Rock N Roll Chicago – 2017 Edition

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The Rock N Roll Chicago 1/2 marathon is one that I keep returning to, year after year.  Not because timing is great for me (its my momma’s birthday weekend EVERY year).  But because my friends & family love this race.  Since I moved away from the Chicago area, this is a great excuse to come back & reconnect with some people I rarely get to see, plus Aby loves this race.  Its always been my MO to go where my friends go.  Racing with friends is always more fun!!  And for anyone under 30, MO is “method of operation”.  Apparently that’s not a common acronym at this point in time.  I was just informed the other day that Aby has NO idea what that means (and I use it pretty frequently).  Smile

Aby, Nicki & I hit the expo on Saturday at McCormick Place.  Always plenty of parking at McCormick.  Easy in and out.  We even received discounted parking this year which was a bonus!!  Plenty of vendors.  A couple photo ops. 

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Having to go downtown for the expo is a perfect excuse to enjoy the city by walking around, having a late lunch & Aby usually insists on ice cream.  Ghirardelli’s anyone?

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Race day starts bright and early to try beat the summer heat & humidity of the Midwest.  We got downtown around 5:15a for a 6:30a race start.  Temps were probably in the 70s and not nearly as hot & humid as normal.  Thank goodness!

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And we are ready to ROCK!  Nicki for the 10K.  Aby for her 3rd half marathon & as for me, well, I was just there to have fun.  I’ve probably done 30 some half’s at this point.  Not my race distance of choice currently but Chicago offers a 5K, 10K & half marathon.  Great for the whole family & a great girls weekend where there is something for everyone!  I particularly love races that have multiple distances so its more inclusive for runner friends at all levels!

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It took about 2 miles before I realized that I was going to have to say goodbye to my “little” runner girl.  Aby had a poor buildup for the race.  Lack of motivation after losing her favorite running partner this summer!!  But race day brings magic and well, she was ON FIRE.

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Good bye, girl.  I must admit, the miles kinda slogged on from that point.  I wasn’t tired or hurt but had just come off the IM 70.3 Muncie the week before and I was facing down 2 half ironmans within the next month.  I didn’t want to put too much effort into this race.  I want to be healthy and that means that I can’t give it my all every time I hit the pavement.  I’m at that point in life, and age wise, where I have to train smarter, not harder.   So I slogged thru the miles.  Slowly. 

The course winds thru the streets of Chicago.  I’ve ran the race several times at this point so I know the course.  The spectators were concentrated at key intersections but it was otherwise  a pretty quiet day.  Like a training run with lots of friends! 

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Highlight was that I knew I had a chance of seeing Aby around mile 9, where there is a short out & back on MLK Drive between miles 8.5 & 9.5.  So unless she had gapped me by over a mile, which was a real possibility, I had a chance of spotting her.  And had I been even a few minutes slower, I would have missed her.  But I saw her briefly, shouted “great job” and she shouted that she was going to try to “break 2”.  I said, “Go get it!!” and she was off again.  She broke 2 on her 3rd half marathon!  1:56 for her!!!!  Great job, Aby!!!

Once we finished the out & back on MLK Drive, we head toward McCormick Place & the last 3 miles of the course.  There is always a giant inflatable Brooks Running guitarist at the 10 mile mark.  Happy to see him, as usual.  Then on to finish the race! 

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Finished! 

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Aby was flying high from her new PR.  We all agreed that the race was great.  Well ran.  Plenty of aid stations.  Lots of places where the City of Chicago had opened hydrants to cool off runners.  Amazing volunteers, great course support, great crowd/traffic control.  Overall, if your going to run a race in mid July, in the heat & humidity of the Midwest, this is one of the best.  Thanks Chicago for continuing to support the Rock N Roll Marathon series & their quest to bring one of the best running races to Chicago, each and every year. 

SWAG – Gender specific technical tee & race medal below.

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Next up, the Ironman 70.3 Ohio.  So I’ll be back next week to tell you all about that race.  Have a great weekend & I hope you ROCK your runs, no matter how big or small, at whatever distance YOU love! 

** Rock N Blogger – Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon – 2016

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Year after year, I return to the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon.  In fact this is my 4th appearance (2012, 2014, 2015 & 2016 – In 2013 I did IM 70.3 Racine which is always the same day).  Why have I ran so many times?  Don’t I like to experience new events vs repeating the same one over and over?  Well, this is a popular race & I always have friends who want to run.  My daughter LOVES this race.  I LOVE Chicago.  And ultimately, I go where my friends & family want to go.  And RNR Chicago is where the fun is in July!   #RNRCHI  So let’s run!

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Part of this year’s RNR CHI crew.  From Left:  Nicki, Me, Julie B, & Aby. 

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Aby & Nicki ran the 10K.  Julie B & I ran the half. 

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I must say, this was the most fun I’ve had (so far) at RNR CHI.  This was a no pressure year. I’m currently focusing on my nutrition & recovery so I can hopefully kill IM 70.3 Steelhead.  Therefore,  I wasn’t worried about the weather or what was to come, I just settled in with Julie B and ran.  The weather was amazing this year.  Coolish, high 60s at the start.  In the 70s at the finish.  Cloud cover.  Light breeze.  Little did I know that the great weather was due to a storm brewing nearby.  Hmmmm…..

Early 6:30am start, cuz its July & we want to beat the heat!!  Corral start.  Corrals were separated by 2-3 minutes.  Course was crowded but I never felt hindered.  Once thru the first mile, our corral had already thinned out and we were free to run whatever pace we could manage. Aid stations & porta potties every mile or so.  Bands every couple miles.  Gels between mile 9 & 10.  Cold sponges at mile 11.  The half was 100% on the streets of Chicago this year, from start to finish.  Nice course.  As for the 10K, they started with the half, then split early, within the first 1/4 mile of the race.  They turned off the streets and onto the lakefront path at Dusable Harbor, then ran the path to McCormick Place.  They finished with the half route for the last 3ish miles.  A couple pics from the course.

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This race is about fun.  I know some feel the need to race every event and that’s great, but that’s not where I am at this point.  I’d rather enjoy the run with friends than rush off and try to win.  Smile  So I’m thankful for my run friends, like Julie B who put up with my non-stop chatter while we run.  Fun day in Chicago!  And we beat the storm but just barely.  We finished and I immediately made a dash for my car.  It started raining, just as we hit the parking garage.  By the time we were out of the parking garage it was a total downpour.  So I missed hooking up with some of my other friends who ran.  I missed utilizing the VIP tent for the after party.  But ultimately, I go to an event for the running aspect and I loved RNR CHI this year!  Thanks Chicago!  Thanks Rock N Roll Marathon series!!!

At the finish with Julie B. 

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Swag.  Finishers medal.

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If you are interested in running Rock N Roll Chicago next year, they are doing an early bird pre-sale now!  The half is only $50, the 10K is $35 & the 5K is $30.  You can register here.   If you are interested in any of the remaining 2016 Rock N Roll events, feel free to use my discount code (TTF2016) for $15 off any half or full events.  I believe its active for every race EXCEPT San Antonio, as of right now.  I’ll be running the full in Vegas in November, then San Antonio in December, in case your interested.  Smile

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** Rock YOUR Run ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Fort4Fitness Half Marathon … 2015 Edition

It’s no secret that the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon in Fort Wayne, Indiana is my favorite.   I’ve ran about 30 half marathons so can say that with confidence.  This was my 5th Fort4Fitness half and my worst performance (2:06:49) here to date.  However, it’s also the location that holds my current half marathon PR (1:53:20).  Great race.  Great town.  Amazing experience.

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I used to come from the Chicago area to run Fort4Fitness but am now local, living only 30 minutes away from the start line. Big win!!  However, this race is in the middle of Cross Country season, so I’ve missed it more than once due to motherly/spectator duties. It’s also on one of the busiest race weekends of the year.  This year F4F was competing with the Mill Race Marathon (Half & 5K) in Columbus, Indiana, the Chicago Half Marathon and the Quad Cities Marathon (Half, Relay & 5K).  Despite the busy time of year, F4F pulled 7,242 competitors to its various races on Saturday alone.  That’s not counting the kids or Seniors who completed their events on Friday night. 

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What F4F does right and where other races might want to take note, is they realize that events like these use community resources.  Not only on the day of the race but in the months and weeks leading up to the big day.  So how do you keep a community happy about events that use the resources which are bought and paid for with their tax dollars?  You get as many community members involved as possible.  The F4F events are focused on community health.  Getting the community active and moving, not just on race day but all throughout the year.  They also have made necessary changes to accommodate as many people as possible.  When the race started in 2008, there was a half marathon and a 4 mile event.  Since that time the following events have been added:  kids and senior marathon, 10K, wheelchair events (half, 10K & 4 mile), and a Double Play and Triple Crown where you can participate in two or more events on race day.  If you are really daring, go for the Triple Crown and RUN.ALL.THE.RACES. (half marathon, 10K & 4 mile) for a total of 23.3 miles of fun and 4 medals!  

Participant Breakdown:

  • Half Marathon – 2,078
  • 10K – 1,887
  • 4 mi Run/Walk – 3,254
  • Wheel Chair Half – 9
  • Wheel Chair 10K – 8
  • Wheel Chair 4mi – 6
  • Double Play (4mi/Half – 30,  10K/Half – 27, 4 mi/10K – 67) – 124
  • Triple Crown (Half, 10K & 4mi) – 98

In addition to the runners, the community members really come out in mass to watch and cheer for the runners.  They line the streets with music, signs and banners.  Then the neighborhoods seem to have a competition as to which community can bring the most spirit.  Oakdale, you won this year according to my unofficial decision.  Congrats.  

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One of my favorite things about this race is that there are long stretches where you can just run.  Some quiet stretches thru parks, others thru quiet neighborhoods with big fancy houses, and a lot of street time thru Ft Wayne.  It’s really a great mix for a road race, mostly flat, a few hills but nothing crazy. 

F4F provides a great race that you would expect from a big city but with the ease and convenience of small town living.  Packet pick up is easy & quick.  Parking is within a half mile of the race start.  Lots of free parking but I did pay $4 for a spot in a garage.  Potties, water & Gatorade every 1.5 miles.  Stadium finish inside Parkview Field with runners being announced before they hit the finish line.  Huge Jumbotron for spectators to watch incoming runners.  Stadium seating for spectators and plenty of room for the after party.   And concessions are open, so grab a beer and celebrate with friends after the big finish!

Gender specific shirts, designed by a local artist!

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Nice medals, whether you collect 1 or all 4.  I only had time for one because I wanted to be present and spectate/cheer/scream my head off at Aby’s Cross Country meet.

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I highly recommend making a plan to come to Ft Wayne next year for Fort4Fitness.  Registration is OPEN.  Race is Saturday, October 1, 2016.  Click HERE to register for any of the races, including the 4 medal Triple Crown event that is only $95 during this super early bird period.  Half Marathon is currently $45!  It’s deal time, who wants to commit?

See you next year!!

** Run The Fort ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Aby’s First Half Marathon …..

I’ve always put limits on Aby.  She wanted to run her first 5K when she was so small that she called them K5s.  She’s wanted to run a half marathon for years and I told her, “not til you are 13”.  She wants to run a full marathon and I say, “not til you’re 16”.  Good or bad, that’s what I’ve done.  I see kids a lot younger than her running longer races and I don’t judge those parents but for Aby, I worry about injury and burnout.  Quite frankly I want her to be a runner and fitness enthusiast for life, not one who has accomplished everything before she can drive.  So we have limits.  

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I did let her participate in the Mini Muddy Buddy when she was 5. 

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Her first 5K was at age 9.  She took 2nd place in her age group.

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In the interim between that first 5K and now, we’ve ran a lot of 5Ks, 4 milers, 8Ks, teamed up for duathlons and ran countless miles together sometimes when she would have rather ran alone

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She’s also ran a few Cross Country seasons.  And she’s been there to support me and spectate a “few” marathons.  

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Now she is 13 and has finally made it to her first half marathon.  We had planned this race for quite some time.  She picked it last year before she even turned 13.  I registered us both.  Created a training plan.  And she ran all summer, slowly building up to the 10 mile long run and race day.  The Rock and Roll Chicago Half Marathon on July 19th (2015) was her first half marathon.  We spent the weekend in the Chicago area.  Picked up her XC spikes for the upcoming Cross Country season.  Hit the expo.  Spent time with friends. 

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Race day arrived and it was hot.  And humid.  Temp was upper 80s with a “feels like” time of 96 degrees.  The plan was to run slow.  Very slow.  And to make sure we finished under our own power.  I’ve seen way to many people go down in hot races.  I’m always overly cautious about pace in the heat. 

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We stuck together.  Walked thru the water stops since a lot of the volunteers hadn’t showed up since it was so hot and we had to wait in line for fluids.  Took our time.  And enjoyed ourselves.  I didn’t want her first half to be miserable even though the conditions were less than ideal.

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At mile 11, she took off toward the finish and notched off her first half marathon finish!  Goooooo Aby!!!  She was flying!

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My baby girl is growing up!  She ran a smart race and had fun.  Lots of time to add speed later but her first half marathon was fun and that’s something she will always remember. 

Cheers to our friend Nicki who spent the weekend hanging out with us!  She has ran a lot of races with Aby and I over the years. The weekend wouldn’t have been complete without her there to witness Aby’s first half finish.  Thanks, Nicki!!. 

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I know that I won’t always be able to run and race with Aby but I certainly cherish the times we’ve had thus far.  She’s getting older.  She has her own agenda.  But fortunately, at this point, she doesn’t have a driver’s license so she still depends on me for a ride.  Smile

** Making Run Memories, One Race At A Time ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Rock n Roll Chicago – 2014 Half Marathon

I’m a big sucker for all things running but that doesn’t include events that are hyped up without delivering on the promised race experience.  In the past, I’ve ran Rock N Roll events but always walked away feeling like RNR got more from me than I got from them.  So when friends were signing up to run this 2014 Rock n Roll Chicago, I was hesitant but ultimately decided to suck it up join the fun.

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First order of business, packet pick-up. RNR Chicago is one of the only events in the CHI that mandates each participant pick up their own packets. Normally not a problem for me but it was a huge problem this year. While I did manage to pick up my own packet and as a result was late to the closing on my new IN home, I did hear from a “top secret” source that RNR does in fact have race day packet pick-up. Too late for me but hopefully this info will help one of you!!

Race day started bright and early with the gun going off at 6:30 am. Some might complain about this early start but with a July race in Chicago, I’d start even earlier if it were an option! There were 20,000+ participants, 34 corrals. However, corral placement was apparently “optional” and runners just jumped in wherever they wanted without any intervention from officials. Normally this would cause a real “cluster” effect but not here. The corrals were all spaced apart by 2 minutes and there weren’t a ton of people in each corral. So when our corral hit the start line it kinda felt like we were at the front, preparing to race for the win. I had runners all around me who should have been back an additional 10+ corrals but it didn’t bottleneck. In fact, I was in awe most of the race at how much space I had to run and how well the unmonitored RNR corral system actually worked.

Hitting the Start!

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I will say that I’m not a runner who needs music. I may turn it on when things get slow, then proceed to sing and dance my way thru the ugly miles. However, I rarely have headphones so this is sometimes annoying to other runners. Sorry, all!  I kinda expected that a Rock n Roll race would deliver, well, some rock n roll!  Not so much. There were some bands on course but not as many as I expected.  And some of the bands were singing the blues, so to speak. I would have liked a bit more pep from some of them. Oh well, maybe next year?

As for the course, I liked it a lot.  It was open and on decent streets. Aid stations about every 1.5 miles. One GU station. One sponge station. We did run on the Lakefront path for a short jaunt but it wasn’t too crowded. We even ran thru the tunnel under McCormick place and they added strobe lights and made it a fun and not too dark atmosphere.

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For all of you bling chasers, the medals were super cool. Here is the SUN 5K and the half marathon medals. Plus they added a SAT 5K option for additional bling and that 5K medal was slightly different (less ornate than the SUN version).

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But for me, this race was about friends.  Here is a photo of Lisa (my BFF from way back), Rachel, Allison & I before the start.  Those two girls in the middle came to Chicago to run their VERY FIRST half marathon ever.  I didn’t want to miss that!  They killed it too!

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Aby, me & Nicki at the finish.  We have ran so many races together over the last several years.  And thanks Nicki for never complaining about Aby coming along even when it means we can’t get into the beer garden.

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So that’s a wrap for me.  I still think the race is overpriced compared to it’s Chicago counterparts.  I still think they should deliver more Rock n Roll.  However, it’s a great race on the streets of Chicago and well, you can’t put a price tag on making memories.

** Go Out and Make Your Own Memories ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

 

 

 

 

Sunburst Half Marathon 2014

The Sunburst Races were on Saturday in the beautiful town of South Bend, Indiana.  Although this race has become a bit of a tradition, this year has certainly been a bit “non-traditional” for me and the family.  Yet, I’m happy to say that I was still able to participate!  I drove in the morning of the race and it’s about a 1.5 hour drive from most of Chicagoland. 

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Traffic was light and the wait to get into the FREE parking garage went quickly.  I utilized race day packet pick-up with none too much time to spare, dropped my shirt back in the car, hit the port-o-potties which didn’t have too long of a wait, and managed to get to the start about 30 seconds before the gun went off.  Yes, my time management skills are in overdrive these days because I honestly don’t have a minute to spare!

And we were off!  I ran to catch up with my friend Kasey to hang with her for a few miles.  We chatted.  We complained that it was hot.  I acknowledged that I was over dressed in capris and tall socks.  I slowed down to a crawl.  I wasn’t much in the mood to “run” and that’s just kinda how I’ve been feeling lately.  I’m not hurt although my Plantar Fasciitis will probably NEVER go away.  I’m just overwhelmed and emotional and that really takes a toll on my body.  Plus I’m an emotional eater and drinker and well, I’d rather have a beer and eat ALL.THE.FOOD. after work than actually slug out a nasty workout.  So let it suffice to say that I’m not in great shape right now and my cute clothes don’t fit  I just feel sluggish and tired.  So I wasn’t looking to “kill” this half but just try to enjoy the atmosphere and give thanks that I’m able to run even if I don’t feel like it.

My “not so fast” attitude also allowed plenty of time for photos and making new friends! The 2014 course was changed in several areas to account for the construction in the Notre Dame Stadium which negated our normal finish on the infield.  I know this was upsetting to many but I liked the addition of a long out and back on a very shaded road in miles 5 & 6.  I was able to see all my friends in front and behind me!!  What I didn’t love about the new course was that it passed a sewage plant 2x in the 6th mile and with the 80 degree temps the odor was a bit overwhelming.  So I was happy at mile 7 when we put the stink behind us!

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The last half of the course boasts several miles by the river on the riverfront path.  This is one of my favorite parts of the course.  We get some shade from the trees and it’s a very scenic run.

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Then after the river, as soon as it starts to really heat up, we head into a subdivision with amazing residents who put out their sprinklers and shower us with their water hoses.  Such a treat on a hot day.  The people of South Bend really get behind the Sunburst Races and support the event by running/walking, volunteering or supporting the runners in some way shape or form.

The race is well organized offering a 5K run, 10K, half marathon and full marathon, plus a family 5K walk.  There were aid stations and port-o-potties every 1.5-2 miles.  They were well spaced, even considering the heat.  I also saw several people collapse in the heat and bike medics were busy chasing those call as quickly as they were able.  There are a few hills in this course but nothing crazy.  Plus lots of trails and shaded roads to help with the heat.

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Overall, I think this is a great race.  I understand that there were  few “hiccups” this year due to construction and need to reroute the course but I’ll still be back for 2015 and I hope to see YOU there as well. 

One more half marathon in the DONE column!

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** Run South Bend ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Dopey Challenge – Day 3 – Half Marathon

The third day of the Dopey Challenge brought us the half marathon, much larger crowds and AMAZING fireworks to send off each and every corral.

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The atmosphere today was serious. Fewer costumes by a lot , many runners who were tackling the half distance for the very first time in their lives, Goofy Challenge runners who were nervous and anxious to start their journey, then us Dopey Challenge participants who were visibly tired, not necessarily even from the running but the travel, ridiculously early wake-ups for multiple days in a row and sleeping in hotels/condos, etc where we aren’t really resting like would at home. As for my Dopey Rockstar pals, we had a 2am wake-up {1am Chicago time} and were on the road by 2:30 to make sure we were in the park with plenty of time to spare. We waited, then waited some more, then hit the potty 15x, then tried to flub our way thru a “muscle” photo and just kinda fell flat all together. Here is our lame attempt at muscles. Sorry, it was the best we had at the time.

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Along with the change in atmosphere, the numbers increased four fold. We were at about 10,000 runners for each of the last two races and today we moved up to the about 38,000 participants. There were people as far as you could see in any {and every} direction. Then Donald Duck and a slew of fireworks sent us on our way. Hey, Donald!!

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Then we ran. Along the highway, which had plenty of room. Along the backroads thru the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. UNDER the entrance sign for the Magic Kingdom.

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Under a pond in Magic Kingdom where the runDisney sign was displayed.

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Down Main Street with amazing spectators who had to get out of bed WAY too early to come cheer for us and breathtaking views of Cinderella’s castle.

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I really, really enjoyed the run today. I had some tummy troubles that required 3 potty stops but we were just running leisurely anyhow and having fun so it didn’t make me panic cuz of the time I was loosing or anything which was nice. Judy and I even stopped to take a photo with Lilo & Stich. Thanks, Judy! Thanks, Lilo & Stitch! I’m a big fan. 🙂

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We finished in 2:23 with smiles on our faces. Then we collected our medals featuring Donald Duck.

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Grabbed a new wristband.

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Then we headed home to eat and nap. We were all well aware that today was the most important day of the Dopey Challenge. The one where we need to slow our roll. Stay hydrated. Fuel. Avoid pooing our pants. And basically stay ON TOP of the game so that we can come back tomorrow and complete the challenge with the full marathon. Today was huge and we finished happy and relatively pain free. We are ready do ROCK the marathon tomorrow. And for those of you who are contemplating the Dopey Challenge for 2015, I want to let you know that you can do it. Just take each day easy. Don’t take yourself or your running too seriously cuz that’s just laughable here and SUPER boring. Don’t get overwhelmed by the entire challenge but focus on each task at hand individually. Run the race you’re in, don’t think about tomorrow. Enjoy the journey.

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** Always Believe ** Amanda – TooTall Fritz **

Veterans Half Marathon & Hill Repeats

I’ve been fighting a head cold with headaches and earaches off and on since the Chicago Marathon. On Thursday last week, the sickness upped it’s game and came at me full force with increased  aches & pains and a swollen sore throat.  I cried “uncle” and called the doc for meds.  They didn’t work their magic immediately and I continued to get worse.  I didn’t think I’d be running the Veterans Half Marathon because on Friday I couldn’t get out of bed until about noon.  The race was three hours away from home and I didn’t know if I could even drive that far.  I would have stayed home had the kids not been driving me crazy I not planned a fun day with my mom on Saturday.  Soooooo, I hauled it up and out of bed on FRI afternoon, drank my Spark and hit the road with my lovely angels fighting in the backseat in tow.

On Saturday, I was actually feeling decent so headed over to the Veterans Half thinking I would just run like the wind after being sick, not hydrating, and not eating for two days.  Yeah, I ran like the wind all right. 

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Before we get to the running part ….. I was able to pick up my packet on race morning.  Super cool in my world.  Even cooler, the packet pick up was in a large heated tent.  The static temp was nice at around 43 degrees on Saturday morning but the wind had been howling all night and well, it didn’t stop when the sun came up.   I was also feeling “slightly” chilled from being sick and I was shivering before I even left my car.  I found FREE parking a block away from the start, dashed from my car to the potty, then to the warm tent where I was happy to wait in line for my packet.  While in line, I also met Kasey, a fellow Team Tough Chik member who was running the full in order to qualify for the Marathon Maniacs.  She crushed the full, got a new PR and qualified to be a “maniac”.  Great job, Kasey!!!

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Then the start went off with the boom of a cannon and I took off like I was going to win.  Fortunately my brain caught on pretty quickly that my body wasn’t quite up for a hard run.  I was pretty empty on the energy front.  My legs weren’t heavy because between life, work and being sick, I hadn’t ran all week but I was just empty.  So I settled in and focused on covering the distance.  I soon realized that the distance and my lack of energy were not my only issues, but that wind came back full force as soon as we hit the country roads outside of town.   No trees or houses for windbreak, just us and the open road.  This photo is early on as we are headed out of town.  This particular road is smooth and flat, which wasn’t the case with all the roads.  However, the race director did an excellent job of marking the course so that was never any confusion as to direction or the distance ran.  Loved the all the stars on the road!!!

Veternas_route  veterans_mile marker

I used to run a lot of miles on country roads so am very familiar with way the roads slant for water runoff, wind, hills and also those fresh country smells which accost you when you least expect.   I was ready for all of that and have ran similar country races, like the 13.1 Valpo, which is also known for high winds.  However, Veterans was just a battle for me.  I felt like I was constantly running uphill and against the wind.  I kept hoping for that same wind to eventually PUSH me but that never happened.  Thankfully, I saw a few friendly faces spectating who helped me out a lot.  My friend Adella even made a “Go Amanda” sign.  Thanks, girlie!  And she managed to capture this amazing photo of me looking angry and as if I might hurt someone like a graceful gazelle.  Smile

Veterans_me & adella  Veterans_me running 

I finished in 2:03 and was super thankful that I hadn’t signed up for the full version because I don’t think I had it in me.  Despite the wind and my lack of energy, It was a great race.  Very well supported with plenty of aid stations handing out gels, water & Gatorade.  Loved the hospitality that the race officials, volunteers and local law enforcement showed to all the runners.  It took so many people to put this race together and they did an amazing job.  I’d definitely consider giving it another go in the future.  It’s a small race but I was never alone.  The full marathon had 206 finishers in the double loop course and the half marathon had 257 finishers.  They also offered a 5K which brought another 168 runners to the event. 

Love good swag?  Check out this cool full zip, unisex jacket.

Veterans_swag

I already tested it out on SUN for hill repeats with Aby.  After struggling up a few hills on Saturday at Veterans, I’ve decided that I REALLY need to work on my hills.  So Aby went with me to show me how it was done.  How does she fly up and down the hills so fast? 

Hill Running_aby_Nov 2013   Hill Running2_Nov 2013   Hill Running_Nov 2013 

We managed 10 hill repeats, each up/down was approximately 0.25 miles.  Fun.  Okay, not really.  Even Aby was begging to stop after #3 but who gets better after 3 repeats?  LOL!

Me&Aby_11-10-13

I hope you had an awesome weekend. 

** Run With The Wind ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Fort 4 Fitness Half Marathon – 2013

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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:

Fort4Fitness_group

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.

Fort4Fitness_Stadium

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.

Fort4Fitness_medal

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.

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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 **