Chicago Half Marathon – 2013

Where to start?  I’ve ran the Chicago Half Marathon three times now & the Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K once.  My first appearance at the half was 2007, 100ish degrees or so it seemed, full sun and MISERABLE.  This was my first half marathon and I think I crawled the last half of the race on my hands and knees then called my friend Lisa on the way home and told her that I was going to give my running shoes to the first homeless person I saw cuz I just wouldn’t be needing them anymore!  Yeah, not my finest hour. 

My second appearance was in 2008, 8 days after my first 70.3 triathlon.  It poured rain the entire time.  I don’t mean it rained either, I’m being legit by saying that it POURED rain.  Organizers even had to reroute the course due to flooding.  However, I loved the race.  Had a blast.  Loved splashing thru the puddles for the entire 13.1 miles.  I just kept pulling my hat in tighter, kept trucking along and managed to negative split, which is super rare for me. 

My third appearance at this event was for the 5K, last year, shortly after I returned to running after rehabbing my foot.  The 5K was good but left me feeling as if I was missing out by not running the half.  That brings us to this year, my fourth appearance at the event and my 3rd Chicago Half.  This year was all about being social.  I’m not race ready.  My legs are very, very, very fatigued.  I never fully recovered from the 70.3 which I did in the 101 degree temps last weekend but I went to see friends from the area and out-of-towners who came in to run.  I was hoping to have enough in my legs to run with my friend Jess and to be able to finish with a smile on my face. 

Jess & I in our neon yellow/pink outfits which we put together as an excuse to buy around the Pro Compression sock of the month!

Chicago Half_2013_jess me    Chicago Half_2013_socks-shoes

Unfortunately, I screwed up on parking and missed seeing a lot of people pre-race but instead hustled to the start line in an very un-TTF like fashion.  The start was crowded.  They had 3 corrals but I’m not really sure who made the cut to get into those corrals.  Jess and I were back with the masses and let me just say that it’s been a while since I’ve started a race without a corral and it’s just not fun.  My apologies to all of you who do it each and every race.  Wow, such a mess. 

This half had around 14,000 people so not a big race by Chicago standards.  The key to running these type of races is to either get out early, hit it hard and run away from the crowds, or settle in and just go with the flow.  We were in the “go with the flow” mode as both of us were feeling less than perfect.  I really only had one goal for this race and that was to hang close to Jess for as long as possible.  I didn’t know if I would be able to with as bad as I felt but that was the goal.  Have to have at least one goal, right?

I was super happy when we finally made our way out of Jackson Park  and onto Lake Shore Drive (around mile 3.5) because I knew the road was wider and the crowds would thin a bit. 

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I snapped a few photos early on and ironically, someone snapped a photo of me in the process.  I always like seeing what’s on the “other side” of the camera so here is an example.  I’m attempting to take a photo of the lakefront while running.  Derek, a fellow F’N runner (gold shirt), somehow managed to spot me in my neon outfit the crowd and simultaneously snapped a photo of me!  Love this!  Thank you, Derek!

Chicago Half_2013_me taking photo Chicago Half_2013_water photo

The crowds did start to thin and I was temporarily distracted watching for my fast friends heading toward the finish as we cruised thru the miles.  Jess and I were “together” but not really together.  There wasn’t any chatter or cheering each other on, we were putting all of our energy into the run and both of us were struggling.  I was trying to pay attention to where she was in an effort to try to keep our neon outfits in the same zip code a decent pace rather than just falling off to a walk.  My legs were shot and that’s not being pessimistic, just fact.  I was also trying to focus on the positive aspects of the weather:  a nice breeze and cloud cover.  However, the humidity started taking its toll early and I was hitting every aid station for drinking water PLUS dumping water on my head and chest.  I was completely soaked by mile 5 or 6.  And still hot.  And still thirsty.  I was also slightly alarmed by how badly the runners on the other side of “The Drive” looked.  The runners who were fast and almost finished.   They looked like death and not the smooth fast machines which I normally see at this race.  That certainly was a call to me to pay attention to my hydration since I would be out there much longer than those fasties who were already headed toward the finish.

Once I hit the turnaround, I tried to briefly pick it up but that lasted all of a 1/2 mile before I wilted even further and just settled into whatever pace I could manage.  I just kept focusing on the finish and kept myself moving with the mantra, “pump your arms and your legs will follow”.  I said that over and over and over to myself between miles 9 and 12.  Once I hit 12, I refocused on finding Jess so that we could run in together.  Not sure that she cared but I wanted to be with my neon run twin her at the finish.  I was chuckling internally as we cruised thru that last mile, weaving around person after person.  Even the short 1/4 mile shoot to the finish was crowded and it was somewhat difficult to stay “together”.  However, we did manage to finish together, side by side, and even had the exact same finish time so it was a successful mission in my book! 

The completion of the 2013 Chicago Half in conjunction with my finish at the earlier 13.1 Chicago qualified me for the Windy City Challenge medal!

Chicago Half_2013_medals Chicago Half_2013 medal   Windy City Challenge

This is really a great race.  Yes, it’s big.  Yes, it’s crowded.  However, the view of the lake, the city and being able to see the rest of the runners both in front and behind you, is really cool.  The support from aid stations is incredible.  The volunteers are lively, call out your name, encourage you, and have endless supplies of water & gatorade.  Lots of potties too!  Lots of medical support.  Lots of spectators.  Some on course entertainment.  Pizza, beer & a band at the finish. 

If you are into swag, the shirt was super cool this year.  It was the ever popular Helium brand, gender specific in a bright orange color with the Chicago Half logo. Bonus – it actually fits &  I’m wearing it right now.  LOVE it and am dreaming of cooler temps where I can actually wear long sleeves for running!

Chicago Half_2013_swag

See you next year!

** Run Chicago ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

It’s A Lottery….

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Many have been waiting for well over a week to find out how the Chicago Marathon would fill the remaining 15,000 slots for the 2013 race.  The press release yesterday revealed their decision to do a lottery for the remaining spots.  Please read the statement verbatim below:

Since suspending registration, we have been working on the best possible solution to offer the remaining 15,000 entries for the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. We have determined that on Tuesday, March 5, registration will reopen as a lottery. While this is a departure from our traditional registration process, we believe it is the most fair and efficient way to address this unique situation.

For more lottery details and Q&A, go to: www.chicagomarathon.com/lottery.

Interested runners can enter the lottery at chicagomarathon.com starting on Tuesday, March 5, at 12:01 a.m. CST until Thursday, March 7, at 9 p.m. CST. From those entries, 15,000 names will be randomly selected to fill the remaining spots in the 2013 Chicago Marathon. Those individuals will be notified on Tuesday, March 12, and they will have until 9 p.m. CST on Thursday, March 14, to complete their official registration.

We realize the impact these registration challenges have had on our supporters and we are grateful for everyone’s continued understanding.

As a local, multi-year finisher of the Chicago Marathon, I am saddened by this news.  The entire city of Chicago and the local running community stands behind the Chicago Marathon and each year looks forward to this mammoth event.  Although, many runners may feel as if they have outgrown the race and look for smaller, less iconic events, there is no doubt the Chicago Marathon has become a tradition for many of us.

Many runners go back year after year, despite the crowds, despite the cost.  We plan not only our running schedule but our lives around this race.  We do it for a variety of reasons.   Many do it to run, train, race & bond with our local running community.  Others do it to challenge themselves.  Some just want to be part of something iconic.  Others want to be able to take to the streets just one day a year with the elites who vie for the big money, notoriety and the chance to prove they are the best.  For many, to just be on the same streets with these amazing athletes is an honor for which we do not take for granted.  For the reasons above and many more, an inordinate amount of people, if they were able, were sitting at their computers at noon on February 19th ready to register for the 2013 Chicago Marathon. 

We were all nervous.  Fresh in our memory was the Naperville Marathon fiasco, which despite the initial poor decisions by race directors and all the negative publicity, ended up selling out in one day.   There was no doubt that if we wanted to run Chicago, then we needed to register immediately.  And we tried.  I knew that people who had jobs without computer access or those who were sitting in the hospital with a loved one, or those possibly helping at their child’s school at noon on the 19th had a high likelihood of getting shutout.  I was definitely feeling the anxiety not only for myself but also the others who I knew would never get registered before it filled.  Then the inevitable happened, registration opened and the entire registration system (via Active.com) immediately collapsed, locked up, allowing only intermittent, random registrations to trickle thru.  To be honest, I didn’t know if I had even gotten in or not.  I  never did get thru all the registration screens despite hundreds of attempts.  There was so much uncertainly and I just didn’t know.  I discussed the Registration Nightmare HERE.

After 9 days of waiting, the announcement was made that the remaining slots will be filled via a lottery system.  More uncertainty and waiting for those who want to run but have yet to garner a spot.  Even charity runners will be thrown into the lottery.  Those charity runners who get selected in the lottery will go about business as usual.  The charity runners who don’t get selected will quickly soak up the charity’s post-close slots.  As I understand it, each charity has a specific amount of spots which they are able to offer after the registration process is closed.   They normally use the spots for NEW runners, who have not ran for them previously.  Its a way for them to raise additional charity monies by being able to offer up a registration for a closed race and basically get someone to run for charity who possibly wouldn’t do so otherwise.  It’s a a win-win.  Runner gets into a closed race.  Charity is able to raise additional funds via the “new” charity runner.  For this reason, the charities prefer us alumni runners to register while the race is still open so that we don’t soak up those “extra” positions.  

What does all this mean?  If you want to run, enter the lottery.  If you REALLY want to run, start looking over the charity list HERE.  There will be fewer charity spots open this year than in previous years.  It is inevitable that some of the runners who have already committed to running for a charity will not get in thru the lottery; therefore, they will get first chance at the post-close charity slots.  If you contact the charity now and commit, then you’ll be “on the list” for the first slots available after the close.

If a particular charity doesn’t call to you, join me in running for Ronald McDonald House Charities, we would love to have you!  More info HERE.

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Good luck to all of you who are still looking to register.  I hope you get in via the lottery.  I know you’re anxious.  I’m anxious for you!  I’m also anxious to see how registration changes for future Chicago Marathon events.  I anticipate the lottery system will be a permanent fixture for Chicago and we will all be vying for coveted lottery slots in the years to come.  I don’t look forward to that.  It makes me sad because I really do love running the Chicago Marathon.  I love being able to drive in, park on race morning, run the race and then drive back home to my family without any having to hassle with travel plans, hotels or unknown cities.  Therefore, I’m planning to enjoy this year as if it’s my last because it very well may be the last time I get “in” to run the Chicago Marathon.

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

2012….The Mystery of What Will Be…..

This is the first day of 2012 and we are looking at a fresh start with a  whole new year in front of us.  What will you bring to Ms. TooTall and the family, 2012?  This is the time in which many are making New Year’s Resolutions; however, I am not really a fan of a “resolution” per say .  I think that many treat resolutions like rules with the “they are made to be broken” type attitude.  So in absence of a New Year’s Resolution, each year I attempt to develop some sort of challenge for myself and as many people as I can suck into the insane plan.  As with all good plans/challenges, it needs to most importantly bring about a good story in the process!  I really believe that over half of the endeavors in which I have sucked my sister into  completed were for the sole sake of having a good story.

Thru the years, we have developed some REALLY good stories.  Still one of my favorites was the 2005 Rim to Rim hike thru the Grand Canyon with (Me), Sara (my sis), Lisa E., Lisa’s Cousin Cindy & Lisa’s mom:

That adventure was my foray back to fitness.  It was a long road cuz I had 10+ years of excess eating/drinking to redirect but I not only hauled my ass person from the North Rim, to Phantom Ranch on the Colorado River but then up the South Kaibab Trail for a finish on the South Rim.  Good times.  Good memories.  And it was a heck of a workout!  This adventure was a catalyst to my current state of fitness.  More importantly, it gave me the confidence to also try other things that prior to that point, I would have NEVER though possible.

LOTS OF RUNNING

Me & Abby S. during the Inaugural 2008 Fort 4 Fitness Half Marathon:LOTS OF FAST RACINGLOTS OF TRIATHLON

I’m unzipping the black wetsuit in the middle.

MUD & OBSTACLES

 CROSS TRAINING & SWEAT

LOTS OF NEW FRIENDS

So after so much fun and sweat it is hard to create a budget friendly challenge for the new year.  Last year I challenged myself to run 1000 miles.  I made it despite fighting injuries from March thru year-end.  This year I wanted something new and fresh and along came….So the big adventure for Ms. TooTall for 2012 will be participating in a chicks only, 6 person, ultra relay team for the Madison to Chicago Ragnar Relay Series. 33 miles over the course of 2 days/nights in early June.  This is gonna be insane fun and should provide us with a GREAT story!

I will also be running the 2012 Chicago Marathon and delving back into Triathlon after a long bike hiatus from Mr. Michael’s birth/toddler years.   The goal is a 1000 running miles and 1000 bike miles.  This will be TOUGH for me but I joined Team Tough Chik for 2012 so hopefully that will provide extra support that I need to make this happen!  If you are interested in being on Team Tough Chik for 2012, click HERE.  The deadline for joining the team has been extended until Jan 7.  See a few of my fellow Tough Chiks below.

What do you have planned for 2012?  Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

Once Again…..Happy New Year!                                                                                Amanda – TooTallFritz