Marathon Week!!

This is it, the week leading up to the Chicago Marathon. It’s a tad bittersweet this year.  I really LOVE the Chicago Marathon and this will probably be the last year that I’ll run it. When I signed up, 2014 was only a few months old and I had zero idea of what the year would bring for me and my family. I had high hopes for Chicago and planned to make it “my race”. I don’t often race the marathon but I had wanted to really put a lot into my training this year and see what I could do with it. I wanted not only a great race but one to remember. I know the city. I know the route. I know the fan support is off the charts. I know that I love the Chicago Marathon in a very special way. It’s my home town race, or at least it was …..


Now my home is 200 miles away from Chicago.  While I love my new hometown, the atmosphere is definitely “Small Town USA” verses a big bustling city. It certainly suits me and my family much better than our stint in IL but I do miss Chicago and the friends I’ve made over the years. So as I run the streets of Chicago on Sunday, I will be filled with mixed emotions as I bid farewell to the city and their beloved marathon.

Everyone keeps asking about my “goals”.  Well, my goal for this race has changed A LOT over the course of the summer and thru the lengthy moving process. I took “some” time off running to focus on eating ALL THE FOOD and drinking ALL THE BEER relocation.  I just started training at the end of August in an effort to salvage some of the fall marathon season. As a result, I am not strong and fast as I had previously hoped and some might consider me to be quite injured with both feet now in severe stages of Plantar Fasciitis.  So I’ve moved from the “kill it” plan to the “finish it” plan.  And there you have it, my goal is to finish.

To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t even be in “finish it” shape had it not been for a few long time friends who have selfishly helped me thru the long runs.  They’ve been there in the dark with me as I’ve muddled along trying to log miles, rebuild fitness and power up for Chicago. I am getting stronger and I owe a ton of thanks to those ladies and also my hubby for getting my treadmill in the house so I can log miles, even if broken into small chunks.  My mojo is returning, I can feel it!

So on Sunday, I do plan to #OWNCHICAGO.


And while I’m busy owning the streets of Chicago, I also plan to give thanks. Not only thanks to those I’ve mentioned above but also to those who have supported me and my journey with the Ronald McDonald House Charities for the last 4 years.  I’m going to enjoy the race and be thankful.  So many thanks to give!!  I’m thankful for my stint in Chicagoland where I developed my love of running. I’m thankful for running because that’s how I developed my love of Chicago. I’m thankful for a family that tolerates my running to the best of their ability. I’m thankful for the desire to run. I’m thankful for the ability to run. I’m thankful to Dr. Alexis for keeping me healthy for so many years so that I could run, even when my body was rebelling! I’m thankful for a lot of things. The list is endless. And that’s what I’ll be focusing on when things get hard. Because marathons are hard. No matter how many I run or what type of shape I’m in at the time.. They are still hard. I’m pretty sure they will ALWAYS be hard.

So if you see me in Chicago this weekend, smile & wave!  I may be running. I may be walking. But one thing is for sure, I’ll be thankful to see a friendly face and you can be sure that I’ll be headed for the finish line!

** Giving Thanks ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Lansing Marathon Race Review & Personal Experience

First, let me start by saying that marathons are NOT easy for me.  In fact, they are damn super hard.  You won’t catch me signing up for Marathon Maniacs anytime in this century.  However, if you are a member of a “I hate marathons but run them anyway” group, then let me know cuz I’m sure I’d qualify for that one!

Why do I run marathons?  Not sure.  Let’s come back to that next week, ok?  After the swelling has subsided and Alexis has worked out my hip “issue” and the blisters on my toes have fully drained and I can walk without a hobble. Next week.  We’ll talk next week.

For now, let’s break down the 2013 Lansing Marathon, the only way that I know how via “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” method.  Smile

The Good

  • Nice, scenic downtown venue with restaurants and entertainment within walking distance of hotel.  

                                                                                             Lansing Marthon_capital

  • Free parking for expo and race.
  • Amazing Volunteers
  • Lively spectators.
  • Fully stocked aid stations with water, electrolyte drink, various snacks (oranges, m&m’s, pretzels)
  • Bathrooms scattered throughout the course
  • Start & Finish location next to the Lansing Center which allowed us to wait inside until just minutes before the start.
  • Well marked course, mile marker signs, police & volunteers to direct & protect runners.
  • Variety of race distances:  5K, Half Marathon, Marathon Relay & Full Marathon
  • Smaller race, good for PRs.  363 full finishers, 1187 half finishers.
  • Officials left the course open for as long as it took for everyone to finish all events.
  • Race Officials & National Guard (or some type of military crew), lined the finish shoot and gave the very last runner a standing ovation.  Nice touch.

Lansing Marthon_last finisher 

  • Great friends, F’N Runners & a nice Chicago crew were on location to run Lansing!  F’N Runners left, most of the Chicago crew right.

Lansing Marathon_ group

Lansing Marathon_chicago crew

The Bad

  • Original course had flooded so they had to reroute the course at the last minute.  Therefore, the scenic river trail running was mostly cut out and we were shuffled thru town, along highways, across train tracks & thru residential neighborhoods.  Not real exciting.
  • Broken up roads from winter weather, had to watch footing.
  • Hills.  Nothing insane but it wasn’t flat.  Lots of up and down rollers.  One long climb that wasn’t steep, just longish.
  • Expo was very light.  Not a lot of vendors, more of a packet pickup.
  • Race shirts were unisex and oversized.  Nice color, design and logo, just too big for most of us.

Lansing Marathon_shirt

  • Double loop course (due to it being rerouted).  Rough seeing the mile marker signs for the second half while hitting that first loop.  Rough knowing the first loop was tough and we had to tackle it again.
  • Train.  Many of us were stopped by a train; however, race officials have offered to adjust times accordingly.  If you were stopped, check the Lansing Marathon Facebook page HERE for details as to how you might get your time adjusted.

The Ugly

  • My race.  Hips started burning/hurting at Mile 8 and they still hurt 2 days post race.
  • Passing the finish line party as the half way mark of my already “ugly” race.
  • Knowing my friends were waiting on me for a long time.
  • Having to resort to run/walk to just keep moving.
  • Getting to Mile 20 slower than in any other of my previous 4 marathons.

Lansing Marathon_mile 20

  • Lonely second half of the race at the back of the pack.
  • Had to send an SOS message to my F’N Runners and have them come back to help/distract me.
  • Having a bad race on a perfect weather day.  Sad smile
  • Blistered feet/toes & bruised ego.

But none of that really mattered when I finally crossed the finish line.

Lansing Marthon_me finish   Lansing Marthon_me & sue  Lansing Marathon_medal

Official time is currently 4:48:59.  However, there is speculation that the time will be adjusted for the train that stopped the majority of us runners. If that is the case, and if they take off the 4 minutes that we waited, then my time will be 4:44, which ironically is also my bib number for the race.  Poetic.

Lansing Marthon_bib medal

Weather the time is adjusted or not, I really don’t care either way.  It won’t affect my real life in any way shape or form.  I do this for fun …..  even if I have yet to have a “fun” marathon.  I like the training.  I like that it pushes my limits.  I like that it takes me beyond my comfort zone.  And I like most of all, that it gives me a foundation for which I can work from moving forward.  I’m not at all deterred that I had a rough race, just more determined to make the next one better.

All in all, I’d definitely recommend the Lansing Marathon.  It’s a great race and ran very well.  Most of the items listed in the “bad” section were either out of control of race officials  (hello, flooding!!!)  or things which they are attempting to rectify.  Good race.  Good management.  Good people who care about you and your race experience.  I’d go back.

Lastly, let me shout out to my F’N Runners who ran so very, very well in Lansing.  Susan M won her age group and qualified for Boston (after running her first 50 miler just 2 weeks previous)!!!  Joe D hit a big PR for the half & took 5th in his age group, then came back to run almost all of us into the finish.  He may have registered for the half but he ran over 18 miles before it was all said and done by helping us.   April W smashed her previous half marathon PR by over 17 minutes!!  Kim B ran an amazing race and rallied the troops to come back to help me when I sent the SOS!  Keith G runs a marathon almost every weekend and he still managed to go sub 3:45!    Amazing runners.  Amazing people.  I am so happy to have shared the Lansing journey with all of them!

And thanks to all of you for your well wishes, happy thoughts and words of encouragement.  Good times.  Good friends. 

** Keep Running, At Whatever Pace YOU Can Manage ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

How To Choose The Right Marathon……

You’ve decided to run a marathon but you’re just not sure how to pick the right one?  Well, if you have plenty of time, plenty of money and kids don’t affect your decision, the options are endless.  You can literally go ANYWHERE and run a marathon.   However most of us just go where our friends go.  If you are part of a local run club or you have a training partner, ask them  ……  oh wait, you probably won’t have to ask, they will tell you!  If you sign up for the race they are running then you can train together.  Slugging out long miles with a friend will keep you on the plan and accountable!  Win, win!

If it’s just not that easy, then here are a few tips:

  1. Look at the family calendar and the schedules of your kiddos.  Most schools schedule the same major events for the same weekend every year.  This makes trying to plan your life a little bit easier.  If you want to run a spring marathon and your 11 year old daughter (okay mine!) runs track & field, then avoid picking a Saturday marathon because you won’t be running but instead sitting in the bleachers on the track watching the conference track meet while all your friends are running the Illinois Marathon.  So figure out the time frame of when you want to run, and if you have a SAT/SUN preference.
  2. Is $$$ an issue?  If money is an issue, then try to avoid the big races:  World Marathon Majors (Chicago, New York, Boston, Berlin, London and the newly added Tokyo), big city marathons that have to shut down the entire city using half of their emergency & police personnel to support the race and also races with a popular name with a series of races in just about every city.  Remember a big name race that offers bands at every corner has to pay for that and they will pass the cost to you.  If you want to go cheap, go small.
  3. Boston Qualifier – I know that Boston is all the rage and a major accomplishment but if you want the elusive BQ, then think about the race you pick seriously.  Sometimes smaller is better for these things.  The fewer people in a race, the fewer people to maneuver around, the fewer people at aid stations and just possibly fewer distractions.  You can still BQ at a big race too but check to see if there is a corral system to get you into a good position at the start to avoid a lot of traffic.
  4. Spectator Support – What kind of marathon experience do you want?  Do you want a million people throughout the course cheering for you?  Or would you just like to run your 26.2 in peace, look at the scenery and concentrate on the task at hand?  There is a different answer for everyone and you probably are already drawn to one or the other.                                       
  5. Who’s going to watch the kids?  If you have to take the kiddos to Grandma’s before you run, then pick a race by Grandma’s house.  I do this ALL the time.  I actually check with my mother before I register for a big race.  I make sure she is available, interested and willing to either watch my Monster Man or drag him & Aby to the race to be my cheer section.  I don’t really need anything other than for her to manage my little “angels” but usually give her a couple of options of how it can happen.  I want her to have the best experience possible since she is doing me a huge favor so I get her involved in the planning process.  Thanks, Mom!  I love you and REALLY appreciate your being my #1 supporter!  
  6. Travel Plans – We all browse the list of the best and most beautiful races via various websites and magazines but do you want to travel for a race or not?  A destination race, particularly for a marathon, requires a bit of planning.  If it’s something you are seriously considering, look at the local weather for the time frame in question, think about the foods in the area and how they will fuel you for the race and think about how you want to spend your time.  If you get there early to acclimate to the area for the race, then be careful with the pre-race foods since you will most likely be eating out more than normal.     If you want to stay after the race, then consider how you “might” feel after a marathon and keep the post race planning to a minimum.  Also, pick an area that has decent medical care in case, heaven forbid, you need medial assistance before, during or after the race.  Be smart.
  7. Once you’ve thought about some of the above, have a time frame in mind then start doing some research.  One of my favorite websites is MarathonGuide.  This website has a very thorough calendar for both US and International races, has runner reviews of each race, registration & event details, results, advice, and news on major races around the world. Great resource! Logo - Marathon Directory, Marathons, Marathon Results, News and More

Now that you have figured out where YOU want to race, go ahead and try to recruit all your friends cuz we all  know that the more people you know in a race, the better the experience.  The more the merrier, right? 

Good luck!  Let me know which race you pick and if you still can’t decided, then feel free to come to the Lansing Marathon and run with me on April 21st!   Yes, the $10 off code:  CHICAGO10 is still valid. Register HERE.


** Happy  Marathoning ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** **