Ironman 70.3 Steelhead Race Review – 2016

It’s no secret that Ironman 70.3 Steelhead is one of my favorites.  In fact, I’ll sign up for 2017 as soon as the event opens for registration.  Its “my” race.  Its in a familiar place.  I have friends in the area.  And I love Saint Joseph MI.  In fact, I raced this year, even though it was on my 17th wedding anniversary.  Oooops.  Sorry, honey.   Or I should say, thanks, honey. Smile

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Steelhead is set in a picturesque, beach town on the shores of Lake Michigan.  The venue is Jean Klock Park which has a Benton Harbor address, just one mile north of Saint Joseph, MI.  The views are breathtaking and the park is public so you can go visit anytime.  Take a swim in Lake MI.  Ride the marked bike route.  Go for a little run.  Fun!!

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I arrived at Jean Klock Park for packet pick up on Saturday morning around 11am.  It had stormed on me the entire 2.5 hours that I spent driving to the location.  The sun was out on the shores of Lake MI but “something” definitely hung in the air.  It was hot.  The wind was blowing.  And the waves were rolling.  Looks like a perfect day at the beach but not perfect enough for me to rack my bike.  I have been having issues with my bike all season, the gearing & derailleur, no need to leave it out in the weather overnight in less than ideal conditions. 

I quickly grabbed my packet, which isn’t as quick at an IM event as you might think. They are very organized but there is a process of checking identity, updating information & walking thru the various stations for bib/swim cap, shirt, & chip that takes a bit more time than a normal packet pick-up.  Fortunately, I got thru just in time for one of the pre-race meetings. 

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Always fun.  Nothing had really changed from last year course wise, just a few rule changes.  But then they dropped the big bomb that the water temp was almost to the point of being too high for wetsuits.  Since it was a very warm day, we should stay tuned for a last minute call on if the race would be wetsuit legal.  Honestly, I didn’t think much of it.  The swim is in Lake MI and I’m pretty sure it’s never NOT been wetsuit legal.  The water stays pretty cool, even in the summer.  Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. 

Packet picked up.  Race meeting attended.  Walked thru the expo quickly.  Bought some TriSlide ….. cuz that’s the way to make sure you can definitely wear your wetsuit, have extra lube so you can get into it!!  Found my spot in transition for reference.  Off to check into Hotel de Jude (not a real hotel in St Joseph – I always stay with a friend).

As the rest of the crew started filtering into Hotel de Jude, the air was light.  Most of us were on a repeat trip to Steelhead and knew what to expect.  We went about our business of cooking dinner, getting bikes ready for race day (cuz nobody from our group actually racked their bike), prepping nutrition & focusing on last minute rehab.  I’m thankful for friends who have all the cool toys that I can’t afford and I took full advantage.  Normatec Recovery Boots?  Yes, please!  Ed modeling his boots, I’m using Ryan’s.  Thanks, Ryan.  If they go missing, it wasn’t me.  I swear.  Smile  Super compression from the toes to the hip.  I’m in love. 

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Left my legs looking very “compressed” and super scary!  IMG_0664

Car buffer to rub out sore muscles.  I can afford that, $30 at Home Depot & I’ll be getting one soon!  There are also high tech muscle “massagers” that are more official for a much bigger price tag.  But this is essentially the same thing and much more affordable in my world.  Weird sensation!

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I was all in on the recovery front.  As a little background, I had spent the week hitting up the chiro and the massage therapist trying to bring my legs back from the dead.  The Chiro has figured out that due to some low back damage from my college years, then a fresh round of irritation this summer, my low back muscles are not firing properly.  My glutes aren’t working.  As a result my quads are overworked and apparently underpaid cuz they are revolting.  They are dead all the time.  It is a struggle to even climb the stairs at home.  When I get on the bike, all that is magnified and basically I’ve got zero power on the bike,  despite better training and better nutrition.  So, it is what it is and I have exercises to help correct the issue but it’s a slow process.  I was hoping to have a great race at Steelhead so invested some extra time & $$ into recovery.  Did it work?!?!?

Race day is always early.  The crew was up by 3am.  Pre-race prep and we had to put Hotel de Jude back to its original state of perfectness.  Off to the race site by 4:15am for a long day.  We were rolling our bikes into the venue when we heard the announcement.  Water temp was 77+degrees.  NOT wetsuit legal, the cap for wetsuits at IM races is 76.1 degrees.  The news did not hit the crowd well.  In fact, I wasn’t real happy either and I know I can swim the distance without a wetsuit.  It’s the waves.  The up and down of the waves that slow us “recreational” swimmers.  We don’t cut thru the waves but rather ride them up and down.  The wetsuits help our buoyancy, confidence & swim split.  But not at Steelhead 2016.  No wetsuits. 

Transition set up quickly.  Then we wait.  Donna, myself & Wendy waiting for transition to close at 6:45a and the race to begin at 7a. 

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IM races always start on time.  The three of us (above) were in the 40-44 category and our wave started at 7:24 am.  The other ladies warmed up with a quick swim, I just stood on the beach socializing, awaiting my wave start.  Lots of nervous people on race morning.  The normal nerves were intensified by the “no wetsuit” call.  I spoke to several people who had never swam without a wetsuit.  Some who were so nervous they couldn’t hardly even speak.  I felt bad for them and still wonder on how they did.  I’m hoping once they got into the water, they just got down to business.  The 1.2 mile swim course is very user friendly.  5 yellow buoys out, red turn buoy, 3 more yellow buoys, then 3 orange buoys (once you hit the orange buoys you’re half way), then a red turn buoy, then 5 more orange buoys to the beach.  The swim was not easy but I’ve had worse.  I’m not a fast swimmer even with the wetsuit so I was happy to see my swim split of 55 minutes once I got out of the water.  That’s a decent swim for me, especially without a wetsuit & considering the rolling waves.  The waves were rolling so high that spotting was difficult.  Normally I don’t have to lift my head real high to see the next buoy but I wasn’t timing my siting correctly and each time I lifted to site, I could only see the wall of the next wave coming at me.  Oh well, I just tried to be patient and focus on the next buoy.  Just keep swimming, right?  Made it out of the water with a smile on my face.  Saw Valerie who had VIP access right next to the swim exit & she captured my happy exit from the water.  Yay!  Thanks!

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On to the bike and the real test as to if my attempt at recovery did any good.  I knew within the first mile that it was going to be a long bike.  I had 56 miles in front of me.  And my quads felt horrible, very fatigued, just like every other day for the last 3 months.  I’ll be honest, I was scared.  I keep getting slower & slower with every race and I just didn’t want to have bad race at Steelhead when I love the race so much.  Took me a minute to think but I basically had a realization.  I remembered something that someone told me when I first started riding.  They said, “when your legs get tired, pull UP on your pedals instead of pushing down”.  So I refocused my efforts on pulling up vs pushing down and I had an instant turnaround in power output.  I wasn’t able to harness as much power as last year, or the accompanying speed, but I did well with the new pedal stroke.  This used different muscles and pulled power from my hamstrings vs my tired quads.  Worked for me!  3:04 for the bike, 18.1 mph average.  Best I’ve had all year and in case you were wondering, my gears did fail.  I only had big gears.  The shifter on the left side slid out in my hand within the first few miles.  So I didn’t bother trying to use it, for fear of breaking down.  I just used the big gears, pounded down the hills as quickly as I could, rode the wave of the up as long as possible, then I stood up from the saddle and rode the remainder of the hill when things got tough.  I’m always willing to improvise to avoid catastrophe.  Side note – Felt send new shifters for me, so I’m hoping the next couple weeks of training (and REV3 Cedar Point 70.3) will go more smoothly. 

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I want to toss out a huge thank you to the bike aid station volunteers.  They always impress me so much.  They are very attentive.  We call out what they want, then they basically hold steady so we can grab water/gatorade/banana/gel, etc.  Or they run with us for a second to help us connect with what we need.  Nerves of steel!  Thank you for being brave and so attentive.

Pro Tip:  Do NOT pass someone 2 seconds before an aid station on the bike.  This goes double if you plan to STOP at said aid station to get something from the very first volunteer, after cutting in front of me someone 2 seconds prior to stopping.  The way the  aid stations work, there is always spillage from water & gatorade bottles.  The ground is wet.  I had to lock up my brakes at the very first aid station in an attempt to not hit a person who passed me, then stopped immediately.  I didn’t crash.  I didn’t hit him.  But I’m quite confident the scenario could have easily gone a different way.  I’ve been riding for a long time.  There are a lot of people out on the course who are less experienced.  We got lucky.  Our race could have easily been over at mile 15 of the bike course.  Thankfully, luck was on our side. 

Bike aid stations – 3 – every 15 miles on the one loop, 56 mile bike course.  Great layout.  Great volunteers.  Potties, food, fluids.  Smooth roads the majority of the race.  Well marked course (that is marked year round).

Run course – 2 loops – a couple decent hills.  Aid stations every mile.  Varying terrain, we even get to run some of the trails behind the Whirlpool Center!  So cool!!!  By the time we got to the run, it was really heating up.  I definitely struggled but just focused on getting from aid station to aid station.  Then I made sure to hydrate, take ice & just stay calm.  Good run considering the heat.  2:23 for the 13.1 miles.

Finish was 6:31.  That’s 7 minutes slower than last year but to be honest, it felt like a huge win.  I haven’t had a decent TRI all year.  I’ve been fighting the good fight and focusing on getting thru the races to which I committed, but it’s been rough.  Overall, the TRI Gods came thru for me and delivered a better race than I could have hoped for and I’m very grateful.

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SWAG – Cuz that’s what everyone wants to know, is great.  IM does some of the best swag in the business.  They went kinda cheap last year with the backpacks and the same shirt for every event.  However, I think we all let them know that we were unhappy in our post race surveys.  This year, the swag improved considerably.  Different shirts for each race and the backpacks had the name of the event vs just a generic IM 70.3 logo.  Yay!

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Overall, a great race.  I love it.  I definitely hope to make a repeat visit next year.  Here is my 2015 race report, if you want more info on IM 70.3 Steelhead

** Happy TRIing ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

TRI Lakes Triathlon – Columbia City, IN

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On Saturday, I participated in the Olympic distance Tri Lakes Triathlon for the very first time.  1500m swim, 25 mi bike, 6.2 mi run.  First Olympic distance race for me since 2008!  Tri Lakes is a local race, about 35 minutes from my house.  About 10 members of my triathlon team were participating,  I figured since I wear their kit, but rarely see anyone when I race, I’d join in the fun.  Go Team Tritaniaum!!

The race was small, 55 participants, at a very out of the way location on Skinner Lake.  Parking was at the Tri Lakes Tavern.  The tavern was kind enough to not only let us use their parking lot but they also opened early so we could use their facilities.  Love the hospitality of small community races! 

Small transition.  Close to the water & parking area.  Nice setup.

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Open water, 1500m swim in Skinner Lake.  Water temp was 82 degrees.  No wetsuits.  Easy, calm, out & back around a line of buoys, 2x.  Men started first, women followed 10 minutes later.

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I’m a slow swimmer and that was really amplified with such a small field.  Almost last out of the water.  But it was a smooth, easy swim for me.  Not stress or anxiety so that’s a win!  2:14 average per 100yd.  Right where I normally am, you’d think I’d eventually get faster, right?  Nah!  On to the bike.  Photo courtesy of TRI Lakes Triathlon.

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The bike is where I’ve really been struggling this year.  I’ve taken so much down time, that at this point, I’m starting to worry if my fitness is suffering.  The bike was 25 miles.  Should have been easy, even with the searing temps.  No.   It was a struggle.  I had hoped I could pick off some of the people who had passed me on swim.  No.  I had hoped that the rest I had taken would bring my legs back. No.  Dead legs.  The course had some hills, nothing noteworthy unless your legs are shot.  I could barely get up the hills.  I’m not a great hill rider anyhow but this was just insane.  16.1mph average on the bike.  Took me forever and I’m pretty sure I did better on my very first TRI.  I have better equipment (by far) now and I know what to expect.  I just can’t go any faster right now.  Super frustrating.

Run.  Heat & Hills.   That’s the theme of 2016 and I think it was the theme of most of 2015 too.  Everyone was walking.  I had grandiose plans of running the entire 6.2 miles.  No.  I walked up the hills.  Aid stations were pretty far apart considering the temps, there were 3 on route, plus a homeowner that was so kind as to give out water & ice!!  I think it was over 91 by the time we finished.  Most of the run was in the open, full sun.  Aid station at the turn around ran out of water but at least they had ice.  Athletes were just crabby and miserable & ready to finish.  Shout out to the 2 residents who put out their sprinklers for us!  Life saver!  Run:  12:09 min/mi average. 

Finished my first Olympic triathlon since 2008.   I was “almost” last and I anticipated it being way more fun than what reality delivered.  Summer racing, is always a wildcard.  Nice small town race.  Community members weren’t real active with the race but the few who were, really went out of their way to help us.  Another one in the DONE column.

At this point, I’m not really sure what to do about the fatigue in my legs.  I’d like to take a month off and lounge on a beach in Hawaii but that’s not my reality.  I’m heading up to ride the Steelhead course tomorrow since that’s my “A” race & approaching fast.  My legs still feel like poop from SAT.  I’m just not sure how to bring them back.  My nutrition is on point.  I’m definitely resting more.  Trying to get extra sleep.  Avoiding alcohol & sugar.  Adding in tart cherry juice & turmeric to help with inflammation.  Seeing the Chiro to help my damaged back.  So I’m focused on ME.  Just struggling a bit with the quad fatigue.  Hmmmm….  If you have any ideas (other than take a month off and sleep on the beach in Hawaii), let me know.

** Keep TRIing ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon – 2016

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Year after year, I return to the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon.  In fact this is my 4th appearance (2012, 2014, 2015 & 2016 – In 2013 I did IM 70.3 Racine which is always the same day).  Why have I ran so many times?  Don’t I like to experience new events vs repeating the same one over and over?  Well, this is a popular race & I always have friends who want to run.  My daughter LOVES this race.  I LOVE Chicago.  And ultimately, I go where my friends & family want to go.  And RNR Chicago is where the fun is in July!   #RNRCHI  So let’s run!

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Part of this year’s RNR CHI crew.  From Left:  Nicki, Me, Julie B, & Aby. 

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Aby & Nicki ran the 10K.  Julie B & I ran the half. 

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I must say, this was the most fun I’ve had (so far) at RNR CHI.  This was a no pressure year. I’m currently focusing on my nutrition & recovery so I can hopefully kill IM 70.3 Steelhead.  Therefore,  I wasn’t worried about the weather or what was to come, I just settled in with Julie B and ran.  The weather was amazing this year.  Coolish, high 60s at the start.  In the 70s at the finish.  Cloud cover.  Light breeze.  Little did I know that the great weather was due to a storm brewing nearby.  Hmmmm…..

Early 6:30am start, cuz its July & we want to beat the heat!!  Corral start.  Corrals were separated by 2-3 minutes.  Course was crowded but I never felt hindered.  Once thru the first mile, our corral had already thinned out and we were free to run whatever pace we could manage. Aid stations & porta potties every mile or so.  Bands every couple miles.  Gels between mile 9 & 10.  Cold sponges at mile 11.  The half was 100% on the streets of Chicago this year, from start to finish.  Nice course.  As for the 10K, they started with the half, then split early, within the first 1/4 mile of the race.  They turned off the streets and onto the lakefront path at Dusable Harbor, then ran the path to McCormick Place.  They finished with the half route for the last 3ish miles.  A couple pics from the course.

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This race is about fun.  I know some feel the need to race every event and that’s great, but that’s not where I am at this point.  I’d rather enjoy the run with friends than rush off and try to win.  Smile  So I’m thankful for my run friends, like Julie B who put up with my non-stop chatter while we run.  Fun day in Chicago!  And we beat the storm but just barely.  We finished and I immediately made a dash for my car.  It started raining, just as we hit the parking garage.  By the time we were out of the parking garage it was a total downpour.  So I missed hooking up with some of my other friends who ran.  I missed utilizing the VIP tent for the after party.  But ultimately, I go to an event for the running aspect and I loved RNR CHI this year!  Thanks Chicago!  Thanks Rock N Roll Marathon series!!!

At the finish with Julie B. 

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Swag.  Finishers medal.

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If you are interested in running Rock N Roll Chicago next year, they are doing an early bird pre-sale now!  The half is only $50, the 10K is $35 & the 5K is $30.  You can register here.   If you are interested in any of the remaining 2016 Rock N Roll events, feel free to use my discount code (TTF2016) for $15 off any half or full events.  I believe its active for every race EXCEPT San Antonio, as of right now.  I’ll be running the full in Vegas in November, then San Antonio in December, in case your interested.  Smile

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** Rock YOUR Run ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Ironman 70.3 Muncie – 2016

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Last weekend was Ironman 70.3 Muncie.  Close to home, within 2 hours of where I currently live in NE Indiana.  2016 is my second appearance at this event, the first time in 2012 just after I tore a tendon in my foot.  That year, I showed up to swim & bike, then I took a DNF since I couldn’t run.  This year, my only goal was a finish.  Little did I know, that’s all the cards had in store for me.

Packet pick-up was at the race site this year verses the convention center like it was in 2012.  Loved it!  The race is kinda “out of the way” at Prairie Creek Reservoir.  Definitely not a venue that you’ll stumble across unless you have Google maps loaded!   It was nice to see the venue in the day light.  I immediately noticed that the water looked calm & clean, despite the wind.  I also noticed the site was much better groomed than it was in 2012.   No pesky rocks this year.  Lots of nice grassy areas.  Clean beach.  Yay!!!

I arrived at the venue after 5pm because I was waiting for as long as possible to leave home so the kids didn’t kill each other weren’t home alone too long before hubby got home from work.  I’m so bad about looking at the event schedule.  And the last pre-race meeting was at 5pm.  I realized this as I was picking up my packet.  Good news, packet pick-up was fast since everyone else had already been thru and I was on to the meeting very quickly.  Cool SWAG this year.  Ironman 70.3 Muncie backpack & gender specific tee, plus we got a Cliff Bar.  This year they put the race specific logo on the bag & I really liked that.  The last several years, IM has given out generic bags that just say “Ironman 70.3”.  They in turn give that for each 70.3 event.  So if you do multiple 70.3 events, you get the exact same bag for each race.  Boring.  Happy to see the change for this year.

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Race day started early.  Transition opened at 5am.  Transition closed at 6:45am for a 7am start.  I was concerned about parking so got to the reservoir pretty close to 5am and was happy I had cuz parking filled up very quickly.  Set up transition quickly but it was still visibly dark.  And visibly chaotic. 

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Hit the potties & was surprised that it looked like there were only about 20 potties for approximately 2200 athletes (and their families/friends).  The lines were long.  Like really long.  Fortunately, I was there early enough to wait thru that line 2x.  Hydrate much?

Race started at 7am.  My wave started at 7:59am.  I believe there were 5 minutes between waves this year, which was a little better than the 3 minutes from when I participated in 2012.  This event was not wetsuit legal, the water temp on race day was between 77 & 78 degrees, which is typical for this event.  USAT rules do not allow wetsuits when water temps are greater than 76.1 degrees.   No wetsuit, no problem.  I must say, I was calm.  I’m not a fast swimmer but I can swim for a long time.  Like Dory, I “Just Keep Swimming”.  Once in the water, it seemed cool & refreshing.  Not much turbulence.  I always start toward the back of my wave (cuz that’s where I finish the swim) and always get jammed up in the beginning.  I may be slow but its inevitable that the breast strokers start ahead of me and I have to figure out a way to get around them.  I felt strong on the swim.  I was focused, stayed on course, pulled thru my stroke. I didn’t have the moments of panic that have visited in the past.  It was difficult heading into shore on the last 1/3 of the course cuz the sun was in our eyes and I just couldn’t see the buoys in front of me.  That resulted in me spending too much time checking my position but overall, I was happy with the swim and hoping my time would show as much.  It didn’t.  50:30 swim for 1.2 miles.  I was hoping for 45 minutes but overall happy cuz I was comfortable in the water and in my opinion that’s a win!! 

On to the bike!  As I moved into transition, I forgot about the swim and started focusing on the bike.  I was really hoping for a good bike split.  My last 70.3 at Cutting Edge in June had a slow bike split and I was hoping that was a result of 1)  the high temps and 2) still being fatigued from my double marathon weekend at the beginning of May.  I spent a lot of time resting in June, plus the temps at Muncie were much milder (70s & 80s).  So I and hoping my time would show as much.  It didn’t.  I couldn’t get any power/speed.  I wasn’t fatigued per say.  I was well fueled (thank you Tailwind Nutrition!!!).  I was hydrated.  I just couldn’t get any speed.  Why?!?!?  No idea.  I’m not going to lie, I was frustrated out there.  But I did see Sharon S. out on course & that probably the bright spot in my bike!  She got the first pic below.  Second pic was from an Ironman photog.  Great aid stations on the bike, every 15ish miles.  Food, water, Gatorade, gels, & potties.  It always amazes me how steady & brave the bike aid station volunteers are to hold out the water or Gatorade so we can grab it as we zoom past.  Smile

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Then my bike broke.  Initially, I thought the chain had just popped off, which was odd cuz that had never happened in the 3.5 years I’ve had this bike.  But it wasn’t just that.  My derailleur was also broken and my chain was jammed behind the brakes.  It was stuck.  Nothing I could fix roadside.  At that point, I kinda laughed to be honest.  I was already 38 miles into a poor bike split.  I figured, if the bike is going to break, I was super thankful it broke on  day when I was already having a subpar performance!!  Then immediately, my thoughts went to “OMGosh, am I going to have to DNF this race AGAIN (like in 2012)?”  Thankfully, I did not have to DNF.  Ironman SAG support came rolling up after a short while.  It took the dude a minute to figure out the problem, then he pulled out a giant wrench.  He removed the crank arms that held on the chain ring so he could get to the chain.  Fixed the chain, adjusted the broken derailleur and told me to take it easy and not shift much as I limped back to transition.  That did the trick to get me back to transition!  And my bike has been in the shop since Tuesday awaiting a new derailleur.  Hoping to pick it up tomorrow.  Anyhow, slow for me bike split:  3:40:39.  I was hoping to go under 3 hours but I was WAY off that before I broke.  I’m guessing that SAG found & fixed me within 20 minutes of the break, which is AWESOME.  I could have been there for an hour or more.  Thank you Ironman SAG!!  

On to the run.  Smooth transition.  Sprayed down with sunscreen again.  Took off on the run.  I had heard the run was hilly.  That was accurate.  At this point, I had nothing to gain by trying to rush, so I took my time.  Didn’t stress about the hills.  Or the heat.  Just ran. Walked up the bigger hills Walked thru aid stations, which were every mile apart.  Lots of run support.  Great aid stations.  Lots of potties. I tried to enjoy it.  One loop run which is unusual for IM 70.3 courses.  It was good.  Got to the turnaround and cruised back at whatever pace I could manage without pushing. Run Split:  2:31:32.

Total time:  7:09:20.  Not where I was hoping to be but hey, a finish is a finish.  My goal for the year is to go under 6 hours for the 70.3 distance.  If I don’t figure out how to freshen up these legs & find my power on the bike, that goal is going to be impossible.  I’m also having issues with my saddle this year.  I’ve swapped it out 3x already and just can not get comfortable (I’m flat out miserable).  UGH.  Hoping to get everything dialed in by Steelhead so I can make an honest attempt at the sub 6 hour finish.  Only time will tell if that’s a realistic goal (for this year) but I’m focusing on me this month.  Nutrition.  Rest.  Chiropractor.  And I’m going to get a massage the week before Steelhead to try to flush out any nastiness from my legs pre-race.  I must say, I was frustrated Saturday after my finish.  It was not the race I envisioned but honestly, there are so many people who would give anything to be out there just DOING something, that I must thank my lucky stars for my health, my motivation and the constant drive to keep moving, even when life isn’t perfect.  And who has a perfect life?  I, of course, have a lot to focus on other than my fitness but I continue to make fitness a priority while simultaneously managing the family, work and life.  So that’s a WIN in my book.  And the finisher medal to prove it.

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** Keep TRIing, Even When Things Aren’t Going YOUR Way ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Nutrition, Food & Health ……

Several things have happened this year that have really made me take a closer look at nutrition.  I’ve realized that most people have no idea what it means to eat healthy.  I’ve realized that many people who want to eat healthy struggle with food addictions that derail them at every turn.  I’ve realized that food companies are not our friend.  I’ve realized that the entire concept of nutrition has become muddied by people/companies who want to sell us something without regard to our wellbeing and overall long term health.  The bottom line is that if you want to be healthy, and I mean really healthy without just going thru the motions, you need to do your own research.  Invest the time.  Make your own decisions.  Health is not a one size fits all proposition but if you put some time into your nutrition, you can be healthy.  And please don’t confuse being healthy with being the “perfect” dress size.  While for some, that my go hand in hand, that’s not the case for all.  The focus here is on nutrition and ultimately health.

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Confession.  This post has been in queue for months.  First paragraph drafted & left to sit.  Why?  Not because I didn’t think it was important but because I didn’t feel as if I had enough knowledge to bring it to you.  I’m not a nutritionist.  I’m not a coach.  I’m not a trainer.  I’m not the person with all my ducks in a row with regards to food or fitness.  I’m not anyone other than a regular person who is passionate about food and exercise.  I want to be healthy.  I want my kids and family to be healthy. I want you to be healthy.   So I’m going to share some of the things I’ve learned.  Give some tips on a few things you can do that might help you to feel a little better.   And I’ll leave you with a list of documentaries that might peak your interest and help you get started in really thinking about yourself, your food and where you want to be health wise in the years to come.  How’s that sound?  I’m not selling anything.  I’m advocating for real food, real health & a real future.

A few things I do that help me to feel good are listed below.  I don’t have my nutrition 100%.  I’m still tired sometimes.  I’m grumpy a lot (especially now that schools out for the summer & full blown chaos has ensued).  I don’t recover from workouts/races the way I used to but for the most part, I feel pretty good. 

  • Cook real food.  Avoid take outs & fast food when possible. 
  • Eat less meat & more fruits and veggies (aka:  freggies).  Lunches should be fresh and appetizing!  I usually have one or two “meatless” meals each day.

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  • Drink water.  Avoid soda, processed fruit/veggie juices, caffeinated sugary drinks & alcohol.
  • Prep dinners (Hello, Crockpot!!) and snacks ahead of time so that good choices can be made when everyone is starving. 

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  • Traveling?  Pack a cooler with snacks & bottled water.
  • Try to avoid processed snacks:  chips, bars, juice boxes, cookies.  Embrace snack baggies full of your kids favorite freggies.  Or make your own granola or energy bars as a family project.
  • Buy local via the local farmers market or food co-op.  Buy organic, non-gmo foods.  If that’s not an option, shop the outer aisles of the grocery store and try to pick as many fresh options as possible. 

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  • Cook seasonal fruits & veggies in new and different ways.  Just because the kiddos don’t like red peppers raw, doesn’t mean they won’t like them as the base for crockpot fajitas!  Asparagus or Zucchini anyone?  Let’s try it on the grill, you’ll find it in abundance at the local farmers market for the next several months! 

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  • Experiment with getting nutrients thru real foods.  I’ve been taking in less supplements and utilizing more vitamins/minerals in real food.  Anyone try juicing?  Its fun.  Its easy.  I’ve taken in a lot of nutrients thru the juicer that I wouldn’t have consumed previously.

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  • If I have extra or don’t like a particular veggie in the juicer, I roast them in the oven.  Sea Salt & Olive Oil will make anything yummy!

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I’ve changed a lot of things this year and its mostly about my food.  I buy as many local organics as possible.  I don’t like to go to the supermarket.  I go to the co-op first, then supplement at the grocery.  I still struggle with the fact that my kids are not on board with my fruit & veggie movement.  They still want pop tarts for breakfast & cheetos in the afternoon.  But I’m making an effort.  They complain a lot about there being “no real food in the house”, so I know I’m making an impact.  If they choose an apple or strawberries one time over something processed, then that’s a mini win for me.  Smile 

Everything in moderation, right?  That’s the saying but overall, I think eating real food, without chemicals & hidden ingredients will lead to better health for me and my family.  There are many who believe that overeating, in conjunction with consuming processed & “fast” foods are killing this nation.  Each year, the pharmaceutical & food companies are making a killing.  Healthcare conglomerates are growing bigger and bigger.  Yet, each day people are dying from cancer, heart disease, diabetes and a plethora of other diseases that never used to exist.  Maybe we should think about getting back to basics.  If you can’t grow your own food,  make sure you know where your food is coming from and whether the person growing it actually cares about their consumers.  That’s why I buy  local.  I want to know who is growing the food that I’m eating.  And I’ve even started growing a few things myself.  Normally I plant flowers.  This year, Michael, Aby & I planted non-gmo veggie plants.  Red peppers, cucumbers, zucchini & tomatoes.  We’ll see what kind of yield this brings.  We’ve already seen some decent growth over the last month.

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So, that’s a little bit about what I’ve been doing lately.  I know nutrition and food isn’t interesting to everyone. I’ve had friends specifically tell me that they do NOT want to know where their food is coming from and/or how it gets to the supermarket.  That’s certainly their prerogative.  If you want to know more about food, how it relates to health, nutrition and what’s in the supermarket, then consider watching a few of the documentaries listed below.  All are on Netflix and available for streaming. 

If you have any other documentaries that you think would be helpful for us to learn more about food & nutrition, then please share!  I have several others I’ve heard are good but I haven’t watched because they aren’t on Netflix.  I need to expand my streaming capabilities!

**  Eat REAL Food ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Whooha Gear Giveaway Winner!

Thank you for participating in the Whooha Gear giveaway!!  Whooha is an amazing company with great products & inspiring messages.  THAT, I love.

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Today the Random Number Generator selected #19. 

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Number 19 was Joyelle P!!

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Joyelle, please email me at amanda@tootallfritz.com with your shirt size, mailing addy & let me know if still want the BE shirt.

For the rest of us, we can order here and use the 10% off code:  INSPIRE to add a few new inspirational tees to our wardrobe.

** Go Forth & Inspire ** Amanda – TooTallFritz 

Cutting Edge Half Classic 70.3 – Race Review

Effingham, IL is a town that feels like home. Its 5 hours from my current home, just north of Ft Wayne, IN.  Three hours from the south Chicago burbs.  It’s a frequent stop when I travel alone or with friends.  I’ve spent more time in Effingham hotels than anywhere else so it felt right to head there for the first TRI of the season, the Cutting Edge Half Classic 70.3 on the shores of Lake Sara.

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Pretty much my only concern about the weekend was the heat.  I knew I could cover the distance.  I still don’t feel 100% recovered from the 6 marathons I’ve already ran this year.  Make that 12 since last June.  But I’m getting there or at least I tried to really focus on resting last week.  Wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be but I was in a good place with it.  The forecasted temps though, had me concerned.  The “feels like temp” was predicted to be 105 by 2pm when I anticipated finishing.  I was hoping they would be wrong.  They weren’t.  Possibly the first forecast I’ve ever know to be exactly right.  Oh well!

Packet pick-up was easy and quick at the race site, inside, with real bathrooms.  About 100 yds from the beach.  Next to the finish line.  Option of race day packet pick-up.  Lake Sara was calm, clean and warm.  80 degrees, which means that wetsuits were not allowed according to USAT rules. 

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Transition was small.  It probably would have accommodated 100-150 racers.  Wooden transition “racks” that let our back tire slide into a slot.  Kinda cool and one I hadn’t seen before this event.  Enough space to put my transition bag behind the bike and out of the way without taking it back to the car.  Sweet!!  Speaking of the car.  If you are an iron fan, you may park a mile or further from transition.  And don’t forget your cash, cuz you’ll pay to park in that spot!  But at Cutting Edge, parking was about 100 yds from transition.  Easy.  No fuss.  Free parking. 

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Quick selfie with my bike.  Smile

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The swim.  One wave.  Two loops.  Each loop 0.60 miles.  Must stop swimming between loops, stand up and shout out your race number so they could keep track of everyone.  I thought this was a great thing for them to do and a smart way to watch the swimmers closely.  Also, I’d like to make a note about the swim setup.  They had the buoys out, parallel to the beach, going both to the left and the right.  The swim did not look crazy intimidating like some I’ve seen.  It was nice. The water was nice.  I was planning for a good swim, even without my wetsuit!!  Gun goes off, I was a bit nervous but was confident I could do it.  But alas I could not get a seal on my goggles.  I was a bit surprised because they had never failed me previous.  Then I realized I had both sunscreen on my face & an under eye moisturizer (cuz my allergies are leaving me with bags beneath my eyes every morning!!!).  Yeah, something “new” on race day.  Ugh, I couldn’t see anything.  My goggles were full of lake water.  The first loop was definitely easier than the second cuz I was around more swimmers.  It was harder for me, and my blurry vision, to see and stay on course the second loop!  I did attempt to dump the water and reseal my goggles at the half way point since I had to stop swimming and stand up to report my number.  Didn’t work.  So I just tried to swim on even though my eyes were irritated and I couldn’t see.  “Fast” swim for me, even with my stupid goggles & blurred vision.  40:05 for the distance.  But my watch only called it 1851 yards instead of the 2200 yds that I was expecting. It was the theme for the race, my watch not equaling the specified distance and I’m pretty sure the race officials were right.  I think my watch was just as overheated as I was from the very beginning. 

Bike.  2 loops.  Windy.  Hot.  My bike computer did not pick up my sensors.  I can’t read my watch in aero.  Yeah, I was flying blind but felt so slow.  Verified by looking at my watch a couple times, yep super slow but I felt powerless to change that.  Roads were decent.  Mostly tar & chip.  Aid stations every 10 miles.  3 turns each loop, around a cone in the road.  Course was well marked.  Course officials and/or police were at key intersections/turns to help.  Traffic on course but the drivers were courteous.  Wind was head on or a cross wind 90% of the course.  There were a few short places with it at our back & I was flying but yeah, otherwise, it was kinda miserable.  Not because of the course but  because of the wind and heat.  56 miles, my watch read 55.4.  Time – 3:25:19.  My last half IM had a bike time under 3 hours so I was slightly disappointed but I did it. 

Run.  2 loops.  Hot as Hell.  Where did that stupid wind go?  Aid stations every mile.  Glorious volunteers giving out cold sponges, soaking our nasty dirty, sweaty sponges in cold bowls of ice water.  Helping to put ice down the back of our tri suits.  Offering water, ice, gatorade, shade from their tent, electrolyte tabs, orange slices, bananas, gels, cheers and support.  The further we got away from the lake, the hotter it got.  So that “feels like” temp of 105 had to be so much higher out on those country roads.  I’m not sure I would have made it thru without the volunteers and aid stations.  The middle aid station even had a sprinkler.  Passed that sprinkler 4x and utilized it each time.  We’ve all had hot races.  Some people manage it better than others.  I’m big and soak in a lot of heat and sun and it just melts me.  But with the aid stations close together and knowing they had ice ahead, I was able to keep moving a little better than I normally would with a heat like this.  Many races in conditions like this will have hot water & gatorade.  No ice.  This race went above and beyond, I can’t even imagine the amount of ice they went thru and it was a saving grace for so many people, myself included.  13.1 miles. Time 2:37:52.  My watch said 11.8 miles and a time of 2:19.  Not accurate at all on my end.   

Overall, great race.  I’d go back.  I thought the course was very manageable.  It was fun to see the people I had met along the way and pass them on the loops.  Kinda made things go by faster.  I’d definitely recommend this event to newbies and seasoned triathletes alike.  And guess what, when I finished they had food. I’ve been to a couple of those iron events where I didn’t get food because they ran out (or were waiting on more) or because the line was so long that I didn’t have the energy to wait. Not the case at Cutting Edge.  Plenty of food and COLD drinks at the end.

I won the Athena division with a total time of 6:48.  Only one other Athena finished.  It was such a hot day and there were a lot of DNFs.  Only 67 age groupers finished.  2 Athenas.  1 Clydesdale.  My trophy & Heed were my division award.  Gender specific tee & finisher medal below.

 

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That’s a wrap for the first 70.3 of 2016.  It wasn’t pretty but I’m hoping I can only go up from this point.  Know that there are days where a DNF is not wimp out but a necessity.  But also know that when you look inside yourself, the answer will be there, its always easier to quit but if you can continue, do it.  The finish line is a sweet reward.

** Happy TRIing, All ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Triathlon ….. The Refresher Course

While most triathletes picked an early season sprint race as their “rust buster”, I kept training.  I haven’t done a sprint since my very first TRI, in 2005, on my Wal-Mart mountain bike.  To be honest, getting all my gear together for a sprint AND paying the fee for something “short”, just isn’t appealing to me.   If I have to gather the gear, pay a ridiculous fee & leave my family behind, I want it to be big.  At least big to me.  So my first triathlon of the season is a 70.3 event, the Cutting Edge Half Classic in Effingham, IL.  A 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike & a 13.1 mile run.  Now that’s a triathlon. 

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Since I haven’t busted any rust, I’ve gone over a few of my old posts as a refresher course.  I want to show up with the proper gear. I want to feel calm about the swim.  I want my transition area to be on point.  And I’d REALLY like the weather to cooperate (forecast is for a “feels like” temp of 98 degrees!) but I can’t control that.  Here are a few of the posts that I’ve reviewed in case you too need a refresher.

Overall, I’m excited to get my TRI season started.  I’ve put in a decent amount of training since January.  I’ve already ridden over 800 miles.  I’ve been swimming 2x a week.  We all know that I’ve already ran a few miles too.  I know this won’t be an amazing race but I’m hoping it will be a solid start to my season.  So until Sunday, I’m just going to focus on being calm.  I know I can cover the distance, I’m just anxious to see how the splits turn out.  My overall TRI goal for the year is to go under 6 hours for the half iron distance.  Big goal.  I have to cut my swim time and put my run back on the map.  I haven’t busted out a decent half marathon for the 70.3 distance in a long time.  I need to fix that.

Any tri tips that will help me fly with the wind on Sunday?   How are your 2016 goals coming along?

Whooha Gear Giveaway is still live til June 15th.  Enter HERE.

** Happy TRIing ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Whooha Gear Giveaway & Discount Code ….

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Whooha Gear is my go to favorite for lifestyle tees & tanks.  I’ve long been a fan of their clothing line, optimistic attitudes and their “Believe, Achieve, Inspire” type quotes.  Each piece is branded “Play Hard, Take Chances & Keep Smilin’”.  Why, yes, I will!  Factor in the low prices & great selection and now you know why I’m hooked.  Smile

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Some of my Whooha Gear collection is below.  I pulled these from the archives so you won’t see all of them in the current lineup.  I’ve added a link to the ones that are still available.   I wear these pieces nonstop. If you travel with me, you may be tired of looking at them but no worries, I got a few new ones for our future trips!!!

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I Run Long Sleeve Burnout Hoodie

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Heartbeat Slub Tee                                  I Run Long Sleeve Thermal

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Regret Nothing Slub Tee

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As you can tell, I’ve been collecting for a while and I’ve just added two new ones this week.  The Chase Your Dreams Slub Tee and the Be Yourself Slub Tee. Michael loves the “don’t follow your dreams, chase them” tee.  He insisted on taking a pic.  So “Hello” from Mr. Michael!!  I’m a huge fan too.  Wore that one yesterday & today I’m wearing the Be Yourself.  BE strong, humble, true, happy, inspired, fearless, kind, bold, selfless, hopeful, courageous, love, consistent, graceful, disciplined, bright, brave and wise. Just BE yourself.  I couldn’t say it better myself.  We are all different.  That’s the great thing about everyone.  Don’t be afraid to BE you!

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Whooha Gear has graciously offered a giveaway of one tee to one lucky reader!  And since they are all about you BEing yourself, they want you to pick the shirt you like best.  So the winner will get to pick either the Chase Dreams or the BE shirt. 

To enter the giveaway, please comment below as to which shirt you would pick upon winning this amazing giveaway!  You can get a bonus entry by sharing this giveaway via any social media outlet of your choosing.  Just make sure to let me know in your comment (below) WHERE you shared it.  In fact, tag me if you can, cuz I’ll need to verify the share if you win via the bonus entry. 

If you are so excited about Whooha Gear that you can’t wait for the win, then feel free to use the discount code:  INSPIRE for 10% of your purchase!  Whooooohaaaaaa! 

Giveaway starts now & a winner will be drawn on Wednesday, June 15th, around noon EST.  Good luck!

** Be Inspired, Inspire & Chase YOUR Dreams ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Spartan Races Giveaway WINNER & Discount Code

So many tough athletes out there who can’t wait to get into the next Spartan Race!   Let’s start somebody’s holiday weekend off with a bang by giving them a free entry to the Spartan Race of their choosing! 

The winner is #9, Andrey Menshov!  No catch, Andrey, just email me at amanda@tootallfritz.com and I’ll give you a code for a free entry!  Have fun at Lake Tahoe at the Ultra Beast!

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For the rest of us, there is a Memorial Day special going on now thru 6/1 that saves up to $40 on race registrations.  Use code:  MEMORIAL and register HERE.

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If you miss the 6/1 registration deadline, you can use the code:  SPARTANBLOGGER at any time to get 10% off any race.

There is also a new booking coming out for Spartan lovers & fitness fanatics alike.  Its Spartan Fit by Joe DeSena.  If you need a little inspiration, feel free to pre-order HERE.  I read his last book Spartan UP and it was great, filled with lots of tips and inspirational quotes.  It looks like he is taking it to the next level this time with a 30 day plan to transform your body.  I’ll let you know what I think but the cover is below in case you spot it in the store or want to put your name on the pre-order list.

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Have a great & SAFE weekend – Amanda – TooTallFritz