Fitletic Hydration Belt Giveaway WINNER & Discount Code

I have a winner!!!  Is it you?!?  Today I am giving away one Fitletic Hydration Belt. 

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The random number generator selected #88.

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#88 is Gila Robinson! 

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Gila, please contact me ASAP at amanda@tootallfritz.com so that we can get you set up with your new hydration belt.  I’m sure you have lots of miles to run this summer and we want you to be hydrated and ready to rock any distance you choose to conquer! 

For the rest of us,  we can order our Fitletic Hydration Belt HERE using the 10% discount code:  amanda10

Run Happy & Hydrated ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon–Duluth MN

As most of you know by now, I’m on a quest to run a marathon in every state.  And I’m on a budget.  As a result, I’ve pretty much given up running races that are less than the 26.2 distance.  I’ve also pretty much given up running marathons in state’s that I’ve already “checked off” unless the race is free.  I pick races based on my (and Julie’s) calendar.  I don’t stress about the course.  Or the weather.  Or the details.  It’s an adventure.  The bigger, the better.  The more the merrier.  Join me!!

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We picked our Minnesota race because Julie said she wanted to knock off MN this year.  I can’t say this was my first choice for MN because, well, we are road runners!  But alas, it   fit into our weekend warrior calendar and it was super affordable at a mere $35 entry fee.  You absolutely can not beat trail races for the price, the hospitality, the fun and the level of commitment that they give to each and every runner.  The Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon wins the TTF Award for the “Best Bang for the Buck” in 2015.  I don’t even care that it’s only July.  They already won.  $35 entry fee = $1.34 per mile.  Our race took forever 7 hours & 37 minutes = $4.60 per hour.

The aid stations were stocked with coke, ginger ale, sprite, powerade (BLUE!!!!), ice, ice water, pretzels, M&Ms, candy, fig newtons, sandwich cookies, frosted oatmeal cookies, gingersnap cookies, potato chips, watermelon, bananas, salt, salt capsules, and a ton of stuff that I can’t remember.  I probably ate/drank more than the $35 entry fee.

There was also an army of volunteers who encouraged us, filled our water bottles, wiped our tears, recorded our numbers, pointed us in the right direction and handed us paper towels & wet wipes in case we needed to go to the bathroom clean up.

The race started promptly at 6am at the Lake Superior Zoo.  There was no big start banner.  No chip timing.  No pomp.  No circumstance.  But there were people making announcements to get us in the right spot and there were bathrooms. Runners came to run and everything else is left on the trail.

The first 2.5-3 miles of the race climbed the ski trails of Spirit Mountain.  Once we started hitting nice roads and fancy bridges we knew we were close to the top!

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Then we started seeing the ski lifts and we came out of the trees for breathtaking views of Lake Superior in the early morning fog.  Absolutely amazing.

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The trail was very well marked with orange ribbons.   I never once questioned our direction.  Organizers spent a lot of time clearing trail for us rather than just using ordinary trails already cut in the parks through which we ran.  There was a lot of planning to get us from Duluth to the finish in Carlton, MN on this point to point course.   It was a creative path.  A difficult one.  Not the most technical of all that I’ve ran but extremely hard and probably the most fun so far (and that’s saying a lot cuz we ran the Dances with Dirt Devil’s Lake WI Extreme Trail  Marathon last July).  Take a peak at the various terrain from steep trails along ridges, to roped off trails to help us navigate the terrain & not fall …..

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To hills, both up and down as far as the eyes could see.

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Beautiful ferns.  Bridges.  Obstacles.

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Water crossings.  Mud.  Roots.  Rocks.

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Parks.  Rivers.

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Every step of this was amazing.  And hard.  Very hard.  But we smiled and laughed almost the entire 7.5+ hours.  If you are a trail runner, the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon is a must.  If you are an ultra runner, then this race is just a warm up for the MN Voyager 50 Mile Trail Ultramarathon at the end of July.  Like what you see in these pics?  Try the Voyager and you’ll get to run it twice.

As you know from the above post, we finished.  And were happy to see the car and some clean clothes at the end of the race.  To our surprise, we also received a very unique handmade finishers medallion and a gender specific soft, tee.  Nice!

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I’m forever grateful for the good friends I’ve made over the years while “on the run”.  A special thanks to Julie for running some of these crazy races with me!  I can’t wait til we tromp off into the woods for the next adventure!  IMG_7590

** Maybe We’ll See YOU On the Trail ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Fitletic Hydration Belt Review, Giveaway & Discount Code

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There is a new name in the fitness industry in regards to hydration belts. According to the buzz on the trail, this is the current “go to” company for  hydration needs on the run.  Those of us who have been using hydration belts for years want the low down on Fitletic.  If you are like me, then you’ve previously spent hard earned $$ on poor fitting hydration belts that slip, slide & drench you with water. 

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Fitletic sent me a 12 oz belt to review.  That included two 6oz water bottles on an adjustable strap with a large pouch that fits an iPhone 6 (the 6+ would probably NOT fit into this pouch).  Inside the pouch was an interior slit type pocket for credit cards, money and an ID.  The belt also included toggles for a race bib & 2 slots for energy gels.  The gel slots were definitely designed for the most popular gel, GU brand.  But I was able to fold the top of my AdvoCare Rehydrate Gel enough to get it into the slot tightly enough to stay put.

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Aby and I ran with this belt on two different long runs.  A 9 miler in the POURING rain.  And a 10 miler last weekend.  I wanted both of us to use the belt because we have different body types.  I have a hydration belt that I have been using for YEARS but I can’t seem to find one that fits her curvier frame.  Every belt that we buy for her slides all around and she ditches it less than a mile into the run.  The belt I wear, that also fits her, is no longer available cuz I use my stuff until it dies on the trail.  We both had success with the Fitletic belt  and liked the way that it rode and more importantly stayed put and didn’t move around.  I also let a friend try it out while we were running because she too has issues with poor fitting hydration belts.  We were 3 for 3 on this belt with big smiles and all thumbs up.  Smile  Here is a back view of myself with the belt.  I normally wear my bottles on the back.  That’s what I’m used to doing.  However, if you wanted instant access to the pouch, or you’re racing and need the bib toggles, wear it facing front. 

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There are little grippers on the inside of the belt that I haven’t seen on other hydration belts.  They remind me of the grippers on the inside of bike & TRI shorts.  These little boogers really help hold the belt in place so it doesn’t move around.  Great idea!

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The Fitletic hydration belts come in a variety of color accents, all with reflective piping.  There are two size options:  12 oz (2 – 6 oz bottles) or 16 oz (2 – 8 oz bottles).  If you are running long for marathon training or if you are a trail runner who can’t rely on a spot to refill water, then I’d recommend the 16oz belt.  The 16oz option is more compatible with traditional hydration belts.  Personally, if I go much bigger than 8 oz bottles on a belt, my experience has been that they really start to weigh me down. 

For the purpose of this giveaway, we are giving away one 12 oz Hydration Belt, a $39.95 value.

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The giveaway starts NOW and runs til WED, July 15th at 11am EST.  That’s 10am for those of you in the CHI.  In order to be eligible for the giveaway you MUST make a comment below.  Tell us about your favorite way to stay hydrated on the run!  Do you already use a hydration belt that you love?  Do you drop water along the way?  Do prefer a handheld or even a hydration pack?

For extra entries, you can get one additional entries for doing the following:

  • Like Fitletic on Facebook HERE 
  • Follow Fitletic on Twitter HERE
  • Follow Fitletic on Instagram HERE

Four possible entries, make sure you let me know in your comment if you did anything additional.  Example:  “My favorite way to carry water on the run is to have my hubby drive beside me in the car and hand me my water bottle whenever I’m thirsty!  I also liked Fitletic on Facebook.” 

If you have to have one of these belts before you win the giveaway next WED, and I totally get that, then feel free to order one HERE using the 10% discount code:  amanda10

**  Happy HYDRATED Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

For the most up to date info on future giveaways, follow TooTooFritz on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Swimming to TRI … Tips on Surviving the Swim in YOUR First (or Next) Triathlon

Let’s be honest, if you’re swimming laps at your local YMCA, then it’s probably not because you are a diehard lover of the swim.  You have a triathlon on the calendar, right?  Yeah, me too!  And that’s why I’m in the lane right next to you.

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Every time I meet a new triathlete, I hear the same story.  They fear the swim.  In today’s world, every parent I know, besides myself, has their kid signed up to be Olympic swimmers on a local swim team.  But in my day, swimming wasn’t all the rage.  Sure we went to the pool in the summer.  We swam in the lake with our friends and family.  But nobody was going to be the next Missy Franklin.  It was a different world when I grew up but it’s those “non swimmers” from my generation who are now creating the newest group of triathletes.  Why?   Cuz we are now middle aged women.  Looking for something that we can call our own.  Something outside the hubby, kids and the J.O.B.  Something just for us.

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And so we sign up for our first triathlon.  We know we can run, been doing that for a few years now, right?  And we learned to ride a bike as a child.  Once you learn, you never forget, right?  The bike may be old, need a tune up or possibly new tires (since the old ones were dry rotted) but it will cover the distance for a sprint triathlon.  So you’re in and registered.  But what about the swim?  Here is everything I know about swimming a TRI.  I’ve never taken lessons but have done a few swim clinics and I always ask advice from lifeguards, swim teachers, swim coaches or high school/college swimmers when I get the chance.  If you’re a swimmer, I’ll probably ask you questions, even if you are my 10 year old niece.  Smile

Triathlon SWIM Tips:

  • Relax.  You’re not going to drown.  And if you think you might drown, please stop reading this and go find a coach!
  • Practice may not make you perfect but it will ease your nerves.  You have to swim before your TRI.  Minimum 1x a week.  More if you have the time.  The more time you spend in the water pre-race, the better.  You will get more comfortable with each swim session. 
  • Get a good swim cap and a tinted pair of goggles.  Start using them in the pool  while practicing so they won’t seem foreign on race day.  Goggles are not required during triathlon but you do want to protect your eyes from other peoples fingers, the water & even the sun (thus the reason for tinted goggles).  Swim caps will be required and provided by the race to distinguish your swim start & age group.
  • There are no rules regarding the type of swim stroke in a triathlon.  You can freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, sidestroke or even dog paddle, as long as you get in and out of the water on your own power.  So if you start to feel panicky while swimming, pull your head out of the water and do a different stroke. 
  • Keep moving in the water.  Triathlon swims normally start in waves, usually by age group.  Each wave is separated by a specified amount of time, anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.    Meaning that groups will start before you and then there will be a group immediately behind you. Keep moving because the faster swimmers from the wave behind you will be upon you (and passing you) before you know it. 
  • Mentally prepare yourself to be around people while swimming.  This won’t be like your lonely practice swims at the Y.  There will be 20-100+ people around you at any given moment. 
  • There will be lifeguards and spotters in the water with or near you.  On boats, paddle boards, wave runners, canoes, etc.  If you cramp or panic, you can hold into a boat/paddle board/buoy for support as long as the lifeguard doesn’t have to actually assist you in any way. 
  • Fastest stroke for most people is freestyle, or front crawl.  Where your face is in the water. 
  • If you tend to swim crooked, try bilateral breathing, where you breathe equally on both sides of your body.  Easier said than done for someone like me.  Bilateral breathing has been a goal of mine for 4 or 5 years and I’m just finally getting it now.  Bilateral breathing tip (from a swim coach at the YMCA of Dekalb) – Use a kick board initially.  Hold the kickboard out in front of your body with straight arms.  Just kick to propel yourself & the board forward, then put your face in the water and practice breathing.  First breath on your strong side, next one on your weak side.  Couple times down and back & you’ll be ready to rock this on your own while practicing your freestyle.  You may get a few partial mouthfuls  of water (at least I do) but it will help even out your stroke and straighten up your swim.
  • Freestyle stroke requires that you lift your head out of the water on occasion to “spot” or check your position in an open water swim.  The most efficient way to spot is to do so right before you breathe.  So lift your eyes slightly out of the water in the front, then turn your head to breathe.  You just need a quick glance to make sure you are still on path.  Example HERE with a video in section #4.
  • If you are in a slip stream of another swimmer, you can just follow along and that will require less spotting (and less energy) on your part, just don’t follow them blindly in the event that they get off course.
  • Some TRIs, have a line or rope that runs between buoys.  If you can find the line and stay on it, you will not need to site because you can just follow that rope.  Sweet!
  • Swim freestyle with a wider arm stance.  Don’t cross your arms in front of your body when you swim.  Most of us ladies, bring our arms over our head and our hand enters the water in front of our head/face.  Wrong.  That’s wasting motion, kinda like running with your arms pumping and crossing in front of your body.  It’s the same thing.  Think wider, almost awkward, swim stroke where your hand enters the water parallel to the body.  Confused?  Hold your arms straight out in front of your body, parallel to the ground.  Like a movie zombie or sleepwalker!  That’s the position of arm entry.  At the side of your ears.  Not in front of your head.

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  • One your hand enters the water, reach in front of you to get the full motion of the stroke, then pull back in the water with loose fingers (not a tightly cupped hand which wastes energy) toward your hip bone.  At the same time your body is rotating for efficiency and to get ready to take a breath.  When you hand gets to where your hip was, the hip should be gone because the body has tilted/rotated.  When I’m in the water, I imagine my hand almost pushing my hip up and out of the way.  Not a perfect example below.  I’d like to see his hip rotate out a bit more on the top pic but still a decent example.

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Complete diagram of full stroke.

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That’s pretty much everything I know about swimming.  If you have additional tips, please share because I am far from an expert and would love to learn more!!  Know that I’m not fast but I can cover whatever distance.  I’m trying to get to the pool at least 2x a week now.  Still not a lot but better.  I just think about my bilateral breathing, wide arm stance/entry, reaching thru the stroke so as not to cheat myself, and then body rotation where my hand pushes my hip out of the way.  I still need  to work on my flutter kick.  Sometimes I forget to kick.

If you plan to wear a wetsuit in your TRI, watch the first video in this link HERE.  Judy, please watch it cuz I’ll need you to help me get my too small wetsuit on at Steelhead!!!

Other helpful TRI posts: 

** Swimming to TRI ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Hidden Treasurers …. The Spencerville Covered Bridge

I took all of 2014 off cycling due to the sudden move from IL to IN.  The stress of finding a new house while packing up the IL home.  All while working full time.  Being a full time mom with a hubby who had pretty much already moved ahead of us for work.   And let’s not even talk about how crazy long it took to complete the move itself.    I basically didn’t do much last year other than run to maintain sanity, then try not to lose my mind while I wasn’t running ….. and I didn’t even do that very well.  Regardless, since last August, I’ve been running on my country roads here in rural Indiana.   Should be boring, right?

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Wrong.  I’ve had a couple close calls where I was almost struck by unaware motorists.  One time a lady was so close to me that I could have reached into her car and touched her child who was riding passenger.   Did she see me?  Probably not.  Was the sun in her eyes?  Maybe.  Or was she trying to teach me a lesson to “get off the road”.  Possibly.

As a result, I was a bit worried about getting my bike out.  In fact, I was scared.   While running, I’m legally obligated to run facing oncoming vehicular traffic.  While cycling, I’m legally obligated to ride with vehicular traffic.  Blind to what is coming behind me.  Blind to the fact that someone may be unaware that I’m on the road.  On a bike.  Vulnerable.  At His mercy.  If it weren’t for my love of triathlon; I’d probably have left my bike on the trainer again for 2015.  But I’m signed up for Ironman 70.3 Steelhead.  And I must ride.  Outside.  On the road.  In the wind.  Up and down whatever hills I can find.  Alone.

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All of a sudden, I remember how much I love cycling.  How much I love my bike.  How great it is to fly down the hills.  How horrid it is to struggle UP the hills.  How freeing it is to be able to ride for hours on end to parts unknown.  On one of my recent rides, I went looking for something that I had read about, in a small town near my home.  A covered bridge.  Indiana is known for it’s old covered bridges (98 in all) but I had no idea that one was so close to my new home.  The Spencerville Covered Bridge was built in 1873 and it’s a mere 11 miles from my house!

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A hidden historic treasure.  Basically in my backyard.  One that not many locals think about since traffic has long been rerouted away from the bridge to protect it from overuse, modern vehicles and big massive semi trucks that have previously damaged this old girl.   Now she just sits awaiting our arrival.  While I was there multiple people pulled up and snapped pics.   One couple even lingered, looking at this piece of modern day history, walking the interior planks.  There is a small parking area on the east side of the bridge for those who want to do more than just drive by.  If you are in the area, go check it out!

I’m thankful to be back on the bike.  I’ve been trying to ride more and run less.  Easier said than done for this runner.  But I’m enjoying the journey.  Enjoying my bike and the wind in my hair.  I love finding hidden treasures like the Spencerville Covered Bridge.  I enjoy riding new roads and finding new routes, particularly if there are a couple hills on which I can practice climbing and shifting. 

** Get Out and Find YOUR Local Hidden Treasurers!  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Marion Rotary For Shoes Marathon & Hot Weather Running Tips

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Marathon #21 was in the great state of Iowa, in Marion, just north of Cedar Rapids.  It was the Marion Rotary For Shoes Marathon.  And it was hot.  And hilly.  But I had a great group of friends who made the trip with me.  From left, meet Lindsay (Glitter Girl on the Run), Judy F, Amanda W (Get to Goal), Derek, Julie M & myself.

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We also met Kim from Running on the Fly and her friend, Barb (not pictured). 

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The 2015 Marathon for Shoes was held in June for the first time.  The first two years were held the third week in April and apparently the weather both years was crazy cold with either snow or wind/rain/sleet.  So the 2015 edition was pushed out til June and cold it was not.  In fact it was hot.  So hot that most of us would have done a choreographed rain dance had we thought it would produce a cloud or drop of rain from that beautiful blue but steamy sky.  But alas, no rain.

Packet pickup was at a local school gymnasium and there were a handful of vendors.  Nice, friendly people.  Easy packet pick up.  Free parking.  Nike tech shirt as the SWAG.  You could have been in and out with your shirt & number in less than 10 minutes.  But you had to get your packet the night before the race or there was a late pickup fee the morning of the race.

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The race started in front of a local high school at 7am.  Easy, free parking.  A handful of port-o-potties.  Chip timing.  Beautiful blue skies.  The race started on time without much of a production.  We were across the timing mat in less than 30 seconds, along with the half marathoners and a handful of relay runners.  Not a huge race, less than 500 people at the start. 

Then came the hills.  One right after another.  Then a few more. And the never really stopped.  The temps that were in the mid 70s at the start climbed to mid 80s by the finish.  The course was mainly on country roads with some neighborhoods.   There were a couple sections where we ran along busy highways separated from the zooming cars by orange cones.  Highlights were an old cemetery and a small park.   The coolest thing we saw was a piece of art in the form of corn stalks just before mile 7.

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Around mile 7, the half marathoners turned off and it got pretty lonely.  I’ll be honest, I was so thankful to have friends running this race!  We mostly stuck together and just dealt with the hills heat as it came.  Very slowly.  With lots of walking.  Aid stations were every 1.5 miles or so apart.  They offered warm water & watermelon AdvoCare Rehydrate (tasty and way better than traditional sugar laden sport drinks for your body!).  There were lots of people on bikes offering bike support, asking us if we were okay, calling SAG for those who needed a ride and calling 911 for those who dropped.   There were a handful of spectators scattered throughout the 26.2 miles.  The best spectator award goes to a nice couple who put out their sprinkler as we ran thru one of the last neighborhoods.  We were super thankful for that sprinkler and ran thru it like a bunch of 5 year olds.  I think I even squealed with delight!  Winking smile 

Running in high heat and 100% humidity is pretty dangerous.  I wouldn’t recommend it.  However, weather for pre-registered events is an absolute unknown.  There is no way to predict what the day will bring but only what we can do to make our chances to survive the elements a bit better.

Tips for running in the heat:

  • Wear a hat or visor
  • Wear sunscreen to keep your skin from frying
  • Dump water on your head and body to keep yourself as cool as possible
  • Wear light colored clothing
  • Use ice or cold water to increase the rate of cooling
  • Run thru sprinklers or open hydrants, if available
  • Use sponges or cooling towels if the event offers these things
  • Take your time, decrease your pace, and WALK to keep your body temp as even as possible
  • Replace lost salt with salt tablets, electrolyte drinks/gels or by eating salty foods

Bottom line, even if you do all of the above, your rate of success will depend on how your body can ultimately deal with the heat.  Some people handle it much better than others.  Some people can’t handle it at all.  One of my friends still has a headache from the heat and dehydration suffered on Sunday.  Another friend had no idea why we struggled so much because she “loves running in the heat”.   It’s all about your body and how it can adapt to the conditions and that is super hard to predict.

Ultimately, everyone in my group finished, most of us with bragging rights over our new “personal worst” time.  But we finished under our own power because we did what was necessary for us and that meant slowing WAY down to endure the weather.  Here is Judy and I running around the track toward the finish line.  We were two happy campers to have finished another marathon in yet another new state. 

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Being safe always trumps running fast.  It’s certainly not fun but something we all learn over time.  If you ran in Marion on Sunday and are feeling bad about your race, know that only 124 people FINISHED the full, only 243 FINISHED the half and there were only 9 relay teams that crossed that finish line.  Finishing really was winning in Marion IA on Sunday.  Be proud.

Amanda – TooTallFritz

Sunburst Marathon …. 2015

I’ve ran the Sunburst Races multiple times but each time, I’ve ran the half marathon.  It’s definitely the race with the most participants and a manageable distance for me when I’m also training for other events.  The full marathon, is a bit of a push.  Always difficult.  Always taxing.  Always an event where anything can happen.  But I took the gamble for 2015 and threw my cards in for the full.  26.2 here I come … and fortunately, Julie came too.  Smile

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This was our 20th marathon.  Although we haven’t ran all the others together, we have ran a good number together over the course of 2014 & 2015.  So it was a bit of a celebration and we were excited to be on the same number at the same race.

Temps were cool, in the low 60s at the start and climbed to 70 degrees by the finish.   This race is known to be a “hot one” so I was happy about the weather!  The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day.  Easy packet pick up the morning of the race.  Easy, free parking!  Cute shirt.  Early 6am start to get the marathoners on their way before things got too busy with the other races.

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Due to the construction at the Notre Dame stadium, both 2014 and this year (2015) boasted new finish line areas and new courses. 

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I thought the course this year was very well laid out.  We saw lots of sites.  Ran various trails & waterfront paths.  And we were mostly shaded, which is a huge bonus!

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As usual, the aid stations were plentiful, approximately every mile in most areas.  There were a couple aid stations that offered GU, wet/cold sponges & bananas.  Nice set up and friendly volunteers.

We ran thru the same neighborhoods as in previous years but didn’t spend so much time “circling” as we had in the past and that made me pretty happy.  I’ll be honest, I had not heard anyone say anything positive about the Sunburst Full from previous years.  Most of the people I know who have ran it previously don’t plan a return trip.  As a result, I was nervous about about the race.   But I think the course change really knocked it out of the park.  There were a couple spots that could still use some improvement but overall I think they really did a great job.  And they added a killer character building hill at the end.  Both the full and the half ran up “Hallelujah Hill”.  Or at least we were supposed to run up it.  Julie and I walked.  She probably could have ran it cuz she is a decent hill runner but I was in walking mode by then.  Smile

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The finish on the Irish Green was much better planned out this year.  There looked to be plenty of space to hang out and wait on friends.  Melanie & Jill were awaiting our finish after their first half at Sunburst so it was nice to see some friendly faces at the finish. 

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#20 is in the DONE column!  Next up, the Marion Rotary for Shoes Marathon in Marion, IA on Sunday! 

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

The Waiting Game …. Cuz I Can’t Fix This

The seasons are always changing.  Things are always happening.  We don’t have control over what happens but we do have control over our reaction.  

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If you are like me, then maybe your reaction, isn’t always thought out.  It might be a bit harder to control the “reaction”.  I’m a fast thinker.  Fast talker.  I sometimes react before my thoughts have fully developed and that isn’t necessarily to my benefit.   I’m an Aries and the sign fits me well. 

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Looking at those adjectives associated with the sign, a couple pop out at me.  Impatient.  Impulsive.  Blunt.  Detached.  I don’t like to wait.  I want to react now.  If something is broken, I want to fix it.  I want to fix things now.  Or yesterday if that’s an option.  It has to happen so let’s just do it.  Now.

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Yet the older I get, the more I realize that so many things are out of my control.  Especially how others react to a situation.  As an Aries, to me, things are pretty cut and dry.  For others there is wiggle room.  Their reaction is subject to interpretation after I’ve already made my decision and have moved onto the next thing.  They move slower.  They think.  They speak cautiously as if the words they choose are a matter of life and death.  In fact, so slow and so cautiously that I want to pull their words out of their mouth or better yet, tell them what to say.  It’s almost painful for me to await their words and/or reactions.  Sounds dramatic?  It certainly feels that way.  And in so, it makes me …… Impatient.  Impulsive.  Blunt.  And sometimes …. Detached.

I’ve spoken previously about depression (Depression Hurts) and confidence (Strong Enough) issues.  It seems as if there is almost always someone very close to me who is struggling with mental demons of some sort.  I can’t say that I’m immune to those things but I frequently feel detached from them.  More as if I don’t have time for my own mental demons so it’s hard to understand how debilitating they can be for others.  I think God puts these people in my path to keep me humble and to slow me down.  To teach me things about savoring the moment.  To help me realize that some things can’t be fixed now, or yesterday.  To put my impatience on hold because this is something which I can’t control or fix.

I can't fix

I’m at one of these junctures now.  A place where I can’t fix what has gone wrong.  I can’t make someone happy.  I can’t take away their pain.  I can’t make them love themselves.  I can’t make them feel worthy.  Or strong.  Or beautiful.  Or smart.  Or amazing.  Or even normal.  And that sucks.  Miss Fix-It can’t fix this.  So I’ll wait.  And I’ll pull out a few of the better Aries characteristics.  I’ll be strong, optimistic ….. And loving. 

I know people go thru these things every day.  And it’s not fun.  If you’re the one struggling with mental demons that are leaving you feel worthless and alone, go get help.  Talk to someone.  You’re not alone.  If you are the friend, daughter, mother, wife or neighbor to the one struggling, just be there and try not to obsess over the fact that you can’t fix everything.  Don’t take it personally.  Dry those tears and be ready when they need you.  I’ll be waiting it out with you.  Smile

** The Waiting Game ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Adventures In Running ….

I’m am always thankful to be a runner.  Always.  Running has taken me places I would have never gone without it.  Running has introduced me to people I would have never otherwise met, both in person and virtually.   Running has made me realize that I can do things that I never thought possible.  Running is always an adventure, good, bad or indifferent. 

Today I ran a new area. Because I was afraid if I didn’t get my run in early, I wouldn’t get it in at all.  Yeah, it’s been a crazy week!  So I parked the car and ran right after I dropped Michael off at school.  I didn’t drive to familiar territory.  Didn’t want to waste anytime.  I just parked the car and ran.  Visor or no visor?  That was my only thought.  I grabbed the visor because it had been raining all night and more rain was predicted.  Now where am I?  Got my bearings and took off down a long sidewalk that Michael and I always talked about as we passed it every day.  The long sidewalk took me to a country road where I proceeded to run out of Small Town USA.  It was at that moment, less than a 1/2 mile from my car when I realized that I didn’t have my Personal Savers Pepper Spray.  I always take my Wrist Saver on new runs.  On most of my runs to be honest.  But I didn’t want to go back for it.

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When you run in the country, it’s inevitable there will be loose dogs.  It’s only a guess as to whether the loose dog will be friendly or not.  I’ve been bitten 3x by unfriendly dogs so I now assume if a dog is charging me and barking that it will be followed by a bite.  Beware, if your dog charges me, I will spray it with pepper spray.  Not because I want to hurt your dog but because I don’t want your dog to hurt me.  I love dogs.  Have 3 of my own.  But that doesn’t mean I’m stupid and want your dog to bite me.  So ……how long do you think it was before a loose dog saw me?  1.95 miles.  I was in a time crunch so I had planned to run 2 miles out from my car and flip to make the return trip.  Just enough mileage to shake out the tightness from my landscaping duties this week.  But alas I had a potentially crazy dog between me and my car.  UGH!  Said dog didn’t see me until I was almost past his house, then he had to run the long yard to the road to get to me.  By that time, I was far enough past that he didn’t give chase.  Thank goodness.  But he was laying in the yard, by the road, awaiting my return.  What a sweetie, right?  Yeah, probably not.  So I kept running forward to WhoKnowsWhere.  Scenery wasn’t too bad.

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I was immediately thankful that not only am I a runner but a MARATHON runner.  It doesn’t matter that I’m on a road to nowhere, I’ll eventually get back to my car.  I quickly calculated that I was a half marathon or so from my house.  I wasn’t really sure how to get home but I knew the general direction, like as a crow would fly.  Smile  I also knew that my car was just to the right of that creek (pictured above), no more than a mile away across that field.  Worse case scenario I could cross that wet, muddy field.  But let’s just bag that idea for now.  I’m not lost.  I just don’t know exactly where I am at the moment.  I’ll just keep running down this road and see where it takes me.  And that’s when the rain began.   I immediately gave thanks for my visor!  Running in the rain.  Refreshing.  I think.  If I knew how to get back to my car it would be a bit more refreshing.  But alas, I’m a marathon runner.  I’ll get back there eventually.

Fortunately, most country roads are set up in a grid like pattern.  Usually with each segment between intersections being a mile (or so) in length.  I tried to focus on the grid and hope that these roads followed the general rules of country road infrastructure.  I was assuming I could run a rectangle and be back to the car.  That’s why I wasn’t panicked and didn’t feel the need to tromp across that wet, muddy field.  I just didn’t know any of these roads and the north end of “the grid” was the key.  The road eventually curved away from the direction I needed to go but without a cross street/road I just followed along.  It eventually popped me out on a busy road that connects our town and the one where Michael goes to school.  It wasn’t a road that I would normally run (or bike), due to the heavy traffic volume, but at least I knew my location and the direction of my car.  I managed a mile down the busy street.  In the pouring rain.  Trying to look smooth and as if I were enjoying myself.  Ignoring all thoughts of what people must think of this crazy lady (me!) running along a busy road in the rain.  Turned back into town at the first opportunity, the rain eased, and I found my long sidewalk that was the start of this running adventure. 

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All runs are an adventure.  Some are just more interesting than others.  Keep running and keep making memories.  As I see it, I’m just banking stories for the grandkids! 

** Adventures In Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Fox Island …. Ft Wayne, IN

IFox Island Nature Perserve

7324 Yohne Rd.
Fort Wayne, IN 46809

As you  know, I like to explore new trails.  I particularly like ones where I can take the kids and a dog (or two) and get everyone out of the house just stroll along in the fresh air.  Fox Island County Park is one such place.  See excerpt from the Allen County Parks Department webpage below:

Fox Island is a 605 acre park located in southwest Allen County. Within this park, 270 acres are dedicated as State Nature Preserve, which protects areas having unique plants, animals or geographic features. Hundreds of species of animals and plants live at Fox Island because of the relatively natural condition of most of the area, with its habitats of marsh, seasonal ponds, wooded sand dunes, wetland forest, old fields and restored prairie. The park contains the largest contiguous forest in the county and a glacial sand dune

When I moved to Indiana, just north of Fort Wayne, many people suggested I visit Fox Island for running.  After reviewing the maps and website, I was thinking it would be a better place for a family excursion verses a running adventure for myself.  There are 7 miles of short trails winding thru the forest but they are flat and perfect for a family hike.

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The trails never venture too far from a road or intersection.  There are markers throughout the park identifying trails, trees, plants, flowers and even a bit of history.  Some trails are dirt, others grass.

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Wildlife is buzzing on and off the trail.  Perfect destination for the family and most trails are groomed well enough for a 3 wheeled jogging type stroller. 

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And there are bridges.  And a beach on Bowman Lake for playing and swimming (stock photo).  Plus fishing areas.

IMG_6735   Fox Island Beach

Fox Island has a beautiful Nature Center with a classroom, which is available for rental.  We went on a Friday night and if I remember correctly, there was a scrapbooking event in the Nature Center.  I neglected to get a photo of this area because Michael was super excited and starting running toward the docks behind the Nature Center which have a great view of the pond, wildlife and the surrounding trails.  Even if you have a member in your group who isn’t able to walk the trails, you can always drive them to the Nature Center and have a look around in that area without doing much walking.  Very nice. Scenic.  Handicap accessible.  And peaceful unless you have a 5 year old screaming and yelling with excitement

There is an entry fee for Fox Island.  When we were there, nobody was at the gatehouse taking admission but we stopped and dropped our $2 per person fee into the drop box.  I did notice that most were just driving in without paying and while it’s easy to do that, I always try to support these types of forest preserves because I know that funding is hard to come by and I enjoy being able to explore new areas.  Without funds, places like Fox Island will close and be lost to the public.  If you drove in and forgot to leave your entry fee, you can join or make a donation to the Fox Island AllianceWinking smile

See you on the trail!

Amanda – TooTallFritz