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 **

Chicago Marathon …. 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

** Run Chicago ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Back to Back Marathons, 2 Marathons in 2 Days …. Tips for a Successful Double!

I’ve ran two back to back marathons this year.  Yes, that’s 2 marathons in 2 days.  The first was the Mississippi Blues Marathon & First Light Marathon in January.  The second, just last weekend with the Kentucky Derby Marathon and Flying Pig Marathon.  Amazing or Stupid?  That is the question. 

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Sometimes, I manage to over commit.  Sometimes, its not my fault.  The first time I did back to back days of big mileage was in September 2013 when Women’s Rock first came to Chicago.  That race was a mess.  They ended up changing the date without notifying participants.  I was then faced with a 1/2 marathon on Saturday & an organized 20 miler on Sunday.  I was vested & had paid lip service to both events.  I was hoping I wouldn’t die.  I didn’t.  And to be honest it was way easier than I had anticipated.  As a result, it spurred my confidence that big mileage, on consecutive days, was possible IF I did it correctly.  Myself & Nicki at Women’s Rock (Sept 2013).

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From that day, I moved onto the Inaugural Dopey Challenge in January 2014.  That’s 4 straight days of running.  5K (THUR), 10K (FRI), half marathon (SAT) & full marathon on SUN.  I was hoping I wouldn’t die.  I didn’t.  As a result, it spurred my confidence that big mileage, on consecutive days, was possible IF I did it correctly.  My BFF Minnie Mouse & myself at the first ever Disney World 10K.  Inaugural Dopey Challenge 2014.

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From the Dopey Challenge, I moved into my 4 for 40 challenge for my 40th birthday in April 2014.  My challenge.  My rules.  I wanted to run 4 marathons in 4 weeks for my 40th birthday.  It was kinda a big deal (to me) and ended up being one 50K and 3 marathons in 21 days.  I was hoping I wouldn’t die.  I didn’t.  As a result, it spurred my confidence that big mileage, on consecutive days/weeks, was possible IF I did it correctly.

BUT then life happened.  I ended moving to Indiana.  I gained 26#s, which I’ve been battling since summer 2014.  My plantar fasciitis took control of my life as I left my IL home, and with it my amazing chiropractors (Landgrebe Chiro in Tinley Park, IL).  Once I was settled in Indiana, I tried to get back on track with healthy eating, fitness & running.  I was facing down my first double marathon weekend in January 2015.  Same double as this year (Mississippi Blues & First Light) but I didn’t make it to the start line!  Why?  I, or should I say my new chiros & PTs, couldn’t get my PF under control.  By the time January 2015 rolled around, I could barely walk, let alone run 2 marathons in 2 days.  I’ve since found an amazing chiropractor at Optimum Performance in Ft Wayne, IN.   My PF is gone.  I’m totally pain free.

There’s the background on my build up over the last several years.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend running 2 marathons in 2 days but I did have some experience of big mileage on back to back days so it wasn’t an insane jump for me.  Or not as insane as some would think.  I wasn’t really nervous.  I was pretty sure I wouldn’t die.  And I didn’t.

If you are considering a back to back, whether it be 2 half marathons or 2 marathons, here are a few tips.

  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Have fun with it.
  • Don’t over train.  I was way too serious the first time (when I was in the throws of PF).  I had a lot of high mileage days, back to back.  High mileage piled atop high mileage.  Let’s just say, I didn’t help anyone fix my PF.  And I never had the chance to even start the first race, let alone finish the second one.
  • Recovery is key.  Both during training and on race weekend.  I roll with “the stick” and on a foam roller.  I use a Recovery Drink after big runs/races.  I use Nighttime Recovery caplets when my legs feel heavy or sore.  I don’t shy away from an ice bath or cold pool.  I use compression during and after hard runs/races.  And I do try to get extra rest.  That means sleep.  Yes, sleep.  I take rest days after big runs and leading up to race days/weekends.  You can’t run a double marathon weekend if you are exhausted, hurt or hungry.  Take care of yourself!
  • Eat real food.  Part of fueling up for a double marathon weekend or recovering from one is about what you put in your body.  Dieting?  Wrong answer. You need to eat.  Proteins.  Fats (healthy fats).  Carbs.  Sugars.  If you are on a weight loss journey, marathoning is not for you.  I spend a lot of time fueling up and then feeding the machine after.  As a result, my weight is high but I’m healthy.  I can’t focus on losing weight and still make sure I’m fueled up and recovered.  True story.
  • Take care of your feet!!  Rotate shoes.  Wear good socks.  I prefer Injinji socks because they prevent blisters & the loss of toe nails.  I also slather on the Aquaphor BEFORE I put on my socks.  I use so much Aquaphor  that you might think I get it for free.  I don’t.  But it works and I love it.  Injinjis + Aquaphor = SUCCESS!
  • Fueling.  This is tricky!  Fueling for one marathon is hard!  Now do it correctly and be ready to run again on day 2!  I’ve have some stomach issues, in running and real life.  I finally went to the doc and got some stronger meds.  Imodium was not doing it for me.  Enough said.  But I’m now able to fuel properly during the first race without losing everything and being sick for hours (or more) afterward.  I also make sure to use my salt tabs if its hot and/or humid.  Then I go into recovery mode directly after the race (see above) to refuel & feed the machine for day 2. 
  • Fueling for day 2.  Plan on having extra fuel.  The first time, we were not prepared to deal with the hunger on day 2.  We took the normal amount of fuel that we would need for a marathon.  We almost starved.  We ate food from aid stations that we normally wouldn’t touch.  We ate food from bike support people.  We would have hurt someone for a cliff bar, and we almost did.  Smile
  • Pick your day 2 destination wisely.  We tend to go where our friends go and I suggest you do the same.  The more people you know racing, the better.  But if you are doing this solo, make sure the 2 races are in close proximity.  I’ve heard people flying from one race to another.  That’s not my reality.  Our first double had a 3.5 hour drive time between races.  That was almost too much.  This time it was under 2 hours and that was perfect.  Remember, you “might” be tired.  You don’t want to spend all day recovering in the car.
  • Forget what PR stands for and take it easy.  2 marathons in 2 days is a lot for a normal person.  Run easy on day 1.  Walk up the hills.  High five the kids.  Thank the volunteers.  Do NOT run fast.
  • Prepare for some initial stiffness on day 2.  Especially if day one is cold, wet, windy or hilly.  The conditions of day one have as much of an effect on your body as what YOU do during that race.  Start out slow on day 2, let your body loosen up on its own and you’ll be surprised how good you feel after 3 or 4 miles.  But still take it easy on day 2.  This is about endurance, not speed. You want to walk away smiling, not limping! 
  • Schedule a massage for 2-3 days post double.  You’ll need it & your body deserves it.  You have one body.  Respect it.
  • Rest post double.  I go into full rest mode.  I’m not a “streaker”.  It’s not for me or my body.  I value my rest days.  If I’m feeling sassy or antsy, I’ll swim or bike.  But really, it’s Thursday and my plan is to drink wine and watch tv tonight.  I have one objective & that’s to be healthy so I can keep running, swimming and biking.  As a result, I err on the side of caution and rest an extra day or 2 beyond what most consider normal.  But really, what the heck is normal?  2 marathons in 2 days probably is NOT considered normal. 
  • Frame of mind.  Lastly, if you think you can do it, then you can.  As with everything, be confident.  Know you can do it.

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Have you ever ran a double half or double marathon weekend?  If so, share your tips for success! 

** Run Happy AND Healthy ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Flying Pig Marathon …. A Pigcredible Race

The Flying Pig Marathon was my 32nd marathon.  Let it suffice to say that I know a good race from a bad one and I’d put Flying Pig at the top.  This was definitely one of the best races I’ve ran to date.  I’d go back to run the hills of Cincinnati anytime.  They did an amazing job with a lot of people, in very warm conditions.  Plus I’d like to shout out kudos to the communities, all of whom embraced this race as their own and were PROUD to showcase their town, their neighborhoods and they brought fun, food, music & games curbside for the runners to enjoy.  Incredible, Cincinnati, absolutely incredible.  Thanks for letting me run YOUR town.

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The theme this year was “Get Oinked for Life”.  As I understand it, they have a different piggy theme each year.  But the swag is always amazing.  This year they gave a gender specific tee, poster, gym bag (with yoga mat holder) & a buff at the finish line.  I’ve seen finisher hats in years previous but it was a buff this year.

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Nice sized expo with lots of Flying Pig logo’d merchandise.  I normally don’t buy much from the expo but I had a feeling this was going to be a great race so I grabbed a visor & an insolated water bottle, which was a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati.  

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Lots of piggy photo ops too.  If you didn’t get your pic with one of the many cool looking piggies, then really, can we even be friends?  Get excited, people!  Have some fun!  WhoooHoooo!  Me & Lindsay Glitter Girl on the Run leaving the expo on the right.  Pigs FLY in Cincinnati!  Yes, they do.  And thanks, Lindsay for being excited about all the cool piggies!  Smile

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This race was much larger than I anticipated so getting to the start & into the corrals on Sunday morning was a bigger process than I anticipated.  We had plenty of time but there were a lot of people (over 39,692 participants for the entire weekend)!  I said goodbye to Lindsay as she went into our corral.  Pre-race selfie with Lindsay below! 

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Her run plan was to crush the hills.  My run plan was to 1) not let the hills crush me, 2) have fun, 3) find some bacon, & 4) run with my friends!  So I went back a corral to be with friends and hope that they would walk up some of the hills with me!  Found Julie B at waiting for us at the entrance to Corral F!  Julie B, Tamyra & I walking up one of the bridge inclines around mile 3.  All smiles. 

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The sun was coming up.  The fog was lifting.  It was turning into a glorious day and we were all happy to be in Cincinnati to Fly with the Pigs!

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I found bacon immediately within the first couple miles (blurry pic but I was excited!!).  Then I found Elvis.  We ran in and out of Cincinnati several times.  Over 3 different bridges, past a few more. 

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Past Horseshoe Casino & into Eden Park.  The views in Eden Park were breathtaking.  It was hard not to linger and enjoy the view.  Most everyone was stopping for pics & I love to see that.  Runners ENJOYING the race vs zooming past all the cool stuff!

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We said goodbye to Eden’s park, passed under a cool footbridge & headed to the split for the half & full marathons.

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The split was huge.  There were 12,532 half marathoners (including walkers) and they split at an intersection with one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen (pic below).  Then the full marathon continued and had 3,861 finishers (including walkers).  I would like to note that the full initially had 4,737 registered runners.  Not sure how many bowed out or dropped to the half pre-race but the conditions got very tough and a lot of people were not able to finish.  I really hope that we didn’t lose 850+ people over that last half of the race.  That’s a big discrepancy in registered vs finished.

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After we dropped the half runners, we started to stretch out and head toward the neighborhoods.  There are a lot of races where I’d tell you to stick with the half.  So many races put all the sites & fun in the first half because the number of half runners always trumps the full marathoners by a lot.  They focus on those runners and then just stretch out the course for those of us who “have to” run the 26.2 distance.  Cincinnati was NOT like that.  There was plenty to see and fun to be had in the last half of the race.  Plus, I’ve honestly never seen as better proration of volunteers to runners.  Even the people who didn’t volunteer in an official capacity brought the party to the curb as we passed thru their neighborhood.

I’ve never ran a race with so much entertainment.  Live music.  Boom boxes.  Car radios.  Bubble Machines.  Mini Basketball stations.  Cheerleaders.  Singers.  Bands.  Children cheering and high fiving.  Mascots.  Fun, fun, FUN!

I’ve never ran a road race with so many food stations.  Bacon.  Need I say more?  Chocolate.  Hershey Kisses.  York Peppermint Patties (Pig Mints!!).  Graham Crackers.  Chocolate Graham Crackers.  Twizzlers.  Pretzels.  Oranges.  Watermelon.  Fruit cups.  Swedish Fish.  Pringles.  Trail Mix.  Candy.

I’ve never ran a race with the level of community support that I saw in Cincinnati.  Full on block parties.  Lots of drinking in the early a.m.  More piggy decorations than I knew to exist.  Beer shots.  Mimosas.  Margaritas.  Music.  Cheers.  Laughter.  Painted streets.  Encouragement galore.  And dogs.  If you love dogs as much as Cincinnati loves pigs, then you will be in heaven.  Big dogs.  Little dogs.  Old dogs.  Puppies!!  Fat dogs.  Skinny dogs.  Hairy dogs.  Friendly dogs.  Scared dogs.  LOL!  I loved the Cincy dogs as much as I loved the people!!   

The race stretched out.  Hill after hill.  Big hills.  Little hills.  But always hills. Hard race.  Don’t let all the fun deter from the hills cuz Cincinnati is know for hills more than fun.  There was over a 1000 feet of climbing and just as much descending (ironically not much  more climbing than in Olathe KS for the Garmin Marathon that we thought was flat & fast!).

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Our turnaround point was the Village of Mariemont.  Cute community!  By this time, I was soaked.  It was hot. Full sun.  I was dumping water on my head & I was drenched.  So, no pics by me but I grabbed this from the Mariemont Inn website because I wanted you to have a small taste of Mariemont.  The entire area was just this awesome. 

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By the time we got to Mariemont and were headed back to the City, the temps were soring and the runners were starting to suffer.  Some had been suffering for quite some time. I was hearing a lot of ambulance sirens.  I was worried about those around me. I was doing okay but going at a very pedestrian pace.  Lots of walking.  Lots of water intake.  Lots of electrolyte intake.  I hit every sprinkler and loved the Cintas station that set up with icy cold towels, dry towels and full water hoses with shower heads!  About the time things started to get really bad, race officials had gotten ice and were bringing it back to runners.  They had gators loaded with cases of water, huge bags of ice and were proactively headed from the finish back toward the runners still on course.  I was very impressed that although they had not planned for the higher temps, they were proactive and did what they could to help the suffering runners.  That’s a great race organization that is able to react quickly to a less than ideal situation. 

There were also about 30 bike support people on course who were watching the runners very closely.  They had supplies on their bike and would go get something a runner needed.  Med & aid stations toward the end were stocked with margarita shot blocks with extra salt, Coca Cola and things that we normally don’t see at road races.  I was very, VERY impressed with the Flying Pig Marathon.  I will definitely go back and run it again. 

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Registration for 2017 is now open.  You can register HERE for the May 7, 2017 marathon for $70 (or the half for $60) thru May 15, 2016.  Get Oinked for Life!

I’m headed into triathlon season now.  My next marathon will be on October 1st in Fort Wayne, IN.  The Fort4Fitness event that I’ve loved since its inception in 2008 is offering its first ever marathon and I can’t wait to run in my back yard and rock the run in Ft Wayne.  Flying Pig reminded me a lot of Fort4Ftiness in the way the communities come out to support the runners and that made me even more excited about the upcoming Fort4Ftiness Marathon.  I hope to see YOU in Ft Wayne on October 1st!

** Run Happy, All.  Have Fun & Enjoy ALL the Races.  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Kentucky Derby Marathon – 2016

I headed to Louisville last weekend to run my 2nd Kentucky Derby Marathon.  I love this race and it wasn’t difficult to talk me into a repeat visit.  I’m a huge fan of races in small towns where we can park the car at the hotel, then walk to packet pickup, dinner & the race itself. Its good for the runners AND spectators. 

MarathonMini Logo SPONSOR COLOR no year.eps

The expo is a nice size.  Not huge but a decent size compared to some of the smaller ones we have been to as of late.  Quite a few vendors to cover whatever you may have forgotten or to grab something special to remember your trip.  Packet pickup was quick and painless.  The full marathoners walked away with a gender specific tee & a hat for race swag. 

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Race day was just as painless.  The race started on Main Street about a block or two  from our hotel.  No gear check for us, so we just made our way to the corral and got in line.  Race started at 7:30a and we left the hotel at 7:00a.  Rain was on the forecast so we grabbed a selfie before we got wet.  Smile  Me, Katie & Julie M.  We tried  about 4 selfies.  I look equally as goofy in each one.  Yes, this is the best one.  No, I have no idea what’s going on with my hair.

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There are so many things I love about this race and I talked about a lot of them when I ran in 2014.  See that post HERE.  Race starts on Main Street and you run past all the local businesses, bars, restaurants, the huge YUM Stadium, the Louisville Slugger Museum and so much more.  The first miles of the race really showcase a lot of what Louisville has to offer, including the University of Louisville.  It weaves in and out of downtown.  Constant crowd support.  Neighborhood children out to cheer on the runners.  Good community support. 

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But honestly, everyone is just waiting for mile 8 and to enter Churchill Downs.  This was definitely a highlight for me last time and I was anxiously awaiting it once again.  By the time we got to this point, it was steadily raining on us and had been for a while.  So no pics from this round but I have some from 2014!

Churchill Downs

We run into the entrance of Churchill Downs, thru the area where all the tents are located and I envision various vendors for race weekend, then thru the tunnels, under the track and into the back lots.  Pic below from 2014.

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Even though it was raining, there were still several horses out practicing when we ran thru.  It’s very cool.  I’ve always wanted to go to the Derby and this renewed my interest to make that happen.  Cool venue and I love running it.

Once we are out of the Downs, around mile 9, the half and full marathons split.  Although, I always enjoy the company of the half runners, and find it way easier to keep a slow steady pace when all of them are around, I was ready for a bit of solitude and for the road to open up.  The Derby Festival Marathon weekend is best known for it’s “mini” marathon (half marathon to anyone how doesn’t live in Indianapolis IN or Louisville KY).  There were 10,434 half marathoners and a mere 1,811 full runners.  So the road did in fact open up quite a bit as we said goodbye to the “mini” runners.  But we weren’t alone.  There were always people around and still a good number of spectators out, even for a rainy day. 

Now we were headed for Iroquois Park.  This is the hardest part of the race with lots of up & downhill sections but the scenery is spectacular.  I must say, I found this section particularly hard last time (2014) but it really wasn’t that bad this year, thanks to all the ridiculously hilly races I’ve managed to run over the last couple years.  There were some tough ups but I walked them.  And I found a surprising number of downhill sections which I don’t remember from last time!  The gentle rain made everything that much more beautiful and the road was wide open so that we could easily run the tangents up and down the hills and around the winding roads.  Very nice. 

After Iroquois Park, it was all downhill.  Like seriously.  I think we may have had 1 or 2 inclines after that but it was otherwise flat terrain.  We ran past so many amazing churches and historical homes, back thru the University of Louisville campus and we were headed back to the downtown area. 

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The aid stations were fully stocked and staffed, even with the rain.  They offered water, Gatorade & Cliff Shots in several spots.  Lots of potties and medical stations, if you needed them.  Plus spectators who came out even with the weather.  By the time we hit mile 23, it was a full on downpour.  I was happy to have a visor and just kept my head down and ran.  It was then that the rain finally penetrated my shoes as we could no longer see dips in the pavement but rather just splashed thru.  It didn’t dampen anyone spirits but there did seem to be a lot of people cramping and hurting in those last miles and I think it was a lot about the weather and the cool rain on their warm muscles.  Julie & I stopped 2-3 times to dig Biofreeze out of our bags for people who needed some assistance.  But alas the finish became visible and we put another marathon in the DONE column.  We even saw our friend Erica at the finish.  She killed her race and beat us by a few minutes (or more).  Smile  Julie, Random Dude, Erica & me.

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The Kentucky Derby Marathon is an awesome race.  Great spectator support.  Great community support.  Great course.  Great police/safety.  Great aid stations.  And its fun without too many crazy hills.  Put this one on your list if you haven’t already, it’s worth the trip to Louisville to run the Derby. 

The Derby Marathon was the first marathon of the weekend.  Yes, the second double marathon weekend of 2016.  We finished, showered, and drove to Cincinnati OH for the Flying Pig Marathon.  Come back tomorrow for that recap. 

** Run the Derby Marathon ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Garmin Marathon, Olathe KS

The Garmin Marathon in Kansas is in the DONE column.  I’m slowly working my way thru the states.  I have an ongoing, long term goal to run a marathon in every state.  Slowly cuz well, I have a budget and a family.  I have basically given up all other racing, other than marathons (and 70.3 triathlons), in order to put all my $$ toward this goal.  As a result, I try to pick marathons in new states whenever possible.  I’ve also become a frugal traveler to save money and make the quest a bit more manageable.  We pile 3-4 people in the car/hotel room and don’t do much other than eat and run.  Kansas was state #19 and Garmin was my 30th marathon.  To be honest, this feels more like an adventure than a goal and each new state brings new friends and more stories for my golden years.  

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Kansas.  What do you know about Kansas?  I apparently knew nothing.  I imagined vast areas of grasslands, farm fields and flat terrain.  Like very flat where the wind would blow for days with nothing to stop it.  I was wrong. As I was driving thru Missouri bound for the border town of Olathe, KS, all I could see were hills.  Lots and lots of rolling hills.  I must admit I was slightly distressed.  I normally don’t have a predetermined goal time for marathons.  I normally just run what we can manage.  If we are all having a good day, we run comfortable.  If not, we run, walk, jog at whatever pace we can manage.  No big deal.  We just roll with the punches.  But this time, for the first time in a very long time, I had a goal in mind.  One which honestly, should have been quite manageable.  I was healthy (thanks to Dr. Goins at Optimum Performance in Ft Wayne IN).  I was strong.  I have shed some of the weight I gained almost 2 years ago with our massive move.  Most of all, I was confident that I could hit the numbers.  But the numbers would only compute if the terrain were flat.  I am a poor hill runner.  My body just struggles with the uphill & we have very few inclines in this area on which I can try to improve this weakness.  In fact my Saturday run group has gone out of their way all winter to run up each and every incline we could find, sometimes twice.  But it wasn’t enough.  No PR for me in Kansas.  But I tried and I walked away proud, knowing I didn’t give up before we even got started.  I rolled with the plan, hit the numbers until I could not physically hit the numbers any more.  So there you have it.  No PR in Kansas.

The expo was easy and fast.  A few cutouts of Wizard of Oz characters (See Tamyra, myself & Cindy with the Wicked Witch below).  Several booths but mostly local businesses & events.  The Gypsy Runner booth was definitely the  busiest booth at the expo.  I love her normal stuff but she printed a shirt specific to this Wizard of Oz themed race and it was awesome!  The “Don’t Make me Drop a House on You” burnout tank was quite popular and I was lucky to snag one before they sold out.  Me, Cindy & Julie in our tanks on race morning. (Available here at GypsyRunner.com).

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The race shirt was also very popular.  The shirt was gender specific and featured the image of the Wicked Witch with a quote saying “Never Surrender”.  So appropriate, although I didn’t know it at the time.

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The Embassy Suites was the host hotel and actually connected to the Olathe Convention Center where the expo was located.  Super easy expo, hotel stay & race start/finish. In fact we didn’t even move our car to go to dinner but rather walked across the street to a nearby venue.  It was a great decision because when we returned, we found that the finish line was already set up.  Had to get a pic all together at the finish!  Erica, Me, Tamyra, Judy, Elina, Cindy, Julie & Eric.  So fun!!

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Race morning came and the weather was comfortable, in the mid 50s at the start.  Unlike most race mornings, this one was particularly easy because the start was about 50 feet out the front door of the host hotel.  Nice.  Now, let’s run!  Tamyra, Judy, Me, Cindy, Random Dude & Julie waiting for the start. 

Group @ Start

The start was right on time.  The hotel was a top a hill.  Shocker.  As we crossed the start line, the view was a sea of people and a hill in the distance.  Photo credit:  Gypsy Runner.  She was probably shooting the hill ahead but she caught a glimpse of Judy (center in the black maniac tank/yellow visor), Julie is front right of Judy in the black tank & you can barely see my head in front of & above Judy & Julie’s head, I’m in a black tank too.  Love it!

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We were hoping to leave the hills behind as we ran away from the hotel but that wasn’t the case.  There wasn’t the usual chatter.  Some talk, but mostly just running.  It was a head down kind of race for me.  I tried to not look at the hills, which resulted in my head being low and on the ground in front of me most of the time.  I was hoping if I didn’t “see” them, then I wouldn’t really process them.  I was also hoping that if I didn’t acknowledge how quickly it was heating up, then that wouldn’t be happening either.  I was in denial, right? 

The aid stations were well stocked and spaced about 2 miles apart.  Lots of water, Gatorade, GU & potties.  I also saw several medial tents.  The race was very well ran, lots of volunteers, police and even a lady riding a bike dressed as the Wicked Witch. Photo credit:  Gypsy Runner.

Wicked Witch

The first half of the marathon course was on the streets of Olathe.  The last half was an out and back on the Mill Creek Trail.  Garmin boasted a new course this year due to the start/finish being moved to the hotel & convention center.  See map below. 

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I had high hopes that once we hit the trial, the course would flatten out and cool off as we entered the woods.  It didn’t.  I was getting pretty close to hitting the wall at this point.  I had ignored everything and was able to average between 9:18-9:41 thru the first 14 miles.  Then I hit the wall.  I wasn’t hurting, just didn’t have that pace left in my legs.  I needed to start walking some of the hills.   The Mill Creek Trail was pretty.  We crossed several bridges & creeks and it was a nice area to run.  I would have loved it and ran it frequently if I were a local.  Photo credit:  Gypsy Runner (pic 1) & Tamyra (pic 2).

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The temps heated up to the mid 70s during the race but we did have some cloud cover and a breeze toward the end.  Speaking of the end, I was kinda dreading the hill at mile 25.  I knew it was coming because we had to run down it around mile 13.  But I also knew as soon as I could get myself up that hill, I was in the home stretch.  Photo credit:   Gypsy Runner

Mile 25 Hill

Ah, the finish!  Just follow the Yellow Brick Road!  I’m on the left.  The two other gentlemen, I had met the day before at the original Kansas City Joes while we waited in line for BBQ.  They were on pace to pass me up before the finish but then took pity on me and ran me in since they were “in no hurry”.  LOL!   Photo credit:  SeeKCRun  who in conjunction with the Garmin Marathon allowed free photo downloads!  Nice touch!

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I was shooting for a 4:10.  Ran a 4:33.  I’m not sad.  I did what I could.  I didn’t give up until I didn’t have a choice.  And I know that 4:10 will soon be mine.  I’ll just have to wait til fall for it because the Garmin Marathon was my last chance for now. 

Elevation chart showed 940 feet of climb.  930 of decent.   Not crazy climbing for some but a lot for this Midwesterner.

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Very cool medal.  It’s huge and I love the Wicked Witch theme.  There were 588 marathoners who earned this medal!

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2037 half marathoners earned a Glenda, the Good Witch medal.  653 runners earned the Hot Air Balloon 10K medal.  Overall, the Garmin Marathon did a great job.  Stayed on theme.  Great support and even a great course.  There was an after party with free beer and several booths, lots of massage & chiro people to help stretch out the runners.  And the best part, upon completion, I walked straight into the hotel for a hot shower and my recovery drink.  Nice!

That’s a wrap  for Kansas!  Next up is a double marathon weekend with the Kentucky Derby Marathon on 4/30, then the Flying Pig Marathon on 5/1.  THEN I move into a fun filled summer of Triathlon.  I can’t wait! 

Happy Running, whether its up hill or down, just keep smiling!

Amanda – TooTallFritz

Rock N Roll Marathon Series – New Orleans, LA – Race Review

Marathon #29, State #18 – Rock N Roll Marathon New Orleans – LAIMG_9594

I recently received word that I was accepted to the 2016 Rock N Blog team.  I should have discount codes for all the Rock N Roll Marathon Series races for YOU sometime this week!!  As a result, I hustled to get some RnR races on my calendar!  RnR New Orleans has been on my “list” for years and it just so happened to fall on Leap Year weekend this year.  Mom and I always travel Leap Year weekend (every 4 years).  I didn’t know if she would be interested in a whirlwind trip to New Orleans but she was totally up for it, so away we went!! 

The expo was at the New Orleans Convention Center which is centrally located to the Riverwalk, close to Harrah’s Casino & a short jaunt to the French Quarter.  As with all Rock N Roll races, each participant is required to pick up their own packet.  We zoomed thru the expo, which was a decent size.  Grabbed my bib, the race tee & I bought a couple RnR items to rep my new team.  Race tee below.  Black.  Gender specific.  Brooks Running.

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This was a fun trip for mom & I, not a run specific trip, so I wanted to spend as little time doing run things as possible.  We stayed at the Hotel St Marie in the French Quarter.  I fell in love with the photos of the hotel on the internet and felt like it was a great place to give Mom a feel of the real New Orleans.  We loved it & the ladies at the front desk really took care of us and helped us with finding cool, local places for food and entertainment!  It’s an older, historic New Orleans hotel.  A mere half block away from the craziness of Bourbon Street but removed enough that we didn’t hear much of the hoopla.  See my pic below, isn’t it a cute hotel? 

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I have to give mom credit.  She was so adventurous.  She walked and walked and walked.  We ate EVERYTHING “New Orleans” that we could possibly consume:  Fried & blackened alligator, seafood gumbo, crawfish po’boy, crab stuffed jalapeno poppers, beignets, café au lait, catfish, redfish, shrimp, fried green tomatoes, chicken tchoupitoulas, creole green beans, creole jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, and shrimp & grits….. to name a few.  Smile  See pic below from the Royal House Oyster Bar of my pre-marathon meal of shrimp & grits.  So amazing.  Light.  Tasty.  Tiny bit of spice but nothing overpowering. 

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We also toured the city.  Cemeteries.  Ghost tours.  Parks.

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And we had a few drinks: café au lait & cocktails …. including Mom’s very first hurricane (we could only drink one cuz they were so strong).  I even tried a concoction called a “grenade”.  Just one of those too.  Gotta be careful with the cocktails in the Big Easy!!!

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Then as icing on the cake, I got to run the Rock N Roll NOLA Marathon.  Race started at 7:30 am but there were approximately 34 corrals.  I believe there were just shy of 35,000 bibs sold/registered between the 10K, Half & Marathon.  Approximately 2 minutes between corrals.  No policing of corrals so some just started where they wanted verses where they were assigned.  Then I heard complaints of a crowded course.  I did NOT have an issue with the course being too crowded but I DID pass runners the entire way, right up to the finish.  So I know that everyone wasn’t where they were supposed to be but I think it bothers me less than some because I just run my race and really don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.  I wasn’t going for a specific time.  I had my sore hamstring that I was babying, plus I knew the weather was going to heat up to 70+ degrees before the finish. Kinda warm for those of us who left a frozen tundra to head south for the weekend.  Those 2 things made me acutely aware that I should neither run too fast nor stress too much about the race.  I just tried to run relaxed but at a decent clip while my hamstring held and the temps were cool.  I never pushed the pace.  I had to stop a couple times to take motrin and add biofreeze to “hard to reach” muscles.  I just ran.  Happy to be running. Pleased with the amazing course that toured the Garden District, French Quarter, Decatur Street, Jackson Square, the French Market, City Park and looped over the levies for a rolling out and back next to Lake Pontchartrain.  Most of the route was flat.  A few rollers by the lake.  Mostly shaded course.  And I thought it was AMAZING.  Every step.  I was told it was “boring” the last 10 miles, but I didn’t think that was the case.  I loved the breeze off the water by the lake after we left all those amazing shade trees behind.  Honestly, I really loved it.  And I think you would too.  I finished.  My fastest marathon of the year so far, 4 hrs 19 minutes.  Hoping to improve on that in April but honestly, any day I get under 4:30 is a good day by me! Awesome medal & finisher jacket.  I’ve never gotten a jacket as FREE finisher SWAG!  So cool!!!

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RnR races are known for the after party, band and beer garden but to be honest, I always hoof it back to my family.  Everyone seemed to be having an awesome time.  The beer was flowing and the finish area was set up well to take care of runners.  Class act. I was very impressed with what New Orleans had to offer both to local tourists and to the RnR runners.  New Orleans, you got an “A” for how much you have grown post Katrina.  I’m so impressed that I can’t possibly put it into words.  You have rebuilt.  You are bigger and better.  You are now, once again, an amazing city. I hope to be able to revisit soon & run your lovely streets again and again. 

** Til We Meet Again, New Orleans ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

First Light Marathon Race Review – 2016

Day 2 of the Back2Back Challenge was the First Light Marathon in Mobile, AL.  I had heard of Mobile although I didn’t really know where it was located on the map.  Turns out we had a 3.25 hour drive southeast from Jackson MS to Mobile AL.  Not too bad. Then we drove into the charming town of Mobile.  What a nice surprise.   

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The expo was in the Mobile Government Center, maybe 2 blocks from our hotel and the Start/Finish area.  It was a small expo, even smaller than MS Blues.  But there were a few local running & TRI stores that set up booths.  One had clothing 75% off and I snagged a cute Nike tank for $8.95!!  Everyone was super friendly.  We were presented with long sleeve gender specific tech tees, plus our Back2Back Marathon Participant Award which was hand crafted by a member of L’Arche Mobile, a community of people serving those with intellectual disabilities in the area.  I was very touched by this.  I can’t imagine how long it took to make all of these canvases.  I later found out that our finisher medals were also created by the members of L’Arche, some of whom were at the finish line to greet us.  Smile  See my Back2Back partipant award below.  Each award was unique and hand crafted by a different member of L’Arche.  Lucy took the time to make this one for me, her story is below.  Thank you, Lucy!

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We were in and out of the expo in a flash, then off to dinner.  Mobile is the type of town that I love.  We parked at the hotel, walked to the expo, then walked to dinner on Dauphin Street.  We never traveled more than a 3-4 block radius from the hotel but had everything we needed.  This would be a good race to go to and stay for an extra day or two.  Plenty to do on Dauphin Street with shopping, eating and drinking establishments lining the way. 

Race Morning.  We waited in the lobby of our hotel til 5 minutes before gun time, then we walked out the front door onto the start line.  Yes, it was that easy.  The town was in Mardi Gras mode.  Mobile claims to be the birthplace of America’s Mardi Gras and the town and our hotel were decorated and ready for the upcoming season (which begins on Feb 9, 2016).  On race morning we posed by the Mardi Gras “ladies” and tree in our hotel.  Me, Julie, Laura & Judy.

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The race started on time with very little fanfare.  Very small race and it seemed that the majority of people on the start line were Marathon Maniacs who had come from MS Blues the day before, in hopes of conquering the Back2Back Challenge.  In total, there were 376 marathon finishers and 743 half marathon finishers.  There was no “crunch” at the start like the day previous.  Everyone seemed to be laughing and in good spirits even though the temps were cool for the area (low 40s).  Most of the crowd was stiff and sore from the day before so everyone started slow and with some sort of hobble in their step.  It was all very relaxed and a fun atmosphere.  To be honest, I really didn’t expect much from a race this small.  But I was quickly surprised.  The course started with a tour thru the Historic Garden District where we saw home after amazing home with Historic Landmark placards.  Many decorated full scale for the upcoming Mardi Gras season.  It was beautiful and put a smile on my face from the very first mile.  The rest of the course did not disappoint either.  It was flat (thank you, First Light) til mile 9, then we had a few rolling hills and a gradual beastly incline going up into the University of South Alabama campus.  The campus was quiet as the students were still on break but it was beautiful and I loved running thru campus.  Plus, I’m happy to report that we did not see any alligators OR snakes. 

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From the University, we moved on to the Botanical Gardens and then Spring Hill College.  A couple Spring Hill campus photos below:

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The course also had a lot of bike support.  The bike riders where constantly riding around us, talking to us, checking on us and offering support.  One bike support person even offered us a Cliff Bar when we were feeling particularly famished.  It’s REALLY hard to anticipate how many calories your body will need on Day 2 of a 2 day marathon challenge.  I was hungry.  Julie was hungry.  We kept eating.  And we were still hungry.  The aid stations here were different than most.  Normally the race officials can tell you exactly what will be on course and where you can find it.  Not at First Light.  The aid stations were all sponsored by different people, companies, and/or running clubs.  So they got to pick what they served at the aid stations.  Although there was not one gel on course, we received oranges, bananas, donuts, pretzels, potato chips, candy, pickle juice, chicken broth and I was even offered at shot of Corona, which I politely declined.  It was a great experience.  The aid stations were all well staffed and everyone thanked us for running.

In all, this is definitely one of my favorite marathons so far & this was #28 (State #17) in case anyone besides myself (and Julie) are counting.  I’d highly recommend it to anyone.  It’s scenic.  Fun.  Relaxed.  And lacks the hype and hoopla that so many races put forth.  The race fee is low.  I paid $52.15 with service fee to register in April for the January event.  They offer a gender specific tee, chip timing & a unique hand crafted finisher’s medal.  If you decide to try the Back2Back Challenge, you can hop a bus from Jackson to Mobile and First Light takes care of all the Back2Back awards/swag.  Swag below, plus a close up of the handcrafted finisher medal & a couple pics of the Back2Back medal which was a spinner.  Different on both sides. 

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Back2Back Medal:

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A note on the Back2Back Challenge.  I know its not for everyone.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend 2 marathons in 2 days in 2 different states to many but I had a lot of fun.  We took it super slow (5:09 on day 1 & 5:06 on day 2).  We walked, sang, laughed & joked our way thru the miles.  I must say it was easier than I anticipated.  I was fatigued but nothing that was insurmountable.  If you have gone for a shake out run, or a “recovery” run, the day after a long run or marathon, then you know that the first few miles you might be tight but for the most part everything loosens up and those little aches and pains work themselves out.  The hills in Jackson and the slant of the road in both towns did provide me with some aches that I normally do not get.  But thanks to my Injinji socks, I didn’t get any blisters until day 2 and then I only had 2 tiny blisters when I finished First Light.  Not bad for 52.40+ miles in 29 hours.  Smile 

If you need a winter marathon, or one in Alabama, put First Light on your list.  It’s not fancy but they give you everything you need and more, plus rice & beans, pasta salad, cookies, hot chocolate & beer at the finish.  All which can be enjoyed while listening to a local band.  Great experience.  I’d got back and do it all again if the schedule allowed. 

** Run First Light ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Mississippi Blues Marathon Race Review – 2016

Last year at this time, I could hardly walk.  The Plantar Fasciitis Devil had a firm hold on both of my feet.  I could move once I got warmed up but if I tried to run, I would tighten up after a few miles and normally be stopped in my tracks.  If I tried to “push thru”, I would be rendered useless for days.  I would tighten up when I would sit down.  Or go to bed. Or drive in the car.  Walking was nothing but excruciating to the point that my non-runner (and generally unsympathetic) hubby would walk thru the house multiple times a day to clear the floor of toys, dog bones, debris or anything on which I could accidentally step because if I stepped on anything, I would crumple to the floor in pain.  I wish I were exaggerating but if anything, I couldn’t possibly give an idea of how badly I was hurting if you have never experienced the deep grips of Plantar Fasciitis. 

For all who witnessed my pain, or if you asked my hubby or the slew of Physical Therapists, Orthopedic/Sport Med docs and Chiros that I saw when I moved to Indiana, the idea of me running “much” in the future was slim to none.  I was scheduled to run the Back 2 Back Challenge 2015 which was the Mississippi Blues Marathon & First Light Marathon double, but I could not do it.  I mean, I couldn’t walk, I certainly couldn’t run 2 marathons in 2 days.  So, I deferred my entries to 2016 with a hope and a prayer that I could get the PF under control within a year.  And I did, thanks to some amazing Chiropractors at Optimum Performance in Ft Wayne, IN.  HUGE shout out of thanks to Dr. Russell & Dr. Goins for everything they have done for me over the last year.  And for not taking the easy way out by just saying, “stop running”.  For the record, as of today, I am pain free.  Like zero pain when I walk or run or get up out of bed.  Pain free.  And I am beyond grateful.

So, the Back to Back Challenge was a GO for 2016.  The Mississippi Blues Marathon was Saturday, January 9, 2016 in Jackson, MS.  The First Light Marathon was January 10, 2016 in Mobile, AL.  Let’s talk about MS Blues today! 

MS Blues Logo

MS Blues offered a small expo at the Jackson Convention Center and easy packet pick up before the race or even on race morning, if necessary.  Parking was easy and free.  Packet Pick up was fast and painless.  We even spotted and shopped with our favorite marathon runner and expo booth, Gypsy Runner.  Thanks for hooking us up with some cool stuff, Amy!

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This year’s race was all about honoring BB King who passed in 2015.  They put a BB King CD in each of our race packets.  We also each received a harmonica with the date/logo of the event & a cool unisex 1/4 zip with BB King on the back.  Great swag.

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If you’ve talked to anyone about the MS Blues Marathon, you’ve probably already heard about the hills.  So let’s just get that out of the way right now.  This race is hilly.  And I don’t mean maybe.  Very hilly.  I think Judy said that we climbed over 5500 feet in elevation over the course of the race.  And descended about the same.  So many ups and downs on this course.  Pretty much non-stop.  But it was beautiful.  Great course thru stunning neighborhoods, amazing homes, great volunteers and police who were actually smiling and thanking us for coming to run their city.  Small race, with approximately 755 marathon finishers,  1871 half finishers, 307 Quarter Note finishers & 28 relay teams.  We had a lot of fun, even with the rain.  We started in the rain and finished in the rain.  In fact, there was as much rain as there were hills, maybe more.  Smile  Steamy pic of Julie, Judy & I under the lights pre-race.

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Pic of some of the course below.  Hello hill (pic 1).

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Selfie.

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Course below. 

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MS Blues really does it right and we really enjoyed ourselves.  They focus on the Blues element of this historic area.  In fact a portion of the proceeds from the race go to the local Blues Foundation.  Generally this race has a 9 different spots for live performers on the course but the weather was bad this weekend.  There were a few spots where we heard music but nothing like there would have been had it not been down pouring rain most of the day. 

We finished.  It was very slow going in the beginning because the streets just could not accommodate the number of runners.  We were really packed in tightly for several miles. Not a problem for us but if you want to race this, then plan a slow start or head to the front!  We just took it super easy and walked a lot of the hills since we were headed to Mobile AL for another marathon on Sunday.  We finished in 5:10 (factoring in way too many potty stops and a lot of hill walking) and the sun had finally came back out, minutes before we crossed the finish line.  Yay for the sun.  Judy, Julie & I at the finish.  Very cool BB King medal with a hanging guitar pick.

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There was a finisher party with food & music but the music wasn’t playing and the food was gone when we got there.  Supposedly more food was the on the way but my tummy was already upset so we waited a half hour and then left to get cleaned up and back on the road for the trip to Mobile, AL.

If you can hang out in Jackson after the race, there is a very popular Blues Crawl that takes you to some of the local music venues in Jackson post race.  There is also a Blues Trolley that does the driving in case you want to have a beverage.  We missed the fun but I heard that it’s amazing. 

** Run MS Blues Marathon ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

2016 Goals …. On Paper

I haven’t written about my goals for years.  Not because I don’t have a clear set of goals going into each new year but because I’ve been doing this for a long time and redundancy is B.O.R.I.N.G.   Plus my training is non-traditional, and my volume is sometimes ridiculous.  I don’t want anyone to think they should follow my lead.  I finally found a great chiropractor in Ft Wayne who has made a lot of money off of me this year because of my volume & race schedule.  He keeps me running even when he thinks I should go sit on the couch.  Together we have learned how to juggle races/ mileage & springboard from one set of goals to the next by sacrificing speed.  That’s right.  If my goal is volume, I sacrifice speed. I can’t have my cake and eat it too.  I  gotta pick.  So let’s see how I will choose to lay out 2016.

goals

The year 2016 will be broken up into 3 seasons.  1)  Spring Marathon Season, 2) Triathlon Season and 3)  Fall Marathon Season.

My goal race for the spring marathon season is the Garmin Marathon in Olathe, KS on April 16th. Please someone tell me that Olathe is flat and fast.  Please.  I’ve plugged the numbers into the FIRST Run Less Run Faster iOS app and if I can hang onto my treadmill this winter, I’m going to run 4:15 or faster on the streets of Olathe, in a sparkle skirt of my choosing, possibly dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.  Outfit to be determined.  Goal time, established.  4:15 or bust. 

My goal race for triathlon season will be the 70.3 at Rev3 Cedar Point on September 11th.  Although, I applied for the Rev3 team/ambassadorship, I was NOT selected.  No, I’m not mad.  I apply for a lot of things and get rejected but that doesn’t stop me from going after my goals.  I still plan to go to Cedar Point and annihilate the swim, bike & run and go under 6 hours for the first time ever.  Now this is the main goal of the entire year, my “A” goal, if you will.  I want to break 6 hours at the half iron distance and this is as much of a dream as it is a goal.  I have a lot of work to do if I even have a chance.

Big Goals

My goal race for the fall marathon season is the inaugural Fort4Fitness Marathon on October 1st.  This will be about fun and running with my friends and run club members.  My goal here is not about speed but to get as many people as possible to the start line for the 2016 Fort4Fitness races.  Marathon or not.  It’s a party for the running community in the Ft Wayne, IN area and I’m excited to be part of it.  I plan to run, walk, stroll and talk to everyone I see!  I was there for the inaugural running the the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon in 2008 and I plan to be there for the inaugural running of the their first full marathon in 2016.  Super exciting!

So what do I need to do to meet these goals?  I need to stay focused on my healthy eating & get off the last 10-13 lbs that I packed on during the move to Indiana.  I’m focused on this.  Working on it daily.  It will be gone before I hit the Kansas border in April. 

In order to meet my “big hairy” goal for the triathlon, I need to become a better, more aggressive, faster, stronger swimmer.  The term “just keep swimming” will eventually be replaced with something more aggressive and focused toward pushing the pace.  I’ve never worked on my swimming, just basically showed up and swam.  This will change.  But first I have to get reacquainted with the water.  I tore my rotator cuff in August after IM 70.3 Steelhead (race report HERE) and just went back to the pool today, for the first time.  It wasn’t bad for a starter swim.  I made it a mile in 45 minutes.  But I need to slash this time by a lot to help achieve my goal.

swimming_me_superphoto 

I also think that strength work is integral to my performance related goals.  I’m dedicating Tuesday & Thursday (before dawn) to my swimming & strength work.  I thought I had my strength all figured out but the CrossFit Endurance class has been dropped.  So I’m back on my own.  But I can do this!!

We’ll start with these goals and build, adjust accordingly.

if the plan doesn't wrok

** Time to Get to Work ** Amanda – TooTallFritz