Chicago Marathon ….. 2013 Edition

It’s no secret that I keep running the Chicago Marathon even though I don’t really consider myself to be a marathon runner.    Marathons are hard, I don’t care who you are or even if you say they aren’t.  However, I like the training as sick as that sounds and I like being part of one of the best marathons in the world.   There are only 6 World Marathon Majors (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago & New York).  One of those majors is in my backyard.  People fly here from all over the world to participate in OUR marathon.  Yeah, I want to be a part of it too. 

The expo is top notch with vendors bringing us amazing gear and samples from all over.  LOVE me a good expo!  Coolest part of the 2013 expo?  I loved the magnet display where we were able to take a magnet & sign our name on the wall.

expo_magnet 

The SWAG is always a Nike tech tee so we know that it will be a quality piece.

swag

The race itself is big.  Like really big.  Two waves, 45,000 registered runners, 1.8+ million spectators.  My friend Katie and I were hustling to the start so that we were in our corrals before they closed the gates.  We had plenty of time but it’s hard to know that prior to actually reaching the corrals themselves.  Fortunately, Ronald McDonald House Charities gave us warming blankets to take to the start cuz it was a bit chilly standing around in 43 degree temps waiting to run.

Me&Katie_prerace   Me_start

I wore that blanket for almost an hour before ditching it as I inched closer to the actual start line.  I was in Corral E and once the race started, we moved up quickly and were ready to cross the start line in under 10 minutes.  The organization at this event is next to none. 

Start

The energy is always high at the Chicago Marathon.  The spectators and runners alike are excited, happy and this year the cooler temps got us started perfectly.   In fact, my corral started FAST, like faster than I wanted to run so I was happy to stop off at the first aid station to use the potty and let some of those fasties go!  No tummy troubles, I was just over hydrated and needed to make a stop.  I was super happy that I stopped early because 1) it wasn’t too crowded and 2) I felt SOOOOO much better! 

LaSalle Street, circa 3.5 miles.  Course is steadily filled with people but not crowded to the point I couldn’t move.  I never felt inhibited but didn’t exactly have a “race pace” to which I needed to adhere so it was good for me all around.  Smile

LaSalle

My favorite part of the course, every year is up north, leaving the Lincoln Park area and entering Old Towne on Sedgwick Street, between miles 9 & 10.  And let me just say, Sedgwick spectators, you were some of the BEST on the entire marathon course and that’s saying A LOT cuz I was really paying attention this year.  What an amazing neighborhood with well-groomed row houses and massive mature trees to shade us from the sun.  LOVE this area!

 Sedgwick  Sedgwick_me

As I snaked along the course this year, I tried to be focused on what was around me, enjoy the experience, not push the pace cuz I know damn well the end gets SUPER HARD for me, pay attention to the spectators/volunteers/police/medical/entertainment as well as the other runners and just be happy to be running healthy.  I took photos.  I talked to people.  I waived to spectators, high fived the kiddos and I made an effort to encourage every RMHC runner who I passed.  I may have even sent a text message or two.  Regardless, I had fun.  A lot of fun.  And when my body started to tighten up, I stopped to stretch and began walking thru the water stops.  By having a focus as to when I could walk, I think I actually spent less time walking all together.  I wasn’t moving very fast toward the end but I was moving and I was grateful for that!

I also saw my girls, April W, Dawn B & Aby at various spots along the course.  Here is Aby and I at mile 17, where I was happy to stop running for a photo.  These ladies made my day.  I looked forward to seeing them each and every time and it kept me moving knowing that they would be “right around the corner”.  THANK YOU, ladies!!

Mile 17_with Aby

Thru the 26 mile course, we had 20 aid stations.  Each aid station was 2 city blocks long. Potties first.  Then medical.  Then fluids.  Gatorade at the front.  Water at the back.  No worries about missing the aid station, there was more than ample time to grab what you wanted/needed.  Lots of potties at each station too, which I appreciate.  Plus, each station lined BOTH sides of the street, so it didn’t matter which side you prefer to run, the aid was there for you.  Lots safety staff & friendly volunteers.  I also saw stations offering energy chews, energy gels & bananas.  Then there were many amazing spectators handing out their own supplies, like mini waters, popsicles, pretzels & Oreo cookies.  THANK YOU to everyone who fed me along the way.  The orange popsicle from Pilsen was by far my favorite treat during the marathon!

And then the finish finally came!  And I was thankful.  Photo courtesy of Nicole F.

finish shoots

Look Ma, both feet are off the ground as I “bust it” toward the finish!  Super exciting after 26.2 miles on the run!  26.94, if you count that potty stop and oh, yeah, I’m counting it!

Finish_me   me_medal

Afterwards, I hobbled walked back to the RMHC tent in Charity Village to join friends, get stretched out, eat, drink & be pampered by one of the best charities around.  Thanks to all of you who donated to RMHC to make this the best marathon experience to date.  RMHC not only takes care of the families in need but also us charity runners.  I’m so thankful to them for all they do for us on marathon day!  Such a class act!

RMHC food STRETCH Me-Aby_Katie 

Great race.  Great atmosphere.  I’d  highly recommend the Chicago Marathon to anyone who is looking to run a big race and have fun doing it!

For me personally, it was an amazing experience.  My fun day brought me to the finish in 4:28.  No, I didn’t push the pace but I had fun and walked away with a smile on my face.  And that’s a win in my book.  Smile

** See you in 2014 ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

2nd Annual ENHS Alumni Fun Run

Last year, a friend had an idea to get our old high school cross country team together for a run.  This certainly isn’t an easy concept with the team spread far and wide.  Add families to the mix and it’s impossible to pick the perfect date; however, this year we doubled in size and I anticipate the same will happen next year.  We don’t race.  We run.  We don’t make it alumni “cross country runner” specific.  We include everyone who has any desire to show up and run or walk.  I’m pretty proud of the range of people who came out from ultra runners, marathon “maniacs”, newbie runners, fitness focused individuals to run/walkers. 

From back from left:  Jenny, Hollie, Kris, Jenn, Butch & Troy.  Front from left:  Adella, Me, Rose, Jennie & Melissa.  Melissa’s hubby Mike was kind enough to take the photo.

ENHS_2013 fun run_group

We ran the same course as last year, following the Bixler Lake Walking Trail.  It is approximately a 3.4 mile loop.

image

The temps were cold and we “may” have even fought rain/sleet/snow but the morale was high and everyone seemed genuinely happy to be running with old and new friends.  They didn’t even complain verbally that I marked the course UP the hill, instead of around it.   Butch & Mike tackling the hill. 

ENHS_2013 fun run_hill  

Me LOVING the hill (photo from last year’s run).   

me_bixler trail_3-31-12

I really enjoyed the run, the day, the camaraderie and meeting a few new people.  I love this trail.  I love the versatility and how it moves thru the woods, over steams, by the lake and on local roads & walking paths.  I also love how the  loops is short and can accommodate all ability levels.  It’s marked, starting at the Sherman Street trail entrance, go check it out!!  Mike, Adella, Melissa & Hollie at a steam crossing.

ENHS_2013 fun run_stream

We even saw OTHER runners out and about.  I was super excited, particularly when I learned that there is a local run club, the Noble County Runners!!  I spend a lot of time in the area and look forward to having others to run with in the future.  This is really huge for me because I log a lot of summer mile,s solo, up on the country roads by my parents home.  I’ll now have a resource to tap into for long runs and hopefully will meet new people who I will see on the Indiana racing circuit.   Big win plus it make Mom & Dad happy if I’m not running the roads all aloneSmile

Thanks to everyone who came out to the 2nd Annual ENHS Alumni Fun Run!  I’ll see you again next spring, if not before.

If you are local to Kendallville, or Noble County, Indiana feel free to checkout the Noble County Runners to find a new run friend or two!!

** Run, Walk, MOVE ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Your Pace or Mine?

It’s hard not to get all caught up in the numbers.  How fast?  How far?  How many? How much?  We let the numbers rule our life.  We do live in a society where numbers and time play a crucial role. 

 clock

However, what a particular number means for one will most definitely mean something entirely different to another.  I see this all the time, one person unhappy with a time, or pace, that someone else would love to call their own.  Another who is running a race that’s “only a 5K” while someone standing beside them has trained for months on the C25K program and is terrified of the distance. 

Numbers are relative to the individual.

I encourage you, every once in awhile, to let go of the numbers.  Maybe even leave your watch at home.  Run “naked” (without technology) for the pure joy of it.  Maybe pace a friend to a new PR, or spend time chatting everyone up at a group run rather than just racing ahead to nail a tempo or training run.  I think you’ll find that spending a little time unplugged, running for the fun of it, or possibly helping out a friend will be just as rewarding as nailing your own run/race.

There is a time and pace for everyone.    We may differ in our abilities but the smile we have when we accomplish a new goal or cross the finish line is the same.  We are runners.  Run united, if only for a little bit cuz sometimes, pace really doesn’t matter.

** Don’t Let the Numbers Ruin YOUR Day  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **