Tobacco Road Marathon Race Review

Its been six weeks since the Tobacco Road Marathon but I still want to review the race for those who might be interested in putting this on their future calendar. 

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The Tobacco Road Marathon was on March 18, 2018 in Cary, NC.  Close to Durham & Chapel Hill.  The race venue is the Thomas Brooks Park & USA Baseball Fields.  Race is  traditionally held on a Sunday and requires travel to the area on Friday or Saturday to pick up race packets.  Small expo at a local hotel.  Easy & fast, in and out.  A few vendors, like my favorite girl, Gypsy Runner

If your traveling with the family, there isn’t a lot to do in this area (or maybe we just didn’t know where to look?).  Beautiful area though.  New neighborhoods.  Nice homes.  Cute boutique like shopping areas.  Nice.

Race day started bright and early like always.  Getting to the race site required some planning.  There was a local pick up area in Cary called NetApp, where people could park & get shuttled to/from the race site.  There were a few onsite parking spots that required pre-purchased parking passes.  Then there was runner drop off at the venue.  Fortunately, my daughter now has her license.  GASP!  She was able to drop me off, then drive back to the hotel with her little brother, then return to pick me up.  This race would have been challenging, logistics wise (as a mom with kids & no other adult to supervise), had she not been able to drive.  I’ve taken them to a lot of races & I usually pick a hotel on the race course or close to the start/finish so they can sleep in at the hotel, then come to the race when they are ready.  This race started at the park, then ran to the American Tobacco Trail, stayed on the American Tobacco Trail, then ran back to the park for the finish.  You need access to a car to get to packet pick up and to/from the race.  No shuttles for local hotels.  No way to spectate without access to a car.

On to the race!  The important part, right?  Please note that the majority of these photos are courtesy of Amy at Gypsy Runner.  I wanted to ring the PR bell, so knew I couldn’t waste time with photos.  Thanks, Amy for always helping me out!  I love seeing your smiling face at expos and out on the marathon courses! 

We got to the race early.  The race started at 7am but the parking areas shut down at a certain time.  I think they wanted everyone in the parking area by 5:30 so that the shuttle buses could come/go without issue.  It was cool.  Probably upper 40s at the start and while we were waiting.  I rarely take throw away clothes but did this time because I wasn’t planning to check a bag.  The plan was to run the race, finds the kids, leave.  We were headed to Disney World for Spring Break & this was just a pit stop for momma to grab another state! 

The race started promptly at 7am.  Start/Finish area was easy to find, just down from the row of port-o-potties.  It was still dark when we started the race but the area was well lit around the bathrooms & the start/finish area.  Photo courtesy of the Tobacco Road Marathon Facebook page:

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We left Thomas Park with an incline to get out of the park and onto the road.  Key to remember because that’s a downhill to the finish line!  Couple other rolling hills in the 2.5 miles from the park to the American Tobacco Trail.  Then the marathoners had 21 miles on the ATT.  Very few turns.  If you are ever afraid of getting lost, this is the type of race for you.  There was never any question as to where to go or where to turn.  It was very well ran, volunteers were great.  All road crossings were patrolled. 

The race was advertised as fast & flat.  As a Midwest gal, I know flat.  Any race that claims to be flat, will probably have more hills than I can get when I make an effort to FIND hills to run.  I wasn’t sure what to expect with this race.  I will say that it was pretty flat.  There were a few rollers to/from the ATT.  Once on the ATT (where we ran 21 of the 26.2 miles), it was pretty flat.  This was an old rail trail.  So the inclines/declines were not visible, you’d just feel it in your legs.  On a slight decline, you could feel the load lighten and the pace got easier.  On the incline, you couldn’t really “see” it but you could tell you were going up because it took more effort to hold the pace.  But honestly, I heard some people complain post race about the elevation, Garmin showed 735 ft of gain, Strava showed 819 ft for the entire race.  Small gains & losses over time.

The ATT was a mix of crushed limestone and asphalt. Mostly tree lined with giant pines which provided a break from the wind and the sun.  Temps started in the upper 40s but climbed to the 60s while we ran.  Humidity was low to non-existent.  I don’t do well in heat & humidity so while I did notice that it was getting warmer toward the end, it didn’t effect my performance.

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There were 9 aid stations on course, most of which we hit 2x since the trail was an out and back.  All stations were well stocked with fluids, food items & there were port-o-potties! 

On the ATT, we headed out to the north initially, then flipped between mile 8 & 9.  Then headed back south, past our point of entry until another turn around between mile 18 & 19.  As always, that last turn around always feels great.  I also am a huge fan of out and backs, particularly when I know people running.  Watching the other runners makes me happy. I like to encourage them, cheer for the fast people at the front & it distracts me from the task at hand. 

Not a ton of spectators.  Logistics put most spectators at a trail head that intersected with a road we were crossing.  Some dogs.  A few signs.  But everyone was enthusiastic & encouraging. 

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I really liked this race.  I picked it for a few reason.  Fast, flattish, few turns, smaller number of runners & the fact that most of it was on a rail trail which would feel a lot like my old training runs.  Some people run better on Saturday mornings with their friends than at big venues with long waits & a bazillion spectators.  I’m probably more of the Saturday morning girl than the “wait & shiver for 2 hours before the major marathon” girl. 

I knew I wanted to try to run faster since I’m not allowed many races this year.  I’m in the midst of training for Ironman Lake Placid.  When I run less races, I’m faster.  No brainer there.  And my back is feeling the best it has in several years.  I’m not 100% but to be honest, this is probably as good as its going to get.  Also, it was important to plan and execute a race strategy, just to know that I can do it.  After Lake Placid, I’m going to take a break and then see if I can qualify for Boston.  This race time was not anywhere what I need to run a BQ but it was all about planning & executing. 

I did have a snafu leading up to the race (pulled something in my foot) so went with Plan B vs Plan A, in the name of being smart & facing down a lot more training for Lake Placid in the next few months.  I started with the 4:10 pacers with the plan of running away from them before the finish.  I figured I could easily gain a couple minutes and drop into a 4:08 before I hit the line, if I was smart.  That’s really the hardest part, being smart.  And patient.  The first half of the race feels so easy, its hard not to just go with it and run faster.  Well, take my advice, going faster than the plan is a good way to blow up.  I used to run less races & try to go faster but I always blew up.  I would go out too fast!  Every time.  That’s really how I started running more races.  I decided that I worked too hard for ONE race, for it not to end in the result I wanted.  I decided I could run  A LOT of races and have a A LOT of fun, and  really my times weren’t any slower than going out too fast & blowing up. 

Anyhow, shout out to the 4:10 pacers.  They did a great job.  I even dropped back 2 different times to get something out of my FlipBelt.  The one pacer checked on me both times & basically “yelled at me” to close the gap & regain contact.  I will say that the added pressure that someone was waiting on me did help to make sure I didn’t fall off pace.  They even told the runners to start floating away from them as we got close to the finish, that a pacers job was to finish alone, on time, with all their runners ahead of them.  Smile  I had already started moving ahead after we got off the ATT in the last 2.5 miles.  That was the last thing I heard them say as I was pulling away.  And I was able to ring the PR Bell at the finish!  4:08:09 was my chip time.  Good day!

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Overall a great race.  There were 1088 full marathoners that started the day, 884 finishers.  The half started 2277 runners & 2202 finished.  Great race, if you are looking for a fast run.  Since most of the race is on the trail, the camber of the road is not as much of an issue as in other races.  Not too crowded. Just enough aid & support.  Low entry fee!  Definitely a good one. 

This was my 27th state, 49th marathon.  My 50th marathon will be at the end of Ironman Lake Placid.  Now that’s going to hurt.  LOL!

** Hope you are all healthy & running happy ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

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Wildwood Trail Marathon Race Review– Wildwood MO

I ran the Wildwood Trail Marathon in Wildwood MO on Sunday.  It was my 47th marathon (or longer).  I’m a runner who loves to run.  I love the trails and the serenity.  However, I’m not a real trail runner.  Let’s not squabble over the fact that “if I run trails, then I’m a trail runner”.  You know what I mean.  I’m a road runner.  I enjoy the road under my feet.  A solid surface that does not move.  One where I probably won’t trip over something that I can’t see because its covered by a forest of leaves.  One where sharp rocks don’t jut out at every step.  One where if I fall, I won’t stress about sliding down the bluff in the process.  Road runner.  Yep, that’s me. 

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Now that is has been clarified that I’m a road runner, my report follows. 

The Wildwood Trail marathon is self described as scenic & fast.  Good for road and trail runners, experienced and beginners alike. I’ve ran a lot of road races, plus my fair share of trail races.  So I feel well versed and able to give a realistic point of view.  Scenic, yes, in spots.  It’s a beautiful run thru the woods.  This race, unlike others I have ran, consisted of a lot of rock based trails.  Most trail runs are on dirt trails.  Wildwood has a lot of rock.  Not to make this too simple but the bluffs are made of rock.   The dirt wears away & only rock is left in spots.  Second pic below shows it well.  That looks like a well worn dirt trail, right?  No.  Its solid rock.  Somewhat smooth surface in some spots.  Jagged rocks sticking out in other spots.  Pics below are from the Bluff View Trail.

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The race started at a school, right off the Hamilton-Carr paved trail.  Then we hit a crushed stone & dirt type trail called the Al Foster Memorial Trail.  This lead us to the first detour, the Bluff View Trail which was about 2 miles into the race.  That’s where things started to get interesting.  The trail (seen above) was 2.5 miles of single track, some slanted to one side or the other, winding up the Bluff for an awesome lookout.  The Bluff View Trail provided some of the most scenic views of the day to the Crescent Valley below.

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After climbing the Bluff Trail, we made a small loop & returned the same way we went up. I must say that after staring at the course map for days, I really didn’t understand it.  But thankfully, the race was marked very well and there was never a question as to where we were headed.  Course map below.  One note, it would have been super helpful if the course map had mile markers.  For those of us unfamiliar with the area, we never really knew where we were at any given moment.  I had the map in my head but as you are climbing, climbing, climbing and maneuvering the switchbacks, everything is very focused.  It would have been great to know that I just had to manage the climb/terrain until mile x, then I would get some relief. 

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December can be tricky but we had a beautiful day with the sun shining on us.  Made me happy.

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Dry trails.  Leaves cushioning the rock.  And a few breathtaking views.  After the Bluff Trail, we hit the Rock Hollow Trail with the infamous Zombie Heights.  This was by far the toughest section (on the map it’s the tall section of zig zags, middle of the map) and I was zombie like, just watching the ground and trying to navigate the terrain.  Rock, switchbacks, lots of technical sections, all on a single track of rock and/or dirt.  We spent a lot of time hiking in this section for safety reasons.  My legs felt good but I can only go as fast as I feel safe.  I’m not a super coordinated person.  I’m not exactly clumsy but I do try to be careful.  So we saw a lot of 20  minute miles in this section.  Took forever to get thru it.  This was approximately mile 6 through 14.  Pics below of this section show the varied terrain.

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After Rock Hollow and Zombie Heights, we had a nice flat section back on the Al Foster Memorial Trail heading to Sherman Beach.  Easy terrain.  Well packed.  Fast section. 

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Sherman Beach was a hot spot.  By the time we got there, a lot were already headed back to the finish.  Lucky them.  But this was an important area.  First, the only port-o-potty on course was here. It was also the 3rd & 4th aid station.  And this is where the cut-off happened.  Once passing thru the Sherman Beach aid station (mile 15.5ish), there was a 7.5 mile loop.  We had to be back to that aid station by 2:30pm or we wouldn’t be allowed to finish.  Technically we had plenty of time.  But if we ran into a section of 20 min miles, then the cutoff was in jeopardy.  I must say this is the first time I ever really thought about a cutoff (in any race) and it was stressful! 

Leaving Sherman Beach we had a short section of flat, well groomed trails.  Then we hit the tunnels.  Concrete, manmade tunnels.  I had to bend over and walk thru them, they were short in height and long in length.  A volunteer on a bike told us that he would see us in 2 miles, once we hit the tunnels.  Must say this might have been the longest 2 miles of my life.  The tunnels lead to the Cedar Bluff Trail.  Obviously a short 2 mile jaunt.  Not as technical as the Zombie Heights but we had to be on our toes. And we were apparently rushing because of the cutoff.  Both my run partner & myself fell in this section.  Hard.  Blood & bruises the result. 

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Once we were back to the tunnels, things got much better.  We hit a network of trails by the Meramec River.  These trails consisted of dirt & sand.  Well groomed.  Lots of people riding bikes, walking dogs & hanging out.

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And then eventually the Stinging Nettle trail which was a sand trail taking us back to the 4th aid station at Sherman Beach.  Well AHEAD of the cutoff.  Smile   Tamyra below on the Stinging Nettle trail.

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After Sherman Beach, there was an easy, flat run back to the finish on the Al Foster & Hamilton Carr trails.  Photographer caught us in this section.  Yep, I’m dirty.  I fell down somewhere along Cedar Bluff.

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This marathon was approximately 25.77 miles.  If you are a 50 States Marathon Club runner who is trying to run all the states, don’t use this one for Missouri or you’ll be short & it won’t count.  Trail runs are always questionable in distance since you go where the terrain takes you.  Very normal. 

So, was this race scenic & fast?  Yes. Obviously scenic.  But its also one of the faster trail marathons that I’ve ran thanks to several flat sections where you can run faster.  Good for beginners & experienced runners alike?  Maybe.  The flat sections help a lot.  But there was a lot of technical spots too.  Anyone can do it.  But they really have to be invested in it.  So yes, good for anyone as long as they are committed & ready to go the distance no matter what the trails present.

Overall, great race.  Great volunteers.  Only 4 aid stations.  Stocked with trail running basics:  Coca Cola, Ginger Ale, peanut M&Ms, cookies, pretzels, oranges, pickles, electrolytes, Hammer gels.  Water & Heed (a Hammer product).   This was a cup free event so everyone needed a handheld, water bottles or collapsible cups to utilize the fluids on course. 

Small event.  I had read before race day that there were 209 entrants.  Not exactly how the results panned out.  I’m not sure if everyone was listed but they show 89 finishers.  I was #81 (6 hrs 30 min).   3 DNFs.  8 DNS. Winning male:  2:52.  Winning female:  3:44.  So it was apparently a fast race for some.  Smile Cutoff was 8 hours.  Last finisher was 7 hrs 51 min.

SWAG:  Beanie, Hammer gels, Hammer Endurolytes, sample pack of Biofreeze, finishers medal & FREE race photos.

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That’s a wrap on this marathon!  If your interested in trail running, I’ll link to some of my other trail runs below.  The hardest I’ve done so far is the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon in Duluth, MN.  That race is the warm up for the Minnesota Voyageur 50 miler.  God help those 50 milers.  They are tougher than me!  My second hardest trail marathon was the Dances with Dirt Devil’s Lake Trail Marathon in Baraboo, WI.  Easiest trail run/ultra was the Lakefront 50K in Chicago.  If you  need a fast 50K time, go to Chicago.  Race is on a paved path along Lake MI.  Fun.  Easy. 

Trail Race Reviews (minus the 2014 Huff 50K, which apparently I didn’t write up?!?):

Next up the 2017 Huff 50K on 12/30.  Then I rest. 

Happy Running, all!  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon – 2017 Edition

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This was my 4th time running the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  I ran the inaugural race in 2008, then also 2015, 2016, & 2017.  This is somewhat counterproductive to my goal of running a marathon in every state; however, Indy provides a race that is worth repeating.  Plus, Aby is at the age where she likes to run this race with her friends, after Cross Country season, so I go because it’s a huge affair between my friends & Aby’s.  In my world running is about fun.  I try not to have such a singular focus on a long term goal that I forget the core reason for my running.  So I’ll probably run Indy at least one more time, next year.  Aby is a senior next year and who knows where the world will take her after that.  If she wants to go back to Indy, we’ll be there. 

Expo was easy and fast, although crowded in the early evening.  We were in and out pretty quickly.  There were lines to verify the timing chips and lines to get pre-ordered race items, but otherwise pretty smooth.  Lots of vendors.  Everything looked busy but everyone seemed to be in a good mood.  Outside the expo the city was bustling and Indy really shines at night.  View from our hotel. 

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The race didn’t’ start until 8am on Saturday morning.  This was sleeping in for me!  The hotels surrounding the Capitol Building are within a 5 minute walk.  We stayed inside until 7:30, then walked over to greet friends & get ready to run. 

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A few things about 2017 that were different from previous years.  One, it was the last year of a 4 year medal series.  The race sold medal holders to include the medals for all 4 years, then there was a special star that 4 year runners picked up at the finish.  I was missing 2014, no star for me.  But it was cool.  And Indy has just announced that they will be starting a new 4 year series next year with a slightly different set-up.  Here is a picture of the display for the 2014-2017 medals from the Indy Monumental Facebook page.

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The second change for 2017 was the implementation of a corral system, in an attempt to ease congestion at the start.  Start below.  Photo courtesy of Gypsy Runner.

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The start was congested.  Not a lot of signage as to where the corrals started & stopped.  I’m guessing the majority of runners had no idea which corral they were in when the race started.  Some races stagger the start to ease congestion,  allowing a slight pause of maybe a couple of minutes between corrals.  This was a rolling start.  No breaks between corrals.  Gun went off, we all started moving.  First mile was slow.  First aid station turned into a total standstill.

The half marathon runners turned off around 7.25 miles.  The majority of the runners do the half, which is common at most races.  I actually like the first part with the half runners because it forces me to go slower than I might if the road were wide open.  Smile   But after they turn off, usually I start pushing the pace.  Indy traditionally has great weather.  This year was no different.  It was in the upper 40s at the start, in the 50s with a breeze when we finished. No sun.  Perfect conditions for a great race.  Indy is usually one of my fastest races of the year, this year it was my fastest.  It’s the weather and the flat course that helps me out each year.  Makes it easy to keep coming back, right? 

Lots of aid stations.  Donuts, beer shots, pretzels, cliff gels, bananas, orange slices.  Indy takes care of their runners.  Course is flat with a few slight inclines.  Lots of volunteers and police to help keep everyone on course.  I do think they changed the course slightly this year.  I don’t know that for a fact but there were a few times that I felt the course was different or we were running in a different direction than we had in years past. 

Not a lot of pictures.  I had been sick earlier in the week and wasn’t feeling awesome during the race.  I was just following my friends, Julie M & Amy (Gypsy Runner) and just ran all the way to the finish with those lovely ladies.  Yes, I let them pull me the majority of the race.  Sometimes we feel good.  Sometimes we don’t.  Gotta roll with whatever the day brings.  And it brought me a finish in 4:24 with 2 great friends by my side.  #Thankful

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That’s it for the 2017 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  SWAG below. Side panel of shirt in the last pic.

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By the numbers.  The race just seemed so much larger this year!  Maybe because I wasn’t feeling great.  Maybe because there were 3 of us running together.  Maybe because the roads weren’t in great shape this year and I was floating around a lot.  But here are the stats.  In 2016 there were 4237 marathon finishers, 4679 this year.  In 2016 there were 8154 half marathon finishers, 7972 this year.  In 2016 there were 2762 5K runners, 2727 this year.  So the only race that showed a significant increase in numbers was the marathon distance.  But only 400 more runners.  Not a huge increase.  I think I just felt “off” and was more protective of my personal space this year.  Smile  Regardless, I love the race & I plan to run again in 2018.

2008 race report HERE.  You’ll find more of an insight into the emotional aspect of my second marathon rather than a review of the race.  Oldie but goodie. 

2015 report HERE.  2016 report HERE.

This was my 46th lifetime marathon if you’re counting.

** Happy Running, All ** Amanda – TooTall Fritz

Atlantic City Marathon, Atlantic City, NJ

The Atlantic City Marathon in New Jersey was Day 2.  The second marathon for our double marathon weekend.  2 Marathons.  2 Days.  2 States.  Totally normal, right?  Maybe not, but this was an easy double if you ever want to try one.  We picked Atlantic City because it was a short 2 hour drive from Dover, DE where we ran the Monster Mash Marathon the day previous.  The drive was so short that we even detoured thru Philadelphia to fulfill a childhood fantasy of running up the Art Museum steps like Rocky Balboa!  Super exciting.  Then hey, stopped over to see the Liberty Bell too!

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Some people thought we were crazy for actually running up the steps.  It was fun!  There were only 72 steps and it probably loosened us up after running the Monster Mash Marathon!  Good news, we weren’t the only crazy people, some even had the Rocky Theme song playing.  Obviously, we weren’t too serious about this double.  Its not our first.  We just go, run, have fun and keep things light.  As for the steps, had to do it.  Who knows if I’ll ever get that close to Philadelphia again.  No regrets, right?  I would have regretted not running up those steps!

On to Atlantic City.  Packet pickup was at Ballys.  We parked in the garage.  Posted parking fee was $22; however, they reduced the fee for runners to $5.  Thank you!!  Small expo.  Easy in and out once we figured out where to go inside the hotel/casino.  Dinner in the hotel/casino.  Checked into our hotel by 8pm.  Tip:  We stayed at the Sheraton by the Convention Center.  It was about a 10 min walk to/from the race start/finish.  No smoke. No gambling.  No hoopla.  Less $$.

Race started at 8am so we got to see the sun come up while we were waiting to start.  It was steamy.  Humid.  Warm.

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As we awaited the race start, it was different than most races I’ve ran.  There was a start line and a gated corral.  The pacers were inside the corral.  Alone.  We were all crowded outside the corral wondering what was going on and when they would open the gates.  They opened the gates right at 8am.  It was a mad rush for some to get in where they wanted to be, others were climbing over the fence. Most just lined up as they entered the corral.  Somewhat chaotic.  Not an issue for us since we were planning a leisurely race but I certainly see that it could have been an issue for some.  Eventually, we were all in and ready to run. 

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We started the race heading north on the Boardwalk for a short distance, then a quick left on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, then a quick left on Bachrach Boulevard.  Mile one.  Decent sized race.  Some spectators.  Decent Streets.  Views of the water at every glance.  First the Atlantic, then various bays & channels.  So many that it was hard to keep up with which body of water we were crossing and/or passing at any given time.  Foggy morning due to the heat and humidity but not so hot that we were miserable.  Just warmer than most prefer. But it was beautiful.

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Soon we entered a long tunnel.  There were lights so it wasn’t dark.   Runners were whooping and yelling to hear themselves in the tunnel.  Kinda cool.   Thru some neighborhoods, up a couple highway ramps, then back to the Boardwalk, this time heading south around mile 7.75, passing the strip of casinos. 

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Aid stations were spaced about every 1.5 miles.  Lots of volunteers.  Police.  Bicycle escorts for the winners.  Well marked course with plenty of course marshals enthusiastically directing runners. 

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We ran south on the Boardwalk til approximately mile 13, then turned off heading South for an out and back on Atlantic Avenue.  Busier road on the inner side of the Casinos.  Sloped because we were running on the side.  Lots of shops and restaurants and beautiful homes.  Took Atlantic Ave until it ended in Longport at the Great Egg Harbor.  Awesome aid station in that area that had mini Swedish Fish.  Yes! 

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What I can’t stress enough about this race are the water views.  Even when we were running in neighborhoods down seemingly normal streets.  If you look to either side at a cross street, you’ll see water.  I enjoyed it.  Not beach front running per say but the area is surrounded by water.  Atlantic Ocean to the left in the pic below.

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Beautiful homes, buildings, churches.

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Thru the streets and neighborhoods until mile 23 when we hit the Northbound Boardwalk to finish the race.  Start and finish were both in front of Ballys.  By the end, I didn’t love running on the Boardwalk.  Softer surface, yes.  But the lines of the various boards made my dizzy.  I tend to put my head down and “just run” when I’ve had enough.  And yes, I was ready to be done by mile 22 and in the head down mode.  Once I hit the Boardwalk, too many lines.  Too much motion.  Too much heat.  And I was “almost” tired.  We had more traffic on the Boardwalk to dodge since more people were out and about.  I was happy to finally see the finish!

Great after party.  I saw lots of beer flowing if you like a beer post race.  There was a band.  Gender specific, long sleeve tech shirt!  My favorite!!  Great medal. 

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Good race.  More runners thank the day previous but still small.  832 half marathon finishers.  609 marathon finishers.  Flat other than a few bridges.  Good double with Monster Mash because both were flat and not to physically taxing, other than the mileage.  Bling from both days is below.

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Next Up, Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 4th.  My 4th appearance at this event.  Its definitely one of my favorites.  Crossing my fingers for cool, crisp weather and a fast race!

** Happy Running, All ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Monster Mash Marathon – Dover, DE

I’ve been recovering this week after coming off a big weekend.  2 marathons.  2 states.  2 days.  Plus maybe a side trip thru Philly to run up the steps of the Art Museum and relive the glory days of Rocky Balboa.  Maybe.  Just maybe.  Smile   Anyhow, back to the marathons!  First up, the Monster Mash Marathon in Dover, Delaware.  Start and finish is at the Dover International Speedway way.  If you are a NASCAR fan, then no other explanation is needed.  If not, this monster seems to be track mascot.

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I used to be a bit of a NASCAR fan but that ended with the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr.  Therefore, I didn’t know about the monster, or that it was the mascot.  I didn’t know that this was a short track.  1 mile.  Shorter than a lot of NASCAR tracks on the circuit.  I sign up to run races based upon what fits my schedule.  As a result, not a lot of research goes into each race.  That’s part of the fun for me, the surprise of a new race, new course, new town, new state.  Fun!

We arrived at the track on Friday evening to grab our packets. Packet pick up was fast & easy.  Free parking.  Less than a 100m walk to the tent.  Halloween Candy scattered throughout the tent for snacking.  We were in and out in less than 10 minutes & that’s with Julie talking to a lady about her doodle puppy.  Julie loves her doodles!

Our hotel was a couple miles away.  Comfort Inn Suites.  Awesome beds that were so comfy!  Then back to the track for race day on Saturday morning.  Unlike big marathons, you can arrive within 30 minutes of the start for this race.  You can pick up your packet race morning, if you like.  And you can use the indoor bathrooms at the track before you hit the start line on the race track by pit row.

I liked that the start was on the race track.  Kinda cool.  Very sloped though.  I definitely don’t envy the NASCAR drivers who have to get up to such high speeds on this steep and short track!

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One lap around the track = 1 mile & we were off to tour Dover and the surrounding areas.  My favorite part of the course came early as we passed thru the Government buildings around Legislative Avenue, mile 3.5 to 4.5.

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Aid stations were very frequent, especially in the first half of the course.  Hammer gels were offered.  Water. Gatorade.  I’ve never seen as many gel stations on course than at this race.  Very impressive.

We ran a lot of country roads.  But they either let us run the entire road, or had cones separating us from vehicular traffic.  We had plenty of room and cars were not too much of an issue.  We did have one motorcyclist yell at us to get over but for the most part there was very little traffic and everyone seemed to be in good spirits throughout the race.  Course wasn’t super exciting.  But it was flat.  Well marked.  Volunteers and aid stations were plentiful.  If you were in need of a bathroom, those were harder to find but probably spaced every 5ish miles or so.

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Overall a good race.  I was pretty excited about it coming in as I had heard positive things.  However, I wasn’t feeling great at this race, so my experience was not amazing. No fault of the organizers.  Loved the race shirt & the medal!  Plus they gave us a buff and magnet.  Nice theme.  Some people dressed up for the holiday.  Overall, small race so not a lot of people.  177 marathon finishers.  237 half marathon finishers.  If you need spectator support and big crowds, this isn’t the race for you.  If you just want to run without a lot of hassle, then you’ll love this one.

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State #26 – Delaware – DONE

Next up, the Atlantic City Marathon race review!

** Happy Running** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Hatfield McCoy Marathon Race Review/Report

At this point, I feel like its fair to say that I’ve ran a few marathons.  The Hatfield McCoy Marathon was my 43rd marathon.  I know a good one from a bad one.  I know that each of us has personal preferences but there are a few things that we all want in a good race:  community support, great aid stations, frequent aid stations & a great course that keeps our mind off the miles.  Hatfield McCoy delivered all that and much more at a very low cost. 

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The expo was easy & fast.  Not a lot of booths but Gypsy Runner was there and she always has fun things for those who are looking for great gear!  The registration, which was very reasonable ($65 for early birds) also included a free pasta dinner at the expo location for each registrant. 

The race started in Williamson, WV and ran into KY.  The half way point was Matewan, KY.  Therefore, we were able to use this race for either KY or WV for those of us who are trying to run the 50 states.  As a result, there were lots of 50 Staters, Marathon Maniacs & Half Fanatics who were trying to grab a new state.  The race also offered 2 half marathons, one for each state, so the half runners could actually  run both to capture 2 states in one day, if they were so inclined.

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This race was really a great mix of terrain from main highways that were partially closed to traffic, thru neighborhoods where residents were out sitting on their front porches, on trails (paved, gravel & mud).  We saw a little bit of everything but what was consistent were the aid stations and the amazing volunteers who were super friendly and welcoming. 

A bit of the course. 

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A few hills.  Otherwise know as mountains.  Some up.  Some down.  Some steep.  Some gently sloping.  I actually didn’t even get a picture of any good “ups”.  Boo!  Third photo below courtesy of Amy from Gypsy Runner.

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Varied terrain, bridges & river views.  1st & 2nd photo below courtesy of Amy from Gypsy Runner.

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We loved the wobbly bridge!

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And friends.  That’s what I love about marathons the most.  The people I meet along the way.  The stories I hear.  The places we go.  Extra person in pink.  Amy in yellow (back), Lainey (white & red – left) & Julie in green.  A little blurry but still a fun shot. 

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And some history about the Hatfield’s & McCoy’s thrown in along the way.

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This was a great race.  One of my favorites thus far. The first half was shaded, which is a total win in my book!  There were hills but it seemed manageable even though this race took over the #1 spot for the most elevation gain (1,544 ft) of any road marathon that we’ve done to date.  We had steep accents & descents but a lot of flat ground in between.  Better for me than the continuous up and down rollers!  In case you’re keeping track of my road race elevation gain list, #2 is now Mississippi Blues Marathon (1,319), #3 is the Georgia Marathon (1,265), #4 the Rock N Roll Nashville Marathon (1,121), and that bumps Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon (1,020) to #5. 

The second half of the race was full sun.  Not ideal but the aid stations were close together, about every mile.  They had cold water, ice, bananas, oranges, watermelon, gels, electrolyte tabs, pickle juice &  other random goodies.  We even had a volunteer or random stranger (who can really tell?) drive by at some point handing out Twizzlers.  Smile  We definitely felt welcomed into the various communities and even though the race shut down a lot of roads, everyone seemed content to help out or sit on their front porches & wave as we ran past. 

SWAG?  Unisex tech shirt & a mason jar with the race logo.  I love unique SWAG!

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Smaller race.  256 full marathon finishers.  Then another 400ish runners between the 2 half marathons offered.  Great day.  Great race.  Great area.  Loved it.  I’d highly recommend this race and anticipate it being the best “bang for my buck” for this year.  Registration was low ($65) and the hotel was reasonable ($115 with tax), plus there were much cheaper options for those traveling on a budget.  Put this one on your “must do” list!

** Run the Hatfield McCoy Marathon ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Lincoln Marathon Race Review & Fun Facts About Nebraska

When one thinks about marathon running, they might not immediately think Lincoln, NE.  But Lincoln is certainly thinking about marathons and the Lincoln Marathon strives to bring the best possible marathon & half marathon to approximately 13,000 runners each and every year.  The 2017 Lincoln Marathon was held Sunday, May 7th. 

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This was a quick trip. Timing with Track & Baseball was tight.  I might have gotten up at 3am to drive to Lincoln in order fulfill Mommy duties and still run the race. Maybe.  Uust Maybe.  Smile  I didn’t know much about the town of Lincoln.  I certainly didn’t know that Nebraska was the birthplace of the Rueben Sandwich (Fun Fact #1) or we would have eaten a Rueben while visiting!

The expo was held at the Cornhusker Hotel in downtown Lincoln.  Medium sized expo.  Great size for the amount of runners.  Organized.  Fun booths.  Easy in and out.   

Fun Fact #2 – Lincoln NE is the birthplace of the 911 emergency system that is now commonly used across the US. 

Race day arrived & we had detailed maps regarding downtown parking.  Parking was plentiful and ranged in prices from metered parking to covered garages.  We quickly found a spot a couple blocks from Memorial Stadium & we were headed to the start line with plenty of time to relax & hit the potties.  Lots of potties here, thanks, Lincoln! 

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The stadium was amazing, even empty.  However, I have now heard so much about Memorial Stadium that I wanted to share this pic, image source HERE.  Filled to capacity, the stadium will hold 90,000 spectators.  Go BIG RED!

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The race started on time.  The National Guard was visible & present.  Fun Fact #3, there are 5 army forts open to the public in Nebraska.  The armed forces have a real presence in Lincoln & throughout Nebraska.  The race was no different.  There was a special division just for National Guard members.  117 members finished the marathon & 5 finished the half, many in full gear with loaded packs.  And this doesn’t include those who volunteered time & helped with the race. 

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The course was pretty easy without a lot of turns, which is always our preference.  It is described as flat.  There are some rolling hills in Lincoln.  Nothing crazy but if you come from Chicago or NE Indiana, yeah, there are some hills, total of 502 ft of elevation gain. 

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We passed by the Capital Building shortly after hitting the first mile.  I’m not sure if it wasn’t visible or I didn’t notice.  I was fighting myself mentally & physically for a good portion of the race.  I was trying to trick myself into believing it was going to be a great day.  It was a great race.  And I felt good.  So I spent a decent amount of time in my head trying to move my body forward, even though I wasn’t remotely recovered from the hills & heat that Nashville threw my way 8 days earlier.  But I wish I had seen the capitol so I could take a photo.  Fun Fact #4 – Nebraska is the ONLY state that doesn’t have 2 houses in their legislature.  The norm is for a House & Senate but in Nebraska, they are unicameral & nonpartisan.  The legislature has 49 senators & is the smallest legislature in the country.  Even Alaska has more members than Nebraska!  Source.  Stock photo of the Capitol Building below.

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Image Source

We ran thru town, turned on Sheridan Boulevard around mile 3, passed thru the vicinity of Memorial Park & the Lincoln SE High School at mile 4, then hit 48th Street, passing Union College, until it connected with the Helen Boosalis Trail.  The trail was crowded but still lined with spectators and supporters.  I remember seeing a lot of dogs throughout the course & I think I high-fived more kids in Lincoln than any other race.  The kids were out in FULL FORCE to support the runners!  Lots of signs.  My favorite was a women holding a sign that said “Motivational Sign”.  Wow.  Creative or not?  Still thinking on that one.  Smile

Fun Fact #5 – Charles Lindbergh moved to Lincoln, NE in 1922 to learn to fly airplanes at the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation Flying School. 

We left the trail around mile 8.5 & headed up 20th Street to Irvingdale & Rudge Memorial Parks, then jogged over to 10th Street for a straight shot back to Memorial Stadium where we dropped the half marathoners at mile 13.  This greatly thinned the crowd & started the marathoners on an out & back portion for the final miles of the course.  It was heating up by the time we dropped the half runners and aid stations were a little further apart than I like when its hot.  Fortunately, we had a nice breeze, it was beautiful day & the aid stations were well stocked & had lots of friendly volunteers when we got to them.

After passing the stadium, we jumped on the Rock Island Trail (photos below) and ran the backside of campus to connect to Capitol Boulevard & Normal Avenue which was the course for our “out”.

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Once we hit Capitol Boulevard, we saw the Lincoln’s Children Zoo!  This was a highlight for me & we passed it at mile 16 & again at 23.  After the Zoo, we headed to the turnaround at Holmes Lake Park (approximately 19.6).  The “out” stretch was long but it was flat, we had some shade and a little bit of a breeze.  But it was long.  Really long.  My pace slowed considerably in this section.

Fun Fact #6 – Lincoln NE is the home of the National Museum of Roller Skating.

After the turnaround, we were headed toward the finish.  We knew exactly what to expect.  We knew where the aid stations were & how long until we could get ice.  And we picked up the pace by quite a bit.  Splits don’t look that impressive because of the amount of time that we needed to spend at aid stations for cooling & hydration purposes but we were moving pretty well between aid stations.  And one of the stats that came up in our finish results were the number of people we passed between mile 20 & the finish.  90 people! 

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The finish in Memorial Stadium was really awesome too.  I really enjoy finishes in big stadium’s like this one.  Nice race, Lincoln.

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SWAG:  Nice gender specific shirt in a v-neck, finisher’s medal & finisher’s key chain.  All commemorating the 40th anniversary of the event.

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Overall a good race.  Not as exciting on the “sites” as some that we have done but it was organized & done well.  Excellent support from the volunteers, National Guard, local police & spectators.  Excellent start & finish in and around Memorial Stadium.  And the lilacs were in bloom which always makes me think of Grandma C. 

Finisher Stats:  1050 marathon finishers, 9121 half marathon finishers.  81 degrees “feels like” temp at the finish line.

Fun Fact #7 – Kool-Aid was invented in 1927 by Edwin Perkins of Hastings, NE.

Nebraska is done.  That’s officially 23 states in the done column. 

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I’m hoping I can finish my quest to run a marathon in every state by the time I’m 50.  I’m 43 now but a lot of the states that we still need are ones which require airfare.  That means more $$ and in turn pushes out the time frame.  But it’s a long term goal and that’s what I like about it.  No pressure.  No rush.  Just grab the states as we are able.  Its FUN.  And that’s what running & fitness is to me.  Fun.  A way to connect with friends.  See sights that I would never see in a million years.  Like really, I can’t imagine why I would have traveled to Lincoln NE had it not been for the Lincoln Marathon.  It’s an adventure.  One day, one state, one race at a time …. and whatever happens in between.

** Until Next Time, Run Long, My Friends ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

The sources for the listed Nebraska facts, as well as additional info/facts can be found here or here or here or here.  Enjoy!

Rock N Roll Marathon Series – Nashville TN – #RNRNashville

Saturday was my first time at the Rock N Roll Marathon Series  event in Nashville TN.  While most are talking about the unprecedented heat (93 degrees & 86% humidity) or maybe the many hills that Nashville presented to us over the course, I want to talk a little bit about the SPIRIT of Nashville.  The crowds, the volunteers, the residents, the race officials and the overall good vibe from the city as it welcomed us with open arms.  And by “us”, I mean me & 25,000 of my closest friends.  People further than the eye can see.  This photo is as we were attempting to get to our corral for the start. 

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This is one of the largest Rock N Roll races in the country with only RNR Vegas being larger.  If you’re a half marathoner & making your rounds, do put RNR Vegas on your list too.  It’s fun & so awesome to run the Strip at night.

Finally we were into the corrals & ready to go.  There were 40 or 41 corrals in order to ease congestion on the course.  But the race was busy.  The entire way.   Both with runners & spectators.

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We started out on Broadway heading east toward the river.  This is otherwise known as “Music Row” and we ran past all the famed “Honky Tonks” that make Nashville & its various artists famous.  If you like country music, live music or bars in general, this might be the town for you.  Plenty of places to grab a drink & hear some live performers.  Grab a group of friends & make a weekend out of it!

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Quick trip down Broadway, then over & back up Demonbreun to pass the Country Music Hall of Fame & the new Nashville Music Center (location for expo & packet pick-up).  I just love the architecture of the Nashville Music Center.  One of my favorite buildings in this town, pictured below, on the left, brownish building. 

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Then a quick pass by the start line & all the runners still awaiting their start in the corrals. 

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Photo Credit:  Julian Smith, visiting from England!

Next up, the Visual Arts Center & Music Square, which features Carnival Music & the RCA Studios. Thanks to Mr. Julian S. for grabbing a few photos of this area (below).  This is the location of the famous “Studio B” from RCA that recorded early greats such as Elvis & Dolly Parton.

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On to Belmont University (pictured below, photo courtesy of Julie Molenar), Troutt Theater, McAfree Concert Hall,  Children’s House of Nashville & the Battle of Nashville Monument Park. 

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Between mile 5 & 6, somewhere around Gale Lane Community Park, we saw our first collapsed runner.  Others had seen one down much earlier around mile 3, but by mile 5 to 6, everyone was really feeling the heat.  RNR did an excellent job with aid stations that were close together.  The medial teams were well staffed.  Sprayer hoses, ice, cold water, Gatorade, oranges, salt packets, Glukos gels/chomps, cold towels/sponges.  It was just a matter of getting from aid station to aid station.  And that’s pretty much how most of us had to think about the race, just one small segment at a time. 

On to 12th Avenue where there were lots of shops, restaurants, and spectators.  I’ve got to give it to the spectators, residents of the city & volunteers.  They were tireless (and hot too!) as they moved around to help out the runners.  The neighborhoods that we ran thru were in full on party mode.  Music, beer shot stations, Krispy Kreme donuts, bounce houses for the kids, local bands.  It was fun, fun, fun!   Another pic from Julian below of the neighborhood parties.  Great selfie, Julian!

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Back around Belmont University & Jane Ayres Academic Center (Julian S’ photo below), another loop thru downtown.  As we headed back out of the downtown area, we caught a glimpse of the Tennessee State Capitol & then split with the 1/2 marathon runners around mile 11.5.

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Shout out to the Nashville Rescue Mission for all of those cheers as we passed at 11.75 & 15.25.  YOU all, rocked our run!  Thank you!  Then we rejoined the half marathoners at mile 16.  That’s when reality really hit.  We could see probably 1000 or more people on the half marathon side, all walking.  Not one runner.  Just  a sea of people in good humor walking & talking.  Heading toward their finish line.

I was a bit surprised that we had so many people on our side for the full marathon.  It wasn’t packed like the side for the half, but there were still a quite a few toughing it out with us.  We were never alone.  Those of us who ran the full got a special treat too as we were able to loop the field at First Tennessee Park.

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Next up, Musicians Hall of Fame & Woodland Street.  The finish line was off Woodland in the Nissian Stadium.  We said good bye to the half runners for the final time around mile 17-18.  But not before some of us took a run thru a fountain in the business district!  I may or may not have instigated the fountain running.  Michael would be proud of me.  Smile 

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East Park, 5th Street & Davidson Road along the Cumberland River.  One loop around Shelby Park & then we FINALLY headed back to the finish line at Nissan Stadium.  Long race.  Took us 5 hrs & 18 minutes and no that’s not a personal worst.  We’ve had some really hot races.  We don’t run well in the heat but we have learned how to survive.  If you find yourself running a really hot/humid race, I suggest:  1)  stay on top of your hydration – drink before you’re thirsty; 2)  plan to use extra fuel because your body is working harder & you’ll be out on course longer; 3) use any means necessary to keep cool – ice, water sprayers & cold towels work great, 4)  wear a visor to keep the sun off your face but it will in turn allow the heat to escape thru your head, 5) use sunscreen cuz if you burn, your skin can’t breathe & 6) make sure you have access to salt tabs.  When you are taking in a lot of water to stay cool, your tummy get sloshy.  You may throw up.  The chances of vomiting & dehydration are less if you can get that water in your tummy to absorb.  Salt/electrolyte tabs/capsules will help the water to absorb. 

Huge shout out to all the runners who managed to FINISH RnR Nashville despite the heat!  There were several points where some of the full marathoners got turned around/diverted due to weather & cut-off times.  Please don’t get discouraged if you got cut-off at this race.  The heat was bad.  Nobody was hitting the times that they trained to run.  It happens.

Stats:  2,445 marathon finishers, 67 marathon finishers that got cut-off/turned around at the 10.7 mi mark, 18 marathon finisher that got cut-off/turned around at the 18 mi mark, 20 marathon finishers that got cut off at the 20.2 mile mark, 17,821 half marathon finishers, 2,776 5K finishers, 841 mile run finishers, 12 half marathon wheelchair finishers, & 11 full marathon wheelchair finishers. 

Congrats to all the runners! Thanks to all the volunteers, medial staff, police, spectators & the bands that kept playing even though the sun was beating down on them too!  The spirit of Nashville really showed throughout the weekend but especially on race day.

SWAG:

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Quick note about the marathon finisher jackets.  The cut is the same as last year but they are longer.  The length now goes over most of our rumps, at least for the ladies.  I’m tall, if it goes over my bum, it will probably go over yours.  Utilize the sizing station at the expo to determine the correct size.  You may want to size up if your bum is bigger than your waist.  Otherwise you won’t get this jacket zipped.  Example below. 

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** Run Happy, all! ** Rock N Blogger – TooTallFritz**

Georgia Marathon–Atlanta, GA

On the way south for Spring Break, the kids & I stopped off in Atlanta, GA for the Publix Georgia Marathon on March 19, 2017.

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This was my 40th marathon & my 23rd state.  I haven’t been to Atlanta for a long time so was excited to go back.  A few new additions to Atlanta include a huge Ferris Wheel beside Centennial Olympic Park (pic below) and the College Football Hall of Fame that used to be in South Bend, Indiana.  Noticeably missing was the old vibe from the Underground shopping area that is in the process of changing owners.  I was sad to see it so empty and hope that its revitalized by my next trip to Atlanta!  I loved the Underground!

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Photo Credit:  Laura Snead

The expo was small but hopping.  Music.  Giveaways.  Fun atmosphere.  Local businesses.  We were in and out in a short amount of time & I even bought a shirt, which is unusual.  

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We spent Saturday walking around town, riding the Ferris Wheel & just clowning around.

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Sunday was race day and the city came alive. A quick meet up pre-race with one of the awesome ladies from the Best TRI Club Ever.  Laura S, Me & Julie M.  Yes, I had to stand in the middle because I’m a giant. 

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Once the crowds rolled in on marathon day, Atlanta hosted 1463 marathon runners & 5227 half marathon runners.  Race day was charged.  It was a bit chilly at the start.  Dark.  But everyone was excited and ready to run.  We had heard the race was hilly but had no idea what to expect.  As Midwestern runners, we don’t have a lot of hills so honestly, a ramp or slight incline is a hill for me!  But we soon found the hills.  And lots of beautiful neighborhoods.  Plus we caught a great view of the city as the sun was coming up.

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This race really made me fall in love with the various Atlanta neighborhoods.  They shut down a lot of their town to let us run their streets on a Sunday morning.  The amount of volunteer & police support was off the charts.  I’d like to send a shout out to all the WOMEN on the Atlanta PD who were working the marathon route.  I’ve never seen that many women officers and I LOVED it.

But the theme of the day was definitely hills.  Small ones.  Long ones.  Steep ones.  Long, slow graded hills.  Rolling hills.  And then more and more hills.  We walked quite a few hills but tried to just keep moving.  The hills didn’t stop but neither did we!

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Both Julie & I were thinking this was the hilliest marathon we had ever ran.  It inspired me to go back over my garmin data for previous races.  We were wrong, this was NOT the hilliest road race we had ever ran.  That award goes to the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, MS with 1,319 feet of elevation gain.  Atlanta (the Georgia Marathon) ranked #2 at 1,265 feet of elevation gain.  #3 is Flying Pig in Cincinnati, OH with 1,020 feet of elevation gain,  just cuz I knew you’d want to know.  Smile  And of course, this only pertains to road races that we have ran to date. 

But even with the hills, the entire race was just fun.  Great atmosphere.  Lots of crowd support.  Plenty of aid stations with both fluids & food.  Candy.  Pretzels. Oranges.  Happy volunteers. Plus we ran thru 3 colleges which is always great.  Anges Scott College for Women (first photo below), Emory University (second photo below) & Georgia Tech. 

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The finish line finally came into sight & we not only received a medal but a cool, thin jacket!  We got to pick our color & size.  I think they had red, black & aqua jackets.  Nice perk!  Race shirt was a pale green, unisex, long sleeve tech tee, which I like.  It doesn’t fit me great but I do like the color and style! 

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Loved the Georgia Marathon!  Great town, great crowds & so many beautiful neighborhoods.

** Run Atlanta ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

What to Wear ….. Winter Running

Baby, its cold outside!!  And I don’t mean maybe!  Our long run last Saturday was a “feels like” temperature of –11.  Windy.  Cold.  Eyelash freezing kind of day.  And my girls had 14 miles on their schedule.  What to do?  Well, run, of course!! 

Its only Cold if Youre Standing Still

The key to running in the cold is all about having good gear.  And using it.  Don’t worry about looking cute or messing up your hair.  This is a safety thing.  If you go outside to run for hours in below zero temps, you must be smart.  I want you to go back home with all your fingers & toes & WITHOUT frost bite.  And always, if you don’t feel like its safe, then stay home.  It’s all up to your discretion. 

1)  Base Layers are key.  If you want to save money, look for last chance offers or clearance deals but bottom line, buy good base layers.  My favorite & an undeniably one of the best is Under Armour Cold Gear Mock Neck.  Its fitted.  Sits next to your skin & has a soft brushed fabric on the inside.  Its long.  Base layers either need to be tucked into your pants or long enough that they don’t ride up.  This top has a thin band of a rubber like substance around the bottom hem to help it “stick” to your clothes.  No exposed bellies that can get frostbitten!!  $49.99 from the Under Armour website.   Well worth the investment. If you want to save a little come, create a free account thru Ebates & get cash back for shopping online.  I’ve done it for years and its free $$ that not a lot of people know about.  Under Armour is currently giving 6% cash back if you shop thru the ebates site.  Super cool.

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2)  Pants.  Must protect your legs.  If they have a wind block, even better but I’ve had great luck with the Polartec pants from Athleta.  I pretty much only buy pants from Athleta because they offer TALL sizes.  I have the old version of the Polartec tights.  Aby has the newest ones.  Athleta is currently 2% back on ebates & they are having an Extra 20% off sale items with the code:  EXTRA20   Since most of the winter stuff is on sale now, you may be able to grab a pair for cheap, if you can find your size.  Great pants & tights for COLD weather.   I wore just the Polartec tights, without any other pants, last SAT in –11 wind chill & my legs were cold but not frozen.   Love, Love, LOVE them.

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3)  Jacket.  A good jacket that is wind & water resistant is worth its weight in gold.  I have a couple old ones that aren’t being made anymore.  However, I just bought Aby the Saucony Nomad Jacket off the clearance rack at an expo in November.  Her friends then went & found the same one on eBay.  So 3 of them have the same jacket.  It’s a good one, if you can still find it!  Its wind and water proof and she has gotten a lot of use out of it.  This is a bigger ticket item.  Expect to pay over $100 for a new item, from this year’s winter line.  Or shop the clearance rack at expos, the local run store or check out the Last Chance clearance deals at the big name running company online stores:  Saucony, Brooks, Mizuno, Nike.  Brand isn’t important, quality is the goal. 

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4)  Gloves.  Everyone is a bit picky about their gloves so you’ll need to look around and find what you like.  I personally have 4 different pair of Manzella’s.  A few of the Sprint and a couple in the Ultra line.   I have different thickness from barely there to a real lining.  Some people need mittens.  Others need gloves with the mitten flip top.  Figure out what keeps you warm throughout the season.  And if all else fails, don’t be afraid to use a pair of Hot Hands to keep you toasty warm!

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5)  Earband/Headbands, Hats, Neck Gaiters, Balaclavas & Face Masks.  So much stuff, what to wear?  Well, I pretty much own & wear all of these things.  Once the temp dips below 40, I usually wear an ear or “headband”.   This keeps my ears warm when the wind is whipping, even if the temps aren’t real low.  Its lightweight, wicks sweat & stays put.  I have one from Athleta from years gone by.  The girls have a cute one from Under Amour that was on clearance at an expo.  I also use the headband under hats (caps & beanies) to make sure my ears always stay covered.    I usually buy from a sporting good store in the Ski section cuz skiers know cold.   I’ll use a headband & beanie for most winter days. 

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Once the weather breaks into the “unspeakable cold”, you may or may not decide to stay indoors for running.  I still like to go outside.  It makes me feel tough to get out in the cold and put in a  few (or more) miles.  When people are talking about the wind-chill and how cold it is outside, they’ll also be talking about us running outside.  We need to make it back home safely so that they are talking about how crazy we are rather than our stupidity.  This is where the neck gaiter, balaclava & the face mask come into play.  Keep your skin safe!!

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6)  Socks.  Last but certainly not least, we must have good socks.  If its below 30 degrees, I don’t want to see any ankles.  That inch of skin between our tights and “no show” socks is important too.  Move to taller socks in the cold temps.  Some with wool properties that will wick sweat & help keep you dry might be a good idea.  Warm, dry feet are HAPPY feet.  I prefer Smartwool & Injinji socks but once again, this is all about preference.  In the winter I do my cold, snowy runs in my Injinji trail socks that are a midweight mini-crew style.  Keeps my toes toasty warm!  Injinji now has a nuwwol line too that has an Outdoor Midweight Mini Crew in Nuwwol.  I just ordered a couple pair of these since Aby & I share some of these winter run items.  Its hard to keep up on the laundry! image image image

The bottom line is that you CAN run outside all winter long, if you want.  There are very few conditions, short of ice, that you can’t dress for and tolerate.  I understand that its easy to use the excuse that its too cold but let’s be honest, usually that’s just an excuse.  Bundle up.  Keep moving.  And learn to enjoy running in EVERY season, even winter.

I’ll see you on the trail!

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **