Fort 4 Fitness Half Marathon – 2013


Saturday turned out to be an amazing day for the 6th annual Fort4Fitness event.  Out of the 6 years since it’s start, I have ran the half marathon 4 times.  I missed 2009 with a brand new baby boy who was only 20 days old and I missed last year due to a conflict with the Cross Country schedule.  Barring any unusual circumstances, I’ll definitely be back in 2014!  

This is by far one of my favorite events of the entire year.  The atmosphere is festive, fun and family friendly.  Each and every year, I am amazed at the growth of the field size and how well the organizers are able to manage the increase in numbers.  The Fort4Fitness weekend brings a health & fitness expo, kids marathon, senior marathon, 4 mile run/walk, 10K and  half marathon.   This variety of events allows my entire family to participate as well as many, many of my local run friends who are out for fun, fitness or possibly even running for time.   A few friends from high school, who I saw at the start:


The 4 mile event hosted 3603 finishers with an average time of 1:00:02, the 10K had 1834 finishers with an average time of 1:14:41 and the half bought 2515 finishers with an average time of 2:14:54.  Each and every participant finished in grand style, on the jumbotron as they made a lap around the track at Parkview Field.


It was no secret that I was running for time on Saturday.  The day was beautiful with temps just under 60 degrees at the start.  Bright sun.  No clouds.  Lots of energy.  I felt fresh.  I was loose, even my hamstrings were cooperating for once.  I was ready to run.  One minor snafu, I for the second time this month forgot my pre-race fuel (banana) in my bag.  No worries, right?  Right!  I did have one gel with me which I normally take around mile 8, I just adjusted and used it at mile 2 instead.  Smile

Start of the race is by cannon.  Each race has a separate start (4 mi at 7:30 am, Half at 8am & 10K at 9am).  We hear the cannon go off and we inch toward the start and I’m across in just a couple minutes.  First mile is slightly congested, no big thing.  8:30 min/mi split.   Mile 2, back on track, 8:17 split.  Mile 3-7 are all exactly 8:20 splits.  I felt good, in control, wasn’t running too fast but wasn’t slacking either.  AND THEN I HIT THE WALL, or maybe it hit me.   It happened just as fast as someone flipping the light switch, I was done.  No, I take that back, I wasn’t done, my legs were done.   My vision got a little fuzzy, I knew I was low on fuel and I think my legs were “possibly” still fatigued from the previous weekend’s half marathon/20 miler “double”.  Who knows.  I tried to speed up several times but it wasn’t happening.  So I just smiled, enjoyed the race, focused on being thankful that I was running pain free and just kept moving toward the finish.  It was a 1:56:xx type of day.  Fastest half of the year, so far, and just a beautiful day to run with friends.  It was also a bit of a confidence boost that there are fast times in my legs, I just need to tweak my recovery and nutrition a bit more.


A few random thoughts:  1)  I missed seeing the National Guard this year. They are usually stationed between mile 11 & 12.  I was looking forward to seeing them and they weren’t around.  Maybe they had something more important to do?  2)   Where did those hills come from toward the end?  That’s what I love about racing the same course again and again,  I always THINK I know the course but the hills got me this time when I was already on my downswing. I won’t forget about them next year!

Saw a few friends at the end too!  Aby, Me, Adella & Brandi.  Both Adella & Brandi were on my track & XC teams in high school.  LOVE that we are all still running!

Fort4Fitness_brandi & adella

Great swag – a reusable Vera Bradley tote bag & a half zip technical pullover (unisex sizing).

Fort4Fitness_Vera bag   Fort4Fitness_Swag

Great course with constantly changing scenery starting with downtown views, heading toward the river, then into Foster Park, then thru some old very established neighborhoods with a “few” rolling hills.   Great on course support offering 9 water/aid/potty stations.  Last aid station, “may” have an extra table set up for beer shots too or maybe not, you’ll have to run and see for yourself.  Smile

See you next year in Fort Wayne!!

Amanda – TooTallFritz

The Time Is NOW …..

I’m about 18 hours out from my only goal race of the year.  I fully acknowledge that I haven’t been at my best this year.  I acknowledge that I’ve taken the easy way out and ran “for fun” a lot this year …. Never trying to push the pace to avoid disappointment.   It has taken me a lot longer to recover from last summer’s injury than I anticipated, whether that was mental or physical, I know not.  Probably a little bit of both if I’m 100% honest.


So needless to say I’m anxious.  I ran speed and tempos to prepare for this but the last two weeks I’ve done nothing other than “just run” & CrossFit.  I’m 5-6 lbs heavier than normal and am super thankful for having lost a few lbs this week.  I can’t decide what to wear.  I don’t really have a plan other than to try to focus my brain on “pushing” and not being intimidated by a pace that I am fully capable of managing.  I am visualizing a time on the clock that I can only hope is MY finish time.  I am not stressing about my stiff/sore back or my seemingly tired legs.  I’m not thinking about the 9th mile where I tend to fall off pace.  I’m not thinking about the weather which is going to be much warmer than I like.

What I am focused upon is giving the best that I have tomorrow, regardless of what the clock says at the end.  I’m focused on effort.  The time is NOW to push the pace and see what the last 5-6 months have given me in the name of strength and speed.   Historically speaking, the Fort4Fitness race brings out my best because it shows up on the calendar just as I start my taper for the Chicago Marathon.  It also helps that temps in the Midwest by late September are generally falling to the mid to low 40s at night.   Historically, I have ran fast in Fort Wayne, even when I’m injured and end up limping away from the race.  Today I am healthy.  I am strong.  I am ready.  The time is NOW to run fast and reap the benefits of months of hard work.  The time is NOW.

I’m excited.  I’m anxious.  I’m scared.  Not scared that I will fail.  I don’t believe anyone who has the courage to toe the line will ever fail but rather scared that I won’t have the courage to TRY to push a pace of which I know I am capable.  Tomorrow at this time, the results will be written.  Good, bad or otherwise, the ink will already be dry.  Can’t wait to see how this plays out. 

** The Time Is Now ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

5K at the Quad Cities Marathon

Many, many months ago, I registered for the half marathon that was part of the Quad Cities Marathon weekend.  This would have been my last race before the Chicago Marathon.  Many would probably take it easy with the marathon so close in sight but that’s not my style.  Each and every year, I always race and run hard this weekend and it never fails to be the fastest half of the entire season.  Yes, the fastest and on legs that are tired from marathon training but oh so fast and fit from 18+ weeks of high mileage.  I don’t even usually have to “try” to run fast, it just happens and always leaves a smile on my face knowing that the hard work of marathon training paid off. 

QuadCities_2012 banner 

This year has been a little different.  First, I normally race the Fort 4 Fitness Half in Fort Wayne, IN because that’s close to my parents and essentially a home town race for me.  My whole family participates in the various events which range from a 4 mile run/walk, 10K to the half marathon.  Its more like a party than a running event with family, friends and an atmosphere that few other races come close to rivaling.  Oh, and the course is amazing too.  I love Ft. Wayne!  However, this year the Fort 4 Fitness Half was scheduled for the September 29th, which is only a week out from the Chicago Marathon, plus Aby has a Cross Country Invite that day, so we were out for sure although certainly not happy about it.

About the time I realized I wouldn’t be running the Fort 4 Fitness Half, my friend Lisa who has been my best running friend for longer than some people have been alive decided to do her first marathon in her hometown, Moline, IL.  Hello, Quad Cities Marathon!  We had done the half there in 2007 before the Fort 4 Fitness races were created and despite the horrid heat from that year, it has always been on the top of my list of great races with amazing hospitality.  So I was instantly excited to go back to the Quad Cities and I even seriously considered running the full with her even though it was only two weeks out for the Chicago Marathon.  Then Lisa broke her foot.   Then I tore a tendon in my foot.  Lisa’s injury was about 6 weeks earlier than mine and healed fast so she was still able to train up for the half, while I was only able to return for the 5K.  So we both ran yesterday but in races which we didn’t originally register.  Cynde, Kelly, Lisa & I before the start (photo source, Nancy W):

QuadCities_2012 girls

The Quad Cities Marathon races are top notch.  They give great swag and since this was the 15th anniversary, the swag was better than ever.  In fact, I don’t remember ever receiving this much great stuff that I know I will be using!   The 15th anniversary promised running gloves (used them yesterday morning and they rock!), a running belt with a zippered pouch, reflectors and a blinking light, plus a gender specific long sleeve shirt that is super soft and will be nice for lounging and/or running. 

QuadCities_2012 swag    QuadCities_2012 Swag only

The expo had about 40 vendors and seemed small but most are when you are spoiled used to running races in Chicago that consistently have 35 to 45 thousand runners.  Although small in size, the expo had the necessities and they gave away free beer the vendors were personable.

The race itself offered a Kids Mini Marathon, 1 mile walk, 5K, half marathon, marathon relay and a marathon.  Lots of choices and they were very nice about letting us downgrade our registrations to shorter races due to our injuries.  Plus the various courses were well marked, had tons of volunteers support, port-o-potties, aid stations, and the traffic control was amazing.  These races are all fast due to the participant cap of 5,000 runners which enables  you to run your race and not get boxed in behind lots of other runners.  If you are looking to run fast and free, I’d recommend trying out the Quad Cities races.  There really is something for the entire family.  Plus they give a ton of awards so you may come home with some extra bling, I did!

                   QuadCities_2012 trophy    QuadCities_2012 trophy2

Although, I’m still not up to speed, I’m improving and well, most people come to Quad Cities for the  half or full marathon so the 5K was a “little” light.  I ran a 25:05 and that was good enough for a second in my age group.  Kinda cool that they gave such nice trophies for all the races.  The awards for the half, marathon relay and the marathon were even more extravagant.  They even offered awesome medals to the 1 mile walkers and the 5K participants.  They really made us feel a part of the process and that was nice.  Here is a pic that Run With Jess took of the 5K medal. 

QuadCities_2012 medal This is an amazing series of races and I would absolutely go back again.  I was very concerned about the mass start with all the races beginning at once but it wasn’t a problem at all and I was able to get right out and on with my 5K race at the pace that I could manage wanted.  I was never trapped or boxed and was across the start line within 20 seconds.  I love the Quad Cities and all that they offer.  I enjoy the atmosphere of these races and the little touches like on course wet sponges and oranges, and the great finish line party with on hand chiropractors and massages therapists, tons of snacks, water, chocolate milk, Pepsi, pork chop sandwiches and FREE BEER.  They were very generous with all the complimentary post race items and didn’t even take the tags from our bib.  Thanks Quad Cities for another great race.  I’ll definitely be back!

** Happy Racing ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Don’t Count Yourself Out…..

Most of us start running for fitness.  We start as run/walkers and we build.  Very few people I know are like my friend Abby S. who was a spectator at the London Marathon and decided on the spot that she too was going to run a marathon.  Of course, Abby had never ran a single mile prior to that decision but she signed up for the 2007 Chicago SCORCHER Marathon and ran it.  Because she wanted to do it.  Because she could do it.  Because who knows what tomorrow will bring and where it will take a person.   Abby  & I in the 2008 Fort 4 Fitness Half Marathon in Ft Wayne, IN.

For those of us “builders”, it’s a process. We don’t start out with the intention to run long and the thought of a marathon NEVER enters our mind.  If we are lucky, we have one friend who is on the fitness bandwagon and will help and encourage us through daily emails and mentoring.  If we aren’t that lucky, we slug along ourselves, watching our food intake and fitting in as much exercise as we can muster, probably giving up much-needed sleep in the process.  We are sore from not knowing the proper protein to carb ratio for recovery (4:1).  We are discouraged because we are hungry from not eating enough but we are DETERMINED to do whatever it takes to lose the baby weight or the freshman 15 or the “just married” blissfully ignorant to our heath 25. 

Regardless of your level of education on health, wellness & nutrition in the beginning, you will start  do research, ask questions, and learn what works for you.  Your body will get stronger and while it will never be easy, you will be able to do “more” with the same level of effort.  If you run/walk, you will be able to run longer, or possibly you are running the same distance but you are getting faster.  You will meet new friends who are EXCITED about your new lease on life and your new healthy activities.  Your new friends will create a support system for you that you may not have had at home.  You will gain the courage to join a group run.  You will say that you can’t really run because you have bad knees.   And then before you know it you will be standing on the start line…..because that is where your new friends are standing.  You are ready to run your first race.  It is probably a 5K but this is just the beginning.  You know you will NEVER be ready for a half or full marathon, well, maybe you can try a half.  You know, just run/walk it.  With training, it might be a possibility.  And the “group” is signing up for a full, which is 9 months away.  Where will you be in 9 months?  Could you?  Hmmmm, let’s see how the half goes…….

Don’t count yourself out.  Each day is a new day.  Your abilities today have no reflection on where you will be in 6 months or a year.  Surround yourself with positive people who have a CAN DO attitude and you too will realize that YOU CAN DO the unimaginable. 

Where will you be 12 months from now?  Don’t be afraid to wonder, what if?

Dream, Imagine, Believe!                                                                                             Amanda – TooTallFritz

2012….The Mystery of What Will Be…..

This is the first day of 2012 and we are looking at a fresh start with a  whole new year in front of us.  What will you bring to Ms. TooTall and the family, 2012?  This is the time in which many are making New Year’s Resolutions; however, I am not really a fan of a “resolution” per say .  I think that many treat resolutions like rules with the “they are made to be broken” type attitude.  So in absence of a New Year’s Resolution, each year I attempt to develop some sort of challenge for myself and as many people as I can suck into the insane plan.  As with all good plans/challenges, it needs to most importantly bring about a good story in the process!  I really believe that over half of the endeavors in which I have sucked my sister into  completed were for the sole sake of having a good story.

Thru the years, we have developed some REALLY good stories.  Still one of my favorites was the 2005 Rim to Rim hike thru the Grand Canyon with (Me), Sara (my sis), Lisa E., Lisa’s Cousin Cindy & Lisa’s mom:

That adventure was my foray back to fitness.  It was a long road cuz I had 10+ years of excess eating/drinking to redirect but I not only hauled my ass person from the North Rim, to Phantom Ranch on the Colorado River but then up the South Kaibab Trail for a finish on the South Rim.  Good times.  Good memories.  And it was a heck of a workout!  This adventure was a catalyst to my current state of fitness.  More importantly, it gave me the confidence to also try other things that prior to that point, I would have NEVER though possible.


Me & Abby S. during the Inaugural 2008 Fort 4 Fitness Half Marathon:LOTS OF FAST RACINGLOTS OF TRIATHLON

I’m unzipping the black wetsuit in the middle.




So after so much fun and sweat it is hard to create a budget friendly challenge for the new year.  Last year I challenged myself to run 1000 miles.  I made it despite fighting injuries from March thru year-end.  This year I wanted something new and fresh and along came….So the big adventure for Ms. TooTall for 2012 will be participating in a chicks only, 6 person, ultra relay team for the Madison to Chicago Ragnar Relay Series. 33 miles over the course of 2 days/nights in early June.  This is gonna be insane fun and should provide us with a GREAT story!

I will also be running the 2012 Chicago Marathon and delving back into Triathlon after a long bike hiatus from Mr. Michael’s birth/toddler years.   The goal is a 1000 running miles and 1000 bike miles.  This will be TOUGH for me but I joined Team Tough Chik for 2012 so hopefully that will provide extra support that I need to make this happen!  If you are interested in being on Team Tough Chik for 2012, click HERE.  The deadline for joining the team has been extended until Jan 7.  See a few of my fellow Tough Chiks below.

What do you have planned for 2012?  Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

Once Again…..Happy New Year!                                                                                Amanda – TooTallFritz