Lincoln Marathon Race Review & Fun Facts About Nebraska

When one thinks about marathon running, they might not immediately think Lincoln, NE.  But Lincoln is certainly thinking about marathons and the Lincoln Marathon strives to bring the best possible marathon & half marathon to approximately 13,000 runners each and every year.  The 2017 Lincoln Marathon was held Sunday, May 7th. 

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This was a quick trip. Timing with Track & Baseball was tight.  I might have gotten up at 3am to drive to Lincoln in order fulfill Mommy duties and still run the race. Maybe.  Uust Maybe.  Smile  I didn’t know much about the town of Lincoln.  I certainly didn’t know that Nebraska was the birthplace of the Rueben Sandwich (Fun Fact #1) or we would have eaten a Rueben while visiting!

The expo was held at the Cornhusker Hotel in downtown Lincoln.  Medium sized expo.  Great size for the amount of runners.  Organized.  Fun booths.  Easy in and out.   

Fun Fact #2 – Lincoln NE is the birthplace of the 911 emergency system that is now commonly used across the US. 

Race day arrived & we had detailed maps regarding downtown parking.  Parking was plentiful and ranged in prices from metered parking to covered garages.  We quickly found a spot a couple blocks from Memorial Stadium & we were headed to the start line with plenty of time to relax & hit the potties.  Lots of potties here, thanks, Lincoln! 

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The stadium was amazing, even empty.  However, I have now heard so much about Memorial Stadium that I wanted to share this pic, image source HERE.  Filled to capacity, the stadium will hold 90,000 spectators.  Go BIG RED!

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The race started on time.  The National Guard was visible & present.  Fun Fact #3, there are 5 army forts open to the public in Nebraska.  The armed forces have a real presence in Lincoln & throughout Nebraska.  The race was no different.  There was a special division just for National Guard members.  117 members finished the marathon & 5 finished the half, many in full gear with loaded packs.  And this doesn’t include those who volunteered time & helped with the race. 

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The course was pretty easy without a lot of turns, which is always our preference.  It is described as flat.  There are some rolling hills in Lincoln.  Nothing crazy but if you come from Chicago or NE Indiana, yeah, there are some hills, total of 502 ft of elevation gain. 

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We passed by the Capital Building shortly after hitting the first mile.  I’m not sure if it wasn’t visible or I didn’t notice.  I was fighting myself mentally & physically for a good portion of the race.  I was trying to trick myself into believing it was going to be a great day.  It was a great race.  And I felt good.  So I spent a decent amount of time in my head trying to move my body forward, even though I wasn’t remotely recovered from the hills & heat that Nashville threw my way 8 days earlier.  But I wish I had seen the capitol so I could take a photo.  Fun Fact #4 – Nebraska is the ONLY state that doesn’t have 2 houses in their legislature.  The norm is for a House & Senate but in Nebraska, they are unicameral & nonpartisan.  The legislature has 49 senators & is the smallest legislature in the country.  Even Alaska has more members than Nebraska!  Source.  Stock photo of the Capitol Building below.

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Image Source

We ran thru town, turned on Sheridan Boulevard around mile 3, passed thru the vicinity of Memorial Park & the Lincoln SE High School at mile 4, then hit 48th Street, passing Union College, until it connected with the Helen Boosalis Trail.  The trail was crowded but still lined with spectators and supporters.  I remember seeing a lot of dogs throughout the course & I think I high-fived more kids in Lincoln than any other race.  The kids were out in FULL FORCE to support the runners!  Lots of signs.  My favorite was a women holding a sign that said “Motivational Sign”.  Wow.  Creative or not?  Still thinking on that one.  Smile

Fun Fact #5 – Charles Lindbergh moved to Lincoln, NE in 1922 to learn to fly airplanes at the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation Flying School. 

We left the trail around mile 8.5 & headed up 20th Street to Irvingdale & Rudge Memorial Parks, then jogged over to 10th Street for a straight shot back to Memorial Stadium where we dropped the half marathoners at mile 13.  This greatly thinned the crowd & started the marathoners on an out & back portion for the final miles of the course.  It was heating up by the time we dropped the half runners and aid stations were a little further apart than I like when its hot.  Fortunately, we had a nice breeze, it was beautiful day & the aid stations were well stocked & had lots of friendly volunteers when we got to them.

After passing the stadium, we jumped on the Rock Island Trail (photos below) and ran the backside of campus to connect to Capitol Boulevard & Normal Avenue which was the course for our “out”.

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Once we hit Capitol Boulevard, we saw the Lincoln’s Children Zoo!  This was a highlight for me & we passed it at mile 16 & again at 23.  After the Zoo, we headed to the turnaround at Holmes Lake Park (approximately 19.6).  The “out” stretch was long but it was flat, we had some shade and a little bit of a breeze.  But it was long.  Really long.  My pace slowed considerably in this section.

Fun Fact #6 – Lincoln NE is the home of the National Museum of Roller Skating.

After the turnaround, we were headed toward the finish.  We knew exactly what to expect.  We knew where the aid stations were & how long until we could get ice.  And we picked up the pace by quite a bit.  Splits don’t look that impressive because of the amount of time that we needed to spend at aid stations for cooling & hydration purposes but we were moving pretty well between aid stations.  And one of the stats that came up in our finish results were the number of people we passed between mile 20 & the finish.  90 people! 

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The finish in Memorial Stadium was really awesome too.  I really enjoy finishes in big stadium’s like this one.  Nice race, Lincoln.

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SWAG:  Nice gender specific shirt in a v-neck, finisher’s medal & finisher’s key chain.  All commemorating the 40th anniversary of the event.

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Overall a good race.  Not as exciting on the “sites” as some that we have done but it was organized & done well.  Excellent support from the volunteers, National Guard, local police & spectators.  Excellent start & finish in and around Memorial Stadium.  And the lilacs were in bloom which always makes me think of Grandma C. 

Finisher Stats:  1050 marathon finishers, 9121 half marathon finishers.  81 degrees “feels like” temp at the finish line.

Fun Fact #7 – Kool-Aid was invented in 1927 by Edwin Perkins of Hastings, NE.

Nebraska is done.  That’s officially 23 states in the done column. 

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I’m hoping I can finish my quest to run a marathon in every state by the time I’m 50.  I’m 43 now but a lot of the states that we still need are ones which require airfare.  That means more $$ and in turn pushes out the time frame.  But it’s a long term goal and that’s what I like about it.  No pressure.  No rush.  Just grab the states as we are able.  Its FUN.  And that’s what running & fitness is to me.  Fun.  A way to connect with friends.  See sights that I would never see in a million years.  Like really, I can’t imagine why I would have traveled to Lincoln NE had it not been for the Lincoln Marathon.  It’s an adventure.  One day, one state, one race at a time …. and whatever happens in between.

** Until Next Time, Run Long, My Friends ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

The sources for the listed Nebraska facts, as well as additional info/facts can be found here or here or here or here.  Enjoy!

Rock N Roll Marathon Series – Nashville TN – #RNRNashville

Saturday was my first time at the Rock N Roll Marathon Series  event in Nashville TN.  While most are talking about the unprecedented heat (93 degrees & 86% humidity) or maybe the many hills that Nashville presented to us over the course, I want to talk a little bit about the SPIRIT of Nashville.  The crowds, the volunteers, the residents, the race officials and the overall good vibe from the city as it welcomed us with open arms.  And by “us”, I mean me & 25,000 of my closest friends.  People further than the eye can see.  This photo is as we were attempting to get to our corral for the start. 

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This is one of the largest Rock N Roll races in the country with only RNR Vegas being larger.  If you’re a half marathoner & making your rounds, do put RNR Vegas on your list too.  It’s fun & so awesome to run the Strip at night.

Finally we were into the corrals & ready to go.  There were 40 or 41 corrals in order to ease congestion on the course.  But the race was busy.  The entire way.   Both with runners & spectators.

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We started out on Broadway heading east toward the river.  This is otherwise known as “Music Row” and we ran past all the famed “Honky Tonks” that make Nashville & its various artists famous.  If you like country music, live music or bars in general, this might be the town for you.  Plenty of places to grab a drink & hear some live performers.  Grab a group of friends & make a weekend out of it!

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Quick trip down Broadway, then over & back up Demonbreun to pass the Country Music Hall of Fame & the new Nashville Music Center (location for expo & packet pick-up).  I just love the architecture of the Nashville Music Center.  One of my favorite buildings in this town, pictured below, on the left, brownish building. 

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Then a quick pass by the start line & all the runners still awaiting their start in the corrals. 

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Photo Credit:  Julian Smith, visiting from England!

Next up, the Visual Arts Center & Music Square, which features Carnival Music & the RCA Studios. Thanks to Mr. Julian S. for grabbing a few photos of this area (below).  This is the location of the famous “Studio B” from RCA that recorded early greats such as Elvis & Dolly Parton.

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On to Belmont University (pictured below, photo courtesy of Julie Molenar), Troutt Theater, McAfree Concert Hall,  Children’s House of Nashville & the Battle of Nashville Monument Park. 

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Between mile 5 & 6, somewhere around Gale Lane Community Park, we saw our first collapsed runner.  Others had seen one down much earlier around mile 3, but by mile 5 to 6, everyone was really feeling the heat.  RNR did an excellent job with aid stations that were close together.  The medial teams were well staffed.  Sprayer hoses, ice, cold water, Gatorade, oranges, salt packets, Glukos gels/chomps, cold towels/sponges.  It was just a matter of getting from aid station to aid station.  And that’s pretty much how most of us had to think about the race, just one small segment at a time. 

On to 12th Avenue where there were lots of shops, restaurants, and spectators.  I’ve got to give it to the spectators, residents of the city & volunteers.  They were tireless (and hot too!) as they moved around to help out the runners.  The neighborhoods that we ran thru were in full on party mode.  Music, beer shot stations, Krispy Kreme donuts, bounce houses for the kids, local bands.  It was fun, fun, fun!   Another pic from Julian below of the neighborhood parties.  Great selfie, Julian!

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Back around Belmont University & Jane Ayres Academic Center (Julian S’ photo below), another loop thru downtown.  As we headed back out of the downtown area, we caught a glimpse of the Tennessee State Capitol & then split with the 1/2 marathon runners around mile 11.5.

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Shout out to the Nashville Rescue Mission for all of those cheers as we passed at 11.75 & 15.25.  YOU all, rocked our run!  Thank you!  Then we rejoined the half marathoners at mile 16.  That’s when reality really hit.  We could see probably 1000 or more people on the half marathon side, all walking.  Not one runner.  Just  a sea of people in good humor walking & talking.  Heading toward their finish line.

I was a bit surprised that we had so many people on our side for the full marathon.  It wasn’t packed like the side for the half, but there were still a quite a few toughing it out with us.  We were never alone.  Those of us who ran the full got a special treat too as we were able to loop the field at First Tennessee Park.

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Next up, Musicians Hall of Fame & Woodland Street.  The finish line was off Woodland in the Nissian Stadium.  We said good bye to the half runners for the final time around mile 17-18.  But not before some of us took a run thru a fountain in the business district!  I may or may not have instigated the fountain running.  Michael would be proud of me.  Smile 

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East Park, 5th Street & Davidson Road along the Cumberland River.  One loop around Shelby Park & then we FINALLY headed back to the finish line at Nissan Stadium.  Long race.  Took us 5 hrs & 18 minutes and no that’s not a personal worst.  We’ve had some really hot races.  We don’t run well in the heat but we have learned how to survive.  If you find yourself running a really hot/humid race, I suggest:  1)  stay on top of your hydration – drink before you’re thirsty; 2)  plan to use extra fuel because your body is working harder & you’ll be out on course longer; 3) use any means necessary to keep cool – ice, water sprayers & cold towels work great, 4)  wear a visor to keep the sun off your face but it will in turn allow the heat to escape thru your head, 5) use sunscreen cuz if you burn, your skin can’t breathe & 6) make sure you have access to salt tabs.  When you are taking in a lot of water to stay cool, your tummy get sloshy.  You may throw up.  The chances of vomiting & dehydration are less if you can get that water in your tummy to absorb.  Salt/electrolyte tabs/capsules will help the water to absorb. 

Huge shout out to all the runners who managed to FINISH RnR Nashville despite the heat!  There were several points where some of the full marathoners got turned around/diverted due to weather & cut-off times.  Please don’t get discouraged if you got cut-off at this race.  The heat was bad.  Nobody was hitting the times that they trained to run.  It happens.

Stats:  2,445 marathon finishers, 67 marathon finishers that got cut-off/turned around at the 10.7 mi mark, 18 marathon finisher that got cut-off/turned around at the 18 mi mark, 20 marathon finishers that got cut off at the 20.2 mile mark, 17,821 half marathon finishers, 2,776 5K finishers, 841 mile run finishers, 12 half marathon wheelchair finishers, & 11 full marathon wheelchair finishers. 

Congrats to all the runners! Thanks to all the volunteers, medial staff, police, spectators & the bands that kept playing even though the sun was beating down on them too!  The spirit of Nashville really showed throughout the weekend but especially on race day.

SWAG:

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Quick note about the marathon finisher jackets.  The cut is the same as last year but they are longer.  The length now goes over most of our rumps, at least for the ladies.  I’m tall, if it goes over my bum, it will probably go over yours.  Utilize the sizing station at the expo to determine the correct size.  You may want to size up if your bum is bigger than your waist.  Otherwise you won’t get this jacket zipped.  Example below. 

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** Run Happy, all! ** Rock N Blogger – TooTallFritz**

Georgia Marathon–Atlanta, GA

On the way south for Spring Break, the kids & I stopped off in Atlanta, GA for the Publix Georgia Marathon on March 19, 2017.

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This was my 40th marathon & my 23rd state.  I haven’t been to Atlanta for a long time so was excited to go back.  A few new additions to Atlanta include a huge Ferris Wheel beside Centennial Olympic Park (pic below) and the College Football Hall of Fame that used to be in South Bend, Indiana.  Noticeably missing was the old vibe from the Underground shopping area that is in the process of changing owners.  I was sad to see it so empty and hope that its revitalized by my next trip to Atlanta!  I loved the Underground!

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Photo Credit:  Laura Snead

The expo was small but hopping.  Music.  Giveaways.  Fun atmosphere.  Local businesses.  We were in and out in a short amount of time & I even bought a shirt, which is unusual.  

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We spent Saturday walking around town, riding the Ferris Wheel & just clowning around.

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Sunday was race day and the city came alive. A quick meet up pre-race with one of the awesome ladies from the Best TRI Club Ever.  Laura S, Me & Julie M.  Yes, I had to stand in the middle because I’m a giant. 

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Once the crowds rolled in on marathon day, Atlanta hosted 1463 marathon runners & 5227 half marathon runners.  Race day was charged.  It was a bit chilly at the start.  Dark.  But everyone was excited and ready to run.  We had heard the race was hilly but had no idea what to expect.  As Midwestern runners, we don’t have a lot of hills so honestly, a ramp or slight incline is a hill for me!  But we soon found the hills.  And lots of beautiful neighborhoods.  Plus we caught a great view of the city as the sun was coming up.

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This race really made me fall in love with the various Atlanta neighborhoods.  They shut down a lot of their town to let us run their streets on a Sunday morning.  The amount of volunteer & police support was off the charts.  I’d like to send a shout out to all the WOMEN on the Atlanta PD who were working the marathon route.  I’ve never seen that many women officers and I LOVED it.

But the theme of the day was definitely hills.  Small ones.  Long ones.  Steep ones.  Long, slow graded hills.  Rolling hills.  And then more and more hills.  We walked quite a few hills but tried to just keep moving.  The hills didn’t stop but neither did we!

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Both Julie & I were thinking this was the hilliest marathon we had ever ran.  It inspired me to go back over my garmin data for previous races.  We were wrong, this was NOT the hilliest road race we had ever ran.  That award goes to the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, MS with 1,319 feet of elevation gain.  Atlanta (the Georgia Marathon) ranked #2 at 1,265 feet of elevation gain.  #3 is Flying Pig in Cincinnati, OH with 1,020 feet of elevation gain,  just cuz I knew you’d want to know.  Smile  And of course, this only pertains to road races that we have ran to date. 

But even with the hills, the entire race was just fun.  Great atmosphere.  Lots of crowd support.  Plenty of aid stations with both fluids & food.  Candy.  Pretzels. Oranges.  Happy volunteers. Plus we ran thru 3 colleges which is always great.  Anges Scott College for Women (first photo below), Emory University (second photo below) & Georgia Tech. 

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The finish line finally came into sight & we not only received a medal but a cool, thin jacket!  We got to pick our color & size.  I think they had red, black & aqua jackets.  Nice perk!  Race shirt was a pale green, unisex, long sleeve tech tee, which I like.  It doesn’t fit me great but I do like the color and style! 

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Loved the Georgia Marathon!  Great town, great crowds & so many beautiful neighborhoods.

** Run Atlanta ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Little Rock Marathon – 2017

2017 has been all about preparing Aby & Annika to run their first marathon.  I must admit when they said they wanted to run a marathon, I tried to talk them out of it.  Marathons are long.  And hard.  And tough mentally & physically.  The distance will frequently break experienced runners.  The girls are young.  Aby is 15 & Annika just turned 17.  Yet they wanted to run a marathon.  It was really hard to wrap my brain around.  Its not something I would recommend for any teen, let alone those I know & care about!  Initially I wasn’t sure how to react but I put on the “mom hat” and explained to them that an early spring marathon would require them to be running outside, all winter long, in the early a.m. when I was running.  No sleeping in, I wanted them out there with me for every long run so I could monitor their progress, fueling & how they were tolerating the distance.  They would not be deterred.  In fact their first “long run” was the Huff 10 Mile Trail Race which was hilly, hard, snowy, cold, with freezing rain.  Absolutely miserable conditions. 

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I asked them after Huff, do you still want to run a marathon that requires winter training?  Yes.  So we signed up for the Little Rock Marathon.  The 2017 theme was “Runalicious” featuring candy, bright colors and lots of fun.

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An abbreviated training plan & a somewhat mild winter delivered us to Little Rock mostly healthy & ready to run.  The girls were slightly nervous but mostly calm.  I heard them say many times “we trained for this, we can do it”.  But they were notably tired from the travel so we tried to keep things pretty low key & not do much.  The Expo was a great size for a small town race.  There were 2181 marathon & 3699 half marathon finishers on Sunday, plus a 5K & 10K on Saturday.  Lots to do Marathon weekend .  Something for everyone.

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We hit the expo, picked up our bibs, walked around town, found ice cream, took some pics & then had take out for dinner.  I think we were all asleep by 9pm. 

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We woke up to rain.  Heavy but steady rain with a “feels like” temp of 43 as we headed to our corrals.  We were none too early either because I didn’t want the girls out in the cold rain for too long before we started to run.  I was a bit surprised to see how busy the streets were & the back up getting into the corrals.    Pace wasn’t an issue for us but I really wanted to be around the 4:30 pace group because that was the pace where we would start out.  I didn’t want to waste too much energy weaving around people in the early miles.   We were on the “just finish it” plan but we wanted to stay together & I wanted to try to keep a consistent pace.  I knew that I would have to be paying attention in order to keep them slow & steady.  They are XC runners and they just want to GO!

Pre Race:

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In the corral, headed to the start.  What are they thinking?

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And we are off!  Let’s Run!  #Runalicious

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The beginning is crowded.  Normal for most races & a great time to ease into a pace rather than take off and regret it later.  Also a great time for pics.  But apparently my selfie game was OFF cuz I couldn’t get all three of in a pic for anything. 

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The course had changed since I had ran in 2014.  I didn’t really know what to expect and was kinda okay with that.  This was my 39th marathon, 2nd time at Little Rock.  I kinda enjoy just running the course and enjoying it for what it presents.  We headed over to North Little Rock first, looped around.  Ran over a few bridges (steep inclines & declines, yes, please!).

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The girls were calm.  We all agreed that we didn’t feel awesome but we didn’t feel horrible and that’s a pretty sweet spot to be in on marathon day. It curbs expectation but also delivers a bit of hope.  Patience is the name of the game.  You must be patient in the marathon or you’ll have a very bad day. 

The rain continued.  Light but steady.  People were complaining.  We just ran past them & pulled our hats/visors a little lower to block out the rain & wind.  Back over the bridge into downtown Little Rock.  Over the trolley tracks.  I tripped but didn’t fall.  We laughed.  Down Market Street, along the Arkansas River, around the Heifer International campus.  And then back thru town, up a few hills.  Then I recognized a street from last time and knew the Governor’s Mansion was coming up.  Aby had asked me 100 several times by this point if the Governor would be out.  I didn’t know but was hoping so & sure enough, I could see his guards  flanking him from pretty far down the street.  I pointed out who he was (verses the guards) and the girls ran right up to him for a photo.  Thanks for standing out in the rain, Governor Hutchinson, you made their day!

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Then Little Rock Central HS:

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The Capital Building:

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My favorite part of the course – Miles 14-17:  Hillcrest area, Kavanaugh Boulevard, North Lookout Road & Alsopp Park.  Breathtaking area.  Aby & Annika running relaxed & easy between mile 16 & 17.

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After we left Alsopp Park, reality hit as we entered an out and back loop along Riverfront Drive.  The out & back covers miles 18-23.  I knew if something were going to go wrong, it would be in this section.  Not only is it boring but very windy because its along the river & a little daunting because you can see the runners in front of you coming back while you have seemingly “forever” until the turnaround.  This section is mentally exhausting but the girls looked strong.  Aby was starting to get antsy.  The 4:30 pacer crept up on us and we ran with her for awhile.  Aby was not happy.  She wanted to be IN FRONT of the 4:30 pacer.  Annika said, “who cares!”.  LOL!  But Aby really did not want to let her pass.  The pacer was only running with one other person so we ran with her for a while.  It was entertaining because everyone had something to say as she passed them.  Many, like Aby, were not happy.  “Oh no!”  was the common remark as she passed.  I told her it was like running with the Angel of Death.  Nobody was happy to see her that late in the game.  I asked if she was on pace, and she was ahead of pace.  She was planning to stop & walk at mile 20 to get back on track.  We stayed in her vicinity until she walked.  I didn’t want to stop at mile 20 but rather push on to mile 22 for our last “pit stop”.  Then I knew that we would be pushing to the finish. 

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After 22, it was heads down.  The pace was getting progressively faster but I knew there was a hill at mile 24 that was super ugly & would probably slow us down.  So I just let it go.  They looked good, hadn’t blown up, were well fueled, looking to run faster & well, I figured I had done my job at that point.  If something happened in the last 4 miles, we’d just deal with it.  And I’m happy to report, no blow ups.  They killed it!!!  The Lipstick Station at mile 26 was on the opposite side of the road this time, so I almost missed it.  I went back to grab lipstick for us, sending the girls on and it was a sprint to the finish for them.  Great job, ladies.  1 & 2 in their age group (15-19). 

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Awesome race.  Lots of crowd support.  Volunteers, police & everyone seemed happy that we were there.  Sometimes when a marathon rolls into a town, the residents aren’t happy because it’s a huge inconvenience for them.  I genuinely feel welcome each time I go to Little Rock. If you are looking for a smaller race that feels like home, this is a great one.  Elevation is much greater on the 2nd half, so save something for the bigger hills.  There were 3 hills that were bad enough that we walked part of them but otherwise, we ran the entire race other than potty stops (2) and the photos we took.  It was a great day in Little Rock & I’d be happy to go back.

SWAG was a unisex race shirt & lipstick (if you grabbed it at mile 26) and a medal that’s heavy and bigger than your head.  For those of you who ran 2014, I’ve added the two medals together for comparison.  They are both over 2#s and I can’t hang them with my other medals for fear of pulling down the rack/rod.

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Details on the 2014 Little Rock Marathon HERE.

** Hope Your Run was Runalicious ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

New Year & New Beginnings ……

I haven’t been publishing much as of late.  I’m in a zone where I’m helping Aby & her friend train for the Little Rock Marathon and that means lots of long runs, not so much racing.  Too many blogs do week by week training recaps.  I’ll let you read one of those if you are interested; you won’t find it here cuz really, who cares besides me?.  But I’m running.  In the cold, in the snow & we’ve had some surprisingly nice days too!  Running.  That’s what’s  happening.

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I’ve also been lifting dumbbell weights & trying to increase my strength without aggravating my back.  I ruptured 2 discs in my back last June and they don’t seem to want to repair, despite many sessions of Physical Therapy, Chiropractor, anti-inflammatory meds & several special cocktails of cortisone type shots in my low back & SI Joints.  I was asked to stop riding & swimming from September 12th thru December 26, 2016.  I did as I was told and I didn’t complain.  I didn’t get any better.  I eliminated all exercise other than 2 slow, easy runs per week.  I gained weight.  I lost strength.  I became frustrated.  I ate too much sugar.  No need to write about that. 

The first of the year (2017) brought a new beginning.  I started adding in more running & strength work.  I’m seeing slow improvements.  I can lift a gallon of milk.  I carried the laundry basket up the stairs today.  I can function, as long as I don’t have to sneeze.  Then you might actually see tears. Why does sneezing HURT so badly?

We’ve ran up some hills.

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We’ve discovered new trails.

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I finally got a new bike & started riding again.  Michael thinks its “the best bike ever” and was yelling the same when I took this pic.  Love that kid.  Pure joy.

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I started getting up earlier on Monday’s to go to Chicago “early” so I can take advantage of a Master’s Swim class before I go into the office.  That lead to my buying some training devices.  And believe it or not, I even know what to do with these things!  My swim WILL improve this year!

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2017 is off to a solid start.  I’ve really got my head down and am working on building strength & skills at this point.  I’ve registered for a few spring marathons & a few 70.3 triathlons over the summer.  My fall season is wide open so far because I had planned for over 2 years to do Ironman North Carolina in October 2017 but they canceled it after last year’s race.  For some reason, my fall is staring at me with wide eyes asking me “what’s up”?  And I just don’t know.  I have no idea how much I can build.  I have no idea how much will be taken out of me with what I’ve already committed to racing.  I have no idea how my back will feel as my training progresses.  I have no idea what I want to do in place of IM NC.  My “real life” schedule & the races in which I have interest, just don’t seem to be meshing this year.   I refuse to force races into my schedule.  Running & Triathlon is fun for me.  Its about fitness and challenging myself.  Its social.  It stops being fun if it causes stress or makes me miss something that I want to do in real life.  The family, in particularly the kids come first.  I fully agree with the Trace Adkins song, “You’re Going to Miss This”.  Time flies and kids grow up fast.  I don’t want to miss anything.  So maybe I’ll be racing this fall, maybe I’ll just be following Aby around from one Cross Country venue to the next.  Who knows.  Only time will tell.  I refuse to force the schedule.

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Wishing you all a healthy, happy and fun filled 2017!!  Chase those dreams but don’t forget what’s important along the way!

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

What to Wear ….. Winter Running

Baby, its cold outside!!  And I don’t mean maybe!  Our long run last Saturday was a “feels like” temperature of –11.  Windy.  Cold.  Eyelash freezing kind of day.  And my girls had 14 miles on their schedule.  What to do?  Well, run, of course!! 

Its only Cold if Youre Standing Still

The key to running in the cold is all about having good gear.  And using it.  Don’t worry about looking cute or messing up your hair.  This is a safety thing.  If you go outside to run for hours in below zero temps, you must be smart.  I want you to go back home with all your fingers & toes & WITHOUT frost bite.  And always, if you don’t feel like its safe, then stay home.  It’s all up to your discretion. 

1)  Base Layers are key.  If you want to save money, look for last chance offers or clearance deals but bottom line, buy good base layers.  My favorite & an undeniably one of the best is Under Armour Cold Gear Mock Neck.  Its fitted.  Sits next to your skin & has a soft brushed fabric on the inside.  Its long.  Base layers either need to be tucked into your pants or long enough that they don’t ride up.  This top has a thin band of a rubber like substance around the bottom hem to help it “stick” to your clothes.  No exposed bellies that can get frostbitten!!  $49.99 from the Under Armour website.   Well worth the investment. If you want to save a little come, create a free account thru Ebates & get cash back for shopping online.  I’ve done it for years and its free $$ that not a lot of people know about.  Under Armour is currently giving 6% cash back if you shop thru the ebates site.  Super cool.

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2)  Pants.  Must protect your legs.  If they have a wind block, even better but I’ve had great luck with the Polartec pants from Athleta.  I pretty much only buy pants from Athleta because they offer TALL sizes.  I have the old version of the Polartec tights.  Aby has the newest ones.  Athleta is currently 2% back on ebates & they are having an Extra 20% off sale items with the code:  EXTRA20   Since most of the winter stuff is on sale now, you may be able to grab a pair for cheap, if you can find your size.  Great pants & tights for COLD weather.   I wore just the Polartec tights, without any other pants, last SAT in –11 wind chill & my legs were cold but not frozen.   Love, Love, LOVE them.

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3)  Jacket.  A good jacket that is wind & water resistant is worth its weight in gold.  I have a couple old ones that aren’t being made anymore.  However, I just bought Aby the Saucony Nomad Jacket off the clearance rack at an expo in November.  Her friends then went & found the same one on eBay.  So 3 of them have the same jacket.  It’s a good one, if you can still find it!  Its wind and water proof and she has gotten a lot of use out of it.  This is a bigger ticket item.  Expect to pay over $100 for a new item, from this year’s winter line.  Or shop the clearance rack at expos, the local run store or check out the Last Chance clearance deals at the big name running company online stores:  Saucony, Brooks, Mizuno, Nike.  Brand isn’t important, quality is the goal. 

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4)  Gloves.  Everyone is a bit picky about their gloves so you’ll need to look around and find what you like.  I personally have 4 different pair of Manzella’s.  A few of the Sprint and a couple in the Ultra line.   I have different thickness from barely there to a real lining.  Some people need mittens.  Others need gloves with the mitten flip top.  Figure out what keeps you warm throughout the season.  And if all else fails, don’t be afraid to use a pair of Hot Hands to keep you toasty warm!

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5)  Earband/Headbands, Hats, Neck Gaiters, Balaclavas & Face Masks.  So much stuff, what to wear?  Well, I pretty much own & wear all of these things.  Once the temp dips below 40, I usually wear an ear or “headband”.   This keeps my ears warm when the wind is whipping, even if the temps aren’t real low.  Its lightweight, wicks sweat & stays put.  I have one from Athleta from years gone by.  The girls have a cute one from Under Amour that was on clearance at an expo.  I also use the headband under hats (caps & beanies) to make sure my ears always stay covered.    I usually buy from a sporting good store in the Ski section cuz skiers know cold.   I’ll use a headband & beanie for most winter days. 

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Once the weather breaks into the “unspeakable cold”, you may or may not decide to stay indoors for running.  I still like to go outside.  It makes me feel tough to get out in the cold and put in a  few (or more) miles.  When people are talking about the wind-chill and how cold it is outside, they’ll also be talking about us running outside.  We need to make it back home safely so that they are talking about how crazy we are rather than our stupidity.  This is where the neck gaiter, balaclava & the face mask come into play.  Keep your skin safe!!

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6)  Socks.  Last but certainly not least, we must have good socks.  If its below 30 degrees, I don’t want to see any ankles.  That inch of skin between our tights and “no show” socks is important too.  Move to taller socks in the cold temps.  Some with wool properties that will wick sweat & help keep you dry might be a good idea.  Warm, dry feet are HAPPY feet.  I prefer Smartwool & Injinji socks but once again, this is all about preference.  In the winter I do my cold, snowy runs in my Injinji trail socks that are a midweight mini-crew style.  Keeps my toes toasty warm!  Injinji now has a nuwwol line too that has an Outdoor Midweight Mini Crew in Nuwwol.  I just ordered a couple pair of these since Aby & I share some of these winter run items.  Its hard to keep up on the laundry! image image image

The bottom line is that you CAN run outside all winter long, if you want.  There are very few conditions, short of ice, that you can’t dress for and tolerate.  I understand that its easy to use the excuse that its too cold but let’s be honest, usually that’s just an excuse.  Bundle up.  Keep moving.  And learn to enjoy running in EVERY season, even winter.

I’ll see you on the trail!

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

2016 in Review …..

2016 was infinitely better than 2015 in so many ways.  First, our IL house sold!  Yes!  We didn’t make any $$ but it was a huge burden to be lifted from our shoulders & it allowed us to do some much needed work on our current house.  Second, the kids were insane but definitely adjusted better this year to our new hometown.  Third, I was able to run all year.  Although, I had some issues with my back, I was “mostly” healthy and while I was limited on my biking and some other things, I ran every step of 2016 with a smile on my face.  And that my friends, it a big fat win in my book!  Yay for running!!

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As for the stats.  I’ve currently ran 38 marathons/50Ks in 22 different states.  For 2016,  I ran 1132 miles & cycled 1450 miles.  I ran 12 marathons, 1 which was a 50K:  Mississippi Blues Marathon, First Light Marathon, Rock N Roll New Orleans Marathon, Garmin Marathon, Kentucky Derby Marathon, Flying Pig Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon, Rock N Roll San Antonio Marathon & the Huff 50K

Best Race of the Year goes to the Flying Pig Marathon.  I really can’t say enough about this race in Cincinnati, OH.  I heard it was good but, really, it was great.  Everything from the Expo to the race itself.  The community support was beyond amazing.  Entertainment.  They had every snack you can imagine on course (bacon!!!), stations where you could toss a basketball up to a hoop, cooling stations, great views.  Fun, Fun, Fun is how I would describe Flying Pig.  It really is a must do but yes, there are hills, and then more hills, and then a few more. 

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Best Course of the Year goes to Rock N Roll New Orleans.  It was really tough to award Flying Pig the best race of the year because RnR New Orleans was a close second.  I do think the crowd support and expo was better at Flying Pig and that’s why they get the win.  But I can’t leave New Orleans out of the mix.  Amazing race.  Amazing course.  Amazing city.  If you are looking for a city tour while you run, then RnR New Orleans is your race.  You see everything on this course from the French Quarter, Garden District, Decatur Street, Jackson Square, French Market to City Park.  The half marathon runs with the full the entire way til they turn off at mile 13 for the finish.  The full then goes around Lake Pontchartrain, over the levies & back toward the finishers party.  Amazing race.  I’d love to make a return trip and run it again.

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I also managed to squeeze in a half marathon at RnR Chicago, the Rat Race 10K in Ft Wayne, IN,  the 4 mile Galloping Gobbler, an Olympic distance triathlon at Tri Lakes, IN, the Fort4Fitness 100K Cycle  …. and 4 half ironman triathlons:  Cutting Edge 70.3, IM 70.3 Muncie, IM 70.3 Steelhead & Rev3 70.3 Cedar Point.  

It was a full year.  And I’m grateful for all of those finishes!  Some of those were much harder than others! 

Best SWAG of the year goes to the Huff 50K!  Although a close second goes to Flying Pig. And I really LOVED the RnR Finisher Jackets this year!

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Best pics of 2016:  The crew from IN & IL for the Garmin Marathon,  Aby & I at the Rat Race 10K (cuz she doesn’t like to take pics with me anymore!), and me & Nicki at the Rock N Roll San Antonio 10K.  Fun, fun, fun!

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Best selfie of the year:  Bike Selfie at the Cutting Edge 70.3

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That’s a wrap for 2016!  I hope that all of you had an amazing year!  More importantly, my wish for you is a happy, healthy, prosperous 2017.  Remember to keep dreaming, keep believing and if your goals don’t scare you …… they aren’t big enough!

** Cheers to 2016 ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Spartan Giveaway WINNER!

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Today is the day!  Let’s get someone a FREE race entry to start out their 2017 season!!  I have one Spartan Race entry to give away to a lucky someone.  The random number generator selected number 8, which is Liz Lew!  Congrats, Liz!image 

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Liz, please email me at amanda@tootallfritz.com to collect your code for the free entry to any open US Spartan Race of your choice.

The rest of us can go here to select our 2017 the Spartan Races!

Thanks for entering!!  Now, let’s start planning for 2017!

** Arooo ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Huff 50K Trail Run – 2016

The Huff 50K Trail Run is traditionally one of the largest 50Ks in the Midwest.  The course is thru scenic Chain O Lakes State Park in Albion, IN & features well groomed trails that are wide enough to run 2 or 3 abreast.  At least most days.  The 2016 Huff presented a series of weather challenges in the form of snow & freezing rain that resulted in low turnout and even fewer finishers.

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Knowing that the weather was going to be less than ideal on race day, I went to pick up our packets early at Running Around Screen Printing in Columbia City.  Easy in and out. Packet included the normal hand/foot warmers, Huff Logo tee & a water bottle with the Huff logo. I also picked up socks & popcorn at the race site.

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Race day started at 8am.  We arrived early.  Roads weren’t too bad on our journey but others weren’t as lucky.  I immediately noticed that the tent wasn’t very full and the lines to the potties weren’t that long.  I mentally noted that probably less than half the normal runners had shown up, but it was hard to tell.  The One Loop & Relay race was scheduled to start at 8am but the timing system was literally frozen.  They got the “one loopers” going about 8:10am.  Off goes Aby & Annika for their very first Huff experience!!  Pic of us in the tent pre-race.

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50K runners followed shortly.  Very low key.  Very relaxed.  We started running off the start line and made it maybe 50 feet before the entire group started walking.  We had hit the snowy trail & progress had slowed immediately.  That was the theme of the entire day.  Slow.  Steady.  Just keep moving forward.  My calves & quads & hip flexors were burning from effort before I hit the one mile mark.  Running thru the snow was intense.  You couldn’t really “see” the ground or trail, there was a layer of fresh powdery snow to plow our way thru and it made running hard ….. and slow.  But it was beautiful!

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Trail groomers had spent all week marking & grooming trails, running snowmobiles over the trails and trying to pack down the snow as much as possible.  In some areas the efforts were well noted, in others the snow was so powdery that packing it down was next to impossible. 

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Bridges with steps were impassable due to a layer of ice covering them and railings that were covered with ice and impossible to hold.

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As we were running, the first loop was warmish, probably 30 degrees with a cooler feels like temp.  I knew I was overdressed but I was more prepared for the temps to cool, and the freezing rain that was to come throughout the day.  We got lucky in that it never poured freezing rain on us.  It was a light misty rain.  One where you knew you were wet but weren’t being pelted by rain.  By mile 8, I had a layer ice over the bill of my hat.  My zipper on my jacket was a chunk of ice.  My bib was frozen stiff.  The trails were starting to get more slippery and there was less fight with the fluffy snow.  And the temps were dropping.

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I kept looking forward to the end of the first loop.  My TRI team was working the aid station with the Huff Couch and I was looking forward to seeing some friendly faces!  They even got a few pics of me & a few of Aby & Annika when they passed thru.

Aid Station   Huff Couch

Aby & Annika – In the black & white jackets.

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Loop 2 was hard.  I didn’t have as much of an issue starting loop 2 as I have in past years.  I just did it.  No thought.  I just ran past the tent and kept on moving.  I had no idea what I was in for, at all.  I had hopes that the trail would be packed down and the powdery snow would be less of an issue.  That was true.  But what I didn’t anticipate was that the powdery snow would have packed and turned to a mound of ice.  I had Yak Trax in my drop bag, which I passed up without even thinking of stopping for them.  Yak Trax aren’t a huge help in fluffy, powdery snow.  But I had made a huge mistake.  I slipped and slided thru the entirety of the second loop.   It was super icy.  Yak Trax would have given me some traction.  At one point, when I reached a long service road heading into the Rally Aid Station, I could barely get down that road.  It was so icy.  And the snow was plowed up on the side of the road and covered with a layer of ice so I couldn’t walk in the snow, it was too deep.  30 people passed me on that road alone, all laughing at me.  Once I got to the end and had to cross over to the aid station, I about fell (again), in the middle of the road.  A kind lady with ice spikes on her shoes actually grabbed my arm and pulled me across the ice to safer ground.   But alas, the Rally Aid Station is on high ground and it down, down, down from there.  I was quite fearful as to how I’d make it down while still on my feet.  Fortunately, the snow on the side of the trail wasn’t too deep and I was able to walk in the thicker snow.  It had a layer of ice on it but once I broke thru, it was much safer.  That’s how I got thru all the downhill sections from mile 23 thru the finish.  And I did finish.  It was a long fought battle. I was fatigued.  Sore.  I walked a lot more because of the ice than the fatigue so it took forever but really, in the end, the finish is all I wanted.

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It took me 7 hrs & 50 minutes this year.  An hour longer than last but a finish is a finish.  I changed out of my wet clothes, then went over to hang out with my TRI team at the Huff  Couch aid station.  Done, Done, Done!!

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This year the 50K had 231 finishers, compared to 377 for last year.  Many who started, didn’t finish the first loop in time to start the second & were given a 1 loop finisher medal.  We had a total of 423 finisher in the one loop & 50K for this year.  Compared to 666 for last year.  Then the relay division was a huge tell all of what we faced.  This year we had 8 men teams & 7 women teams finish.  Last year we had 8 men teams, 10 women teams & 20 mixed teams.  The weather was frightful and I congratulate everyone who had the courage to show up and run.  Rough day but I know I’ll see you all out there again next year!  Cheers to 2016 being in the books & 2017 being on the horizon!

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Rock N Roll San Antonio 10K & Marathon …….

December has been a total whirlwind & I’m way behind on race reports.  As a result, I’m going to combine the Rock N Roll San Antonio 10K & Marathon report. 

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Rock N Roll San Antonio was the first weekend of December.  The 10K was on Saturday & the 5K, 1/2 & full marathon were on Sunday.  Initially I thought I was going to be solo on this trip so I signed up for the 10K & Marathon so that I would have something to occupy my time.  I anticipated amazing weather and a bit of escape from the cold, ice & snow of the Midwest but I was pretty much wrong on every accord.  I left a land of ice & snow & entered a land of cool, cold rain.  Flood Warnings.  Thunderstorm Warnings.  Temps that were unseasonably cold in San Antonio.  It was hard to really see & do much because there was so much pouring rain.  Looked like a fun city, we were just pretty limited to our activities.  Fortunately, we had an amazing hotel that was steps from a huge shopping mall & I had company.  Huge win!  Meet my friend, Nicki.  She’s a big fan of RnR races & is always with me at RnR Chicago!  She made the trip to San Antonio to share the RnR fun!!

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I’ve really come to love Rock N Roll races this year.  I’ve used my Tour Pass as much as my budget would allow, and maybe a little bit beyond that.  Smile

Rock N Roll provides a series of events for everyone.  You can participate if you are a beginner or a serious athlete.  If you’ve been following me for a while, you know these multi-event weekend races are my favorite because I know people at all levels of fitness & ability.  I like it when we can ALL go to an event and each find something that is fun & challenging without excluding anyone.  Thanks, Rock N Roll Marathon Series!!

RNR San Antonio 10K – Saturday

The 10K was all about fun.  After I found out that Nicki was joining me, I decided to run with her.  Its always more fun running with a friend!  The 10K start was at Sunset Station.  Cool area!  Only a 5-10 minute walk from most of the downtown hotels.

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Light Rain with a “feels like” 43 temp.  Everyone was freezing & I should have probably worn arm warmer cuz when the hard rain really started right before the start, I must admit, I was cold.  But we were ready to run!

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Since the rain was light for the 10K, kinda off and on, I tried to take a lot of pics.  I knew the entire weekend was supposed to be rainy.  I took advantage of the light rain, the slow pace due to flooded streets and I took my sweet time, stopping for as many pics as I liked.  Course highlights:  Alamo City Music Hall, San Antonio Museum of Art (2nd pic below), Methodist Hospital (6th/last pic below), Crocket Park & so many beautiful churches.

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I will say this must be the quietest race that I ever ran.  None of the buzz that is part of usual road races.  It was deadly quiet.  I tried to get the crowd going a couple times by signing, hooping/hollering but they all looked at me like I was crazy.  Solemn crowd.  I’m not sure if the weather dampened their spirits or there were a lot of new runners out on course, but its something I’ll always remember about the San Antonio 10K….. the quietness.…. except for Nicki & I.

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More running.  Several passes over the Riverwalk. Tobin Center of Performing Arts.  More churches.  Majestic Theatre.  Buckhorn Museum of Texas.  Then the finish at The Alamo.

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Loved the 10K.  Great race.  Very low key.  Good for beginners. Several water stops with port-o-potties.  Music, even with the rain!!  Lots of volunteer & police support.  Great route.  2,014 finishers. 

RNR San Antonio Marathon – Sunday

Sunday was the main day of events.  A lot more energy & a normal sized RnR crowd!  Rock N Roll ran the 5K with 1,484 finishers, the 1/2 marathon with 10,711 finishers & the marathon with 2,587 finishers.  It was cold & rainy.  Heavy rain with wind.  Lots of flooding.  If you are the person who doesn’t like to get your feet wet, I hope you stayed tucked in your bed at the hotel.  It was wet and I don’t mean maybe.  It rained hard for the first 12 miles.   So hard that I had trouble wrapping my brain around it.  I was numb & honestly had a hard time keeping my head in the game.  I couldn’t see much thru the pouring rain, so no pics were to be taken.  Some streets were so flooded that I stopped to walk thru not knowing how deep the water.  I thought I heard thunder several times but never saw lightening.  I honestly expected to get turned into the finish when I reached the half turnoff, but that didn’t happen.  Around mile 9, I finally accepted the weather that was given to me, put my head down and started to run.  I’m not sure what I was doing before that but I’m pretty sure it had more to do with feeling sorry for myself than running.  And I must say that normally the rain doesn’t bother me but I was cut to the core with coldness.  I had on a tank, shorts & arm warmers.  I was dressed appropriately.  I know I would have been miserable with more layers of wet clothes but that didn’t make me feel better. It was probably a “feels like 40” temp but I couldn’t keep warm. 

I’ll go thru the course highlights but honestly, I’d be remiss to say that I actually saw much of anything. I ran thru some areas that I knew would be really cool if I could see them but I really had to tuck my head and fight to keep moving.  The cold rain & wind was stiffening my joints up and rotating my legs was becoming a chore.

Course highlights:  Aztec Theatre, Commerce Street Shops/Restaurants, Milam Park, Historic Market Square, San Fernando Cathedral, Market Street, Crockett Street & Historic Crockett Hotel (where I stayed – Loved it!), The Alamo, First Baptist Church of San Antonio, San Antonio Museum of Art, Overtime Theater, The Grotto, Pearl Brewery, Josephine Theater, Paper Tiger Theater, St Sophia Greek Orthodox Church, Allison Park, San Antonio Zoo, The Doseum, Alamo City Music Hall, Blessed Sacrament Academy, Mission County Park, Mission San Jose, Steves Homestead Museum, Historical King William Neighborhood, & the King William Park.  

My favorite part of the run was at the end running thru the Historical King William Neighborhood.  Very cool, old, historic homes.  Loved it. 

This would be a flat & fast course, if the weather were good.  It seemed like a very level course and I didn’t strain with any big climbs that I recall.  Lots of scenic spots.  The music as always, was great.  I was surprised that even with the pouring rain, most of the acts were still out on course.  This isn’t always the case with entertainment on rainy courses.  Lots of port o potties, aid stations, medical stations.  Lots of volunteers & police support.  Course was very well marked.  We had several spots where the course went in both directions but never was it confusing.  Good course, I’d like to run it again under different circumstances.

Finish was in Alamo Park, like the previous day.  Easy to get my bearings and find my way back to the hotel.  Like all the RNR marathons, I received a finisher jacket.  I got a bigger one this time so that I could wear it for winter with my layers underneath.  This jacket has become a staple in my running closet.  Thin, reflective & water resistant.  I’m very happy to have several, even if they are all the same color.   SWAG below, with Remix medal for doing both the 10K & the marathon.  Cool medals.  Cool SWAG.

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That’s the end of my Rock N Rolling this year!  Its been a great year and I traveled several places because of the Tour Pass.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and thank Rock N Blog for the opportunity to do this.  I know this was a really long report and if you made it this far, I’ll let you in on a little secret.  My favorite RnR race of the year was …… New Orleans.  RnR New Orleans is one of my favorite marathons of all times.  It’s a great race, you see all of New Orleans in one shot & the weather was perfect.  Check out RnR New Orleans or one of the other great RnR events!!

** Happy Rock N Rolling  ** Amanda – TooTall Fritz