The Skinny on Healthy Fats …. What You Need to Know

Let’s follow up the Healthy Living 101 post with something equally as important, Healthy Fats.  What’s the “skinny” on healthy fats?  Isn’t that a loaded question.  If you are in your 40s, you probably spent a bit of time eliminating fats from your diet during the “Fat Free” craze of the 90s.  How many Snackwells did you eat?  I ate a lot.  I was skinny.  I was not strong.  Well, “Strong is the New Skinny”, right?  The neat thing about being in my 40s is that I no longer care what is “in” or what is “cool”.  Not that I was ever
“in” or “cool”, let’s be clear on that.  But my focus now is laser sharp on me.  What makes me feel good. What doesn’t.  I’ve discovered that healthy fats are essential to our diets.  All of us.  Not just athletes.  Not just people who want to lose weight or get strong.  This is what I’ve learned, feel free to use whatever possible to help you and your family.  And the disclaimer still stands.  I’m not a nutritionist, registered dietician, or health coach.  I’m just an enthusiast who wants to feel good each and every day and I want the same for you.   

1.  What are Healthy Fats?  Healthy fats are fats that are found naturally in food.  Real, whole foods.  Once a food is processed, then natural fats are generally stripped out to modify the food in some way.  Dairy is a perfect example.  Cows produce one type of milk.  One kind.  Yet, there are how many different options of milk at the supermarket?  Whole (real milk), 2%, Skim, 1%, Chocolate, Strawberry, etc.  Take this a bit further to the yogurt aisle and depending on where you shop, you may not even be able to find real, whole milk (grassfed) yogurt.  The food industry processes dairy products to strip out fat & insert sugar, fake sugars & flavors to make it taste better.  The sugar & chemicals inserted by the food industry activate the same part of our brains as the drug heroine.  Its addictive.  If we are addicted to sugar & chemical laden foods, we eat and BUY more of it. 

So if you want to eat healthy fats, you need to stick with whole foods.  And as always, buy organic and from reputable brands to ensure that you are getting the best possible nutrients that are not contaminated.  See the list of foods below that will offer the best healthy fats available:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts  & Seeds – Raw, unsalted nuts.  Almonds, Macadamia Nuts, Walnuts, Chia Seeds, Flaxseed, etc.
  • Nut & Seed Butters – Be careful with these!  Look for Natural, Organic products.  Always read the ingredient list.  It should be short and just include the particular nut/seed + maybe salt.  See the ingredient list from the one I just pulled from my cabinet for reference:  Organic Roasted Peanuts, Contains 1% or Less of Salt.

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  • Full Fat Dairy – Organic, Grassfed, if possible.
  • Eggs  – Farm Raised, Locally Sourced, if possible.  You want chickens that are walking around eating bugs and different plant materials.  They will make the best nutrient dense eggs.
  • Salmon and Tuna  – Wild Ocean Caught, not farm raised.  Sustainability is an issue with anything from the ocean; however, farm raised fish has issue with diseases due to dense populations.  Secondly, farm raised fish are usually fed a kibble type product that is a combination of soy & corn, among other things.  The majority of soy & corn in the US is contaminated with GMOs.  Lastly, farmed fish, salmon in particular have up to 50% less Omega 3s, the healthy fat that you’re looking for in the first place.  PLEASE NOTE – If you shop at Costco or places that sell “fresh” fish, look at the ingredients label.  I noticed awhile back that most of the “fresh” salmon at a major retailer, has dye injected into the fish, along with preservatives, to keep the salmon looking pretty as it sits on the shelf.   I buy frozen Wild Caught Sockeye Salmon now. 
  • Olives – Check ingredient labels.  A lot of olives have extra “stuff” in the ingredient list that we don’t need.
  • Oils – Avocado, Coconut, Nut/Seed Oils (Walnut, Pine, Cashew, etc), Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil.  Be careful with Olive Oil, many of those sold in the US are not a good quality or contaminated with GMOs.  I tend to use Avocado Oil as my default. Good reputation.  Nice Consistency and great flavor.

See the graphic below for additional healthy fat options:

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2.  Why Healthy Fats?  This was certainly a BIG question for me personally after avoiding fats for so many years.  The idea of buying full fat milk and real butter was just almost more than I could wrap my brain around.  However, the science is there.  Real science that’s waiting to be read, shared & acknowledged.

  • Supports brain function.  Our brains are made up of fat themselves, almost 60% actually.  Healthy fats stimulate new brain cell growth and improves memory.  Helps the absorption of key nutrients that are required for cognitive health.  Protects the brain from toxins.  And improves mood & alleviates depression.
  • Supports Metabolism.  Increase fat burning and energy production.
  • Keeps us full between meals.  Fats are burned at a slower rate.  They also trigger the release of hormones to tell our body we are full.  Keeping us satisfied longer.
  • Helps the body absorb key nutrients.
  • Improves body composition thanks to increased fat burning capabilities.
  • Builds muscle faster.

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Image Source from The ChalkboardMag.com

3.  How Much Healthy Fat Do We Need?  THIS is the million dollar question.  I think we have a bit of a “fat” craze going on right now.  Many of my friends are super skinny after adopting a ketosis type diet.  Terms like Metabolic Efficiency and Fat Burner are becoming common.  Carb Cycling is happening at every gym in the area.  So what’s normal, for someone who just wants to be healthy?  It looks like the the average dose of healthy fats for a normal person is 2-3 servings per day.  What’s a serving?  1 TBS of a clean oil or a thumb size chunk of an avocado.  Or a few nuts in the palm of your hand.  If you have salmon for dinner, plus a veggie & half of a sweet potato with butter, then count that as 2 servings of fat.  The salmon & the butter on the sweet potato.  When its broken down like that, its not so hard. 

4. Warning About Healthy Fats.  Super easy to overeat. Fats taste GOOD!  Yum!!  I’ve been eating healthy for years but just consciously added healthy fats into my diet over the last year & a half.  Initially I did too much!  I even used a Metabolic Efficiency program once but the guidelines were very loose.  The participants kept asking “how much fat do we need?”.  The program designers would just say, “eat some with every meal”.  Some?  How much is that?  So I’d eat 3 eggs with a side of avocado & bacon.  Or Avocado Mayo Egg Salad with a side of Avocado.  Salmon, 1/2 sweet potato w/ butter & a salad with avocado oil dressing. 

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Everything tasted AMAZING but I suffered from free styling the program.  There weren’t set guidelines.  No macro counting.  Not enough information for me & I was doing it wrong.  I didn’t feel awesome.  I gained weight.  Yep.  Too much healthy fat!

I’m currently doing a carb cycling program with HiggsLifestyle.  Lots of info.  We were told exactly what to eat, in what portions & exactly how much fat.  Our current fat percentage is about 50% of our daily diet.  THIS is working for me.  I’ve dropped all my weight that I’ve been holding onto for the last several years.  However, this may not be the right combo for everyone.  My sister is currently doing a carb cycling program with her gym & they are using 70% fat for the day.  I know from past experience that this would probably be too much for me but its working for her and the participants in that program. Bottom line, there are lots of different programs currently focusing on healthy fats & how to kick start the metabolism as a result.  Be careful & don’t get stuck in one that doesn’t work for you.  Be dedicated to yourself, your health and finding what works for your body.  And know that if weight loss (better body composition) isn’t something you need, then 2-3 servings of healthy fats each day will lead to optimal health.  Adjust as needed based on how you feel, that’s just the guideline.

As always, the healthiest eating plan is one that is focused on natural, organic, whole foods.  Eat a rainbow of colors.  Each color of fruit/vegetable has different nutrients.  Make food a priority in your life, not just an afterthought on the way home from practice or a sporting event.  Incorporate all aspects of foods:  Lean proteins, lots of veggies (some fruit), healthy carbs (legumes, brown rice, quinoa & sweet potatoes) & healthy fats.  Drink water.  Keep your daily added sugars under 24g per day (36g for men).  Limit or avoid alcohol & sugary beverages/treats.   Good luck, all. We have one life.  One body.  Let’s do the best for it that we are able. 

** That’s the Skinny On Healthy Fats ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

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Healthy Living 101 … Comprehensive How To Guide For Busy Families

At a point in time when families are becoming busier every day, there are a lot of excuses floating around as to why we don’t have time to be healthy.  Why we don’t have time to make real food for ourselves and our families.    Why we can’t exercise.  Why our bodies are tired and broken. The majority of people are becoming more tired, sicker and heavier.  The food, medical & pharmaceutical industries are booming businesses, becoming wealthier every day.  Lets think about this for a minute.  How do you feel?  How do your kids feel?  Is it possible to make some small adjustments that will pay huge dividends in regards to the health of you and your family?

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Let me help you by sharing some of the things I have learned over the years.   Disclosure:  I’m not a nutritionist, registered dietician, health coach or have any certifications to my name.  I’m a health & wellness enthusiast who has spent countless hours and dollars researching food and nutrition.  Feel free to use any information provided to make the best life possible for you and your family.  Know that nobody is perfect.  That’s not the goal.  Overall health, making the best choices possible and FEELING GOOD is what’s really important.  Side effects may include:  weight loss, happiness, enhanced performance, more $$ in the bank for vacations, less $$ going out to healthcare. 

1.  Clean Proteins & Veggies.  Most of my audience resides in the United States.  Therefore, the majority of our food is contaminated with chemicals.  Pesticides.  Growth Hormones.  Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).  Antibiotics.  Etc, etc.  Although we’ve been told our entire lives that these “additives” are not harmful to our health, there are studies that prove otherwise.  Whether you agree or disagree about the necessity of “clean” foods, you may want to do some research on the topic.  There is a reason why organics, “non GMO”, antibiotic/hormone free is now showing up on signs and packaging at the supermarket.  What can you change?

  • Buy Organic
  • Read labels if you are buying processed foods.  Look for ingredients that you recognize.  Short, simple ingredient lists. 
  • Find your local Co-Op (click for a list of some co-ops per state, mine isn’t on there so list is not complete, just a reference) for clean foods and info on local farmers.
  • Buy in bulk directly from the farmer.  This may require investing in a chest type freezer for the garage but clean grass-fed beef, poultry, pork and wild caught seafood will go a long way to keep the family healthy.
  • Local Farmers Market.  While many of you may not frequent the local co-op for fresh veggies year round, most do have local Farmers Markets with seasonal fruits & veggies!  Make it a weekly stop for the family.  Let the kids pick out new fruits & veggies they have never tried!

2.  Be prepared.  Yes, FOOD PREP is a must!  As life gets busier, the pizza delivery man knows most of us by first name.  What kind of night is it?  Pizza, Chinese, Fast Food?  Let’s be honest.  How many times a week do you eat or carry out food?  Is it really necessary?  Sometimes, yes.  Most of the time, no.  A little thought goes a long way.  As I started this post, I went to my fridge to see exactly what I had prepped and ready to eat, now.  Yes, like right now.  Or within a minute or two of plating. 

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This is what I pulled, ready to go from my fridge.  I’m not even counting the leftover ham & mashed potatoes from last night, the chili from Super Bowl Sunday OR the pizza that hubby ordered on Monday while I was in Chicago for work. This is food I personally eat.  Starting from left top:  quinoa, ground turkey, roasted broccoli & asparagus.  Left bottom:  roasted sweet potatoes, shredded chicken, and two individual portions of sautéed veggies & turkey with 1 TBS avocado oil (full meal, ready for me to consume without any additional time unless I’d like to warm it up).  My lunch from today is below.  Chicken, broccoli & asparagus, all from above.

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Is that overwhelming?  Probably as a whole, yes.  But I’m a normal person too!  I didn’t do this all at once.  I don’t believe in “meal prep Sunday” where people spend an entire day prepping food for the week.  It does not have to be that time consuming.  I toss in an XL baking tray of veggies when I notice I’m getting low on veggies.  I’ll use whatever I have on hand.  I like the colorful shortcut carrots, precut broccoli & cauliflower, brussels sprouts, zucchini, green beans.  Really anything I can get easily.  I buy in bulk at Costco.  One giant bag of precut broccoli, yes please!  I rinse, then toss on an XL baking sheet.  Drizzle with Avocado Oil, Himalayan Pink Sea Salt & garlic powder.  Mix by hand to coat veggies with a little oil/seasoning.  In the oven at 410 for 30 minutes and walk away. Cut veggies pictured below.  I cute up 3-4 zucchini (big chunks) & threw a bag of multi colored shortcut carrots on the baking tray.  Probably took me 2 minutes once I had the zucchini cut & everything tossed with a little oil/salt/pepper/garlic.

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Yesterday, I threw a bag of frozen chicken in the crockpot on high.  I added spices.  Sometimes I add a jar of salsa.  Sometimes, I use taco seasoning (non gmo, gluten free).  Sometimes, I go with Italian spices. Cook on high a couple hours.  Shut off.  Let cool.  Shred.  If you aren’t home during the day, use a crock pot with a timer.  Your crockpot can be your BEST friend when it comes to preplanning meals and food prepping.

Over the weekend, I browned 2#s of turkey with a box of mushrooms & various spices.  Last week, I dumped an entire bag of frozen shrimp (tails off!) into a pan, added butter, lemon, Cajun seasons & a bag of frozen green beans.  Let cook down, pour off liquid, put in a container for future meals.

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I cook in bulk.  If I make stir-fry, I do 3x the veggies & protein that I want for one meal, then immediately divide upon cooking into containers for other days.  I frequently do these things when I’m already in the kitchen cooking something for the family.  Or when I’m making lunches.  Time management.  Use your time to the best of your ability.  Stir-fry below:  Various veggies & ground turkey (any protein will work, use whatever you have prepped in the fridge).

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Enough about food prep.  I’m sure you get the picture.  If you don’t already hate me because I’m firing the pizza delivery guy, then just wait!

3.  Protein Powder, Shakes & Smoothies!  Say hello to a very controversial topic. We all have to decide for OURSELVES what we want to put in our bodies.  Maybe you have clear cut guidelines for yourself, maybe you don’t.  Regardless, beware of what Jane Doe & her friends are selling you. A few suggested guidelines are listed below:

  • Ingredients matter.  Look at the ingredient list.  Can you recognize what’s listed?  Can you recognize sugars & fake sugars alike?  Did you know that women are only allowed 24g of added sugar per day (36g for men)?  How many grams of sugar per serving?  Did you know that ingredients are listed in descending order.  Meaning the ingredient with the LARGEST quantity, is listed first.  So if the first ingredient is xxxxbitol or xxxxulose, that means the biggest ingredient is a fake sugar.  Be informed. 
  • Artificial anything in a shake or protein powder is not desired.  Jane Doe may tell you that some of the deadliest things on Earth are found in nature.  That is true!  But at least I know what I’m up against (and not to eat it!).  I don’t know or understand what that artificial ingredient, made in the lab, is going to do to my body. 
  • If it tastes like a milk shake, then it’s a milkshake.  I’m tired of hearing complaints on the taste of a decent protein powder.  Grow up.  Clean up your diet.  Cut the sugar.  Then you’ll get your taste buds back and realize that real food actually tastes good.  You shouldn’t need sugar, fake sugar and/or artificial flavors to be able to swallow food.  This is about nutrition, what your body needs, YOUR health.  

Some great protein powders that I’ve tried are below, these 3 are vegetable based (Vega One, SunWarrior, & Aloha – I have no affiliation with any of these products).  Also a peak at how my smoothies look.  I change up the ingredients but they always taste great.   My two favorites:  1 Scoop Chocolate Protein, 1 TB Natural PB, 2 Handfuls of spinach, Ice, Water.   Or 1 scoop Vanilla Protein, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1 TB Coconut Oil, 1-2 Handfuls of Spinach, Dash of Cinnamon, Ice, Water.  Both produce green smoothies but I can’t taste the spinach.  I swear.  If the green color grosses you out, try it with your eyes closed.  Good, I promise!

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  • Fruit in your smoothie!  Fruit is better than sugar, right?  Yes.  But fruit converts to sugar and some fruits are inflammatory.  I’m not going to tell you to never eat a banana but if you are looking for weight loss as a side effect of your healthy eating, then you need to drop the banana & grab the blueberries.  See the list of anti-inflammatory foods below from LiveLoveFruit.  Inflammation may lead to Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, Anxiety, Allergies, Brain Fog &  Excess body fat, to name a few.

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4. Supplements.  Another million dollar question.  Do you need them?  NOT a one size fits all answer.  If you are eating a CLEAN, anti-inflammatory diet with lots of leafy greens, then you don’t need a lot of extras.  A few items that may be beneficial, depending on your lifestyle are listed below.  But once again, ingredients matter.  Use reputable companies!   

  • D3 – I’m sure you’ve heard of the benefits of being outdoors in the sunlight?  D3 is the answer if there is no sun.  Some call it the “Sunshine Vitamin”.  D3  can increases immunities, increase bone/joint/teeth health, regulate mood, help the absorption of calcium & phosphorous (imperative for bone health) & fight cancer.
  • Probiotics – Healthy Bacteria!  Focus is gut & immune health.  Lots of natural probiotics so you don’t need to automatically grab for a capsule.  Use active live culture yogurts (if you can do dairy), Keifir, Sauerkraut or Kimchi.  You’ll specifically find the ever popular Kombucha missing from this list.  It contains a small amount of alcohol which turns to sugar and its relatively controversial. 
  • Omega 3 – Commonly known as “fish oil”.  Omega 3 is the ONLY Omega you need.  Don’t get pulled into the supplements that offer 3, 6 & 9.  Your body only needs “extra” of the 3.  We get enough 6 in our diet.  And our body makes enough 9 that we don’t need to supplement.  Omega 3 helps to fight inflammation (and related diseases), helps improve cognitive function & brain health.  I’ve also read that it’s good for skin health.  If you eat a lot of fatty fish, like salmon, you can probably skip this one.  Its also found naturally in nuts & seeds.
  • Magnesium.  If you’re an athlete, have trouble with constipation, get frequent headaches, have PMS cramps, or you can’t sleep, then Magnesium might be your new best friend.  Magnesium comes in a couple different forms.  Magnesium Citrate is what you want if you are constipated.  Magnesium Glycinate is what you need for everything else:  help getting to sleep, help in muscle repair, headaches, eye twitches, PMS cramping, sore or twitching muscles from physical activity, and it helps calcium absorb.  Its also reported to help with anxiety and increase energy.  If I only had one supplement in my cabinet, it would be magnesium.  You can combine the Magnesium Glycinate & the Magnesium Citrate to get the desired result(s). 

I don’t know about you but my brain is about ready to explode.  That’s all I can personally process for one post.  That’s probably MORE than most can process at one time, if they haven’t been studying this stuff for a long time.  BUT, I wanted it all here, for reference.  You may also be interested in some of my related articles below.  My level of education on nutrition has increased over the years but one thing remains, passion.  I’m passionate about being healthy.  Learning as much as possible.  And living the best life I am able.  I know this isn’t easy, especially if you work, have kids, and are busy.  But its worth it.  I wish each and every one of you the HEALTHIEST life possible. 

Related Articles:

** Go Forth & Be Healthy ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

2018 – New Goals

My primary goal is to run a marathon in every state.  However, I also love triathlon.  I’ve been meshing my love for running and triathlon for many years now.  I believe my first triathlon was in 2004 and then I really started doing more events in 2007.  However, Mr. Michael made his appearance in 2009, shortly after I caught the Ironman bug.  Little man is 8 now!  Time flies …..

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As a working mom with two kids and a hectic life, Ironman was put on hold.  I didn’t even ride my bike for several years after Michael was born.  I ran.  Because that is something I can do anywhere, for any amount of time and it helps me relieve stress. But the time on the bike was just too much for me as a working mom with a new baby.  So my bike sat on the trainer for 1309 days without seeing the light of day.  I rode occasionally for workouts but never outside. Once I dusted off my bike, I decided to focus on races that I could manage with the family, job and my other responsibilities.  I decided that I would “specialize” in the 70.3 distance.  Not register for an expensive race and haul all my gear unless it really counted.  It had to be worth it for me to be away from the kiddos.  Once Michael arrived, that’s kinda how life went.  Cut the crap.  Keep what’s really important.  I didn’t want to lose sight of myself but I also didn’t need to run every 5K in town unless there was another reason to go, like when Aby started running.  Aby’s first 5K below in spring 2011.  This race had free daycare for Mr. Michael.  So freaking awesome (Ringing In Spring 5K, Valparaiso, IN).

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This was also the time that I really started embracing the long run.  Michael was a crazy baby.  He was not happy unless I was holding him and to be honest, I just needed to get away sometimes to clear my head and leave the screaming behind.  I loved my little man but yes, I needed a break.  To this day, I see women who refuse to leave their babies to even go for a run, and I cringe.  Most mom’s need time away from their babies to think and reflect.  I could never do that while pushing a jog stroller, constantly handing the little one snacks, stopping to pick up juice cups, etc.  There were times that I ran with the stroller because the choices were treadmill or stroller run.  I’ve also ran plenty 20 milers on the treadmill for lack of other options.  I did what I had to do but honestly, I cherished my solo long runs more than anyone could possibly imagine.  Through this time, my love for the longer distances really developed.  Hey, the longer I ran, the longer I had quiet time, it didn’t matter if I had to run in the dark to get it.  Eventually, I cut most other distances to focus on the marathon.  Best bang for my buck and the marathon is ALWAYS a challenge.  I didn’t want to leave the kids unless it counted.  So I pared down my races to the distance I felt was worthy of time away from the kiddos. 

Enough chit chat.  Now, what’s the big goal for 2018?  I’m sure you’ve already figured it out.  Ironman.  I registered for Ironman Lake Placid, July 2018. 

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My first, and quite possibly only, full Ironman.  Yes, I’ve been waiting for this since 2008.  Yes, the time is finally here.  In case you’re not familiar with triathlon type races, this is a 140.6 mile event.  2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, 26.2 miles of running.  There are non-branded triathlons which cover the same distance; however, Ironman has made a name for itself as offering some of the best triathlon races in the world. 

I picked Lake Placid almost by default.  I wanted a race that I could drive to so that I didn’t need to ship my bike.  I wanted a race that was not during XC/Football or Track/Baseball season.  That really narrowed things down.  Lastly, I wanted a new state.  The marathon at the end of the Ironman counts as a state for the 50 States Marathon Club.  This made the outrageous registration fee a little more palatable.  I get to tackle something new, a bucket list item per se, but I’m also still moving me forward in my 50 State goal.  Win, Win.

So if you’re in Lake Placid, NY over Ironman weekend, look for me.  I’ll try to post more as my training gets under way.  Until then, if you need me, I’ll probably be riding my bike.  You will find me at a couple warm up races this spring/summer.  But everything is in prep for the big day in Lake Placid on July 22nd:

At some point, I’ll figure out post IM season.  But for now, this is it. 

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Cheers to a Happy, Healthy 2018.  I hope that you get to try something new and move something from your bucket list into the DONE column. 

** Life is All About the Story ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

2017 in Review …..

The year never seems phenomenal until you take a minute to look back at what has been accomplished.  Before looking back, I remembered having a lot of lack luster races, running some really hot races, having a lot of back pain and performing poorly on the bike due to nerve damage from my back injury. Nothing really stood out as amazing.  Then I remembered marathon training with Aby & her friend early in 2017.

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All the fun we had running up and down every hill we could find.  The laughter & giggles of the good days.  The tears of the not so good days.  And really, that’s how life is, the good mixed with the bad.  Each and every day.  Easy to remember the bad but we have to search a little further to pull up the good memories. 

2017 in Review:

  • 9 – Marathons (Little Rock, Georgia, Nashville RNR, Lincoln NE, Hatfield & McCoy, Monster Mash (Dover DE), Atlantic City NJ, Indy Monumental & the Wildwood Trail Marathon in MO. 
  • 1 – 50K (Huff 50K Trail Run)
  • 1 – 1/2 Marathon (RNR Chicago)
  • 1 Olympic Distance Triathlon (Pokagon)
  • 3 – 70.3 Triathlons (IM Muncie 70.3, IM OH 70.3, IM Steelhead 70.3).
  • 1 – 100+ mile bike ride (Dam to Dam Century, Wabash IN)
  • 1 – Volunteer Stint (IM Louisville)

It was a year of firsts.

  • First time I got to run a marathon with my daughter (who was only 15 at the time!)
  • First Century Ride, or longer
  • First time volunteering at a bit event

I got a couple new states in my quest to run a marathon in all 50 states.

  • Georgia
  • Nebraska
  • West Virginia
  • Delaware
  • New Jersey

A few moments hit my 2017 “BEST” list.  Possibly the best, if not favorite, fitness related photo I took in 2017.  Aby & Annika running their first marathon in Little Rock.

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Best Race – Hatfield & McCoy Marathon in WV.  Low dollar.  Fun.  Great course with variety in sites & terrain.  Excellent aid stations & support.

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Best SWAG – Huff 50K handmade soup mugs.

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Best Race photo – Wildwood Trail Marathon gives out free downloads for race photos.

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Best Selfie – Julie & I after IM 70.3 Muncie.  Her first half IM, her 2nd triathlon.  She looks SO happy!!

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Best detour – Philadelphia Art Museum to run up the steps like Rocky Balboa in the old Rocky movies.  We had ran a marathon in Dover DE & were headed to Atlantic City NJ for a 2nd marathon.  Not a lot of people would have felt like taking the detour. Julie did.  Great memory.

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Best non fitness related trip.  Niagara Falls.  The kids & I did the Canada side & the American side.  Great trip. 

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Overall, a great year.  I hope that all of you made some great memories too.  Cheers to all of us having an even better year in 2018.  Let’s start making new memories & get this year started right!

** Happy New Year ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

How to Guide on Homemade Bone Broth …. Liquid Gold for our Bodies!

I’m currently sipping on a cup of bone broth.  This has been my project of the week.  A labor of love which I started on Tuesday.  Just finished.  Actually, not exactly finished but I’m in the final stages so that counts, right?  My beautiful bone broth below.

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Very recently, someone in the house had to go gluten, dairy & sugar free (realistically low sugar, as in low added sugar, not natural sugar).  There is an issue with leaky gut and an imbalance of several hormones, vitamins & minerals in the body.  We also have a history of digestive issues for myself and the maternal side of my family.  So anything that can help with digestion & healing is a win in my book.  The bone broth was the next step for us in this journey.  I have spent years studying nutrition and its effect on health & wellness.  This knowledge has transformed my lifestyle and changed the types of foods that I buy and feed my family.  Disclaimer:  I’m not a nutritionist or a dietician, just an enthusiast who wants the best for myself and my family. 

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So why bone broth?  Here is an excerpt below from Whole 9 LIfe:

What kind of nutritional benefits does bone broth offer?

Bone broth is a source of minerals, like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium,  and potassium, in forms that your body can easily absorb. It’s also rich in glycine and proline, amino acids not found in significant amounts in muscle meat (the vast majority of the meat we consume). It also contains chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, the compounds sold as supplements to reduce inflammation, arthritis, and joint pain. Finally, “soup bones” include collagen, a protein found in connective tissue of vertebrate animals, which is abundant in bone, marrow, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.  (The breakdown of collagen in bone broths is what produces gelatin.)

What are the benefits of consuming a properly prepared bone broth?

Proline and glycine are important for a healthy gut and digestion, muscle repair and growth, a balanced nervous system, and strong immune system. In fact, a study of chicken broth conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that the amino acids that were produced when making chicken stock reduced inflammation in the respiratory system and improved digestion. (There’s a reason your mom always made you chicken soup when you were sick.)

The gelatin in bone broth can help to heal a leaky gut, which may be of specific benefit those with inflammatory or autoimmune disorders. These compounds also reduce joint pain, reduce inflammation, prevent bone loss, and build healthy skin, hair, and nails.

 

For me, I wanted to make the bone broth verses buy it.  One, its easy to make.  Two, its inexpensive.  Three, it makes a large quantity and I’m hoping I won’t have to make it again for awhile.  Smile   However, it does take time, which means it might not be a project for everyone.  Steps to homemade bone broth below.

You might be wondering where to get the bones for the bone broth. You can use bones from any clean source.  If you, your husband or parents are hunters, have them save the neck bones from the deer they tag during hunting season.  If you are getting ready to butcher a cow from a local farmer that specializes in grass fed, hormone free beef, then have the butcher save the beef neck bones & oxtail.  Or call your local co-op or butcher to see what they have or can save for you.  Chicken carcasses, necks or feet are great too!  If you buy from a source like the local butcher or the co-op, then you’ll need to pay for the bones.  I paid $0.89 per pound for the beef neck bones.  And then I also used chicken necks from my local co-op.

After obtaining the bones, first roast them in the oven.  425 degrees – 1 hour.  Turn half way thru.

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While the bones are roasting, cut veggies and add to your slow cooker.  Any veggies will work, they are used to flavor the broth and will be discarded later. I used carrots, celery, leeks, garlic & ginger (small chunk).  The fun part about this is that nothing needs to be prepped or peeled!  Just wash, cut into reasonable chunks and toss in the crockpot.  If you are using an onion or garlic cloves, no need to even peel those.  The skins from the onions & garlic add to golden color of the bone broth.  So fun! Even the kids can help!

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I also added pink Himalayan sea salt & ground course pepper (or peppercorns), plus a tablespoon or 2 (splash) of Apple Cider vinegar.  Don’t forget the vinegar, it helps leach the minerals out of the bones!

Once the bones are roasted, add to your crockpot.  If you’re overzealous like me, your crockpot might look like this:

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Thankfully my friend Sara P was on standby and told me that my crockpot was WAY too full!  So I split my very full crockpot (hey, I got the lid on, so it looked good to me!) into a second one.  Therefore, I advise this to be a 2 crockpot project.  Smile Bones need to be completely covered with water and water should be to the top of the crockpot.  Then cover & cook on low for a minimum of 24 hours.  I did about 30 hours. That’s what worked for me and I wasn’t in a hurry.

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12 hours into the cooking, I added a bit more water, increasing the water level to the top of the crockpot …. cuz Sara P told me to do it.  This is what it looked like at 12 hours before I added more water.

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At 30 hours, I turned off the crockpot and let cool.  At 36 hours, I drained the liquid from the veggies, meat & bones. Instead of tossing everything, I fed what I could to the pups for breakfast.  They were in heaven!  I gave them the carrots, cut up the beef pieces that came out of the neck bones and gave them some of the chicken necks too because I was able to crush the neck bones between my fingers (which I did for each neck before I put into their food bowls).  However, beware if you do this:  1)  If your dogs aren’t used to a rich diet, this may give them digestive distress.  I have 3 dogs.  I split the meat & carrots from one crockpot between the three of them for breakfast yesterday.  2)  Don’t give your dogs onions, chives, garlic or leeks, this is a poisonous category of foods for them.  3) Don’t overfeed them since this is more dense then a kibble.  I put the veggies & meat from the second crockpot into the fridge for this morning’s breakfast.  The first two photos below are what was pulled off of one crockpot.  Then the resulting broth in the third photo.

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After I strained off the meat/veggies/bones, I put in the fridge to cool.  The purpose of this is so that a layer of fat forms on the top and can be easily skimmed off.  I left it in the fridge for 24 hours.  A time issue for me, I couldn’t take care of it sooner.  If you are on top of it, you could pull off the fat layer much sooner. Save the fat for cooking or discard. 

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After the fat layer is pulled off, then the broth needs to be strained with a wire strainer to remove the tiny chunks of meat that might remain.  I actually just strained the bottom of the batch.  I wasn’t worried about perfection. 

After removing the fat, how are you going to store your bone broth?  It will only last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.  Some people can it.  Others freeze it. Since mom just had surgery yesterday, canning wasn’t an option cuz I would need help with that.  Freezing was what I chose.  Mom had read on the all knowing Google, that the broth could be frozen into cubes for ease of use.  2 cubes equals a 1/4 cup and easy to add to recipes, etc.  So thanks to the Dollar Tree, I secured some inexpensive ice cube trays for this project.  I also saved a gallon water jug that I had emptied.  I’m not super coordinated and I didn’t want to lose any of my broth!  So I funneled the broth from my giant pot (hubby calls it my “Witches Brew” pot) into the gallon jug, then poured it into the ice cube trays.  I’ll freeze, then store in freezer bags in the freezer. 

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The 2 crockpots yielded about 2 gallons of bone broth.  This was a combo of beef & chicken bones.  Using different types of bones in your broth is beneficial, so mix it up and use what is readily available.  The result is a rich, dark colored broth that is thicker than traditional broth found in the store.   You can then drink it straight or cook with it.  Super fun project.  Amazing health benefits. 

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Well, my first batch of bone broth was a success thanks to the help from Sara P, my mom and the ladies at the Fresh Food Hub in Auburn.  Thankfully the Fresh Food Hub had some chicken necks on hand that I could buy and LaOtto Meats saved some beef neck bones for me.  Hoping this bone broth helps aid in happy, healthy digestion in the future. 

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Happy Friday, all!  Hope you have an amazing day & enjoy the upcoming weekend. 

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Rock N Roll Marathon Series – Nashville TN – #RNRNashville

Saturday was my first time at the Rock N Roll Marathon Series  event in Nashville TN.  While most are talking about the unprecedented heat (93 degrees & 86% humidity) or maybe the many hills that Nashville presented to us over the course, I want to talk a little bit about the SPIRIT of Nashville.  The crowds, the volunteers, the residents, the race officials and the overall good vibe from the city as it welcomed us with open arms.  And by “us”, I mean me & 25,000 of my closest friends.  People further than the eye can see.  This photo is as we were attempting to get to our corral for the start. 

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This is one of the largest Rock N Roll races in the country with only RNR Vegas being larger.  If you’re a half marathoner & making your rounds, do put RNR Vegas on your list too.  It’s fun & so awesome to run the Strip at night.

Finally we were into the corrals & ready to go.  There were 40 or 41 corrals in order to ease congestion on the course.  But the race was busy.  The entire way.   Both with runners & spectators.

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We started out on Broadway heading east toward the river.  This is otherwise known as “Music Row” and we ran past all the famed “Honky Tonks” that make Nashville & its various artists famous.  If you like country music, live music or bars in general, this might be the town for you.  Plenty of places to grab a drink & hear some live performers.  Grab a group of friends & make a weekend out of it!

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Quick trip down Broadway, then over & back up Demonbreun to pass the Country Music Hall of Fame & the new Nashville Music Center (location for expo & packet pick-up).  I just love the architecture of the Nashville Music Center.  One of my favorite buildings in this town, pictured below, on the left, brownish building. 

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Then a quick pass by the start line & all the runners still awaiting their start in the corrals. 

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Photo Credit:  Julian Smith, visiting from England!

Next up, the Visual Arts Center & Music Square, which features Carnival Music & the RCA Studios. Thanks to Mr. Julian S. for grabbing a few photos of this area (below).  This is the location of the famous “Studio B” from RCA that recorded early greats such as Elvis & Dolly Parton.

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On to Belmont University (pictured below, photo courtesy of Julie Molenar), Troutt Theater, McAfree Concert Hall,  Children’s House of Nashville & the Battle of Nashville Monument Park. 

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Between mile 5 & 6, somewhere around Gale Lane Community Park, we saw our first collapsed runner.  Others had seen one down much earlier around mile 3, but by mile 5 to 6, everyone was really feeling the heat.  RNR did an excellent job with aid stations that were close together.  The medial teams were well staffed.  Sprayer hoses, ice, cold water, Gatorade, oranges, salt packets, Glukos gels/chomps, cold towels/sponges.  It was just a matter of getting from aid station to aid station.  And that’s pretty much how most of us had to think about the race, just one small segment at a time. 

On to 12th Avenue where there were lots of shops, restaurants, and spectators.  I’ve got to give it to the spectators, residents of the city & volunteers.  They were tireless (and hot too!) as they moved around to help out the runners.  The neighborhoods that we ran thru were in full on party mode.  Music, beer shot stations, Krispy Kreme donuts, bounce houses for the kids, local bands.  It was fun, fun, fun!   Another pic from Julian below of the neighborhood parties.  Great selfie, Julian!

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Back around Belmont University & Jane Ayres Academic Center (Julian S’ photo below), another loop thru downtown.  As we headed back out of the downtown area, we caught a glimpse of the Tennessee State Capitol & then split with the 1/2 marathon runners around mile 11.5.

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Shout out to the Nashville Rescue Mission for all of those cheers as we passed at 11.75 & 15.25.  YOU all, rocked our run!  Thank you!  Then we rejoined the half marathoners at mile 16.  That’s when reality really hit.  We could see probably 1000 or more people on the half marathon side, all walking.  Not one runner.  Just  a sea of people in good humor walking & talking.  Heading toward their finish line.

I was a bit surprised that we had so many people on our side for the full marathon.  It wasn’t packed like the side for the half, but there were still a quite a few toughing it out with us.  We were never alone.  Those of us who ran the full got a special treat too as we were able to loop the field at First Tennessee Park.

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Next up, Musicians Hall of Fame & Woodland Street.  The finish line was off Woodland in the Nissian Stadium.  We said good bye to the half runners for the final time around mile 17-18.  But not before some of us took a run thru a fountain in the business district!  I may or may not have instigated the fountain running.  Michael would be proud of me.  Smile 

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East Park, 5th Street & Davidson Road along the Cumberland River.  One loop around Shelby Park & then we FINALLY headed back to the finish line at Nissan Stadium.  Long race.  Took us 5 hrs & 18 minutes and no that’s not a personal worst.  We’ve had some really hot races.  We don’t run well in the heat but we have learned how to survive.  If you find yourself running a really hot/humid race, I suggest:  1)  stay on top of your hydration – drink before you’re thirsty; 2)  plan to use extra fuel because your body is working harder & you’ll be out on course longer; 3) use any means necessary to keep cool – ice, water sprayers & cold towels work great, 4)  wear a visor to keep the sun off your face but it will in turn allow the heat to escape thru your head, 5) use sunscreen cuz if you burn, your skin can’t breathe & 6) make sure you have access to salt tabs.  When you are taking in a lot of water to stay cool, your tummy get sloshy.  You may throw up.  The chances of vomiting & dehydration are less if you can get that water in your tummy to absorb.  Salt/electrolyte tabs/capsules will help the water to absorb. 

Huge shout out to all the runners who managed to FINISH RnR Nashville despite the heat!  There were several points where some of the full marathoners got turned around/diverted due to weather & cut-off times.  Please don’t get discouraged if you got cut-off at this race.  The heat was bad.  Nobody was hitting the times that they trained to run.  It happens.

Stats:  2,445 marathon finishers, 67 marathon finishers that got cut-off/turned around at the 10.7 mi mark, 18 marathon finisher that got cut-off/turned around at the 18 mi mark, 20 marathon finishers that got cut off at the 20.2 mile mark, 17,821 half marathon finishers, 2,776 5K finishers, 841 mile run finishers, 12 half marathon wheelchair finishers, & 11 full marathon wheelchair finishers. 

Congrats to all the runners! Thanks to all the volunteers, medial staff, police, spectators & the bands that kept playing even though the sun was beating down on them too!  The spirit of Nashville really showed throughout the weekend but especially on race day.

SWAG:

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Quick note about the marathon finisher jackets.  The cut is the same as last year but they are longer.  The length now goes over most of our rumps, at least for the ladies.  I’m tall, if it goes over my bum, it will probably go over yours.  Utilize the sizing station at the expo to determine the correct size.  You may want to size up if your bum is bigger than your waist.  Otherwise you won’t get this jacket zipped.  Example below. 

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** Run Happy, all! ** Rock N Blogger – TooTallFritz**

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!

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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

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

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon ….. 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Great race, hope to see YOU next year!

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