Georgia Marathon–Atlanta, GA

On the way south for Spring Break, the kids & I stopped off in Atlanta, GA for the Publix Georgia Marathon on March 19, 2017.

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This was my 40th marathon & my 23rd state.  I haven’t been to Atlanta for a long time so was excited to go back.  A few new additions to Atlanta include a huge Ferris Wheel beside Centennial Olympic Park (pic below) and the College Football Hall of Fame that used to be in South Bend, Indiana.  Noticeably missing was the old vibe from the Underground shopping area that is in the process of changing owners.  I was sad to see it so empty and hope that its revitalized by my next trip to Atlanta!  I loved the Underground!

Ferris Wheel

Photo Credit:  Laura Snead

The expo was small but hopping.  Music.  Giveaways.  Fun atmosphere.  Local businesses.  We were in and out in a short amount of time & I even bought a shirt, which is unusual.  

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We spent Saturday walking around town, riding the Ferris Wheel & just clowning around.

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Sunday was race day and the city came alive. A quick meet up pre-race with one of the awesome ladies from the Best TRI Club Ever.  Laura S, Me & Julie M.  Yes, I had to stand in the middle because I’m a giant. 

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Once the crowds rolled in on marathon day, Atlanta hosted 1463 marathon runners & 5227 half marathon runners.  Race day was charged.  It was a bit chilly at the start.  Dark.  But everyone was excited and ready to run.  We had heard the race was hilly but had no idea what to expect.  As Midwestern runners, we don’t have a lot of hills so honestly, a ramp or slight incline is a hill for me!  But we soon found the hills.  And lots of beautiful neighborhoods.  Plus we caught a great view of the city as the sun was coming up.

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This race really made me fall in love with the various Atlanta neighborhoods.  They shut down a lot of their town to let us run their streets on a Sunday morning.  The amount of volunteer & police support was off the charts.  I’d like to send a shout out to all the WOMEN on the Atlanta PD who were working the marathon route.  I’ve never seen that many women officers and I LOVED it.

But the theme of the day was definitely hills.  Small ones.  Long ones.  Steep ones.  Long, slow graded hills.  Rolling hills.  And then more and more hills.  We walked quite a few hills but tried to just keep moving.  The hills didn’t stop but neither did we!

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Both Julie & I were thinking this was the hilliest marathon we had ever ran.  It inspired me to go back over my garmin data for previous races.  We were wrong, this was NOT the hilliest road race we had ever ran.  That award goes to the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, MS with 1,319 feet of elevation gain.  Atlanta (the Georgia Marathon) ranked #2 at 1,265 feet of elevation gain.  #3 is Flying Pig in Cincinnati, OH with 1,020 feet of elevation gain,  just cuz I knew you’d want to know.  Smile  And of course, this only pertains to road races that we have ran to date. 

But even with the hills, the entire race was just fun.  Great atmosphere.  Lots of crowd support.  Plenty of aid stations with both fluids & food.  Candy.  Pretzels. Oranges.  Happy volunteers. Plus we ran thru 3 colleges which is always great.  Anges Scott College for Women (first photo below), Emory University (second photo below) & Georgia Tech. 

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The finish line finally came into sight & we not only received a medal but a cool, thin jacket!  We got to pick our color & size.  I think they had red, black & aqua jackets.  Nice perk!  Race shirt was a pale green, unisex, long sleeve tech tee, which I like.  It doesn’t fit me great but I do like the color and style! 

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Loved the Georgia Marathon!  Great town, great crowds & so many beautiful neighborhoods.

** Run Atlanta ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Little Rock Marathon – 2017

2017 has been all about preparing Aby & Annika to run their first marathon.  I must admit when they said they wanted to run a marathon, I tried to talk them out of it.  Marathons are long.  And hard.  And tough mentally & physically.  The distance will frequently break experienced runners.  The girls are young.  Aby is 15 & Annika just turned 17.  Yet they wanted to run a marathon.  It was really hard to wrap my brain around.  Its not something I would recommend for any teen, let alone those I know & care about!  Initially I wasn’t sure how to react but I put on the “mom hat” and explained to them that an early spring marathon would require them to be running outside, all winter long, in the early a.m. when I was running.  No sleeping in, I wanted them out there with me for every long run so I could monitor their progress, fueling & how they were tolerating the distance.  They would not be deterred.  In fact their first “long run” was the Huff 10 Mile Trail Race which was hilly, hard, snowy, cold, with freezing rain.  Absolutely miserable conditions. 

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I asked them after Huff, do you still want to run a marathon that requires winter training?  Yes.  So we signed up for the Little Rock Marathon.  The 2017 theme was “Runalicious” featuring candy, bright colors and lots of fun.

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An abbreviated training plan & a somewhat mild winter delivered us to Little Rock mostly healthy & ready to run.  The girls were slightly nervous but mostly calm.  I heard them say many times “we trained for this, we can do it”.  But they were notably tired from the travel so we tried to keep things pretty low key & not do much.  The Expo was a great size for a small town race.  There were 2181 marathon & 3699 half marathon finishers on Sunday, plus a 5K & 10K on Saturday.  Lots to do Marathon weekend .  Something for everyone.

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We hit the expo, picked up our bibs, walked around town, found ice cream, took some pics & then had take out for dinner.  I think we were all asleep by 9pm. 

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We woke up to rain.  Heavy but steady rain with a “feels like” temp of 43 as we headed to our corrals.  We were none too early either because I didn’t want the girls out in the cold rain for too long before we started to run.  I was a bit surprised to see how busy the streets were & the back up getting into the corrals.    Pace wasn’t an issue for us but I really wanted to be around the 4:30 pace group because that was the pace where we would start out.  I didn’t want to waste too much energy weaving around people in the early miles.   We were on the “just finish it” plan but we wanted to stay together & I wanted to try to keep a consistent pace.  I knew that I would have to be paying attention in order to keep them slow & steady.  They are XC runners and they just want to GO!

Pre Race:

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In the corral, headed to the start.  What are they thinking?

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And we are off!  Let’s Run!  #Runalicious

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The beginning is crowded.  Normal for most races & a great time to ease into a pace rather than take off and regret it later.  Also a great time for pics.  But apparently my selfie game was OFF cuz I couldn’t get all three of in a pic for anything. 

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The course had changed since I had ran in 2014.  I didn’t really know what to expect and was kinda okay with that.  This was my 39th marathon, 2nd time at Little Rock.  I kinda enjoy just running the course and enjoying it for what it presents.  We headed over to North Little Rock first, looped around.  Ran over a few bridges (steep inclines & declines, yes, please!).

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The girls were calm.  We all agreed that we didn’t feel awesome but we didn’t feel horrible and that’s a pretty sweet spot to be in on marathon day. It curbs expectation but also delivers a bit of hope.  Patience is the name of the game.  You must be patient in the marathon or you’ll have a very bad day. 

The rain continued.  Light but steady.  People were complaining.  We just ran past them & pulled our hats/visors a little lower to block out the rain & wind.  Back over the bridge into downtown Little Rock.  Over the trolley tracks.  I tripped but didn’t fall.  We laughed.  Down Market Street, along the Arkansas River, around the Heifer International campus.  And then back thru town, up a few hills.  Then I recognized a street from last time and knew the Governor’s Mansion was coming up.  Aby had asked me 100 several times by this point if the Governor would be out.  I didn’t know but was hoping so & sure enough, I could see his guards  flanking him from pretty far down the street.  I pointed out who he was (verses the guards) and the girls ran right up to him for a photo.  Thanks for standing out in the rain, Governor Hutchinson, you made their day!

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Then Little Rock Central HS:

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The Capital Building:

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My favorite part of the course – Miles 14-17:  Hillcrest area, Kavanaugh Boulevard, North Lookout Road & Alsopp Park.  Breathtaking area.  Aby & Annika running relaxed & easy between mile 16 & 17.

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After we left Alsopp Park, reality hit as we entered an out and back loop along Riverfront Drive.  The out & back covers miles 18-23.  I knew if something were going to go wrong, it would be in this section.  Not only is it boring but very windy because its along the river & a little daunting because you can see the runners in front of you coming back while you have seemingly “forever” until the turnaround.  This section is mentally exhausting but the girls looked strong.  Aby was starting to get antsy.  The 4:30 pacer crept up on us and we ran with her for awhile.  Aby was not happy.  She wanted to be IN FRONT of the 4:30 pacer.  Annika said, “who cares!”.  LOL!  But Aby really did not want to let her pass.  The pacer was only running with one other person so we ran with her for a while.  It was entertaining because everyone had something to say as she passed them.  Many, like Aby, were not happy.  “Oh no!”  was the common remark as she passed.  I told her it was like running with the Angel of Death.  Nobody was happy to see her that late in the game.  I asked if she was on pace, and she was ahead of pace.  She was planning to stop & walk at mile 20 to get back on track.  We stayed in her vicinity until she walked.  I didn’t want to stop at mile 20 but rather push on to mile 22 for our last “pit stop”.  Then I knew that we would be pushing to the finish. 

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After 22, it was heads down.  The pace was getting progressively faster but I knew there was a hill at mile 24 that was super ugly & would probably slow us down.  So I just let it go.  They looked good, hadn’t blown up, were well fueled, looking to run faster & well, I figured I had done my job at that point.  If something happened in the last 4 miles, we’d just deal with it.  And I’m happy to report, no blow ups.  They killed it!!!  The Lipstick Station at mile 26 was on the opposite side of the road this time, so I almost missed it.  I went back to grab lipstick for us, sending the girls on and it was a sprint to the finish for them.  Great job, ladies.  1 & 2 in their age group (15-19). 

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Awesome race.  Lots of crowd support.  Volunteers, police & everyone seemed happy that we were there.  Sometimes when a marathon rolls into a town, the residents aren’t happy because it’s a huge inconvenience for them.  I genuinely feel welcome each time I go to Little Rock. If you are looking for a smaller race that feels like home, this is a great one.  Elevation is much greater on the 2nd half, so save something for the bigger hills.  There were 3 hills that were bad enough that we walked part of them but otherwise, we ran the entire race other than potty stops (2) and the photos we took.  It was a great day in Little Rock & I’d be happy to go back.

SWAG was a unisex race shirt & lipstick (if you grabbed it at mile 26) and a medal that’s heavy and bigger than your head.  For those of you who ran 2014, I’ve added the two medals together for comparison.  They are both over 2#s and I can’t hang them with my other medals for fear of pulling down the rack/rod.

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Details on the 2014 Little Rock Marathon HERE.

** Hope Your Run was Runalicious ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

New Year & New Beginnings ……

I haven’t been publishing much as of late.  I’m in a zone where I’m helping Aby & her friend train for the Little Rock Marathon and that means lots of long runs, not so much racing.  Too many blogs do week by week training recaps.  I’ll let you read one of those if you are interested; you won’t find it here cuz really, who cares besides me?.  But I’m running.  In the cold, in the snow & we’ve had some surprisingly nice days too!  Running.  That’s what’s  happening.

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I’ve also been lifting dumbbell weights & trying to increase my strength without aggravating my back.  I ruptured 2 discs in my back last June and they don’t seem to want to repair, despite many sessions of Physical Therapy, Chiropractor, anti-inflammatory meds & several special cocktails of cortisone type shots in my low back & SI Joints.  I was asked to stop riding & swimming from September 12th thru December 26, 2016.  I did as I was told and I didn’t complain.  I didn’t get any better.  I eliminated all exercise other than 2 slow, easy runs per week.  I gained weight.  I lost strength.  I became frustrated.  I ate too much sugar.  No need to write about that. 

The first of the year (2017) brought a new beginning.  I started adding in more running & strength work.  I’m seeing slow improvements.  I can lift a gallon of milk.  I carried the laundry basket up the stairs today.  I can function, as long as I don’t have to sneeze.  Then you might actually see tears. Why does sneezing HURT so badly?

We’ve ran up some hills.

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We’ve discovered new trails.

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I finally got a new bike & started riding again.  Michael thinks its “the best bike ever” and was yelling the same when I took this pic.  Love that kid.  Pure joy.

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I started getting up earlier on Monday’s to go to Chicago “early” so I can take advantage of a Master’s Swim class before I go into the office.  That lead to my buying some training devices.  And believe it or not, I even know what to do with these things!  My swim WILL improve this year!

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2017 is off to a solid start.  I’ve really got my head down and am working on building strength & skills at this point.  I’ve registered for a few spring marathons & a few 70.3 triathlons over the summer.  My fall season is wide open so far because I had planned for over 2 years to do Ironman North Carolina in October 2017 but they canceled it after last year’s race.  For some reason, my fall is staring at me with wide eyes asking me “what’s up”?  And I just don’t know.  I have no idea how much I can build.  I have no idea how much will be taken out of me with what I’ve already committed to racing.  I have no idea how my back will feel as my training progresses.  I have no idea what I want to do in place of IM NC.  My “real life” schedule & the races in which I have interest, just don’t seem to be meshing this year.   I refuse to force races into my schedule.  Running & Triathlon is fun for me.  Its about fitness and challenging myself.  Its social.  It stops being fun if it causes stress or makes me miss something that I want to do in real life.  The family, in particularly the kids come first.  I fully agree with the Trace Adkins song, “You’re Going to Miss This”.  Time flies and kids grow up fast.  I don’t want to miss anything.  So maybe I’ll be racing this fall, maybe I’ll just be following Aby around from one Cross Country venue to the next.  Who knows.  Only time will tell.  I refuse to force the schedule.

Never Have to Force Anything

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and fun filled 2017!!  Chase those dreams but don’t forget what’s important along the way!

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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!!

Just Run

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).

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