River City Rat Race 10K …. Ft Wayne, IN

On Sunday, Aby & I ran the River City Rat Race 10K in Fort Wayne, IN. 

image

They offer both a 10K and 5K.  It’s a downtown Ft Wayne race that runs thru the streets, a few neighborhoods, local parks and hits some of the Rivergreenway trails.  In fact, Runners World magazine noted this as “One of the most scenic 10Ks” ever ran by writer Hal Higdon.   Impressive statement and I was looking forward to the race.  Plus, this is the first race that Aby & I have ran together in years.  Fun!  Let’s get started!

IMG_1167

The race started at 2pm on Main Street.  Sunny & 70.  Amazing October day!!  Packet pick up was directly across from the start line.  Easy, quick.  In and out.  There were a couple portable toilets outside but there were also bathrooms inside that were available to us.  Win!  Race started on time with the boom of a cannon.  Away we went down Main Street headed for Columbia Avenue. 

IMG_1170  IMG_1171

Route was crowded in spots.  Corrals were well marked but as with most small races, runners just jump in anywhere.  Aby & I had planned to stay together and run an easy pace.  We had ran 9 miles at sub 10 min pace the day before but still wanted to come to experience the Rat Race, even though neither of us were conditioned to race it.  We locked in between 9:10 & 9:20 and just stayed together and enjoyed the run.  We were definitely playing it safe but Aby is coming off an injury and well, my back is pretty crabby and I have to stay pretty upright and in control to keep it from hurting when I run.  Better safe than sorry, right? 

Race Route:

RatRace_map

Lakeside Park & the Rose Garden:

IMG_1174

Before we knew it we were half way, passing thru the Old Fort and dropping the 5K runners.  I really loved how they designed this route with us all running past the 5K finish.  This worked out great for parents who wanted to run the 10K but knew their kids could only do the 5K distance.  The kids went off the 5K finish & mom/dad went on for an additional 5K.  Kinda cool.  They also have one price for this race.  $30 for both the 5K & 10K.  If you choose to downgrade to the 5K due to injury, scheduling, etc., no need to do an official race change.  The race officials were specific that you would be timed for the race you ran, and would not need to make an official “race change”.  Nice touch.  Made it easy for everyone. 

Official Race Photos, anyone?  Free.  Posted to Facebook.  Parking was free too, if you’re keeping track.  Smile

FullSizeRender

Off for the final 5K.  It was heating up.  I know 70 degrees isn’t hot and I wasn’t running hard but it was definitely warmer than I would have liked!  I believe there were 3 or 4 water stations and I utilized each one. 

Once we headed out of the Old Fort, they turned us onto the St Mary’s River Trail portion of the Rivergreenway.  Very scenic.  The entire run was scenic.  I really enjoyed it.

IMG_1176

Then up and out to head back downtown to tour some of the local businesses.  Harrison, Berry & Columbia Streets.  It was fun running thru this downtown section on a Sunday with everything quiet.  I must say last time I was on Columbia Street, I was much younger and it was nighttime.  Cool to see it in the light of the day.  Calm & peaceful.  This was definitely my favorite part.  And it was shaded.  Lots of room for running too.  Bonus!!

On to Headwaters Park.  Lawton Park.  Then back to the Old Fort for the finish.  Upon finishing, there was a big spread of food.  Mini sub sandwiches, apples, bananas, granola bars, pretzels & fruit snacks to name a few items.  Then awards on site. 

I run a lot of marathons now.  Not many shorter distance road races.  But what I love about these small local races is seeing all the runners I know.  Its awesome to see so many runners show up in the middle of a Sunday afternoon for no other reason than to run and socialize.  Running is about so much more than the miles.  Its about fun and fitness and camaraderie.  This race embodies all of that.  A great race for the whole family and I loved seeing so many families participate together.  I’ll definitely go back for a repeat run. 

Great race.  Great organization.  Great volunteers.  Great highlight tour of Ft Wayne.  I’d highly recommend this race to others.  If you want to go fast though, start toward the front.  If you don’t care about pace, then no need to stress about some of the tighter sections of the course.  Definitely worth running. 

Long Sleeve, performance tech, Brooks race shirt below.  Unisex sizing.  I love long sleeve tech shirts, hoping it fits okay. 

IMG_1190

** Run Fort Wayne **  Amanda – TooTallFritz

Unrelated side note:  My GoMacro giveaway is still going on thru 10/31.  Enter HERE to win an assorted tray of GoMacro THRIVE Bars (12 bars – $26.28 value). 

Advertisements

Ironman 70.3 Steelhead Race Review – 2016

It’s no secret that Ironman 70.3 Steelhead is one of my favorites.  In fact, I’ll sign up for 2017 as soon as the event opens for registration.  Its “my” race.  Its in a familiar place.  I have friends in the area.  And I love Saint Joseph MI.  In fact, I raced this year, even though it was on my 17th wedding anniversary.  Oooops.  Sorry, honey.   Or I should say, thanks, honey. Smile

image

Steelhead is set in a picturesque, beach town on the shores of Lake Michigan.  The venue is Jean Klock Park which has a Benton Harbor address, just one mile north of Saint Joseph, MI.  The views are breathtaking and the park is public so you can go visit anytime.  Take a swim in Lake MI.  Ride the marked bike route.  Go for a little run.  Fun!!

IMG_0654    IMG_0656

I arrived at Jean Klock Park for packet pick up on Saturday morning around 11am.  It had stormed on me the entire 2.5 hours that I spent driving to the location.  The sun was out on the shores of Lake MI but “something” definitely hung in the air.  It was hot.  The wind was blowing.  And the waves were rolling.  Looks like a perfect day at the beach but not perfect enough for me to rack my bike.  I have been having issues with my bike all season, the gearing & derailleur, no need to leave it out in the weather overnight in less than ideal conditions.

I quickly grabbed my packet, which isn’t as quick at an IM event as you might think. They are very organized but there is a process of checking identity, updating information & walking thru the various stations for bib/swim cap, shirt, & chip that takes a bit more time than a normal packet pick-up.  Fortunately, I got thru just in time for one of the pre-race meetings.

IMG_0659

Always fun.  Nothing had really changed from last year course wise, just a few rule changes.  But then they dropped the big bomb that the water temp was almost to the point of being too high for wetsuits.  Since it was a very warm day, we should stay tuned for a last minute call on if the race would be wetsuit legal.  Honestly, I didn’t think much of it.  The swim is in Lake MI and I’m pretty sure it’s never NOT been wetsuit legal.  The water stays pretty cool, even in the summer.  Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.

Packet picked up.  Race meeting attended.  Walked thru the expo quickly.  Bought some TriSlide ….. cuz that’s the way to make sure you can definitely wear your wetsuit, have extra lube so you can get into it!!  Found my spot in transition for reference.  Off to check into Hotel de Jude (not a real hotel in St Joseph – I always stay with a friend).

As the rest of the crew started filtering into Hotel de Jude, the air was light.  Most of us were on a repeat trip to Steelhead and knew what to expect.  We went about our business of cooking dinner, getting bikes ready for race day (cuz nobody from our group actually racked their bike), prepping nutrition & focusing on last minute rehab.  I’m thankful for friends who have all the cool toys that I can’t afford and I took full advantage.  Normatec Recovery Boots?  Yes, please!  Ed modeling his boots, I’m using Ryan’s.  Thanks, Ryan.  If they go missing, it wasn’t me.  I swear.  Smile  Super compression from the toes to the hip.  I’m in love.

IMG_0683

Left my legs looking very “compressed” and super scary!  IMG_0664

Car buffer to rub out sore muscles.  I can afford that, $30 at Home Depot & I’ll be getting one soon!  There are also high tech muscle “massagers” that are more official for a much bigger price tag.  But this is essentially the same thing and much more affordable in my world.  Weird sensation!

IMG_0677

I was all in on the recovery front.  As a little background, I had spent the week hitting up the chiro and the massage therapist trying to bring my legs back from the dead.  The Chiro has figured out that due to some low back damage from my college years, then a fresh round of irritation this summer, my low back muscles are not firing properly.  My glutes aren’t working.  As a result my quads are overworked and apparently underpaid cuz they are revolting.  They are dead all the time.  It is a struggle to even climb the stairs at home.  When I get on the bike, all that is magnified and basically I’ve got zero power on the bike,  despite better training and better nutrition.  So, it is what it is and I have exercises to help correct the issue but it’s a slow process.  I was hoping to have a great race at Steelhead so invested some extra time & $$ into recovery.  Did it work?!?!?

Race day is always early.  The crew was up by 3am.  Pre-race prep and we had to put Hotel de Jude back to its original state of perfectness.  Off to the race site by 4:15am for a long day.  We were rolling our bikes into the venue when we heard the announcement.  Water temp was 77+degrees.  NOT wetsuit legal, the cap for wetsuits at IM races is 76.1 degrees.  The news did not hit the crowd well.  In fact, I wasn’t real happy either and I know I can swim the distance without a wetsuit.  It’s the waves.  The up and down of the waves that slow us “recreational” swimmers.  We don’t cut thru the waves but rather ride them up and down.  The wetsuits help our buoyancy, confidence & swim split.  But not at Steelhead 2016.  No wetsuits.

Transition set up quickly.  Then we wait.  Donna, myself & Wendy waiting for transition to close at 6:45a and the race to begin at 7a.

IMG_0666   IMG_0669

IM races always start on time.  The three of us (above) were in the 40-44 category and our wave started at 7:24 am.  The other ladies warmed up with a quick swim, I just stood on the beach socializing, awaiting my wave start.  Lots of nervous people on race morning.  The normal nerves were intensified by the “no wetsuit” call.  I spoke to several people who had never swam without a wetsuit.  Some who were so nervous they couldn’t hardly even speak.  I felt bad for them and still wonder on how they did.  I’m hoping once they got into the water, they just got down to business.  The 1.2 mile swim course is very user friendly.  5 yellow buoys out, red turn buoy, 3 more yellow buoys, then 3 orange buoys (once you hit the orange buoys you’re half way), then a red turn buoy, then 5 more orange buoys to the beach.  The swim was not easy but I’ve had worse.  I’m not a fast swimmer even with the wetsuit so I was happy to see my swim split of 55 minutes once I got out of the water.  That’s a decent swim for me, especially without a wetsuit & considering the rolling waves.  The waves were rolling so high that spotting was difficult.  Normally I don’t have to lift my head real high to see the next buoy but I wasn’t timing my siting correctly and each time I lifted to site, I could only see the wall of the next wave coming at me.  Oh well, I just tried to be patient and focus on the next buoy.  Just keep swimming, right?  Made it out of the water with a smile on my face.  Saw Valerie who had VIP access right next to the swim exit & she captured my happy exit from the water.  Yay!  Thanks!

IMG_0678

On to the bike and the real test as to if my attempt at recovery did any good.  I knew within the first mile that it was going to be a long bike.  I had 56 miles in front of me.  And my quads felt horrible, very fatigued, just like every other day for the last 3 months.  I’ll be honest, I was scared.  I keep getting slower & slower with every race and I just didn’t want to have bad race at Steelhead when I love the race so much.  Took me a minute to think but I basically had a realization.  I remembered something that someone told me when I first started riding.  They said, “when your legs get tired, pull UP on your pedals instead of pushing down”.  So I refocused my efforts on pulling up vs pushing down and I had an instant turnaround in power output.  I wasn’t able to harness as much power as last year, or the accompanying speed, but I did well with the new pedal stroke.  This used different muscles and pulled power from my hamstrings vs my tired quads.  Worked for me!  3:04 for the bike, 18.1 mph average.  Best I’ve had all year and in case you were wondering, my gears did fail.  I only had big gears.  The shifter on the left side slid out in my hand within the first few miles.  So I didn’t bother trying to use it, for fear of breaking down.  I just used the big gears, pounded down the hills as quickly as I could, rode the wave of the up as long as possible, then I stood up from the saddle and rode the remainder of the hill when things got tough.  I’m always willing to improvise to avoid catastrophe.  Side note – Felt send new shifters for me, so I’m hoping the next couple weeks of training (and REV3 Cedar Point 70.3) will go more smoothly.

IMG_0672

I want to toss out a huge thank you to the bike aid station volunteers.  They always impress me so much.  They are very attentive.  We call out what they want, then they basically hold steady so we can grab water/gatorade/banana/gel, etc.  Or they run with us for a second to help us connect with what we need.  Nerves of steel!  Thank you for being brave and so attentive.

Pro Tip:  Do NOT pass someone 2 seconds before an aid station on the bike.  This goes double if you plan to STOP at said aid station to get something from the very first volunteer, after cutting in front of me someone 2 seconds prior to stopping.  The way the  aid stations work, there is always spillage from water & gatorade bottles.  The ground is wet.  I had to lock up my brakes at the very first aid station in an attempt to not hit a person who passed me, then stopped immediately.  I didn’t crash.  I didn’t hit him.  But I’m quite confident the scenario could have easily gone a different way.  I’ve been riding for a long time.  There are a lot of people out on the course who are less experienced.  We got lucky.  Our race could have easily been over at mile 15 of the bike course.  Thankfully, luck was on our side.

Bike aid stations – 3 – every 15 miles on the one loop, 56 mile bike course.  Great layout.  Great volunteers.  Potties, food, fluids.  Smooth roads the majority of the race.  Well marked course (that is marked year round).

Run course – 2 loops – a couple decent hills.  Aid stations every mile.  Varying terrain, we even get to run some of the trails behind the Whirlpool Center!  So cool!!!  By the time we got to the run, it was really heating up.  I definitely struggled but just focused on getting from aid station to aid station.  Then I made sure to hydrate, take ice & just stay calm.  Good run considering the heat.  2:23 for the 13.1 miles.

Finish was 6:31.  That’s 7 minutes slower than last year but to be honest, it felt like a huge win.  I haven’t had a decent TRI all year.  I’ve been fighting the good fight and focusing on getting thru the races to which I committed, but it’s been rough.  Overall, the TRI Gods came thru for me and delivered a better race than I could have hoped for and I’m very grateful.

IMG_0670

SWAG – Cuz that’s what everyone wants to know, is great.  IM does some of the best swag in the business.  They went kinda cheap last year with the backpacks and the same shirt for every event.  However, I think we all let them know that we were unhappy in our post race surveys.  This year, the swag improved considerably.  Different shirts for each race and the backpacks had the name of the event vs just a generic IM 70.3 logo.  Yay!

IMG_0680IMG_0733IMG_0681IMG_0682

Overall, a great race.  I love it.  I definitely hope to make a repeat visit next year.  Here is my 2015 race report, if you want more info on IM 70.3 Steelhead.

** Happy TRIing ** 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. 

IMG_0132  IMG_0133

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.

IMG_0038

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. 

image

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

Churchill Downs

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

churchill-downs_inner-track

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. 

IMG_0035

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.

IMG_0043  IMG_0044  IMG_0134

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

Route 66 Marathon Race Review & Where NOT to Stay in Tulsa

The Route 66 Marathon is in the done column & so is the great state of Oklahoma!  This was my 25th marathon and the 15th state in my quest to run a marathon in every state.  In order to be totally honest, when Judy talked us into Rt 66 we signed up, I didn’t exactly know where Tulsa, OK was on the map.  So I think I asked a few questions before pulling the registration lever:  1)  Can we drive there?  2)  It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving, can Julie get time off from her retail J.O.B.?  3)  Is anyone else running?   Turns out EVERYONE was running, so it was a done deal.  We went to Tulsa, Oklahoma with 2000 other Marathon Maniacs, Half Fanatics & 50 States Club members.  I’m in the back.  Don’t worry, I can’t see me either.  Smile

IMG_8922

Tulsa was a 12 hour drive from Auburn, IN.  Takes longer when you have car trouble and have to stop every 2 seconds to turn off the car to reset the code and/or try to find a dealership with an open service department, in God’s Country, on a weekend.  Yeah, that happened but we finally rolled into Tulsa early Saturday afternoon.  Tulsa is in the north east corner of the Panhandle State.  Hello, Oklahoma!

OK

I was scheduled to be part of a Blogger Forum at the expo Saturday afternoon.  We made it in time for that and I got to meet some other bloggers and hear some great stories about running, blogging and life.  From left to right:  Esther, Jim, Joules, Angela & me.

Blogger Expo

The expo was a decent size but packet pick up was crowded and the computers went down causing long lines and some crabby runners.  Sad smile  Fortunately, we were in and out of the expo pretty quickly. 

IMG_8903

We hit some key booths:  Garmin & Gypsy Runner (cuz Amy runs a lot of the same races that we do, so we are totally BFFs, right?), then on to the hotel and dinner.

Normally, I try to keep things positive and upbeat but from runner to runner, I feel the need to share.  If you are planning to run this race next year, I’ll tell you where NOT to stay.  The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tulsa WEST – Sand Springs, 101 West Marrow Road, Sand Springs, OK.  Although we had called BEFORE we booked a reservation and were guaranteed late checkout, the manager did not honor that request when we checked in on race weekend.  And she was rude.  We were told to get our stuff out of the room on race morning, then come back after the marathon and she would check to see if they had a DIRTY room they had not yet cleaned.  IF she could find a dirty room, then maybe she would let us shower there.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  I don’t want to shower in a dirty room where I don’t even know the former occupants.  This was a very unpleasant experience and now I’ve removed the Holiday Inn & Holiday Inn Express from my list of acceptable hotels.  I run a lot of races.  I travel for running, work and leisure and I have to admit that most places we stay are very accommodating.  Nobody has ever rudely sent me on my way, without a shower, for a 12+ hour drive, after running for 4-5 hours.  And hopefully this will never happen again.  We had multiple friends who had a great experience at the Double Tree, 616 W. Seventh Street, Tulsa, OK.  Do yourself a favor and stay there instead.  

Onto the race itself.  Very cold morning.  Race start and finish were in two separate locations but there were shuttles between those spots.  Win!!  We were underdressed and froze our bums off awaiting the race start.  But once the race started it was worth the wait.  There were starting corrals with very strict watchers making sure everyone was in their correct place.  5 minutes between corral starts.  Each corral was sent off in a flurry of confetti. 

IMG_8913

As always the first 3-4+ miles were super crowded, although for once, I didn’t have to run around a lot of walkers who started ahead of me.  But the streets were narrow and I wouldn’t so much see the hills we were running but rather feel the momentum going up or down.  It was a strange feeling but a cool one.  The course was beautiful and a perfect highlight reel of Tulsa:  Cascia Hall, Woodward Park, Rt 66 Pedestrian Bridge, University of Tulsa & amazing neighborhoods that were both pet & kid friendly.  It looked like an awesome place to live with so many houses showcasing lots of unique character.

Rt 66 Bridge

Bands.  Lots of bands.  The Rock N Roll series has NOTHING on The Rt 66 Marathon.  Nothing.  I heard more live music in this race than I’ve heard in all of my combined races this year.  Everything from Folk to Gospel to Rock to Bongo drums (we saw that guy 5x, he was committed to us in a HUGE way).  Great show, Tulsa, really great. 

Community support!  Wow.  Marathons take a long time.  This one took me personally FOREVER to run.  The community was out in full force, even in the chilly temps, with kids, dogs, food, drinks, jello shots, mimosas, beer shots, and even offering therapeutic rollers for those of us who had gotten a “little” stiff from the hills.

Hills?  Did I say hills?  Yes.  Lots of hills.  More than I had expected and I didn’t fare very well on them either.  Without going into all the bloody gory details, I fell last week while running and managed to mess myself up pretty good.  Well, I didn’t really know how messed up I was til I started hitting those hills.  Apparently I did more than bloody myself in the fall.  My hips are WAY out of line now and I stretched some of the muscles around my right hip and left knee.  So I was a hurting momma in Tulsa on Sunday and to be honest, had it not been for my BRF, Julie, I would have quit.  I almost quit anyhow.  But she “carried” me thru and stayed with me even though she could have ran so much faster. 

So, did we take the detour?  Heck yeah!.  The Rt 66 Marathon offers a Center of the Universe detour.  It adds 0.3 miles to your marathon and you get a cool looking coin for taking the challenge.  DONE!

IMG_8916 

And we finished.  Cool medal.  Cool after party.  The Marathon Maniacs had their own special Maniac Corner where we traded in our medals for special Marathon Maniac medals.  Super cool.  This really is a must do marathon if you are a Maniac.  It’s a GREAT race with lots of support from the race volunteers, the local law enforcement and the community.  And THAT’s what makes for a  great marathon.  Julie, Judy & Me in Maniac Corner cuz we are definitely some sort of maniacs. 

IMG_8921 IMG_8919 IMG_8924

Thumbs up for Tulsa & the Route 66 Marathon!

** Rock the Route at Rt 66** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Carmel Marathon Recap …. My 2nd Marathon in 7 days

The Carmel Marathon weekend was a Team Tough Chik event and I was excited to go meet some of the ladies who I had previously only known “on line”.  We did dinner.  We talked.  And then we ran.  Perfect meet-up!!  Plus  I’m just loving the Team Tough Chik run singlet this year so it was the  perfect excuse to make it’s debut at the first warm race of the season!!

I also was able to hang with Katie, From Ice Cream To Marathon, once again and we always have fun!!   Plus my friend, Julie made the trip with me so that she could knock Indiana off her 50 States quest!  And of course we saw, Mike (Run Nerds Rock) since this is a hometown race for him.  Good times pre & post race!

Carmel Marathon_me&katieCarmel Marathon_julie & meCarmel Marathon_katie mike me

The Carmel Marathon was a new one for me.  I had heard good things about it from past participants and the early bird entry fee was low, like really low.  Maybe $30 for the half and $40 for the full?  So I signed up around Thanksgiving of last year when they were doing a registration blitz and I heard that several other Toughies were going.  It’s a small race with 833 finishers for the full marathon and 1431 finishers for the half.  

Parking was free and close to the start.  Since we were “newbies” to the race, we parked at the first parking spot we came across and this resulted in us having about a 15 minute walk to the start.  This also put us a bit behind schedule because the start area was jam packed with people, runners and family members alike.   We headed to bag check and found a very long, single file line, with probably 40 people in front of us.  Bags were just being accepted and tossed to the ground.  There was no attempt at any sort of initial organization.  That bit me in the butt when I realized that I left something very important in my check bag.  I tried to retrieve it, they just stared at me blankly and told me that they had no idea where my bag might have gone.  Boo for me!  Sad smile

Then we hit the potties.  Long lines there too and not nearly enough potties for the crowd.  We were, in fact, still in line to potty when the start gun went off.  Boo for me and hundreds of other people.  Sad smile

Then we finally got thru the potty line and headed to the start.  People were still streaming thru the start line so no worries on our part other than we had hoped to run with a pace group.  The course was flat with a few very small inclines.  Good terrain with all of the course being on paved forest preserve paths, thru neighborhoods or on busier streets where they reserved one lane for the runners.   Aid stations with water every 2 miles.  Gatorade at every other stop.  One food station which offered bananas.  No gels offered on course.  Very little crowd support despite a super sunny day and warm temps which inched up toward 70 degrees.  Friendly volunteers and police support but some seriously unhappy residents that we were blocking traffic. Sad smile

Overall, this is the race you want to run when you feel great, don’t need much help and are looking for a clear course to just bust a move.  If you are a person who needs a little love from the crowd to boost your mood or help propel you thru the end miles, then maybe find one a little bit larger or with a community that is fully invested in a marathon on their city  & neighborhood streets.  There were a lot of people really hurting toward the end of this race.  Not a lot of people were talking.  Nobody was singing.  Sad smile  This is one of the very few places I’ve been where almost everyone was walking at the end.  It was warm so I know that was an issue for many.  Then there just wasn’t much support out there for those of us at the back of the pack.  It was a good race, that was done well but it was a drag and those end miles REALLY drug out forever.  Cool swag though:

Carmel Marathon_swag

Lastly, this was my 2nd marathon in 7 days.  Last week’s ultra was only 3 seconds slower per mile than this marathon.  My legs are definitely tired.  In fact my quads feel like hamburger and my right hip is irritated.  I am facing down 2 more marathons this month to finish my 4 for 40 quest.  I knew this wasn’t going to be easy but a challenge is never easy or it wouldn’t be considered a challenge.  I’m hoping for a party awesome atmosphere this weekend at the Derby Marathon so that I can get a little help from the crowds to carry me thru to the end!  I know #3 will be the hardest so I’m crossing my fingers that Louisville will be out in force to help me get this done!

don't stop

Let me know if you are headed to Louisville for the Derby Marathon this weekend.  I would definitely love to know a few people out on course! 

** Questing for 4 Marathons in the 4th Month of 2014 for my 40th Birthday **            Amanda – TooTallFritz

2013 Hot Chocolate 5K Race Review–Chicago Edition

image

I must say that after last year’s Hot Chocolate 5K/15K debacle at packet pickup and then a very unorganized, overcrowded race, I did not plan to go back this year.  I have a little bit of history with this race.  In 2011, it was great.  I ran a fast 15K thru the streets of Chicago and was super happy with both the race itself and the Ghirardelli’s Chocolate sponsorship, which brought us handfuls of amazing chocolate.  Then in 2012, Ghirardelli’s noticeably dropped from the sponsor list and things changed.  The first thing is that there was a lot less chocolate to be had.   The second, packet pick-up was moved from Union Station to a heated tent in the Soldiers Field parking lot.  Downfall, not many people could fit in the tent and organizers were very unprepared for the crowds.  Result, hundreds of people standing out in the cold for hours on end “waiting” to pick up their packets.  Race day didn’t improve much.  The course was super crowded and management was not properly prepared to keep the runners flowing thru the start.  Therefore, the start was extremely backed up and I witnessed a lot of unhappy people.  It was even “rumored” that some of the runners like myself may have ran more than one time due to the fact that our friends were stuck in the start corrals for hours awaiting their own race.  It was total mess.  One which I was not prepared to repeat for 2013.  

Then Miss Abygayl heard thru the grapevine that the Hot Chocolate was back in town. 

aby_nov 2013  aby running_Sept 2013

And she wanted to run.  Really badly.  And she begged and begged and begged until I gave in and said we would run.  I mean, if the girl wants to run, who am I to say no.  #RunNerdInTheMaking

I registered us without any expectations.  However, I happily noticed that packet pickup was moved to McCormick place and turned into a 3 day extravaganza.  After the Race of the Dead 5K on Saturday, Nicki & I took the kids over to packet pick up and went very smoothly AND it was fun! 

Ronald McDonald made an appearance for RMHC!  There were some chocolate squares handed out, mini Hot Chocolate samples, marshmallows & chocolate fondue.  Bounce houses & games for the kids.  SMOOTH & EFFICIENT packet pick-up with hoodie exchange for different sizes. 

Hot Choc_2013_Ronald McDonald

Plus a few vendors for us to do some shopping!  At this point, most of you know that I run a lot of races.  So I normally don’t shop at the expo unless it a big one like the Shamrock Shuffle or the Chicago Marathon.  The only race gear that I’ve ever purchased is Chicago Marathon gear.  However, I was very surprised that the Hot Chocolate race had lots of chocolate themed gear at a very reasonable price.  For example, the long sleeve tech shirts were $24.99.  I would normally pay $45 to $65 for a LS tech shirt.  Full zip jackets were around $45.  Then tees for the kids.  Aby even found a pair of pajama pants that she “had to have”.  So everyone came home with something “chocolaty”.  Michael and I now have shirts that say, “chocolate made me do it”.  Fuzzy photo alert, see our new gear below but don’t blow this one up or it will hurt your eyes.  Smile   

Hot Choc_2013_choc made me do it

The swag was really great this year too.  They went to a half zip tech hoodie with embroidery and a back zippered pocket to up the quality factor.  Nice piece of gear that I actually will probably wear.  Aby is modeling hers below.  Plus a drawstring backpack too.

Hot Choc_2013_swag sweatshirt  Hot Choc_2013_swag sweatshirt back Hot Choc_2013_swag bag

Race day moved much more smoothly too despite a massive back-up on the Dan Ryan which caused most of us to be late.  Aby and I ran from the car to the bathrooms {no lines, thank you!!!!} to the start.  We slipped into the first wave right as they were closing the gates.  Then we jogged to A corral and got in without much time to waste. 

Hot Choc_2013_me & Aby  Hot Choc_2013_start

The start was right on time at 7am and we all moved up quickly in an organized fashion.  Since we were already in A corral, we didn’t push to the front assuming that everyone in our corral would be running “faster”.  Not necessarily the case.  We were sandwiched in and obviously a lot of the 15K runners were being conservative at the start.  We didn’t have enough time to be conservative so did quite a bit of weaving in that first mile to try to get thru traffic and also find our own rhythm.  It was much different, and even more difficult than the day before; however, because we were weaving together and trying to stay together so I was constantly watching our positions and trying to find a hole big enough for two or a spot where we could split around one solo person.  Very interesting trying to run a faster pace with a buddy.  Plus, it was supposed to be fun so we ran a comfortably hard pace when we were able but stayed very controlled and managed to stay together at the same time.  Of course, Aby was very disappointed with my slow crawl up “Mount Roosevelt” as well as the fact that I lost my finish kick years ago; however, she was kind enough to stay with me to til the very end.  We finished a few seconds over 24 minutes.  Decent run considering the crowds.

The course this year was much better too.  Nice street route for the entire 5K.   The 15K was mostly on the streets til the end when they were rerouted onto the lakefront path.  Good run.  I wish there was a way to space things out a bit more but it’s hard to get 20,000+ people thru the start.  Fun time and well, for this race, most of us really just came for the chocolate.  At least we did!  Everyone received a finishers mug with hot chocolate, a banana, rice crispy treat, marshmallow, wafers & a bag of mini pretzels.  Fun and delicious!   Tip, take a gallon zip lock to the race to pack up the finishers mug when you leave cuz it’s chocolaty & messy!!

Hot Choc_2013_me & Aby & Nicki   Hot Choc_2013_choc

According to Aby, we WILL be running the Hot Chocolate race again in 2014 so maybe I’ll see you there! 

** We Run For Chocolate ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Uno 5K Carrera de los Muertos Race Review

image

I run a lot of races each year and while I enjoy them all to a certain degree, only a few hold a special spot on my heart and demand a repeat.  I must say that the “Race of the
Dead” which is officially called the Uno 5K Carrera de los Muertos is one which I have been anticipating for well over a year.  And it did not disappoint. 

Race of the Dead

This is a themed race for a local community to celebrate the passing of loved ones.  There was an alter, or memorial site, to honor those who passed, plus lots of costumes, painted faces, etc. to make it a full celebration rather than just a memorial atmosphere.  So much fun!  Seriously. 

I’ve heard from previous year’s participants that both the shirts and the age group awards are “one of a kind” and to be honest, I didn’t sign up for a shirt.  I really wanted a hand painted/crafted skull that the local art department creates for each year’s age group awards.  After looking at the past results, I knew that it would be “almost” impossible to win one but that didn’t stop me from trying.  At some point, EVERYONE will have a perfect race.  Who knows, today could be that day?

Swag on the left, including an amazing gender specific tech shirt which is super cool, bonus in that it actually fits!  The back of the shirt and the 2013 age group awards are on the right.

Race of the Dead_swag Race of the Dead_back of shirt & skull Race of the Dead_AG Skulls

I knew I needed to be in the 21s, probably a 21:30 finish {at the slowest} to even have a shot at the third place award in my division (35-39 women).  Well, the third place lady in my AG took it with a 21:30 but that wasn’t me!  I was almost 2 minutes behind her and that put me in 6th place.  🙂

No worries, I’m not upset.  I’m not injured.  I did start a bit too far back, even with the chip timing.  I found my pace group sign and stood there awaiting the start, thinking that the people in front of me would run faster than me.  They did not.  It was a community/neighborhood event and well, the community started in front of me without concern about pace, or time.  It surprised me a bit and I did my best to be polite as I attempted to squeeze thru every crack I could find; however, I never really got in a rhythm due the crowds.  It thinned out at the half way point but I failed to rally back and increase my pace.  I actually slowed down much to my dismay in that third mile.

Regardless, the entire race was awesome.  Lots of on course entertainment.  And I do mean a lot.  I was focused on getting thru the crowds but the entertainment and cheering crowds were constantly garnering my attention and that’s super cool.    Lots of costumed runners, which I absolutely LOVE.   Lots of community spirit.  One aid station at the half way point.  Lots of potties at the start/finish area.  Massive block party style “after party” with a band, food from community vendors and a few other vendors on site.  Really good time.  Really fun atmosphere.  Great event for the entire family.  I can’t wait to go back next year and try to put myself in a better position to snag an AG award!!  A few photos of the after party below.

Race of the Dead_party2     Race of the Dead_party3

Race of the Dead_party

My girl, Nicki, & I after the race (on the left).  We tried to dress for the race theme in our Spandits “Skull” pants & she added a few “day of the dead” tats for decoration!  And our “babies” (on the right) went to see all the costumes be our support crew.

Race of the Dead_Nicki & I   Race of the Dead_kid support

Great day.  Perfect race weather.  Amazing neighborhood race.  I hope to be able to go back next year because it’s honestly one of the most fun non Shamrock Shuffle, non Chicago Marathon races I’ve ran in our area.  I’d highly recommend your giving it a try in 2014!

** Run Fast & Have Fun ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

13.1 Marathon Chicago

This was the first year that 13.1 Chicago fit into my schedule.  I’ve always wanted to run this race and ran the Miami Beach version in 2012 but this hometown race just never worked out until now. 

image

My first impression was not a pleasant one.  Packet pick-up was in Chicago, one location, limited pick-up times, high traffic area, no parking.  I was one “hot” momma by the time I drove around Old Town for 40 minutes with my kiddos, tried to park in a garage that was full, then settled on parking illegally to run in while also dragging my kids and grab the packets for myself and my friends.  Logistical nightmare for the non-Chicago runners.    Fortunately, once inside the pick-up was organized and smooth and I was in and out before Chicago PD towed my car.  The goodie bag was a virtual one to save on paper, but we had to physically pick up our bib & shirt.  The shirt was a Helium brand, gender specific sizing which ran small.  They also gave us a nylon backpack. 

13.1 Chicago_swag

The race itself was at the South Shore Cultural Center on 71st Street on Chicago’s Southside.  Parking was limited and the event offered and highly recommended the free shuttle service for all participants and spectators.  Win!

Pre-race I met up with my fellow FNRC runners and a few Chicago Running Bloggers.  There weren’t many bloggy friends this time around since this event is on the same day as the finish of Ragnar Chicago.  From left:  Emily (Out and About),  Eric (This Hobbit Runs), Chris (My Kind of Run), and myself.

13.1 Chicago_bloggers

The race started at 7am on the dot, sending off the first of many corrals.  Each corral was separated by about 30 seconds to help crowding on the course.  I was in Corral C and probably should have been back one or two more since I’m not really race ready as of yet.  I wasn’t at all crowded but certainly not running the same speed as my corral mates.  My focus for this race was to be controlled the entire time, not go too fast and not die at the end.  This was basically another training run for me.  I want to be able to run well on tired legs.  The 40 miles I biked on Friday morning pretty much delivered those tired legs and it was my job to run on them and prep for the Racine 70.3 next month.

I anticipated this course being very crowded because the entire race was on either the lakefront path or running/walking paths through Jackson Park.  However, it really wasn’t bad.  Possibly because I was toward the front.  Possibly because I wasn’t trying for any speed record.  Possibly because I was just happy to be there, to be running and enjoying the day.  We had good temps which were in the mid 60s throughout the race.  Then the course was shaded in many spots, thru the park and also on the lakefront path.  The view of the city from the south was breathtaking and the out and back course provided distraction as I watched for my fast friends.  I even had a surprise around mile 5 seeing another bloggy friend, Xaarlin (Pain is Nothing),  who was kind enough to come spectate and take a few photos!  The good part about seeing her on the way out was knowing that she was there on the way back so I was “ready”  when she pulled out the camera.  Smile

13.1 Chicago_me running

This is a good race.  Great location which is also unique to the Chicago “racing” scene.  Great scenery.  On course entertainment.  Aid stations spaced probably 1.5 miles apart which offered water and a sport drink.  Lots of potties.  Lots of smiling faces from volunteers, fast friends who are in front of you and heading toward the finish, fast friends who start behind you and then pass you (thanks, Eric!) and from those friends behind in the later corrals.  Running to me is a social event.  I don’t listen to music, I listen to what is going on around me.  The more people I see on course, the better the race is for me.  I LOVED 13.1 Chicago and loved high fiving my friends as we passed on the out and back!!

As a side note, the last 5K of a half marathon is always a drag.  If I’m feeling good then this is the time to pick it up and make up some time from dogging it in mile 8 & 9 but normally speaking, I just try not to slip too far like I did at Sunburst and destroy my finish.  However this time, I did something different.  In addition to wearing red, white & blue in honor of some of my F’N Running friends who were running Ragnar with the American “Sweat”hearts, I also went Ragnar style from mile 10-13 and counted my “kills”.  Yep, this is how I stayed focused in an attempt to keep from falling off pace, I counted every person I passed from mile 10 til the finish.  26 people. 

Consistent with 13.1 fashion, we finished on the beach.  The after party was in full swing by the time I arrived and the pizza and beer was flowing freely.   Now, that’s my kind of race:  Running, Friends, Beach Party & Beer!

Photo with my ladies who run EVERYWHERE.  You may remember seeing them in my race report last week from Sunburst in South Bend, IN.  Yep, they ran 13.1 Chicago too!  Myself, Carol, Nicole (who ran a 1:38 which was good for a new PR) & Heather.

13.1 Chicago_Carol Nicole Heather

More bloggy friends:  Pete (The Lakefront Trail), Nina (Run Dance Love) & Myself

13.1 Chicago_Pete & Nina

Then my F’N friends were kind enough to march out on the beach with me for a photo in front of the Chicago skyline!  Melissa, Nichole Z, Ken, Nicole F, myself & Maggie. 

13.1 Chicago_FNRC

Thumbs up for 13.1 Chicago!  I’d definitely run it again if my schedule cooperated!

Reminder – Don’t forget to enter my charity raffle HERE!

** Run 13.1 Chicago ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Fallen Firefighters 5K – Bourbonnais, IL

Yesterday was the first annual Fallen Firefighters 5K in Bourbonnais, IL. 

image

image

The race venue was at Perry Farms on Route 45.  Several races are held at this location each year but this my first time on site.  Although Perry Farms is best know for the Children’s Museum, Exploration Station, there are also 4 miles of trails with small rolling hills. 

image

The trails start, just off of Route 45 and circle the grounds, even dipping all the way down for a view of the Kankakee River.  Super cool, very scenic, and a place that I would love to run any time of the year.  I’ll definitely be going back.

The Fallen Firefighters 5K was a first time event but I was told the course is the same as another local race, the AshleyCan Pediatric Cancer Foundation 5K.  So if you have ran that race, the course was supposedly the same.  I never really read up on a race.  If it’s in my backyard close to home, and I want to run, then I go.  I don’t worry about the course or cost or location.  Therefore I was taken off guard a few days prior to the race when somebody asked me about Challenge Hill.  It was clearly noted on any info that could possibly be read about the race if one were to read such info but news to me.  🙂

….. the 5k run ….. course is fast and flat; with the exception of one exciting hill in the middle of the run that will challenge you; this hill is called Challenge Hill.

This “hill” was relatively early in the course, before the half way mark, and it is marked with a switchback.  For those who haven’t hiked the Grand Canyon aren’t familiar with switchbacks, they were designed to help people transverse mountains.  If you go straight up a mountain you would die fall backward.  However, if you go from side to side in a switchback like fashion, then although it will take longer (and increases the distance traveled) you will make it safely to the top with burning quads

Example of a switchback below.  I took this photo in the Grand Canyon in 2005.  This is a small portion of the South Kaibab Trail, leading to/from the Colorado River.  This is the way I hiked out of the Canyon.

Grand Canyon Switchback_South Kaibab Trail 

Challenge Hill has a switchback.  Although nothing to the above degree but a switchback nonetheless.  Challenge Hill just about killed me and Aby said that it tough too.  We both felt as if this was the toughest course we have ran which says a lot with her just coming off of Cross Country season.  Plus she is a very good hill runner.  I can’t say the same.  My speed and endurance are still low from the injury and hills just zap my momentum and energy.  I was totally dead, could have walked faster.

Otherwise, the course was pretty normal.  Part on the slippery wet trails, part thru a subdivision.   Everyone said the course was long.  I do pretty well running the tangents and measured 3.22 miles on my watch.  It would have been longer for those who weren’t able to hit the tangents.  There was a water station at the half way mark.  No potties on course but there normally aren’t on a 5K route.  No chip timing but the race was very well organized and had lots of volunteers directing traffic and helping us up the hill.

The cost was low at $20 for pre-registered runners.  Included in the cost was a cotton tee, can cuzzy, 2 first aid kids & a few pens. 

Fallen Firefighters_2012_lootl

For those wondering about the Cat & Mouse game between Aby and I…..she won as if that is a surprise to anyone.  She beat me by 34 seconds!  Our times were a bit off because of the hill course length but she ran a 25:52 & I ran 26:26. That gave us 2nd & 3rd overall female placements.  The race was very generous with the awards, going 3 deep for overall male & female placements, then 3 deep in age groups.  They certainly didn’t skip on awards and seeing as there were only 73 finishers, a lot of people walked away smiling with some bling around their neck.  

Elizabeth S from the Kankakee River Running Club snapped this photo of Aby running away from me early in the first mile.  I managed to stay pretty close to her until the hill.

Photo

To be honest, I had no idea we were so close to the front.  It was a nice surprise to find out we were 2nd & 3rd.  The first place woman was in front of Aby by two minutes so we were nowhere near her but apparently in front of the other ladies. 

This is definitely one that we will run again if our schedule permits.  Lots of support on and off course, great awards, great post-race snacks, great atmosphere.

Thanks to the Bourbonnais Fire Department and the Kankakee River Running Club for putting together a great race!  See you next year!

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com

Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5k Race Review – 2012

image

Each year, the Chicago Half Marathon also offers a 5K option.  Since I’m slowly coming off the injury train, this was the option I chose for 2012.  It was the first time that I’ve ever participated in the 5K and it was a great experience.  I would highly recommend it for anyone who is going down to watch the half marathon or those who are looking for a nice fast 5K course.

First, I was very happy that the half marathoners started 45 minutes before the start of the 5K.  This allowed me plenty of time to watch everyone cross the start, plus snap a few blurry photos of my friends as they passed.  Once the Half Marathoners cleared the start, I then dropped my bag and had time to run a very slow 1 mile warm-up, stretch my unbelievably tight hamstrings and hit the start line with a few minutes to spare. 

Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K_2012

The timing was perfect in my opinion!  What wasn’t so perfect was my decision to not press a little closer to the start line for the 5K.   I knew my fitness wasn’t up to par and I knew I wouldn’t be running real fast; therefore, I didn’t want to get too close to the start and interrupt anyone who was planning to go out hard and race for real.  That being said, I need to realize that my “not so fast” pace is still faster than many others, particularly those who are planning to walk the entire 5K.  It was definitely amateur hour at the start of the 5K.  Nothing wrong with that, I just didn’t have the endurance extra energy to weave around so many people.  My first mile split beeped before I could even see the 1 mile clock due to all my weaving and bopping around the walkers and slower runners.  Totally my fault and since I was in no shape to race, it wasn’t a problem but definitely something I’ll remember for the next 5K I run downtown. 

The 5K course was through the Jackson Park area, former site of the 1890 World’s Fair, in Hyde Park.

image

There were long straights with very few turns, lots of shade and plenty of space to run after you found your rightful spot in the pack rhythm.  There was one water station around mile 2 and then the finish was in the same location as the half marathon, which I thought was a nice touch, helping the 5K runners feel part of the entire event.  The 5K finishers then received a medal for their accomplishment and loads of snacks/drinks to refuel.  See the 5K SWAG pic below, which includes the cotton tee (half marathoners received a long sleeve tech shirt):

Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K_2012_SWAG

The Chicago Half & Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5k also gave a virtual goodie bag.  I know the jury is still out on the idea of virtual race bags but I like them.  I tend to throw out 99% of the literature in the race bag so love the idea of just being able to download the coupons/literature that I want out of the bag and not worry about the rest. 

This race also features a huge area for gear check so the lines didn’t ever appear to be bad.  There were just under 30 charities represented in Charity Village and there were a ton of bathrooms.  Plus beer & pizza at the finish.

The Chicago Half is the original half marathon in Chicago and while we now have many more options to run the half distance in and around Chicago, it still dominates the other races with its unique & historic location, a few shaded miles thru Jackson Park, and 9.5 breathtaking miles on Lake Shore Drive.  The great SWAG and rockin’ finish line party are just icing on the cake for the original half marathon.  This is a runner’s race for beginner and experienced runners alike.  Registration for the 2013 Chicago Half Marathon & 5K opens tomorrow, September 11, 2012 at 7am.  Sign up!  You won’t regret it!  And bring all your friends, I will! 

Photos below:  Left –  Marathon Mike & Me, Middle – Chicago Running Bloggers:  Sara (& Waffles), Lauren, Me, Maggie, Kim, Erin, EmilyRight – Me & Melissa S

Chicago Half_Mike Chicago Half_Bloggers Chicago Half_Melissa

** Happy Running **  Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com