Wildwood Trail Marathon Race Review– Wildwood MO

I ran the Wildwood Trail Marathon in Wildwood MO on Sunday.  It was my 47th marathon (or longer).  I’m a runner who loves to run.  I love the trails and the serenity.  However, I’m not a real trail runner.  Let’s not squabble over the fact that “if I run trails, then I’m a trail runner”.  You know what I mean.  I’m a road runner.  I enjoy the road under my feet.  A solid surface that does not move.  One where I probably won’t trip over something that I can’t see because its covered by a forest of leaves.  One where sharp rocks don’t jut out at every step.  One where if I fall, I won’t stress about sliding down the bluff in the process.  Road runner.  Yep, that’s me. 

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Now that is has been clarified that I’m a road runner, my report follows. 

The Wildwood Trail marathon is self described as scenic & fast.  Good for road and trail runners, experienced and beginners alike. I’ve ran a lot of road races, plus my fair share of trail races.  So I feel well versed and able to give a realistic point of view.  Scenic, yes, in spots.  It’s a beautiful run thru the woods.  This race, unlike others I have ran, consisted of a lot of rock based trails.  Most trail runs are on dirt trails.  Wildwood has a lot of rock.  Not to make this too simple but the bluffs are made of rock.   The dirt wears away & only rock is left in spots.  Second pic below shows it well.  That looks like a well worn dirt trail, right?  No.  Its solid rock.  Somewhat smooth surface in some spots.  Jagged rocks sticking out in other spots.  Pics below are from the Bluff View Trail.

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The race started at a school, right off the Hamilton-Carr paved trail.  Then we hit a crushed stone & dirt type trail called the Al Foster Memorial Trail.  This lead us to the first detour, the Bluff View Trail which was about 2 miles into the race.  That’s where things started to get interesting.  The trail (seen above) was 2.5 miles of single track, some slanted to one side or the other, winding up the Bluff for an awesome lookout.  The Bluff View Trail provided some of the most scenic views of the day to the Crescent Valley below.

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After climbing the Bluff Trail, we made a small loop & returned the same way we went up. I must say that after staring at the course map for days, I really didn’t understand it.  But thankfully, the race was marked very well and there was never a question as to where we were headed.  Course map below.  One note, it would have been super helpful if the course map had mile markers.  For those of us unfamiliar with the area, we never really knew where we were at any given moment.  I had the map in my head but as you are climbing, climbing, climbing and maneuvering the switchbacks, everything is very focused.  It would have been great to know that I just had to manage the climb/terrain until mile x, then I would get some relief. 

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December can be tricky but we had a beautiful day with the sun shining on us.  Made me happy.

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Dry trails.  Leaves cushioning the rock.  And a few breathtaking views.  After the Bluff Trail, we hit the Rock Hollow Trail with the infamous Zombie Heights.  This was by far the toughest section (on the map it’s the tall section of zig zags, middle of the map) and I was zombie like, just watching the ground and trying to navigate the terrain.  Rock, switchbacks, lots of technical sections, all on a single track of rock and/or dirt.  We spent a lot of time hiking in this section for safety reasons.  My legs felt good but I can only go as fast as I feel safe.  I’m not a super coordinated person.  I’m not exactly clumsy but I do try to be careful.  So we saw a lot of 20  minute miles in this section.  Took forever to get thru it.  This was approximately mile 6 through 14.  Pics below of this section show the varied terrain.

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After Rock Hollow and Zombie Heights, we had a nice flat section back on the Al Foster Memorial Trail heading to Sherman Beach.  Easy terrain.  Well packed.  Fast section. 

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Sherman Beach was a hot spot.  By the time we got there, a lot were already headed back to the finish.  Lucky them.  But this was an important area.  First, the only port-o-potty on course was here. It was also the 3rd & 4th aid station.  And this is where the cut-off happened.  Once passing thru the Sherman Beach aid station (mile 15.5ish), there was a 7.5 mile loop.  We had to be back to that aid station by 2:30pm or we wouldn’t be allowed to finish.  Technically we had plenty of time.  But if we ran into a section of 20 min miles, then the cutoff was in jeopardy.  I must say this is the first time I ever really thought about a cutoff (in any race) and it was stressful! 

Leaving Sherman Beach we had a short section of flat, well groomed trails.  Then we hit the tunnels.  Concrete, manmade tunnels.  I had to bend over and walk thru them, they were short in height and long in length.  A volunteer on a bike told us that he would see us in 2 miles, once we hit the tunnels.  Must say this might have been the longest 2 miles of my life.  The tunnels lead to the Cedar Bluff Trail.  Obviously a short 2 mile jaunt.  Not as technical as the Zombie Heights but we had to be on our toes. And we were apparently rushing because of the cutoff.  Both my run partner & myself fell in this section.  Hard.  Blood & bruises the result. 

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Once we were back to the tunnels, things got much better.  We hit a network of trails by the Meramec River.  These trails consisted of dirt & sand.  Well groomed.  Lots of people riding bikes, walking dogs & hanging out.

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And then eventually the Stinging Nettle trail which was a sand trail taking us back to the 4th aid station at Sherman Beach.  Well AHEAD of the cutoff.  Smile   Tamyra below on the Stinging Nettle trail.

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After Sherman Beach, there was an easy, flat run back to the finish on the Al Foster & Hamilton Carr trails.  Photographer caught us in this section.  Yep, I’m dirty.  I fell down somewhere along Cedar Bluff.

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This marathon was approximately 25.77 miles.  If you are a 50 States Marathon Club runner who is trying to run all the states, don’t use this one for Missouri or you’ll be short & it won’t count.  Trail runs are always questionable in distance since you go where the terrain takes you.  Very normal. 

So, was this race scenic & fast?  Yes. Obviously scenic.  But its also one of the faster trail marathons that I’ve ran thanks to several flat sections where you can run faster.  Good for beginners & experienced runners alike?  Maybe.  The flat sections help a lot.  But there was a lot of technical spots too.  Anyone can do it.  But they really have to be invested in it.  So yes, good for anyone as long as they are committed & ready to go the distance no matter what the trails present.

Overall, great race.  Great volunteers.  Only 4 aid stations.  Stocked with trail running basics:  Coca Cola, Ginger Ale, peanut M&Ms, cookies, pretzels, oranges, pickles, electrolytes, Hammer gels.  Water & Heed (a Hammer product).   This was a cup free event so everyone needed a handheld, water bottles or collapsible cups to utilize the fluids on course. 

Small event.  I had read before race day that there were 209 entrants.  Not exactly how the results panned out.  I’m not sure if everyone was listed but they show 89 finishers.  I was #81 (6 hrs 30 min).   3 DNFs.  8 DNS. Winning male:  2:52.  Winning female:  3:44.  So it was apparently a fast race for some.  Smile Cutoff was 8 hours.  Last finisher was 7 hrs 51 min.

SWAG:  Beanie, Hammer gels, Hammer Endurolytes, sample pack of Biofreeze, finishers medal & FREE race photos.

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That’s a wrap on this marathon!  If your interested in trail running, I’ll link to some of my other trail runs below.  The hardest I’ve done so far is the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon in Duluth, MN.  That race is the warm up for the Minnesota Voyageur 50 miler.  God help those 50 milers.  They are tougher than me!  My second hardest trail marathon was the Dances with Dirt Devil’s Lake Trail Marathon in Baraboo, WI.  Easiest trail run/ultra was the Lakefront 50K in Chicago.  If you  need a fast 50K time, go to Chicago.  Race is on a paved path along Lake MI.  Fun.  Easy. 

Trail Race Reviews (minus the 2014 Huff 50K, which apparently I didn’t write up?!?):

Next up the 2017 Huff 50K on 12/30.  Then I rest. 

Happy Running, all!  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

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Indianapolis Monumental Marathon – 2017 Edition

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This was my 4th time running the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  I ran the inaugural race in 2008, then also 2015, 2016, & 2017.  This is somewhat counterproductive to my goal of running a marathon in every state; however, Indy provides a race that is worth repeating.  Plus, Aby is at the age where she likes to run this race with her friends, after Cross Country season, so I go because it’s a huge affair between my friends & Aby’s.  In my world running is about fun.  I try not to have such a singular focus on a long term goal that I forget the core reason for my running.  So I’ll probably run Indy at least one more time, next year.  Aby is a senior next year and who knows where the world will take her after that.  If she wants to go back to Indy, we’ll be there. 

Expo was easy and fast, although crowded in the early evening.  We were in and out pretty quickly.  There were lines to verify the timing chips and lines to get pre-ordered race items, but otherwise pretty smooth.  Lots of vendors.  Everything looked busy but everyone seemed to be in a good mood.  Outside the expo the city was bustling and Indy really shines at night.  View from our hotel. 

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The race didn’t’ start until 8am on Saturday morning.  This was sleeping in for me!  The hotels surrounding the Capitol Building are within a 5 minute walk.  We stayed inside until 7:30, then walked over to greet friends & get ready to run. 

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A few things about 2017 that were different from previous years.  One, it was the last year of a 4 year medal series.  The race sold medal holders to include the medals for all 4 years, then there was a special star that 4 year runners picked up at the finish.  I was missing 2014, no star for me.  But it was cool.  And Indy has just announced that they will be starting a new 4 year series next year with a slightly different set-up.  Here is a picture of the display for the 2014-2017 medals from the Indy Monumental Facebook page.

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The second change for 2017 was the implementation of a corral system, in an attempt to ease congestion at the start.  Start below.  Photo courtesy of Gypsy Runner.

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The start was congested.  Not a lot of signage as to where the corrals started & stopped.  I’m guessing the majority of runners had no idea which corral they were in when the race started.  Some races stagger the start to ease congestion,  allowing a slight pause of maybe a couple of minutes between corrals.  This was a rolling start.  No breaks between corrals.  Gun went off, we all started moving.  First mile was slow.  First aid station turned into a total standstill.

The half marathon runners turned off around 7.25 miles.  The majority of the runners do the half, which is common at most races.  I actually like the first part with the half runners because it forces me to go slower than I might if the road were wide open.  Smile   But after they turn off, usually I start pushing the pace.  Indy traditionally has great weather.  This year was no different.  It was in the upper 40s at the start, in the 50s with a breeze when we finished. No sun.  Perfect conditions for a great race.  Indy is usually one of my fastest races of the year, this year it was my fastest.  It’s the weather and the flat course that helps me out each year.  Makes it easy to keep coming back, right? 

Lots of aid stations.  Donuts, beer shots, pretzels, cliff gels, bananas, orange slices.  Indy takes care of their runners.  Course is flat with a few slight inclines.  Lots of volunteers and police to help keep everyone on course.  I do think they changed the course slightly this year.  I don’t know that for a fact but there were a few times that I felt the course was different or we were running in a different direction than we had in years past. 

Not a lot of pictures.  I had been sick earlier in the week and wasn’t feeling awesome during the race.  I was just following my friends, Julie M & Amy (Gypsy Runner) and just ran all the way to the finish with those lovely ladies.  Yes, I let them pull me the majority of the race.  Sometimes we feel good.  Sometimes we don’t.  Gotta roll with whatever the day brings.  And it brought me a finish in 4:24 with 2 great friends by my side.  #Thankful

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That’s it for the 2017 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  SWAG below. Side panel of shirt in the last pic.

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By the numbers.  The race just seemed so much larger this year!  Maybe because I wasn’t feeling great.  Maybe because there were 3 of us running together.  Maybe because the roads weren’t in great shape this year and I was floating around a lot.  But here are the stats.  In 2016 there were 4237 marathon finishers, 4679 this year.  In 2016 there were 8154 half marathon finishers, 7972 this year.  In 2016 there were 2762 5K runners, 2727 this year.  So the only race that showed a significant increase in numbers was the marathon distance.  But only 400 more runners.  Not a huge increase.  I think I just felt “off” and was more protective of my personal space this year.  Smile  Regardless, I love the race & I plan to run again in 2018.

2008 race report HERE.  You’ll find more of an insight into the emotional aspect of my second marathon rather than a review of the race.  Oldie but goodie. 

2015 report HERE.  2016 report HERE.

This was my 46th lifetime marathon if you’re counting.

** Happy Running, All ** Amanda – TooTall Fritz

Atlantic City Marathon, Atlantic City, NJ

The Atlantic City Marathon in New Jersey was Day 2.  The second marathon for our double marathon weekend.  2 Marathons.  2 Days.  2 States.  Totally normal, right?  Maybe not, but this was an easy double if you ever want to try one.  We picked Atlantic City because it was a short 2 hour drive from Dover, DE where we ran the Monster Mash Marathon the day previous.  The drive was so short that we even detoured thru Philadelphia to fulfill a childhood fantasy of running up the Art Museum steps like Rocky Balboa!  Super exciting.  Then hey, stopped over to see the Liberty Bell too!

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Some people thought we were crazy for actually running up the steps.  It was fun!  There were only 72 steps and it probably loosened us up after running the Monster Mash Marathon!  Good news, we weren’t the only crazy people, some even had the Rocky Theme song playing.  Obviously, we weren’t too serious about this double.  Its not our first.  We just go, run, have fun and keep things light.  As for the steps, had to do it.  Who knows if I’ll ever get that close to Philadelphia again.  No regrets, right?  I would have regretted not running up those steps!

On to Atlantic City.  Packet pickup was at Ballys.  We parked in the garage.  Posted parking fee was $22; however, they reduced the fee for runners to $5.  Thank you!!  Small expo.  Easy in and out once we figured out where to go inside the hotel/casino.  Dinner in the hotel/casino.  Checked into our hotel by 8pm.  Tip:  We stayed at the Sheraton by the Convention Center.  It was about a 10 min walk to/from the race start/finish.  No smoke. No gambling.  No hoopla.  Less $$.

Race started at 8am so we got to see the sun come up while we were waiting to start.  It was steamy.  Humid.  Warm.

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As we awaited the race start, it was different than most races I’ve ran.  There was a start line and a gated corral.  The pacers were inside the corral.  Alone.  We were all crowded outside the corral wondering what was going on and when they would open the gates.  They opened the gates right at 8am.  It was a mad rush for some to get in where they wanted to be, others were climbing over the fence. Most just lined up as they entered the corral.  Somewhat chaotic.  Not an issue for us since we were planning a leisurely race but I certainly see that it could have been an issue for some.  Eventually, we were all in and ready to run. 

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We started the race heading north on the Boardwalk for a short distance, then a quick left on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, then a quick left on Bachrach Boulevard.  Mile one.  Decent sized race.  Some spectators.  Decent Streets.  Views of the water at every glance.  First the Atlantic, then various bays & channels.  So many that it was hard to keep up with which body of water we were crossing and/or passing at any given time.  Foggy morning due to the heat and humidity but not so hot that we were miserable.  Just warmer than most prefer. But it was beautiful.

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Soon we entered a long tunnel.  There were lights so it wasn’t dark.   Runners were whooping and yelling to hear themselves in the tunnel.  Kinda cool.   Thru some neighborhoods, up a couple highway ramps, then back to the Boardwalk, this time heading south around mile 7.75, passing the strip of casinos. 

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Aid stations were spaced about every 1.5 miles.  Lots of volunteers.  Police.  Bicycle escorts for the winners.  Well marked course with plenty of course marshals enthusiastically directing runners. 

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We ran south on the Boardwalk til approximately mile 13, then turned off heading South for an out and back on Atlantic Avenue.  Busier road on the inner side of the Casinos.  Sloped because we were running on the side.  Lots of shops and restaurants and beautiful homes.  Took Atlantic Ave until it ended in Longport at the Great Egg Harbor.  Awesome aid station in that area that had mini Swedish Fish.  Yes! 

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What I can’t stress enough about this race are the water views.  Even when we were running in neighborhoods down seemingly normal streets.  If you look to either side at a cross street, you’ll see water.  I enjoyed it.  Not beach front running per say but the area is surrounded by water.  Atlantic Ocean to the left in the pic below.

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Beautiful homes, buildings, churches.

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Thru the streets and neighborhoods until mile 23 when we hit the Northbound Boardwalk to finish the race.  Start and finish were both in front of Ballys.  By the end, I didn’t love running on the Boardwalk.  Softer surface, yes.  But the lines of the various boards made my dizzy.  I tend to put my head down and “just run” when I’ve had enough.  And yes, I was ready to be done by mile 22 and in the head down mode.  Once I hit the Boardwalk, too many lines.  Too much motion.  Too much heat.  And I was “almost” tired.  We had more traffic on the Boardwalk to dodge since more people were out and about.  I was happy to finally see the finish!

Great after party.  I saw lots of beer flowing if you like a beer post race.  There was a band.  Gender specific, long sleeve tech shirt!  My favorite!!  Great medal. 

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Good race.  More runners thank the day previous but still small.  832 half marathon finishers.  609 marathon finishers.  Flat other than a few bridges.  Good double with Monster Mash because both were flat and not to physically taxing, other than the mileage.  Bling from both days is below.

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Next Up, Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 4th.  My 4th appearance at this event.  Its definitely one of my favorites.  Crossing my fingers for cool, crisp weather and a fast race!

** Happy Running, All ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Monster Mash Marathon – Dover, DE

I’ve been recovering this week after coming off a big weekend.  2 marathons.  2 states.  2 days.  Plus maybe a side trip thru Philly to run up the steps of the Art Museum and relive the glory days of Rocky Balboa.  Maybe.  Just maybe.  Smile   Anyhow, back to the marathons!  First up, the Monster Mash Marathon in Dover, Delaware.  Start and finish is at the Dover International Speedway way.  If you are a NASCAR fan, then no other explanation is needed.  If not, this monster seems to be track mascot.

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I used to be a bit of a NASCAR fan but that ended with the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr.  Therefore, I didn’t know about the monster, or that it was the mascot.  I didn’t know that this was a short track.  1 mile.  Shorter than a lot of NASCAR tracks on the circuit.  I sign up to run races based upon what fits my schedule.  As a result, not a lot of research goes into each race.  That’s part of the fun for me, the surprise of a new race, new course, new town, new state.  Fun!

We arrived at the track on Friday evening to grab our packets. Packet pick up was fast & easy.  Free parking.  Less than a 100m walk to the tent.  Halloween Candy scattered throughout the tent for snacking.  We were in and out in less than 10 minutes & that’s with Julie talking to a lady about her doodle puppy.  Julie loves her doodles!

Our hotel was a couple miles away.  Comfort Inn Suites.  Awesome beds that were so comfy!  Then back to the track for race day on Saturday morning.  Unlike big marathons, you can arrive within 30 minutes of the start for this race.  You can pick up your packet race morning, if you like.  And you can use the indoor bathrooms at the track before you hit the start line on the race track by pit row.

I liked that the start was on the race track.  Kinda cool.  Very sloped though.  I definitely don’t envy the NASCAR drivers who have to get up to such high speeds on this steep and short track!

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One lap around the track = 1 mile & we were off to tour Dover and the surrounding areas.  My favorite part of the course came early as we passed thru the Government buildings around Legislative Avenue, mile 3.5 to 4.5.

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Aid stations were very frequent, especially in the first half of the course.  Hammer gels were offered.  Water. Gatorade.  I’ve never seen as many gel stations on course than at this race.  Very impressive.

We ran a lot of country roads.  But they either let us run the entire road, or had cones separating us from vehicular traffic.  We had plenty of room and cars were not too much of an issue.  We did have one motorcyclist yell at us to get over but for the most part there was very little traffic and everyone seemed to be in good spirits throughout the race.  Course wasn’t super exciting.  But it was flat.  Well marked.  Volunteers and aid stations were plentiful.  If you were in need of a bathroom, those were harder to find but probably spaced every 5ish miles or so.

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Overall a good race.  I was pretty excited about it coming in as I had heard positive things.  However, I wasn’t feeling great at this race, so my experience was not amazing. No fault of the organizers.  Loved the race shirt & the medal!  Plus they gave us a buff and magnet.  Nice theme.  Some people dressed up for the holiday.  Overall, small race so not a lot of people.  177 marathon finishers.  237 half marathon finishers.  If you need spectator support and big crowds, this isn’t the race for you.  If you just want to run without a lot of hassle, then you’ll love this one.

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State #26 – Delaware – DONE

Next up, the Atlantic City Marathon race review!

** Happy Running** Amanda – TooTallFritz

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).

Womens Rock w Nicki

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.

Minnie Mouse & Me

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.  

Garmin logo

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).

Expo drop a house on you_gypsy runner IMG_9977

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!!

Finish Line pic_early

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!

start

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).

trail  IMG_8087

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!

GarminMarathon2016-2154

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.

Garmin Elevation

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