Ironman Arizona – 2019

Its been a long year of training, with very little racing.  The road to an Ironman finish line is long, lonely and not always fun.  It takes a lot of work. 2019 brought me 2 Ironman finishes.  Texas in April and Arizona on November 24th.

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If you know me well, you know that my preferred method of transportation is driving.  We even drove to TX and that was 18 hours.  Why do I prefer to drive?  Its easier.  Less “hurry up & wait”; I’m impatient.  Plus, I have a giant, rolling cooler on wheels, that carries all the food that I want.  And nobody worries that my chocolate protein powder might be a harmful substance that needs to be swabbed and tested and opened to all the airport germs.  However, for AZ, we had to fly.  This meant paring down our gear to exactly what we needed.  Sending our bikes ahead via TriBike Transport.  Then renting a van when we got to AZ so that we could then move the bikes. Giant PITA, expensive, but necessary because it would have been a 26 hour drive to Tempe, AZ from the Ft Wayne, IN area.  And that’s a lot, even for me.

Travel Flew into AZ on Thursday night.  Race was on Sunday.  Straight to Whole Foods and the VRBO that we rented.  I found a 2 bed, 1 bath house for $560 (THUR-MON).  Full kitchen.  Full sized washer/dryer.  Pool. 

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The van rental was $420ish.  TriBike Transport was $360.  We didn’t spend much $$ eating out, or on other things, but its not a cheap race when you need to fly, rent a car & send your bike.  Just an FYI, if you are considering something like this and have budgetary concerns, like myself.

Expo, Shake Out Ride/Swim/Run – Friday morning, we went straight to the expo and were waiting on TriBike Transport to open.  We were 3rd in line, so very little wait.  They quickly found our bikes, put on our pedals (you need to send your bike without pedals, and then bring the pedals to be reattached upon pickup) and we were off on a shakeout ride.  We did notice that the line for TriBike Transport was long throughout the day, so go early if you don’t like to wait.

Saw Mike Reilly and got a few photos pre ride.  Apparently we we were even on the local news, as they were interviewing Mike when we stepped in for a few photos.  Smile  Nicole C, Mike, Julie M & Me.  Then part of Julie’s Endure It group, with Mike standing in the middle. 

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After the photos with Mike, we did a short shake out ride.  Beautiful area.  My legs felt fresh.  Definitely wanted to go further but we kept it short and sweet.  I was looking forward to seeing more of the Tempe/Phoenix/Scottsdale area on the bike course.

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Expo & packet pick up was smooth & quick.  Very efficient. Probably the quickest we have ever picked up a packet for a full Ironman race!!

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Saturday – Early morning practice swim with the TriDot Training crew.  Water was a crisp 64 degrees.  Water quality was in question but I was trying not to think about that.  Lots of debris & dead fish!!  Note to self, take a few Pepto tabs upon exiting the water!

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As we were waiting in line to get in the water, Heather D., a TriDot coach walked with us.  Talked about the water temp.  Told us to take a breath every stroke, for several buoys, to get acclimated to the temp and expel as much CO2 as possible.  She also told us about the current and to relax as we would swim against the current for part of the swim.  More info, then I have ever received from anyone, and that was in less than a 30 second time period.  I am a TriDot athlete & Ambassador.  I love TriDot and its program.  I love the variety of levels & price points so everyone can pick the plan that best fits their budget and lifestyle.  But what I love most is that TriDot helps EVERYONE, whether you are one of their athletes or not.  I had several people come up to me on course and thank me for how wonderful the TriDot coaches were to them, on site, throughout the weekend.  Very impressive. Thank YOU, TriDot!!

After the swim, I did a quick shake out run.  Then we waited in a LONG line to check our bikes & gear bags. 

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Then back to the house to sit, eat, drink and wait for race day!

Race Day – My Race

We were a bit behind on race day.  We have a routine, which started well.  Then I forgot our pre-race food/fuel and we had to turn around to go back to the house.   Then the line to the parking area was LONG.  We had enough time but I’m glad this wasn’t our first Ironman because we certainly needed to be focused, not stress, hit the bathroom, get our bikes ready, drop our morning bag and get to the swim start without any extra time to dawdle.  Crappy photo on our way to the swim start.

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Swim (2.4 miles) – Not only did we not have extra time but the swim area was very congested.  It was hard to even get where you wanted to go.  I eventually just got in line and ended up between 1:10 & 1:20. I thought I’d swim about 1:15-1:18.  I swam a 1:22.  Race started just as the sun was coming up.

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We initially swam away from transition, against the current, under a bridge, across the lake/river, then had a long stretch on the return which was supposed to be with the current.  Water was choppy from high winds.  I never did  feel a current pushing me on the backside.  The swim took a lot more effort than usual.  Especially crossing the lake/river and going under the bridges.  It kinda felt like there was a swirling current under the bridges.  We swam under 4 bridges.  Quite an interesting swim.  Took a little more energy than normal, plus took me longer than I anticipated but I didn’t hand over any mental energy, rather “just kept swimming”.  The Swim OUT finally arrived.  Volunteers were in the water, grabbed my hand, hauled me out.  Up the ramp.  Wetsuit stripped, then there was about a 1/2 mile run to T1.  Air was cool, about 48 degrees, but I wasn’t cold.  Just thankful to be out of the water, safely.

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Bike (112 miles) – Three loop bike.  Headwind on the way out, which was approximately 19 miles.  Tailwind on the return.  3x.  I’m not a huge fan of 3 loops of anything but the way the course was situated with the headwind and a climb at the end of the “out”, I wouldn’t have wanted to fight that wind much further, so was thankful each time to be turning and hitting a downhill with a tailwind. 

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I took it easy on the first loop.  Trying to focus on calories and not over extending myself, knowing it was going to be a long day.  Then I tried to pick it up a little on the 2nd loop.  By the 3rd loop, I was ready to be DONE.  And I had some issues with abdominal cramping (menstrual, not nutrition) and was struggling to stay tucked into aero with the cramping, which is less than ideal with a crazy head & tailwind.  I’ll spare you the details but it wasn’t pleasant and T2 was a very welcome site.  About 1500 feet of climbing.  Took me 6 hrs and 51 minutes.  Temp was 74 when I got off the bike.  I had anticipated 6:45ish for a bike split so wasn’t far off, considering.

Run (26.2 miles) – Glad to be on my own 2 feet!  Its no secret that the run is my favorite.  I feel so much more in control.  I’m a runner.  This was my 56th marathon!!!  And Arizona was my 33rd state in a quest to run a marathon in all 50 states. 

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Coming out of T2, I was still struggling with the cramping and well, the cramping leads to GI distress even though my nutrition was solid.  I took some ibuprofen, which is definitely not ideal in endurance racing.  Horrible for your kidneys but I was not doing well.  Also took an Imodium for the GI issues.  Hit the bathroom.  Dumped some ice down my shorts to ice my abdomen. Said a prayer.  And around mile 4, I realized that I was doing okay.  I started to run and didn’t stop moving until I hit the finish line.  I ran with a smile on my face.  Thankful.  I was happy.  The highs and lows of endurance racing.  If you don’t like how you feel, just wait, it will change.  Just keep moving forward!!

5:01 marathon.  Yes, I thought I would run faster.  But I didn’t.  I did a mental check with myself several times, “Can you go faster?  No.  Okay, then just keep moving at this pace.”  You gotta know yourself and be reasonable when you are looking at an all day event. You have to be compassionate and grateful for what your body can do.  Don’t stress about time or your race will just fall apart.  Just keep moving forward and try to find the joy. 

I will say that this run course was excellent.  I really enjoyed it.  The first loop was in the daylight as the sun was going down.  Second loop was in the dark.  However, the course was mostly along the water with lit trails or sidewalks.  Variety of surfaces from concrete, pavement, crushed gravel & roads.  Lights shining on the water from the lit buildings in the downtown area.  It was beautiful; I wish I had my phone to grab some pictures.  Some spectators.  Bridges across the water for those spectators who wanted to run back and forth to see their people.  Much less congested with the 2 loop course vs TX that had 3 loops and a million spectators spilling out onto the run course, slowing traffic.  I really enjoyed it. 

Finish – 13:27.  I was 13:26 in TX.  I didn’t have a watch, so I didn’t know my time before I finished and looked at the tracker.  Could  I have found another minute somewhere?  I really don’t think so.  I gave what I had to give on this course.  Its said to be flat and fast.  Probably was for a lot of people.  Each race has its own set of issues, which can be the course, weather, your body, or other issues, like mechanicals on the bike.  I felt lucky.  This was a clean race for me, other than my cramping, I felt good the entire time.  My nutrition is locked in and good.  And the weather was perfect.  Great day in Arizona! 

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Third Ironman!!  Lake Placid, TX & now AZ.  Lake Placid has been my favorite thus far. Can’t compete with the beauty of Lake Placid and that clean, crisp, clear water.  We are headed to Ironman Maryland in September 2020.  Then hoping to get into Ironman Coeur d’Alene for 2021.  Hopefully we can run some marathons along the way too.

Happy Running & Racing – Amanda – TooTallFritz

Super Marathon–Snoqualmie Pass, WA

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The Super Marathon in Snoqualmie Pass, Washington was the marathon we picked to follow up Mt Hood.  The race date was June 30, 2019.  Small race that is part of the Cascade Super Series in the Cascade Mountains.   Race day packet pick up.  Easy parking at the start line.  Point to point downhill marathon that passes thru the famed Snoqualmie Tunnel.  Julie, Me & Judy at the start.  LOVE these ladies!!!

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Another downhill, marathon?  Yes.  This was the closest event we could find in proximity to the Revel Mt Hood race.  We try to get a good bang for our buck when we have to fly, or travel further away from the Midwest.  We were SUPER sore for the Mt Hood marathon, which had an elevation drop of 5600-5800 feet, depending on who you ask.  But this event only had a net drop of 1500 feet.  Very gradual and to be honest, it didn’t feel like a downhill race.  At least not, like Mt Hood. 

Race started at the Hyak trailhead at Iron Horse State Park.  Majority of the race is on the Iron Horse Trail, finishing on the John Wayne Trail at the Cedar Falls Trailhead of the Cascades State Park. 

The first 5 miles were flat, an out and back past Keechelus Lake.  Breathtaking views.  

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The course was on a packed gravel trail.  Not super rough, but big enough rocks that I would have preferred trail shoes instead of road shoes.  My feet are wimpy!

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Very low key race but plenty of support and there was never a question as to direction on course.  Aid stations every 1.5 to 2 miles.  Potties, gels, water, Gatorade & other items. 

At mile 5.2 we entered the famed Snoqualmie Tunnel.  Volunteers gave us little flashlights to navigate the darkness.  This is a 2.4 mile tunnel.  Very dark.  See the progression of our run thru the tunnel as the “light at the end of the tunnel” gets bigger & bigger until we were out. 

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I loved running thru the tunnel but we were careful to take it slow since it was dark.  There were also some wet areas and the surface was uneven.  Lower air temp in the tunnel too, so it was a nice cool section for running.

Speaking of taking things slow.  The entire race was slow for us.  We were seriously damaged from the run down Mt Hood the previous day.  We aren’t new to endurance events.  Or even to doubles.  We have done several double marathons where we run 2 marathons in 2 days.  Judy has even done 3 in 3 days.  And Julie & I have each done 2 Ironman triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run).  But nothing has ever put the hurt on us like Mt Hood.  Normally, on Day 2 of a double, we are tight and slightly stiff but not really sore.  We start running like stiff, little old ladies, but in 4-5 miles we are loose and things go back to normal.  Its not uncommon for us to run faster on Day 2 because we know we don’t have to save anything for another race.  This was not the case for the Super Marathon.  We were sore the entire day.  In fact, it hurt to run.  Not like we were injured but rather our quads and calves were so tight and inflamed from Mt Hood, that it hurt to run.  I couldn’t even take full strides because my full body weight on a foot strike activated my quad muscles and caused piercing pain.  So we did A LOT of walking.  And I mean a lot.  It didn’t hurt to walk.  So well, we walked.   And took pictures.  Enjoy.  Smile

Nice groomed trails.  Lots of shady areas.

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Great views of the Cascade Mountains.

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Lots of bridges & I really love bridges!

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Waterfalls.

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Beautiful Flowers.

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Rock faces along the trail where people were climbing.

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Overall, I really loved this race.  I loved running the trails and there was plenty to see.  I never noticed that it was a net downhill but my quads were so damaged before I started that it may have been more perceptible to those where were fresh. 

This is a very similar course to both the Jack n Jill Marathon and the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon.  The Snoqualmie Tunnel being the main attraction for each.  And the gentle downhill descent which is good for those looking for a PR or BQ.  I personally am not super coordinated, so I’m happy I was able to leisurely run thru the tunnel verses trying to stay on pace to achieve a certain finish time.  And I will note (again) that I would prefer trail shoes verses road shoes for this event.

Great event.  Great swag (not pictured:  water bottle & race bag). 

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And the BEST part of the race was the famous grilled cheese at the end.  No, it wasn’t quite as large as the promo photo.  But there was plenty and it was super tasty. 

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I really loved this race.  I’d definitely go back, if it were a bit closer. Washington was state #32 and marathon #55.  Making progress!  Next up the RAIN Ride from Terre Haute to Richmond, IN on July 20th.  Then Ironman Arizona on November 24th.

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Revel Mt Hood–A Downhill Marathon, Portland, OR

The Revel Race Series is known for scenic, downhill marathons.  Last summer, we registered for Revel Mt Hood in Portland, OR which took place on June 29, 2019.  We had hopes that just maybe, if we were healthy, we’d have a great race and possibly snag a PR or BQ.  No need for suspense, that did not happen.  I’m healthy for the most part.  My concussion or “post concussion” symptoms are mostly gone from the bike crash last September.  I can go long but not fast.  I had some hip issues after IMTX in April that I’ve been working thru and I’m carrying an extra 10#s.    Not complaining, but weight does make a difference when you are trying to run fast. 

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We flew into Portland, OR.  Packet pickup was at the Oregon Convention Center.  Small expo.  Easy in and out.  A few photos at the expo with Julie & Judy below.

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Logistics for this race are definitely more challenging than most.  It’s a point to point race with the marathon starting at the top of Mt Hood at the Timberline Ski Resort and running down the mountain to the Rainbow Trout Farm.  There is a shuttle directly from one of the host hotels to the start for an additional fee; however, most participants drive out to Sandy and take the free shuttle to the start area.  Insider tip:  there are hotels in the Sandy area.  If you have a car and want to cut your travel time on race day, stay in Sandy!!  The area where the host hotel is located isn’t great anyhow and you won’t be missing anything. 

Race starts in waves based on pace.  And the buses to the start also leave in waves.  Be prepared, the temperature drops as you go up the mountain. Have some throw away clothes or extra stuff to wear prerace.  It was in the low 30s when we got to Timberline.

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The descent begins as soon as you get off the bus.  And the views at the top are breathtaking.

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I didn’t see a sign for the percent grade for the first 5 miles.  However, I can say that it was a lot.  And we were all moving pretty quick.  And it was fun!  I did feel the descent pulling me down, I was just hoping that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  Revel offers free photos of the runners, which is nice.  I usually don’t buy pictures of myself running …. cuz they just aren’t cute!  Smile   But this is one of the free photos.

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Initial road down from Timberline was closed to thru traffic, which was nice.  Aid stations were set up every couple miles.  Potties, water, Gatorade, first aid, Deep Blue rub, food & gels. 

Second 5 miles were at a 6% grade.  The views were hidden behind big pines, the race course joined roads with vehicular traffic, and it was starting to get hard.  I’d say miles 1-4 were fun.  Miles 4-8, I noticed things were starting to tighten up.  And by mile 10, I was slowing down and it was actually starting to hurt. 

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The sun came out.  It was warming up as we were heading down, down, down. 

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After mile 15, it started to flatten out, and there we even some inclines in the distance.  By this point, all the people who could handle the terrain were long gone.  My friends were long gone.  I was run/walking but not alone.  Lots of people also struggling.  I tried to enjoy the scenery but really just wanted to be done.  Lots of aches, pains & tightness by this point. I stopped several times and used the Deep Blue rub that was on course.  I was so happy to see the 20 mile sign, but also in disbelief that it was “only” mile 20 and I still had another 6.2 miles!

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As always, the finish line finally arrived.  I was in the pain cave by then.  The race organizers did a great job.  As did the volunteers and support on course.  Finish line festivities included a NormaTec Recovery Boot station.  Donuts & Pizza.  Local Beer.  But ultimately, we were just ready to pack it up and head out.  Since we flew to the Pacific Northwest to grab a new state in our journey to run a marathon in every state, well, you may have guessed it.  We had to pack up and head to Washington to run a marathon the following day. 

SWAG – Revel Race shirt (upcharge for long sleeve or tank top) & Goodr sunglasses.  Marathon Maniac race shirt, luggage tab & extra medal for the Marathon Maniac & Half Fanatic Race Series. 

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Mt Hood was my 54th marathon; Oregon was my 31st state. 

I’ve had some questions on tips on how to train for a downhill marathon.  I wish I had some to give.  This was the hardest marathon I’ve ever done.  The hardest endurance event that I’ve ever done.  The downhill pounding really requires a lot of strength, not only in your legs but also your core.  The recovery has been long.  I’m almost 3 weeks post race and my legs are still heavy.  I’ve had 2 massages.  Done a lot of cycling.  And no running.  My body is just not ready to run.  I’ll try something short this week.  Maybe.  Not really sure how one could adequately prepare for a downhill run of this magnitude without living somewhere with ample elevation for training.  If you figure it out, please let me know!  At this point, we can say we tried a downhill marathon.  It was hard.  Harder than it should have been.  And we probably won’t try anything this steep again.  But only time will tell.

Heading to Washington State next!  In an attempt to see something other than run courses, we did stop at Snoqualmie Falls in Snoqualmie, WA.   Pictures of the falls below.  Race report on day 2, the Super Marathon in Snoqualmie Pass, WA up next!

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

Ironman Texas 2019–The Woodlands

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I’ve been MIA, training for Ironman Texas!  I didn’t really say much about it on social media or even to my friends/family until basically it was time to race.  I told my parents a mere month before it actually happened.  They worry and I was trying to keep Mom’s stress at a minimum.  Smile  As most of you probably know, I’ve been recovering from the bike crash/concussion that occurred in early September 2018 and my training started a bit behind, in comparison to others.  I didn’t know if I was actually going to do the race but started back training and attempting a build at the end of December to try to figure it out.  Thankfully, in December the doc gave me a nerve block to help with the rear occipital lobe pressure headaches (due to my occipital bone pinching/pressing on my occipital nerve) and I was off & running, quite literally within a day or so of the nerve block.  I’m still not 100% but I’m so much better than I was and I just adjusted training accordingly & thankfully my bestie, Julie  M. really helped with the driving and travel to TX to keep my fatigue going into race day as low as possible.  So I should really dedicate this race to Dr. Kidder and Julie for all her help.  Huge thanks to both!

The Woodlands, TX is a beautiful area but its also busy.  Think major suburb of a large city, Houston in this instance.  And its named appropriately because there are quite literally trees and wooded areas everywhere.  Hard to even know what businesses are around because everything is hidden by trees.  That being said, everything was smooth and getting around was easy thanks to Google Maps.  Packet pick up was beside the canal in a parking area.  Hardest part of packet pick up was deciding where to park.  But once we figured that out, we saved that garage location as a favorite on our gps unit and parked there for EVERYTHING.  Plus it was nice because we could walk along the canal, where we would eventually be swimming, to get to the Ironman Village.

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Packet pick up was fast and easy.  No lines.  No weight stations, like we had in Lake Placid where they took our weight and recorded it for medical purposes.  This was both good cuz I’m a little fluffy still from the weight I gained during the post concussion “fun” and also bad because the heat was high and I was concerned that medical might actually need the participants weights due to dehydration issues on race day.  Julie M. and I at Ironman Village. 

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Lots of hotel options around the race site.  If you don’t mind spending the big bucks, you could have stayed at the Westin or Marriott on the canal and avoided the need for a rental car, if you flew into the area.  We had a car (and a budget) so opted for a hotel about 10-15 minutes away, the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Shenandoah (beware –  I’m a Hilton rewards member but opted to book thru Expedia  and they were not pleasant to me at check in, definitely gave preferential treatment to their rewards members and made us wait past check in time for a room while members were being checked in immediately.)  We had a suite with a full sized refrigerator, dishwasher, stovetop, dishes & fireplace which was $600 for 3 nights.  Plus they had nice grills in a common area for guest use.  This enabled us to take our own food, grocery shop, cook, eat, drink and rest without having to eat out and run around more than necessary.  I don’t love eating out before big races because I have a sensitive stomach.  I was feeling good and I wanted to keep it that way.  So we only ate out once, on Thursday for lunch, before the Saturday race.  Huge win for me!!  The room and location was perfect.

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Friday – Practice Swim, Short Run & Bike/Bag Check.  The weather was perfect for hanging out.  We headed to the swim start at Northshore Park on Friday morning for a short swim.  The water looked and felt amazing, even thought we had heard there were possible water “quality” issues, plus it was so much cleaner than the canal!!  Beautiful area for running too, with lots of trails and paths around the park.  So much shade!  We loved the run and couldn’t wait to get out there for the marathon on race day.  Yes, we are sick like that.  Also saw lots of friends, Julie’s Endure It crew, my TriDot people and other friends who were racing. 

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The swim start was about a mile from transition so after the we finished at the park, we drove down to transition to check our bikes and bags.  Once again, we expected long lines and a wait.  Nothing.  We parked.  Walked our bikes/bags to transition.  They check our bracelets to make sure we matched the numbers on our bikes and bags.  They took a photo of our bikes (for security reasons).  We were asked if we needed help.  Then we we were able to rack our bikes.  It was such a process with long lines and big wait times in Lake Placid that we were quite impressed with how quickly and smoothly it went.  We racked our bikes, let quite a bit of air out of our tires so they wouldn’t explode in the heat of the day Friday before we came back on Saturday morning.  Dropped our bags, and left.  Spent the rest of the day hanging out at the hotel and resting/relaxing/hydrating/eating.

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Race Day – My race

Saturday was race day.  We were up bright and early, headed to transition to put nutrition on our bikes, inflate tires to the proper point and take care of last minutes needs before hiking the mile to the swim start.  Everything was smooth.  Everyone was calm.  I was easily able to borrow a pump. Put my tailwind on my bike. FORGOT to put my Nuun tabs in my Tailwind, which I realized when we were checking our morning clothes bag at the swim start.  Thankfully Julie had a ziplock with her stuff.  So I swam with a tube of Nuun (in a ziplock) in my Tri top (under my wetsuit).  That’s another thing … WETSUIT LEGAL!  Yes, just makes the start of my day easier.  Thanks to the Triathlon Gods on that one because I was prepared to swim in my swimskin and it was a pleasant surprise.  

Swim (2.4 miles) – Race started on time.  Pros were off at 6:25 for the men, 6:30 for the women.  Age groupers started with a rolling self seeded start at 6:40am and it seemed smooth and easy getting into the water. I was stress-free and just ready to start.  I had hoped for a fast-ish swim (for me) since it was a single loop but I had heard this was one of the slower Ironman swims.  Course was easily broken down into 1/3s.  1/3 out, 1/3 back, 1/3 thru the canal. See below.  Start is at the top.  Finish at the bottom, furthest point.

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It was slower than I had anticipated.  But I also didn’t anticipate my goggles not sealing.  I stopped numerous times (5-6) to dump water out of my goggles and attempt to reseal them but it didn’t work.  I contemplated taking them off all together but didn’t think that would be a better.  Ultimately, I just kept swimming with limited vision and dirty water clouding my eyes.  I was sighting the bright green swim caps around me vs attempting to really “see” anything.  Progress was slow.  It took me awhile to get into a rhythm and I never felt completely comfortable with the vision issue.  I was VERY thankful to have a wetsuit at that point since I was stopping on and off to clear water from my goggles, which was absolutely pointless because they immediately filled back up with lake water. 

The course was crowded and never really thinned out the way that I had thought it would.  Sun was in our eyes on the back side of the course and particularly when we were turning into the channel leading to the canal.  Plus it really bottled up going into the canal and I was just locked into place where I was, not able to really pass anyone or speed up toward the finish.  We were all just “in line“ basically trying to get out of the water.  Eventually, a couple volunteers just reached down and pulled me out of the water.  My vision was very blurred by that point from the water, my left eye was covered with some sort of film and I was disoriented.  Thankfully volunteers pointed me to the wetsuit strippers and those ladies literally got me out of my wetsuit, I didn’t even have it unzipped since I was disoriented.  Good times!  But onto T1. 

Photos of the swim courtesy of the Ironman Texas Facebook page:

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Transition –  All the bags were lined up, in order, on the ground, in a concrete area.  We ran thru, grabbed our bags & went to the changing tent.  Super easy. Changing tent volunteers were super helpful, sprayed me with sunscreen, picked up all my swim stuff & rebagged it for me.  I left them with my bag & was off to find my bike.  I pulled out my Nuun canister, emptied the tabs into my hand, tossed the canister into a garbage can, all without missing a beat.  Found my bike, added Nuun to the Tailwind already on the bike, and I was off ….. with slightly blurred vision but it was already improving.

Bike (112 miles) – Lots of turns getting out of the area but eventually we were funneled onto the Hardy Toll Road for the majority of the bike.  This is labeled as a fast & flat course; however, there are several bridges that we climbed and descended numerous times.  On the IMTX Facebook page, I heard that there were 18 bridges that we climbed/descended.  I didn’t count but there were quite a few.

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Flat & fast?  Well, not totally flat with the bridges but it had the potential to be fast.  Apparently the course was short last year but that was corrected this year so we had a full 112 miles.  Once on the Hardy, it was a straight out (21ish miles) and back, 2x.  The “out” was into the wind and slow going.  The back was with the wind and fast.  In addition to fighting the wind on the first “out”, I was also fighting some serious nausea.  I should have been down in aero to fight the wind better but I was seriously ill and when I was down in aero, I was in the perfect position to “toss my cookies”.  I knew that was not in my best interest because the heat was quickly rising.  So I was upright, chewing pepto tabs like candy and holding in the nutrition that I had already put into my body.  I hit the turnaround, the nausea was gone, I had the wind at my back and I gave some serious thanks to the universe.  I stayed in high Zone 2 and even crept into Z3 as the wind quickly pushed me to the turnaround. 

Then back into the wind and that’s when the fun began.  I was in good spirits because I knew I only had to go 21ish miles and I could get an aided ride back but ….. I started cramping.  Serious cramping, like the kind that wakes you in the middle off the night and you jump out of bed with a leg or calf cramped up.  Serious.  And this would not go away.  I felt good otherwise so it was frustrating.  I can only assume that due to the heat, I managed to flush my own electrolytes by drinking too much water.  I had a lot of electrolytes in my nutrition but the cramps kept coming.  I stopped 8x for cramping, legs locked up, pulling my bike off the road, attempting to get out of my pedals before I tipped over.  Then I’d rub out my legs, and get started again, hoping that was the end of the cramping.  I also stopped 5 or 6 times at aid stations to get extra fluids & fuel (Gatorade & bananas).  I went thru all my Tailwind/Nuun concoction, used 8 Huma gels and drank 4 of the large Gatorades on course.  I knew I had an electrolyte issue and didn’t want to be ruined for the run.  There were not any salt tabs on the bike course because its not normal to need them out there.  I had salt tabs in my run bag.  I just needed to get back to transition to access them.  The last time my leg locked up at mile 105 and I just prayed to get back to T2.  I finally made it.  So thankful!!!  Grabbed my run bag in transition, headed to the run tent, immediately took 6 salt caps, changed, volunteer took my bag, I ran out.  Transition in Texas was easy.  They have a great set up. 

Photo below from somewhere on the bike course, thankfully not while I was grimacing in pain from leg cramps.

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Run  (26.2 miles) – 3 loop course.  So thankful to be running but it was hot, hot, hot.  A volunteer said it was 87 at one point when I hit an aid station.  Not that I asked, didn’t change my plan to merely survive this darn thing so I could get back home to my kids.  Just keep moving forward, right?

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The run course was full, mostly of athletes walking and spectators were everywhere, spilling out onto the course.  If you like people yelling at cheering for you while you run, then TX may be the Ironman course for you!  Lots of people.  Mostly drunk people, but lots of people.  It was hard to maneuver the course sections along the canal because of all the bodies.  The fast Iron people were done and meandering back to their hotel or car, with their crew of family/friends.  Some spectators were cheering and high fiving and entertaining the runners and crowds alike.  Kids.  Dogs.  Strollers.  Restaurant goers.  Bar patrons.  It was crazy.  But once we got away from the canal, it calmed down and the crowds thinned.  We ran a lot of shaded paths and trails thru the woods.  Those were my favorite parts, the quiet spots, away from the sun and the people.  And lots of room for me to just run.  And run, I did …. but slowly and with stops at every aid station for water, ice, pickles, coke, and chicken broth.  Ironman run aid stations are like a buffet.  Eat, drink, be merry.

Loop 1 was fun.  Loop 2 was long and I was in the nomads land of “am I ever going to finish this thing?”.  Loop 3 was a celebration for a long hard winter of trainer rides and questioning my own sanity.  But as always, if we just keep moving, the finish line finally comes into sight.  So sweet!! 

SWAG:

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Coveted backpack which Michael claimed for school as soon as he saw it:

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So how was it?  I liked it.  Organizers, police and volunteers did an amazing job!  Did I like it better than Ironman Lake Placid?  Hard to get better than Lake Placid.  Although the course is harder at LP because its in the mountains, its undeniably beautiful.  Always something to look at scenery wise in the swim, bike & run.  While I certainly can’t comment on what I “saw”during the TX swim, the bike was pretty blasé on the toll road.  Nothing to see, just keep moving. Wind was a factor which was a bit of an equalizer, in my opinion, for the lack of elevation. The run was entertaining in TX but a 2 loop course suits my personality better and since I’m a runner, I want to run with as little interference as possible.  I liked the TX run course because of the variety and overall, I think the run course was the best part of this particular race.  This would have been a great race for my mom & kids to spectate.  If you want more info on spectating IMTX, please go download the Crushing Iron Podcast #263 where Coach Robbie Bruce from C26 Coaching talks about his experience spectating. 

What You Should Know, If You’re Considering IMTX

  • Hot weather race.
  • Take extra fuel & electrolytes.  Plan to carry extra electrolytes on the bike.
  • If you are from the Northern or Midwestern states, plan to ride your trainer all winter long.  And then you’ll have to ride some more. Plan on IMTX being your first outdoor ride of the season.
  • Expect extra soreness/fatigue in your neck & shoulders from being outside and having to pay attention with your head up for the first time since last fall.
  • Water quality may be questionable (I’ve heard a lot of people got sick).
  • Expect wind on the bike.
  • Easy transitions.
  • Spectator friendly.
  • Great Finishers area, accessible to friends/family/spectators.
  • Easy bike pick up after the race because its possible to navigate around the race course to regain access to transition & the bikes/bags. 

Overall, a great race.  Definitely give it a “TRI” at Ironman Texas!

Next up for me:  1)  Revel Mt Hood Marathon in Portland OR on June 29th.  2)  Super Marathon in Snoqualmie Pass, WA on June 30th. 4) RAIN Ride, Terre Haute to Richmond IN on July 20th and 5) Ironman Arizona on November 24th.

Stats:  Ironman Texas was my 2nd full Ironman, which also included my 53rd marathon.  I’ve ran marathons in 31 states so far.  Texas was not a new state for me but it was for Julie, which is why we went.  Still slowly chipping away at my 50 states goal.  

** Happy Running & Racing  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Charleston Marathon (2019) Race Review

I’ve had the Charleston Marathon on my list for years!  The race always falls on the second Saturday of January.  That’s a popular weekend for many races in the southern states.  Since my long term goal is to run a marathon in every state, I try to pick races that fit into my schedule AND are also in a new state.  I finally made it to Charleston this year to check off South Carolina, my 31st state.

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I was really looking forward to this race.  Charleston is one of my favorite places.  I love the location, the weather, the town and the people.  The city never disappoints and I basically begged my friends to go run the marathon with me because of those reasons.  Thanks, Tamyra & Julie for making the trip with me!

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We rolled into town on Friday for the Saturday (1/12/19) race.  The expo was in downtown Charleston at the Gaillard Center. Easy in/out.  Small expo.  Metered parking.  Cool SWAG.  A long sleeve tech tee, which is about the only type race tee that I actually wear, plus a buff & gloves!  All very useful.

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The race was on Saturday morning at 7:15am.  We stayed in a hotel that was close to the start and were able to walk over.  It was about 40 degrees with a cool breeze.  The start area was at a local high school.  Runners and spectators were able to wait inside & even use the school bathrooms, if they had time.   Race started on time and we began our 26.2 mile tour of the area.  First up, Hampton Park, the Citadel & the Battery (my favorite area).

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Then we turned down King Street, which is known as the art & shopping area.  New and old mixed together.  I loved this old pharmacy sign.

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Once we got thru the shopping district, we headed out of Charleston toward North Charleston.  I’ll be honest, the sightseeing kinda stopped when we left Charleston between mile 7 & 8.  It was a long way up to North Charleston, we did run thru some sort of Government area that allowed us to see some of the swampy areas but it was a lot of time with just us, the road & our fellow runners.  We made fast friends with those around us to pass the time.  There were a couple spots with live entertainment.  Aid stations (and potties) were every 2 miles or so.  Lots of water, Gatorade & GU brand gels.  The volunteers & police support were great.

The skies were overcast most of the day and the temps were 40s to low 50s.  Great weather for those of us who came from the northern states!

Once we got up to Riverfront Park in North Charleston, it was around mile 18. The half marathon runners turned off to finish, the full marathon runners went out and looped North Charleston.  This is the map from my watch, if you want to see the course.

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We could hear the finish line music and fun during a lot of the 8 mile loop around North Charleston and it was a welcoming return as we headed back to Riverfront Park.  Cute area & a great place for the finish line festival.

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The finish festival greeted us with music, food & several varieties of Sam Adams beer, plus mimosa’s.  Plenty of space to hang out with the family.  But the temps were cool and it was windy so we headed for the buses to shuttle us back to Charleston as soon as all of us finished.  No lines for the buses!  Huge win!   And just like that marathon #52 was in the books.

I was a bit disappointed that the race didn’t showcase more of the great city of Charleston.    Especially the bridges that go over the Coopers River.  So we got up early and went to run the Arthur Ravenel Bridge on Sunday morning before starting the drive home.  This bridge goes from Charleston to Mount Pleasant.  There is a walking/running/biking section on the bridge and it’s a popular spot, any day of the week.  My favorite time of day is always sunrise, so we started early enough to catch the sun coming up.

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If you want more information on Charleston, the bridge, or would like to see more photos, check out my previous post from a visit in 2015:  Charleston SC, I Ran That Town.

** Happy Running **  Amanda – TooTallFritz

Life on the Run … As of Late

Long time, no post.  2018 has been a year of highs & lows.  I have been criticized for not sharing some of the lows but realistically, a lot of it has consisted of family drama and I just refuse to put it out there and give it more life and energy than its already consuming.  This blog is my own. I pay for it.  The lack of sponsors, advertisements and the few ambassadorships that I’m willing to take at this point in time, give me the freedom to post what and when I want.  You’ll never see a paid post here or any content that I do not fully support.  So, what’s going well?  This guy.  Meet Loki.  If you follow me on social media, my Instagram is overflowing with his adorable face.  He makes me smile.  Gives endless cuddles.  Loves to nap.  And just wants to be with me.  Thanks, Loki, you are always a bright spot in my day!!

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What else is happening?  A lot!  After Ironman Lake Placid (read recap HERE), I took some down time, then was expecting to CRUSH the 70.3 distance at the Michigan Titanium race in Grand Rapids, MI on August 19th.  That didn’t go quite as expected.  I had visited a new chiropractor, who specialized in nerve damage (since I’m still having issues with my back and the lack of power in my legs), before the race.  Long story short, new chiro did a number on me that caused some serious damage that took a couple months to reverse.  So, I went to MiTi , not quite realizing how bad I was hurt.  I took a DNF after finishing the bike, which was absolutely agonizing.  I did not do a race report because I didn’t love the race, in fact, I thought some of the logistics were a total nightmare, especially for those traveling solo without a “crew” to help before/after the race.  I didn’t run any of the course, so had zero knowledge of the run segment.  And I don’t like to put negative things out on the net.  I’ve heard nothing but LOVE for the MiTi race, I’m definitely in the minority when it comes to not liking it.  And I didn’t want my lack of love for the race to look like I was just salty over a DNF.  The DNF had nothing to do with the race.  My body was not happy & it was NOT the day to tough it out.

Next.  I was signed up for the Dam2Dam Century Ride in Wabash, IN on September 9th.  I spent most of August recovering from the “incident” with the rogue chiropractor but still went to ride Dam2Dam with a friend, just as a fun ride.  It was fun alright.  After a full night of rain, the roads were very wet.  We left the Y in Wabash a bit ahead of the main group and were dressed in long sleeves & cool weather gear due to drizzly rain and cool temps.  We didn’t even make it out of town.  Around mile 1.27 (of a 104 mile ride), I came down a hill, hit a set of wet railroad tracks.  I went down.  Bounced my head off the pavement and the tracks.  To say that I was “dazed & confused“ from the fall is an absolute understatement.  Concussion. Nothing but sleep followed for weeks.  Thanks Loki, for being such a great cuddle & nap partner.  My family had zero idea what was happening with me.  I didn’t really understand either.  I slept for 20 hrs a day for weeks and everyone, except Loki, just thought I was crazy. PSA …. WEAR YOUR HELMET.  You never know when you are going to take a hit.  That’s why they are called accidents, we can’t predict when they will happen.  My helmet looks like someone tried to knock me off my bike with a baseball bat.  I had scabs on the back of my head for THREE weeks.  We won’t talk about the rest of the road rash.  My helmet probably saved my life.

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So I’m still messed up from the concussion, and I’m now 2 months “post concussion”.  I have issues with memory, counting money, temperature control, sensory issues with loud noise (if you have children, this is non-stop), visually I am bothered by bright and flashing lights, colors, and movement.  Its very easy to get overstimulated (and cranky). I’m tired all the time.  I spend most of my day just waiting to go to bed where its quiet, dark and warm.

I’m improving.  But the progress is slow.  I was planning to attempt to qualify for Boston at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon this last weekend.  It was quite obvious, as the race approached, that I would not be able to sustain the necessary pace.  I can get in a solid 2 hours of running, at or below the required 8:45/mi pace.  But after the 2 hr mark, I just want to close my eyes and lay down.  Whether its lack of fitness for the training I missed.  Or the constant overstimulation of the bouncing people (myself included), bright colors, and constant movement, I  know not.  I only know that I currently do not want to run more than 2 hrs.  That’s what I feel good with and that will be my limit for a while going forward.  I did run Indy this last weekend.  I did finish.  I started slower than the 8:45/mi goal pace & tried to run happy.  But I was not happy.  It was just too much.  I finished.  I ran my 2 hrs.  Then when I wanted to stop, I ran/walked the last half of the race with a HUGE positive split.  I don’t have many rules when it comes to endurance sports but I do have one.  Don’t die.  So I’ll never push myself to the point that I feel like things are dangerous.  Finisher SWAG below.  Loki is wondering why I went to Indy without him and didn’t bring him anything better than this.  He is not amused. But Indy is still a great race.  I’m glad I got to finish something and end the year on a positive note in that regard.

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So, what’s next?  I don’t really know.  I’m registered for a few things.  But I’m going to take some time off and see if I can heal my brain.  Its no fun feeling like this.  I want to get better & I’ve just recently been enlightened regarding the current concussion protocol, so I’ll move forward with caution so that I can be the best PERSON I can be in the future.  I hope you all are having a stellar year!  I’ll catch you on the road soon enough.

** Cheers ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Ironman Lake Placid – 20th Anniversary – Race Report

I’ve been MIA for months & months.  Not racing.  Not socializing.  Just training and going thru the motions of life as a busy working parent.  The buildup to Ironman Lake Placid was the longest I’ve ever done without interspersing races to alleviate the boredom.  I usually run 10-12 marathons per year, in addition to racing 3-4 half ironman distance TRIs.  In 2018, I did one marathon prior to Lake Placid.  1 Olympic triathlon.  1 half iron distance triathlon.  Then IMLP on July 22, 2018.

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I trained for 25 weeks.  I had a couple cycles within the training plan, a little time off here and there to manage life. I did the best that I could, on all fronts, with this volume of training.  I hit most of my workouts, not necessarily as prescribed but usually managed the time or distance requirements, with a few exceptions.  I had a coach.  Do I recommend having a coach?  Yes.  Have I ever had a coach before, or felt like I needed one?  No.  However, the added volume required for this distance necessitated a clean buildup without any BS or extra workouts.  I didn’t want to mess this up in case I never had the opportunity to do it again.  As it was, I waited over 9 years to sign up for my first full iron distance race.  I didn’t want to blow it!

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Pre-Race!  Ironman races require packet pick up, pre-race meetings and bike check-in, all before race day.  As a result, this adds to the cost of the trip and the $$ that you’ll spend while visiting the area.  Lake Placid is one of the most expensive venues on the Ironman circuit.  If you are heading to Lake Placid, save your pennies and some dollars too!  We arrived on Thursday for the Sunday race.

Friday – Early morning practice swim & the Bacon Meat & Greet by Lake Mirror. Both were optional.

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Mirror Lake is very clean and clear.  Some of the best water I’ve swam in to date.  There is a famed cable that runs between the buoys.  If you can get on the cable or close to it, there isn’t much need to site on race day.  This makes the Lake Placid swim fast, if you can use the cable!  Beware, the buoys are connected to the cable.  If you are swimming over or “on top” of the cable, then be prepared to swim under the buoys!

Packet pickup & pre-race meeting – Mandatory.  We did both of these things on FRI.  Packet pick up was quick but did have a few extra steps, like weigh in.  Volunteers weighed each athlete & wrote the weight and which scales were used on the back of our bibs.  If there was a medical emergency, like dehydration, they had our pre-race baseline.  Scales used at packet pick-up are then transferred to the medical tent for consistency purposes.  Serious stuff.   Also serious, the pre-race meeting. Don’t miss it.  They have several and each venue is different.  This is where they give new info, tell about changes to the course, or make note of places that are dangerous.  And maybe, just maybe, Mike Reilly will make an appearance to toss out a few words of encouragement and motivation!

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Bike check-in is also mandatory, the day prior to the race.  I’d highly recommend taking the bike for a short spin before checking it in for the night.  Lots can happen in transit.  Make sure you don’t need any last minute adjustments before race day.  Lines for bike check-in were long.  We waited probably 20 minutes to get to the point where they took our bike, put it against a white screen, then photographed it.  Then it was returned to us, we waited another 15-20 minutes to get into transition, where each athlete had a volunteer escort them to their transition spot.  Then we said goodbye to our bikes.  Hung our Bike & Run bags on the hooks.  And walked away.

View of bikes, all racked in the Olympic Oval.  Source:  Ironman Lake Placid Facebook page

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View of my bike, seat sitting on #628.  Not a lot of room for the bikes since we didn’t have a normal transition set up.  Volunteers in T1 would go get the bikes off the rack & bring it to the end of the row for you.  Then there were “bike catchers” after the bike segment who would take your bike back to its transition spot.

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Race day!  The clouds were dark and rain was on the way!   We dropped our nutrition with our bikes.  Pumped tires.  Put our clothes & shoes in the “Morning Bag”, dropped it on the hook below our run/bike bags.  Then headed to the swim start.  It was a wetsuit legal day.  Meaning water temp was 76.1 degrees or below.  Happy Dance!!!  2.4 mile swim, here we come!

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Pro field took off at 6:20am.  Age groupers had a self-seeded, rolling start beginning at 6:40am with the goal of having everyone in the water by 7am.  2 loop swim course.  Between loop 1 and 2, athletes had to exit the water, run across the beach & re-enter the water.  Photo source:  Ironman Lake Placid Facebook Page (I don’t think this is the 2018 start).

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A couple things about the swim.  I don’t want to scare anyone but I think its important to address.  Mirror Lake is possibly the best water I’ve ever swam.  Until race day.  The water was still awesome but the athletes were VERY aggressive. I was at the back of the 1:11-1:20 group.  I thought I’d swim about 1:20.  I swam a 1:16. Maybe I should have been in the middle of this group, instead of at the back, but it shouldn’t have mattered much.  The people around me beat the crap out  of me.  Plus we were constantly passing swimmers who had started ahead of us, and who really wanted to swim the line.  It was total carnage.  I heard of people being punched (purposely), I head of lifeguards threatening to pull swimmers who were being too aggressive.  I saw swimmers hanging onto boats & rafts before we even got a couple buoys into the swim.  I saw a green swim cap on the bottom of the lake and am guessing the poor soul’s goggles were under the water, somewhere near the cap.  It was rough.  I erroneously assumed that if I held my line (which wasn’t even on “the line”) then I’d have clear water on the 2nd loop.  Well, I didn’t.  And it was worse cuz then we were passing the slower swimmers.  I gave up my position and navigated myself out of the way.  I lost 2+ minutes on that 2nd loop, I’m kinda mad about that.  But maybe it was the right thing.  The swim is supposed to be the easy part.  Relaxing.  Fun.  I was just mad and felt like I should have taken boxing classes to prepare.  IF by chance you are  not a strong swimmer, please swim very wide to avoid the crunch.  Apparently the swim gets crazy like this every year due to overcrowding.  My friend said she swam wide and was fine. So take note, swim wide.

Out of the water.  Run maybe 3 blocks to transition.  Grab Bike bag.  Go to changing tent.  Volunteers may be available to help you get changed.  When I was there, the tent was full and the volunteers were busy.  I got ready by myself, then ran out of the tent with my bike bag.  Wrong.  Don’t do that.  Thankfully a kind volunteer outside the tent offered to take it for me!  Run thru transition toward bike.  Yell out bike number.  Volunteer gets your bike & brings it to the end of the rack.  Run bike out of transition.  Mount bike at Bike Mount Line.  Transition 1 – 7:25.

On the bike.  Yikes.  Here come the mountains.  And the rain.  Hello rain.  Pelting rain.  Off for 2 loops – 112 miles total.  According to Ironman, each loop had approximately 4,182 feet of climbing, so total climbing on both loops = 8,364 feet.

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This was my weakest area.  I knew it. I’m a poor climber.  I rode every hill in my area, many, many times.  But nothing can compare.  I suffered.  I didn’t go fast.  I couldn’t go fast.

Downhill out of Lake Placid.  Toward the Olympic Ski Jumps, then the Keene Descent.  The infamous Keene Descent, which consisted of the majority of our descending for the entire loop, was something I was actually looking forward to but the pelting rain, and crazy winds took the fun out of it.  I’m a good downhill rider but I was upright, holding on for dear life, hoping the wind wouldn’t blow my wheels off the road surface.  Upper Jay.  Wilmington.  Out and back on Haselton.  Yay, got to see the family on Haselton because we stayed out that way!  Hello family!  Goodbye family!  Thru Wilmington toward Whiteface Mountain.  Turn on 86.  Detour thru the Whiteface Mountain Ski area.  Back on 86.  Goldilocks “hill”.  Momma Bear hill.  Baby Bear hill.  Papa Bear hill.  Just finished the “3 Bears” which wasn’t near as bad as some of the other “unnamed” hills.  Big hill up Northwood Road, back into Lake Placid.  Pass Lake Placid Lake.  On to loop 2.

Aid stations on the bike were every 10-12 miles.  Water, Gatorade, potties, bananas, oranges, Cliff products.  Medical support was usually in this area too.  Roads & intersections where we had turns were staffed by police or volunteers.  Some spectator support interspersed along the course.

It’s a tough bike course. Also breathtakingly beautiful.  This was one of my favorite areas going toward Keene.  My friend Elina G took this photo.  The entire area is amazing and definitely helped pass the time on the bike.  And I was on the bike forever.  7 hrs & 35 minutes, which was 35 minutes longer than I had even predicted.

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But I finally got my axx over the 3 Bears on the final loop and was headed back toward transition.  I cried a few tears.  It was about a minute of ugly cry.  I was so grateful to be headed toward my run shoes.  I wasn’t unduly chafed.  I wasn’t hurting.  I was just ready to get off the bike.

Rolled up to T2.  Dismounted at the Bike Dismount line.  Volunteers took my bike.  I walked to my Run bag.  Walked to the changing tent.  I was barefoot and there were a lot of rocks.  And I was tired.  Into the changing tent a volunteer helped me with sunscreen and getting ready to run.  She filled my bottle and mixed my Tailwind.  Then I was off & running. Yes, finally!  Lake Placid was my 50th marathon so it was a bit of a celebratory run for me.  T2 – 5:23

Two loop run course.  26.2 miles total.  Out & back course so I got to see all my friends multiple times.  Run out of town was awesome.  Downhill, my favorite!!  Saw Leslie B spectating.  She got this photo!  Thank you!

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Lots of people spectating, drinking and having a huge party along the run course.  Past the crowds, past the Olympic Ski Jump, out toward River Road.   Quiet, peaceful.  Nice views.  Some hills.  Ironman listed elevation as 1,604 per loop.  So that was a total climb of 3,208 ft.  To be honest, it didn’t seem that bad to me.  But then maybe I was just THAT happy to be off the bike.  There were some hills, yes.  Some big ones.  I would run part of the hill, then walk the rest of the way up.  My general strategy was run to the aid station.  Aid stations were every mile.  Walk THRU the aid station and make sure I got enough ice, water, coke, oranges, etc.  I really was in survival mode.  Keep moving. Keep the sugar going in to avoid low blood sugar.  I had a couple twinges in my quads while running.  Each time, I stopped immediately and took some salt capsules.  I was very focused on what my body needed to keep moving.  That was all that mattered.  I knew the finish would eventually present itself IF I just kept moving.

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Run was finally coming to an end.  That 2nd loop was a bit of a celebration for me.  And then once I got back to the big climb to get back into town, I was just happy knowing I was almost done.  I walked up the giant hill.  With all the spectators yelling and cheering.  Turned the corner for more climbing.  All while walking.  Then everything flattened out for a tiny out and back along Mirror Lake Drive.  Then into the Olympic Oval for the finish.  I was really cruising at this point.  I know everyone says to “take it all in” and not go too fast at the finish but I really just wanted to be finished.  I passed a lot of people on the carpet toward the finish.  I did have to slow at the finish because of a lady in front of me.  I knew I could pass her but then I knew she would probably be upset because she might not get her moment.  So I slowed up but then finally was finished.  Done, Done, DONE!!!  Yes!!  That’s me in the back with my hands up as Mike Reilly called my name.

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And just like that I’m an Ironman!  5:00 marathon for #50.  New York was my 30th state too in my quest to run a marathon in all 50 states.  I’m an Ironman.  A dream that was 9+ years in the making.  14 hrs & 5 minutes was my official time for the full day.

Lots of SWAG:

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Ironman Lake Placid is a great race.  This was the 20th anniversary and they have a rich tradition with Ironman.  I liked the race a lot.  Its difficult to set up a race of 140.6 miles and have things go pretty smoothly.  And I think overall the process from start to finish was smooth.  There were 2092 finishers and many who were not able to finish for a variety of reasons.  The distance is not something to take lightly.  It takes something more than being fit and a good training cycle to finish something like this.  It takes heart & courage.  And luck.  There are so many things that can go wrong that have nothing to do with the athlete or their preparation.  I’m very thankful that I was able to finish something like this.

The training cycle for the 140.6 distance is long.  And not so fun.  I was very thankful my friend Julie M was going thru this at the same time because she was my sounding board or “complaint department” when I was tired or grumpy or frustrated or just needed to talk.  Thanks, Julie for ALWAYS being there.  So happy that we took this journey together, even if we took different paths to get to the finish line!  Julie M  YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!  Congrats, girl!  So proud of you!!!

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And that’s a wrap!  Thanks to hubby for managing the house/dogs while I was training and racing this cycle.  Thanks to mom for coming on the trip with me and managing the kids when Julie & I were out and about doing Ironman things.  Thanks to Julie’s hubby, Joe for all he did for us in Lake Placid:  getting our bikes, entertaining the kids, driving the parents/kids to the finish.  Thanks to my coach Diana S for dealing with my hectic schedule and putting together a plan to get me to the finish without blowing me up before I got to the race.  Thanks to the Masters Swim coaches (Dave & Bill) at Jorgensen YMCA in Ft Wayne IN for making me a decent swimmer who can apparently take a beating.  And lastly, thanks to Ron K from FNA Outdoors in New Lenox IL for keeping me rocking & rolling on the bike for the last 5+ years.  Nobody can be an Ironman without an awesome bike … that also works great!

Thanks to YOU for reading this long report.  And if you made it this far, you might be wondering if I’ll be doing anymore Ironman races.  If you talked to me while I was training, I for sure said “one & done”. Yeah, well, I think I’m going to go to Louisville next year with some friends.  So yeah, I think I’ll do it again.  I have a few months to change my mind but I’ll probably sign up for Ironman Louisville, October 2019.

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Next up:  Dam to Dam Century Ride in Wabash IN (9/9/18) and the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (11/3/18).

** Happy Racing ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Grand Rapids Triathlon 70.3 & The USAT Athena/Clydesdale National Championship – 2018

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The Grand Rapids Triathlon is held the 2nd weekend of June in Grand Rapids, MI.  This year, the race was on June 10, 2018.  The GR TRI has also been the host of the  Athena/Clydesdale National Championship race for the last several years. 

What’s an Athena?  An Athena or Clydesdale is a classification by USAT (USA Triathlon) that is defined by the weight of the athlete.  The athlete must be 165(+) lbs as a woman, or 225(+) for a man.  This type of classification is not found in all triathlon races.  Ironman races will NOT have an Athena/Clydesdale division.  Most other “non-branded” triathlons will follow USAT guidelines and offer it as an option.  If you are an athlete who meets the weight requirements you get to CHOOSE if you want to race in that division.  Its not a requirement.  You may race your normal age group, if you want.  If you choose to race Athena/Clydesdale, you are pulled out of your normal age group and added to the Athena division for which you qualify.  For Nationals, the divisions were:  39 & Under, 40-59 and 60+.

Is there an advantage to racing the Athena division?  Depends on the race.  This can be a very competitive group of athletes.  Just because an athlete is 165 lbs or more, does not mean they are not fast.  We all come in a different package.  We have different strengths & weaknesses.  We are individuals.  I think options are good.  Over the last 10+ years, I’ve seen so many of the non-branded races disappear and get gobbled up by the big dogs.  I like to support non-branded races so that we have more options.  As a result, I felt like it was also important to support the Athena/Clydesdale division at Nationals because if we don’t race that division, it too will disappear.  So, I raced Athena at the USAT National Championships in Grand Rapids.  Race Review below.  Feel free to discuss your opinion on the Athena/Clydesdales division in the comments.  I know its controversial and I’d love to hear your opinion. 

Grand Rapids Triathlon Race Review

I needed an early season 70.3 this year to prep for IM Lake Placid in July.  The early season race that I did a couple years ago (Cutting Edge Half Triathlon 70.3 in Effingham, IL) was no longer in operation.  My options were Grand Rapids or the IM 70.3 Wisconsin in Madison.  Grand Rapids was closer.  Non-branded.  Cheaper.  And home of the 2018 Athena/Clydesdales National Championships. It was an easy decision for me to try Grand Rapids and I am so glad I did! 

It was a 2.5 hour drive to Grand Rapids from the Ft Wayne, IN area.  Straight to packet pick-up.  Plenty of free parking.  Decent sized expo.  Several vendors.  Organized packet pick up & race meeting.  Lots of SWAG.  Race number tattoos!!  Plus a separate area for the Athena/Clydesdale athletes to go for packet pick up and weigh in.  Yes, we all had to weigh in to participate in the championships.  Since my predominant distance is the 70.3, there aren’t a lot of non-branded races that offer that distance.  Therefore, I race Ironman more often than not.  In Ironman, as mentioned above, there is NOT an Athena division.  So I haven’t had much opportunity to race this division.  I was not surprised that I had to weigh in but I was surprised that they had the scales behind a privacy screen.  Everything was very nicely done & respectful in regards to recording our weight.  If we did not weigh in at least 5 lbs over the minimum (170(+) at the expo), then we would have to reweigh on race morning, in our race kit.  Shoes off for the weigh in!  They were very determined to make sure that everyone met the weight requirement.  Not an issue for me.  I did not have to reweigh on race morning. Smile   Photo below from GR TRI Facebook page – if you are one of these lovely ladies in this picture, let me know so I can tag you!

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Race morning.  There were various parking areas around the race site in Ada, MI.  We parked at the Amway Headquarters, then put our transition bags on our back and rode to the race site.  Maybe a mile or so.  The other option was walking or being dropped off, if you had spectators/shepras.  Spectators could take a shuttle but no bikes on the shuttles!  We did ride to the race site in the dark but it was drama free on closed roads which were partially lit.  The weather was cool & overcast.  And there was nothing but smooth water looking out at the inlet of the Thornapple River where we would be swimming. 

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Transition was LONG and narrow.  Very long.  The 70.3 athletes were positioned closest to the “bike out”.  Good news for us.  Transition spaces were not marked individually, just a series of numbers per rack.  First come, best spot!  I got an end spot!  Leslie B’s mom got a picture of a few of us setting up transition.  I’m in the rear right of the photo, my side/back is to the camera.  I’m in a navy & orange kit.

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Team Stella Fly got this photo below of transition, from the front.  I was down the line much further, past the yellow port-o-potty.  This might be 1/3 of transition.  Maybe.  I was WAY past the potties.  But great shot! 

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Swim started at 7am sharp.  1.2 miles.  The Athenas & Clydesdales were in the first wave and we had fresh, calm water ahead of us!!  Of course, it didn’t take long for the 2nd wave to catch up but it was still nice.  5 minutes between each wave.  Start is below (from the GR TRI Facebook page):

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Heading toward a yellow buoy hidden by the trees.  Maybe I’m in there somewhere?  Photo courtesy of GR TRI Facebook page.

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Out of the water in record time (for me!!), even though I swam a little extra.  Smile  Straight to the wetsuit strippers.  Such a nice perk!  I love races with wetsuit strippers.  Since I hurt my back a couple years ago, getting in and particularly OUT of my wetsuit is a real challenge.  The “strippers” really help me so much!!  Thank you!!!!

Long dash to transition, then THRU transition.  Trying not to crash into anyone from the shorter races who were leisurely walking thru the area before their races.  Heart rate was definitely up by the time I got to my spot!  Wetsuit & swim cap down.  Goggles …..ooops, lost my goggles somewhere.  Helmet on.  Glasses.  Shoes.  Go, go, GO!  Out of transition.  Bike mount line.  Plenty of room but its always important to focus on getting on the bike, clipping in correctly and not rushing too much and hurting yourself or anyone else.  I’ve seen so many accidents on or around the bike mount line over the years.  And the people who do the flying mounts, well …. good luck, I’m just going to move to the side and safely mount my bike.  I’m not “flying” anywhere.  Winking smile 

Bike course is an out and back.  56 miles. Lots of volunteers.  Most roads had police or volunteers to direct traffic.  Thank you!!!  A few hills.  2 aid stations (that we hit 2x).  Headwind going out.  Tailwind coming home.  6 miles of VERY rough road at the turnaround.  OUCH. 

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Slow first half.  Faster 2nd half.  My legs were toast the entire time. Quads were BURNING.  I had a poor bike split.  Whether my back is to blame.  Or my training volume for Lake Placid.  Or maybe something was just off, not really sure, but it was a tough day on the bike.  I wasn’t 1/3 of the way into it and both feet were numb & my left hip/glute/hamstring were screaming at me.  I had to be VERY careful when I dismounted my bike and ran back into transition on numb feet.  I was wondering how long the feet would stay numb.  It was a very odd sensation, one I haven’t had before, but alas it passed once I put on my run shoes & got going.  So thankful!  Awesome volunteers below as we were approaching T2.  Pic courtesy of the GR TRI Facebook page.  I just love FB, don’t you?!?!

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I hustled thru T2 as much as possible with numb feet, dodging people who weren’t in as big of a hurry as myself.  But it wasn’t horrible.  Bike back on rack.  Helmet, glasses off.  Shoes on, slowly cuz well, my feet where NUMB.  WTHeck?!?  Race belt.  Visor, no, I don’t need the visor today.  Go, go, GO! 

Out of T2 & onto the run.  Thank the good Lord, I’m off that damn bike.  I have a love hate relationship with the bike.  I love my bike.  Its good to me.  It’s a great bike.  I just want to be better.  A lot better.  And I don’t really understand why its so freaking hard for me?!?!  But I’m running now.  2 loops.  Out and back course.  Aid stations every 1.5 miles.  4 total aid stations on course, which we passed 2x.  Lots of support out there.  Lots of food. Ice.  Water.  Coca Cola.  2 hills, which we passed 2x.

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I like loop and out/back type courses specifically when I have friends racing.  I did get to see several people on the run, some I saw 2x.  I was motivated to not let one of my fast teammates pass me on the run.  So I did push a bit faster than I probably would have normally, just trying to get around that first loop before he passed me to finish.  I made it.  Whew!  Overall a great day.  It was overcast most of the day which helps me a lot.  I melt in the heat.  It wasn’t cool but it wasn’t hot.  And I had the overcast skies on my side. 

Overall, I thought Grand Rapids was a top notch race.  I’ll definitely go back.  I was impressed.  Great area.  Well organized.  Lots of support and volunteers.  Vendors.  Lower fees than branded races.  GREAT swag!  And I was fortunate to be part of the Clydesdale & Athena National Championships where I placed 2nd in my division!  WhooHooooo!

SWAG – Race Tank, Finishers Visor, Event poster, Athena/Clydesdale National Championship water bottle, Quench Gum, HexArmor Cold Rush cooling towel, plus a few other things from the expo.  See photo below.

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2nd place Athena – 40-59 Division.  Me, Leslie B & Nikki W on the podium.  My friend Andé from IL, also got 2nd (with a MUCH faster time) in the 39 & Under Division.  Great to see old friends & make some new ones!

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Up close.  Green medal is the finishers medal for the GR 70.3 with the Clydesdale/Athena National Championship lanyard.  USAT medal for placing top 3 in the National Championships.  2nd place plaque for my division from GR TRI. 

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The Grand Rapids Triathlon is partnered with MI Titanium.  They offer a Double Down Challenge for anyone who does both races.  I guess I’m headed to MI Titanium now on August 19th.  Gotta get that Double Down medal and check out the MI Titanium race.  I’ve heard great things and am looking forward to another race with this group.  Hope to see you there!  Like Grand Rapids TRI, there are a lot of distances & options to choose from, even Aquabike & Duathlon if you don’t like to swim!  See you in August!

Next up:  Ironman Lake Placid on July 22, 2018.

Happy TRIing ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Muncie May Triathlon – Muncie, IN

It can be a bit challenging to find an early season triathlon that gives you everything you want and more!  I registered for the Muncie May Triathlon this year after my beloved Pokagon Triathlon was discontinued.  This race is put on by American Multisport & is in Muncie, IN.  This group puts on several triathlons throughout the year, of varying distances, with races taking place at the Prairie Creek Reservoir.  This is the same location as the IM 70.3 Muncie event that is held each year in July.  Great way to check out the venue in a low key setting.

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The Muncie May event is in mid May, May 12th for 2018 and May 18th for 2019.  One of the first open water events in the Midwest.  However, the Prairie Creek Reservoir is on the shallow side so the water heats up quickly with a few nice days.  The race this year was wetsuit legal with water temp around 63 degrees.  That being said, many events at the reservoir are NOT wetsuit legal, so watch for current info on their website & Facebook page

So what’s the scoop on this race?!?! 

The Muncie May TRI is a great event for athletes of  varying abilities.  They offer an Olympic distance, Oly relay, Sprint, Sprint Relay, Super Sprint, Duathlon, Du Relay, Sprint Du, Sprint Du relay, & Aquabike.  That’s a lot of options and I hope I didn’t miss anything! 

Race starts at 9am with a race day packet pickup option.  Therefore, you can easily drive in the morning of the event if you are within 3 hours of Muncie.  Packet pick-up was easy & quick.  Body marking on site.  Practice swim area open and available to those who want it.  And the water is usually pretty calm.

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Small intimate venue at Prairie Creek Reservoir.  Indoor bathrooms & showers.  On site parking.  If you’ve only been to the Reservoir for the IM event, then go back for an American Multisport event.  Totally different atmosphere.  Small parking area.  Small transition area.  Very low key race at the same great venue. 

Races start at 9am.  Super sprint first, then sprint, then Olympic.  I did the Olympic and the times estimates were a bit off as to when we got in the water.  They waited for everyone in the previous category to get out of the water before the next group got started.  Safety first!  Then we self seeded and got into the water in pairs.  Very easy.  No drama. No fighting.  Nobody swam over the top of me.

Once we hit the water, it was noticeably rough on this particular day.  The wind was really blowing and the current in the water was pushing us off course a bit.  Tougher swim that usual at this venue.  The swim was counter clockwise too, opposite direction of the IM event.  1.5K swim for the Olympic, which is 1600 yds.  I swam 1800 though just for fun, or maybe I had trouble staying on course with the wind & waves.  Smile

Once out of the water, there was a short run to transition.  Small transition but it wasn’t chaotic.  Smooth sailing in and out.  Then on to the bike course which had some new pavement!  Olympic distance was a 2 loop bike course.  The wind which gave us some hassle in the swim was in full force on the bike.  Yes!  Love a challenge, right?  A few tiny hills but only 577 ft of ascent on the two loops and a total of 25.3 miles. 

Back to transition for T2.  Just as easy as T1.  Not crowded.  Easy in and out.  On to the run which was an out and back course for the 10K.  Same route as the IM event in July.  Small rolling hills.  213 ft of elevation gain for the 10K.  Warm.  Its always warm. There is a bit of shade on the back side of the out/back but overall, its usually sunny in this area.  Make sure to not forget a hat or visor.  This venue is good about having ice due to its notoriously warm runs.  So ask for ice, even if you don’t see it out.  I did and they did have some in coolers.  Took me an extra minute at a couple of the aid stations but it was worth it because I heat up fast. 

Overall a GREAT race.  I’ll definitely be back.  Registration is open for 2019 and I’m considering registering early for that event.  I’m also looking at my calendar to see if I can fit in another American Multisport event before the year is out.  Lots to choose from between now & September.  And bottom line, if we like our “non-branded” events, we need to support them by showing up and racing so they stick around for years to come.  Too many great races have been discontinued because of lack of participation!  So let’s race American Multisport!!

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Other than a great race, they also provide great SWAG.  See below for the pullover & finishers medal.  I’m wearing the pullover right now.  Lightweight & perfect!

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My next race is the Grand Rapids TRI.  Another “non-branded” event.  Sprint, Oly, 70.3 & Aquabike in each distance. Still time to register!  Race is on June 10th.  Hope to see you there!!

** Give it a TRI ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Tobacco Road Marathon Race Review

Its been six weeks since the Tobacco Road Marathon but I still want to review the race for those who might be interested in putting this on their future calendar. 

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The Tobacco Road Marathon was on March 18, 2018 in Cary, NC.  Close to Durham & Chapel Hill.  The race venue is the Thomas Brooks Park & USA Baseball Fields.  Race is  traditionally held on a Sunday and requires travel to the area on Friday or Saturday to pick up race packets.  Small expo at a local hotel.  Easy & fast, in and out.  A few vendors, like my favorite girl, Gypsy Runner

If your traveling with the family, there isn’t a lot to do in this area (or maybe we just didn’t know where to look?).  Beautiful area though.  New neighborhoods.  Nice homes.  Cute boutique like shopping areas.  Nice.

Race day started bright and early like always.  Getting to the race site required some planning.  There was a local pick up area in Cary called NetApp, where people could park & get shuttled to/from the race site.  There were a few onsite parking spots that required pre-purchased parking passes.  Then there was runner drop off at the venue.  Fortunately, my daughter now has her license.  GASP!  She was able to drop me off, then drive back to the hotel with her little brother, then return to pick me up.  This race would have been challenging, logistics wise (as a mom with kids & no other adult to supervise), had she not been able to drive.  I’ve taken them to a lot of races & I usually pick a hotel on the race course or close to the start/finish so they can sleep in at the hotel, then come to the race when they are ready.  This race started at the park, then ran to the American Tobacco Trail, stayed on the American Tobacco Trail, then ran back to the park for the finish.  You need access to a car to get to packet pick up and to/from the race.  No shuttles for local hotels.  No way to spectate without access to a car.

On to the race!  The important part, right?  Please note that the majority of these photos are courtesy of Amy at Gypsy Runner.  I wanted to ring the PR bell, so knew I couldn’t waste time with photos.  Thanks, Amy for always helping me out!  I love seeing your smiling face at expos and out on the marathon courses! 

We got to the race early.  The race started at 7am but the parking areas shut down at a certain time.  I think they wanted everyone in the parking area by 5:30 so that the shuttle buses could come/go without issue.  It was cool.  Probably upper 40s at the start and while we were waiting.  I rarely take throw away clothes but did this time because I wasn’t planning to check a bag.  The plan was to run the race, finds the kids, leave.  We were headed to Disney World for Spring Break & this was just a pit stop for momma to grab another state! 

The race started promptly at 7am.  Start/Finish area was easy to find, just down from the row of port-o-potties.  It was still dark when we started the race but the area was well lit around the bathrooms & the start/finish area.  Photo courtesy of the Tobacco Road Marathon Facebook page:

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We left Thomas Park with an incline to get out of the park and onto the road.  Key to remember because that’s a downhill to the finish line!  Couple other rolling hills in the 2.5 miles from the park to the American Tobacco Trail.  Then the marathoners had 21 miles on the ATT.  Very few turns.  If you are ever afraid of getting lost, this is the type of race for you.  There was never any question as to where to go or where to turn.  It was very well ran, volunteers were great.  All road crossings were patrolled. 

The race was advertised as fast & flat.  As a Midwest gal, I know flat.  Any race that claims to be flat, will probably have more hills than I can get when I make an effort to FIND hills to run.  I wasn’t sure what to expect with this race.  I will say that it was pretty flat.  There were a few rollers to/from the ATT.  Once on the ATT (where we ran 21 of the 26.2 miles), it was pretty flat.  This was an old rail trail.  So the inclines/declines were not visible, you’d just feel it in your legs.  On a slight decline, you could feel the load lighten and the pace got easier.  On the incline, you couldn’t really “see” it but you could tell you were going up because it took more effort to hold the pace.  But honestly, I heard some people complain post race about the elevation, Garmin showed 735 ft of gain, Strava showed 819 ft for the entire race.  Small gains & losses over time.

The ATT was a mix of crushed limestone and asphalt. Mostly tree lined with giant pines which provided a break from the wind and the sun.  Temps started in the upper 40s but climbed to the 60s while we ran.  Humidity was low to non-existent.  I don’t do well in heat & humidity so while I did notice that it was getting warmer toward the end, it didn’t effect my performance.

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There were 9 aid stations on course, most of which we hit 2x since the trail was an out and back.  All stations were well stocked with fluids, food items & there were port-o-potties! 

On the ATT, we headed out to the north initially, then flipped between mile 8 & 9.  Then headed back south, past our point of entry until another turn around between mile 18 & 19.  As always, that last turn around always feels great.  I also am a huge fan of out and backs, particularly when I know people running.  Watching the other runners makes me happy. I like to encourage them, cheer for the fast people at the front & it distracts me from the task at hand. 

Not a ton of spectators.  Logistics put most spectators at a trail head that intersected with a road we were crossing.  Some dogs.  A few signs.  But everyone was enthusiastic & encouraging. 

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I really liked this race.  I picked it for a few reason.  Fast, flattish, few turns, smaller number of runners & the fact that most of it was on a rail trail which would feel a lot like my old training runs.  Some people run better on Saturday mornings with their friends than at big venues with long waits & a bazillion spectators.  I’m probably more of the Saturday morning girl than the “wait & shiver for 2 hours before the major marathon” girl. 

I knew I wanted to try to run faster since I’m not allowed many races this year.  I’m in the midst of training for Ironman Lake Placid.  When I run less races, I’m faster.  No brainer there.  And my back is feeling the best it has in several years.  I’m not 100% but to be honest, this is probably as good as its going to get.  Also, it was important to plan and execute a race strategy, just to know that I can do it.  After Lake Placid, I’m going to take a break and then see if I can qualify for Boston.  This race time was not anywhere what I need to run a BQ but it was all about planning & executing. 

I did have a snafu leading up to the race (pulled something in my foot) so went with Plan B vs Plan A, in the name of being smart & facing down a lot more training for Lake Placid in the next few months.  I started with the 4:10 pacers with the plan of running away from them before the finish.  I figured I could easily gain a couple minutes and drop into a 4:08 before I hit the line, if I was smart.  That’s really the hardest part, being smart.  And patient.  The first half of the race feels so easy, its hard not to just go with it and run faster.  Well, take my advice, going faster than the plan is a good way to blow up.  I used to run less races & try to go faster but I always blew up.  I would go out too fast!  Every time.  That’s really how I started running more races.  I decided that I worked too hard for ONE race, for it not to end in the result I wanted.  I decided I could run  A LOT of races and have a A LOT of fun, and  really my times weren’t any slower than going out too fast & blowing up. 

Anyhow, shout out to the 4:10 pacers.  They did a great job.  I even dropped back 2 different times to get something out of my FlipBelt.  The one pacer checked on me both times & basically “yelled at me” to close the gap & regain contact.  I will say that the added pressure that someone was waiting on me did help to make sure I didn’t fall off pace.  They even told the runners to start floating away from them as we got close to the finish, that a pacers job was to finish alone, on time, with all their runners ahead of them.  Smile  I had already started moving ahead after we got off the ATT in the last 2.5 miles.  That was the last thing I heard them say as I was pulling away.  And I was able to ring the PR Bell at the finish!  4:08:09 was my chip time.  Good day!

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Overall a great race.  There were 1088 full marathoners that started the day, 884 finishers.  The half started 2277 runners & 2202 finished.  Great race, if you are looking for a fast run.  Since most of the race is on the trail, the camber of the road is not as much of an issue as in other races.  Not too crowded. Just enough aid & support.  Low entry fee!  Definitely a good one. 

This was my 27th state, 49th marathon.  My 50th marathon will be at the end of Ironman Lake Placid.  Now that’s going to hurt.  LOL!

** Hope you are all healthy & running happy ** Amanda – TooTallFritz