Fundraising RAFFLE for RMHC & the 2014 Chicago Marathon!

RMHC

Time to get this party started!  It’s Shamrock Shuffle weekend and spring is on the way whether it likes it or not.  The Shamrock is the official kickoff of the Chicago racing season that culminates with the Chicago Marathon.   This year the Chicago Marathon will take place on October 12, 2014.  And it will be massive, just like always.

Chicago Marathon_start view

The marathon will bring world-class athletes, rising stars, talented age groupers, experienced marathoners and beginners alike.  So many want to come here, to run the streets of Chicago.  For the very first time in the Chicago Marathon history, the marathon has gone to a lottery system.  Yes, there are so many people who want to run the Chicago Marathon that we actually crashed the system last year.  Therefore, it has been decided that if one would like to run in 2014, they need to have guaranteed entry via a charity (like RMHC and yes, we still have spots available!!), a legacy of 5 CHI marathons or more, or a super fast time (3:45 for women, 3:15 for men).   Everyone else hits the lottery and good luck to YOU, if that’s your chosen path.

For me, I can’t imagine NOT running the Chicago Marathon since its in my backyard, so I decided to run with Ronald McDonald House Charities once again.  They are an outstanding organization.  I believe in their cause and am always amazed with the number of families they help every  year, both here in Chicago and around the world.  It wasn’t a difficult decision at all for me to sign up with them again for 2014. 

So today, I’d like to start the fundraising process and am beginning with a raffle.  For each $5 donation to my RMHC fundraising page HERE, you will get one entry into this raffle.    What do we have for the raffle? 

1)  A jumpstart to your next Super Hero costume with a New Balance run singlet featuring the Incredible logo!  You’re INCREDIBLE!  I know it.  You know it.  All your friends know it.  Now tell the running community at your next race!  3 run singlets available.  Women sizes:  S, M & L – 3 winners.  If you want one of these babies, let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to mention which size you need!   Value – PRICELESS  Winking smile

Incredibile Shirts     incredibles

Source for Incredibles photo

2)  Injinji – Over The Calf  Compression toe sock prize pack!  The Injinji socks have become a stable in my run world.  You won’t catch me very often sporting something other than Injinji.    I particularly like the over the calf compression style for long runs and marathons because they hold on my toe protectors so nicely, and help my crazy feet stay blister free!  I have every color they have made thus far and can’t wait for them to come out with more colors/styles!!  For you, I have a two pair, pink & purple { BIG THANKS to Frogger for donating the purple ones!!}.  Size medium,  which works for women shoe size 9-11.5 and men shoe size 8-10.5.  I’m also tossing in an Injinji hat because I know once you start wearing these babies, you are going to love them as much as me and you’ll want to shout it to the world at least when it’s raining.  One winner for the entire prize pack.  Value – $118.

Injinji OTC

3)  Emergen-C prize pack!  As optimistic as I want to be about spring being on its way, I’m honestly scared that this winter may NEVER end.  Aby and I have lived off Emergen-C all winter long, taking it daily, and we’ve faired particularly well compared to most.  This is also what I use when I taper for a marathon to ward off the “sickies” in those last couple of weeks before the big race.  This prize pack has 2 boxes of Tangerine flavored drink mix packets (30 packets per box), 2 boxes of Raspberry flavored packets, one Emergen-C Headsweats visor & one over the shoulder bag.  One winner for the entire prize.  Value – $86.

Emergen C    Emergen C_2

Okay, that’s the roundup for this raffle!  If you are interested in supporting RMHC, donate HERE.  If there is something above that you would like when your name pops up AS A WINNER, please make sure you tell me in the comments below. The raffle will go from now until Friday, April 4, 2014 at 9am at which time 5 winners will be selected via a random number generator.  Good luck and thanks to all of you who have helped me and RMHC in the past, and those of you who choose to support the cause this year!  Remember no donation is too small!   One entry into the raffle per $5 donation.  If your name comes up more than once, then you will receive more than one prize.    Good luck!

** Running For A Cause ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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WINNER … Michelob Ultra 13.1 Chicago

Lots of excitement over the giveaway for the Michelob Ultra Chicago 13.1 race entry!  This is a great race and I can see that all of you love it as much as I do, so let’s pick a winner!

13.1Chicago_logo_14

The random number generator selected #34.

image

Number 34 is Kari Routledge!

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Congrats, Kari!  I know you will enjoy 13.1 Chicago!  Email me as soon as possible at amanda@tootallfritz.com so that we can get you registered!  Then get ready to run on June 7th!

For all of the rest of us, go HERE to register. 

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Happy Friday GIVEAWAY for the Michelob Ultra Chicago 13.1

We are fortunate that Chicagoland is BURSTING with half marathon pride.  It’s the perfect race distance for so many and as result Chicago has really embraced the distance and offers road racers a variety of events at that distance.  One of my favorite races is the “13.1 Chicago”.  This year Michelob Ultra is the key sponsor and the official name is the Michelob Ultra Chicago 13.1.  I ran last when it was the Allstate Life Insurance 13.1 Chicago (race report HERE).  Before the big name sponsors, it was simply 13.1 Chicago and well, that’s how I’ll always think of it! 

13.1Chicago_logo_14

This year 13.1 Chicago is on June 7th.  Once again it occurs on the same weekend as the Madison to Chicago Ragnar Relays.  Since I’m spearheading an all ladies ultra team for Ragnar Chicago, I will unfortunately not be able to run the 13.1 event in 2014.  However, if my calendar permitted I would be there and I hope to see lots of pics of all of you enjoying this amazing event!

What does 13.1 Chicago have to offer that puts it heads above the other Chicago half marathons?

  • Unique Southside location, starting at the South Shore Cultural Center where Mr. & Ms. Obama were married, running thru the beautiful trails in Jackson Park, and covering sections of the lakefront trail that most of us never run.
  • Beautiful views of the city of Chicago while you are running north on the course.
  • Amazing backdrop for photos when you run back south toward the finish line.  Photo below courtesy of Xaarlin (Pain is Nothing). 

13.1 Chicago_me running

  • Sophisticated starting corral system which seeds participants well and allows for space on the course to run YOUR race. 
  • Low traffic on run course, even when running the Lakefront path. 
  • Shade on the run course.
  • Out and back race where you can see your friends come and go for the majority of the race.  This is definitely one of my favorite things about this run.  I saw each and every one of my run buds, the fast ones and the ones behind me too! 

13.1 Chicago map

  • After race BEACH PARTY! 

13.1 Chicago_FNRC

This is a great race, certainly my favorite of this distance in the city of Chicago.  They also offer a 5K if you (or a friend) is not up to the half distance.  Take your friends to this race because you are going to want to stay and enjoy the after party!

NOW, did you want to win a FREE ENTRY to the 2014 Michelob Ultra Chicago 13.1?    If so, please make a comment below and tell me your all time favorite half marathon (so far), it doesn’t have to be a Chicago event.  For a second entry, like the TooTallFritz Facebook page.  For a third entry, like the 13.1 Marathon series Facebook page.  Let me know which of the above you did so that I can assign your entries correctly! 

Giveaway starts now and runs until Wednesday (March 26, 2014) at 9am when a winner will be selected via a random number generator.  Good luck, all! 

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Running With Your Dog ….

I’ve had quite a few questions over the last day or so regarding running with a dog.  I ran for years with the Weimaraner, Libby until she “aged” on me and let me know that she really preferred cuddles and naps verses long miles in the woods.  And now I’m currently training our new Brittany mix, Kimmie to run with me.   I’m not a dog trainer.  I’m not an animal behaviorist.  I’m a runner who is also a dog lover.  Honestly, the reason I run my dogs is to keep them from eating my house.  Yes, it’s true.  A tired dog is a good dog.  I’ve had dogs who don’t need to be ran and well, I’ve had a few who NEED a definitive outlet to burn the energy before it burns a hole in the house my pocket.   Since running is MY game, it’s an easy way to burn up some of their energy quickly.  Libby on her Last Long Run below (click the link to read about it).

Libby_on the run_11-11-12

If you are wondering if you need to run your dog, here are a few clues that he/she might need a bit more “exercise” running or otherwise:

  • Chewed your new running shoes
  • Chewed your coffee table
  • Racing around the house like he/she is on fire
  • Tackling the kids trying to engage them in play
  • Biting at your pant legs
  • Stalking the cat
  • Counter Surfing
  • Destroying dog beds/pillows
  • Stealing your Run Less Run Faster book the kid’s toys/books
  • Standing by the door whining
  • Standing by the windows barking at wind/leaves/trees

Of course, running won’t be for every dog, many dogs, particularly older ones just like to walk.  But if you are having some of the above problems then you may greatly benefit from running your dog.  You want to burn off the excess energy but not hurt them or wear them down to nothing.  For our household, we play outside and when we come inside, it’s downtime for everyone, dogs included.  I don’t let the kids play ball or tug toys or anything with the dog in the house because when we come in we usually have work to do or we want to relax.  I do allow working the dogs indoors, like sit-stays and/or heel practice in circles around the dining room & kitchen but NOTHING that riles them up.  Outside is fun.  Inside is work or relaxation.  Being consistent is key.  Dogs are SMART, they just need direction, especially when they are young.  And speaking of young dogs, don’t start running with a pup til they are at least a year old because the joints are still developing prior to that and you don’t want to damage their developing bodies!

A few things that will help you train your dog to run with you:

  • Obedience classes – I strongly encourage ALL new dogs take a training class or three regardless of their age.  A good grasp of some basic commands can make running with your dog so much more pleasurable.   Trust me on this.
  • Collar – the kind of collar is SUPER important.  If you are currently in an obedience class then the instructor may want something special and that is what you also need to use for running.  If you haven’t taken any classes, then start looking for one now by walking your dog in their normal collar.  Are they pulling on you and the leash?  If the answer is YES, then you need to be careful.  A choker collar or a regular nylon/leather collar can actually damage the dog’s trachea if they pull too hard.  If they are coughing or gagging during your walk, then this is an indication that they may need a change in collars for walking/running activities.  Our past instructors have always recommended prong collars for the safety of the dog and their windpipe.  Yes, it does look like a torture device.  No it doesn’t torture or hurt the dog.  It actually expands and contracts depending on the pressure the dog is exerting on the leash.  If the dog is pulling, the collar gets tighter and it’s like the mommy dog picking up her little one with her teeth.  Not painful, but a firm pinch.  No worries, it doesn’t poke or cut, the ends are blunt, but rather exerts pressure until the dog lets up.  After I got past the way this collar looked, tried it out on myself, and then finally put Lib in it, my life changed for the better in both training and running/hiking.

prong collar    Libby_on the run2_11-11-12

  • Leash – Second most important device.  I  use a couple different ones depending on the situation.   If I’m in town, taking the dog to the vet, or on a trail with lots of critters and/or people, then I go short.  Like super short.  I prefer the traffic lead.  It keeps the dog close and well, if you have a working/hunting dog, they can never really be too close.  It allows me to react quickly and keep the dog in immediate heel position without any float.  Nothing worse than a bird dog on float who comes across a quail/squirrel/bunny trailside and my having to reel the dog back in on a 6+ foot lead.  That’s too much LEAD time for the dog to give chase.  I’ve had my amazing Libby yank me off trail before my brain could even react to the fact that we were changing direction. My traffic lead is about 2 foot long, and just enough room for the dog and I to work TOGETHER rather than my being behind the curve.

traffic lead

Once the dog is doing well, under control the majority of the time, and/or I’m in a remote area, then I go to a hands-free leash.   The hands-free system buckles around my waist with an attachment for the leash that’s on a quick release in case of an emergency as if I’d be coordinated enough to manage the release “in an emergency”.  The dog is tethered TO ME.  I go where the dog goes so I try to make sure we are both on the same page and moving the same direction at all times.  Since Ms. Kimmie and I are new running partners, I kept my hand on the leash portion so that I could make instantaneous correction(s) if she wandered off course, stopped to sniff, or tried to cross in front of me.  Remember that you are technically “working” the dog during the run so don’t let them “play”.

hands free leash

  Running w Kimmie3_March 10 2014 Running w Kimmie_March 10 2014

  • Baggies – Yes, we have to talk about poo.  As disgusting as it is, once we have pets/kids, it’s just really no big deal anymore.  But do know that the same thing that happens to your digestive system when you run, also happens to the dog.  Running makes us have to “go”, even when we have already gone.  So take a baggie for clean-up even if you live in the middle of nowhere your dog has already done the duty before leaving home.
  • Water – When you start out running with a dog, you need to build their endurance just like you did for yourself!  So please start slowly, without high expectation or mileage goals.  Initially this is a run for the dog, NOT you, so consider it to be working time with the dog, not run mileage for yourself.  Eventually you may be able to get the desired result for both of you but not initially.  Therefore, in the early stages, you will  mostly likely NOT need to carry water for the dog unless it’s really warm.  Once the dog progresses, and you are going further and/or faster, then consider carrying water for the dog and bring a bowl from which they can drink.  In the past for both hiking and running, I’ve used a collapsible travel bowl and added a quick release clasp to attach the bowl to the dog’s collar.  Yes, they can carry their own water bowl.

image

  • Food/Snacks – Unless you are spending a long time on the trail with the dog, then food is not necessary.  However, if you are in training mode, then treats are advisable.  We cut up hot dogs in a pinch!
  • Be hyper vigilant!   It’s our responsibility as pet owners to keep our pet’s safe.  Part of that responsibility is steering them away from trouble.  Two parts to this equation for us.  First, I live around some people who don’t necessarily think that fences are important.  As a result I’ve been bitten 3x by neighboring dogs.  This has forced me to the trail and the treadmill for more miles than I’d like to admit.  So when I take the dog out to run with me, I’m hyper aware of our surroundings.  I’m constantly watching the dog but also scanning the road ahead and fields around us to make sure that we are clear of any stray dogs who have been dumped and/or wondering neighborhood dogs.  I now assume that an unattended dog is dangerous and going to bite me.  I don’t want to put my dog in a dangerous situation.  And yes, I still carry the Personal Savers WristSaver (below) as an added precaution.  Last night we only made it 1 mile down the road before I noticed 2 stray dogs trotting down the road toward us.  We immediately turned tail for home but it was still nerve-racking.  Secondly, when a car approaches, I always make the dog go into a sit-stay.  Always.  Even after the 30th car passed yesterday.  I see it approaching.  I stop on the side of the road, in the grass.  I make the dog sit & stay until the car passes.  Keeps the dog close to me and both of us focused on the oncoming car so that we are aware of the danger of traffic.WristSaver
  • Know your dog and their endurance level.  Also know when it’s time to retire your dog from the long run.  All dogs are different but for me, I had to retire Libby from long runs at age 8.  She just ran out of steam.  So be aware if you have an older dog and stick close to the car because they will wear down faster than you expect.
  • Keep the dog on leash.  All the time.  It’s a safety issue for your dog.  It’s the law in many areas.
  • Watch the trail, road, etc. for debris.  My dogs don’t wear shoes so if we are running on our country roads, we don’t do so when the tar is hot and melty.  We also steer clear of broken glass and debris.  Plus I avoid highly salted areas in the winter that might damage the dog’s foot pads.
  • Use common sense.  A little common sense goes a long way.  If you think it’s too hot to run with the dog, you’re right.  If you think it’s too cold to run with the dog, you’re right.  If you are wondering if a 20 miler is too far for your dog, then it probably is too far.  Be smart cuz your pooch loves you so much they will run themselves into the ground to make you happy.  I always err on the side of caution.

Kankakee River State Pk_me & Lib_11-11-12    kimmie_march 2014

Did I miss anything?  Let us know if you have additional tips on running with a dog!

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Oak Forest Fleadh 5K – 2014

Oak Forest Fleadh_logo

The Oak Forest Fleadh 5K was on Saturday morning.  It’s a race we have ran before, this is our 3rd time actually, so we knew what to expect.  It’s one of the many Shamrock theme races in our area and this one has a great course with 2 miles on a normally very busy road, Cicero Avenue.   Yes, I do keep coming back specifically to run on Cicero Avenue.  Smile  Something great about busting it down the middle of a city street that is normally brimming with traffic!

Oak Forest Fleadh_course

Easy packet pick-up, a block from the race site on several different nights leading up to the event OR you can get your packet the morning of the race.  Win, WIN for me!  I also like that the event collects food for a local food pantry so we took lots of goodies with us for donation.  This is the fifth year for the event and I’m happy to say that it gets better every year.  The event is in a prime location at the most busy intersection in town but the organizers do a great job keeping everyone safe by directing traffic, shutting the roads down, and setting up the pre & post race events in the train station parking lot AWAY from the traffic. 

The Fleadh 5K is a fast race which is close to home, cheap and convenient.  I also love that this year they gave the option of a cotton long sleeve tee or for an additional $5 we could upgrade to a technical long sleeve wicking tee.  Nice touch.  I think when I registered the cost was $25 with a $5 fee (optional) to upgrade the shirt.  Super affordable for both Aby and myself to run. 

Temps were in the low 30s on Saturday morning but it was snowing hard, and blowing, and then snowing some more, maybe even snowing sideways, yeah, I think that’s an accurate description.  Despite the weather, the race director and the village did an excellent job salting the road and everything was clear, even the side streets in the neighborhood.  I was super happy and it was safe even it the wind was fierce and I had to wear sunglasses to keep the snow out of my eyes. However, the weather did effect turnout.  Originally, they had about 700 registered runners but only 350 who showed up to run in the blowing snow.  I didn’t have as much in my legs as I had hoped and quickly realized that this wasn’t going to be my “best 5K ever” but I was able to run well enough for an age group win.  My friend Aurelia passed me in the last mile (to secure 3rd place overall female!!) and tried to get me to pick up my feet.  Her words did help a little because I tried to go with her but my legs were just heavy.  Thanks for the encouragement Aurelia!!  And my girl Aby took 1st in her age group too.  It was a good day for all of us!

Oak Forest Fleadh_14_Aby   Oak Forest Fleadh_14_Aby Aurelia Me

Big THANKS to Nicki T. for not defriending me on Facebook after this race too.  She always goes to all the local races with me and well, we usually don’t get good weather.  It’s always a topic for conversation as to weather she should “reevaluate our friendship”.  LOL!  But hey, what are friends for, right?  Let’s all suffer have fun together!

Now for the SWAG!  Loving the shirt design this year!

Oak Forest Fleadh_SWAG_Aby

Great local race for a reasonable price.  Potties at the start/finish.  Two water stops on course.  The majority of the race is on Cicero Avenue too so plenty of room for spectators!  I’ve also heard that the after race “bar scene” is pretty good too but I normally go home.  So if you want to give the Oak Forest Fleadh a try, maybe schedule in time for a green beer or two after the race!

** See You Next Year ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Reset to Happy Mode …..

Pretty much everyone I know is currently suffering some sort of Winter Depression.  Even those of us who normally manage to escape the seasonal disorder are just crabby and depressed.  I personally feel as if every day is a roller coaster and  I just can’t get my emotions stabilized.  I REALLY need some Vitamin D.  I really need to run outside.  I really need to be able to shove my kids out the backdoor and lock it to play.  I really need my hubby to start some sort of project outside the house to lift his own spirits.  I really need it to warm up and then, maybe, things will get back to some sort of normal.  Hopefully, because I just feel irrational.  For example, last week I got some news that really made me excited.  I felt like it was a big deal.  Now I’ve seen several other people got the same news.  Now I’m just depressed and somehow feel like I had no reason to be excited.  And that’s just stupid.

comparison

I’m also struggling with my own reality.  My schedule is packed with daycare drop offs/pick ups, a nasty commute back and forth to the city for work, the J.O.B. itself and family LIFE.  Nothing has really changed.  Okay, maybe a few things have changed but I’ve never been one to have much free time so I’m not sure why it’s bothering me now.  No I can’t do group runs anymore.  No I can’t go to any of the four computrainer classes where I’m being constantly invited (and even offered free sessions!).  No I can’t go to lunch cuz I’ll be at work.  No I can’t take that spin class.  No I can’t make the free swim clinic.  No I can’t go to that fundraiser.  No.  No.  No.  I honestly don’t have time and I’m not just saying that.  And I’m currently feeling a little sorry for myself, not because I feel as if I’m missing out but because my schedule just can’t accommodate all of the things that I want.  And that’s just stupid.

life is a gift

I think everything is kinda coming to a head this week because I’ve said NO to a lot of people over the last 5 days.  Plus I have gained weight and can’t fit into a lot of my clothes and I’m freaking out!  Plus it’s March and I’m ready to run fast and I’m too heavy to do that.  Or at least I WANT to run fast and the roads are covered with ice and snow.  My tune-up race for the Shamrock is tomorrow morning.  A local 5K.   The forecast is calling for cold and MORE SNOW.  Yes, I’m freaking out.  I’m afraid that I won’t be able to run fast and that the last couple months of speed and tempo training will be for nothing.  And I’m also scared to try to run fast if the roads are covered with snow and ice.  I don’t want to slip and fall.  I don’t want to be injured.  Dr. Alexis has been working super hard trying to keep my body up and running and injury free and I don’t want to ruin it by slipping on a patch of ice.  Yep, I’m a nervous wreck over the weather.  And that’s just stupid.

bad-weather-motivational-poster

So I’m taking a BIG DEEP BREATH.  I’m pushing the reset button. 

reset

I’m letting everything go.  I’m going to start focusing on the positive.  Like the fact that I’m healthy.  That my crazy amazing kids are healthy.  That I have a job.  That I actually have a few friends who want me to do things with them even if I can’t.  That the sun will eventually come out and melt this snow and ice.  Yes, I’m going to start focusing on the positive.

one small positive thought in the morn

Right now.  Join me.  Let’s all think about something positive and happy, RIGHT NOW.  And starting tomorrow morning, every day before I get out of bed, I’m going to take a moment to reflect and be positive and focus on the happy BEFORE I glance at the temperature gauge.  I can do this.  You can do this.  We can do this!

** Changing The Way WE Think ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

CrossFit Day 60 & 61 …

CrossFit_going back

Needless to say, I’ve been sore this week.  Little Rock, or more specifically the weather and the hills, beat me up badly.  I was sore in places that never hurt.  However, I knew if I didn’t haul it up and out to CrossFit on Tuesday morning that my recovery would be stalled.  I needed to stretch a lot and get the blood flowing to heal those micro tears in my muscles.   But it wasn’t easy getting “up and out” the door because quite frankly, I was exhausted between the race and the driving and my little man who thinks sleeping is boring.  But I went anyhow and I was glad that I did because I started feeling better!

Day 60Substitute instructor {insert total panic} – However, The Sub was told “about” our group a couple times.  We aren’t hard core CrossFitters, we just CrossFit for cross training and strengthening.  We are “special”, and we are loud, and we are a lot to handle at 5am.  Kudos to The Sub for managing the class without totally freaking out about our stupid questions.

Strict Press – Press up over the head w/o any bounce or use of legs.  Super hard.  5×3 @ 63#s

Tabatas for Total Reps – 8 sets of each movement, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, keep track of reps.

  • Air Squats – Just regular squats but the title freaked me out cuz I was thinking I needed to do like a jumping squat in the air.  And I knew I wouldn’t be able to get those tired legs 2” off the ground.  So it was a win in my court when The Sub told us that they were just regular “unweighted” squats.  Very doable.
  • Abmat Sit-ups
  • Burpees
  • Ball Slams – 20#

Day 61 – Welcome back Jared!  Don’t leave us again, you scared us badly. I realize that you too need to vacation but we were were afraid The Sub was going to hurt us! 

Push Press – 5×3 @ 73#

EMOTM – Every Minute On The Minute – 20 minutes.  You have one minute to do the first move.  After completion of the required reps, rest until that minute “dings”.  Then switch to the second station and complete the required reps within one minute.  The buzzer dings every minute to signify the switch.  You will work for 20 minutes total, 10x at each station.

  • 10 Kettlebell Swings – 36#
  • 10 Ring Rows

Good week at CrossFit and I’m now loosened up enough that I should do a short, slow run tonight.  Next up, the Oak Forest Fleadh 5K on Saturday March 8th.  12 degrees with snow and ice expected.  Can’t wait!  Okay, I’m exaggerating by a lot but trying to be positive.

** Amanda –TooTallFritz **

Little Rock Marathon Race Review

2014LittleRockMarathonHeaderIII1

The 2014 theme for the Little Rock Marathon was “epic” with a comic type Super Hero flavor that was pushed hard all the way until and thru race day.  I can’t say that I’ve ever encountered a race that delivered a better PR campaign.  And I’ve certainly never ran a race that delivered above and beyond what the PR campaign promised, until I ran Little Rock.  I was impressed with so many aspects of the race starting the moment I found the race website and how it was designed to fit the theme.  I loved the race booklet they sent prior to the event to create hype leading up to the big day.

booklet

I loved how the booklet fit right in with the theme and was formatted in comic book style giving us a glimpse of what to expect.  I particularly liked getting a heads-up to look for the lipstick “aid” station in the 25th mile before the finish.

lipstick station

Little Rock is a 9 hour drive from my home (south of Chicago) and to be honest, I had NO IDEA what to expect from the town itself.  No, Little Rock was never on my “to be seen” list of places I wanted to travel.  No, I didn’t really know anything at all about Arkansas.  I made the trip because of the race, because of the good things I had heard about it from other runners, because of the large number (270+) of Marathon Maniacs who were attending and because of that wonderful PR campaign that really drew me to the race and the town itself.  And I must admit, Little Rock was a  pleasant surprise with a beautiful River Walking Trail, lighted bridges, lots of restaurants and bars in the River Market District, President Clinton EVERYTHING (parks, library, museum, bridge), beautiful homes, historic landmarks & monuments, and an old Street Car Electric Trolley, which was one of our favorite things about the town. Street car on the left.  Julie M & Judy F inside the street car on the right.

Streetcar Julie & Judy_Streetcar

We had a lot fun before the race even started and that was an unexpected treat.  The expo was a great size with lots of vendors, keynote speakers and plenty of time to pick up packets prior to the race.  The event also offered multiple race distance options for the entire family.

  • Kids Marathon – Finishing last mile on SAT – 1900 participant cap (sold out)
  • 5K Run/Walk – SAT – 1400 participant cap
  • 10K – SUN – 2000 participant cap
  • Half Marathon – SUN – 6200 participant cap
  • Marathon – SUN – 3500 participant cap (sold out)

The theme continued with a tricked out start line in comic book style.

start

The race directors even dressed up like super heroes and stood on top of start (by the right flag) and started each of the corrals the morning of the race.  In the pouring rain.  At 3-4 minute intervals.  It took us 22ish minutes to get across the start line and begin our journey thru town.  The first mile was crowded as always but the road soon opened up and we were on our way!  Temps at the start were in the 50s with rain so we were pretty tight from shivering in the rain while we waited to get started; however, after 4 miles or so we were loose, warmed up, the rain gave us a short reprieve and we were READY TO RUN!  We wove thru town,  ran across the big bridge and saw Capitol Building.

capital

By mile 6, we had already tacked a few hills, I was feeling good and starting to get antsy.

Mile 6

The real test of the marathon is patience. I’m not a fan of waiting.  In fact, I really can’t stand to wait.  This is the reason why marathons and I don’t really get a long.  BUT in Little Rock I was with friends and the goal was to have fun.  I had zero expectations and I’m not really sure they did either, if they did they were quiet about it.  We knew the weather was going to be an issue. We knew there would be hills but we had no idea what to REALLY expect.  So we were patient.  We didn’t dawdle but didn’t run fast, just kept eating up the pavement, stopped for a potty (or two) and just kept moving.  When I noticed a hill, I just put my head down and ran up without looking beyond the pavement in front of me so that it didn’t drain me mentally.  Then the rain came faster and harder.  Then the wind came. Temps started dropping A LOT (all the way down to 30 degrees by the  finish).  We passed the Governor’s Mansion and Julie excitedly waived to the man in a blue raincoat who she SWEARS was the Governor, himself.  We ran down streets with lots of history and amazing houses.  We passed a priest who stood in the rain, blessing runners with Holy Water and we made a B Line over to him so that we could be blessed because it seemed stupid to pass that up.  And then it got cold.  Like really cold.  Around mile 10 or 11 the wind really picked up and the rain had us soaked to the bone.  Our hands were red and we could hardly move our fingers.  We made a consorted effort to wiggle our fingers, shake our arms and get the blood flowing cuz we knew how fast things could go “south”.  Some of our marathon friends took the turn off for the half because they were so cold that they were starting to go hypothermic but we just kept our heads down, eating up the pavement as much with our eyes as our steps.  We couldn’t see much thru the rain anyhow.  I tried to take a few pictures but they all looked like this photo of the historic Central High School.  Cloudy and foggy thru the rain.

HS

So we kept moving.  Not quickly but not dawdling either.  We didn’t walk thru water stops, just slowed til everyone could get in fluid and fuel.  We had to help each other a bit with our fuel cuz our fingers were so frozen we couldn’t get into our belts.  Or open the packages for the gels/chews.  Our pace seemed solid though and our spirits were high.  We loved the course.  We loved the houses.  We loved seeing so many Marathon Maniacs and yelling support to as many as possible.  It was fun.  We were honestly having fun.  There was a decent amount of entertainment.  The course was diverse and interesting.  Aid stations were well stocked with water & Gatorade.  There were food stations with pretzels, bananas, oranges, jolly ranchers, & GU.  There were surprisingly a lot of spectators considering the weather conditions (wind, rain, thunderstorms, and a promise of hail and freezing rain to come).  It was all good until mile 20 when we saw the first sign that said that the race was canceled and we needed to get off the course. 

Event Canceled sign

We were in disbelief but kept running.  Then slightly past mile 20 there was a very nice older man who was very aggressive about getting us off course.  He was able to redirect some runners, while a few of us stopped to discuss the situation with him, then stepped off course to check the radar on our phones and decided to keep on running.  By this time, it was pretty bad honestly.  And not many people were running, most were moving at a slow walk, frozen with tight muscles. Spouses and half runners were coming back for the marathoners and bringing them warm clothes and rain gear.  We were instructed MANY, MANY times that the race was canceled, that buses were in route for us, that aid stations would be closing, that roads were opening, that traffic control was shutting down, that we should take shelter due to approaching storms.  But there wasn’t anywhere to go.  We were on a path (see the photo above with the lady holding the sign), on the riverfront without any buildings in sight.   No buses in sight to “pick us up”.  It was just us and the weather and we needed to keep moving for our own safety.  So we ran!  It was finally at mile 24 when a police officer with a bullhorn was shouting at us that if we continued it would be at our own risk.  We had the option of staying on the riverfront and heading to the finish or crossing over the road, walking thru the trees, and heading toward a Walmart {which was not visible} where buses were supposedly waiting to pick us up.  At that point, we headed toward the finish.  There wasn’t any lightening. Yes, it was still raining and the wind was really blowing hard.  Yes, we were frozen to the bone.  Yes, our muscles were cold and cramping.  However, we were determined to finish and to be honest, we couldn’t see the buses and we didn’t necessarily believe they were there waiting on us.  It was too damn cold and wet to go with the unknown.  I’d like to think that it was an educated decision on our part to go with what we knew and we knew that our hotel and car was at the finish.  We knew our drop bags with warm clothes were at the finish.  We knew that big ass medal was at the finish.  What we didn’t know was that we had two massive hills to conquer in order to get there!  But we made it.  And the lipstick station was still open in the 25th mile, even if those poor ladies were frozen and shivering!  Thanks, L’Oreal for the lipstick stain! 

lipstick

And it was an official finish.  And we got that big ass medal.  Done, baby!!!  WhooooHooooo!

with medals

I can’t say that I’ve ever been so happy to finish a race!  LOL!  It was an amazing day.  It was a great race.  I’d definitely go back and not because of the medal but because of the event, the people, the town, the course, the fun.  If you haven’t yet ran the Little Rock Marathon, I’d strongly suggest putting it on your list!  So much fun!!  And thanks to Julie & Judy for going with me because friends make any event so much better! 

** Running For Fun, Cuz That’s What It’s All About ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Winner!! Sunburst Marathon Giveaway…

Everyone was super excited about the Sunburst Races giveaway!  I hope you still join me on May 31st, even if you didn’t win!

Sunburst_stadium jumpers

Without further ado, the winner of the Sunburst Race giveaway is #37.

image

Number 37 is rl262 

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Congrats, Mr. rl262!  I’m sorry I don’t know your name but please email me at amanda@tootallfritz.com and we will get you registered for the Sunburst race of your choice! 

Everyone else who would like to run the 2014 event, please register HERE!

I’ll see YOU in South Bend on May 31st!

Sunburst

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **