Little Rock Marathon – 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Pre Race:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Then Little Rock Central HS:

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The Capital Building:

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

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

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

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

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

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Details on the 2014 Little Rock Marathon HERE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mile 3 – Planet Hollywood & Paris

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Mile 4-5, Mirage & Treasurer Island

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon ….. 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Great race, hope to see YOU next year!

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

Marine Corps Marathon (2016) …..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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National Gallery of Art.

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US Capitol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

** Run With The Marines ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

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

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!

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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. 

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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.

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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!!!

IMG_9591  IMG_9593

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

Feeling Flat ….. How Stress Effects the Body

There are so many ups and downs of a typical training cycle. Two weeks ago, I was flying high, hitting my numbers and ran the “easiest” 20 miler I’ve ever run.  This week, I’m quite literally sinking in the pool.   My butt is dragging.

I'm Tired

I swam this morning and should currently be on the treadmill knocking out my tempo run.  But I’m stalling. Trying to figure out if I should run or not.  Of course, I’m going to run but should I try for the tempo pace?  That is the question.  I’m tired and well, I have an angry hamstring that popped up out of nowhere.  Sad smile

To be honest, I expected to be fresh this week.  I had 3 forced rest days (SAT, SUN & MON) because the little guy was in the hospital with pneumonia.  He is doing much better now.  Still weak but improving every day.  His biggest complaint at this point is that his back hurts (from the hospital bed, or maybe the pneumonia?) and that he can’t run as fast as he used to before he got sick.  Give it some time, Buddy.  Just a little time.  As for myself, I’m guessing that hanging out with the little guy in the hospital and being stressed/worried about him was probably more daunting on my mind and body than I realized.  I’m back on schedule & trying to follow my plan.  I expected to knock out one more killer week before pulling back next week to recharge for the Rock N Roll New Orleans Marathon on 2/28.  But alas,  I’m just tired.  And my back hurts too!  And one of my hamstrings is on strike.  So I’m just slogging thru the week.  Not pushing at all.  I’m trying to focus on getting some extra rest, making sure I get extra nutrients, and hoping that I’ll bounce back next week while I’m “tapering” for RNRNOLA.

It’s important to realize that events in our lives effect our bodies.  A stress reaction is real.  Stress takes a toll on the mind and body.  You might feel fatigued, get sick, have stomach issues or stress eat (that’s me!).  Long term stress can do some serious damage if we are unable to manage it properly.  Please see the awesome graphic below from Life Advantage.  Go HERE to see the full article on how stress can effect the body.   

Stress Effects on Body

Bottom line, give yourself a break when your body is rebelling.  Look at what’s happened in life for the last couple weeks if something “new” has popped up.  Don’t stress about not feeling great.  Just focus on what you can do to improve the situation.  Sleep and making sure you get lots of fruits & veggies to up the nutrients in your body is so important.  Drink lots of water to flush all the toxins.  Avoid caffeine & alcohol.  Exercise.  Don’t push hard on the workouts but get the blood flowing and you’ll be back to normal before you know it.

** Cheers – 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