How to Guide on Homemade Bone Broth …. Liquid Gold for our Bodies!

I’m currently sipping on a cup of bone broth.  This has been my project of the week.  A labor of love which I started on Tuesday.  Just finished.  Actually, not exactly finished but I’m in the final stages so that counts, right?  My beautiful bone broth below.

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Very recently, someone in the house had to go gluten, dairy & sugar free (realistically low sugar, as in low added sugar, not natural sugar).  There is an issue with leaky gut and an imbalance of several hormones, vitamins & minerals in the body.  We also have a history of digestive issues for myself and the maternal side of my family.  So anything that can help with digestion & healing is a win in my book.  The bone broth was the next step for us in this journey.  I have spent years studying nutrition and its effect on health & wellness.  This knowledge has transformed my lifestyle and changed the types of foods that I buy and feed my family.  Disclaimer:  I’m not a nutritionist or a dietician, just an enthusiast who wants the best for myself and my family. 

Food - Powerful Medicine or Slow Poison

So why bone broth?  Here is an excerpt below from Whole 9 LIfe:

What kind of nutritional benefits does bone broth offer?

Bone broth is a source of minerals, like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium,  and potassium, in forms that your body can easily absorb. It’s also rich in glycine and proline, amino acids not found in significant amounts in muscle meat (the vast majority of the meat we consume). It also contains chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, the compounds sold as supplements to reduce inflammation, arthritis, and joint pain. Finally, “soup bones” include collagen, a protein found in connective tissue of vertebrate animals, which is abundant in bone, marrow, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.  (The breakdown of collagen in bone broths is what produces gelatin.)

What are the benefits of consuming a properly prepared bone broth?

Proline and glycine are important for a healthy gut and digestion, muscle repair and growth, a balanced nervous system, and strong immune system. In fact, a study of chicken broth conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that the amino acids that were produced when making chicken stock reduced inflammation in the respiratory system and improved digestion. (There’s a reason your mom always made you chicken soup when you were sick.)

The gelatin in bone broth can help to heal a leaky gut, which may be of specific benefit those with inflammatory or autoimmune disorders. These compounds also reduce joint pain, reduce inflammation, prevent bone loss, and build healthy skin, hair, and nails.

 

For me, I wanted to make the bone broth verses buy it.  One, its easy to make.  Two, its inexpensive.  Three, it makes a large quantity and I’m hoping I won’t have to make it again for awhile.  Smile   However, it does take time, which means it might not be a project for everyone.  Steps to homemade bone broth below.

You might be wondering where to get the bones for the bone broth. You can use bones from any clean source.  If you, your husband or parents are hunters, have them save the neck bones from the deer they tag during hunting season.  If you are getting ready to butcher a cow from a local farmer that specializes in grass fed, hormone free beef, then have the butcher save the beef neck bones & oxtail.  Or call your local co-op or butcher to see what they have or can save for you.  Chicken carcasses, necks or feet are great too!  If you buy from a source like the local butcher or the co-op, then you’ll need to pay for the bones.  I paid $0.89 per pound for the beef neck bones.  And then I also used chicken necks from my local co-op.

After obtaining the bones, first roast them in the oven.  425 degrees – 1 hour.  Turn half way thru.

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While the bones are roasting, cut veggies and add to your slow cooker.  Any veggies will work, they are used to flavor the broth and will be discarded later. I used carrots, celery, leeks, garlic & ginger (small chunk).  The fun part about this is that nothing needs to be prepped or peeled!  Just wash, cut into reasonable chunks and toss in the crockpot.  If you are using an onion or garlic cloves, no need to even peel those.  The skins from the onions & garlic add to golden color of the bone broth.  So fun! Even the kids can help!

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I also added pink Himalayan sea salt & ground course pepper (or peppercorns), plus a tablespoon or 2 (splash) of Apple Cider vinegar.  Don’t forget the vinegar, it helps leach the minerals out of the bones!

Once the bones are roasted, add to your crockpot.  If you’re overzealous like me, your crockpot might look like this:

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Thankfully my friend Sara P was on standby and told me that my crockpot was WAY too full!  So I split my very full crockpot (hey, I got the lid on, so it looked good to me!) into a second one.  Therefore, I advise this to be a 2 crockpot project.  Smile Bones need to be completely covered with water and water should be to the top of the crockpot.  Then cover & cook on low for a minimum of 24 hours.  I did about 30 hours. That’s what worked for me and I wasn’t in a hurry.

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12 hours into the cooking, I added a bit more water, increasing the water level to the top of the crockpot …. cuz Sara P told me to do it.  This is what it looked like at 12 hours before I added more water.

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At 30 hours, I turned off the crockpot and let cool.  At 36 hours, I drained the liquid from the veggies, meat & bones. Instead of tossing everything, I fed what I could to the pups for breakfast.  They were in heaven!  I gave them the carrots, cut up the beef pieces that came out of the neck bones and gave them some of the chicken necks too because I was able to crush the neck bones between my fingers (which I did for each neck before I put into their food bowls).  However, beware if you do this:  1)  If your dogs aren’t used to a rich diet, this may give them digestive distress.  I have 3 dogs.  I split the meat & carrots from one crockpot between the three of them for breakfast yesterday.  2)  Don’t give your dogs onions, chives, garlic or leeks, this is a poisonous category of foods for them.  3) Don’t overfeed them since this is more dense then a kibble.  I put the veggies & meat from the second crockpot into the fridge for this morning’s breakfast.  The first two photos below are what was pulled off of one crockpot.  Then the resulting broth in the third photo.

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After I strained off the meat/veggies/bones, I put in the fridge to cool.  The purpose of this is so that a layer of fat forms on the top and can be easily skimmed off.  I left it in the fridge for 24 hours.  A time issue for me, I couldn’t take care of it sooner.  If you are on top of it, you could pull off the fat layer much sooner. Save the fat for cooking or discard. 

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After the fat layer is pulled off, then the broth needs to be strained with a wire strainer to remove the tiny chunks of meat that might remain.  I actually just strained the bottom of the batch.  I wasn’t worried about perfection. 

After removing the fat, how are you going to store your bone broth?  It will only last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.  Some people can it.  Others freeze it. Since mom just had surgery yesterday, canning wasn’t an option cuz I would need help with that.  Freezing was what I chose.  Mom had read on the all knowing Google, that the broth could be frozen into cubes for ease of use.  2 cubes equals a 1/4 cup and easy to add to recipes, etc.  So thanks to the Dollar Tree, I secured some inexpensive ice cube trays for this project.  I also saved a gallon water jug that I had emptied.  I’m not super coordinated and I didn’t want to lose any of my broth!  So I funneled the broth from my giant pot (hubby calls it my “Witches Brew” pot) into the gallon jug, then poured it into the ice cube trays.  I’ll freeze, then store in freezer bags in the freezer. 

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The 2 crockpots yielded about 2 gallons of bone broth.  This was a combo of beef & chicken bones.  Using different types of bones in your broth is beneficial, so mix it up and use what is readily available.  The result is a rich, dark colored broth that is thicker than traditional broth found in the store.   You can then drink it straight or cook with it.  Super fun project.  Amazing health benefits. 

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Well, my first batch of bone broth was a success thanks to the help from Sara P, my mom and the ladies at the Fresh Food Hub in Auburn.  Thankfully the Fresh Food Hub had some chicken necks on hand that I could buy and LaOtto Meats saved some beef neck bones for me.  Hoping this bone broth helps aid in happy, healthy digestion in the future. 

cure patient with food

Happy Friday, all!  Hope you have an amazing day & enjoy the upcoming weekend. 

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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Wildwood Trail Marathon Race Review– Wildwood MO

I ran the Wildwood Trail Marathon in Wildwood MO on Sunday.  It was my 47th marathon (or longer).  I’m a runner who loves to run.  I love the trails and the serenity.  However, I’m not a real trail runner.  Let’s not squabble over the fact that “if I run trails, then I’m a trail runner”.  You know what I mean.  I’m a road runner.  I enjoy the road under my feet.  A solid surface that does not move.  One where I probably won’t trip over something that I can’t see because its covered by a forest of leaves.  One where sharp rocks don’t jut out at every step.  One where if I fall, I won’t stress about sliding down the bluff in the process.  Road runner.  Yep, that’s me. 

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Now that is has been clarified that I’m a road runner, my report follows. 

The Wildwood Trail marathon is self described as scenic & fast.  Good for road and trail runners, experienced and beginners alike. I’ve ran a lot of road races, plus my fair share of trail races.  So I feel well versed and able to give a realistic point of view.  Scenic, yes, in spots.  It’s a beautiful run thru the woods.  This race, unlike others I have ran, consisted of a lot of rock based trails.  Most trail runs are on dirt trails.  Wildwood has a lot of rock.  Not to make this too simple but the bluffs are made of rock.   The dirt wears away & only rock is left in spots.  Second pic below shows it well.  That looks like a well worn dirt trail, right?  No.  Its solid rock.  Somewhat smooth surface in some spots.  Jagged rocks sticking out in other spots.  Pics below are from the Bluff View Trail.

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The race started at a school, right off the Hamilton-Carr paved trail.  Then we hit a crushed stone & dirt type trail called the Al Foster Memorial Trail.  This lead us to the first detour, the Bluff View Trail which was about 2 miles into the race.  That’s where things started to get interesting.  The trail (seen above) was 2.5 miles of single track, some slanted to one side or the other, winding up the Bluff for an awesome lookout.  The Bluff View Trail provided some of the most scenic views of the day to the Crescent Valley below.

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After climbing the Bluff Trail, we made a small loop & returned the same way we went up. I must say that after staring at the course map for days, I really didn’t understand it.  But thankfully, the race was marked very well and there was never a question as to where we were headed.  Course map below.  One note, it would have been super helpful if the course map had mile markers.  For those of us unfamiliar with the area, we never really knew where we were at any given moment.  I had the map in my head but as you are climbing, climbing, climbing and maneuvering the switchbacks, everything is very focused.  It would have been great to know that I just had to manage the climb/terrain until mile x, then I would get some relief. 

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December can be tricky but we had a beautiful day with the sun shining on us.  Made me happy.

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Dry trails.  Leaves cushioning the rock.  And a few breathtaking views.  After the Bluff Trail, we hit the Rock Hollow Trail with the infamous Zombie Heights.  This was by far the toughest section (on the map it’s the tall section of zig zags, middle of the map) and I was zombie like, just watching the ground and trying to navigate the terrain.  Rock, switchbacks, lots of technical sections, all on a single track of rock and/or dirt.  We spent a lot of time hiking in this section for safety reasons.  My legs felt good but I can only go as fast as I feel safe.  I’m not a super coordinated person.  I’m not exactly clumsy but I do try to be careful.  So we saw a lot of 20  minute miles in this section.  Took forever to get thru it.  This was approximately mile 6 through 14.  Pics below of this section show the varied terrain.

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After Rock Hollow and Zombie Heights, we had a nice flat section back on the Al Foster Memorial Trail heading to Sherman Beach.  Easy terrain.  Well packed.  Fast section. 

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Sherman Beach was a hot spot.  By the time we got there, a lot were already headed back to the finish.  Lucky them.  But this was an important area.  First, the only port-o-potty on course was here. It was also the 3rd & 4th aid station.  And this is where the cut-off happened.  Once passing thru the Sherman Beach aid station (mile 15.5ish), there was a 7.5 mile loop.  We had to be back to that aid station by 2:30pm or we wouldn’t be allowed to finish.  Technically we had plenty of time.  But if we ran into a section of 20 min miles, then the cutoff was in jeopardy.  I must say this is the first time I ever really thought about a cutoff (in any race) and it was stressful! 

Leaving Sherman Beach we had a short section of flat, well groomed trails.  Then we hit the tunnels.  Concrete, manmade tunnels.  I had to bend over and walk thru them, they were short in height and long in length.  A volunteer on a bike told us that he would see us in 2 miles, once we hit the tunnels.  Must say this might have been the longest 2 miles of my life.  The tunnels lead to the Cedar Bluff Trail.  Obviously a short 2 mile jaunt.  Not as technical as the Zombie Heights but we had to be on our toes. And we were apparently rushing because of the cutoff.  Both my run partner & myself fell in this section.  Hard.  Blood & bruises the result. 

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Once we were back to the tunnels, things got much better.  We hit a network of trails by the Meramec River.  These trails consisted of dirt & sand.  Well groomed.  Lots of people riding bikes, walking dogs & hanging out.

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And then eventually the Stinging Nettle trail which was a sand trail taking us back to the 4th aid station at Sherman Beach.  Well AHEAD of the cutoff.  Smile   Tamyra below on the Stinging Nettle trail.

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After Sherman Beach, there was an easy, flat run back to the finish on the Al Foster & Hamilton Carr trails.  Photographer caught us in this section.  Yep, I’m dirty.  I fell down somewhere along Cedar Bluff.

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This marathon was approximately 25.77 miles.  If you are a 50 States Marathon Club runner who is trying to run all the states, don’t use this one for Missouri or you’ll be short & it won’t count.  Trail runs are always questionable in distance since you go where the terrain takes you.  Very normal. 

So, was this race scenic & fast?  Yes. Obviously scenic.  But its also one of the faster trail marathons that I’ve ran thanks to several flat sections where you can run faster.  Good for beginners & experienced runners alike?  Maybe.  The flat sections help a lot.  But there was a lot of technical spots too.  Anyone can do it.  But they really have to be invested in it.  So yes, good for anyone as long as they are committed & ready to go the distance no matter what the trails present.

Overall, great race.  Great volunteers.  Only 4 aid stations.  Stocked with trail running basics:  Coca Cola, Ginger Ale, peanut M&Ms, cookies, pretzels, oranges, pickles, electrolytes, Hammer gels.  Water & Heed (a Hammer product).   This was a cup free event so everyone needed a handheld, water bottles or collapsible cups to utilize the fluids on course. 

Small event.  I had read before race day that there were 209 entrants.  Not exactly how the results panned out.  I’m not sure if everyone was listed but they show 89 finishers.  I was #81 (6 hrs 30 min).   3 DNFs.  8 DNS. Winning male:  2:52.  Winning female:  3:44.  So it was apparently a fast race for some.  Smile Cutoff was 8 hours.  Last finisher was 7 hrs 51 min.

SWAG:  Beanie, Hammer gels, Hammer Endurolytes, sample pack of Biofreeze, finishers medal & FREE race photos.

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That’s a wrap on this marathon!  If your interested in trail running, I’ll link to some of my other trail runs below.  The hardest I’ve done so far is the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon in Duluth, MN.  That race is the warm up for the Minnesota Voyageur 50 miler.  God help those 50 milers.  They are tougher than me!  My second hardest trail marathon was the Dances with Dirt Devil’s Lake Trail Marathon in Baraboo, WI.  Easiest trail run/ultra was the Lakefront 50K in Chicago.  If you  need a fast 50K time, go to Chicago.  Race is on a paved path along Lake MI.  Fun.  Easy. 

Trail Race Reviews (minus the 2014 Huff 50K, which apparently I didn’t write up?!?):

Next up the 2017 Huff 50K on 12/30.  Then I rest. 

Happy Running, all!  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon – 2017 Edition

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This was my 4th time running the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  I ran the inaugural race in 2008, then also 2015, 2016, & 2017.  This is somewhat counterproductive to my goal of running a marathon in every state; however, Indy provides a race that is worth repeating.  Plus, Aby is at the age where she likes to run this race with her friends, after Cross Country season, so I go because it’s a huge affair between my friends & Aby’s.  In my world running is about fun.  I try not to have such a singular focus on a long term goal that I forget the core reason for my running.  So I’ll probably run Indy at least one more time, next year.  Aby is a senior next year and who knows where the world will take her after that.  If she wants to go back to Indy, we’ll be there. 

Expo was easy and fast, although crowded in the early evening.  We were in and out pretty quickly.  There were lines to verify the timing chips and lines to get pre-ordered race items, but otherwise pretty smooth.  Lots of vendors.  Everything looked busy but everyone seemed to be in a good mood.  Outside the expo the city was bustling and Indy really shines at night.  View from our hotel. 

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The race didn’t’ start until 8am on Saturday morning.  This was sleeping in for me!  The hotels surrounding the Capitol Building are within a 5 minute walk.  We stayed inside until 7:30, then walked over to greet friends & get ready to run. 

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A few things about 2017 that were different from previous years.  One, it was the last year of a 4 year medal series.  The race sold medal holders to include the medals for all 4 years, then there was a special star that 4 year runners picked up at the finish.  I was missing 2014, no star for me.  But it was cool.  And Indy has just announced that they will be starting a new 4 year series next year with a slightly different set-up.  Here is a picture of the display for the 2014-2017 medals from the Indy Monumental Facebook page.

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The second change for 2017 was the implementation of a corral system, in an attempt to ease congestion at the start.  Start below.  Photo courtesy of Gypsy Runner.

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The start was congested.  Not a lot of signage as to where the corrals started & stopped.  I’m guessing the majority of runners had no idea which corral they were in when the race started.  Some races stagger the start to ease congestion,  allowing a slight pause of maybe a couple of minutes between corrals.  This was a rolling start.  No breaks between corrals.  Gun went off, we all started moving.  First mile was slow.  First aid station turned into a total standstill.

The half marathon runners turned off around 7.25 miles.  The majority of the runners do the half, which is common at most races.  I actually like the first part with the half runners because it forces me to go slower than I might if the road were wide open.  Smile   But after they turn off, usually I start pushing the pace.  Indy traditionally has great weather.  This year was no different.  It was in the upper 40s at the start, in the 50s with a breeze when we finished. No sun.  Perfect conditions for a great race.  Indy is usually one of my fastest races of the year, this year it was my fastest.  It’s the weather and the flat course that helps me out each year.  Makes it easy to keep coming back, right? 

Lots of aid stations.  Donuts, beer shots, pretzels, cliff gels, bananas, orange slices.  Indy takes care of their runners.  Course is flat with a few slight inclines.  Lots of volunteers and police to help keep everyone on course.  I do think they changed the course slightly this year.  I don’t know that for a fact but there were a few times that I felt the course was different or we were running in a different direction than we had in years past. 

Not a lot of pictures.  I had been sick earlier in the week and wasn’t feeling awesome during the race.  I was just following my friends, Julie M & Amy (Gypsy Runner) and just ran all the way to the finish with those lovely ladies.  Yes, I let them pull me the majority of the race.  Sometimes we feel good.  Sometimes we don’t.  Gotta roll with whatever the day brings.  And it brought me a finish in 4:24 with 2 great friends by my side.  #Thankful

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That’s it for the 2017 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  SWAG below. Side panel of shirt in the last pic.

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By the numbers.  The race just seemed so much larger this year!  Maybe because I wasn’t feeling great.  Maybe because there were 3 of us running together.  Maybe because the roads weren’t in great shape this year and I was floating around a lot.  But here are the stats.  In 2016 there were 4237 marathon finishers, 4679 this year.  In 2016 there were 8154 half marathon finishers, 7972 this year.  In 2016 there were 2762 5K runners, 2727 this year.  So the only race that showed a significant increase in numbers was the marathon distance.  But only 400 more runners.  Not a huge increase.  I think I just felt “off” and was more protective of my personal space this year.  Smile  Regardless, I love the race & I plan to run again in 2018.

2008 race report HERE.  You’ll find more of an insight into the emotional aspect of my second marathon rather than a review of the race.  Oldie but goodie. 

2015 report HERE.  2016 report HERE.

This was my 46th lifetime marathon if you’re counting.

** Happy Running, All ** Amanda – TooTall Fritz

Atlantic City Marathon, Atlantic City, NJ

The Atlantic City Marathon in New Jersey was Day 2.  The second marathon for our double marathon weekend.  2 Marathons.  2 Days.  2 States.  Totally normal, right?  Maybe not, but this was an easy double if you ever want to try one.  We picked Atlantic City because it was a short 2 hour drive from Dover, DE where we ran the Monster Mash Marathon the day previous.  The drive was so short that we even detoured thru Philadelphia to fulfill a childhood fantasy of running up the Art Museum steps like Rocky Balboa!  Super exciting.  Then hey, stopped over to see the Liberty Bell too!

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Some people thought we were crazy for actually running up the steps.  It was fun!  There were only 72 steps and it probably loosened us up after running the Monster Mash Marathon!  Good news, we weren’t the only crazy people, some even had the Rocky Theme song playing.  Obviously, we weren’t too serious about this double.  Its not our first.  We just go, run, have fun and keep things light.  As for the steps, had to do it.  Who knows if I’ll ever get that close to Philadelphia again.  No regrets, right?  I would have regretted not running up those steps!

On to Atlantic City.  Packet pickup was at Ballys.  We parked in the garage.  Posted parking fee was $22; however, they reduced the fee for runners to $5.  Thank you!!  Small expo.  Easy in and out once we figured out where to go inside the hotel/casino.  Dinner in the hotel/casino.  Checked into our hotel by 8pm.  Tip:  We stayed at the Sheraton by the Convention Center.  It was about a 10 min walk to/from the race start/finish.  No smoke. No gambling.  No hoopla.  Less $$.

Race started at 8am so we got to see the sun come up while we were waiting to start.  It was steamy.  Humid.  Warm.

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As we awaited the race start, it was different than most races I’ve ran.  There was a start line and a gated corral.  The pacers were inside the corral.  Alone.  We were all crowded outside the corral wondering what was going on and when they would open the gates.  They opened the gates right at 8am.  It was a mad rush for some to get in where they wanted to be, others were climbing over the fence. Most just lined up as they entered the corral.  Somewhat chaotic.  Not an issue for us since we were planning a leisurely race but I certainly see that it could have been an issue for some.  Eventually, we were all in and ready to run. 

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We started the race heading north on the Boardwalk for a short distance, then a quick left on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, then a quick left on Bachrach Boulevard.  Mile one.  Decent sized race.  Some spectators.  Decent Streets.  Views of the water at every glance.  First the Atlantic, then various bays & channels.  So many that it was hard to keep up with which body of water we were crossing and/or passing at any given time.  Foggy morning due to the heat and humidity but not so hot that we were miserable.  Just warmer than most prefer. But it was beautiful.

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Soon we entered a long tunnel.  There were lights so it wasn’t dark.   Runners were whooping and yelling to hear themselves in the tunnel.  Kinda cool.   Thru some neighborhoods, up a couple highway ramps, then back to the Boardwalk, this time heading south around mile 7.75, passing the strip of casinos. 

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Aid stations were spaced about every 1.5 miles.  Lots of volunteers.  Police.  Bicycle escorts for the winners.  Well marked course with plenty of course marshals enthusiastically directing runners. 

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We ran south on the Boardwalk til approximately mile 13, then turned off heading South for an out and back on Atlantic Avenue.  Busier road on the inner side of the Casinos.  Sloped because we were running on the side.  Lots of shops and restaurants and beautiful homes.  Took Atlantic Ave until it ended in Longport at the Great Egg Harbor.  Awesome aid station in that area that had mini Swedish Fish.  Yes! 

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What I can’t stress enough about this race are the water views.  Even when we were running in neighborhoods down seemingly normal streets.  If you look to either side at a cross street, you’ll see water.  I enjoyed it.  Not beach front running per say but the area is surrounded by water.  Atlantic Ocean to the left in the pic below.

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Beautiful homes, buildings, churches.

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Thru the streets and neighborhoods until mile 23 when we hit the Northbound Boardwalk to finish the race.  Start and finish were both in front of Ballys.  By the end, I didn’t love running on the Boardwalk.  Softer surface, yes.  But the lines of the various boards made my dizzy.  I tend to put my head down and “just run” when I’ve had enough.  And yes, I was ready to be done by mile 22 and in the head down mode.  Once I hit the Boardwalk, too many lines.  Too much motion.  Too much heat.  And I was “almost” tired.  We had more traffic on the Boardwalk to dodge since more people were out and about.  I was happy to finally see the finish!

Great after party.  I saw lots of beer flowing if you like a beer post race.  There was a band.  Gender specific, long sleeve tech shirt!  My favorite!!  Great medal. 

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Good race.  More runners thank the day previous but still small.  832 half marathon finishers.  609 marathon finishers.  Flat other than a few bridges.  Good double with Monster Mash because both were flat and not to physically taxing, other than the mileage.  Bling from both days is below.

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Next Up, Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 4th.  My 4th appearance at this event.  Its definitely one of my favorites.  Crossing my fingers for cool, crisp weather and a fast race!

** Happy Running, All ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Monster Mash Marathon – Dover, DE

I’ve been recovering this week after coming off a big weekend.  2 marathons.  2 states.  2 days.  Plus maybe a side trip thru Philly to run up the steps of the Art Museum and relive the glory days of Rocky Balboa.  Maybe.  Just maybe.  Smile   Anyhow, back to the marathons!  First up, the Monster Mash Marathon in Dover, Delaware.  Start and finish is at the Dover International Speedway way.  If you are a NASCAR fan, then no other explanation is needed.  If not, this monster seems to be track mascot.

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I used to be a bit of a NASCAR fan but that ended with the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr.  Therefore, I didn’t know about the monster, or that it was the mascot.  I didn’t know that this was a short track.  1 mile.  Shorter than a lot of NASCAR tracks on the circuit.  I sign up to run races based upon what fits my schedule.  As a result, not a lot of research goes into each race.  That’s part of the fun for me, the surprise of a new race, new course, new town, new state.  Fun!

We arrived at the track on Friday evening to grab our packets. Packet pick up was fast & easy.  Free parking.  Less than a 100m walk to the tent.  Halloween Candy scattered throughout the tent for snacking.  We were in and out in less than 10 minutes & that’s with Julie talking to a lady about her doodle puppy.  Julie loves her doodles!

Our hotel was a couple miles away.  Comfort Inn Suites.  Awesome beds that were so comfy!  Then back to the track for race day on Saturday morning.  Unlike big marathons, you can arrive within 30 minutes of the start for this race.  You can pick up your packet race morning, if you like.  And you can use the indoor bathrooms at the track before you hit the start line on the race track by pit row.

I liked that the start was on the race track.  Kinda cool.  Very sloped though.  I definitely don’t envy the NASCAR drivers who have to get up to such high speeds on this steep and short track!

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One lap around the track = 1 mile & we were off to tour Dover and the surrounding areas.  My favorite part of the course came early as we passed thru the Government buildings around Legislative Avenue, mile 3.5 to 4.5.

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Aid stations were very frequent, especially in the first half of the course.  Hammer gels were offered.  Water. Gatorade.  I’ve never seen as many gel stations on course than at this race.  Very impressive.

We ran a lot of country roads.  But they either let us run the entire road, or had cones separating us from vehicular traffic.  We had plenty of room and cars were not too much of an issue.  We did have one motorcyclist yell at us to get over but for the most part there was very little traffic and everyone seemed to be in good spirits throughout the race.  Course wasn’t super exciting.  But it was flat.  Well marked.  Volunteers and aid stations were plentiful.  If you were in need of a bathroom, those were harder to find but probably spaced every 5ish miles or so.

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Overall a good race.  I was pretty excited about it coming in as I had heard positive things.  However, I wasn’t feeling great at this race, so my experience was not amazing. No fault of the organizers.  Loved the race shirt & the medal!  Plus they gave us a buff and magnet.  Nice theme.  Some people dressed up for the holiday.  Overall, small race so not a lot of people.  177 marathon finishers.  237 half marathon finishers.  If you need spectator support and big crowds, this isn’t the race for you.  If you just want to run without a lot of hassle, then you’ll love this one.

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State #26 – Delaware – DONE

Next up, the Atlantic City Marathon race review!

** Happy Running** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Ironman Louisville – Volunteering & Spectating Tips

This year, I did my first volunteering & spectating stint at Ironman Louisville.  This is the closest full IM event to my home.  I wanted to go, take it all in and support a few friends who would be out on course.  Since the goal was to volunteer & spectate, I got up early to volunteer as a swim pointer.  My shift was from 5a to approximately 8:30a. 

Welcome to Ironman Village before the sun comes up!

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The swim pointers were ready to receive athletes when they arrived, get them lined up & help them with whatever they needed.  We were also instructed to keep the lines tight and orderly.

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To be honest, I was surprised how early some athletes go to the swim start.  Transition did not close until 6:45am.  Race start was 7:30am.  There was a 15-20 minute walk from transition to the swim area.  We had people lining up for the swim, right after 5a.  As a triathlete myself, who is not a super fast swimmer, I’d have been walking out of transition about 6:45 to head to the swim start.  Apparently, I’m in the minority.  These athletes were on it and ready to rock & roll! 

There was a nervous energy in the air.  Most people were ready to go; however, a few had small issues like lost swim caps, questions about where to put glasses & morning bags.  But overall, the athletes were prepared, respectful of the area and I was super impressed that they didn’t leave behind a bunch of garbage for us to clean up.  Best athletes ever!

The Pros took off at 7:20.  Age groupers soon to follow at 7:30 in a self seeded rolling start.  Easy.  Smooth.  Everyone was in the water before we knew it.  We cleaned up.  Then headed back to transition, walking along the river (pic below) to see our athletes head out on the bike.  If you want to volunteer and not miss much of your athlete’s day, the swim pointer position is great!

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Back at transition the Pros were heading out and we made it in time to see the first of the age groupers.  Fast swimmers!

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After our athletes left on the bike, we headed to the car to find a spot to see them on the bike.  If you are looking for a great place to park for the Great Lawn transition area, look around Floyd Street.  Find a spot, walk toward the water & you’ll run right into transition after crossing Witherspoon Street!

Since we were parked on N Floyd Street, we had easy in and out.  No issues with race traffic.  We were close to the expressways and didn’t have to cross the path of the bike or the run. Winning!

Prior to the race, I did a little research and learned that most who spectate the bike go to Lagrange.  But I also learned that the area is congested & on a downhill section of the course where it is particularly difficult to see athletes as they zoom past at high speeds.  Several users from the Slowtwitch forums suggested driving out and finding a spot along the route before Lagrange.  So that was the plan.  A loose one.  We took 71 North out of Louisville heading toward the intersection of KY 393 & KY 146.  I missed Exit #17 for KY 146.  Took the next one, Exit #18 for KY 393, toward Buckner.  And dumb luck put us in the perfect spot with a Park & TARC parking area on the corner of Commerce Parkway & 393.  We used the parking lot & hiked it up the hill to the corner of 393 & 146.  Not crowded.  Easy to spot athletes because they just turned from 393 onto 146 and they weren’t at full speed quite yet.  Great spot.  See my yellow highlighted arrow below to see about where we ended up.  Bonus, there was a gas station on the corner of 393 & 146 in case anyone needs a potty or snack break.  Smile 

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We stayed in this location to see our athletes on both loops of the bike.  Everyone was having a good time.  Darla E & Beth P taking a selfie below.  Clint P photo bombing.  Random Ironman athletes in the background. 

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After seeing our athletes a couple times, we headed back to town for lunch.  Parked on N Floyd again.  Walked straight down to Witherspoon & watched the athletes coming into T2 from the bike.  Once they came in, we walked over to Run Out.  Saw them again.  Then we headed out to the run course.  Lots of spots to see the runners within walking distance of transition.  However, the majority of the spectators go to the finish area on 4th Street.  The finish area is also the beginning of loop 2 for the run.  So cruel, right?  Yep.  Welcome to Ironman.  Anyhow, lots happening at the finish area.  Food.  Drinks.  Starbucks.  Need I say more?  You can cheer for the Pros coming in on 4th Street, as well as the athletes going out on their second run loop as the turn onto Muhammad Ali Blvd. 

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Great day at Ironman Louisville 2017!  Thanks to Sara & Clint P for making the trip down with me. 

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Thanks to Darla E for some of the photos that you see above.  As always, Ironman delivers a great day whether your racing, volunteering or spectating.  Its worth the trip.  And in case your wondering, we logged over 24 miles spectating.  Not for the faint of heart.  Probably the best tip I can give, wear real shoes.  You’ll thank me later.  Smile 

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Dam to Dam Century Ride – Wabash, IN

Sunday, I rode my first Dam to Dam Century Ride in Wabash, IN.  It wasn’t only my first D2D but also my first EVER century ride.  I had zero expectations.  My plan was to show up, ride & finish.  Mission accomplished.

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Easy drive to Wabash, IN which is about 80 minutes from my house.  The start/finish & packet pickup were at the local YMCA, plenty of parking and space for the riders.  Packet pick up and breakfast was in the gym.  Well organized.  Fast.  We all received a wristband with a number to call in case we had issues with the ride, our bikes or needed help.  It was a nice touch and one that I certainly appreciated.  I’ve done several organized rides but never one where I felt confident that if I had a problem, someone would actually be able to help. 

I started with the 7:30am crew.  We hit the course early, while the main group started at 8am.  I was happy to get moving. It was cold, low 40s.  Plus, I knew that riding 100 miles would take me just short of forever.  Might as well get started!  We left the Y and started weaving thru Wabash.  I immediately noticed 3 things. 1)  Holy Hills.  We were climbing before our saddles even got warm. 2)  The course was well marked with directional arrows BEFORE the intersection where we would need to turn.  3)  I would be riding 104 miles NOT 100 miles.  Small detail but something I noticed immediately.

It was a beautiful morning.  Cool.  Foggy.  Breathtaking views.  I was happy to be out.  Happy to be riding.  Happy to be tackling something that had been on my bucket list for several years.  Even stopped for a few pictures. 

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And a selfie!  Thanks to Ron at FNA Outdoors for helping me out again this year.  Great guy.  Great bike shop.  Cool gear.  Awesome bike. 

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I rode the 104 mile route.  Aid stations were located about every 20 miles.  Closer in some spots but never further.  The aid stations reminded me of ultra running.  Food, food & more food.  Pic below of the first aid station.  Trail mix, PB&J, cookies, water, Gatorade, tomato juice, pickles, bacon, chips, etc.  Every aid station had different food items, but the food was always plentiful.  If you like ultra/trail runs because of the food, you’ll love century rides! 

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Best part of the day, in my opinion, a field of sunflowers.  So many.  Sunflowers as far as the eyes could see.  I took this while riding and am thankful it wasn’t blurry!

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We rode thru the countryside, across several bridges & dams.  Thru the Salamonie Reservoir & State Park. Red Bridge State Recreation area.  Mississinewa Reservoir.  Past the Stockdale Mill. 

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Once I hit Stockdale, mile 64, I was pretty flat.  I had 3 weeks of building for marathon training & also 3 weeks of building on the bike to be ready for the century.  I was starting to feel it.  I wasn’t exhausted but definitely tired & I had been riding solo for about 10 miles without seeing many other riders. 

After Stockdale, things went downhill fast, mentally.  I was alone.  Fighting some heavy winds.   Mentally breaking down.  I knew it was a mental thing but that didn’t help me get thru it any faster.  From Stockdale to North Manchester, it was a real slog.  As soon as I hit the city limits of North Manchester, a big pack of cyclists passed me.  Then we all hit the aid station at mile 82 together. Riders kept pouring into that aid station while I was there.  Obviously, I hadn’t been out there alone.  I sat for a few minutes, ate 2 brownies, hit the potty, texted a friend that I was on the brink of the “ugly cry”.  Then rolled out, about the same time as 10 other riders.  8 disappeared immediately.  2 were in my sights.  I was not alone.  So I tried to keep those 2 gentlemen in sight.  Helped me focus.  Rolled down the miles a lot faster just knowing someone was close.  Passed thru Largo, then back to Wabash.  We were directed onto a bike path for a short stint.  I was alone again but it was very pretty. 

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Then I made my only directional mistake of the day once I got off the path.  I misinterpreted an arrow.  I crossed the road and started a huge climb up a very ugly hill.  Then I was in a busy part of town.  Then I noticed there weren’t any more arrows.  I messed up.  Thanks to Google Maps, I found my way back to the YMCA.  107 miles total.  Just shy of 7 hours on the bike.  Wow.  Longest. Ride. Ever.

Overall, I was very impressed with D2D.  I’d definitely go back and ride it again.  I’d like to be able to do it as an annual event.  It wasn’t super close to home but manageable.  And it was just a good event from start to finish.  Great directional info, signs, and volunteers.  The aid stations were on point with lots of goodies.  I loved that they were pretty close together, especially when I started to struggle, it helped to know I only had to make it to the next aid station.  The majority of the roads were decent too, which I appreciate.  Great experience, I hope to return next year. 

** Happy Running, Riding OR Whatever YOU Enjoy ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Ironman 70.3 Steelhead–2017 Edition

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This year was my 3rd consecutive showing at the Ironman 70.3 Steelhead event in Benton Harbor, MI.  The race was Sunday, August 13th.  It was my “A” race although I certainly did NOT show up recovered & rested enough to perform at “A” level.  It was my own fault.  Not enough time between IM 70.3 OH and Steelhead.  I “possibly” should have picked one race, or the other, rather than doing both.  Smile  Regardless, Aby & I and a few others headed to Steelhead to have some “fun” in the sun.

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We hit the expo on Saturday around noon to listen to the Athlete Briefing, pick up packets & do a quick warm up swim.  I personally wasn’t planning to swim.  I had pulled something in my shoulder earlier in the week (while sleeping, of all things).  I didn’t want any additional strain on it until I had to hit the water for real.  However, once we arrived at Jean Klock Park and finally caught a glimpse of Lake Michigan, we noticed that the water was rough.  Really rough, white capping with big rolling waves that were 5+ feet, plus there was a small craft advisory.  My crew opted out of the warm up swim for fear that it would create additional anxiety.  Normally the water calms down over night, that’s what we were hoping for because we came for a 70.3 triathlon, not an abbreviated event.  Crossing our fingers!

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Race day arrived bright & early.  Race site was buzzing with energy.  Air was cool. Water was calm with gentle rolling waves.

This year, Steelhead had changed the swim start.  They moved to a self seeded rolling start that would allow us to start with those of our own ability level vs the normal age group start.  I was happy with this decision.  I thought it should result in a smooth swim without us swimming up on slower swimmers who had started before us and it would prevent faster swimmers from doing the same to us.  Good deal, right?  Overall, I think it went well but the water was still rocking and rolling and some underestimated how long it might take them to do the swim.  So I was still swimming up on quite a few but it was less chaotic than normal.  I took 3 swim lessons before this event.  I’ve swam in triathlon for 10 years now, without lessons, without a coach & without any real guidance.  I’ve met my goals in that time span and am happy with what I’ve accomplished; however, I have not improved in the swim over that period of time, in fact, I’ve gotten slower.  So …… swim lessons!

After the 3 swim lessons, I felt lost.  I knew everything I was doing was wrong.  Its impossible to correct everything at once, and I’ve basically been swimming in SLOW MOTION in order to focus on a few things.  As a result, I didn’t know how the swim would go for me.  I am happy to report that I felt in control.  I really focused on keeping my head down & that allowed me to cut thru the waves vs ride the up & down roller coaster that Lake Michigan provided.  I was pushing thru my stroke.  I still don’t have the catch right but I did push thru my stroke & I think it was working (at least better than normal) because when I would get beside someone, I’d be past them quickly with one or two pushes thru my stroke.  So it went well.  I swam until I could dig sand, then stood up.  I looked at my watch even though I wasn’t out of the water.  44:00 flat.  Then it took me almost a minute to fight the waves and wade out of the last little bit of water.  But I was still faster, in Lake MI, with the waves, than my last two 70.3s this year, which were both slightly over 45 minutes.  Happy dance!!

It should have just kept getting better once I got out of the water but I hit transition and immediately recognized that it was busy.  Really busy.  I normally get out of the water with my age group.  We are all in the same area of transition.  You know how you did in the water based on how many bikes are on the rack vs gone.  This time, since we did the self seeded start, transition was total chaos.  People were everywhere, sitting, standing, in various states of dress or undress.  I was dodging people & wetsuits just getting to my transition spot.  Now, transition in Steelhead is along the beach.  Long and narrow.  So be prepared to run & definitely know your spot.  Bikes as far as the eyes can see.  Further actually.

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This year, I felt like we had more space on the racks between bikes.  But the rows seemed tighter.  Or maybe it was just because there were more people in transition when I got there?  It was tight.  Regardless, got out of my wetsuit, got my bike & was running out of transition dodging people.  One person even told me to slow down.  What?  Finally got out of transition and the bike mount line was on one half of a round-a-bout.  Not a big one.  It was about the width of half a road.  One lane of traffic.  And EVERYONE in front of me had stopped on that mount line to get on their bikes.  What?  I was trapped.  And the people directly in front of me could not get clipped into their bikes.  Total chaos.  After waiting, and waiting, and waiting, I became impatient, picked  up my bike, ran thru the round-a-bout, dodged spectators & put my bike down on the edge of the road away from the mount line.  I titled my bike to get on & a spectator yelled to me, “hey, you dropped your chain!”  What?  Me?  Is he talking to me?  I didn’t drop my damn chain.  I haven’t even been on my bike yet.  This bike doesn’t drop its chain.  What?  I look down (opposite side of the bike) & my chain was hanging.  What?  A bazillion things went thru my mind.  I moved to the other side of my bike.  Moved myself & my bike further out of the way so as not to interfere with those who actually were able to clip in and start riding.  And I was just standing there, staring at the chain.  Probably with a stupid look on my face because a spectator came up to me & said, “let me help you with that”.  Huh?  And I stupidly stared at him while he put my chain back on the bike.  Like I didn’t know how to put a chain back on my bike?  Right.  I’ve done it a thousand times.  But apparently I had the “damsel in distress” or worse look on my face.  He got me fixed up & I was on my way.  Still wondering what had happened.  But I’m on my bike, riding gently to get the gears settled back into the right spot.  Immediately I hear/feel a catch somewhere on the bike.  Something was catching/rubbing.  Either every wheel turn or pedal stroke, I couldn’t quite figure it out.  I looked down to make sure my brakes weren’t rubbing.  Not that.  No idea what was going on but decided to ride the bike til it broke or I couldn’t ride it any further.  It was a long ass 56 miles.  The bike was not smooth.  I could feel the rub/catch continuously thru the ride.  Then the course was pretty rough.  I had been up & rode the course on Memorial Day and was surprised as to how much the roads could deteriorate over 10 weeks time.  We did have a reroute due to road construction but that road wasn’t any smoother.  The entire ride, short of the out & back on 63, was just rough.  Add that with the catch in my bike & it made for a slow, not so fun ride.  Plus my legs were definitely fatigued from OH.  I usually pass A LOT of people in the last 20 miles.  Not this time.

Finally back to transition.  Onto the run.  Let’s just finish this!  But by this time it had heated up and we just ran.  At whatever pace we could manage.  I ran between aid stations except for a couple decent hills that I walked.  But otherwise, I ran.  Slowly.  And just kept moving.  I’d walk thru the water stations to get the water/ice that I needed.  Then moved on.  I like the Steelhead run course.  Starts through a beach  community.  Past a golf course.  Up a hill, to the main loop that we run twice.  Past the fire station, down some nice community roads where there is always a family handing out beer shots.  Always makes me giggle.  Do people actually drink the beer shots?  Aid stations every mile or so.  Port-o-potties, first aid, pretzels, chips, cookies, candy, oranges, bananas, gels, coke, red bull, water, ice.  Whirlpool campus.  Some shade, paved & grassy/dirt trails.  Big hill.  Back to 63 for a short jaunt, then back to turn by the fire station to start loop 2.  After the repeat of the loop, then we head down the hill & back toward the finish.  That’s when the smile emerges & I know I’m about done.  That I have once again conquered the 70.3 distance.

I think I’ve done 13 or 14 at this distance now.  Its still not easy.  There is so much that goes into Triathlon between the 3 disciplines.  The longer the race, the more variables to add.  The bike, which is the longest distance, has additional issues.  Flats, mechanicals, other racers dropping things in front of you or veering into you.  Triathlon is not for the faint of heart but I do believe that anyone can do it.  If they have the desire.  If you have been thinking about it, I seriously encourage you to give it a TRI.  Smile  You can always email me with questions at amanda@tootallfritz.com.  I will respond.  I’m happy to help with questions regarding gear/races/training.  But I’m not a coach.

SWAG & finishers medal below.

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My beautiful bike, which was indeed “broken” during Steelhead.  A bolt in my stem had snapped. I’m lucky I didn’t crash.  Although it has since been fixed, the front wheel now has too much “play” from side to side.  Paint has also been chipped off the front fork/head tube area where someone must have slammed into my bike while trying to get thru transition.  That’s probably how my chain dropped too.  I just didn’t notice because I run my bike on the opposite side of the cassette & chain ring.

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Cheers to the 2017 TRI season.  Its in the DONE column.  I had considered trying to get in one more 70.3 to try to maximize my training and make another go at my “A goal” but there just isn’t time.  I’m riding the Dam to Dam Century Ride on September 10th.  I just got my bike back this week but I definitely need a couple longer rides ASAP. And its marathon season once again.  Marathon season where its you, your body & the elements.  Less drama.  Less chance of unknown mishaps.  Never predictable but so much easier in so many ways. So I’ll be seeing you on the road.  Soon.

If you want more info on IM 70.3 Steelhead, see my report from 2015 & 2016.  I hope you are having a great season.  Let me know which fall marathons you’ll be running & maybe I’ll see you.

** Happy Running & TRIing ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Ironman 70.3 Ohio Race Review

Ironman 70.3 Ohio is in its infancy and I think we all want to know what kind of race Ironman is delivering in Ohio.  I was interested to see how it compared to other 70.3 events in the Midwest.  I was also interested to see what Delaware, OH had to offer.

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Delaware was about 2.5 hours away from my home in the Ft Wayne, Indiana area.  I was flying solo for this trip so packed & pulled out as soon as I could get Mr. Michael over to hang out with my parents.  Minivan/Bike selfie for the win!  Love being a minivan mom!  When I’m old & wrinkly I’ll probably still be driving one around cuz my bike REALLY  likes riding inside.  Smile

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3 hours later, I pulled into Delaware, OH.  Home of Ohio Wesleyan University.  Easy enough drive.  Cute town.  Beautiful church in the downtown area .  Typical small college town with a main street area lined with shops & restaurants.

The expo was on the Selby Stadium campus.  Big merchandise tent with A LOT of IM 70.3 Ohio stuff.  The merchandise tent was much bigger than Muncie & was larger than what I usually see at Steelhead too.  Not sure why, but it was impressive & I’ve done quite a few IM 70.3s.    Smallish expo otherwise but the highlight was free sunscreen from Ohio Health, then both NormaTec & Rapid Reboot had recovery boots for people to try.  I’m part of the Best TRI Club Ever (BTCE) & we get a discount with Rapid Reboot so I was happy to try out a pair of those to see how they compared.  LOVED them!!! I think they would be great for Aby & I to help with recovery.  Maybe Santa could bring a pair for us to share?!?!?!

Saw one of my BTCE teammates at the expo & we got to hang out, drop our run bags together, then we eventually did dinner.  Thanks, Laura!

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What makes IM 70.3 Ohio slightly different than most 70.3s in the Midwest would be multiple transition zones.  Transition 1 was by Delaware Lake at Delaware State Park.  Transition 2 was inside Selby Stadium.  Below.

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Hard to see all the bike racks because they are sitting on the white lines.  We had to pack our run bags the day before & drop in our T2 spot so that we would have what we needed when we brought our bikes in for the run.  Those bags are the red spots you see on the white lines.

Then after we dropped our run bags, we headed 6 miles away to Delaware State Park to drop our bikes in T1.  I didn’t love this but it was mandatory due to very little parking at the park & a need to shuttle athletes in on race morning.  Last year, there was a tornado that touched down in the park overnight while the bikes were in transition.  Yes, that was definitely in the back of my head.

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Race day started bright and early as we all needed to board a school bus to be shuttled to the swim venue.  We were able to park in 2 different locations.  I picked the one closest to T2 since I would  need to get my bike & all my gear (sans transition bag) back to my car solo.  My parking area was about 0.6 mi from Selby Stadium.

Good news was delivered via Facebook right before we boarded the shuttle. Wetsuit legal!  We boarded buses.  As soon as a bus was full, it would leave.  Lots of buses.  I didn’t have to wait at all.  Easy ride to the venue.  We were dropped near transition.   Went thru body marking.  Then finally had access to our bikes again.  Everything looked fine, just damp with dew.  Biggest challenge was pumping tires when we couldn’t carry in a pump unless someone we knew could carry it back out for us.  We were not returning to T1 after we left on our bikes & there wasn’t room in our bike bags for an air pump.  Luckily, someone loved the lady beside me & she had her tire pump in transition.  She was kind enough to share with me!  Much appreciated!

I set up my spot and prepared my bike bag for when I returned for the swim.  Everything from our swim needed to go INSIDE our bike bag & then volunteers collected the bags & transported our swim & morning stuff to the T2 area for us to retrieve after the race.  Quick picture with Laura before we left our phones in the bike bag.  Then out of transition by 6:45a when it closed.

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Our swim waves were at 8:04 & 8:08a.  Long wait.  I was definitely stiff, tired & ready by the time my wave went off.  The lake water the day before was a bit choppy but smooth by race morning.  We waded into the water & treaded water as we waited for the start.  4 minutes between waves.  Seemed like we swam somewhat parallel to shore to start but according to the map, we swam in a triangle.  First segment to the red turn buoy was 500m, then a long 800m stretch into the sun.  I don’t think any of us would have hit those last 2 buoys on the long side without help from the guards.  The sun was in our eyes & we could see buoys over on the other side but not the ones “in front” of us.  I kept hearing the guards yell, “swim right, swim right”.  Finally we made it to the final turn buoy for a 600m kick to shore.  It was kinda carnage. We could see again but the course narrowed, basically there were more swimmers & the guards were in closer to the buoys so it seemed like we didn’t have much room to swim.  The people in front of us who were struggling were just lounging, kinda stopped in the water.  Or going very slow.  The people behind us were trying to swim over us to get out of the water.  I got smacked in the head & my goggles were dislodged but I didn’t lose them.  The gentleman was very nice about it but I couldn’t get my goggles to reseal after that.  Oh well, just keep swimming, right?

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Finally out of the water.  Almost an identical swim split as Muncie even though I felt like I did better.  It seems like the harder I try and the MORE I want to do better, the slower I go.  Is that even possible?   The mysteries of the swim elude me!

On the bike.  Splitting headache & nausea the first 22 miles.  Maybe that guy hit me harder than I thought?   After some ibuprofen & pepto, I was good to go, just in time to turn out of the wind.  Smile   First half of the course was super easy, very few turns.  Good roads & we were frequently separated from the cars by traffic cones.  Last 20+ miles had a lot more turns & the “where are we going now” feeling.  I wouldn’t call this a particularly fast course because of the number of turns toward the end.  And the roads were open.  So we had cars to deal with the majority of the time.  There were several times that the riders were having to wait on cars, or a car would pass us, then have to slow because they couldn’t get around the next group of riders and we’d have to brake to keep from running into the cars in front of us.  Traffic got increasing more congested as we were nearing town for T2.  So as we were navigating the course & all the turns at the end, we were also fighting real traffic.  Very unsafe at times.

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Hit the ground running at the dismount line, onto the track around the football field, onto the astro turf for transition. HOT.  The astro turf was burning hot on my bare feet.  I fortunately wasn’t too far into the rack for T2.  So I grabbed my run bag (that had been sitting since the previous day) & realized that my shoes were burning hot too.  Fun.  It was upper 80s probably by the time we got off the bike.  Quick T2 cuz well, I wanted to get away from the astro turf.

Onto the run.  Two loops.  Still hot.  Some breeze.  Some shade.  A few nice people who brought out water to spray on us or splash us.  One spot where kids with giant water guns were having fun spraying us.  However, the aid stations weren’t as prepared for the heat as most IM events which I have done in the past.  There was ice in maybe 3 or 4 spots over the 13.1 miles.  What little ice they did have would go fast & I didn’t get any on the second loop until I was headed back to the stadium with about a mile to go.  It made me feel really bad for those behind me.

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Great volunteers on the run course.  No vehicular traffic that I remember.  Varied elevation but mostly flat with a few small hills.

Finish.  The sweet finish.  We ran back into Selby Stadium.  Did a partial lap around the track & we were done.  Yes!!!  Nice finish.  I went to pick up my morning/bike bag.  Hands were full!  Then I went to the food tent.  They were grilling hamburgers & chicken but it was gone when I got there & they were waiting for more.  I didn’t feel like waiting.  Went to T2 to get my bike & the rest of my gear.  Quite the balancing act getting the bike & all the gear back to the car without my transition bag.  If I had thought about it, I should have left my transition bag inside my run bag so it was there when I was ready to pack everything up at the end of the race!  Or maybe another backpack.  That would have been helpful.

Overall a good race.  Nice venue at OH Wesleyan. The two transition locations was not ideal for me but I still enjoyed the race.  Volunteers, police & spectators were great as usual.  Plenty of SWAG, pictured below.

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Thanks to Delaware OH for letting us invade your town.  Great hospitality.

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Rock N Roll Chicago – 2017 Edition

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The Rock N Roll Chicago 1/2 marathon is one that I keep returning to, year after year.  Not because timing is great for me (its my momma’s birthday weekend EVERY year).  But because my friends & family love this race.  Since I moved away from the Chicago area, this is a great excuse to come back & reconnect with some people I rarely get to see, plus Aby loves this race.  Its always been my MO to go where my friends go.  Racing with friends is always more fun!!  And for anyone under 30, MO is “method of operation”.  Apparently that’s not a common acronym at this point in time.  I was just informed the other day that Aby has NO idea what that means (and I use it pretty frequently).  Smile

Aby, Nicki & I hit the expo on Saturday at McCormick Place.  Always plenty of parking at McCormick.  Easy in and out.  We even received discounted parking this year which was a bonus!!  Plenty of vendors.  A couple photo ops. 

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Having to go downtown for the expo is a perfect excuse to enjoy the city by walking around, having a late lunch & Aby usually insists on ice cream.  Ghirardelli’s anyone?

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Race day starts bright and early to try beat the summer heat & humidity of the Midwest.  We got downtown around 5:15a for a 6:30a race start.  Temps were probably in the 70s and not nearly as hot & humid as normal.  Thank goodness!

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And we are ready to ROCK!  Nicki for the 10K.  Aby for her 3rd half marathon & as for me, well, I was just there to have fun.  I’ve probably done 30 some half’s at this point.  Not my race distance of choice currently but Chicago offers a 5K, 10K & half marathon.  Great for the whole family & a great girls weekend where there is something for everyone!  I particularly love races that have multiple distances so its more inclusive for runner friends at all levels!

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It took about 2 miles before I realized that I was going to have to say goodbye to my “little” runner girl.  Aby had a poor buildup for the race.  Lack of motivation after losing her favorite running partner this summer!!  But race day brings magic and well, she was ON FIRE.

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Good bye, girl.  I must admit, the miles kinda slogged on from that point.  I wasn’t tired or hurt but had just come off the IM 70.3 Muncie the week before and I was facing down 2 half ironmans within the next month.  I didn’t want to put too much effort into this race.  I want to be healthy and that means that I can’t give it my all every time I hit the pavement.  I’m at that point in life, and age wise, where I have to train smarter, not harder.   So I slogged thru the miles.  Slowly. 

The course winds thru the streets of Chicago.  I’ve ran the race several times at this point so I know the course.  The spectators were concentrated at key intersections but it was otherwise  a pretty quiet day.  Like a training run with lots of friends! 

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Highlight was that I knew I had a chance of seeing Aby around mile 9, where there is a short out & back on MLK Drive between miles 8.5 & 9.5.  So unless she had gapped me by over a mile, which was a real possibility, I had a chance of spotting her.  And had I been even a few minutes slower, I would have missed her.  But I saw her briefly, shouted “great job” and she shouted that she was going to try to “break 2”.  I said, “Go get it!!” and she was off again.  She broke 2 on her 3rd half marathon!  1:56 for her!!!!  Great job, Aby!!!

Once we finished the out & back on MLK Drive, we head toward McCormick Place & the last 3 miles of the course.  There is always a giant inflatable Brooks Running guitarist at the 10 mile mark.  Happy to see him, as usual.  Then on to finish the race! 

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Finished! 

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Aby was flying high from her new PR.  We all agreed that the race was great.  Well ran.  Plenty of aid stations.  Lots of places where the City of Chicago had opened hydrants to cool off runners.  Amazing volunteers, great course support, great crowd/traffic control.  Overall, if your going to run a race in mid July, in the heat & humidity of the Midwest, this is one of the best.  Thanks Chicago for continuing to support the Rock N Roll Marathon series & their quest to bring one of the best running races to Chicago, each and every year. 

SWAG – Gender specific technical tee & race medal below.

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Next up, the Ironman 70.3 Ohio.  So I’ll be back next week to tell you all about that race.  Have a great weekend & I hope you ROCK your runs, no matter how big or small, at whatever distance YOU love! 

** Rock N Blogger – Amanda – TooTallFritz **