We love learning about stories of women. Seeing how their journey has come together so far, hearing their challenges and successes, and listening to what lights them up. In listening to others stories, there’s a beautiful moment where we may feel inspired, connected, seen, or truly just enjoy their point of view. Jessica Murphy, co-owner of Bibrave, put together things that excite her and made it her business. Running, travel, and business. Prior to dedicating her time exclusively to BibRave, Jessica most recently served as the Managing Director for Runner’s World. She spent 10+ years in Advertising, Marketing, and Sponsorship Sales across some fabulous non-running related organizations from Nike to LinkedIn to The Atlantic. Her energy is so vibrant and we were so excited to learn more about her story.
SIB: Hi Jessica, tell us a little bit about yourself in 3-4 sentences.
Jessica: Hi! I am a runner, business-owner, and lover of travel and food. I’m fairly high-energy, but sometimes overbearing, and believe that if anything is worth doing it should be done whole-heartedly. This can sometimes be exhausting to people close to me like my husband and friends. But, when it’s all said and done, I don’t like to take myself too seriously!
Ha! That’s a great attitude that I’m sure has allowed you to stay fluid in business, life, and running. What are your first memories of running, when did you start and what motivated you to get out there?
My first memories of running are having to run the mile in grade school. I HATED it. I always experienced side stitches, and it was always such a struggle to finish. I was very unathletic growing-up. Even through college and early adulthood I would struggle to maintain any consistent fitness routine, I’d barely fit in 15-20 minutes on the treadmill. Then, in 2008 I decided to run the Chicago Marathon on a whim based on some peer pressure from a friend. She said “you’re young and healthy, it’ll never get easier than it is now.” I committed that day to run the 2009 Chicago Marathon, and I went through the training because I said I would. What I didn’t expect is how much training for a marathon would change my life! Every week I was accomplishing something I never thought I could. And that is why I love our sport so much! I’ve now completed over 20 Marathons and a few ultras, and it all sounds kind of crazy to the Jessica of 12 years ago!
We love to hear about women entrepreneurs and business owners’ journeys. As the co-founder of Bibrave, we want to know what inspired you to start this community and business. Did you always work in the health and fitness community?
After I got hooked on the running bug I started to think pretty deeply about how fitness and running positively impacted my life. I have worked in Advertising and Marketing my entire career, and as I started to think about my long-term professional goals I honed in on wanting to pivot my skill set into inspiring others to move! Starting BibRave was part of that. My husband Tim and I (who also ran his first marathon at the 2009 Chicago Marathon) started BibRave as a side project in 2013. Between that and when I started working on BibRave full-time in 2017 I also did stints at Nike and Runner’s World, which were amazing ways to deep-dive into our industry and bring some great foundational knowledge back to our work at BibRave.
What have been some of the biggest challenges and biggest surprises or success of owning your own business?
Oh man, I have learned SO MUCH from BibRave in the past few years. Maybe one of the biggest challenges and successes of BibRave is not having things too planned out. I’m sure most women can relate to wanting to have a clear and detailed plan! Us Type A runners also love that – I love me a good plan! But, oftentimes being too detailed in a plan can limit one’s ability to see and seize new opportunity in the moment. BibRave as a business is SO different from our original vision and plan, and if we had built too concrete of a 3 or 5-year plan when we launched we would not be where we are today. That was a big leap of faith for me, personally, but it’s also been one of the most rewarding parts – seeing how successfully we’ve been able to evolve our business to meet the needs of the industry and our clients!
Navigating the pandemic has also been one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced as an organization. We’ve seen some amazing growth in the past 3 years especially. To see that come to screeching halt with the rest of the world, while also maintaining our entire team intact (9 employees total) has meant thinking on our toes everyday, pushing for new ideas, and exploring every nook and cranny at a relentless pace. As a business owner we have tried to stay level-headed and positive for our team even though the reality of the industry as a whole has been quite stressful! The key for us has been to never stop innovating.
That is great business advice- especially in current times. Do you have advice for someone who wants to make running part of their regular routine but feel intimidated or unmotivated?
I really love talking people into running because I was that person who thought that I was not meant to run. Clearly with all my side stitches my body was not meant to run! These are my main 3 pieces of advice for newbies to the sport!
- Sign-up for a race! – Nothing can replace the feeling of accomplishment that comes with preparing for an event and seeing that hard work come to life on race day! While races are on hold a Virtual Race can still hold you accountable to prepare for a distance!
- Join a running crew/group – I ran solo for 5 years before joining a running group, and OH how that running group changed my life. I looked forward to our runs so I could catch-up with my friends. Miles flew by, there was shared suffering during workouts, and best of all I made some amazing memories and new friends along the way.
- Don’t think, just do – People are waiting for motivation, but after years of running it can still be hard to come by. My key to consistency has been to get out the door in the morning before I can think about it. Just get out the door. You’ll always feel better after knowing you did it!
With in-person events and races on hold for the foreseeable future, what has inspired you to lace up your shoes? Do you find yourself running more or less in the pandemic?
Running during the pandemic has been a roller coaster for me. My key has always been listening to my body and letting motivation come (and go) so I tried to follow that methodology during this crazy time.
I was in the middle of training for a Half Marathon PR in Jan/Feb and then planning to run the Boston Marathon and the Big Sur Marathon! I immediately paused my training when my race was cancelled early March. Motivation to run then became a huge struggle. It was a rainy, cold Portland winter and virtual racing was not motivating. I passed on all the options to run my planned IRL races virtually.
But, after a few weeks I found the motivation to slowly increase mileage…sneaking into double digits…increasing my long-runs by the standard 10-20% each weekend. One weekend I ran 16 miles and thought, “I only need 2 more long runs to consider a Virtual Marathon!” With running being one of my few opportunities to get outside I started enjoying the long-runs and looked forward to preparing for a Virtual Marathon! I chose the Missoula Marathon (end of June) because I was also supposed to run Missoula and it was my birthday weekend! It was the perfect way to kick-off my birthday festivities.
What does courage look or feel like for you?
This is a BIG question! For me, courage presents in two different ways.
Recently it has been pushing the boundaries of my own level of comfort or proficiency. I used to avoid things that I was bad at like the plague :) Running (and anything fitness-related) was one of those things for a long time! But I’ve really tried to embrace the idea of trying new things for my own personal growth and mental development. Reading the book Peak Performance changed my perspective on the importance of pushing oneself outside of one’s comfort zone. That has meant trying all sorts of new things that are “scary” or seem intimidating, and being comfortable with feeling uncomfortable!
In a totally different lane, I also see courage as the ability to admit when you are wrong and/or change your point of view. So often we get stuck in this lane of feeling like we have all the right answers, and we go into conversations feeling like we have to “win” a debate versus using conversation to hear and learn from a different perspective. If that means you change a previously held belief, it takes courage to be open to that new information and admit you were wrong!
Thank you for taking time to share your story with us. How can readers learn more about you and Bibrave?
Thank you for inviting me to share my story!! I really do love the running community and running industry so much, I’m always happy to connect with others. People can find me on Instagram at @jmurphy628 or Twitter @jnimurph. You can also hear me on The BibRave Podcast.