister’s daughter were so cute at the wedding:


Is there anything cuter?


Well, maybe this…

Currie was supposed to be taking pictures of the wedding with my phone while Jeff and I did the video. Let me show you how that turned out:

wedding photo fail

Want to see up our noses?

And finally, a nice one of my little family after the ceremony:

family at wedding

Early the next morning, we were headed back to Rochester and back to freezing cold temps. I think it was 16 degrees, with a much colder windchill when I went out for my run. I wore 6 layers on top. It was a bit dramatic, but I like being toasty.  Talk about feeling heavy! It was worth it!

I’m hoping for some more miles this week, possibly some speed. I have no races on the radar for the near future as it’s winter and I usually let my husband do a the local Freezeroo series while I work on building miles. With windchills below zero for most of this week, I will most likely be on the treadmill. More on that later!

How does your running usually look on vacation? Do you get butt/hip pain when you drive long distances? 


Happy New Year! My Exciting Night

Happy New Year! Did you know that I’m a twin? Yep! See below. My twin sister was in town to help me make a “12” out of our bodies to signify our last run in the year 2012. We wore matching outfits and everything. Aren’t we cute?

Just kidding! That’s just 2 different pictures of me, stitched together to show how much snow we had on my last run in 2012. I went 4 miles and it was around my neighborhood since the streets are decently plowed. Now that I look at the pics, I know I could have made a better “2” by swinging my left hand over my head and extending the right hand along my waist. Oh well, you live and learn right? I will resolve to do that better in 2013. Must start planning 2013 body shaping now! :)

My NYE was spent doing all sorts of exciting things… like grocery shopping, hanging out with Currie, bathing, reading Cooking Light, checking out some blogs. Are you jealous?

cooking light, jan/feb 2013

Actually, the shopping part was strange. Currie and I went to Wegmans (our local grocery store) to get salmon, contact solution, and butter. I’ve never seen the store so busy and we had to park far away. Not a problem for us, but I worried about the madhouse we were about to enter.

We went straight to the contact solutions and my brand was sold out. Darn. We headed over to the seafood counter and passed by the kids club cookie bin. Currie had her heart set on a cookie-they were out. We walked to the bakery to ask for one. They said we needed to go to the bread section. Just as we started walking away, a random woman told me she had 2 boxes of chocolate chip cookies and we could just take one of hers. SO KIND! That just warmed my heart! We thanked her and moved along to seafood.

Apparently everyone eats seafood on NYE and the section was packed. I scanned the items for wild caught salmon but only found farm raised. I settled on wild caught cod instead. Just as I was deciding how much to buy, the store went BLACK. It was freaky. Everything was still, quiet, eerie. Within a few seconds, a dim backup lighting system came on and we were able to see again. But, we couldn’t get our seafood because the scales weren’t working. I thought maybe they could just estimate, but they didn’t agree so I figured we weren’t meant to have seafood. We paid for our butter and left. What a weird night at Wegmans!

I started 2013 with a 6 mile treadmill run. It was torture, but it was my only option. I watched Sesame Street with Currie while running. I started at 7mph and cut down to 9mph (but only did that for the last quarter mile). I probably shouldn’t have chugged 2 strong cups of coffee immediately before stepping on the treadmill because I was feeling a little barfy towards the end. Still, I survived a run on the treadmill, so that’s a positive!

Happy 2013 everyone!


Why I’ve Been Away

Hello! I’m back! I love my social media family, and missed you all dearly, but like many others, I’ve been away from the blogging world for the past 2 weeks. I’ve been prepping for the holidays and mostly spending in-person time with family and friends. I’ll get back into blogging today with a just a small fraction of pics from what’s been happening:

Present wrapping and receiving:

Marc Jacobs hair tie bracelets

One of my favorite gifts. Bracelets that also serve as hair ties!

irresistibly sexy tease earrings

Irresistibly sexy tease earrings? Thankfully I didn’t give or receive these, but these were on my wrapping agenda.

Sibling bonding:

jason ordway jen bigham pre run

Little bro and me before a full-stomach-run!

sisters baking cookies

Baking the famous family lard cookies with my sister!

siblings in matching pajamas

All 4 Ordway kids in annual matching Christmas pajamas, explained below! Sound of Music on TV!


jason ordway, josh ordway, nicole camp

Ran with my speedy family

cold weather oiselle gear

Layer upon layer upon layer of Oiselle for the cold, snowy runs!

Family bonding:

Every year, my mom buys matching pajamas for the whole family. They are always different, always slightly ridiculous and we always love it! This year we had a penguin theme. It’s a cherished family tradition that we all love and appreciate!

The Ordway family

Whole family in matching PJs! Even the kids are in blue and pink penguins! SO.MUCH.FUN!


Me, Currie and Jeff frosting cookies!

There’s the little snippet of what I’ve been up to! Now we are back in Rochester, living it up with well over a foot of snow. Time for my first abundance-of-snow-run of the season!



Post Marathon Lazy Week-My Choice for Recovery

Even though I felt like my body recovered from this marathon faster than ever, I still spent the entire past week being a lazy blob. I believe in total recovery for at least a full week post-marathon. I move as little as possible and eat as much as possible. I don’t do any type of exercise. I spend the week trying to gain some weight and see what it feels like to be inactive. It makes me really miss my usual active lifestyle and gets me fired up about training hard again.

Last week I was super successful with my recovery. I only walked on the treadmill one day to get my 3.1 miles in for the Race for Recovery. Other than that I did nothing. It helped that Jeff was out of the country and I was full time parent to Currie which left me little time to do any exercise anyway.

toddler gingerbread house

I went out and bought lots of crafty things like this gingerbread house kit and let Currie go to town on it. She says she’s going to be “an artist”.

Laziness felt good at first, and horrible by the end. I was itching to run or do some sort of exercise. On Monday, I finally got my opportunity. Jeff arrived home from Paris and I did 4 easy miles on my favorite out and back loop. No watch. No worries. Just a nice, easy, relaxed 4 miles. It felt awesome! I stopped by Starbucks on the way home and the barista gave me free coffee. Score!

starbucks reserve coffee

The funny thing is, I was thinking on the run how the barista should give me free coffee because we spend so much money in that place. There’s something to think about for all of you The Secret (book) fans.

And that’s how this week will look. I will run every day, somewhere between 3-5 miles and all the running will be super easy. The next few weeks will probably look the same.

There is a new race in Rochester this year called the Reindeer Run 5k and I’m dying to do it because as you probably noticed I’m a little obsessed with racing. Also, I’ve never done a Christmas-y type race and I would love to run with bells and antlers and see how much fun (or annoying) those props would be. The race is this Saturday and I already told Jeff he can run instead of me. He gives up so much of his own racing for mine and since I’ll be less than 2 weeks post-marathon it’s not necessary for me to jump right back in! It should be fun cheering for Jeff and all the other local runners! As of Monday, they had 1,111 entrants for this brand new race. Pretty cool!

How do you recover post-marathon? Do you enjoy your lazy time or like to get back into it?

ShowerPill to the Rescue!

Many of my days involve a morning workout with no shower until the evening. Here are two common scenarios:

  • I get started on my run later than expected. I get home the second Jeff has to leave for work.
  • I have a morning and evening run on the schedule, and I don’t want to take a shower until my exercise is completed for the day.

I always have something planned within 30 minutes of finishing my run. Because of that, I’m usually rushing around, spilling coffee everywhere, trying to get Currie and myself presentable enough to face the world and our day. I must admit that many days, I change clothes, throw on some deodorant, and hope the little lady naps so I can shower before 9pm. I go through the day feeling grungy, grimy, just plain dirty.

I recently found dry shampoo which has been a wonderful solution for my hair. As far as my body goes, I’ve been known to use baby wipes (flimsy, sticky, tiny) or a wet washcloth (not exactly doing much) to clean up a bit. Just a few days ago, a little thing called ShowerPill came into my life and I’m in love!


Cue heavenly music

What is a ShowerPill? Well, it isn’t a shower and it isn’t a pill. It’s an Athletic Body Wipe that  comes in a convenient little package that you can take with you anytime, anywhere. Each ShowerPill is:

  • An individually wrapped Athletic Body Wipe, conveniently packaged for on-the-go use.
  • Thick, durable, 9×8 inches of body-freshening goodness
  • Germ killing, but safe on sensitive skin (like mine) infused with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E.
  • Dries quickly on it’s own, no extra drying, no residue, no lingering scent.
  • Very light scent that reminds me of something from my childhood. I can’t think of what it reminds me of, but it’s very pleasant.

I was ready to put the ShowerPill to the test on my double run day. Here’s how it went down, in picture form:


Sitting in my own version of Pigeon Pose post-run, ready to rip into the ShowerPill


Open up!


Where should I start?


The face, definitely the face first!


Getting a little race (ha), we’ll end with this shot.

Of course a real shower is always best, but for times when I really need to freshen up and don’t have time (or not near a shower) I have to say I’m 100% satisfied with the ShowerPill! It was the perfect size, cleaned my whole body, left no residue, left no scent, was extremely durable, and made me feel clean until my second run 11 hours later.

ShowerPill is having a Black Friday Sale on Amazon from 11/23-11/25 for Buy two (2), get one (1) FREE! You just place 3 boxes in your cart and enter the code SPFRIDAY to receive the 3rd box free. I will definitely take advantage of that deal from the comfort of my couch, pajamas (or running clothes) on, coffee in hand!

All opinions on this blog are ALWAYS my own. I was given the ShowerPill samples through my relationship with FitFluential and truly love the product! I hope you do too!




This Feels Like Cheating

A post about a crazy runner mind!

I’m very honest with my training. I log my miles down to the 0.01. If there’s ever a question, I round down. I never want to look back at my training and have any questions, any doubts. I always KNOW I did AT LEAST what my training log says. In my normal life, I like to exaggerate, or “add a little flair” to my stories. With my training, it’s the opposite, always recorded exactly or downplayed. It gives me confidence looking back, knowing I did every single workout at least as well as stated, most likely better.

running log

Snippet of my online running log, down to the 0.01

So as part of my crazy little runner mind, there are a few totally normal things I do that feel like “cheating” to me. The one I want to address today is: wearing racing flats for workouts.

Nothing about wearing flats for workouts is cheating. In fact, it’s common practice. Still, I like to do my workouts, even track workouts, in my regular training shoes. Then when I’m done with the workout, I can look back at my splits and say, “wow, and I did all that in regular trainers!” In my crazy runner mind, training shoes add a second or two per lap on the track. I leave those workouts feeling confident, fast, super tough, knowing when it’s race time and I’m in flats, I’m totally golden.

Then there are workouts like last night. I had a great workout on the track. My paces were faster than expected. The workout felt easier than expected. I left the track feeling like I had more to give. Like I could have run more repeats, at the same pace. Everything was clicking. But… I wore my flats for the workout. So this tiny little voice in my head was saying “well of course it was fast, you were wearing flats! You were cheating!”

new balance 1400 racing flats

My current racing flats

Thinking about this, I know it doesn’t make sense! I’m laughing right now just writing it. I race in racing flats, why not train in them? I’m not cutting a course, I’m not dropping out of part of the workout, I’m just wearing the same shoes that I wear when I’m racing. Yet somehow it feels like cheating. Maybe sharing this crazy little thing with you will help me realize it’s ok.

What do you think? Do you do workouts in lightweight shoes like racing flats? Do you have any crazy runner “things” that are normal but feel like cheating?