RAIN Ride–160 Mile Ride Across Indiana

cropped-rain-logo-1

The 3rd Saturday in July is traditionally the RAIN Ride which is a one day ride across the state of Indiana.  This year the event took place on July 20, 2019.  The start is at 7am in Terre Haute at St. Mary of the Woods College.  Event ends at 9pm in Richmond, IN at Earlham College.  One day.  160 miles.  Majority of the ride is along the Historic Route 40.

Packet pick up takes place on Friday at St Mary of the Woods.  Easy in and out.  SWAG includes a t-shirt and some ride glide.  Todd, Sara & I at packet pick up.  Easy in & out.  Hardest part was finding St Mary of the Woods. 

67627028_10219773508746987_38019909497651200_n

Logistics for this point to point event are a bit of a challenge and that is one reason why I have not done it previously.  Oh yeah, and because I had to ride my bike 160 miles, in one day.  Sounds daunting, right?  Well, not as daunting as the logistics.

Options.  1)  Park your car in Richmond on Friday and take a bus to Terre Haute.  Bike rides on a truck, separate from you.  2)  Have some super awesome friends/family who love you so much that they will drive you to Terre Haute and then following you around while you ride your bicycle ALL DAY on Saturday.  I have some amazing friends and family but none that I could ask to do that.  Fortunately, Todd has better connections and a spouse that must REALLY love him.  She grabbed a friend and they became our Personal SAG Vehicle (PSV) for this event.  Meet Darla & Jen.  They said they felt like they were chasing a storm on Saturday.  So they will forever be called the Storm Chasers.  And we are now affectingly known as “Team Twister”.  A little 90s humor.  Smile

67195745_10219782940702780_8873749106116263936_n

The main concern in the weeks leading up to the event was the heat and the 160 miles.  The Midwest was having a heat wave and the ride was promising to be one of the hottest  in history. Fortunately, I’ve done a lot of endurance events and learned a bit over the years about heat, fueling, and salt/electrolyte intake.  Its never fun when the temperature climbs but it can be manageable if pace/expectation is adjusted and you are uber aware of how you are feeling and how your body is responding.

Time to ride!!!  7am start at St Mary of the Woods!  There were 6 of us and we started in the “Just Finish It” corral!  Lots of riders in front of us who might have been a bit more serious.

IMG_0060

And then there were 6!  From left:  Todd, Paul, Matt, Adam (back/orange), Sara & myself.  READY to ride!!  I have a lot of love for these people and have spent a lot of time with them.  Some more than others.  In fact, Matt may currently be looking for a new house since he lives on my primary ride route and I just pull into his drive and wait for him to come out and ride bikes with me.  Smile

IMG_0059

Off we go.  Big pack.  Police escort thru Terre Haute.  Everyone was locked in, two to three riders across.  Large packs continued all the way to the first official SAG stop at mile 39.  View of the first riders coming thru the tunnel in Terre Haute from the RAIN Facebook page.

sheriff-at-start-bridge

The official SAG stops were every 40 miles or so.  Mile 39, 63, 92 (lunch), 113 (water only) and lastly mile 131.  SAG stops had bathrooms, food, water, Gatorade, pickle juice, cookies, chips, trail mix, miscellaneous goodies, bike support techs and some had hoses or misting stations to cool the riders. Aerial view of the first aid station from the RAIN Facebook page.

stop-1-aerial

We were very fortunate to have 2 PSVs for the 6 of us.  Matt’s wife, Melissa.  Then Todd’s wife Darla and Jen.  The initial plan was for them to meet us at the official SAG stops for the initial 3 stops (miles 39, 63 & 92).  They did a lot of driving.  A lot of waiting. And a lot of managing our needs, both emotionally and physically.  Darla, Jen & Melissa ….. waiting.   Matt & I rolling into SAG stop 2.

67350830_10219779734022615_2301534426871365632_n  67364025_10216451013325948_5188633403410350080_n

By the time we left SAG stop #2, things were really starting to heat up.  The packs were finally breaking up a little but there were still a lot of riders on the road around us.  We had 29-30 miles between SAG stop #2 and #3.  But it was hot.  Too hot.  We had already been relying on ice as our primary cooling agent.  We were putting it in our bottles, putting it in our cycling kits, and also using water to stay wet/cool.  We were going thru a lot more water than we normally would, since most of it was being used to cool us on the outside vs. for traditional hydrating purposes.  We were also being very cognizant of our fueling.  Any time the weather is extreme (cold or hot), the body uses additional calories (fuel) to function.  It has to have enough calories to cool the body and perform the task at hand, in this case cycling.  Things were starting to get dangerous.  Cyclists were overheating and stopping along roadsides, under shaded trees or beside tree lined fence rows.  I realized by the time we had traveled a mere 7 miles past SAG stop #2 that we would not make it to #3 without stopping.  We were also in the area around Indianapolis where our Storm Chasers had to jump on 465, to get around the city, to meet us at the 3rd SAG stop.  Our PSVs couldn’t get to us and we were riding thru a very populated area where we had to constantly stop at stop signs or traffic signals, which further slowed our progress and the time on the road between stops.  See ride route below.

RAIN Route

We stopped 2x between SAG #2 and #3.  Bought cold water & ice from a gas station first, then a CVS the second time.  Then a nice lady had a truck on route at one of the busy intersections and she was handing out ice, water & cold towels.  God always sends out  angels, be on the look out!  A few random riding pics below.

IMG_0061 IMG_0063 IMG_0064

As stated, we used additional resources 3x between the 2nd and 3rd SAG stops.  Hot. Hot. Hot.  My bike computer read a max temp of 116.6 degrees.

IMG_0070

Finally made it to SAG #3, which was also the lunch stop.  Indoor bathrooms.  Sandwiches.  Chips.  Lots of goodies.  We loaded up and were off again.

67385249_10216451019046091_3784201139390513152_n

After the lunch stop, the PSV route and the ride route converged.  Our Storm Chasers agreed to leapfrog us and meet us every 10 miles, or so, to make sure we had access to ice, cold water & fuel on a more frequent basis.  Sometimes, they found a parking lot in which to pull into, other times, we found them parked along the road with the trunk popped open and waiting for us.  So thankful for the extra stops!!!

67576610_10216451020126118_1205426302979407872_n  67298581_10219782940942786_3585069842614452224_n

We had a few mishaps with tip overs, malfunctioning equipment, and my left cleat even lost a few screws at one point (no, I didn’t crash/tip over).   Thankfully Todd, or one of the other guys, always seemed to have a solution to the immediate problem and ultimately, we kept moving forward.

IMG_0068

As with all endurance events, the finish will eventually present itself, if you can just keep moving, avoid major mishap, stay fueled/hydrated, and manage your electrolytes.

IMG_0073 

We received a key chain as a token to remember the day.  Both sides displayed below.IMG_0084  IMG_0085

Overall, RAIN was a great experience and a well ran event.  Because of the heat, I’m honestly not sure we could have finished without a PSV (or 2).  We knew from some previously HOT training rides that 20 miles is a push before refilling water/ice, and most of these stops were 30 to 40 miles apart. 

What to know if want to do RAIN in the future:

  • Be prepared for a long day.
  • Train.  Stack training by riding multiples days in a row, decent length rides without getting silly and riding super long rides, every weekend.  Its about time in the saddle as much as miles.
  • Cycling shorts over TRI shorts are recommended, due to the potential length of the day.
  • A PSV is recommended unless you are just super fast and do well in the heat.
  • Expect heat and humidity.  Its July in Indiana. 
  • Take extra electrolytes other than what’s in your fuel.  We used salt tabs/capsules, in addition to Nuun and Tailwind hydration products.  Nuun is all electrolytes, Tailwind is fuel with electrolytes.  Then we used the salt tabs, Huma gels, ate food at the aid stations, drank Coca Cola & used Sour Patch Kids & Swedish Fish candies to help keep the sugar moving into our system.
  • Talk to people.  Make new friends!
  • Appreciate your support crew.  They are hot and tired too!!

Great event and I thought most of the roads we used were in decent to good shape.  Lots of turns.  We had the option of uploading the route to our bike computers using Ride With GPS or we could have relied on the well marked route, following the RAIN drops.

image-4-e1480956952804

Lots of people do RAIN.  This year was no different.  1200ish registered.  1028 picked up packets.  642 finished by the 9pm cut off.  I will say that most of the issues we saw were heat and electrolyte related.  Lots of people cramping up because they just didn’t take extra electrolytes.  When you are taking in a lot of water, remember that you are flushing out electrolytes.  Managing the heat during endurance events is about so much more than staying hydrated.  My experience as a marathon runner and triathlete really came in handy for this event, even if my group was tired of hearing me nag remind them to drink/eat/take electrolytes.

Will I do it again?  I would definitely do it again.  I actually can’t even believe I just said that out loud (or put it in writing).  That being said, I don’t have a lot of people who could/would do a PSV for me, so ultimately, unless I can get in with a group who has a PSV and is willing to let me tag along, I’m not sure it would be smart.

Definitely give RAIN a try!  You’ll love it!!

Amanda – TooTallFritz

Super Marathon–Snoqualmie Pass, WA

logo

The Super Marathon in Snoqualmie Pass, Washington was the marathon we picked to follow up Mt Hood.  The race date was June 30, 2019.  Small race that is part of the Cascade Super Series in the Cascade Mountains.   Race day packet pick up.  Easy parking at the start line.  Point to point downhill marathon that passes thru the famed Snoqualmie Tunnel.  Julie, Me & Judy at the start.  LOVE these ladies!!!

IMG_9271

Another downhill, marathon?  Yes.  This was the closest event we could find in proximity to the Revel Mt Hood race.  We try to get a good bang for our buck when we have to fly, or travel further away from the Midwest.  We were SUPER sore for the Mt Hood marathon, which had an elevation drop of 5600-5800 feet, depending on who you ask.  But this event only had a net drop of 1500 feet.  Very gradual and to be honest, it didn’t feel like a downhill race.  At least not, like Mt Hood. 

Race started at the Hyak trailhead at Iron Horse State Park.  Majority of the race is on the Iron Horse Trail, finishing on the John Wayne Trail at the Cedar Falls Trailhead of the Cascades State Park. 

The first 5 miles were flat, an out and back past Keechelus Lake.  Breathtaking views.  

IMG_9277 IMG_9283

The course was on a packed gravel trail.  Not super rough, but big enough rocks that I would have preferred trail shoes instead of road shoes.  My feet are wimpy!

IMG_9274

Very low key race but plenty of support and there was never a question as to direction on course.  Aid stations every 1.5 to 2 miles.  Potties, gels, water, Gatorade & other items. 

At mile 5.2 we entered the famed Snoqualmie Tunnel.  Volunteers gave us little flashlights to navigate the darkness.  This is a 2.4 mile tunnel.  Very dark.  See the progression of our run thru the tunnel as the “light at the end of the tunnel” gets bigger & bigger until we were out. 

IMG_9286

IMG_9289   IMG_9290

IMG_9291   IMG_9293 

IMG_9294

I loved running thru the tunnel but we were careful to take it slow since it was dark.  There were also some wet areas and the surface was uneven.  Lower air temp in the tunnel too, so it was a nice cool section for running.

Speaking of taking things slow.  The entire race was slow for us.  We were seriously damaged from the run down Mt Hood the previous day.  We aren’t new to endurance events.  Or even to doubles.  We have done several double marathons where we run 2 marathons in 2 days.  Judy has even done 3 in 3 days.  And Julie & I have each done 2 Ironman triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run).  But nothing has ever put the hurt on us like Mt Hood.  Normally, on Day 2 of a double, we are tight and slightly stiff but not really sore.  We start running like stiff, little old ladies, but in 4-5 miles we are loose and things go back to normal.  Its not uncommon for us to run faster on Day 2 because we know we don’t have to save anything for another race.  This was not the case for the Super Marathon.  We were sore the entire day.  In fact, it hurt to run.  Not like we were injured but rather our quads and calves were so tight and inflamed from Mt Hood, that it hurt to run.  I couldn’t even take full strides because my full body weight on a foot strike activated my quad muscles and caused piercing pain.  So we did A LOT of walking.  And I mean a lot.  It didn’t hurt to walk.  So well, we walked.   And took pictures.  Enjoy.  Smile

Nice groomed trails.  Lots of shady areas.

IMG_9303  IMG_9305 

Great views of the Cascade Mountains.

IMG_9333

Lots of bridges & I really love bridges!

 IMG_9326   IMG_9318

Waterfalls.

IMG_9338

Beautiful Flowers.

IMG_9352  IMG_9342

Rock faces along the trail where people were climbing.

IMG_9341

Overall, I really loved this race.  I loved running the trails and there was plenty to see.  I never noticed that it was a net downhill but my quads were so damaged before I started that it may have been more perceptible to those where were fresh. 

This is a very similar course to both the Jack n Jill Marathon and the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon.  The Snoqualmie Tunnel being the main attraction for each.  And the gentle downhill descent which is good for those looking for a PR or BQ.  I personally am not super coordinated, so I’m happy I was able to leisurely run thru the tunnel verses trying to stay on pace to achieve a certain finish time.  And I will note (again) that I would prefer trail shoes verses road shoes for this event.

Great event.  Great swag (not pictured:  water bottle & race bag). 

IMG_0039  IMG_0040

And the BEST part of the race was the famous grilled cheese at the end.  No, it wasn’t quite as large as the promo photo.  But there was plenty and it was super tasty. 

grilled cheese

I really loved this race.  I’d definitely go back, if it were a bit closer. Washington was state #32 and marathon #55.  Making progress!  Next up the RAIN Ride from Terre Haute to Richmond, IN on July 20th.  Then Ironman Arizona on November 24th.

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Revel Mt Hood–A Downhill Marathon, Portland, OR

The Revel Race Series is known for scenic, downhill marathons.  Last summer, we registered for Revel Mt Hood in Portland, OR which took place on June 29, 2019.  We had hopes that just maybe, if we were healthy, we’d have a great race and possibly snag a PR or BQ.  No need for suspense, that did not happen.  I’m healthy for the most part.  My concussion or “post concussion” symptoms are mostly gone from the bike crash last September.  I can go long but not fast.  I had some hip issues after IMTX in April that I’ve been working thru and I’m carrying an extra 10#s.    Not complaining, but weight does make a difference when you are trying to run fast. 

Revel Mt Hood

We flew into Portland, OR.  Packet pickup was at the Oregon Convention Center.  Small expo.  Easy in and out.  A few photos at the expo with Julie & Judy below.

7B89BA9E-9688-4376-B145-E6D62C3FA7DD B371DE94-0709-49F4-AD0E-4376C5A6EC81

Logistics for this race are definitely more challenging than most.  It’s a point to point race with the marathon starting at the top of Mt Hood at the Timberline Ski Resort and running down the mountain to the Rainbow Trout Farm.  There is a shuttle directly from one of the host hotels to the start for an additional fee; however, most participants drive out to Sandy and take the free shuttle to the start area.  Insider tip:  there are hotels in the Sandy area.  If you have a car and want to cut your travel time on race day, stay in Sandy!!  The area where the host hotel is located isn’t great anyhow and you won’t be missing anything. 

Race starts in waves based on pace.  And the buses to the start also leave in waves.  Be prepared, the temperature drops as you go up the mountain. Have some throw away clothes or extra stuff to wear prerace.  It was in the low 30s when we got to Timberline.

IMG_9218  IMG_9234

The descent begins as soon as you get off the bus.  And the views at the top are breathtaking.

IMG_9219    IMG_9222

I didn’t see a sign for the percent grade for the first 5 miles.  However, I can say that it was a lot.  And we were all moving pretty quick.  And it was fun!  I did feel the descent pulling me down, I was just hoping that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  Revel offers free photos of the runners, which is nice.  I usually don’t buy pictures of myself running …. cuz they just aren’t cute!  Smile   But this is one of the free photos.

80214b11e1bec214d0c66c55f7a22fef326090df17000c2c2b70939b5ee51579   IMG_9230

Initial road down from Timberline was closed to thru traffic, which was nice.  Aid stations were set up every couple miles.  Potties, water, Gatorade, first aid, Deep Blue rub, food & gels. 

Second 5 miles were at a 6% grade.  The views were hidden behind big pines, the race course joined roads with vehicular traffic, and it was starting to get hard.  I’d say miles 1-4 were fun.  Miles 4-8, I noticed things were starting to tighten up.  And by mile 10, I was slowing down and it was actually starting to hurt. 

IMG_9227   IMG_9226  IMG_9229

The sun came out.  It was warming up as we were heading down, down, down. 

IMG_9228   IMG_9213 

After mile 15, it started to flatten out, and there we even some inclines in the distance.  By this point, all the people who could handle the terrain were long gone.  My friends were long gone.  I was run/walking but not alone.  Lots of people also struggling.  I tried to enjoy the scenery but really just wanted to be done.  Lots of aches, pains & tightness by this point. I stopped several times and used the Deep Blue rub that was on course.  I was so happy to see the 20 mile sign, but also in disbelief that it was “only” mile 20 and I still had another 6.2 miles!

IMG_9208  IMG_9211

As always, the finish line finally arrived.  I was in the pain cave by then.  The race organizers did a great job.  As did the volunteers and support on course.  Finish line festivities included a NormaTec Recovery Boot station.  Donuts & Pizza.  Local Beer.  But ultimately, we were just ready to pack it up and head out.  Since we flew to the Pacific Northwest to grab a new state in our journey to run a marathon in every state, well, you may have guessed it.  We had to pack up and head to Washington to run a marathon the following day. 

SWAG – Revel Race shirt (upcharge for long sleeve or tank top) & Goodr sunglasses.  Marathon Maniac race shirt, luggage tab & extra medal for the Marathon Maniac & Half Fanatic Race Series. 

IMG_0037  IMG_0038

Mt Hood was my 54th marathon; Oregon was my 31st state. 

I’ve had some questions on tips on how to train for a downhill marathon.  I wish I had some to give.  This was the hardest marathon I’ve ever done.  The hardest endurance event that I’ve ever done.  The downhill pounding really requires a lot of strength, not only in your legs but also your core.  The recovery has been long.  I’m almost 3 weeks post race and my legs are still heavy.  I’ve had 2 massages.  Done a lot of cycling.  And no running.  My body is just not ready to run.  I’ll try something short this week.  Maybe.  Not really sure how one could adequately prepare for a downhill run of this magnitude without living somewhere with ample elevation for training.  If you figure it out, please let me know!  At this point, we can say we tried a downhill marathon.  It was hard.  Harder than it should have been.  And we probably won’t try anything this steep again.  But only time will tell.

Heading to Washington State next!  In an attempt to see something other than run courses, we did stop at Snoqualmie Falls in Snoqualmie, WA.   Pictures of the falls below.  Race report on day 2, the Super Marathon in Snoqualmie Pass, WA up next!

IMG_9261 IMG_9253 

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

Ironman Texas 2019–The Woodlands

IMTX logo-2

I’ve been MIA, training for Ironman Texas!  I didn’t really say much about it on social media or even to my friends/family until basically it was time to race.  I told my parents a mere month before it actually happened.  They worry and I was trying to keep Mom’s stress at a minimum.  Smile  As most of you probably know, I’ve been recovering from the bike crash/concussion that occurred in early September 2018 and my training started a bit behind, in comparison to others.  I didn’t know if I was actually going to do the race but started back training and attempting a build at the end of December to try to figure it out.  Thankfully, in December the doc gave me a nerve block to help with the rear occipital lobe pressure headaches (due to my occipital bone pinching/pressing on my occipital nerve) and I was off & running, quite literally within a day or so of the nerve block.  I’m still not 100% but I’m so much better than I was and I just adjusted training accordingly & thankfully my bestie, Julie  M. really helped with the driving and travel to TX to keep my fatigue going into race day as low as possible.  So I should really dedicate this race to Dr. Kidder and Julie for all her help.  Huge thanks to both!

The Woodlands, TX is a beautiful area but its also busy.  Think major suburb of a large city, Houston in this instance.  And its named appropriately because there are quite literally trees and wooded areas everywhere.  Hard to even know what businesses are around because everything is hidden by trees.  That being said, everything was smooth and getting around was easy thanks to Google Maps.  Packet pick up was beside the canal in a parking area.  Hardest part of packet pick up was deciding where to park.  But once we figured that out, we saved that garage location as a favorite on our gps unit and parked there for EVERYTHING.  Plus it was nice because we could walk along the canal, where we would eventually be swimming, to get to the Ironman Village.

IMG_8816  IMG_8818

Packet pick up was fast and easy.  No lines.  No weight stations, like we had in Lake Placid where they took our weight and recorded it for medical purposes.  This was both good cuz I’m a little fluffy still from the weight I gained during the post concussion “fun” and also bad because the heat was high and I was concerned that medical might actually need the participants weights due to dehydration issues on race day.  Julie M. and I at Ironman Village. 

C85FC67A-D3E3-474C-B914-66EB820A7307

Lots of hotel options around the race site.  If you don’t mind spending the big bucks, you could have stayed at the Westin or Marriott on the canal and avoided the need for a rental car, if you flew into the area.  We had a car (and a budget) so opted for a hotel about 10-15 minutes away, the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Shenandoah (beware –  I’m a Hilton rewards member but opted to book thru Expedia  and they were not pleasant to me at check in, definitely gave preferential treatment to their rewards members and made us wait past check in time for a room while members were being checked in immediately.)  We had a suite with a full sized refrigerator, dishwasher, stovetop, dishes & fireplace which was $600 for 3 nights.  Plus they had nice grills in a common area for guest use.  This enabled us to take our own food, grocery shop, cook, eat, drink and rest without having to eat out and run around more than necessary.  I don’t love eating out before big races because I have a sensitive stomach.  I was feeling good and I wanted to keep it that way.  So we only ate out once, on Thursday for lunch, before the Saturday race.  Huge win for me!!  The room and location was perfect.

IMG_8825

Friday – Practice Swim, Short Run & Bike/Bag Check.  The weather was perfect for hanging out.  We headed to the swim start at Northshore Park on Friday morning for a short swim.  The water looked and felt amazing, even thought we had heard there were possible water “quality” issues, plus it was so much cleaner than the canal!!  Beautiful area for running too, with lots of trails and paths around the park.  So much shade!  We loved the run and couldn’t wait to get out there for the marathon on race day.  Yes, we are sick like that.  Also saw lots of friends, Julie’s Endure It crew, my TriDot people and other friends who were racing. 

D861186D-F031-4E33-BF3E-7B622A69BEBB  IMG_8840

The swim start was about a mile from transition so after the we finished at the park, we drove down to transition to check our bikes and bags.  Once again, we expected long lines and a wait.  Nothing.  We parked.  Walked our bikes/bags to transition.  They check our bracelets to make sure we matched the numbers on our bikes and bags.  They took a photo of our bikes (for security reasons).  We were asked if we needed help.  Then we we were able to rack our bikes.  It was such a process with long lines and big wait times in Lake Placid that we were quite impressed with how quickly and smoothly it went.  We racked our bikes, let quite a bit of air out of our tires so they wouldn’t explode in the heat of the day Friday before we came back on Saturday morning.  Dropped our bags, and left.  Spent the rest of the day hanging out at the hotel and resting/relaxing/hydrating/eating.

900C62FE-FE17-4410-91ED-0D12BD1267B3

Race Day – My race

Saturday was race day.  We were up bright and early, headed to transition to put nutrition on our bikes, inflate tires to the proper point and take care of last minutes needs before hiking the mile to the swim start.  Everything was smooth.  Everyone was calm.  I was easily able to borrow a pump. Put my tailwind on my bike. FORGOT to put my Nuun tabs in my Tailwind, which I realized when we were checking our morning clothes bag at the swim start.  Thankfully Julie had a ziplock with her stuff.  So I swam with a tube of Nuun (in a ziplock) in my Tri top (under my wetsuit).  That’s another thing … WETSUIT LEGAL!  Yes, just makes the start of my day easier.  Thanks to the Triathlon Gods on that one because I was prepared to swim in my swimskin and it was a pleasant surprise.  

Swim (2.4 miles) – Race started on time.  Pros were off at 6:25 for the men, 6:30 for the women.  Age groupers started with a rolling self seeded start at 6:40am and it seemed smooth and easy getting into the water. I was stress-free and just ready to start.  I had hoped for a fast-ish swim (for me) since it was a single loop but I had heard this was one of the slower Ironman swims.  Course was easily broken down into 1/3s.  1/3 out, 1/3 back, 1/3 thru the canal. See below.  Start is at the top.  Finish at the bottom, furthest point.

Swim

It was slower than I had anticipated.  But I also didn’t anticipate my goggles not sealing.  I stopped numerous times (5-6) to dump water out of my goggles and attempt to reseal them but it didn’t work.  I contemplated taking them off all together but didn’t think that would be a better.  Ultimately, I just kept swimming with limited vision and dirty water clouding my eyes.  I was sighting the bright green swim caps around me vs attempting to really “see” anything.  Progress was slow.  It took me awhile to get into a rhythm and I never felt completely comfortable with the vision issue.  I was VERY thankful to have a wetsuit at that point since I was stopping on and off to clear water from my goggles, which was absolutely pointless because they immediately filled back up with lake water. 

The course was crowded and never really thinned out the way that I had thought it would.  Sun was in our eyes on the back side of the course and particularly when we were turning into the channel leading to the canal.  Plus it really bottled up going into the canal and I was just locked into place where I was, not able to really pass anyone or speed up toward the finish.  We were all just “in line“ basically trying to get out of the water.  Eventually, a couple volunteers just reached down and pulled me out of the water.  My vision was very blurred by that point from the water, my left eye was covered with some sort of film and I was disoriented.  Thankfully volunteers pointed me to the wetsuit strippers and those ladies literally got me out of my wetsuit, I didn’t even have it unzipped since I was disoriented.  Good times!  But onto T1. 

Photos of the swim courtesy of the Ironman Texas Facebook page:

IMG_8880  IMG_8879 IMG_8878

Transition –  All the bags were lined up, in order, on the ground, in a concrete area.  We ran thru, grabbed our bags & went to the changing tent.  Super easy. Changing tent volunteers were super helpful, sprayed me with sunscreen, picked up all my swim stuff & rebagged it for me.  I left them with my bag & was off to find my bike.  I pulled out my Nuun canister, emptied the tabs into my hand, tossed the canister into a garbage can, all without missing a beat.  Found my bike, added Nuun to the Tailwind already on the bike, and I was off ….. with slightly blurred vision but it was already improving.

Bike (112 miles) – Lots of turns getting out of the area but eventually we were funneled onto the Hardy Toll Road for the majority of the bike.  This is labeled as a fast & flat course; however, there are several bridges that we climbed and descended numerous times.  On the IMTX Facebook page, I heard that there were 18 bridges that we climbed/descended.  I didn’t count but there were quite a few.

Bike

Flat & fast?  Well, not totally flat with the bridges but it had the potential to be fast.  Apparently the course was short last year but that was corrected this year so we had a full 112 miles.  Once on the Hardy, it was a straight out (21ish miles) and back, 2x.  The “out” was into the wind and slow going.  The back was with the wind and fast.  In addition to fighting the wind on the first “out”, I was also fighting some serious nausea.  I should have been down in aero to fight the wind better but I was seriously ill and when I was down in aero, I was in the perfect position to “toss my cookies”.  I knew that was not in my best interest because the heat was quickly rising.  So I was upright, chewing pepto tabs like candy and holding in the nutrition that I had already put into my body.  I hit the turnaround, the nausea was gone, I had the wind at my back and I gave some serious thanks to the universe.  I stayed in high Zone 2 and even crept into Z3 as the wind quickly pushed me to the turnaround. 

Then back into the wind and that’s when the fun began.  I was in good spirits because I knew I only had to go 21ish miles and I could get an aided ride back but ….. I started cramping.  Serious cramping, like the kind that wakes you in the middle off the night and you jump out of bed with a leg or calf cramped up.  Serious.  And this would not go away.  I felt good otherwise so it was frustrating.  I can only assume that due to the heat, I managed to flush my own electrolytes by drinking too much water.  I had a lot of electrolytes in my nutrition but the cramps kept coming.  I stopped 8x for cramping, legs locked up, pulling my bike off the road, attempting to get out of my pedals before I tipped over.  Then I’d rub out my legs, and get started again, hoping that was the end of the cramping.  I also stopped 5 or 6 times at aid stations to get extra fluids & fuel (Gatorade & bananas).  I went thru all my Tailwind/Nuun concoction, used 8 Huma gels and drank 4 of the large Gatorades on course.  I knew I had an electrolyte issue and didn’t want to be ruined for the run.  There were not any salt tabs on the bike course because its not normal to need them out there.  I had salt tabs in my run bag.  I just needed to get back to transition to access them.  The last time my leg locked up at mile 105 and I just prayed to get back to T2.  I finally made it.  So thankful!!!  Grabbed my run bag in transition, headed to the run tent, immediately took 6 salt caps, changed, volunteer took my bag, I ran out.  Transition in Texas was easy.  They have a great set up. 

Photo below from somewhere on the bike course, thankfully not while I was grimacing in pain from leg cramps.

IMG_8886

Run  (26.2 miles) – 3 loop course.  So thankful to be running but it was hot, hot, hot.  A volunteer said it was 87 at one point when I hit an aid station.  Not that I asked, didn’t change my plan to merely survive this darn thing so I could get back home to my kids.  Just keep moving forward, right?

run

The run course was full, mostly of athletes walking and spectators were everywhere, spilling out onto the course.  If you like people yelling at cheering for you while you run, then TX may be the Ironman course for you!  Lots of people.  Mostly drunk people, but lots of people.  It was hard to maneuver the course sections along the canal because of all the bodies.  The fast Iron people were done and meandering back to their hotel or car, with their crew of family/friends.  Some spectators were cheering and high fiving and entertaining the runners and crowds alike.  Kids.  Dogs.  Strollers.  Restaurant goers.  Bar patrons.  It was crazy.  But once we got away from the canal, it calmed down and the crowds thinned.  We ran a lot of shaded paths and trails thru the woods.  Those were my favorite parts, the quiet spots, away from the sun and the people.  And lots of room for me to just run.  And run, I did …. but slowly and with stops at every aid station for water, ice, pickles, coke, and chicken broth.  Ironman run aid stations are like a buffet.  Eat, drink, be merry.

Loop 1 was fun.  Loop 2 was long and I was in the nomads land of “am I ever going to finish this thing?”.  Loop 3 was a celebration for a long hard winter of trainer rides and questioning my own sanity.  But as always, if we just keep moving, the finish line finally comes into sight.  So sweet!! 

SWAG:

IMG_8890  IMG_8889  IMG_8891

Coveted backpack which Michael claimed for school as soon as he saw it:

IMG_8884

So how was it?  I liked it.  Organizers, police and volunteers did an amazing job!  Did I like it better than Ironman Lake Placid?  Hard to get better than Lake Placid.  Although the course is harder at LP because its in the mountains, its undeniably beautiful.  Always something to look at scenery wise in the swim, bike & run.  While I certainly can’t comment on what I “saw”during the TX swim, the bike was pretty blasé on the toll road.  Nothing to see, just keep moving. Wind was a factor which was a bit of an equalizer, in my opinion, for the lack of elevation. The run was entertaining in TX but a 2 loop course suits my personality better and since I’m a runner, I want to run with as little interference as possible.  I liked the TX run course because of the variety and overall, I think the run course was the best part of this particular race.  This would have been a great race for my mom & kids to spectate.  If you want more info on spectating IMTX, please go download the Crushing Iron Podcast #263 where Coach Robbie Bruce from C26 Coaching talks about his experience spectating. 

What You Should Know, If You’re Considering IMTX

  • Hot weather race.
  • Take extra fuel & electrolytes.  Plan to carry extra electrolytes on the bike.
  • If you are from the Northern or Midwestern states, plan to ride your trainer all winter long.  And then you’ll have to ride some more. Plan on IMTX being your first outdoor ride of the season.
  • Expect extra soreness/fatigue in your neck & shoulders from being outside and having to pay attention with your head up for the first time since last fall.
  • Water quality may be questionable (I’ve heard a lot of people got sick).
  • Expect wind on the bike.
  • Easy transitions.
  • Spectator friendly.
  • Great Finishers area, accessible to friends/family/spectators.
  • Easy bike pick up after the race because its possible to navigate around the race course to regain access to transition & the bikes/bags. 

Overall, a great race.  Definitely give it a “TRI” at Ironman Texas!

Next up for me:  1)  Revel Mt Hood Marathon in Portland OR on June 29th.  2)  Super Marathon in Snoqualmie Pass, WA on June 30th. 4) RAIN Ride, Terre Haute to Richmond IN on July 20th and 5) Ironman Arizona on November 24th.

Stats:  Ironman Texas was my 2nd full Ironman, which also included my 53rd marathon.  I’ve ran marathons in 31 states so far.  Texas was not a new state for me but it was for Julie, which is why we went.  Still slowly chipping away at my 50 states goal.  

** Happy Running & Racing  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Charleston Marathon (2019) Race Review

I’ve had the Charleston Marathon on my list for years!  The race always falls on the second Saturday of January.  That’s a popular weekend for many races in the southern states.  Since my long term goal is to run a marathon in every state, I try to pick races that fit into my schedule AND are also in a new state.  I finally made it to Charleston this year to check off South Carolina, my 31st state.

image

I was really looking forward to this race.  Charleston is one of my favorite places.  I love the location, the weather, the town and the people.  The city never disappoints and I basically begged my friends to go run the marathon with me because of those reasons.  Thanks, Tamyra & Julie for making the trip with me!

IMG_8164

We rolled into town on Friday for the Saturday (1/12/19) race.  The expo was in downtown Charleston at the Gaillard Center. Easy in/out.  Small expo.  Metered parking.  Cool SWAG.  A long sleeve tech tee, which is about the only type race tee that I actually wear, plus a buff & gloves!  All very useful.

IMG_8366

The race was on Saturday morning at 7:15am.  We stayed in a hotel that was close to the start and were able to walk over.  It was about 40 degrees with a cool breeze.  The start area was at a local high school.  Runners and spectators were able to wait inside & even use the school bathrooms, if they had time.   Race started on time and we began our 26.2 mile tour of the area.  First up, Hampton Park, the Citadel & the Battery (my favorite area).

IMG_8152  IMG_8153

Then we turned down King Street, which is known as the art & shopping area.  New and old mixed together.  I loved this old pharmacy sign.

IMG_8146

Once we got thru the shopping district, we headed out of Charleston toward North Charleston.  I’ll be honest, the sightseeing kinda stopped when we left Charleston between mile 7 & 8.  It was a long way up to North Charleston, we did run thru some sort of Government area that allowed us to see some of the swampy areas but it was a lot of time with just us, the road & our fellow runners.  We made fast friends with those around us to pass the time.  There were a couple spots with live entertainment.  Aid stations (and potties) were every 2 miles or so.  Lots of water, Gatorade & GU brand gels.  The volunteers & police support were great.

The skies were overcast most of the day and the temps were 40s to low 50s.  Great weather for those of us who came from the northern states!

Once we got up to Riverfront Park in North Charleston, it was around mile 18. The half marathon runners turned off to finish, the full marathon runners went out and looped North Charleston.  This is the map from my watch, if you want to see the course.

Image-1

We could hear the finish line music and fun during a lot of the 8 mile loop around North Charleston and it was a welcoming return as we headed back to Riverfront Park.  Cute area & a great place for the finish line festival.

IMG_8150

The finish festival greeted us with music, food & several varieties of Sam Adams beer, plus mimosa’s.  Plenty of space to hang out with the family.  But the temps were cool and it was windy so we headed for the buses to shuttle us back to Charleston as soon as all of us finished.  No lines for the buses!  Huge win!   And just like that marathon #52 was in the books.

I was a bit disappointed that the race didn’t showcase more of the great city of Charleston.    Especially the bridges that go over the Coopers River.  So we got up early and went to run the Arthur Ravenel Bridge on Sunday morning before starting the drive home.  This bridge goes from Charleston to Mount Pleasant.  There is a walking/running/biking section on the bridge and it’s a popular spot, any day of the week.  My favorite time of day is always sunrise, so we started early enough to catch the sun coming up.

IMG_8202

IMG_8211 IMG_8214 IMG_8216

If you want more information on Charleston, the bridge, or would like to see more photos, check out my previous post from a visit in 2015:  Charleston SC, I Ran That Town.

** Happy Running **  Amanda – TooTallFritz

Life on the Run … As of Late

Long time, no post.  2018 has been a year of highs & lows.  I have been criticized for not sharing some of the lows but realistically, a lot of it has consisted of family drama and I just refuse to put it out there and give it more life and energy than its already consuming.  This blog is my own. I pay for it.  The lack of sponsors, advertisements and the few ambassadorships that I’m willing to take at this point in time, give me the freedom to post what and when I want.  You’ll never see a paid post here or any content that I do not fully support.  So, what’s going well?  This guy.  Meet Loki.  If you follow me on social media, my Instagram is overflowing with his adorable face.  He makes me smile.  Gives endless cuddles.  Loves to nap.  And just wants to be with me.  Thanks, Loki, you are always a bright spot in my day!!

IMG_7678 IMG_7682

What else is happening?  A lot!  After Ironman Lake Placid (read recap HERE), I took some down time, then was expecting to CRUSH the 70.3 distance at the Michigan Titanium race in Grand Rapids, MI on August 19th.  That didn’t go quite as expected.  I had visited a new chiropractor, who specialized in nerve damage (since I’m still having issues with my back and the lack of power in my legs), before the race.  Long story short, new chiro did a number on me that caused some serious damage that took a couple months to reverse.  So, I went to MiTi , not quite realizing how bad I was hurt.  I took a DNF after finishing the bike, which was absolutely agonizing.  I did not do a race report because I didn’t love the race, in fact, I thought some of the logistics were a total nightmare, especially for those traveling solo without a “crew” to help before/after the race.  I didn’t run any of the course, so had zero knowledge of the run segment.  And I don’t like to put negative things out on the net.  I’ve heard nothing but LOVE for the MiTi race, I’m definitely in the minority when it comes to not liking it.  And I didn’t want my lack of love for the race to look like I was just salty over a DNF.  The DNF had nothing to do with the race.  My body was not happy & it was NOT the day to tough it out.

Next.  I was signed up for the Dam2Dam Century Ride in Wabash, IN on September 9th.  I spent most of August recovering from the “incident” with the rogue chiropractor but still went to ride Dam2Dam with a friend, just as a fun ride.  It was fun alright.  After a full night of rain, the roads were very wet.  We left the Y in Wabash a bit ahead of the main group and were dressed in long sleeves & cool weather gear due to drizzly rain and cool temps.  We didn’t even make it out of town.  Around mile 1.27 (of a 104 mile ride), I came down a hill, hit a set of wet railroad tracks.  I went down.  Bounced my head off the pavement and the tracks.  To say that I was “dazed & confused“ from the fall is an absolute understatement.  Concussion. Nothing but sleep followed for weeks.  Thanks Loki, for being such a great cuddle & nap partner.  My family had zero idea what was happening with me.  I didn’t really understand either.  I slept for 20 hrs a day for weeks and everyone, except Loki, just thought I was crazy. PSA …. WEAR YOUR HELMET.  You never know when you are going to take a hit.  That’s why they are called accidents, we can’t predict when they will happen.  My helmet looks like someone tried to knock me off my bike with a baseball bat.  I had scabs on the back of my head for THREE weeks.  We won’t talk about the rest of the road rash.  My helmet probably saved my life.

IMG_7446  IMG_7429

So I’m still messed up from the concussion, and I’m now 2 months “post concussion”.  I have issues with memory, counting money, temperature control, sensory issues with loud noise (if you have children, this is non-stop), visually I am bothered by bright and flashing lights, colors, and movement.  Its very easy to get overstimulated (and cranky). I’m tired all the time.  I spend most of my day just waiting to go to bed where its quiet, dark and warm.

I’m improving.  But the progress is slow.  I was planning to attempt to qualify for Boston at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon this last weekend.  It was quite obvious, as the race approached, that I would not be able to sustain the necessary pace.  I can get in a solid 2 hours of running, at or below the required 8:45/mi pace.  But after the 2 hr mark, I just want to close my eyes and lay down.  Whether its lack of fitness for the training I missed.  Or the constant overstimulation of the bouncing people (myself included), bright colors, and constant movement, I  know not.  I only know that I currently do not want to run more than 2 hrs.  That’s what I feel good with and that will be my limit for a while going forward.  I did run Indy this last weekend.  I did finish.  I started slower than the 8:45/mi goal pace & tried to run happy.  But I was not happy.  It was just too much.  I finished.  I ran my 2 hrs.  Then when I wanted to stop, I ran/walked the last half of the race with a HUGE positive split.  I don’t have many rules when it comes to endurance sports but I do have one.  Don’t die.  So I’ll never push myself to the point that I feel like things are dangerous.  Finisher SWAG below.  Loki is wondering why I went to Indy without him and didn’t bring him anything better than this.  He is not amused. But Indy is still a great race.  I’m glad I got to finish something and end the year on a positive note in that regard.

IMG_7674

So, what’s next?  I don’t really know.  I’m registered for a few things.  But I’m going to take some time off and see if I can heal my brain.  Its no fun feeling like this.  I want to get better & I’ve just recently been enlightened regarding the current concussion protocol, so I’ll move forward with caution so that I can be the best PERSON I can be in the future.  I hope you all are having a stellar year!  I’ll catch you on the road soon enough.

** Cheers ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Ironman Lake Placid – 20th Anniversary – Race Report

I’ve been MIA for months & months.  Not racing.  Not socializing.  Just training and going thru the motions of life as a busy working parent.  The buildup to Ironman Lake Placid was the longest I’ve ever done without interspersing races to alleviate the boredom.  I usually run 10-12 marathons per year, in addition to racing 3-4 half ironman distance TRIs.  In 2018, I did one marathon prior to Lake Placid.  1 Olympic triathlon.  1 half iron distance triathlon.  Then IMLP on July 22, 2018.

ironman%20lake%20placid%20neg%20230x120

I trained for 25 weeks.  I had a couple cycles within the training plan, a little time off here and there to manage life. I did the best that I could, on all fronts, with this volume of training.  I hit most of my workouts, not necessarily as prescribed but usually managed the time or distance requirements, with a few exceptions.  I had a coach.  Do I recommend having a coach?  Yes.  Have I ever had a coach before, or felt like I needed one?  No.  However, the added volume required for this distance necessitated a clean buildup without any BS or extra workouts.  I didn’t want to mess this up in case I never had the opportunity to do it again.  As it was, I waited over 9 years to sign up for my first full iron distance race.  I didn’t want to blow it!

 IMG_7068

Pre-Race!  Ironman races require packet pick up, pre-race meetings and bike check-in, all before race day.  As a result, this adds to the cost of the trip and the $$ that you’ll spend while visiting the area.  Lake Placid is one of the most expensive venues on the Ironman circuit.  If you are heading to Lake Placid, save your pennies and some dollars too!  We arrived on Thursday for the Sunday race.

Friday – Early morning practice swim & the Bacon Meat & Greet by Lake Mirror. Both were optional.

IMG_7047  IMG_7049

Mirror Lake is very clean and clear.  Some of the best water I’ve swam in to date.  There is a famed cable that runs between the buoys.  If you can get on the cable or close to it, there isn’t much need to site on race day.  This makes the Lake Placid swim fast, if you can use the cable!  Beware, the buoys are connected to the cable.  If you are swimming over or “on top” of the cable, then be prepared to swim under the buoys!

Packet pickup & pre-race meeting – Mandatory.  We did both of these things on FRI.  Packet pick up was quick but did have a few extra steps, like weigh in.  Volunteers weighed each athlete & wrote the weight and which scales were used on the back of our bibs.  If there was a medical emergency, like dehydration, they had our pre-race baseline.  Scales used at packet pick-up are then transferred to the medical tent for consistency purposes.  Serious stuff.   Also serious, the pre-race meeting. Don’t miss it.  They have several and each venue is different.  This is where they give new info, tell about changes to the course, or make note of places that are dangerous.  And maybe, just maybe, Mike Reilly will make an appearance to toss out a few words of encouragement and motivation!

IMG_7063

Bike check-in is also mandatory, the day prior to the race.  I’d highly recommend taking the bike for a short spin before checking it in for the night.  Lots can happen in transit.  Make sure you don’t need any last minute adjustments before race day.  Lines for bike check-in were long.  We waited probably 20 minutes to get to the point where they took our bike, put it against a white screen, then photographed it.  Then it was returned to us, we waited another 15-20 minutes to get into transition, where each athlete had a volunteer escort them to their transition spot.  Then we said goodbye to our bikes.  Hung our Bike & Run bags on the hooks.  And walked away.

View of bikes, all racked in the Olympic Oval.  Source:  Ironman Lake Placid Facebook page

IMG_7155

View of my bike, seat sitting on #628.  Not a lot of room for the bikes since we didn’t have a normal transition set up.  Volunteers in T1 would go get the bikes off the rack & bring it to the end of the row for you.  Then there were “bike catchers” after the bike segment who would take your bike back to its transition spot.

IMG_7118

Race day!  The clouds were dark and rain was on the way!   We dropped our nutrition with our bikes.  Pumped tires.  Put our clothes & shoes in the “Morning Bag”, dropped it on the hook below our run/bike bags.  Then headed to the swim start.  It was a wetsuit legal day.  Meaning water temp was 76.1 degrees or below.  Happy Dance!!!  2.4 mile swim, here we come!

image

Pro field took off at 6:20am.  Age groupers had a self-seeded, rolling start beginning at 6:40am with the goal of having everyone in the water by 7am.  2 loop swim course.  Between loop 1 and 2, athletes had to exit the water, run across the beach & re-enter the water.  Photo source:  Ironman Lake Placid Facebook Page (I don’t think this is the 2018 start).

IMG

A couple things about the swim.  I don’t want to scare anyone but I think its important to address.  Mirror Lake is possibly the best water I’ve ever swam.  Until race day.  The water was still awesome but the athletes were VERY aggressive. I was at the back of the 1:11-1:20 group.  I thought I’d swim about 1:20.  I swam a 1:16. Maybe I should have been in the middle of this group, instead of at the back, but it shouldn’t have mattered much.  The people around me beat the crap out  of me.  Plus we were constantly passing swimmers who had started ahead of us, and who really wanted to swim the line.  It was total carnage.  I heard of people being punched (purposely), I head of lifeguards threatening to pull swimmers who were being too aggressive.  I saw swimmers hanging onto boats & rafts before we even got a couple buoys into the swim.  I saw a green swim cap on the bottom of the lake and am guessing the poor soul’s goggles were under the water, somewhere near the cap.  It was rough.  I erroneously assumed that if I held my line (which wasn’t even on “the line”) then I’d have clear water on the 2nd loop.  Well, I didn’t.  And it was worse cuz then we were passing the slower swimmers.  I gave up my position and navigated myself out of the way.  I lost 2+ minutes on that 2nd loop, I’m kinda mad about that.  But maybe it was the right thing.  The swim is supposed to be the easy part.  Relaxing.  Fun.  I was just mad and felt like I should have taken boxing classes to prepare.  IF by chance you are  not a strong swimmer, please swim very wide to avoid the crunch.  Apparently the swim gets crazy like this every year due to overcrowding.  My friend said she swam wide and was fine. So take note, swim wide.

Out of the water.  Run maybe 3 blocks to transition.  Grab Bike bag.  Go to changing tent.  Volunteers may be available to help you get changed.  When I was there, the tent was full and the volunteers were busy.  I got ready by myself, then ran out of the tent with my bike bag.  Wrong.  Don’t do that.  Thankfully a kind volunteer outside the tent offered to take it for me!  Run thru transition toward bike.  Yell out bike number.  Volunteer gets your bike & brings it to the end of the rack.  Run bike out of transition.  Mount bike at Bike Mount Line.  Transition 1 – 7:25.

On the bike.  Yikes.  Here come the mountains.  And the rain.  Hello rain.  Pelting rain.  Off for 2 loops – 112 miles total.  According to Ironman, each loop had approximately 4,182 feet of climbing, so total climbing on both loops = 8,364 feet.

image

This was my weakest area.  I knew it. I’m a poor climber.  I rode every hill in my area, many, many times.  But nothing can compare.  I suffered.  I didn’t go fast.  I couldn’t go fast.

Downhill out of Lake Placid.  Toward the Olympic Ski Jumps, then the Keene Descent.  The infamous Keene Descent, which consisted of the majority of our descending for the entire loop, was something I was actually looking forward to but the pelting rain, and crazy winds took the fun out of it.  I’m a good downhill rider but I was upright, holding on for dear life, hoping the wind wouldn’t blow my wheels off the road surface.  Upper Jay.  Wilmington.  Out and back on Haselton.  Yay, got to see the family on Haselton because we stayed out that way!  Hello family!  Goodbye family!  Thru Wilmington toward Whiteface Mountain.  Turn on 86.  Detour thru the Whiteface Mountain Ski area.  Back on 86.  Goldilocks “hill”.  Momma Bear hill.  Baby Bear hill.  Papa Bear hill.  Just finished the “3 Bears” which wasn’t near as bad as some of the other “unnamed” hills.  Big hill up Northwood Road, back into Lake Placid.  Pass Lake Placid Lake.  On to loop 2.

Aid stations on the bike were every 10-12 miles.  Water, Gatorade, potties, bananas, oranges, Cliff products.  Medical support was usually in this area too.  Roads & intersections where we had turns were staffed by police or volunteers.  Some spectator support interspersed along the course.

It’s a tough bike course. Also breathtakingly beautiful.  This was one of my favorite areas going toward Keene.  My friend Elina G took this photo.  The entire area is amazing and definitely helped pass the time on the bike.  And I was on the bike forever.  7 hrs & 35 minutes, which was 35 minutes longer than I had even predicted.

38085108_10212652638210793_702047584608321536_n

But I finally got my axx over the 3 Bears on the final loop and was headed back toward transition.  I cried a few tears.  It was about a minute of ugly cry.  I was so grateful to be headed toward my run shoes.  I wasn’t unduly chafed.  I wasn’t hurting.  I was just ready to get off the bike.

Rolled up to T2.  Dismounted at the Bike Dismount line.  Volunteers took my bike.  I walked to my Run bag.  Walked to the changing tent.  I was barefoot and there were a lot of rocks.  And I was tired.  Into the changing tent a volunteer helped me with sunscreen and getting ready to run.  She filled my bottle and mixed my Tailwind.  Then I was off & running. Yes, finally!  Lake Placid was my 50th marathon so it was a bit of a celebratory run for me.  T2 – 5:23

Two loop run course.  26.2 miles total.  Out & back course so I got to see all my friends multiple times.  Run out of town was awesome.  Downhill, my favorite!!  Saw Leslie B spectating.  She got this photo!  Thank you!

37635117_10216939414704332_3762789730987540480_n

Lots of people spectating, drinking and having a huge party along the run course.  Past the crowds, past the Olympic Ski Jump, out toward River Road.   Quiet, peaceful.  Nice views.  Some hills.  Ironman listed elevation as 1,604 per loop.  So that was a total climb of 3,208 ft.  To be honest, it didn’t seem that bad to me.  But then maybe I was just THAT happy to be off the bike.  There were some hills, yes.  Some big ones.  I would run part of the hill, then walk the rest of the way up.  My general strategy was run to the aid station.  Aid stations were every mile.  Walk THRU the aid station and make sure I got enough ice, water, coke, oranges, etc.  I really was in survival mode.  Keep moving. Keep the sugar going in to avoid low blood sugar.  I had a couple twinges in my quads while running.  Each time, I stopped immediately and took some salt capsules.  I was very focused on what my body needed to keep moving.  That was all that mattered.  I knew the finish would eventually present itself IF I just kept moving.

image

Run was finally coming to an end.  That 2nd loop was a bit of a celebration for me.  And then once I got back to the big climb to get back into town, I was just happy knowing I was almost done.  I walked up the giant hill.  With all the spectators yelling and cheering.  Turned the corner for more climbing.  All while walking.  Then everything flattened out for a tiny out and back along Mirror Lake Drive.  Then into the Olympic Oval for the finish.  I was really cruising at this point.  I know everyone says to “take it all in” and not go too fast at the finish but I really just wanted to be finished.  I passed a lot of people on the carpet toward the finish.  I did have to slow at the finish because of a lady in front of me.  I knew I could pass her but then I knew she would probably be upset because she might not get her moment.  So I slowed up but then finally was finished.  Done, Done, DONE!!!  Yes!!  That’s me in the back with my hands up as Mike Reilly called my name.

IMG_7123    IMG_7124

And just like that I’m an Ironman!  5:00 marathon for #50.  New York was my 30th state too in my quest to run a marathon in all 50 states.  I’m an Ironman.  A dream that was 9+ years in the making.  14 hrs & 5 minutes was my official time for the full day.

Lots of SWAG:

IMG_7177 IMG_7178 IMG_7179 IMG_7180 IMG_7181

Ironman Lake Placid is a great race.  This was the 20th anniversary and they have a rich tradition with Ironman.  I liked the race a lot.  Its difficult to set up a race of 140.6 miles and have things go pretty smoothly.  And I think overall the process from start to finish was smooth.  There were 2092 finishers and many who were not able to finish for a variety of reasons.  The distance is not something to take lightly.  It takes something more than being fit and a good training cycle to finish something like this.  It takes heart & courage.  And luck.  There are so many things that can go wrong that have nothing to do with the athlete or their preparation.  I’m very thankful that I was able to finish something like this.

The training cycle for the 140.6 distance is long.  And not so fun.  I was very thankful my friend Julie M was going thru this at the same time because she was my sounding board or “complaint department” when I was tired or grumpy or frustrated or just needed to talk.  Thanks, Julie for ALWAYS being there.  So happy that we took this journey together, even if we took different paths to get to the finish line!  Julie M  YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!  Congrats, girl!  So proud of you!!!

37550568_10214439455955018_7223657322789208064_n

And that’s a wrap!  Thanks to hubby for managing the house/dogs while I was training and racing this cycle.  Thanks to mom for coming on the trip with me and managing the kids when Julie & I were out and about doing Ironman things.  Thanks to Julie’s hubby, Joe for all he did for us in Lake Placid:  getting our bikes, entertaining the kids, driving the parents/kids to the finish.  Thanks to my coach Diana S for dealing with my hectic schedule and putting together a plan to get me to the finish without blowing me up before I got to the race.  Thanks to the Masters Swim coaches (Dave & Bill) at Jorgensen YMCA in Ft Wayne IN for making me a decent swimmer who can apparently take a beating.  And lastly, thanks to Ron K from FNA Outdoors in New Lenox IL for keeping me rocking & rolling on the bike for the last 5+ years.  Nobody can be an Ironman without an awesome bike … that also works great!

Thanks to YOU for reading this long report.  And if you made it this far, you might be wondering if I’ll be doing anymore Ironman races.  If you talked to me while I was training, I for sure said “one & done”. Yeah, well, I think I’m going to go to Louisville next year with some friends.  So yeah, I think I’ll do it again.  I have a few months to change my mind but I’ll probably sign up for Ironman Louisville, October 2019.

image1

Next up:  Dam to Dam Century Ride in Wabash IN (9/9/18) and the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (11/3/18).

** Happy Racing ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Grand Rapids Triathlon 70.3 & The USAT Athena/Clydesdale National Championship – 2018

image

The Grand Rapids Triathlon is held the 2nd weekend of June in Grand Rapids, MI.  This year, the race was on June 10, 2018.  The GR TRI has also been the host of the  Athena/Clydesdale National Championship race for the last several years. 

What’s an Athena?  An Athena or Clydesdale is a classification by USAT (USA Triathlon) that is defined by the weight of the athlete.  The athlete must be 165(+) lbs as a woman, or 225(+) for a man.  This type of classification is not found in all triathlon races.  Ironman races will NOT have an Athena/Clydesdale division.  Most other “non-branded” triathlons will follow USAT guidelines and offer it as an option.  If you are an athlete who meets the weight requirements you get to CHOOSE if you want to race in that division.  Its not a requirement.  You may race your normal age group, if you want.  If you choose to race Athena/Clydesdale, you are pulled out of your normal age group and added to the Athena division for which you qualify.  For Nationals, the divisions were:  39 & Under, 40-59 and 60+.

Is there an advantage to racing the Athena division?  Depends on the race.  This can be a very competitive group of athletes.  Just because an athlete is 165 lbs or more, does not mean they are not fast.  We all come in a different package.  We have different strengths & weaknesses.  We are individuals.  I think options are good.  Over the last 10+ years, I’ve seen so many of the non-branded races disappear and get gobbled up by the big dogs.  I like to support non-branded races so that we have more options.  As a result, I felt like it was also important to support the Athena/Clydesdale division at Nationals because if we don’t race that division, it too will disappear.  So, I raced Athena at the USAT National Championships in Grand Rapids.  Race Review below.  Feel free to discuss your opinion on the Athena/Clydesdales division in the comments.  I know its controversial and I’d love to hear your opinion. 

Grand Rapids Triathlon Race Review

I needed an early season 70.3 this year to prep for IM Lake Placid in July.  The early season race that I did a couple years ago (Cutting Edge Half Triathlon 70.3 in Effingham, IL) was no longer in operation.  My options were Grand Rapids or the IM 70.3 Wisconsin in Madison.  Grand Rapids was closer.  Non-branded.  Cheaper.  And home of the 2018 Athena/Clydesdales National Championships. It was an easy decision for me to try Grand Rapids and I am so glad I did! 

It was a 2.5 hour drive to Grand Rapids from the Ft Wayne, IN area.  Straight to packet pick-up.  Plenty of free parking.  Decent sized expo.  Several vendors.  Organized packet pick up & race meeting.  Lots of SWAG.  Race number tattoos!!  Plus a separate area for the Athena/Clydesdale athletes to go for packet pick up and weigh in.  Yes, we all had to weigh in to participate in the championships.  Since my predominant distance is the 70.3, there aren’t a lot of non-branded races that offer that distance.  Therefore, I race Ironman more often than not.  In Ironman, as mentioned above, there is NOT an Athena division.  So I haven’t had much opportunity to race this division.  I was not surprised that I had to weigh in but I was surprised that they had the scales behind a privacy screen.  Everything was very nicely done & respectful in regards to recording our weight.  If we did not weigh in at least 5 lbs over the minimum (170(+) at the expo), then we would have to reweigh on race morning, in our race kit.  Shoes off for the weigh in!  They were very determined to make sure that everyone met the weight requirement.  Not an issue for me.  I did not have to reweigh on race morning. Smile   Photo below from GR TRI Facebook page – if you are one of these lovely ladies in this picture, let me know so I can tag you!

35072753_10216612551452955_2492299574031417344_n

Race morning.  There were various parking areas around the race site in Ada, MI.  We parked at the Amway Headquarters, then put our transition bags on our back and rode to the race site.  Maybe a mile or so.  The other option was walking or being dropped off, if you had spectators/shepras.  Spectators could take a shuttle but no bikes on the shuttles!  We did ride to the race site in the dark but it was drama free on closed roads which were partially lit.  The weather was cool & overcast.  And there was nothing but smooth water looking out at the inlet of the Thornapple River where we would be swimming. 

IMG_6803

Transition was LONG and narrow.  Very long.  The 70.3 athletes were positioned closest to the “bike out”.  Good news for us.  Transition spaces were not marked individually, just a series of numbers per rack.  First come, best spot!  I got an end spot!  Leslie B’s mom got a picture of a few of us setting up transition.  I’m in the rear right of the photo, my side/back is to the camera.  I’m in a navy & orange kit.

35076690_10216612548172873_6079243572870119424_n

Team Stella Fly got this photo below of transition, from the front.  I was down the line much further, past the yellow port-o-potty.  This might be 1/3 of transition.  Maybe.  I was WAY past the potties.  But great shot! 

35054385_1935133503163961_5212089044447526912_n

Swim started at 7am sharp.  1.2 miles.  The Athenas & Clydesdales were in the first wave and we had fresh, calm water ahead of us!!  Of course, it didn’t take long for the 2nd wave to catch up but it was still nice.  5 minutes between each wave.  Start is below (from the GR TRI Facebook page):

22366723_1507589125977150_8456620885423908027_n

Heading toward a yellow buoy hidden by the trees.  Maybe I’m in there somewhere?  Photo courtesy of GR TRI Facebook page.

35058292_1935093696501275_1695912775068418048_n 

grtri_half_swim

Out of the water in record time (for me!!), even though I swam a little extra.  Smile  Straight to the wetsuit strippers.  Such a nice perk!  I love races with wetsuit strippers.  Since I hurt my back a couple years ago, getting in and particularly OUT of my wetsuit is a real challenge.  The “strippers” really help me so much!!  Thank you!!!!

Long dash to transition, then THRU transition.  Trying not to crash into anyone from the shorter races who were leisurely walking thru the area before their races.  Heart rate was definitely up by the time I got to my spot!  Wetsuit & swim cap down.  Goggles …..ooops, lost my goggles somewhere.  Helmet on.  Glasses.  Shoes.  Go, go, GO!  Out of transition.  Bike mount line.  Plenty of room but its always important to focus on getting on the bike, clipping in correctly and not rushing too much and hurting yourself or anyone else.  I’ve seen so many accidents on or around the bike mount line over the years.  And the people who do the flying mounts, well …. good luck, I’m just going to move to the side and safely mount my bike.  I’m not “flying” anywhere.  Winking smile 

Bike course is an out and back.  56 miles. Lots of volunteers.  Most roads had police or volunteers to direct traffic.  Thank you!!!  A few hills.  2 aid stations (that we hit 2x).  Headwind going out.  Tailwind coming home.  6 miles of VERY rough road at the turnaround.  OUCH. 

image

Slow first half.  Faster 2nd half.  My legs were toast the entire time. Quads were BURNING.  I had a poor bike split.  Whether my back is to blame.  Or my training volume for Lake Placid.  Or maybe something was just off, not really sure, but it was a tough day on the bike.  I wasn’t 1/3 of the way into it and both feet were numb & my left hip/glute/hamstring were screaming at me.  I had to be VERY careful when I dismounted my bike and ran back into transition on numb feet.  I was wondering how long the feet would stay numb.  It was a very odd sensation, one I haven’t had before, but alas it passed once I put on my run shoes & got going.  So thankful!  Awesome volunteers below as we were approaching T2.  Pic courtesy of the GR TRI Facebook page.  I just love FB, don’t you?!?!

34985183_1761588440577216_4639221341524852736_n

I hustled thru T2 as much as possible with numb feet, dodging people who weren’t in as big of a hurry as myself.  But it wasn’t horrible.  Bike back on rack.  Helmet, glasses off.  Shoes on, slowly cuz well, my feet where NUMB.  WTHeck?!?  Race belt.  Visor, no, I don’t need the visor today.  Go, go, GO! 

Out of T2 & onto the run.  Thank the good Lord, I’m off that damn bike.  I have a love hate relationship with the bike.  I love my bike.  Its good to me.  It’s a great bike.  I just want to be better.  A lot better.  And I don’t really understand why its so freaking hard for me?!?!  But I’m running now.  2 loops.  Out and back course.  Aid stations every 1.5 miles.  4 total aid stations on course, which we passed 2x.  Lots of support out there.  Lots of food. Ice.  Water.  Coca Cola.  2 hills, which we passed 2x.

image

I like loop and out/back type courses specifically when I have friends racing.  I did get to see several people on the run, some I saw 2x.  I was motivated to not let one of my fast teammates pass me on the run.  So I did push a bit faster than I probably would have normally, just trying to get around that first loop before he passed me to finish.  I made it.  Whew!  Overall a great day.  It was overcast most of the day which helps me a lot.  I melt in the heat.  It wasn’t cool but it wasn’t hot.  And I had the overcast skies on my side. 

Overall, I thought Grand Rapids was a top notch race.  I’ll definitely go back.  I was impressed.  Great area.  Well organized.  Lots of support and volunteers.  Vendors.  Lower fees than branded races.  GREAT swag!  And I was fortunate to be part of the Clydesdale & Athena National Championships where I placed 2nd in my division!  WhooHooooo!

SWAG – Race Tank, Finishers Visor, Event poster, Athena/Clydesdale National Championship water bottle, Quench Gum, HexArmor Cold Rush cooling towel, plus a few other things from the expo.  See photo below.

IMG_6825

2nd place Athena – 40-59 Division.  Me, Leslie B & Nikki W on the podium.  My friend Andé from IL, also got 2nd (with a MUCH faster time) in the 39 & Under Division.  Great to see old friends & make some new ones!

IMG_6816 IMG_6818

Up close.  Green medal is the finishers medal for the GR 70.3 with the Clydesdale/Athena National Championship lanyard.  USAT medal for placing top 3 in the National Championships.  2nd place plaque for my division from GR TRI. 

IMG_6819

The Grand Rapids Triathlon is partnered with MI Titanium.  They offer a Double Down Challenge for anyone who does both races.  I guess I’m headed to MI Titanium now on August 19th.  Gotta get that Double Down medal and check out the MI Titanium race.  I’ve heard great things and am looking forward to another race with this group.  Hope to see you there!  Like Grand Rapids TRI, there are a lot of distances & options to choose from, even Aquabike & Duathlon if you don’t like to swim!  See you in August!

Next up:  Ironman Lake Placid on July 22, 2018.

Happy TRIing ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

CASS Housing Charity Bike Ride

The 2nd Annual Cass Housing Charity Ride was Sunday, June 3, 2018.  They offered supported 60 & 30 mile rides and a 10 mile fun ride on paved trails.  Ride start times were staggered so that everyone finished around the same time to enjoy a potluck lunch afterward.   The event was free with a request of donations to help support CASS Housing

This is the start of the 60 miles ride.  Lower turnout than last year due to the forecast of storms at the start.  Approximately 70 riders in total.  Photos courtesy of the Cass Housing Facebook Page.

IMG_6765

60 mile route started in Ft Wayne by the Jorgensen YMCA.  We broke into groups.

IMG_6760  IMG_6770 IMG_6769

Out to Roanoke, then Ossian for our first stop at an aid station at someone’s parent’s home.  Our parents love us.  What they do for us & our crazy endurance friends! 

IMG_6762 IMG_6761

Quick photo before the group broke up.  This was the last I saw of the fast group!  I aspire to finish with them next year!!

IMG_6759

Zanesville.  Back to Roanoke.  Aid Station at a park in Roanoke.  Then back to Ft Wayne.  Easy ride.  Flat.  Decent country roads.  Low traffic.  This was a new route from 2017 and I really liked it.  See my Strava map below!

image1

The CASS Housing project is a charity for developmentally disabled adults who need housing.  The Indiana laws are not great for disabled persons and currently an individual can not get assistance with housing until their parents turn 80 years old or have passed away.  The CASS Housing project is trying to help.  This ride helps raise awareness and funds for their program.  Great charity and I’m happy to ride & support them in this small way.  I hope to see more people out for the 2019 ride.  I’ll for sure be there if it fits into my calendar.  Great event.  Great people.  FUN ride!! 

And a t shirt too.  I didn’t stay for the potluck lunch but it looked like everyone was having fun and they even had Normatec Recovery boots to try!

IMG_6785

** See You Next Year ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Fort 4 Fitness Spring Cycle – 2018

fort-4-fitness-logo-full

Last weekend I participated in the 7th annual Fort 4 Fitness Spring Cycle event. This was the 3rd year that they offered the Metric Century (100K = 62 miles).  I participated the first year they offered this distance, 2016, and again this year. 

The event started at 9am for the 62 & 43 mile events.  Then there was a 10am start for 32,16 & 10 mile rides.  Ride day packet pick-up was an option.  Easy in and out in front of the Ft Wayne Art Museum.  The ride then started in front of the art museum with plenty of potties & a row of vendors to scope out before/after the ride.  Plenty of room for riders to line up for the start.

IMG_6661  IMG_6660

The 100K ride left Ft Wayne for Antwerp, OH, then returned. Roads were well marked and busy intersections were covered by police & volunteers. 

image

The ride out of town & to Antwerp provided a nice tailwind that really pushed us along.  But of course, the return trip gave us a headwind that wasn’t quite as much fun.  Smile Then the black clouds opened up and we had a some rain for a bit.  Mostly country roads with a few busier roads mixed in for connections.  Roads were in decent condition but we traveled thru Amish country so there were some rough patches and spots with horse manure. 

Multiple aid stations provided bathrooms, food & hydration, along with bike support if needed.  I believe there were 3 or 4 stops on 100K route.  Everyone: riders, volunteers & police support alike were in a good spirits and happy to be out and participate.  Riders were spread out pretty well except for the last 15ish miles of the 100K.  Once the 100K riders joined the shorter distances, there were more people but since the course covered low traffic areas, it wasn’t an issue, we just had to be more vigilant .

As we rode back into town to finish in front of the Art Museum, we wound thru some neighborhoods and traffic increased.  The police handled it well and they got us thru all the busy intersections.  I noticed a positive change to the course toward the end.  We did not ride down the Greenway to finish, but instead came thru town in a designated bike lane.  Great improvement from the inaugural ride where it was congested & dangerous at the end as we finished up on the Greenway and were sharing space with non-event riders who weren’t expecting the extra traffic. 

Overall, great experience.  This is definitely an event that I love because it has so many  options for cyclists of all ability levels.  I love that it’s a family event and even the little ones can participate. 

There was an after party in front of the Art Museum.  Beer.  Food Vendors.  Tent with seats.  Fun to be had.  No “free” food this year but our bibs each had a $3 off ticket that could be used at the food trucks.  I heard some complaints on this but a lot of people loved it because they had more variety than usual at a post event party.  I personally don’t have an opinion.  I rarely eat the free food & I didn’t utilize the food truck vendors either.  My schedule was tight.  I was in and out pretty quickly. 

SWAG = Cotton T-shirt & Finishers medal.

IMG_6662  IMG_6664

I really like cycling events.  Very low key.  You can go as fast or as slow as you like.  You can stop at every aid station or pass them all.  You get to ride new routes that you would never ride solo.  I’d recommend checking out a local ride this summer!  They aren’t races, so no need to treat it as one, unless of course, that’s just how you roll, then go kill it.  You won’t be alone.  Smile

The next local ride that I plan to attend is the CASS Housing Ride on June 3rd in Ft Wayne, IN.  It’s a charity ride.  No official entry fee but they are accepting donations.  Register now.  GREAT ride, I did it last year. Hope to see you there!

** Go Ride ** Amanda – TooTallFritz