Georgia Marathon–Atlanta, GA

On the way south for Spring Break, the kids & I stopped off in Atlanta, GA for the Publix Georgia Marathon on March 19, 2017.

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This was my 40th marathon & my 23rd state.  I haven’t been to Atlanta for a long time so was excited to go back.  A few new additions to Atlanta include a huge Ferris Wheel beside Centennial Olympic Park (pic below) and the College Football Hall of Fame that used to be in South Bend, Indiana.  Noticeably missing was the old vibe from the Underground shopping area that is in the process of changing owners.  I was sad to see it so empty and hope that its revitalized by my next trip to Atlanta!  I loved the Underground!

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Photo Credit:  Laura Snead

The expo was small but hopping.  Music.  Giveaways.  Fun atmosphere.  Local businesses.  We were in and out in a short amount of time & I even bought a shirt, which is unusual.  

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We spent Saturday walking around town, riding the Ferris Wheel & just clowning around.

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Sunday was race day and the city came alive. A quick meet up pre-race with one of the awesome ladies from the Best TRI Club Ever.  Laura S, Me & Julie M.  Yes, I had to stand in the middle because I’m a giant. 

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Once the crowds rolled in on marathon day, Atlanta hosted 1463 marathon runners & 5227 half marathon runners.  Race day was charged.  It was a bit chilly at the start.  Dark.  But everyone was excited and ready to run.  We had heard the race was hilly but had no idea what to expect.  As Midwestern runners, we don’t have a lot of hills so honestly, a ramp or slight incline is a hill for me!  But we soon found the hills.  And lots of beautiful neighborhoods.  Plus we caught a great view of the city as the sun was coming up.

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This race really made me fall in love with the various Atlanta neighborhoods.  They shut down a lot of their town to let us run their streets on a Sunday morning.  The amount of volunteer & police support was off the charts.  I’d like to send a shout out to all the WOMEN on the Atlanta PD who were working the marathon route.  I’ve never seen that many women officers and I LOVED it.

But the theme of the day was definitely hills.  Small ones.  Long ones.  Steep ones.  Long, slow graded hills.  Rolling hills.  And then more and more hills.  We walked quite a few hills but tried to just keep moving.  The hills didn’t stop but neither did we!

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Both Julie & I were thinking this was the hilliest marathon we had ever ran.  It inspired me to go back over my garmin data for previous races.  We were wrong, this was NOT the hilliest road race we had ever ran.  That award goes to the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, MS with 1,319 feet of elevation gain.  Atlanta (the Georgia Marathon) ranked #2 at 1,265 feet of elevation gain.  #3 is Flying Pig in Cincinnati, OH with 1,020 feet of elevation gain,  just cuz I knew you’d want to know.  Smile  And of course, this only pertains to road races that we have ran to date. 

But even with the hills, the entire race was just fun.  Great atmosphere.  Lots of crowd support.  Plenty of aid stations with both fluids & food.  Candy.  Pretzels. Oranges.  Happy volunteers. Plus we ran thru 3 colleges which is always great.  Anges Scott College for Women (first photo below), Emory University (second photo below) & Georgia Tech. 

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The finish line finally came into sight & we not only received a medal but a cool, thin jacket!  We got to pick our color & size.  I think they had red, black & aqua jackets.  Nice perk!  Race shirt was a pale green, unisex, long sleeve tech tee, which I like.  It doesn’t fit me great but I do like the color and style! 

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Loved the Georgia Marathon!  Great town, great crowds & so many beautiful neighborhoods.

** Run Atlanta ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Little Rock Marathon – 2017

2017 has been all about preparing Aby & Annika to run their first marathon.  I must admit when they said they wanted to run a marathon, I tried to talk them out of it.  Marathons are long.  And hard.  And tough mentally & physically.  The distance will frequently break experienced runners.  The girls are young.  Aby is 15 & Annika just turned 17.  Yet they wanted to run a marathon.  It was really hard to wrap my brain around.  Its not something I would recommend for any teen, let alone those I know & care about!  Initially I wasn’t sure how to react but I put on the “mom hat” and explained to them that an early spring marathon would require them to be running outside, all winter long, in the early a.m. when I was running.  No sleeping in, I wanted them out there with me for every long run so I could monitor their progress, fueling & how they were tolerating the distance.  They would not be deterred.  In fact their first “long run” was the Huff 10 Mile Trail Race which was hilly, hard, snowy, cold, with freezing rain.  Absolutely miserable conditions. 

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I asked them after Huff, do you still want to run a marathon that requires winter training?  Yes.  So we signed up for the Little Rock Marathon.  The 2017 theme was “Runalicious” featuring candy, bright colors and lots of fun.

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An abbreviated training plan & a somewhat mild winter delivered us to Little Rock mostly healthy & ready to run.  The girls were slightly nervous but mostly calm.  I heard them say many times “we trained for this, we can do it”.  But they were notably tired from the travel so we tried to keep things pretty low key & not do much.  The Expo was a great size for a small town race.  There were 2181 marathon & 3699 half marathon finishers on Sunday, plus a 5K & 10K on Saturday.  Lots to do Marathon weekend .  Something for everyone.

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We hit the expo, picked up our bibs, walked around town, found ice cream, took some pics & then had take out for dinner.  I think we were all asleep by 9pm. 

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We woke up to rain.  Heavy but steady rain with a “feels like” temp of 43 as we headed to our corrals.  We were none too early either because I didn’t want the girls out in the cold rain for too long before we started to run.  I was a bit surprised to see how busy the streets were & the back up getting into the corrals.    Pace wasn’t an issue for us but I really wanted to be around the 4:30 pace group because that was the pace where we would start out.  I didn’t want to waste too much energy weaving around people in the early miles.   We were on the “just finish it” plan but we wanted to stay together & I wanted to try to keep a consistent pace.  I knew that I would have to be paying attention in order to keep them slow & steady.  They are XC runners and they just want to GO!

Pre Race:

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In the corral, headed to the start.  What are they thinking?

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And we are off!  Let’s Run!  #Runalicious

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The beginning is crowded.  Normal for most races & a great time to ease into a pace rather than take off and regret it later.  Also a great time for pics.  But apparently my selfie game was OFF cuz I couldn’t get all three of in a pic for anything. 

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The course had changed since I had ran in 2014.  I didn’t really know what to expect and was kinda okay with that.  This was my 39th marathon, 2nd time at Little Rock.  I kinda enjoy just running the course and enjoying it for what it presents.  We headed over to North Little Rock first, looped around.  Ran over a few bridges (steep inclines & declines, yes, please!).

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The girls were calm.  We all agreed that we didn’t feel awesome but we didn’t feel horrible and that’s a pretty sweet spot to be in on marathon day. It curbs expectation but also delivers a bit of hope.  Patience is the name of the game.  You must be patient in the marathon or you’ll have a very bad day. 

The rain continued.  Light but steady.  People were complaining.  We just ran past them & pulled our hats/visors a little lower to block out the rain & wind.  Back over the bridge into downtown Little Rock.  Over the trolley tracks.  I tripped but didn’t fall.  We laughed.  Down Market Street, along the Arkansas River, around the Heifer International campus.  And then back thru town, up a few hills.  Then I recognized a street from last time and knew the Governor’s Mansion was coming up.  Aby had asked me 100 several times by this point if the Governor would be out.  I didn’t know but was hoping so & sure enough, I could see his guards  flanking him from pretty far down the street.  I pointed out who he was (verses the guards) and the girls ran right up to him for a photo.  Thanks for standing out in the rain, Governor Hutchinson, you made their day!

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Then Little Rock Central HS:

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The Capital Building:

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My favorite part of the course – Miles 14-17:  Hillcrest area, Kavanaugh Boulevard, North Lookout Road & Alsopp Park.  Breathtaking area.  Aby & Annika running relaxed & easy between mile 16 & 17.

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After we left Alsopp Park, reality hit as we entered an out and back loop along Riverfront Drive.  The out & back covers miles 18-23.  I knew if something were going to go wrong, it would be in this section.  Not only is it boring but very windy because its along the river & a little daunting because you can see the runners in front of you coming back while you have seemingly “forever” until the turnaround.  This section is mentally exhausting but the girls looked strong.  Aby was starting to get antsy.  The 4:30 pacer crept up on us and we ran with her for awhile.  Aby was not happy.  She wanted to be IN FRONT of the 4:30 pacer.  Annika said, “who cares!”.  LOL!  But Aby really did not want to let her pass.  The pacer was only running with one other person so we ran with her for a while.  It was entertaining because everyone had something to say as she passed them.  Many, like Aby, were not happy.  “Oh no!”  was the common remark as she passed.  I told her it was like running with the Angel of Death.  Nobody was happy to see her that late in the game.  I asked if she was on pace, and she was ahead of pace.  She was planning to stop & walk at mile 20 to get back on track.  We stayed in her vicinity until she walked.  I didn’t want to stop at mile 20 but rather push on to mile 22 for our last “pit stop”.  Then I knew that we would be pushing to the finish. 

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After 22, it was heads down.  The pace was getting progressively faster but I knew there was a hill at mile 24 that was super ugly & would probably slow us down.  So I just let it go.  They looked good, hadn’t blown up, were well fueled, looking to run faster & well, I figured I had done my job at that point.  If something happened in the last 4 miles, we’d just deal with it.  And I’m happy to report, no blow ups.  They killed it!!!  The Lipstick Station at mile 26 was on the opposite side of the road this time, so I almost missed it.  I went back to grab lipstick for us, sending the girls on and it was a sprint to the finish for them.  Great job, ladies.  1 & 2 in their age group (15-19). 

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Awesome race.  Lots of crowd support.  Volunteers, police & everyone seemed happy that we were there.  Sometimes when a marathon rolls into a town, the residents aren’t happy because it’s a huge inconvenience for them.  I genuinely feel welcome each time I go to Little Rock. If you are looking for a smaller race that feels like home, this is a great one.  Elevation is much greater on the 2nd half, so save something for the bigger hills.  There were 3 hills that were bad enough that we walked part of them but otherwise, we ran the entire race other than potty stops (2) and the photos we took.  It was a great day in Little Rock & I’d be happy to go back.

SWAG was a unisex race shirt & lipstick (if you grabbed it at mile 26) and a medal that’s heavy and bigger than your head.  For those of you who ran 2014, I’ve added the two medals together for comparison.  They are both over 2#s and I can’t hang them with my other medals for fear of pulling down the rack/rod.

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Details on the 2014 Little Rock Marathon HERE.

** Hope Your Run was Runalicious ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon … Strip At Night … Race Review + RNR Discount Codes

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This weekend I was at the Rock N Roll Marathon Series Las Vegas event.  Otherwise known as “ The Strip At Night”.   This was my first time at Rock N Roll Las Vegas and I was pleasantly surprised.   I haven’t been to Vegas for a long time but its relatively easy to navigate by using the monorail, cabs/uber or walking.   The expo is just steps from the monorail at the Las Vegas Convention Center and was open from Thursday thru Saturday.  This is one of the largest RnR events with over 40,000 registered runners!  They offered several races throughout the weekend:  5K (8249 finishers), 10K (5498 finishers), Half (22,052 finishers) & Full marathon (2655 finishers). PLUS there were 230+ people who participated in the Run Thru Wedding during the half & full marathon.

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Packet pick up was quick & easy.  However, if you wanted to purchase race gear, the lines were long, unless you were a Tour Pass Holder or a VIP.  Medium sized expo that could definitely cover you for anything you needed or left behind.  I was in and out because I had hubby in tow and didn’t want to thoroughly bore him but the expo looked fun!

Las Vegas to hubby & I is all about the sights.  We spend a lot of time walking around the strip, downtown, various casinos & checking out exhibits.   So by race time on Sunday night, I already had 70+ miles of walking on my legs.  If you want fresh legs for your race, I’d recommend getting to Vegas right before the race, then staying afterward to see the sights.  The Vegas event has some additional obstacles too.  It’s  a “must do” race because the course features the legendary Las Vegas “Strip”, at night, when all the casinos are lit up.  They only shut the strip down to vehicular traffic 2x per year.  For New Years Eve & Rock N Roll Las Vegas.  Its something to see and a huge event for runners, visitors & locals alike.  But do be careful of what you eat & drink leading up to this late afternoon race so that you have fun running & not running to the potties!

The half & full marathon started at 4:30pm on Sunday night.  Four different wave starts.  Numerous corrals in each wave.  I started in the first wave since I was a marathon runner.  Each wave started with a burst of fireworks. 

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This event is definitely crowded off the start but thinned out quickly.  It seemed like everyone was very excited and many people wanted to run fast.  Like really fast.   The sun was just starting to set when we began to run & it was cooling off.  Kinda nice. The first thing to be seen on course was the Vegas sign.  Welcome to Las Vegas.

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After passing the Vegas sign we were headed toward the more well known parts of the strip with lots of casinos and flashing neon lights.  This is only about 1.5 miles into the race & you can see that I already have plenty of road to run.  I didn’t feel hindered by the crowds and could run the pace I wanted. 

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2 miles into the marathon & half, the Luxor & Excalibur.

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Mile 3 – Planet Hollywood & Paris

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Mile 4-5, Mirage & Treasurer Island

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There was definitely an excitement in the air.  I think this race was about so much more than running to many of the participants.  I heard a lot of chatter about this being the first time at a particular distance.  So many spectators.  So much energy.  It was dark.  It was cool without the sun beating down on us.  It was beautiful.  The night was lit up with all the beautiful lights of Vegas.  It was an experience like no other.  This was my 36th marathon and I must say, it will stand out in my memory for a long time to come.

At mile 6, near the Stratosphere, we were welcomed to Downtown Las Vegas. 

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Around mile 8, Meb passed me.  Fast.  I heard someone shouting that Meb was passing & to say “hey”.  And then he was gone.  No pic for me.  Boooo!  Mile 9-10 down Freemont Street for a peak at the lights. 

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And as the lights of Freemont Street faded behind me, I knew that the “fun” was almost over for the marathoners.  As the half runners were joyful & close to their finish, we turned off around mile 11 into the darkness.  Away from the lights.  Away from the crowds.  Away from the “fun”.  Some streets were lit with streetlights.  Some not lit at all.  Random bands were out on the marathon route and since we were weaving in and out of parallel streets, in a very close vicinity, I could hear a band multiple times at various places on the course.  We still had a clear path, no question as to where we were headed or where to run.  It looked really confusing on paper but the route was well marked and there was never a question as to the direction we were headed.  I was impressed with the volunteers & the volume of Las Vegas PD Officers who were out on course helping us.  I can’t imagine the number of people it took, all working together, to make this a successful event. 

Miles 13-18 were all in and around the World Market Center.  Getting in and out of this area is where you will find the only “hills” on the course.  It was kinda nice for some varied terrain.  I really loved this section.  Looking at it on paper looks insane & confusing.  I couldn’t picture it in my head at all.  But we ran around the World Market Center several times in roped off “pathways” created by organizers.   There were a lot of lights & music that could be heard throughout the complex.  Cool area. 

Miles 19 & 20 were non-eventful.  Then we hit the strip for a millisecond at mile 21 near the Stratosphere.  We were on the strip for maybe 3/10ths of a mile before being directed off, toward the back lots of Circus Circus.  I now understand that this was the 5K route.  So if you ran the 5K, then you know the route of which I speak.  There was loud music & a huge display of fireworks with lots of neon lights.  By this time, I was not having fun.  My stomach was upset & I had some abnormal aches & pains.  I was ready to be finished.  Headed out of the back lots & back to the strip for 3/4 of a mile, then we were once again directed off strip for our final detour before the finish.  Mile 25 & we were about to return to the Strip for our final 1.2 & what we were all awaiting:  the finish. 

And the finish was sweet.  I was so happy to see it.  #36 was in the DONE column. 

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We received a spinning, glow in the dark Finisher’s Medal!

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And a gender specific Finishers Jacket with reflective accents.  I used my New Orleans Finisher Jacket on the left (below) so you can see both the back & the front; however,  I only received one jacket for finishing the Las Vegas race.  The race tee is in the middle.  Gender specific.

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I really loved the first 18 miles of this race.  I’m sure the miles that I had logged walking around Vegas the days prior to the race didn’t help me get thru the last 8 miles swiftly.  But I ran conservatively and tried to enjoy it.   Just kept moving toward the finish.  It doesn’t matter how many marathons I run, it still all about patience & surviving whatever the day & conditions bring me.  And trying to enjoy it, no matter what.  Smile

This race had 14 aid stations on the marathon course, 18 music stations (many which you could hear from multiple locations), and 3 medical stations.   They also handed out Glukos gels & gummies 3-4x.  It was a well supported race.  Clear direction as to the race course.  Members of the community, even in less populated areas were out and cheering on runners.  Great race but if you came for the party, stick to the half marathon because you’ll see everything & maybe still get back to hubby before he breaks the bank. 

Sound fun?  They are doing a early pre-sale for 2017 RnR Las Vegas HERE.  You can register thru Sunday, 11/20/16 for $99 for either the half or the full. 

If you loved Vegas and/or are trying to squeeze in a couple more RNR events, feel free to use my $15 off discount code (TTF2016)  for these upcoming events:  RnR San Antonio (12/4 – I’ll be at this one!!), RnR DC (3/11/17), RnR Dallas (3/19/17) & RnR Nashville (4/29/17).

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** As always, Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon ….. 2016

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Saturday was the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  This was my 3rd time running this marathon.  First at the inaugural event in 2008, 2015 & then this 2016 version.  The race has grown by leaps and bounds because its well ran and has a reputation for being flat and fast.  This was my fastest marathon for 2015 and my 2nd fastest this year (and I’m not at all in good shape right now).  Its small enough to feel intimate but big enough to feel fun and like a real road race.  I really love it.

The expo is medium sized.  Local vendors.  We found some good deals from a local run store that had 30% off everything, even high tech winter run jackets!  Packet pick up was smooth & fast.  They also give a commemorative poster which lists every registered participants name.  Nice touch.  This is last years poster (hard to see with the glare in my sun room, sorry). The one this year wasn’t as cool and I doubt I’ll put it up but I love that they do this.

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The Monumental Marathon is a downtown Indianapolis race.  We stayed downtown so that we could walk to the expo, dinner and the start/finish line!  I think we left our hotel 30 minutes before the start and had plenty of time. There are start corrals but they are not policed so as always, plan for slower runners to find their way to the front.  Its inevitable.   The first mile is very crowded and slow.  If you are looking to hit a particular pace from mile one, that’s difficult and I’d encourage you to start closer to the front, or plan accordingly for that first mile to be a minute slower.  Try to take it all in before you put the hammer down, enjoy the city and the crowds and the remember why you run.

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This is a race where I normally have a lot of friends running with me, so we just start behind the corrals and enjoy ourselves.  We don’t rush.  We don’t push.  We just run.  Things definitely thin out after a couple miles but really, there are quite a few runners until the half marathon turns off around mile 7.5.  This year my crew had 3 high school girls in tow.  They were running the half.  One for the first time.  Two for the second time.  So I just stuck with them and had fun.  I love watching the enthusiasm of young runners.  These 3 ran Cross Country for their school this fall and they have a lot of spirit.  They entertained the crowd around them the entire time by cheering, yelling & singing.  I loved every minute of it.  This is what running is to me …. fun, fitness & friendship.  M, A & Aby (on the right). 

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They are getting ready to turn off for the half.  Good luck, girls!!

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The half and the full sold out this year. 2016 was the biggest year so far.  They had 8,154 finisher for the half.  2,762 finishers for the 5K.  And 4,237 finishers for the full.  There was also an extra medal for the runners who ran both the Indianapolis Half Marathon earlier in October, in addition to the Monumental Half.    More Bling = More Runners!

As the half turned off, the road opened up in front of me and I think we all sighed from relief.  I love the energy from the half runners but its nice to get down to business and start focusing on my race.  I remember feeling the same way last year.  It doesn’t scare me that the crowds thin.  We still have ample spectator support.  There were still a lot of runners out there.  I was never alone, just free to run whatever pace I wanted. It was a great day.  Warmish.  I saw several bloggers report that it was in the high 30s when we started but it wasn’t that cool according to my AccuWeather app.  It was 47-50 degrees by the 8am start time. No wind. And the sun was coming up. My crew had on arm sleeves and could have gotten away without them.  I was very comfortable pre-race in shorts, a tank & arm sleeves.  And it was going to heat up as we ran.  Time to get down to business and run.

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After the half split, we headed to the State Fair Grounds.  Then a long straight stretch down Washington Boulevard.  Love this part.  Lots of room to run and it’s a night straight stretch that doesn’t require much thinking.  Not a lot to see.  Traffic on the other side of the road but many motorists cheer us on as they wait in traffic.   Then onto Broadripple.  Riverview, which is short but scenic.  Meridian Drive.   Butler University.  Beautiful campus.  Lots of older alums hanging out but where are the students?  Indianapolis Museum of Art.  Lovely area.  White River Parkway.  Burdsal Parkway. Miles 21-22 ocne and go, that always seem to be a challeng.  Fall Creek Parkway.  Back on Meridian and heading back downtown, we are getting close!!!  We can see Monument Circle in the distance and keep pushing forward.  Finally, mile 25.  Then 26.  Then the finish.  That lovely finish.  Another one in the books.  Thank you, Lord.  Thank you, body.  Thank you, mind for pushing me thru another finish.

In all, this is a great race.   I’d love to run it again next year if it fits into my schedule.  Lots of water & potty stops, plus medial about every 1-1.5 miles.   20 aid stations in all.  They also had at least 5 food/fueling stations.  Plus so many kind spectators that set up their own personal aid stations offering Halloween Candy, beer, water, pretzels, oranges, etc.  Great race.  Great community & spectator support.  Thanks, Indy! 

Swag:  Gender specific tee, finishers hat & medal.  Last year we got a hat too.  That one had the year embroidered on the hat.  This one was more “generic”, probably so they can use leftovers for years to come. 

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Great race, hope to see YOU next year!

** Run Indy, Be Monumental ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

TBT … Inaugural Indianapolis Monumental Marathon Race Report – 2008

Thanks to my Facebook “Memories”, I found a race report that I published on Facebook, prior to inception of the TTF blog site.  It was published on this day (11/3) back in 2008.  This was my 2nd marathon.  It was during a time when I only ran one marathon a year, poured my heart into training & frequently was disappointed on race day. 

 

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The Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in 2008 came after a very long TRI season.  We were also trying to conceive Mr. Michael, who arrived on 9/7/09.  I was tired.  And emotional.  Two things that can make a marathon difficult at best.  Smile

 

Indy Marathon (11/1/08) – Race Report

November 3, 2008 at 12:06pm

Indy put on a great race this weekend! The weather was perfect, the course was perfect, I fueled properly……so why did I do more walking than running?
I’ll never know why certain race days end in utter disappointment and tears. Saturday was such a day. I had my miles in, I had a good attitude, I was ready to run, unfortunately my body didn’t get the memo!
I knew I was off almost immediately as my pace was slow and I didn’t have anything more to put into pushing the pace faster. I tried to convince myself that since the weather was cold I was just a bit sluggish and that as soon as I warmed up then I would be able to settle in and start pacing properly. Realistically, when looking at 26 miles, a slow pace isn’t really too big of an issue, I can pick it up later or just run slower. No big deal either way because to me the marathon distance is really about personal achievement and not the clock time.
Things just never came together and they went from less than ideal to pretty bad. I was upset not because I was slow but because I felt bad all over, from my head to my toes! I was upset that I normally can run, even if it is slow, through all my training runs and now it was race day and I not only didn’t want to run, I didn’t even want to walk! Had I been close to home or on a training run, I would have scrapped the day. Some days just aren’t for running and I am old enough to know and accept what I’m given. However, I wasn’t in a situation where I could just get in my car and go home, or call Mick and have him come rescue me. Sigh….so I finished, not because I wanted to but because I didn’t have another reasonable option. It was a 4:50 finish; I was 2:09 at the half, so the majority of the walking did come in the last half. I ran/walked a 4:54 in Memphis last December and felt a whole lot better about it than I did the Indy finish. Not sure why but my emotions took a huge toll on me too, which I think just made it that much worse. And I know I have the ability to run in the 4:15 to 4:30 range…..but that would require that I actually keep moving the entire time! Smile
Looking back, I am thankful I had the desire, motivation and ability to train for another marathon. I am thankful I had a great friend (Abby) awaiting my finish to give me a tissue and commiserate with me! I am also thankful for the great people I met along the course, some who were having good days, other who weren’t.
I’m super sore today, obviously my ego has been bruised badly, and I’m gonna take the week to relax and realign myself mentally. Hopefully by Friday I will be “back” and looking forward to a Saturday long run and maybe even possibly the Tecumseh Trail Marathon.

Cheers to being “upright and moving forward” regardless of how we feel. Amanda

2008 & 2015 Indy Monumental Finisher Medals

Indy Monumental - 08    Indy Monumental - 15

I always say that “time changes almost everything”.  And I still believe that.  If you had told me after I wrote this race report, that in 8 years I’d be going back for my 3rd Indy Monumental Marathon AND that it would be my 35th marathon in all, I’d have told you that you were nuts.  But apparently the joke’s on me.  This Saturday will be my 3rd Indy Monumental Marathon.  And it will be my 35th marathon. 

** Cheers to Whatever Adventures the Future Brings ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Interested in more posts on the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon?  See the links below.

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon Then vs Now – 11/5/15

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon ….. 2015 Version – 11/10/15

Marine Corps Marathon (2016) …..

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The 41st Marine Corps Marathon was held Sunday, October 30, 2016.  This is a race that I’ve heard so much about over the years.  It’s a “bucket list” race for many.  A “must do” for others.  Its called the “People’s Marathon” because they do not offer prize $$ to elite runners and they are currently the largest marathon which holds back on that cash prize.  This year there were 24,965 runners who finished (19,897 for the marathon, 5,068 for the 10K).  Its  advertised as a great race for first time marathoners.  Fifty percent of this race takes place on National Parks land.  Its organized and ran by the US Marine Corps with Marines marshaling the course, working the aid stations, cheering & encouraging runners. 

That’s what most people know about MCM.  Now the personal experience of it.  Marine Corps was my 34th marathon.  So, I’ve ran a few.  Some are super easy to navigate.  Others aren’t.  Anytime you add a big city into play, then the logistics will be more difficult.  This was no exception.  I drove to DC from the Ft Wayne IN area.  So we had a car.  This enabled us to pick  a couple ladies up from the airport.  Drive to the Expo.  Then drive to our hotel.  If you plan to fly to this race, plan to be dependent on Race/Hotel Shuttles, Metro or cabs/uber.  Everything is spread out and you can not plan on staying in a hotel then walking to the expo & to/from the race.  We did well driving BUT I drive in Chicago every week, traffic doesn’t stress me out AND I have a great group of ladies who all take part in navigating so that I can focus on driving. 

The expo was at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at the National Harbor (MD).  Isolated area, used for conventions & touristy stuff.  Shops, restaurants, Ferris Wheel, tours/cruises.  Expo was crowded but packet pick up was smooth.  We were able to quickly get our race bibs & packets.  However, if you wanted official race merchandise then the wait for that Brooks gear was 45 minutes to an hour.  We skipped the official merchandise.  Grabbed a few pics.  Toured the rest of the expo which was tight but a decent size. 

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After the expo, we left the car parked for a bit and had lunch and walked thru the National Harbor area.

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Back in the car to head to our hotel, which was in the Courthouse area, south of Rosslyn.  Initially I was concerned that we were too far out without Metro or shuttle service, both of which started after we needed to be at the start area.  But alas, we were in a great spot and able to hit the back security entrance for the marathon.  TIP – Pick a hotel in the Rosslyn area & you’ll be even closer to the finish (and back entrance for the race, which is at Meade Street & Marshall Drive).  

Race day started early.  Up at 4am.  Out of the hotel by 5am.  We walked to the race site & were “trying” to find that back security entrance.  Fortunately, we hooked up with a local couple while we were walking and they knew exactly where to go!  We were thru security and basically sitting at the start line by 5:40a.  Race started at 7:55a. The pre-race festivities, gear check & the main security entrance were all in the Pentagon North Parking Lot, which was about a mile south of the start.  We never did go down there since we had already walked 3+ miles by the time we got to the start area.  So we sat.  We were close to the start and close to a large group of potties.  It was a long wait but we had heard that it might take over an hour to get thru security so we had planned basically for an hour for security, an hour for the potty line & then a bit of extra time for walking & getting where we needed (including getting lost).  Always better to be early than late but the temps were cool in the morning.  About 48 degrees.  I was cold & my hands were numb by the time we started running and I was tired.

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The race started on Route 110 beside the Arlington National Cemetery, just north of the Pentagon, running north toward Rosslyn.  The first 5 miles were hilly but the majority of hills were in the first couple of miles.  I actually walked up my first hill in mile 2.  Hills aren’t my friend at this point.  I’ve had a damaged hamstring/glute for about a year now.  Its connected to my damaged back (ruptured disc) so I don’t stress when my body feels stressed, I just walk.  This was my 34th marathon.  If I feel like I need to walk, I walk.  End of story.

Race course was crowded.  No official “start corrals”, just signs to indicate that we should line up according to predicted finish times.  But most people didn’t do that.  The buzz in the air was all about the time limit to “beat the bridge” at mile 18.  Nobody wanted to start at the back and then have less time to get to “the bridge”.  Pretty chaotic as a result.  So we had a race course packed full of runners of varying paces and huge spectator crowds.

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Race moves thru Rosslyn, thru Thrifton Hill Park with fog hovering & onto Spout Run Parkway.  Very magical and one of my favorite areas of this race.

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After the Park we merged onto George Washington Memorial Parkway and ran beside the Potomac River to prepare for our first bridge crossing into Georgetown on the Francis Scott Key Bridge.  You can see tiny runners on the bridge in the pic below.

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By this time, I was starting to see a pattern.  Aid stations were spaced pretty far apart for a road race.  Most major marathons have water stops between a mile to 1.5 miles apart.  At MCM, the first waters stop was at approximately 2.2, the next at mile 5.1, the next at mile 7.7.  These are approximations but I’m pretty close on the distance.  We had a total of 12 water stations for 26.2 miles.  Each water station had Gatorade Endurance and water, potties & medical was close but not always with the aid station.  

I’m starting to get thirsty about the time I leave Georgetown and head to Rock Creek Parkway, miles 6-8, but the views of the Potomac were awesome.  We passed the Kennedy Center but I missed it or couldn’t identify it.  Then the Lincoln Memorial, which I could barely see.  Those were miles 8-9.  Mile 9-10 passing the FDR Memorial.  Definitely couldn’t see that from my spot on course but we were by the Potomac & had a breeze and nice views of the river.  Still lots of spectators.  Mile 10-11 was the Wear Blue mile.  Emotional.  Both sides of Ohio Drive heading south toward Hains Point were lined with photos of fallen soldiers.  Name.  Age.  Rank.  So many under the age of 24.  Men.  Women.  Black. White. Hispanic.  People of our nation who fight for our freedom each and every day.

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Around Hains Point.  Mile 13-14 Jefferson Memorial (from the opposite side).  I can pick that one out.  J told me to take a pic so she could grab a breather.  Smile

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Then the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, DC War Memorial & Korean War Memorial – Miles 14-15.  I couldn’t see these from my vantage point on course.  If you didn’t know they were there (and I didn’t know their specific locations since I’ve only been to DC 2x previous) then you wouldn’t even know to look for them.  What I could mainly see was the Washington Monument at various points, thanks to its height, a course loaded with runners and streets/roads lined with amazing spectators.  The spectators never stopped, they lined the entire course.

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After passing the Washington Monument (and the WWII Memorial, which I couldn’t see from course), we entered the MCM Gauntlet.  This is the first cutoff point.  Runners must reach this section, around mile 15.5 by 12:38pm or they will not be allowed to run the National Mall campus which passes all the various Smithsonian buildings & the Capitol.  Possibly the coolest part of the course, so stay focused so you can get thru the Gauntlet. 

Mile 15 thru 18 is where you can get up close and personal with all the museums on the National Mall Campus, really see the buildings, their specific architecture and actually read their names if by chance you don’t have the layout of DC memorized.  I certainly don’t so I really enjoyed this section.  National Museum of African American History & Culture.

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DC War Memorial.  National Museum of American History.  Natural Museum of Natural History. 

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National Gallery of Art.

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US Capitol

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National Museum of American Indian, National Air & Space Museum, Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Castle (below), Holocaust Museum, US Dpt of Agriculture, US Dpt of Treasury.

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By this point, I was very thirsty.  I was getting cotton mouth between water stops.  I had Tailwind on me for nutrition and I was trying to be very careful and not take it all in as “fluid” vs using it as my fuel source.  Finally finished my Tailwind around mile 17 so I could use my bottle for water.  I was really behind the ball on fluids at this point and could only take so much in at one time.  I was using salt tabs too in order to help my water absorb.  I thought I was doing well.  I felt okay, was just thirsty, no sloshing tummy.

Mile 18-19 – Beat the Bridge.  Second & final cutoff.  Runners had to be to 14th Street bridge by 1:15pm or they will not be allowed to finish.  This section isn’t fun.  We hit the 14th Street Bridge and it was forever long.  We crossed the Washington Channel first, then over the East Potomac Park which we ran earlier for the blue mile, then we crossed over the Potomac River.  In all, we didn’t get off the bridge until after mile 20.

From 20-21 we looped the Pentagon area.  Nothing to see. I must have drank too much water at the previous aid station.  I got sick.  Vomited my water & Tailwind.  Nothing solid.  I didn’t feel bad, just couldn’t stop it from coming up.  I ate some pretzels to settle my tummy, grabbed a gel & refueled.  Off to Crystal City (miles 21-23).  Lots of restaurants and shops so there was a big crowd of spectators.  Fun area.  Then we were headed to the finish, past the Pentagon again (yes, super tired off seeing the Pentagon), past Arlington Cemetery & up a big hill to the finish at the US Marine Corps War Memorial, AKA the Iwo Jima Memorial.

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Cool medal featuring the Eagle, Globe & Anchor with a center piece that opens to reveal the Iwo Jima Memorial.

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Unique SWAG, a green thermal mock tee for cold weather & a 41st MCM patch.

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Overall a cool race.  Water stations & potties were spaced too far apart for me (and many others).  Four food stations and so many spectators who offered food to the runners that fueling should not have been an issue.  The route hit a lot of really cool things but there were a lot of things that were “advertised” that I couldn’t see from the run course.  I’m sure this entire race was a security nightmare for the Marines and I was impressed by how welcoming they were to us.  Very respectful, I’ve never been called “Ma’am” so many times in one day.  They did a great job with this race.  Very organized but not as easy to navigate as some venues.  Bottom line, each race is different.  If you are going to run a lot of races & travel to some, expect the unexpected.  Go with the flow.  Have a good attitude & just enjoy what the day gives you.  And expect a few “extra”  miles on your legs by the time you are finished with your race and back in your hotel.  We ran/walked 33 miles on Sunday.  Smile  Fun day but a whirlwind trip.  If you have MCM on your bucket list, I hope you have a few days to spend enjoying the area.  Lots to see & do in Arlington, VA & Washington DC.  Go, enjoy it!

** Run With The Marines ** Amanda – TooTallFritz