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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The Huff 50K Trail Run …. 2017 Edition

Saturday was the annual Huff 50K Trail Run.  Huff is known for bringing something new and unique each year.  The 2012 race brought epic flooding.  2016 brought 6 inches of fresh powder to the start and then added freezing rain atop the snow (and us) for the entirety of the race.  2017 will go down in history as one of the coldest years on record.  Temps at the start were below zero with wind chills, then plummeted further thru the day for an average of –13 to –15 “feels like” during the bulk of the race.  It was a long day for those who were able to finish and there was a large number of runners who had to drop out, or were not allowed to continue after the completion of the first loop, due to weather related concerns.

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The Huff 50K offers a 1 loop “fun run” of approximately 11 miles, a 3 person 50K relay & a 50K trail run.  I’ve ran, and managed to complete, the 50K every year since 2013.  I’ve had good years & bad years.  Ones that were tough because I wasn’t up to par physically.  Ones that were brutal due to weather like 2016 & 2017.  I love this race and will continue to run it as long as I am able.  It’s a great way to end my racing season each year.  Its close to home.  And  love that we can pick up our packets the morning of the race!  Win, win, win!

This year, due to the cold temps, I left my phone in my check bag.  My iPhone has a very short battery life & the cold kills it almost instantly.  None of the photos you see in this post are mine.  Thanks to Tadd B, Stacey H & Sara P for sharing their photos so I could add something visual to this write-up!.

Pre-race with Tadd B & Pat H.  I’m the one in bright orange. 

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The race started at 8am for the 1 loop runners.  At 8:20 for the 50K runners.  The course is different for each race.  For the 50K race, there are 3 aid stations on each loop.  Located at miles 4, 8 & 14.  Then the warming tent at the start/finish which is also the half way point of the 50K can be used as an aid station.  Other than the aid stations, there are only a few road crossings.  This is not a race that you can cut short in very many places if an injury, illness or other issues result.  I heard some criticism from some who were not allowed to go out for a second loop of the 50K due to time & weather issues.  I can say from a safety standpoint, it was imperative to have runners off the trail by dark.  Then if we add in the weather concerns, the second loop of the 50K was cold. Really cold.  Plus the trails were drifting from the blowing wind & snow.  It was a bit of a challenge.   I had to have my face covered almost the entirety of that loop to avoid frostbite. Our bodies were burning extra energy to try to keep warm, in addition to the running, so fueling was a huge issue.  And the volunteers at the aid stations were FREEZING trying to support us.  More respect needs to be given to the race officials and volunteers for these races.  Nobody wants to cancel or shorten a race.  Its bad publicity, especially in this age of social media.  However, they are liable for each and every runner.  They have to do what they think is best for everyone, runners & volunteers included.

We had about 3” of snow on the ground.  Flurries during the race. Roads were iced over with a little snow on top.  It was a much better situation running wise than the deeper snow and freezing rain of 2016.  However, it was still a tough race.  Tough but beautiful.IMG_5751

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Lots of hills.  Lots of slipping and sliding.  Running for most of us was slow going.  I was amazed by the varying degrees of dress.  I was focused on keeping my face covered to avoid frost bite, yet there were people running in shorts, or less.  The conditions were dangerous.  I wouldn’t recommend running with exposed skin when the temps are below zero. 

Sara & I in the pines on loop 1.  One of my favorite areas. 

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Pure joy as we cross the half way mat (after I stopped to put on my yaktrax). 

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And then the wind hit us.  Cold.  Strong.  Blowing us around.  Trying to cover the tracks of those before us.  Time to put our heads down and just run.  The yaktrax were a welcome addition to loop 2.  They helped A LOT in the areas that were packed down and in the slippery areas.  I wish I had worn them for the first loop but thought the snow was probably too deep for them to do much good.  I’ll definitely wear them for all snowy trail runs going forward.  My footing was a lot better after I put them on. 

The wind made the temperature drop further but I was warm.  My clothing was perfect:  Athleta Polartec tights, Injinji over the calf compression socks, thin Under Armour Long Sleeve Infrared tech shirt, Nike Pro Hyper Warm Fleece Lined 1/2 Zip, Saucony Vita Run Vizipro jacket, ear band, hat, balaclava, lined gloves with a an extra pair of throw away gloves that had hand warmers inside.  I used the throw away gloves with hand warmers at the start for a several miles, then again on loop 2 after a lengthy stop at an aid station.  Only difference between loop 1 & loop 2 was that I had to keep my face covered the majority of the second loop due to the added wind. 

Best Aid Station Ever at Dock Lake.  Team Tritanium ran the aid station again with the Huff Couch.  Two fires were burning.  Smores, gluten free chicken noodle soup, homemade sweet bread, plus the usual ultra fare. 

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But really the best part is always the finish.  My 5th Huff 50K is in the done column.  I hope to be back for #6 in 2018.  See the finishers medal and cool handmade soup mug below.  Lots of fun. 

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Finisher stats:  50K – 118 Finishers, 57 DNFs; 1 Loop Fun Run:  139 Finishers, 5 DNFs.  Relay – 24 Finishing teams, 5  DNFs, 3 DQs. 

As always, a great race.  If you are going to run in the winter, I’d recommend layering up and minimizing exposed skin.  There will always be people running with very little on but honestly, that’s just not safe. Be smart & enjoy the beauty of the season.  Running is a great way to get out and enjoy the winter months and keep those Winter Blues away!

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

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

Rock N Roll Chicago – 2017 Edition

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The Rock N Roll Chicago 1/2 marathon is one that I keep returning to, year after year.  Not because timing is great for me (its my momma’s birthday weekend EVERY year).  But because my friends & family love this race.  Since I moved away from the Chicago area, this is a great excuse to come back & reconnect with some people I rarely get to see, plus Aby loves this race.  Its always been my MO to go where my friends go.  Racing with friends is always more fun!!  And for anyone under 30, MO is “method of operation”.  Apparently that’s not a common acronym at this point in time.  I was just informed the other day that Aby has NO idea what that means (and I use it pretty frequently).  Smile

Aby, Nicki & I hit the expo on Saturday at McCormick Place.  Always plenty of parking at McCormick.  Easy in and out.  We even received discounted parking this year which was a bonus!!  Plenty of vendors.  A couple photo ops. 

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Having to go downtown for the expo is a perfect excuse to enjoy the city by walking around, having a late lunch & Aby usually insists on ice cream.  Ghirardelli’s anyone?

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Race day starts bright and early to try beat the summer heat & humidity of the Midwest.  We got downtown around 5:15a for a 6:30a race start.  Temps were probably in the 70s and not nearly as hot & humid as normal.  Thank goodness!

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And we are ready to ROCK!  Nicki for the 10K.  Aby for her 3rd half marathon & as for me, well, I was just there to have fun.  I’ve probably done 30 some half’s at this point.  Not my race distance of choice currently but Chicago offers a 5K, 10K & half marathon.  Great for the whole family & a great girls weekend where there is something for everyone!  I particularly love races that have multiple distances so its more inclusive for runner friends at all levels!

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It took about 2 miles before I realized that I was going to have to say goodbye to my “little” runner girl.  Aby had a poor buildup for the race.  Lack of motivation after losing her favorite running partner this summer!!  But race day brings magic and well, she was ON FIRE.

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Good bye, girl.  I must admit, the miles kinda slogged on from that point.  I wasn’t tired or hurt but had just come off the IM 70.3 Muncie the week before and I was facing down 2 half ironmans within the next month.  I didn’t want to put too much effort into this race.  I want to be healthy and that means that I can’t give it my all every time I hit the pavement.  I’m at that point in life, and age wise, where I have to train smarter, not harder.   So I slogged thru the miles.  Slowly. 

The course winds thru the streets of Chicago.  I’ve ran the race several times at this point so I know the course.  The spectators were concentrated at key intersections but it was otherwise  a pretty quiet day.  Like a training run with lots of friends! 

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Highlight was that I knew I had a chance of seeing Aby around mile 9, where there is a short out & back on MLK Drive between miles 8.5 & 9.5.  So unless she had gapped me by over a mile, which was a real possibility, I had a chance of spotting her.  And had I been even a few minutes slower, I would have missed her.  But I saw her briefly, shouted “great job” and she shouted that she was going to try to “break 2”.  I said, “Go get it!!” and she was off again.  She broke 2 on her 3rd half marathon!  1:56 for her!!!!  Great job, Aby!!!

Once we finished the out & back on MLK Drive, we head toward McCormick Place & the last 3 miles of the course.  There is always a giant inflatable Brooks Running guitarist at the 10 mile mark.  Happy to see him, as usual.  Then on to finish the race! 

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Finished! 

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Aby was flying high from her new PR.  We all agreed that the race was great.  Well ran.  Plenty of aid stations.  Lots of places where the City of Chicago had opened hydrants to cool off runners.  Amazing volunteers, great course support, great crowd/traffic control.  Overall, if your going to run a race in mid July, in the heat & humidity of the Midwest, this is one of the best.  Thanks Chicago for continuing to support the Rock N Roll Marathon series & their quest to bring one of the best running races to Chicago, each and every year. 

SWAG – Gender specific technical tee & race medal below.

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Next up, the Ironman 70.3 Ohio.  So I’ll be back next week to tell you all about that race.  Have a great weekend & I hope you ROCK your runs, no matter how big or small, at whatever distance YOU love! 

** Rock N Blogger – 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!

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

Little Rock Marathon – 2017

2017 has been all about preparing Aby & Annika to run their first marathon.  I must admit when they said they wanted to run a marathon, I tried to talk them out of it.  Marathons are long.  And hard.  And tough mentally & physically.  The distance will frequently break experienced runners.  The girls are young.  Aby is 15 & Annika just turned 17.  Yet they wanted to run a marathon.  It was really hard to wrap my brain around.  Its not something I would recommend for any teen, let alone those I know & care about!  Initially I wasn’t sure how to react but I put on the “mom hat” and explained to them that an early spring marathon would require them to be running outside, all winter long, in the early a.m. when I was running.  No sleeping in, I wanted them out there with me for every long run so I could monitor their progress, fueling & how they were tolerating the distance.  They would not be deterred.  In fact their first “long run” was the Huff 10 Mile Trail Race which was hilly, hard, snowy, cold, with freezing rain.  Absolutely miserable conditions. 

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I asked them after Huff, do you still want to run a marathon that requires winter training?  Yes.  So we signed up for the Little Rock Marathon.  The 2017 theme was “Runalicious” featuring candy, bright colors and lots of fun.

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An abbreviated training plan & a somewhat mild winter delivered us to Little Rock mostly healthy & ready to run.  The girls were slightly nervous but mostly calm.  I heard them say many times “we trained for this, we can do it”.  But they were notably tired from the travel so we tried to keep things pretty low key & not do much.  The Expo was a great size for a small town race.  There were 2181 marathon & 3699 half marathon finishers on Sunday, plus a 5K & 10K on Saturday.  Lots to do Marathon weekend .  Something for everyone.

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We hit the expo, picked up our bibs, walked around town, found ice cream, took some pics & then had take out for dinner.  I think we were all asleep by 9pm. 

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We woke up to rain.  Heavy but steady rain with a “feels like” temp of 43 as we headed to our corrals.  We were none too early either because I didn’t want the girls out in the cold rain for too long before we started to run.  I was a bit surprised to see how busy the streets were & the back up getting into the corrals.    Pace wasn’t an issue for us but I really wanted to be around the 4:30 pace group because that was the pace where we would start out.  I didn’t want to waste too much energy weaving around people in the early miles.   We were on the “just finish it” plan but we wanted to stay together & I wanted to try to keep a consistent pace.  I knew that I would have to be paying attention in order to keep them slow & steady.  They are XC runners and they just want to GO!

Pre Race:

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In the corral, headed to the start.  What are they thinking?

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And we are off!  Let’s Run!  #Runalicious

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The beginning is crowded.  Normal for most races & a great time to ease into a pace rather than take off and regret it later.  Also a great time for pics.  But apparently my selfie game was OFF cuz I couldn’t get all three of in a pic for anything. 

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The course had changed since I had ran in 2014.  I didn’t really know what to expect and was kinda okay with that.  This was my 39th marathon, 2nd time at Little Rock.  I kinda enjoy just running the course and enjoying it for what it presents.  We headed over to North Little Rock first, looped around.  Ran over a few bridges (steep inclines & declines, yes, please!).

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The girls were calm.  We all agreed that we didn’t feel awesome but we didn’t feel horrible and that’s a pretty sweet spot to be in on marathon day. It curbs expectation but also delivers a bit of hope.  Patience is the name of the game.  You must be patient in the marathon or you’ll have a very bad day. 

The rain continued.  Light but steady.  People were complaining.  We just ran past them & pulled our hats/visors a little lower to block out the rain & wind.  Back over the bridge into downtown Little Rock.  Over the trolley tracks.  I tripped but didn’t fall.  We laughed.  Down Market Street, along the Arkansas River, around the Heifer International campus.  And then back thru town, up a few hills.  Then I recognized a street from last time and knew the Governor’s Mansion was coming up.  Aby had asked me 100 several times by this point if the Governor would be out.  I didn’t know but was hoping so & sure enough, I could see his guards  flanking him from pretty far down the street.  I pointed out who he was (verses the guards) and the girls ran right up to him for a photo.  Thanks for standing out in the rain, Governor Hutchinson, you made their day!

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Then Little Rock Central HS:

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The Capital Building:

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My favorite part of the course – Miles 14-17:  Hillcrest area, Kavanaugh Boulevard, North Lookout Road & Alsopp Park.  Breathtaking area.  Aby & Annika running relaxed & easy between mile 16 & 17.

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After we left Alsopp Park, reality hit as we entered an out and back loop along Riverfront Drive.  The out & back covers miles 18-23.  I knew if something were going to go wrong, it would be in this section.  Not only is it boring but very windy because its along the river & a little daunting because you can see the runners in front of you coming back while you have seemingly “forever” until the turnaround.  This section is mentally exhausting but the girls looked strong.  Aby was starting to get antsy.  The 4:30 pacer crept up on us and we ran with her for awhile.  Aby was not happy.  She wanted to be IN FRONT of the 4:30 pacer.  Annika said, “who cares!”.  LOL!  But Aby really did not want to let her pass.  The pacer was only running with one other person so we ran with her for a while.  It was entertaining because everyone had something to say as she passed them.  Many, like Aby, were not happy.  “Oh no!”  was the common remark as she passed.  I told her it was like running with the Angel of Death.  Nobody was happy to see her that late in the game.  I asked if she was on pace, and she was ahead of pace.  She was planning to stop & walk at mile 20 to get back on track.  We stayed in her vicinity until she walked.  I didn’t want to stop at mile 20 but rather push on to mile 22 for our last “pit stop”.  Then I knew that we would be pushing to the finish. 

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After 22, it was heads down.  The pace was getting progressively faster but I knew there was a hill at mile 24 that was super ugly & would probably slow us down.  So I just let it go.  They looked good, hadn’t blown up, were well fueled, looking to run faster & well, I figured I had done my job at that point.  If something happened in the last 4 miles, we’d just deal with it.  And I’m happy to report, no blow ups.  They killed it!!!  The Lipstick Station at mile 26 was on the opposite side of the road this time, so I almost missed it.  I went back to grab lipstick for us, sending the girls on and it was a sprint to the finish for them.  Great job, ladies.  1 & 2 in their age group (15-19). 

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Awesome race.  Lots of crowd support.  Volunteers, police & everyone seemed happy that we were there.  Sometimes when a marathon rolls into a town, the residents aren’t happy because it’s a huge inconvenience for them.  I genuinely feel welcome each time I go to Little Rock. If you are looking for a smaller race that feels like home, this is a great one.  Elevation is much greater on the 2nd half, so save something for the bigger hills.  There were 3 hills that were bad enough that we walked part of them but otherwise, we ran the entire race other than potty stops (2) and the photos we took.  It was a great day in Little Rock & I’d be happy to go back.

SWAG was a unisex race shirt & lipstick (if you grabbed it at mile 26) and a medal that’s heavy and bigger than your head.  For those of you who ran 2014, I’ve added the two medals together for comparison.  They are both over 2#s and I can’t hang them with my other medals for fear of pulling down the rack/rod.

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Details on the 2014 Little Rock Marathon HERE.

** Hope Your Run was Runalicious ** Amanda – TooTallFritz