Chicago Marathon …. 2016

I ran my 5th Chicago Marathon on Sunday!  What a beautiful day!!  I arrived downtown early because Aby & her friend were volunteering at the 12.5 mile water stop.  They had to set up in the dark and wait for the runners to arrive.  They had a 6 hour shift, longer than it took most to run the marathon!!  Thank you, volunteers!!

water stop aby IMG_1084

After getting the girls off to their volunteer spot, I want and sat for a bit.  I was in the second wave this year.  Corral J.  While the marathon started at 7:30am, I didn’t have to be in my corral until 7:45.  I started running at 8:30am.  Plenty of time for pics!!  I even managed to connect with Diana & Sarah from my local TRI Club!  Congrats to Sarah on completing her VERY FIRST marathon! 

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Finally, we were closing in on the start line. I wasn’t nervous but ready to run.  I must say as much as I love Chicago, I really appreciate those races where I can stumble out of my hotel and onto the start line 5, minutes pre-race.

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But Chicago and its awesome city keeps calling me back, time and time again.  So it was Chicago where I ran my 33rd marathon.  I wasn’t sure how it would go.  If you have been following along all summer, you know I’ve had a rough TRI season.  I’ve stayed after it even though I felt crappy.  I kept up the swim, bike, run but if you have done any of those things with me, you know I haven’t been 100%.  Not even close.  I would struggle getting into and out of my wetsuit.  Couldn’t bend over to get it on/off.  It took 2 wetsuit strippers at Cedar Point to get me off the ground.  If I’m up and moving, I’m ok.   If I have to bend, sit or lay down, things don’t go well.  So upright and moving forward and everything is okay, right?

I started slow. Most of the spectators by the start had moved on by the time I went thru.  There wasn’t one person on the bridge above Columbus after the start.  I knew I was running the Chicago Marathon but it was like I had gotten to the line late and was trying to catch up.  I knew so many people running, spectating and volunteering.  I was watching for all of them but didn’t see many.  The miles clipped by slowly.  The first half of the marathon is by far the most exciting.  The temps were cool.  We were downtown.  The tall buildings kept many of the streets shaded. Lots of spectators.  Columbus Avenue, Grand Avenue, State Street, LaSalle Street.  So many people.  Then we headed north toward some of my favorite areas.  Lincoln Park.  Passed the Zoo & the Arboretum.  Headed toward Boys Town.  I wonder what performance we would see this year.   Old Town.  Dancing, singing Elvis.  Sedgwick, my favorite part of the route.  Such an awesome neighborhood.  Looks like an amazing place to live.

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Wells Street.  Headed back downtown.  Maybe I’ll get to see the girls at the 12.5 mile water stop?!?!   Can’t wait!

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Hit a water stop right before 12.  Ugh oh, no girls.  No way there will be another water stop at 12.5.  My gosh, I’m going to miss them too!!!!  20K, not quite half way.  Aid station ahead.  There they are, cheering, yelling, whooping it up!  LOL!  Yes!  Best part of the run, right there!

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On I go.  Half way.  The course gets congested.  So many corrals ahead of me.  So many people already starting to suffer.  They are slowing down.  They went out too fast.  I’ve been there.  I felt for them but honestly just wanted to keep moving.  I’m weaving now.  Around the masses who are slowing.  I’m not going fast, just need to keep running.  The longer I’m out on the course, the tighter my body gets.  My back is already starting to tighten and I feel some soreness popping up in my hips and my right glute.  Need to keep moving.  West Loop.  Greek Town.  Wish I had some saganaki, like hubby & I used to get at Nick’s Steakhouse.  Hmmm… my friend Penny just wrote about Saganaki in her new book Worry Knot.  Saganaki.  Must get some Saganaki soon.  Yum.

Charity Row.  Why is RMHC never on Charity Row?  They are back preparing the tent for our arrival, that’s why!  I love RMHC.  United Center.  Always so dead around this section.  Miles 14 –15 are always boring for me at Chicago.  Halsted.  Little Italy, where are you?  Ashland.  UIC.  Ahhh, Pilsen, I hear you!!  I’m coming!!  Best party on the Southside!  Everyone is out cheering.  Old people.  Young people.  Kids.  Businesses.  Lots of food.  Orange slices.  Beer.  Candy.  Pretzels.  Chips.  Thanks, Pilsen, you get better each and every year!  On to China Town.  Slow this year.  Quiet.  China Town, what’s up?  Mile 22.  My hips are tight.  I can no longer move laterally amongst the walkers.  I’m slowing down.  4 more miles.  I can do 4 more miles.  More BioFreeze, please!!  Sox Park.  US Cellular.  No idea what they are calling it today.  Why do these parks & fields & stadiums keep selling themselves off to the highest bidder.  So stupid.  Ugh.  35th Street Bridge.  Thank you, I’m heading back to the finish now!!!  Hello, Michigan Avenue.  I’m slow but I’m still moving!  Let’s do this!!!  Nike Cheer Station.  Or it used to be the Nike Cheer Station.  Not sure what was happening, or not happening, at mile 24 on Sunday.  I think I missed the party.  Too slow.  Who cares, just finish this thing!!!  McCormick Place.  I bet I could get a cab there.  Is it pathetic to get a cab a mile away from the finish line?!?!?  Wow.  My back and hips are super stiff.  Just keep moving.  Just finish.  I never knew Michigan Avenue was so freaking long.  Oh gosh, there is a bar.  They are handing out beer.  Please don’t splash beer on me.  Gross.  Oh jello shots.  Yeah, not today, thanks.  Look at all that jello on the road.  Streets and Sanitation has to hate marathon day.  What a freaking mess.  Mt Roosevelt.  Ahha!  I can’t get up this freaking hill.  I have to walk.  Thank goodness I have my race belt with my bib turned around on my bum.  Maybe the photogs won’t be able to identify me walking in those pics.  Almost to the top.  Start running.  You really aren’t going to walk to the finish line, right?  No.  Move it.  200m to go.  Cuz the elites need to know that since they would be blazing the last stretch to try to win the prize $$.  The prize $$ is long gone now.  Probably already deposited into some Kenyan account.  Why do Kenyan’s always win OUR marathon?  Oh my gosh, there is the finish.  I’m done.   Thank you, Lord.  Done.  #33 done.  I couldn’t be more grateful for another successful race.  Because every race we finish is cause for celebration.

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The Chicago Marathon is a World Major.  One of the largest marathons in the world.  If you have a chance, run it.  Totally worth your time & money.  20 aid stations.  Potty stops at each aid station.  BioFreeze on the ready.  Lots of medial help.  More police and volunteers than you can imagine.  One of the ONLY days each year that they will shut down the streets for you to run thru 29 different neighborhoods in Chicago.  An amazing experience, each and every time.  Thanks, for having me again, Chicago. 

Swag – Nike shirt & medal.   Lots of freebies at the expo though so plan to spend plenty of time hanging out. 

IMG_1104  IMG_1102

The 2017 Chicago Marathon will open their lottery on October 27th.  Yeah, just a couple weeks from now.  If you want to run the 40th anniversary race, be ready with your credit card soon.  Details HERE.

P.S. I had an MRI this week.  All my issues from the summer have been due to a ruptured disc in my back.  I knew something was up but also didn’t want to wimp out on races that I had already paid to run.  Its been a long summer.  I did pretty well at Chicago considering  and am thankful to be able to keep moving forward.  Not sure where treatment will take me but I’m happy to have put Chicago in the done column this weekend.  Cheers!

** Run Chicago ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

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2014 Chicago Marathon

Sunday, I ran what was supposed to be my last Chicago Marathon.  Not sure I  can go out like that and leave it as my last one but only time will tell.  Aby does want to go back and run it when she turns 16 but that won’t be possible because she’ll be at the end of a HS Cross Country season and well, we all know that we can’t run fast short and train for something as mammoth as a marathon.  I won’t be busting her bubble now but that’s reality.  Anyhow, back to Sunday!  It was a PERFECT day to run a marathon.  Run any distance really.  Temps were cool, the sky was clear and it warmed up nicely with a tiny breeze to keep us comfortable.  Start line along with 40,000+ other runners.

CHI Marathon_start

I had one goal for this race:  to finish.  I was forced to take a bit of time off running this summer during the relocation and my build up was a bit too quick and well, I didn’t log the normal mileage.  My longest run was an 18 miler.  I had no idea about pace but knew to go slow.  What I did know is that my feet were in bad shape and I needed to keep moving in order to keep them from tightening up.  I should have guessed from how badly my feet hurt during last week’s 12 miler that things wouldn’t go well.  I have been seeing a physical therapist in Fort Wayne, IN for my plantar fasciitis but he’s been a bit rough on me.  In fact, every week that I see him, I get worse, regardless of my mileage or lack thereof.  This week was the same.  I was much worse than even the week before.  So I was in the mindset to run easy.  Enjoy the course.  And run from one spectator sighting to another.  So thankful that April W took my Aby around for spectating again.  It’s always a highlight to see friendly faces on course.  I saw them at mile 2, then again at mile 13.  I was breaking down badly by mile 13 and my hips were burning because apparently my gait was off due to the pain in my feet.  Both feet.  So awesome. CHI Marathon_Aby & IAfter faking a smile for a pic with Aby, my girl April gave me the only pain relief she had on her person, a Midol tab.  It didn’t touch my pain.  I walked/ran/limped from 13-19 and then I was about done, like out of the game.  Walking was worse than running because I couldn’t put my left foot all the way down so I was walking “crooked”.  The doc who saw me this week said my hips were out of line.  I’m sure they are after my hobble.

So I stopped at the med tent at 19.  In tears.  They have me 2 pain tabs and a nice lady doused my feet with biofreeze to numb out the pain.  I can’t say that I thought it would work.  But about 10 or 15 minutes later, I was on the run again and confident that I could finish the race because the pain was just numbed out enough that I could do another 10K.  THANK YOU med tent!!!!

While I certainly didn’t #OwnChicago in 2014….. photo compliments of my girl Dawn B from WI.OwnChi

I did finish. And I thank my last 6 miles of “mostly” running to my girl Julie who showed up shortly after I emerged from the med tent.  She was on target for a PR but was running out of steam.  That could have been her excuse to run me in, I don’t really know. Regardless, I was thankful to be with her thru those last 6 miles.  She and I have run a lot of miles together this year.  Some really great ones.  Some really cold, snowy, icy, rainy ones.  And she is one person who I know I’ll always be logging miles with …. no matter where either of us live.  She is also fighting the Plantar Fasciitis devil and we frequently commiserate together.  Thanks, Julie!

CHI Marathon_me & Julie

 So I finished.  And I’m thrilled with that because it was a fight this time.  I did see a new doc yesterday who filled me with cortisone.  So I’m temporarily pain free and that is a REALLY nice thing.  It’s awesome actually.  And I have a new PT that I get to start seeing on Friday.  New PT is a runner.  Knows running.  Likes runners.  I already like him too!  Looking forward to rehabbing these feet and hitting the road for many more long runs.  I’m going to change my schedule a bit over the next couple weeks to focus on the rehab but I will be finishing the year strong!

Thanks to everyone who was out there spectating and volunteering on Sunday.  I know it’s an exhausting day, even more so that it was for those of us who ran.  Here is my Aby and April’s daughter “spectating” for the last of our crew.  Yeah, exhausting.  CHI Marathon_Aby & Nicole

How did Chicago go for you?

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

 

 

Fundraising RAFFLE for RMHC & the 2014 Chicago Marathon!

RMHC

Time to get this party started!  It’s Shamrock Shuffle weekend and spring is on the way whether it likes it or not.  The Shamrock is the official kickoff of the Chicago racing season that culminates with the Chicago Marathon.   This year the Chicago Marathon will take place on October 12, 2014.  And it will be massive, just like always.

Chicago Marathon_start view

The marathon will bring world-class athletes, rising stars, talented age groupers, experienced marathoners and beginners alike.  So many want to come here, to run the streets of Chicago.  For the very first time in the Chicago Marathon history, the marathon has gone to a lottery system.  Yes, there are so many people who want to run the Chicago Marathon that we actually crashed the system last year.  Therefore, it has been decided that if one would like to run in 2014, they need to have guaranteed entry via a charity (like RMHC and yes, we still have spots available!!), a legacy of 5 CHI marathons or more, or a super fast time (3:45 for women, 3:15 for men).   Everyone else hits the lottery and good luck to YOU, if that’s your chosen path.

For me, I can’t imagine NOT running the Chicago Marathon since its in my backyard, so I decided to run with Ronald McDonald House Charities once again.  They are an outstanding organization.  I believe in their cause and am always amazed with the number of families they help every  year, both here in Chicago and around the world.  It wasn’t a difficult decision at all for me to sign up with them again for 2014. 

So today, I’d like to start the fundraising process and am beginning with a raffle.  For each $5 donation to my RMHC fundraising page HERE, you will get one entry into this raffle.    What do we have for the raffle? 

1)  A jumpstart to your next Super Hero costume with a New Balance run singlet featuring the Incredible logo!  You’re INCREDIBLE!  I know it.  You know it.  All your friends know it.  Now tell the running community at your next race!  3 run singlets available.  Women sizes:  S, M & L – 3 winners.  If you want one of these babies, let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to mention which size you need!   Value – PRICELESS  Winking smile

Incredibile Shirts     incredibles

Source for Incredibles photo

2)  Injinji – Over The Calf  Compression toe sock prize pack!  The Injinji socks have become a stable in my run world.  You won’t catch me very often sporting something other than Injinji.    I particularly like the over the calf compression style for long runs and marathons because they hold on my toe protectors so nicely, and help my crazy feet stay blister free!  I have every color they have made thus far and can’t wait for them to come out with more colors/styles!!  For you, I have a two pair, pink & purple { BIG THANKS to Frogger for donating the purple ones!!}.  Size medium,  which works for women shoe size 9-11.5 and men shoe size 8-10.5.  I’m also tossing in an Injinji hat because I know once you start wearing these babies, you are going to love them as much as me and you’ll want to shout it to the world at least when it’s raining.  One winner for the entire prize pack.  Value – $118.

Injinji OTC

3)  Emergen-C prize pack!  As optimistic as I want to be about spring being on its way, I’m honestly scared that this winter may NEVER end.  Aby and I have lived off Emergen-C all winter long, taking it daily, and we’ve faired particularly well compared to most.  This is also what I use when I taper for a marathon to ward off the “sickies” in those last couple of weeks before the big race.  This prize pack has 2 boxes of Tangerine flavored drink mix packets (30 packets per box), 2 boxes of Raspberry flavored packets, one Emergen-C Headsweats visor & one over the shoulder bag.  One winner for the entire prize.  Value – $86.

Emergen C    Emergen C_2

Okay, that’s the roundup for this raffle!  If you are interested in supporting RMHC, donate HERE.  If there is something above that you would like when your name pops up AS A WINNER, please make sure you tell me in the comments below. The raffle will go from now until Friday, April 4, 2014 at 9am at which time 5 winners will be selected via a random number generator.  Good luck and thanks to all of you who have helped me and RMHC in the past, and those of you who choose to support the cause this year!  Remember no donation is too small!   One entry into the raffle per $5 donation.  If your name comes up more than once, then you will receive more than one prize.    Good luck!

** Running For A Cause ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Chicago Marathon ….. 2013 Edition

It’s no secret that I keep running the Chicago Marathon even though I don’t really consider myself to be a marathon runner.    Marathons are hard, I don’t care who you are or even if you say they aren’t.  However, I like the training as sick as that sounds and I like being part of one of the best marathons in the world.   There are only 6 World Marathon Majors (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago & New York).  One of those majors is in my backyard.  People fly here from all over the world to participate in OUR marathon.  Yeah, I want to be a part of it too. 

The expo is top notch with vendors bringing us amazing gear and samples from all over.  LOVE me a good expo!  Coolest part of the 2013 expo?  I loved the magnet display where we were able to take a magnet & sign our name on the wall.

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The SWAG is always a Nike tech tee so we know that it will be a quality piece.

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The race itself is big.  Like really big.  Two waves, 45,000 registered runners, 1.8+ million spectators.  My friend Katie and I were hustling to the start so that we were in our corrals before they closed the gates.  We had plenty of time but it’s hard to know that prior to actually reaching the corrals themselves.  Fortunately, Ronald McDonald House Charities gave us warming blankets to take to the start cuz it was a bit chilly standing around in 43 degree temps waiting to run.

Me&Katie_prerace   Me_start

I wore that blanket for almost an hour before ditching it as I inched closer to the actual start line.  I was in Corral E and once the race started, we moved up quickly and were ready to cross the start line in under 10 minutes.  The organization at this event is next to none. 

Start

The energy is always high at the Chicago Marathon.  The spectators and runners alike are excited, happy and this year the cooler temps got us started perfectly.   In fact, my corral started FAST, like faster than I wanted to run so I was happy to stop off at the first aid station to use the potty and let some of those fasties go!  No tummy troubles, I was just over hydrated and needed to make a stop.  I was super happy that I stopped early because 1) it wasn’t too crowded and 2) I felt SOOOOO much better! 

LaSalle Street, circa 3.5 miles.  Course is steadily filled with people but not crowded to the point I couldn’t move.  I never felt inhibited but didn’t exactly have a “race pace” to which I needed to adhere so it was good for me all around.  Smile

LaSalle

My favorite part of the course, every year is up north, leaving the Lincoln Park area and entering Old Towne on Sedgwick Street, between miles 9 & 10.  And let me just say, Sedgwick spectators, you were some of the BEST on the entire marathon course and that’s saying A LOT cuz I was really paying attention this year.  What an amazing neighborhood with well-groomed row houses and massive mature trees to shade us from the sun.  LOVE this area!

 Sedgwick  Sedgwick_me

As I snaked along the course this year, I tried to be focused on what was around me, enjoy the experience, not push the pace cuz I know damn well the end gets SUPER HARD for me, pay attention to the spectators/volunteers/police/medical/entertainment as well as the other runners and just be happy to be running healthy.  I took photos.  I talked to people.  I waived to spectators, high fived the kiddos and I made an effort to encourage every RMHC runner who I passed.  I may have even sent a text message or two.  Regardless, I had fun.  A lot of fun.  And when my body started to tighten up, I stopped to stretch and began walking thru the water stops.  By having a focus as to when I could walk, I think I actually spent less time walking all together.  I wasn’t moving very fast toward the end but I was moving and I was grateful for that!

I also saw my girls, April W, Dawn B & Aby at various spots along the course.  Here is Aby and I at mile 17, where I was happy to stop running for a photo.  These ladies made my day.  I looked forward to seeing them each and every time and it kept me moving knowing that they would be “right around the corner”.  THANK YOU, ladies!!

Mile 17_with Aby

Thru the 26 mile course, we had 20 aid stations.  Each aid station was 2 city blocks long. Potties first.  Then medical.  Then fluids.  Gatorade at the front.  Water at the back.  No worries about missing the aid station, there was more than ample time to grab what you wanted/needed.  Lots of potties at each station too, which I appreciate.  Plus, each station lined BOTH sides of the street, so it didn’t matter which side you prefer to run, the aid was there for you.  Lots safety staff & friendly volunteers.  I also saw stations offering energy chews, energy gels & bananas.  Then there were many amazing spectators handing out their own supplies, like mini waters, popsicles, pretzels & Oreo cookies.  THANK YOU to everyone who fed me along the way.  The orange popsicle from Pilsen was by far my favorite treat during the marathon!

And then the finish finally came!  And I was thankful.  Photo courtesy of Nicole F.

finish shoots

Look Ma, both feet are off the ground as I “bust it” toward the finish!  Super exciting after 26.2 miles on the run!  26.94, if you count that potty stop and oh, yeah, I’m counting it!

Finish_me   me_medal

Afterwards, I hobbled walked back to the RMHC tent in Charity Village to join friends, get stretched out, eat, drink & be pampered by one of the best charities around.  Thanks to all of you who donated to RMHC to make this the best marathon experience to date.  RMHC not only takes care of the families in need but also us charity runners.  I’m so thankful to them for all they do for us on marathon day!  Such a class act!

RMHC food STRETCH Me-Aby_Katie 

Great race.  Great atmosphere.  I’d  highly recommend the Chicago Marathon to anyone who is looking to run a big race and have fun doing it!

For me personally, it was an amazing experience.  My fun day brought me to the finish in 4:28.  No, I didn’t push the pace but I had fun and walked away with a smile on my face.  And that’s a win in my book.  Smile

** See you in 2014 ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Chicago Marathon Prep & Setup

Running the Chicago Marathon?  If so, I KNOW you are super psyched right now, as well you should be!  Most of you are probably out-of-towners or suburbanites who won’t step foot in the CHI until this weekend.  Therefore, most have no idea that the city actually starts setting up for the marathon a week in advance.  The first thing I noticed this week, Streets and Sanitation workers had started dropping barricades.  Shutting down 26.2 miles of major city streets takes a bit of preparation!  You’ll be seeing lots of these on Sunday whether you are running or spectating!!

barricades  image 

I was amazed today as I strolled thru the start area at Congress & Monroe by the “little” things that I saw that are up and ready, that I would NEVER see on race day.  Today the streets look normal and traffic has not yet been rerouted.

Columbus_start   Monroe_start

But the “behind the scenes” I saw tents, trailers and fencing is up.  Lookie here, the Elite Start tent.  You’ll probably never even notice this on race day with all the start line hoopla, the TV cameras + crew members, the starting officials, the massive START LINE setup, the added gates and fencing along the streets, the runners packed in beside you, and oh yeah, the fact that you are only thinking about the 26.2 miles in front of you.

Elite Start

Then a stroll thru Grant Park and the surrounding streets brings port-o-potties galore.  More potties than you can imagine.  More potties than I want to can capture.  More potties than I’ve ever seen previously.  In fact, I’ve ran the marathon here many times and never “see” a fraction of what I saw today.  They are tucked away in every crack & crevice, beneath trees and sometimes just “hidden” in plain sight.  Chicago is preparing to accommodate 45,000 runners and 2 million spectators.  Trust me, when you need one of these, you won’t be able to find one without a  “mile long” line in which to wait.  Good luck.

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The tents are going up in Charity Village, Grant Park and the finish area.  Chicago moves closer to “marathon ready” each and every day.

finishline setup  grant park_gates & potties 

Anyone else find it odd that they have to gate off the flowers/trees/shrubs (above) so that people don’t trample them?  Everything in Grant Park is pretty “protected” right now. 

tents

 tents2

All of this and much, much more is just awaiting your arrival!!

I know many of you might be first timers and/or extremely nervous and that’s totally normal.  It might be helpful to take a minute to read this post HERE with some tips on marathoning in general, the Chicago Marathon and ENJOYING the experience.  I wrote it last year at this time but it’s still a good read.  Smile

** Chicago Is Getting Ready for YOU ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

The Countdown …. Chicago Marathon 2013

To say that I’m not excited would be a total lie.  I’m SUPER PSYCHED about the 2013 Chicago Marathon!  This year seems particularly special since I had to sit last year out with a nasty injury.  At this point last year, I was walking again and had started running but my mileage was very low.  I was facing what would turn out to be a long, slow buildup to ensure that I would be “up and running” for a long time after my recovery.   The goal was long term health NOT the speed at which I could return to the run.  It seems to have worked well.  I’ve done a few fun things this year, including Ragnar Key West, the Lansing Marathon and a lot of races from 5K to the half marathon distance.  However, I’ve just recently noticed that my “run mojo” is returning.  I’m excited to see what that means for me and the Chicago Marathon.  Maybe I’ll be running side by side with Ritz?  Or maybe not.

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I don’t have a time goal.  I know that seems odd to so many of you but I don’t.  This is a race that fields so many people, both runners and spectators alike.  We will have approximately 45,000 runners and just under 2 million spectators.  If you are running, you don’t need to worry about feeling lonely during THIS marathon.  You will always have people around you both running and cheering for you by name.  I know from past experience that things get crowded.  I don’t want to worry about trying to weave around people rather than enjoying the journey because I’m too focused on the clock.  I just want to have fun.   I want to read all the signs.  I want to see all the crazy outfits.  I want to cheer back those who came to cheer for us.  I want to laugh and smile and high five the little ones who came out in the cold to see us crazy marathoners.  I want to be present and in the moment.    Who knows what next year will bring?  Possibly a real lottery for the Chicago Marathon?  Possibly more of the same?  There are no guarantees that there will be a 2014 marathon for me, so I’m going to enjoy this one like it might be my last.  Who really knows?  Plenty of smaller marathons that I can run for time so I don’t want that to be my focus here, in my home town, in one of the BEST marathons in the world. 

The city is ready.  The signs have been hung. 

CHI Marathon_sign - connected   CHI Marathon_old town sign

The preparations have been made.  The game is ON.  Let’s run Chicago together!

CHI marathon_start sign

** See You On Sunday ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Running, “What’s the Plan?”

I haven’t talked much about running as of late but if you know me, then there probably wasn’t any doubt about whether I’ve been logging miles.  The run is my first fitness love and to be honest, if I gave up everything else, I probably wouldn’t be able to give up the run. 

That being said, there is a reason as to why I haven’t been talking about it much.  I’m currently running a “do as I say, not as I do” training plan so haven’t wanted to say too much about it.   I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.  No need to tell me it won’t work.  I’ve done this all my life in some shape or form long enough that I’m okay with trial and error since I don’t get paid no matter how fast I run.  If doesn’t work out, then there are a billion races down the road for which I can revise a plan and try something different.  No worries! 

When I returned to running last fall after rehabbing the tendon in my foot, I had a lot of disappointing races.  I had somewhere along the way either lost my speed or my guts drive to run as fast as I could when I toed the line.  So I backed off.  What’s the point of going to a race and being disappointed?  I mean really, I pay to race, so it should be fun.  I want to walk away happy.  So I backed off and kept things social and fun for the last six months.  I focused on biking and triathlon and not so much running hard.  I had a lot of races hit my calendar on which I hadn’t originally planned.  I knew if I attempt to “race” them all then I truly would end up racing none.  So I picked a goal race, which just so happens to be where I’ve ran my fastest half to date, the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon in Fort Wayne, IN.  This is my “hometown” race, if there is such a thing.  I get to go home, spend time with my family, see lots of high school run friends and it just generally makes me happy to be there.  The race is always at the end of September and I haven’t been able to go for the last couple of years because of conflicts with Aby’s Cross Country schedule.  No conflicts this year!  We are heading to “The Fort” next weekend to race!!

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When I realized we could go this year, I immediately started to think about the fact that I’m ten pounds over race weight running fast .  I fully acknowledged to myself that my full race/training schedule, along with Aby’s schedule, life/home, work/commuting created a bit of a conflict with my goal to run a fast half marathon.  I needed a race plan and I needed one fast.  I was TRI training and eventually had to give in and start marathon training but still needed to focus on some speed.  So I improvised.  I’ve been using the FIRST (Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training) Run Less Run Faster app on my iPhone since the dog ate the actual book.  I was using the app for a marathon training plan but quickly revised it to a half plan and tweaked the numbers to hit my goal pace.  Not the way it’s supposed to work.  The app (or book if you own it) spits out a plan tailored to your CURRENT fitness level based on recent race times.  I knew my recent race times were not truly indicative of my fitness or ability level.  So I improvised.  And I kept it quiet.

Once a week I’ve been working on speed, from the training app.  Once a week I’ve been running a fast tempo, from the training app.  Once a week, I deviate from the plan and run long and slow to ensure that I’ll be ready to tackle 26.2 miles at the Chicago Marathon on October 13th. 

It’s almost time to see if this little experiment will work.  I’ve got nothing to lose.  I know that nobody will be disappointed if I don’t “run fast” but I’m ready to run with my heart on my sleeve and TRY to push the pace for 13.1 miles.  As insurance, I went out on a really long and shaky limb and contacted someone who will be running and gunning for the same goal pace (1:50:xx) as myself.  This will keep me honest and hopefully if I start to cry slack, I’ll get a reality check and sharp “suck it up, cupcake” to kick my ass back into gear. 

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I haven’t ran fast for a long time.  I’m scared.  Yet I’m also excited.  The fast tempo runs have given me just enough confidence to believe that I might, just might be able to do this  ….  but only time will tell.  8 days and the results will be written in black and white.

First I have to get thru this weekend!  I have a crazy double, which I’m mentally telling myself will be good prep for the Dopey Challenge in January!  Women Rock Chicago Half on Saturday.  F’N 20 Mile Run on Sunday.  I plan to run both slow and relaxed.  Then it will be mostly R&R next week so I will be rested and  READY TO RUN my ass off at Fort4Fitness.

** Don’t Let Fear of Failure Paralyze YOU  **  Amanda – TooTallFritz  **

Who’s Tired?

I’m at the point of marathon training where things are getting rough.  My legs are tired.  If you are training for a fall marathon then you can probably relate cuz I know your legs are heavy too.  The mileage is starting to creep up to the point where we will soon peak, then start to taper back down.  For the Chicago Marathoners, we basically have another 4 weeks of hard training, then we are done, ready to taper, and  absolutely prepared to run the full 26.2 miles on October 13th.  So take a deep breath, just get thru the next four weekends and you will be in the home stretch!  You can do it!!!

In addition to marathon training, I’m also finishing out TRI season.  Not brilliant planning but then I didn’t plan it this way.  I have a rollover registration from the 2012 Great Illini Challenge 70.3 which was canceled, so they rolled all of our registrations from 2012 to this year.  I considered downgrading to the Olympic distance so I can just go out, smash the distance and go home but I’ve decided against that.  I don’t want to downgrade.  I don’t want to waste the registration fee.  I don’t want to waste the opportunity to tackle the distance.  I’m trained for it even if I have only swam 1x since Racine so it just feels like a cop out to go shorter.  Therefore, on Saturday, I’ll be going the distance and pushing thru the last TRI of the 2013 season, which just happens to be a half iron distance event.

Marathon Training + Half Iron Training + CrossFit + Allergy/Head Cold + IBD flare-up = One wiped out momma this weekend.

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As a result, this week is all about recovery so that I can be fresh on Saturday.  I took a rest day yesterday.  I’m pushing my water, allergy meds and probiotics to help get rid of my “extra” issues.  I’m using Nighttime Recovery and Bio Tools to help repair my tired muscles.  And I actually slept last night thanks to both Michael and Libby (my weim) being tired too.  So it will be a good week and I will be rested by Saturday even though I had to pull out my bag of tricks to aid my recovery.  At least I’ve been doing this long enough to have a bag of tricks, right?   Smile

Feeling tired is a natural part of marathon and TRI training but make sure you are able to recognize the difference between being tired and having extra factors that are also draining you.  Don’t stress if you need to skip a day of training, or two, to get some of your energy back.    Rest.  Relax.  Listen to your body.  If you “run” yourself into the ground, then you will get sick or injured or both.

** Resting up for Great Illini ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Chicago Marathon Training ….

While most runners in the CHI are a full 8 or 9 weeks into marathon training, I’ve only just begun.  Granted, I’m “kinda” in half marathon shape.  As in, I can run a half marathon if I don’t have to add any speed to the equation.  My body isn’t exactly in the right spot so I’m more of a shuffler than a runner at this point.  In fact, my feet even scuff at times because I just can’t  get those hamstrings to engage!!  Well, time is ticking and the Chicago Marathon will occur weather I’m ready or not, so last week I created a training plan.  No worries, this isn’t a “BQ or Bust” type plan but rather a “Finish It” plan.  And that, I can do.  I can finish it even if I shed a few tears along the way.

Saturday’s calendar showed a 15 miler.  That probably seems easy for those of you who are marathon training, and very daunting for those of you working the C25K plan.   My brain processed it right in the middle.  I knew it wouldn’t be easy but that I should be able to cover the distance.  I was fortunate in that I didn’t have to run alone.  Hubby’s schedule is changing and I believe that it will give me back Saturday mornings for running.  And I mean running on real trails, not withering away in agony on the treadmill.   Plus the run club has  a big crew on Saturday mornings so this makes me “Happy, Happy, Happy”.  (Yes, we are big Duck Dynasty fans!!)  Smile

Saturday morning F’N Runners, minus another 6 who were already out on the trial:

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I put in 6 miles before the crew arrived, a bit faster than I wanted, just shy of 9 min/mi pace.   I knew that wouldn’t bode well for the rest of the run but I was with other people apparently let it happen so am apparently the one who was willing to suffer the consequences.  Knowing that my pace would only be slipping, I settled in with the 10-10:30 group who were also running long on SAT morning.  I kinda felt like I was holding them back, which is almost always how I feel when I run with other people.  Who knows if that’s really the case or just my crazy brain talking?  Regardless, I ran with those lovely ladies for an additional 4 miles.  Fun times.  I talked non-stop and probably drove them crazy was thrilled to be running with a chatty crew.  Alas, the time came when I needed to turn back and they continued forward.  I had one poor lady make the flip with me.  And wow, it didn’t go well.  I pretty much struggled the last 3 miles back to the car.  I had to walk off and on.  Normally walking isn’t a problem with me but I had a partner.  Total guilt fest.  She said she didn’t mind.  Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t.  Who knows but it made me feel bad. 

All in all, I covered 15 miles.  That’s a win on the training plan because it’s in the done column; however, I still worry that ruined that lady’s run!!

Do you feel guilty when you run with others and they stick with you even when you are having a bad run? 

**  Amanda – TooTallFritz **

It’s A Lottery….

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Many have been waiting for well over a week to find out how the Chicago Marathon would fill the remaining 15,000 slots for the 2013 race.  The press release yesterday revealed their decision to do a lottery for the remaining spots.  Please read the statement verbatim below:

Since suspending registration, we have been working on the best possible solution to offer the remaining 15,000 entries for the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. We have determined that on Tuesday, March 5, registration will reopen as a lottery. While this is a departure from our traditional registration process, we believe it is the most fair and efficient way to address this unique situation.

For more lottery details and Q&A, go to: www.chicagomarathon.com/lottery.

Interested runners can enter the lottery at chicagomarathon.com starting on Tuesday, March 5, at 12:01 a.m. CST until Thursday, March 7, at 9 p.m. CST. From those entries, 15,000 names will be randomly selected to fill the remaining spots in the 2013 Chicago Marathon. Those individuals will be notified on Tuesday, March 12, and they will have until 9 p.m. CST on Thursday, March 14, to complete their official registration.

We realize the impact these registration challenges have had on our supporters and we are grateful for everyone’s continued understanding.

As a local, multi-year finisher of the Chicago Marathon, I am saddened by this news.  The entire city of Chicago and the local running community stands behind the Chicago Marathon and each year looks forward to this mammoth event.  Although, many runners may feel as if they have outgrown the race and look for smaller, less iconic events, there is no doubt the Chicago Marathon has become a tradition for many of us.

Many runners go back year after year, despite the crowds, despite the cost.  We plan not only our running schedule but our lives around this race.  We do it for a variety of reasons.   Many do it to run, train, race & bond with our local running community.  Others do it to challenge themselves.  Some just want to be part of something iconic.  Others want to be able to take to the streets just one day a year with the elites who vie for the big money, notoriety and the chance to prove they are the best.  For many, to just be on the same streets with these amazing athletes is an honor for which we do not take for granted.  For the reasons above and many more, an inordinate amount of people, if they were able, were sitting at their computers at noon on February 19th ready to register for the 2013 Chicago Marathon. 

We were all nervous.  Fresh in our memory was the Naperville Marathon fiasco, which despite the initial poor decisions by race directors and all the negative publicity, ended up selling out in one day.   There was no doubt that if we wanted to run Chicago, then we needed to register immediately.  And we tried.  I knew that people who had jobs without computer access or those who were sitting in the hospital with a loved one, or those possibly helping at their child’s school at noon on the 19th had a high likelihood of getting shutout.  I was definitely feeling the anxiety not only for myself but also the others who I knew would never get registered before it filled.  Then the inevitable happened, registration opened and the entire registration system (via Active.com) immediately collapsed, locked up, allowing only intermittent, random registrations to trickle thru.  To be honest, I didn’t know if I had even gotten in or not.  I  never did get thru all the registration screens despite hundreds of attempts.  There was so much uncertainly and I just didn’t know.  I discussed the Registration Nightmare HERE.

After 9 days of waiting, the announcement was made that the remaining slots will be filled via a lottery system.  More uncertainty and waiting for those who want to run but have yet to garner a spot.  Even charity runners will be thrown into the lottery.  Those charity runners who get selected in the lottery will go about business as usual.  The charity runners who don’t get selected will quickly soak up the charity’s post-close slots.  As I understand it, each charity has a specific amount of spots which they are able to offer after the registration process is closed.   They normally use the spots for NEW runners, who have not ran for them previously.  Its a way for them to raise additional charity monies by being able to offer up a registration for a closed race and basically get someone to run for charity who possibly wouldn’t do so otherwise.  It’s a a win-win.  Runner gets into a closed race.  Charity is able to raise additional funds via the “new” charity runner.  For this reason, the charities prefer us alumni runners to register while the race is still open so that we don’t soak up those “extra” positions.  

What does all this mean?  If you want to run, enter the lottery.  If you REALLY want to run, start looking over the charity list HERE.  There will be fewer charity spots open this year than in previous years.  It is inevitable that some of the runners who have already committed to running for a charity will not get in thru the lottery; therefore, they will get first chance at the post-close charity slots.  If you contact the charity now and commit, then you’ll be “on the list” for the first slots available after the close.

If a particular charity doesn’t call to you, join me in running for Ronald McDonald House Charities, we would love to have you!  More info HERE.

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Good luck to all of you who are still looking to register.  I hope you get in via the lottery.  I know you’re anxious.  I’m anxious for you!  I’m also anxious to see how registration changes for future Chicago Marathon events.  I anticipate the lottery system will be a permanent fixture for Chicago and we will all be vying for coveted lottery slots in the years to come.  I don’t look forward to that.  It makes me sad because I really do love running the Chicago Marathon.  I love being able to drive in, park on race morning, run the race and then drive back home to my family without any having to hassle with travel plans, hotels or unknown cities.  Therefore, I’m planning to enjoy this year as if it’s my last because it very well may be the last time I get “in” to run the Chicago Marathon.

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz