Fort4Fitness Half Marathon … 2015 Edition

It’s no secret that the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon in Fort Wayne, Indiana is my favorite.   I’ve ran about 30 half marathons so can say that with confidence.  This was my 5th Fort4Fitness half and my worst performance (2:06:49) here to date.  However, it’s also the location that holds my current half marathon PR (1:53:20).  Great race.  Great town.  Amazing experience.

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I used to come from the Chicago area to run Fort4Fitness but am now local, living only 30 minutes away from the start line. Big win!!  However, this race is in the middle of Cross Country season, so I’ve missed it more than once due to motherly/spectator duties. It’s also on one of the busiest race weekends of the year.  This year F4F was competing with the Mill Race Marathon (Half & 5K) in Columbus, Indiana, the Chicago Half Marathon and the Quad Cities Marathon (Half, Relay & 5K).  Despite the busy time of year, F4F pulled 7,242 competitors to its various races on Saturday alone.  That’s not counting the kids or Seniors who completed their events on Friday night. 

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What F4F does right and where other races might want to take note, is they realize that events like these use community resources.  Not only on the day of the race but in the months and weeks leading up to the big day.  So how do you keep a community happy about events that use the resources which are bought and paid for with their tax dollars?  You get as many community members involved as possible.  The F4F events are focused on community health.  Getting the community active and moving, not just on race day but all throughout the year.  They also have made necessary changes to accommodate as many people as possible.  When the race started in 2008, there was a half marathon and a 4 mile event.  Since that time the following events have been added:  kids and senior marathon, 10K, wheelchair events (half, 10K & 4 mile), and a Double Play and Triple Crown where you can participate in two or more events on race day.  If you are really daring, go for the Triple Crown and RUN.ALL.THE.RACES. (half marathon, 10K & 4 mile) for a total of 23.3 miles of fun and 4 medals!  

Participant Breakdown:

  • Half Marathon – 2,078
  • 10K – 1,887
  • 4 mi Run/Walk – 3,254
  • Wheel Chair Half – 9
  • Wheel Chair 10K – 8
  • Wheel Chair 4mi – 6
  • Double Play (4mi/Half – 30,  10K/Half – 27, 4 mi/10K – 67) – 124
  • Triple Crown (Half, 10K & 4mi) – 98

In addition to the runners, the community members really come out in mass to watch and cheer for the runners.  They line the streets with music, signs and banners.  Then the neighborhoods seem to have a competition as to which community can bring the most spirit.  Oakdale, you won this year according to my unofficial decision.  Congrats.  

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One of my favorite things about this race is that there are long stretches where you can just run.  Some quiet stretches thru parks, others thru quiet neighborhoods with big fancy houses, and a lot of street time thru Ft Wayne.  It’s really a great mix for a road race, mostly flat, a few hills but nothing crazy. 

F4F provides a great race that you would expect from a big city but with the ease and convenience of small town living.  Packet pick up is easy & quick.  Parking is within a half mile of the race start.  Lots of free parking but I did pay $4 for a spot in a garage.  Potties, water & Gatorade every 1.5 miles.  Stadium finish inside Parkview Field with runners being announced before they hit the finish line.  Huge Jumbotron for spectators to watch incoming runners.  Stadium seating for spectators and plenty of room for the after party.   And concessions are open, so grab a beer and celebrate with friends after the big finish!

Gender specific shirts, designed by a local artist!

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Nice medals, whether you collect 1 or all 4.  I only had time for one because I wanted to be present and spectate/cheer/scream my head off at Aby’s Cross Country meet.

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I highly recommend making a plan to come to Ft Wayne next year for Fort4Fitness.  Registration is OPEN.  Race is Saturday, October 1, 2016.  Click HERE to register for any of the races, including the 4 medal Triple Crown event that is only $95 during this super early bird period.  Half Marathon is currently $45!  It’s deal time, who wants to commit?

See you next year!!

** Run The Fort ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

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Sunburst Half Marathon 2014

The Sunburst Races were on Saturday in the beautiful town of South Bend, Indiana.  Although this race has become a bit of a tradition, this year has certainly been a bit “non-traditional” for me and the family.  Yet, I’m happy to say that I was still able to participate!  I drove in the morning of the race and it’s about a 1.5 hour drive from most of Chicagoland. 

Sunburst 2014_welcome to SB

Traffic was light and the wait to get into the FREE parking garage went quickly.  I utilized race day packet pick-up with none too much time to spare, dropped my shirt back in the car, hit the port-o-potties which didn’t have too long of a wait, and managed to get to the start about 30 seconds before the gun went off.  Yes, my time management skills are in overdrive these days because I honestly don’t have a minute to spare!

And we were off!  I ran to catch up with my friend Kasey to hang with her for a few miles.  We chatted.  We complained that it was hot.  I acknowledged that I was over dressed in capris and tall socks.  I slowed down to a crawl.  I wasn’t much in the mood to “run” and that’s just kinda how I’ve been feeling lately.  I’m not hurt although my Plantar Fasciitis will probably NEVER go away.  I’m just overwhelmed and emotional and that really takes a toll on my body.  Plus I’m an emotional eater and drinker and well, I’d rather have a beer and eat ALL.THE.FOOD. after work than actually slug out a nasty workout.  So let it suffice to say that I’m not in great shape right now and my cute clothes don’t fit  I just feel sluggish and tired.  So I wasn’t looking to “kill” this half but just try to enjoy the atmosphere and give thanks that I’m able to run even if I don’t feel like it.

My “not so fast” attitude also allowed plenty of time for photos and making new friends! The 2014 course was changed in several areas to account for the construction in the Notre Dame Stadium which negated our normal finish on the infield.  I know this was upsetting to many but I liked the addition of a long out and back on a very shaded road in miles 5 & 6.  I was able to see all my friends in front and behind me!!  What I didn’t love about the new course was that it passed a sewage plant 2x in the 6th mile and with the 80 degree temps the odor was a bit overwhelming.  So I was happy at mile 7 when we put the stink behind us!

sunburst 2014_ mile 7

The last half of the course boasts several miles by the river on the riverfront path.  This is one of my favorite parts of the course.  We get some shade from the trees and it’s a very scenic run.

 Sunburst 2014_path.

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Sunburst 2014_riverfront

Then after the river, as soon as it starts to really heat up, we head into a subdivision with amazing residents who put out their sprinklers and shower us with their water hoses.  Such a treat on a hot day.  The people of South Bend really get behind the Sunburst Races and support the event by running/walking, volunteering or supporting the runners in some way shape or form.

The race is well organized offering a 5K run, 10K, half marathon and full marathon, plus a family 5K walk.  There were aid stations and port-o-potties every 1.5-2 miles.  They were well spaced, even considering the heat.  I also saw several people collapse in the heat and bike medics were busy chasing those call as quickly as they were able.  There are a few hills in this course but nothing crazy.  Plus lots of trails and shaded roads to help with the heat.

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Overall, I think this is a great race.  I understand that there were  few “hiccups” this year due to construction and need to reroute the course but I’ll still be back for 2015 and I hope to see YOU there as well. 

One more half marathon in the DONE column!

Sunburst 2014_medal

** Run South Bend ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Fort 4 Fitness Half Marathon – 2013

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Saturday turned out to be an amazing day for the 6th annual Fort4Fitness event.  Out of the 6 years since it’s start, I have ran the half marathon 4 times.  I missed 2009 with a brand new baby boy who was only 20 days old and I missed last year due to a conflict with the Cross Country schedule.  Barring any unusual circumstances, I’ll definitely be back in 2014!  

This is by far one of my favorite events of the entire year.  The atmosphere is festive, fun and family friendly.  Each and every year, I am amazed at the growth of the field size and how well the organizers are able to manage the increase in numbers.  The Fort4Fitness weekend brings a health & fitness expo, kids marathon, senior marathon, 4 mile run/walk, 10K and  half marathon.   This variety of events allows my entire family to participate as well as many, many of my local run friends who are out for fun, fitness or possibly even running for time.   A few friends from high school, who I saw at the start:

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The 4 mile event hosted 3603 finishers with an average time of 1:00:02, the 10K had 1834 finishers with an average time of 1:14:41 and the half bought 2515 finishers with an average time of 2:14:54.  Each and every participant finished in grand style, on the jumbotron as they made a lap around the track at Parkview Field.

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It was no secret that I was running for time on Saturday.  The day was beautiful with temps just under 60 degrees at the start.  Bright sun.  No clouds.  Lots of energy.  I felt fresh.  I was loose, even my hamstrings were cooperating for once.  I was ready to run.  One minor snafu, I for the second time this month forgot my pre-race fuel (banana) in my bag.  No worries, right?  Right!  I did have one gel with me which I normally take around mile 8, I just adjusted and used it at mile 2 instead.  Smile

Start of the race is by cannon.  Each race has a separate start (4 mi at 7:30 am, Half at 8am & 10K at 9am).  We hear the cannon go off and we inch toward the start and I’m across in just a couple minutes.  First mile is slightly congested, no big thing.  8:30 min/mi split.   Mile 2, back on track, 8:17 split.  Mile 3-7 are all exactly 8:20 splits.  I felt good, in control, wasn’t running too fast but wasn’t slacking either.  AND THEN I HIT THE WALL, or maybe it hit me.   It happened just as fast as someone flipping the light switch, I was done.  No, I take that back, I wasn’t done, my legs were done.   My vision got a little fuzzy, I knew I was low on fuel and I think my legs were “possibly” still fatigued from the previous weekend’s half marathon/20 miler “double”.  Who knows.  I tried to speed up several times but it wasn’t happening.  So I just smiled, enjoyed the race, focused on being thankful that I was running pain free and just kept moving toward the finish.  It was a 1:56:xx type of day.  Fastest half of the year, so far, and just a beautiful day to run with friends.  It was also a bit of a confidence boost that there are fast times in my legs, I just need to tweak my recovery and nutrition a bit more.

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A few random thoughts:  1)  I missed seeing the National Guard this year. They are usually stationed between mile 11 & 12.  I was looking forward to seeing them and they weren’t around.  Maybe they had something more important to do?  2)   Where did those hills come from toward the end?  That’s what I love about racing the same course again and again,  I always THINK I know the course but the hills got me this time when I was already on my downswing. I won’t forget about them next year!

Saw a few friends at the end too!  Aby, Me, Adella & Brandi.  Both Adella & Brandi were on my track & XC teams in high school.  LOVE that we are all still running!

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Great swag – a reusable Vera Bradley tote bag & a half zip technical pullover (unisex sizing).

Fort4Fitness_Vera bag   Fort4Fitness_Swag

Great course with constantly changing scenery starting with downtown views, heading toward the river, then into Foster Park, then thru some old very established neighborhoods with a “few” rolling hills.   Great on course support offering 9 water/aid/potty stations.  Last aid station, “may” have an extra table set up for beer shots too or maybe not, you’ll have to run and see for yourself.  Smile

See you next year in Fort Wayne!!

Amanda – TooTallFritz