What to Wear ….. Winter Running

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

Its only Cold if Youre Standing Still

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll see you on the trail!

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

2016 in Review …..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

** Cheers to 2016 ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Spartan Giveaway WINNER!

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

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

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

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

** Arooo ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Huff 50K Trail Run – 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aby & Annika – In the black & white jackets.

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

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

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

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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

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

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

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

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

RNR San Antonio 10K – Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

RNR San Antonio Marathon – Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spartan Race FREE ENTRY Giveaway …..

In honor of the NBC airing of the 2016 Reebok Spartan Race World Championships on Christmas Day at 5pm EST, we are giving away ONE open heat entry to a US Spartan Race of your choice! 

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The 2017 Spartan Races will feature NEW season passes.  New medals.  New locations.

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Even with all the NEW stuff that Spartan is offering, they will still deliver the same great experience that will leave you walking away feeling like you REALLY accomplished something.  Who knows, you may even feel like a badass.  Smile

In case you’re new to the scene, a Spartan Race is an obstacle course race (OCR) that combines running & strength work to tackle obstacles in route.  Depending on what distance you choose, the event can be as short as 3+ miles or as long as 12+.  Lots of options, info on the various race distances from the Spartan website below:

There are three main types of Spartan Races.

For beginners we recommend the Sprint. Spartan’s shortest courses are 3+ miles and 20+ obstacles. Complete the race at your own pace. If you fail an obstacle along the way, you owe us 30 burpees before continuing on.

Ready for more? The Super is 8+ miles, 24+ obstacles, and often hosted on a tougher terrain.

The hardest of the three races is the Beast: 12+ miles and 30+ obstacles. We’ll leave the challenges of the course to your imagination.

For those who dare: check out our Ultra Beast, Hurricane Heat, Hurricane Heat 12 Hour and Agoge endurance races.

They also offer kids races and various events across the country.  No matter where you live, there is most likely a Spartan Race near you!  Put in your zip code on the race finder HERE & a map with pop up with your recommended location. There are so many great venues this year and several early season races that will deliver you out of this cold, snow & ice & into a nice warm climate.  You can check out the race calendar or plan your racecation to a warm local by clicking on one of the early season races below:

No matter where you decide to race or at what distance, as always HAVE FUN!

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Spartan Races has given me one FREE race entry to give away. US Races only.  Open Heat Races only.   What do you need to do to win?  Just comment below and tell me what’s the hardest endurance type event that you’ve ever completed.   If it’s a Spartan Race, great.  If not, we still want to know!  Giveaway begins NOW & goes until noon EST on Thursday, 12/29/16.  Let’s get some one a free entry to start off the new year!  Remember, you can only win if you leave a comment below! 

** AROOOOOOO *** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon … Strip At Night … Race Review + RNR Discount Codes

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This weekend I was at the Rock N Roll Marathon Series Las Vegas event.  Otherwise known as “ The Strip At Night”.   This was my first time at Rock N Roll Las Vegas and I was pleasantly surprised.   I haven’t been to Vegas for a long time but its relatively easy to navigate by using the monorail, cabs/uber or walking.   The expo is just steps from the monorail at the Las Vegas Convention Center and was open from Thursday thru Saturday.  This is one of the largest RnR events with over 40,000 registered runners!  They offered several races throughout the weekend:  5K (8249 finishers), 10K (5498 finishers), Half (22,052 finishers) & Full marathon (2655 finishers). PLUS there were 230+ people who participated in the Run Thru Wedding during the half & full marathon.

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Packet pick up was quick & easy.  However, if you wanted to purchase race gear, the lines were long, unless you were a Tour Pass Holder or a VIP.  Medium sized expo that could definitely cover you for anything you needed or left behind.  I was in and out because I had hubby in tow and didn’t want to thoroughly bore him but the expo looked fun!

Las Vegas to hubby & I is all about the sights.  We spend a lot of time walking around the strip, downtown, various casinos & checking out exhibits.   So by race time on Sunday night, I already had 70+ miles of walking on my legs.  If you want fresh legs for your race, I’d recommend getting to Vegas right before the race, then staying afterward to see the sights.  The Vegas event has some additional obstacles too.  It’s  a “must do” race because the course features the legendary Las Vegas “Strip”, at night, when all the casinos are lit up.  They only shut the strip down to vehicular traffic 2x per year.  For New Years Eve & Rock N Roll Las Vegas.  Its something to see and a huge event for runners, visitors & locals alike.  But do be careful of what you eat & drink leading up to this late afternoon race so that you have fun running & not running to the potties!

The half & full marathon started at 4:30pm on Sunday night.  Four different wave starts.  Numerous corrals in each wave.  I started in the first wave since I was a marathon runner.  Each wave started with a burst of fireworks. 

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This event is definitely crowded off the start but thinned out quickly.  It seemed like everyone was very excited and many people wanted to run fast.  Like really fast.   The sun was just starting to set when we began to run & it was cooling off.  Kinda nice. The first thing to be seen on course was the Vegas sign.  Welcome to Las Vegas.

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After passing the Vegas sign we were headed toward the more well known parts of the strip with lots of casinos and flashing neon lights.  This is only about 1.5 miles into the race & you can see that I already have plenty of road to run.  I didn’t feel hindered by the crowds and could run the pace I wanted. 

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2 miles into the marathon & half, the Luxor & Excalibur.

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Mile 3 – Planet Hollywood & Paris

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Mile 4-5, Mirage & Treasurer Island

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There was definitely an excitement in the air.  I think this race was about so much more than running to many of the participants.  I heard a lot of chatter about this being the first time at a particular distance.  So many spectators.  So much energy.  It was dark.  It was cool without the sun beating down on us.  It was beautiful.  The night was lit up with all the beautiful lights of Vegas.  It was an experience like no other.  This was my 36th marathon and I must say, it will stand out in my memory for a long time to come.

At mile 6, near the Stratosphere, we were welcomed to Downtown Las Vegas. 

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Around mile 8, Meb passed me.  Fast.  I heard someone shouting that Meb was passing & to say “hey”.  And then he was gone.  No pic for me.  Boooo!  Mile 9-10 down Freemont Street for a peak at the lights. 

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And as the lights of Freemont Street faded behind me, I knew that the “fun” was almost over for the marathoners.  As the half runners were joyful & close to their finish, we turned off around mile 11 into the darkness.  Away from the lights.  Away from the crowds.  Away from the “fun”.  Some streets were lit with streetlights.  Some not lit at all.  Random bands were out on the marathon route and since we were weaving in and out of parallel streets, in a very close vicinity, I could hear a band multiple times at various places on the course.  We still had a clear path, no question as to where we were headed or where to run.  It looked really confusing on paper but the route was well marked and there was never a question as to the direction we were headed.  I was impressed with the volunteers & the volume of Las Vegas PD Officers who were out on course helping us.  I can’t imagine the number of people it took, all working together, to make this a successful event. 

Miles 13-18 were all in and around the World Market Center.  Getting in and out of this area is where you will find the only “hills” on the course.  It was kinda nice for some varied terrain.  I really loved this section.  Looking at it on paper looks insane & confusing.  I couldn’t picture it in my head at all.  But we ran around the World Market Center several times in roped off “pathways” created by organizers.   There were a lot of lights & music that could be heard throughout the complex.  Cool area. 

Miles 19 & 20 were non-eventful.  Then we hit the strip for a millisecond at mile 21 near the Stratosphere.  We were on the strip for maybe 3/10ths of a mile before being directed off, toward the back lots of Circus Circus.  I now understand that this was the 5K route.  So if you ran the 5K, then you know the route of which I speak.  There was loud music & a huge display of fireworks with lots of neon lights.  By this time, I was not having fun.  My stomach was upset & I had some abnormal aches & pains.  I was ready to be finished.  Headed out of the back lots & back to the strip for 3/4 of a mile, then we were once again directed off strip for our final detour before the finish.  Mile 25 & we were about to return to the Strip for our final 1.2 & what we were all awaiting:  the finish. 

And the finish was sweet.  I was so happy to see it.  #36 was in the DONE column. 

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We received a spinning, glow in the dark Finisher’s Medal!

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And a gender specific Finishers Jacket with reflective accents.  I used my New Orleans Finisher Jacket on the left (below) so you can see both the back & the front; however,  I only received one jacket for finishing the Las Vegas race.  The race tee is in the middle.  Gender specific.

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I really loved the first 18 miles of this race.  I’m sure the miles that I had logged walking around Vegas the days prior to the race didn’t help me get thru the last 8 miles swiftly.  But I ran conservatively and tried to enjoy it.   Just kept moving toward the finish.  It doesn’t matter how many marathons I run, it still all about patience & surviving whatever the day & conditions bring me.  And trying to enjoy it, no matter what.  Smile

This race had 14 aid stations on the marathon course, 18 music stations (many which you could hear from multiple locations), and 3 medical stations.   They also handed out Glukos gels & gummies 3-4x.  It was a well supported race.  Clear direction as to the race course.  Members of the community, even in less populated areas were out and cheering on runners.  Great race but if you came for the party, stick to the half marathon because you’ll see everything & maybe still get back to hubby before he breaks the bank. 

Sound fun?  They are doing a early pre-sale for 2017 RnR Las Vegas HERE.  You can register thru Sunday, 11/20/16 for $99 for either the half or the full. 

If you loved Vegas and/or are trying to squeeze in a couple more RNR events, feel free to use my $15 off discount code (TTF2016)  for these upcoming events:  RnR San Antonio (12/4 – I’ll be at this one!!), RnR DC (3/11/17), RnR Dallas (3/19/17) & RnR Nashville (4/29/17).

RnRBlog_Discounts

** As always, Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon ….. 2016

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Saturday was the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  This was my 3rd time running this marathon.  First at the inaugural event in 2008, 2015 & then this 2016 version.  The race has grown by leaps and bounds because its well ran and has a reputation for being flat and fast.  This was my fastest marathon for 2015 and my 2nd fastest this year (and I’m not at all in good shape right now).  Its small enough to feel intimate but big enough to feel fun and like a real road race.  I really love it.

The expo is medium sized.  Local vendors.  We found some good deals from a local run store that had 30% off everything, even high tech winter run jackets!  Packet pick up was smooth & fast.  They also give a commemorative poster which lists every registered participants name.  Nice touch.  This is last years poster (hard to see with the glare in my sun room, sorry). The one this year wasn’t as cool and I doubt I’ll put it up but I love that they do this.

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The Monumental Marathon is a downtown Indianapolis race.  We stayed downtown so that we could walk to the expo, dinner and the start/finish line!  I think we left our hotel 30 minutes before the start and had plenty of time. There are start corrals but they are not policed so as always, plan for slower runners to find their way to the front.  Its inevitable.   The first mile is very crowded and slow.  If you are looking to hit a particular pace from mile one, that’s difficult and I’d encourage you to start closer to the front, or plan accordingly for that first mile to be a minute slower.  Try to take it all in before you put the hammer down, enjoy the city and the crowds and the remember why you run.

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This is a race where I normally have a lot of friends running with me, so we just start behind the corrals and enjoy ourselves.  We don’t rush.  We don’t push.  We just run.  Things definitely thin out after a couple miles but really, there are quite a few runners until the half marathon turns off around mile 7.5.  This year my crew had 3 high school girls in tow.  They were running the half.  One for the first time.  Two for the second time.  So I just stuck with them and had fun.  I love watching the enthusiasm of young runners.  These 3 ran Cross Country for their school this fall and they have a lot of spirit.  They entertained the crowd around them the entire time by cheering, yelling & singing.  I loved every minute of it.  This is what running is to me …. fun, fitness & friendship.  M, A & Aby (on the right). 

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They are getting ready to turn off for the half.  Good luck, girls!!

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The half and the full sold out this year. 2016 was the biggest year so far.  They had 8,154 finisher for the half.  2,762 finishers for the 5K.  And 4,237 finishers for the full.  There was also an extra medal for the runners who ran both the Indianapolis Half Marathon earlier in October, in addition to the Monumental Half.    More Bling = More Runners!

As the half turned off, the road opened up in front of me and I think we all sighed from relief.  I love the energy from the half runners but its nice to get down to business and start focusing on my race.  I remember feeling the same way last year.  It doesn’t scare me that the crowds thin.  We still have ample spectator support.  There were still a lot of runners out there.  I was never alone, just free to run whatever pace I wanted. It was a great day.  Warmish.  I saw several bloggers report that it was in the high 30s when we started but it wasn’t that cool according to my AccuWeather app.  It was 47-50 degrees by the 8am start time. No wind. And the sun was coming up. My crew had on arm sleeves and could have gotten away without them.  I was very comfortable pre-race in shorts, a tank & arm sleeves.  And it was going to heat up as we ran.  Time to get down to business and run.

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After the half split, we headed to the State Fair Grounds.  Then a long straight stretch down Washington Boulevard.  Love this part.  Lots of room to run and it’s a night straight stretch that doesn’t require much thinking.  Not a lot to see.  Traffic on the other side of the road but many motorists cheer us on as they wait in traffic.   Then onto Broadripple.  Riverview, which is short but scenic.  Meridian Drive.   Butler University.  Beautiful campus.  Lots of older alums hanging out but where are the students?  Indianapolis Museum of Art.  Lovely area.  White River Parkway.  Burdsal Parkway. Miles 21-22 ocne and go, that always seem to be a challeng.  Fall Creek Parkway.  Back on Meridian and heading back downtown, we are getting close!!!  We can see Monument Circle in the distance and keep pushing forward.  Finally, mile 25.  Then 26.  Then the finish.  That lovely finish.  Another one in the books.  Thank you, Lord.  Thank you, body.  Thank you, mind for pushing me thru another finish.

In all, this is a great race.   I’d love to run it again next year if it fits into my schedule.  Lots of water & potty stops, plus medial about every 1-1.5 miles.   20 aid stations in all.  They also had at least 5 food/fueling stations.  Plus so many kind spectators that set up their own personal aid stations offering Halloween Candy, beer, water, pretzels, oranges, etc.  Great race.  Great community & spectator support.  Thanks, Indy! 

Swag:  Gender specific tee, finishers hat & medal.  Last year we got a hat too.  That one had the year embroidered on the hat.  This one was more “generic”, probably so they can use leftovers for years to come. 

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Great race, hope to see YOU next year!

** Run Indy, Be Monumental ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

TBT … Inaugural Indianapolis Monumental Marathon Race Report – 2008

Thanks to my Facebook “Memories”, I found a race report that I published on Facebook, prior to inception of the TTF blog site.  It was published on this day (11/3) back in 2008.  This was my 2nd marathon.  It was during a time when I only ran one marathon a year, poured my heart into training & frequently was disappointed on race day. 

 

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The Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in 2008 came after a very long TRI season.  We were also trying to conceive Mr. Michael, who arrived on 9/7/09.  I was tired.  And emotional.  Two things that can make a marathon difficult at best.  Smile

 

Indy Marathon (11/1/08) – Race Report

November 3, 2008 at 12:06pm

Indy put on a great race this weekend! The weather was perfect, the course was perfect, I fueled properly……so why did I do more walking than running?
I’ll never know why certain race days end in utter disappointment and tears. Saturday was such a day. I had my miles in, I had a good attitude, I was ready to run, unfortunately my body didn’t get the memo!
I knew I was off almost immediately as my pace was slow and I didn’t have anything more to put into pushing the pace faster. I tried to convince myself that since the weather was cold I was just a bit sluggish and that as soon as I warmed up then I would be able to settle in and start pacing properly. Realistically, when looking at 26 miles, a slow pace isn’t really too big of an issue, I can pick it up later or just run slower. No big deal either way because to me the marathon distance is really about personal achievement and not the clock time.
Things just never came together and they went from less than ideal to pretty bad. I was upset not because I was slow but because I felt bad all over, from my head to my toes! I was upset that I normally can run, even if it is slow, through all my training runs and now it was race day and I not only didn’t want to run, I didn’t even want to walk! Had I been close to home or on a training run, I would have scrapped the day. Some days just aren’t for running and I am old enough to know and accept what I’m given. However, I wasn’t in a situation where I could just get in my car and go home, or call Mick and have him come rescue me. Sigh….so I finished, not because I wanted to but because I didn’t have another reasonable option. It was a 4:50 finish; I was 2:09 at the half, so the majority of the walking did come in the last half. I ran/walked a 4:54 in Memphis last December and felt a whole lot better about it than I did the Indy finish. Not sure why but my emotions took a huge toll on me too, which I think just made it that much worse. And I know I have the ability to run in the 4:15 to 4:30 range…..but that would require that I actually keep moving the entire time! Smile
Looking back, I am thankful I had the desire, motivation and ability to train for another marathon. I am thankful I had a great friend (Abby) awaiting my finish to give me a tissue and commiserate with me! I am also thankful for the great people I met along the course, some who were having good days, other who weren’t.
I’m super sore today, obviously my ego has been bruised badly, and I’m gonna take the week to relax and realign myself mentally. Hopefully by Friday I will be “back” and looking forward to a Saturday long run and maybe even possibly the Tecumseh Trail Marathon.

Cheers to being “upright and moving forward” regardless of how we feel. Amanda

2008 & 2015 Indy Monumental Finisher Medals

Indy Monumental - 08    Indy Monumental - 15

I always say that “time changes almost everything”.  And I still believe that.  If you had told me after I wrote this race report, that in 8 years I’d be going back for my 3rd Indy Monumental Marathon AND that it would be my 35th marathon in all, I’d have told you that you were nuts.  But apparently the joke’s on me.  This Saturday will be my 3rd Indy Monumental Marathon.  And it will be my 35th marathon. 

** Cheers to Whatever Adventures the Future Brings ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Interested in more posts on the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon?  See the links below.

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon Then vs Now – 11/5/15

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon ….. 2015 Version – 11/10/15

Marine Corps Marathon (2016) …..

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The 41st Marine Corps Marathon was held Sunday, October 30, 2016.  This is a race that I’ve heard so much about over the years.  It’s a “bucket list” race for many.  A “must do” for others.  Its called the “People’s Marathon” because they do not offer prize $$ to elite runners and they are currently the largest marathon which holds back on that cash prize.  This year there were 24,965 runners who finished (19,897 for the marathon, 5,068 for the 10K).  Its  advertised as a great race for first time marathoners.  Fifty percent of this race takes place on National Parks land.  Its organized and ran by the US Marine Corps with Marines marshaling the course, working the aid stations, cheering & encouraging runners. 

That’s what most people know about MCM.  Now the personal experience of it.  Marine Corps was my 34th marathon.  So, I’ve ran a few.  Some are super easy to navigate.  Others aren’t.  Anytime you add a big city into play, then the logistics will be more difficult.  This was no exception.  I drove to DC from the Ft Wayne IN area.  So we had a car.  This enabled us to pick  a couple ladies up from the airport.  Drive to the Expo.  Then drive to our hotel.  If you plan to fly to this race, plan to be dependent on Race/Hotel Shuttles, Metro or cabs/uber.  Everything is spread out and you can not plan on staying in a hotel then walking to the expo & to/from the race.  We did well driving BUT I drive in Chicago every week, traffic doesn’t stress me out AND I have a great group of ladies who all take part in navigating so that I can focus on driving. 

The expo was at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at the National Harbor (MD).  Isolated area, used for conventions & touristy stuff.  Shops, restaurants, Ferris Wheel, tours/cruises.  Expo was crowded but packet pick up was smooth.  We were able to quickly get our race bibs & packets.  However, if you wanted official race merchandise then the wait for that Brooks gear was 45 minutes to an hour.  We skipped the official merchandise.  Grabbed a few pics.  Toured the rest of the expo which was tight but a decent size. 

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After the expo, we left the car parked for a bit and had lunch and walked thru the National Harbor area.

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Back in the car to head to our hotel, which was in the Courthouse area, south of Rosslyn.  Initially I was concerned that we were too far out without Metro or shuttle service, both of which started after we needed to be at the start area.  But alas, we were in a great spot and able to hit the back security entrance for the marathon.  TIP – Pick a hotel in the Rosslyn area & you’ll be even closer to the finish (and back entrance for the race, which is at Meade Street & Marshall Drive).  

Race day started early.  Up at 4am.  Out of the hotel by 5am.  We walked to the race site & were “trying” to find that back security entrance.  Fortunately, we hooked up with a local couple while we were walking and they knew exactly where to go!  We were thru security and basically sitting at the start line by 5:40a.  Race started at 7:55a. The pre-race festivities, gear check & the main security entrance were all in the Pentagon North Parking Lot, which was about a mile south of the start.  We never did go down there since we had already walked 3+ miles by the time we got to the start area.  So we sat.  We were close to the start and close to a large group of potties.  It was a long wait but we had heard that it might take over an hour to get thru security so we had planned basically for an hour for security, an hour for the potty line & then a bit of extra time for walking & getting where we needed (including getting lost).  Always better to be early than late but the temps were cool in the morning.  About 48 degrees.  I was cold & my hands were numb by the time we started running and I was tired.

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The race started on Route 110 beside the Arlington National Cemetery, just north of the Pentagon, running north toward Rosslyn.  The first 5 miles were hilly but the majority of hills were in the first couple of miles.  I actually walked up my first hill in mile 2.  Hills aren’t my friend at this point.  I’ve had a damaged hamstring/glute for about a year now.  Its connected to my damaged back (ruptured disc) so I don’t stress when my body feels stressed, I just walk.  This was my 34th marathon.  If I feel like I need to walk, I walk.  End of story.

Race course was crowded.  No official “start corrals”, just signs to indicate that we should line up according to predicted finish times.  But most people didn’t do that.  The buzz in the air was all about the time limit to “beat the bridge” at mile 18.  Nobody wanted to start at the back and then have less time to get to “the bridge”.  Pretty chaotic as a result.  So we had a race course packed full of runners of varying paces and huge spectator crowds.

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Race moves thru Rosslyn, thru Thrifton Hill Park with fog hovering & onto Spout Run Parkway.  Very magical and one of my favorite areas of this race.

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After the Park we merged onto George Washington Memorial Parkway and ran beside the Potomac River to prepare for our first bridge crossing into Georgetown on the Francis Scott Key Bridge.  You can see tiny runners on the bridge in the pic below.

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By this time, I was starting to see a pattern.  Aid stations were spaced pretty far apart for a road race.  Most major marathons have water stops between a mile to 1.5 miles apart.  At MCM, the first waters stop was at approximately 2.2, the next at mile 5.1, the next at mile 7.7.  These are approximations but I’m pretty close on the distance.  We had a total of 12 water stations for 26.2 miles.  Each water station had Gatorade Endurance and water, potties & medical was close but not always with the aid station.  

I’m starting to get thirsty about the time I leave Georgetown and head to Rock Creek Parkway, miles 6-8, but the views of the Potomac were awesome.  We passed the Kennedy Center but I missed it or couldn’t identify it.  Then the Lincoln Memorial, which I could barely see.  Those were miles 8-9.  Mile 9-10 passing the FDR Memorial.  Definitely couldn’t see that from my spot on course but we were by the Potomac & had a breeze and nice views of the river.  Still lots of spectators.  Mile 10-11 was the Wear Blue mile.  Emotional.  Both sides of Ohio Drive heading south toward Hains Point were lined with photos of fallen soldiers.  Name.  Age.  Rank.  So many under the age of 24.  Men.  Women.  Black. White. Hispanic.  People of our nation who fight for our freedom each and every day.

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Around Hains Point.  Mile 13-14 Jefferson Memorial (from the opposite side).  I can pick that one out.  J told me to take a pic so she could grab a breather.  Smile

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Then the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, DC War Memorial & Korean War Memorial – Miles 14-15.  I couldn’t see these from my vantage point on course.  If you didn’t know they were there (and I didn’t know their specific locations since I’ve only been to DC 2x previous) then you wouldn’t even know to look for them.  What I could mainly see was the Washington Monument at various points, thanks to its height, a course loaded with runners and streets/roads lined with amazing spectators.  The spectators never stopped, they lined the entire course.

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After passing the Washington Monument (and the WWII Memorial, which I couldn’t see from course), we entered the MCM Gauntlet.  This is the first cutoff point.  Runners must reach this section, around mile 15.5 by 12:38pm or they will not be allowed to run the National Mall campus which passes all the various Smithsonian buildings & the Capitol.  Possibly the coolest part of the course, so stay focused so you can get thru the Gauntlet. 

Mile 15 thru 18 is where you can get up close and personal with all the museums on the National Mall Campus, really see the buildings, their specific architecture and actually read their names if by chance you don’t have the layout of DC memorized.  I certainly don’t so I really enjoyed this section.  National Museum of African American History & Culture.

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DC War Memorial.  National Museum of American History.  Natural Museum of Natural History. 

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National Gallery of Art.

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US Capitol

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National Museum of American Indian, National Air & Space Museum, Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Castle (below), Holocaust Museum, US Dpt of Agriculture, US Dpt of Treasury.

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By this point, I was very thirsty.  I was getting cotton mouth between water stops.  I had Tailwind on me for nutrition and I was trying to be very careful and not take it all in as “fluid” vs using it as my fuel source.  Finally finished my Tailwind around mile 17 so I could use my bottle for water.  I was really behind the ball on fluids at this point and could only take so much in at one time.  I was using salt tabs too in order to help my water absorb.  I thought I was doing well.  I felt okay, was just thirsty, no sloshing tummy.

Mile 18-19 – Beat the Bridge.  Second & final cutoff.  Runners had to be to 14th Street bridge by 1:15pm or they will not be allowed to finish.  This section isn’t fun.  We hit the 14th Street Bridge and it was forever long.  We crossed the Washington Channel first, then over the East Potomac Park which we ran earlier for the blue mile, then we crossed over the Potomac River.  In all, we didn’t get off the bridge until after mile 20.

From 20-21 we looped the Pentagon area.  Nothing to see. I must have drank too much water at the previous aid station.  I got sick.  Vomited my water & Tailwind.  Nothing solid.  I didn’t feel bad, just couldn’t stop it from coming up.  I ate some pretzels to settle my tummy, grabbed a gel & refueled.  Off to Crystal City (miles 21-23).  Lots of restaurants and shops so there was a big crowd of spectators.  Fun area.  Then we were headed to the finish, past the Pentagon again (yes, super tired off seeing the Pentagon), past Arlington Cemetery & up a big hill to the finish at the US Marine Corps War Memorial, AKA the Iwo Jima Memorial.

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Cool medal featuring the Eagle, Globe & Anchor with a center piece that opens to reveal the Iwo Jima Memorial.

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Unique SWAG, a green thermal mock tee for cold weather & a 41st MCM patch.

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Overall a cool race.  Water stations & potties were spaced too far apart for me (and many others).  Four food stations and so many spectators who offered food to the runners that fueling should not have been an issue.  The route hit a lot of really cool things but there were a lot of things that were “advertised” that I couldn’t see from the run course.  I’m sure this entire race was a security nightmare for the Marines and I was impressed by how welcoming they were to us.  Very respectful, I’ve never been called “Ma’am” so many times in one day.  They did a great job with this race.  Very organized but not as easy to navigate as some venues.  Bottom line, each race is different.  If you are going to run a lot of races & travel to some, expect the unexpected.  Go with the flow.  Have a good attitude & just enjoy what the day gives you.  And expect a few “extra”  miles on your legs by the time you are finished with your race and back in your hotel.  We ran/walked 33 miles on Sunday.  Smile  Fun day but a whirlwind trip.  If you have MCM on your bucket list, I hope you have a few days to spend enjoying the area.  Lots to see & do in Arlington, VA & Washington DC.  Go, enjoy it!

** Run With The Marines ** Amanda – TooTallFritz