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

The Huff 50K Trail Run …. 2017 Edition

Saturday was the annual Huff 50K Trail Run.  Huff is known for bringing something new and unique each year.  The 2012 race brought epic flooding.  2016 brought 6 inches of fresh powder to the start and then added freezing rain atop the snow (and us) for the entirety of the race.  2017 will go down in history as one of the coldest years on record.  Temps at the start were below zero with wind chills, then plummeted further thru the day for an average of –13 to –15 “feels like” during the bulk of the race.  It was a long day for those who were able to finish and there was a large number of runners who had to drop out, or were not allowed to continue after the completion of the first loop, due to weather related concerns.

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The Huff 50K offers a 1 loop “fun run” of approximately 11 miles, a 3 person 50K relay & a 50K trail run.  I’ve ran, and managed to complete, the 50K every year since 2013.  I’ve had good years & bad years.  Ones that were tough because I wasn’t up to par physically.  Ones that were brutal due to weather like 2016 & 2017.  I love this race and will continue to run it as long as I am able.  It’s a great way to end my racing season each year.  Its close to home.  And  love that we can pick up our packets the morning of the race!  Win, win, win!

This year, due to the cold temps, I left my phone in my check bag.  My iPhone has a very short battery life & the cold kills it almost instantly.  None of the photos you see in this post are mine.  Thanks to Tadd B, Stacey H & Sara P for sharing their photos so I could add something visual to this write-up!.

Pre-race with Tadd B & Pat H.  I’m the one in bright orange. 

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The race started at 8am for the 1 loop runners.  At 8:20 for the 50K runners.  The course is different for each race.  For the 50K race, there are 3 aid stations on each loop.  Located at miles 4, 8 & 14.  Then the warming tent at the start/finish which is also the half way point of the 50K can be used as an aid station.  Other than the aid stations, there are only a few road crossings.  This is not a race that you can cut short in very many places if an injury, illness or other issues result.  I heard some criticism from some who were not allowed to go out for a second loop of the 50K due to time & weather issues.  I can say from a safety standpoint, it was imperative to have runners off the trail by dark.  Then if we add in the weather concerns, the second loop of the 50K was cold. Really cold.  Plus the trails were drifting from the blowing wind & snow.  It was a bit of a challenge.   I had to have my face covered almost the entirety of that loop to avoid frostbite. Our bodies were burning extra energy to try to keep warm, in addition to the running, so fueling was a huge issue.  And the volunteers at the aid stations were FREEZING trying to support us.  More respect needs to be given to the race officials and volunteers for these races.  Nobody wants to cancel or shorten a race.  Its bad publicity, especially in this age of social media.  However, they are liable for each and every runner.  They have to do what they think is best for everyone, runners & volunteers included.

We had about 3” of snow on the ground.  Flurries during the race. Roads were iced over with a little snow on top.  It was a much better situation running wise than the deeper snow and freezing rain of 2016.  However, it was still a tough race.  Tough but beautiful.IMG_5751

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Lots of hills.  Lots of slipping and sliding.  Running for most of us was slow going.  I was amazed by the varying degrees of dress.  I was focused on keeping my face covered to avoid frost bite, yet there were people running in shorts, or less.  The conditions were dangerous.  I wouldn’t recommend running with exposed skin when the temps are below zero. 

Sara & I in the pines on loop 1.  One of my favorite areas. 

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Pure joy as we cross the half way mat (after I stopped to put on my yaktrax). 

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And then the wind hit us.  Cold.  Strong.  Blowing us around.  Trying to cover the tracks of those before us.  Time to put our heads down and just run.  The yaktrax were a welcome addition to loop 2.  They helped A LOT in the areas that were packed down and in the slippery areas.  I wish I had worn them for the first loop but thought the snow was probably too deep for them to do much good.  I’ll definitely wear them for all snowy trail runs going forward.  My footing was a lot better after I put them on. 

The wind made the temperature drop further but I was warm.  My clothing was perfect:  Athleta Polartec tights, Injinji over the calf compression socks, thin Under Armour Long Sleeve Infrared tech shirt, Nike Pro Hyper Warm Fleece Lined 1/2 Zip, Saucony Vita Run Vizipro jacket, ear band, hat, balaclava, lined gloves with a an extra pair of throw away gloves that had hand warmers inside.  I used the throw away gloves with hand warmers at the start for a several miles, then again on loop 2 after a lengthy stop at an aid station.  Only difference between loop 1 & loop 2 was that I had to keep my face covered the majority of the second loop due to the added wind. 

Best Aid Station Ever at Dock Lake.  Team Tritanium ran the aid station again with the Huff Couch.  Two fires were burning.  Smores, gluten free chicken noodle soup, homemade sweet bread, plus the usual ultra fare. 

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But really the best part is always the finish.  My 5th Huff 50K is in the done column.  I hope to be back for #6 in 2018.  See the finishers medal and cool handmade soup mug below.  Lots of fun. 

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Finisher stats:  50K – 118 Finishers, 57 DNFs; 1 Loop Fun Run:  139 Finishers, 5 DNFs.  Relay – 24 Finishing teams, 5  DNFs, 3 DQs. 

As always, a great race.  If you are going to run in the winter, I’d recommend layering up and minimizing exposed skin.  There will always be people running with very little on but honestly, that’s just not safe. Be smart & enjoy the beauty of the season.  Running is a great way to get out and enjoy the winter months and keep those Winter Blues away!

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Wildwood Trail Marathon Race Review– Wildwood MO

I ran the Wildwood Trail Marathon in Wildwood MO on Sunday.  It was my 47th marathon (or longer).  I’m a runner who loves to run.  I love the trails and the serenity.  However, I’m not a real trail runner.  Let’s not squabble over the fact that “if I run trails, then I’m a trail runner”.  You know what I mean.  I’m a road runner.  I enjoy the road under my feet.  A solid surface that does not move.  One where I probably won’t trip over something that I can’t see because its covered by a forest of leaves.  One where sharp rocks don’t jut out at every step.  One where if I fall, I won’t stress about sliding down the bluff in the process.  Road runner.  Yep, that’s me. 

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Now that is has been clarified that I’m a road runner, my report follows. 

The Wildwood Trail marathon is self described as scenic & fast.  Good for road and trail runners, experienced and beginners alike. I’ve ran a lot of road races, plus my fair share of trail races.  So I feel well versed and able to give a realistic point of view.  Scenic, yes, in spots.  It’s a beautiful run thru the woods.  This race, unlike others I have ran, consisted of a lot of rock based trails.  Most trail runs are on dirt trails.  Wildwood has a lot of rock.  Not to make this too simple but the bluffs are made of rock.   The dirt wears away & only rock is left in spots.  Second pic below shows it well.  That looks like a well worn dirt trail, right?  No.  Its solid rock.  Somewhat smooth surface in some spots.  Jagged rocks sticking out in other spots.  Pics below are from the Bluff View Trail.

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The race started at a school, right off the Hamilton-Carr paved trail.  Then we hit a crushed stone & dirt type trail called the Al Foster Memorial Trail.  This lead us to the first detour, the Bluff View Trail which was about 2 miles into the race.  That’s where things started to get interesting.  The trail (seen above) was 2.5 miles of single track, some slanted to one side or the other, winding up the Bluff for an awesome lookout.  The Bluff View Trail provided some of the most scenic views of the day to the Crescent Valley below.

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After climbing the Bluff Trail, we made a small loop & returned the same way we went up. I must say that after staring at the course map for days, I really didn’t understand it.  But thankfully, the race was marked very well and there was never a question as to where we were headed.  Course map below.  One note, it would have been super helpful if the course map had mile markers.  For those of us unfamiliar with the area, we never really knew where we were at any given moment.  I had the map in my head but as you are climbing, climbing, climbing and maneuvering the switchbacks, everything is very focused.  It would have been great to know that I just had to manage the climb/terrain until mile x, then I would get some relief. 

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December can be tricky but we had a beautiful day with the sun shining on us.  Made me happy.

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Dry trails.  Leaves cushioning the rock.  And a few breathtaking views.  After the Bluff Trail, we hit the Rock Hollow Trail with the infamous Zombie Heights.  This was by far the toughest section (on the map it’s the tall section of zig zags, middle of the map) and I was zombie like, just watching the ground and trying to navigate the terrain.  Rock, switchbacks, lots of technical sections, all on a single track of rock and/or dirt.  We spent a lot of time hiking in this section for safety reasons.  My legs felt good but I can only go as fast as I feel safe.  I’m not a super coordinated person.  I’m not exactly clumsy but I do try to be careful.  So we saw a lot of 20  minute miles in this section.  Took forever to get thru it.  This was approximately mile 6 through 14.  Pics below of this section show the varied terrain.

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After Rock Hollow and Zombie Heights, we had a nice flat section back on the Al Foster Memorial Trail heading to Sherman Beach.  Easy terrain.  Well packed.  Fast section. 

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Sherman Beach was a hot spot.  By the time we got there, a lot were already headed back to the finish.  Lucky them.  But this was an important area.  First, the only port-o-potty on course was here. It was also the 3rd & 4th aid station.  And this is where the cut-off happened.  Once passing thru the Sherman Beach aid station (mile 15.5ish), there was a 7.5 mile loop.  We had to be back to that aid station by 2:30pm or we wouldn’t be allowed to finish.  Technically we had plenty of time.  But if we ran into a section of 20 min miles, then the cutoff was in jeopardy.  I must say this is the first time I ever really thought about a cutoff (in any race) and it was stressful! 

Leaving Sherman Beach we had a short section of flat, well groomed trails.  Then we hit the tunnels.  Concrete, manmade tunnels.  I had to bend over and walk thru them, they were short in height and long in length.  A volunteer on a bike told us that he would see us in 2 miles, once we hit the tunnels.  Must say this might have been the longest 2 miles of my life.  The tunnels lead to the Cedar Bluff Trail.  Obviously a short 2 mile jaunt.  Not as technical as the Zombie Heights but we had to be on our toes. And we were apparently rushing because of the cutoff.  Both my run partner & myself fell in this section.  Hard.  Blood & bruises the result. 

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Once we were back to the tunnels, things got much better.  We hit a network of trails by the Meramec River.  These trails consisted of dirt & sand.  Well groomed.  Lots of people riding bikes, walking dogs & hanging out.

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And then eventually the Stinging Nettle trail which was a sand trail taking us back to the 4th aid station at Sherman Beach.  Well AHEAD of the cutoff.  Smile   Tamyra below on the Stinging Nettle trail.

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After Sherman Beach, there was an easy, flat run back to the finish on the Al Foster & Hamilton Carr trails.  Photographer caught us in this section.  Yep, I’m dirty.  I fell down somewhere along Cedar Bluff.

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This marathon was approximately 25.77 miles.  If you are a 50 States Marathon Club runner who is trying to run all the states, don’t use this one for Missouri or you’ll be short & it won’t count.  Trail runs are always questionable in distance since you go where the terrain takes you.  Very normal. 

So, was this race scenic & fast?  Yes. Obviously scenic.  But its also one of the faster trail marathons that I’ve ran thanks to several flat sections where you can run faster.  Good for beginners & experienced runners alike?  Maybe.  The flat sections help a lot.  But there was a lot of technical spots too.  Anyone can do it.  But they really have to be invested in it.  So yes, good for anyone as long as they are committed & ready to go the distance no matter what the trails present.

Overall, great race.  Great volunteers.  Only 4 aid stations.  Stocked with trail running basics:  Coca Cola, Ginger Ale, peanut M&Ms, cookies, pretzels, oranges, pickles, electrolytes, Hammer gels.  Water & Heed (a Hammer product).   This was a cup free event so everyone needed a handheld, water bottles or collapsible cups to utilize the fluids on course. 

Small event.  I had read before race day that there were 209 entrants.  Not exactly how the results panned out.  I’m not sure if everyone was listed but they show 89 finishers.  I was #81 (6 hrs 30 min).   3 DNFs.  8 DNS. Winning male:  2:52.  Winning female:  3:44.  So it was apparently a fast race for some.  Smile Cutoff was 8 hours.  Last finisher was 7 hrs 51 min.

SWAG:  Beanie, Hammer gels, Hammer Endurolytes, sample pack of Biofreeze, finishers medal & FREE race photos.

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That’s a wrap on this marathon!  If your interested in trail running, I’ll link to some of my other trail runs below.  The hardest I’ve done so far is the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon in Duluth, MN.  That race is the warm up for the Minnesota Voyageur 50 miler.  God help those 50 milers.  They are tougher than me!  My second hardest trail marathon was the Dances with Dirt Devil’s Lake Trail Marathon in Baraboo, WI.  Easiest trail run/ultra was the Lakefront 50K in Chicago.  If you  need a fast 50K time, go to Chicago.  Race is on a paved path along Lake MI.  Fun.  Easy. 

Trail Race Reviews (minus the 2014 Huff 50K, which apparently I didn’t write up?!?):

Next up the 2017 Huff 50K on 12/30.  Then I rest. 

Happy Running, all!  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon – 2017 Edition

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This was my 4th time running the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  I ran the inaugural race in 2008, then also 2015, 2016, & 2017.  This is somewhat counterproductive to my goal of running a marathon in every state; however, Indy provides a race that is worth repeating.  Plus, Aby is at the age where she likes to run this race with her friends, after Cross Country season, so I go because it’s a huge affair between my friends & Aby’s.  In my world running is about fun.  I try not to have such a singular focus on a long term goal that I forget the core reason for my running.  So I’ll probably run Indy at least one more time, next year.  Aby is a senior next year and who knows where the world will take her after that.  If she wants to go back to Indy, we’ll be there. 

Expo was easy and fast, although crowded in the early evening.  We were in and out pretty quickly.  There were lines to verify the timing chips and lines to get pre-ordered race items, but otherwise pretty smooth.  Lots of vendors.  Everything looked busy but everyone seemed to be in a good mood.  Outside the expo the city was bustling and Indy really shines at night.  View from our hotel. 

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The race didn’t’ start until 8am on Saturday morning.  This was sleeping in for me!  The hotels surrounding the Capitol Building are within a 5 minute walk.  We stayed inside until 7:30, then walked over to greet friends & get ready to run. 

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A few things about 2017 that were different from previous years.  One, it was the last year of a 4 year medal series.  The race sold medal holders to include the medals for all 4 years, then there was a special star that 4 year runners picked up at the finish.  I was missing 2014, no star for me.  But it was cool.  And Indy has just announced that they will be starting a new 4 year series next year with a slightly different set-up.  Here is a picture of the display for the 2014-2017 medals from the Indy Monumental Facebook page.

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The second change for 2017 was the implementation of a corral system, in an attempt to ease congestion at the start.  Start below.  Photo courtesy of Gypsy Runner.

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The start was congested.  Not a lot of signage as to where the corrals started & stopped.  I’m guessing the majority of runners had no idea which corral they were in when the race started.  Some races stagger the start to ease congestion,  allowing a slight pause of maybe a couple of minutes between corrals.  This was a rolling start.  No breaks between corrals.  Gun went off, we all started moving.  First mile was slow.  First aid station turned into a total standstill.

The half marathon runners turned off around 7.25 miles.  The majority of the runners do the half, which is common at most races.  I actually like the first part with the half runners because it forces me to go slower than I might if the road were wide open.  Smile   But after they turn off, usually I start pushing the pace.  Indy traditionally has great weather.  This year was no different.  It was in the upper 40s at the start, in the 50s with a breeze when we finished. No sun.  Perfect conditions for a great race.  Indy is usually one of my fastest races of the year, this year it was my fastest.  It’s the weather and the flat course that helps me out each year.  Makes it easy to keep coming back, right? 

Lots of aid stations.  Donuts, beer shots, pretzels, cliff gels, bananas, orange slices.  Indy takes care of their runners.  Course is flat with a few slight inclines.  Lots of volunteers and police to help keep everyone on course.  I do think they changed the course slightly this year.  I don’t know that for a fact but there were a few times that I felt the course was different or we were running in a different direction than we had in years past. 

Not a lot of pictures.  I had been sick earlier in the week and wasn’t feeling awesome during the race.  I was just following my friends, Julie M & Amy (Gypsy Runner) and just ran all the way to the finish with those lovely ladies.  Yes, I let them pull me the majority of the race.  Sometimes we feel good.  Sometimes we don’t.  Gotta roll with whatever the day brings.  And it brought me a finish in 4:24 with 2 great friends by my side.  #Thankful

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That’s it for the 2017 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  SWAG below. Side panel of shirt in the last pic.

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By the numbers.  The race just seemed so much larger this year!  Maybe because I wasn’t feeling great.  Maybe because there were 3 of us running together.  Maybe because the roads weren’t in great shape this year and I was floating around a lot.  But here are the stats.  In 2016 there were 4237 marathon finishers, 4679 this year.  In 2016 there were 8154 half marathon finishers, 7972 this year.  In 2016 there were 2762 5K runners, 2727 this year.  So the only race that showed a significant increase in numbers was the marathon distance.  But only 400 more runners.  Not a huge increase.  I think I just felt “off” and was more protective of my personal space this year.  Smile  Regardless, I love the race & I plan to run again in 2018.

2008 race report HERE.  You’ll find more of an insight into the emotional aspect of my second marathon rather than a review of the race.  Oldie but goodie. 

2015 report HERE.  2016 report HERE.

This was my 46th lifetime marathon if you’re counting.

** Happy Running, All ** Amanda – TooTall Fritz

Atlantic City Marathon, Atlantic City, NJ

The Atlantic City Marathon in New Jersey was Day 2.  The second marathon for our double marathon weekend.  2 Marathons.  2 Days.  2 States.  Totally normal, right?  Maybe not, but this was an easy double if you ever want to try one.  We picked Atlantic City because it was a short 2 hour drive from Dover, DE where we ran the Monster Mash Marathon the day previous.  The drive was so short that we even detoured thru Philadelphia to fulfill a childhood fantasy of running up the Art Museum steps like Rocky Balboa!  Super exciting.  Then hey, stopped over to see the Liberty Bell too!

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Some people thought we were crazy for actually running up the steps.  It was fun!  There were only 72 steps and it probably loosened us up after running the Monster Mash Marathon!  Good news, we weren’t the only crazy people, some even had the Rocky Theme song playing.  Obviously, we weren’t too serious about this double.  Its not our first.  We just go, run, have fun and keep things light.  As for the steps, had to do it.  Who knows if I’ll ever get that close to Philadelphia again.  No regrets, right?  I would have regretted not running up those steps!

On to Atlantic City.  Packet pickup was at Ballys.  We parked in the garage.  Posted parking fee was $22; however, they reduced the fee for runners to $5.  Thank you!!  Small expo.  Easy in and out once we figured out where to go inside the hotel/casino.  Dinner in the hotel/casino.  Checked into our hotel by 8pm.  Tip:  We stayed at the Sheraton by the Convention Center.  It was about a 10 min walk to/from the race start/finish.  No smoke. No gambling.  No hoopla.  Less $$.

Race started at 8am so we got to see the sun come up while we were waiting to start.  It was steamy.  Humid.  Warm.

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As we awaited the race start, it was different than most races I’ve ran.  There was a start line and a gated corral.  The pacers were inside the corral.  Alone.  We were all crowded outside the corral wondering what was going on and when they would open the gates.  They opened the gates right at 8am.  It was a mad rush for some to get in where they wanted to be, others were climbing over the fence. Most just lined up as they entered the corral.  Somewhat chaotic.  Not an issue for us since we were planning a leisurely race but I certainly see that it could have been an issue for some.  Eventually, we were all in and ready to run. 

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We started the race heading north on the Boardwalk for a short distance, then a quick left on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, then a quick left on Bachrach Boulevard.  Mile one.  Decent sized race.  Some spectators.  Decent Streets.  Views of the water at every glance.  First the Atlantic, then various bays & channels.  So many that it was hard to keep up with which body of water we were crossing and/or passing at any given time.  Foggy morning due to the heat and humidity but not so hot that we were miserable.  Just warmer than most prefer. But it was beautiful.

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Soon we entered a long tunnel.  There were lights so it wasn’t dark.   Runners were whooping and yelling to hear themselves in the tunnel.  Kinda cool.   Thru some neighborhoods, up a couple highway ramps, then back to the Boardwalk, this time heading south around mile 7.75, passing the strip of casinos. 

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Aid stations were spaced about every 1.5 miles.  Lots of volunteers.  Police.  Bicycle escorts for the winners.  Well marked course with plenty of course marshals enthusiastically directing runners. 

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We ran south on the Boardwalk til approximately mile 13, then turned off heading South for an out and back on Atlantic Avenue.  Busier road on the inner side of the Casinos.  Sloped because we were running on the side.  Lots of shops and restaurants and beautiful homes.  Took Atlantic Ave until it ended in Longport at the Great Egg Harbor.  Awesome aid station in that area that had mini Swedish Fish.  Yes! 

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What I can’t stress enough about this race are the water views.  Even when we were running in neighborhoods down seemingly normal streets.  If you look to either side at a cross street, you’ll see water.  I enjoyed it.  Not beach front running per say but the area is surrounded by water.  Atlantic Ocean to the left in the pic below.

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Beautiful homes, buildings, churches.

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Thru the streets and neighborhoods until mile 23 when we hit the Northbound Boardwalk to finish the race.  Start and finish were both in front of Ballys.  By the end, I didn’t love running on the Boardwalk.  Softer surface, yes.  But the lines of the various boards made my dizzy.  I tend to put my head down and “just run” when I’ve had enough.  And yes, I was ready to be done by mile 22 and in the head down mode.  Once I hit the Boardwalk, too many lines.  Too much motion.  Too much heat.  And I was “almost” tired.  We had more traffic on the Boardwalk to dodge since more people were out and about.  I was happy to finally see the finish!

Great after party.  I saw lots of beer flowing if you like a beer post race.  There was a band.  Gender specific, long sleeve tech shirt!  My favorite!!  Great medal. 

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Good race.  More runners thank the day previous but still small.  832 half marathon finishers.  609 marathon finishers.  Flat other than a few bridges.  Good double with Monster Mash because both were flat and not to physically taxing, other than the mileage.  Bling from both days is below.

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Next Up, Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 4th.  My 4th appearance at this event.  Its definitely one of my favorites.  Crossing my fingers for cool, crisp weather and a fast race!

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

Monster Mash Marathon – Dover, DE

I’ve been recovering this week after coming off a big weekend.  2 marathons.  2 states.  2 days.  Plus maybe a side trip thru Philly to run up the steps of the Art Museum and relive the glory days of Rocky Balboa.  Maybe.  Just maybe.  Smile   Anyhow, back to the marathons!  First up, the Monster Mash Marathon in Dover, Delaware.  Start and finish is at the Dover International Speedway way.  If you are a NASCAR fan, then no other explanation is needed.  If not, this monster seems to be track mascot.

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I used to be a bit of a NASCAR fan but that ended with the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr.  Therefore, I didn’t know about the monster, or that it was the mascot.  I didn’t know that this was a short track.  1 mile.  Shorter than a lot of NASCAR tracks on the circuit.  I sign up to run races based upon what fits my schedule.  As a result, not a lot of research goes into each race.  That’s part of the fun for me, the surprise of a new race, new course, new town, new state.  Fun!

We arrived at the track on Friday evening to grab our packets. Packet pick up was fast & easy.  Free parking.  Less than a 100m walk to the tent.  Halloween Candy scattered throughout the tent for snacking.  We were in and out in less than 10 minutes & that’s with Julie talking to a lady about her doodle puppy.  Julie loves her doodles!

Our hotel was a couple miles away.  Comfort Inn Suites.  Awesome beds that were so comfy!  Then back to the track for race day on Saturday morning.  Unlike big marathons, you can arrive within 30 minutes of the start for this race.  You can pick up your packet race morning, if you like.  And you can use the indoor bathrooms at the track before you hit the start line on the race track by pit row.

I liked that the start was on the race track.  Kinda cool.  Very sloped though.  I definitely don’t envy the NASCAR drivers who have to get up to such high speeds on this steep and short track!

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One lap around the track = 1 mile & we were off to tour Dover and the surrounding areas.  My favorite part of the course came early as we passed thru the Government buildings around Legislative Avenue, mile 3.5 to 4.5.

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Aid stations were very frequent, especially in the first half of the course.  Hammer gels were offered.  Water. Gatorade.  I’ve never seen as many gel stations on course than at this race.  Very impressive.

We ran a lot of country roads.  But they either let us run the entire road, or had cones separating us from vehicular traffic.  We had plenty of room and cars were not too much of an issue.  We did have one motorcyclist yell at us to get over but for the most part there was very little traffic and everyone seemed to be in good spirits throughout the race.  Course wasn’t super exciting.  But it was flat.  Well marked.  Volunteers and aid stations were plentiful.  If you were in need of a bathroom, those were harder to find but probably spaced every 5ish miles or so.

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Overall a good race.  I was pretty excited about it coming in as I had heard positive things.  However, I wasn’t feeling great at this race, so my experience was not amazing. No fault of the organizers.  Loved the race shirt & the medal!  Plus they gave us a buff and magnet.  Nice theme.  Some people dressed up for the holiday.  Overall, small race so not a lot of people.  177 marathon finishers.  237 half marathon finishers.  If you need spectator support and big crowds, this isn’t the race for you.  If you just want to run without a lot of hassle, then you’ll love this one.

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State #26 – Delaware – DONE

Next up, the Atlantic City Marathon race review!

** Happy Running** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Ironman Louisville – Volunteering & Spectating Tips

This year, I did my first volunteering & spectating stint at Ironman Louisville.  This is the closest full IM event to my home.  I wanted to go, take it all in and support a few friends who would be out on course.  Since the goal was to volunteer & spectate, I got up early to volunteer as a swim pointer.  My shift was from 5a to approximately 8:30a. 

Welcome to Ironman Village before the sun comes up!

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The swim pointers were ready to receive athletes when they arrived, get them lined up & help them with whatever they needed.  We were also instructed to keep the lines tight and orderly.

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To be honest, I was surprised how early some athletes go to the swim start.  Transition did not close until 6:45am.  Race start was 7:30am.  There was a 15-20 minute walk from transition to the swim area.  We had people lining up for the swim, right after 5a.  As a triathlete myself, who is not a super fast swimmer, I’d have been walking out of transition about 6:45 to head to the swim start.  Apparently, I’m in the minority.  These athletes were on it and ready to rock & roll! 

There was a nervous energy in the air.  Most people were ready to go; however, a few had small issues like lost swim caps, questions about where to put glasses & morning bags.  But overall, the athletes were prepared, respectful of the area and I was super impressed that they didn’t leave behind a bunch of garbage for us to clean up.  Best athletes ever!

The Pros took off at 7:20.  Age groupers soon to follow at 7:30 in a self seeded rolling start.  Easy.  Smooth.  Everyone was in the water before we knew it.  We cleaned up.  Then headed back to transition, walking along the river (pic below) to see our athletes head out on the bike.  If you want to volunteer and not miss much of your athlete’s day, the swim pointer position is great!

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Back at transition the Pros were heading out and we made it in time to see the first of the age groupers.  Fast swimmers!

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After our athletes left on the bike, we headed to the car to find a spot to see them on the bike.  If you are looking for a great place to park for the Great Lawn transition area, look around Floyd Street.  Find a spot, walk toward the water & you’ll run right into transition after crossing Witherspoon Street!

Since we were parked on N Floyd Street, we had easy in and out.  No issues with race traffic.  We were close to the expressways and didn’t have to cross the path of the bike or the run. Winning!

Prior to the race, I did a little research and learned that most who spectate the bike go to Lagrange.  But I also learned that the area is congested & on a downhill section of the course where it is particularly difficult to see athletes as they zoom past at high speeds.  Several users from the Slowtwitch forums suggested driving out and finding a spot along the route before Lagrange.  So that was the plan.  A loose one.  We took 71 North out of Louisville heading toward the intersection of KY 393 & KY 146.  I missed Exit #17 for KY 146.  Took the next one, Exit #18 for KY 393, toward Buckner.  And dumb luck put us in the perfect spot with a Park & TARC parking area on the corner of Commerce Parkway & 393.  We used the parking lot & hiked it up the hill to the corner of 393 & 146.  Not crowded.  Easy to spot athletes because they just turned from 393 onto 146 and they weren’t at full speed quite yet.  Great spot.  See my yellow highlighted arrow below to see about where we ended up.  Bonus, there was a gas station on the corner of 393 & 146 in case anyone needs a potty or snack break.  Smile 

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We stayed in this location to see our athletes on both loops of the bike.  Everyone was having a good time.  Darla E & Beth P taking a selfie below.  Clint P photo bombing.  Random Ironman athletes in the background. 

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After seeing our athletes a couple times, we headed back to town for lunch.  Parked on N Floyd again.  Walked straight down to Witherspoon & watched the athletes coming into T2 from the bike.  Once they came in, we walked over to Run Out.  Saw them again.  Then we headed out to the run course.  Lots of spots to see the runners within walking distance of transition.  However, the majority of the spectators go to the finish area on 4th Street.  The finish area is also the beginning of loop 2 for the run.  So cruel, right?  Yep.  Welcome to Ironman.  Anyhow, lots happening at the finish area.  Food.  Drinks.  Starbucks.  Need I say more?  You can cheer for the Pros coming in on 4th Street, as well as the athletes going out on their second run loop as the turn onto Muhammad Ali Blvd. 

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Great day at Ironman Louisville 2017!  Thanks to Sara & Clint P for making the trip down with me. 

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Thanks to Darla E for some of the photos that you see above.  As always, Ironman delivers a great day whether your racing, volunteering or spectating.  Its worth the trip.  And in case your wondering, we logged over 24 miles spectating.  Not for the faint of heart.  Probably the best tip I can give, wear real shoes.  You’ll thank me later.  Smile 

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **