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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veterans Half Marathon & Hill Repeats

I’ve been fighting a head cold with headaches and earaches off and on since the Chicago Marathon. On Thursday last week, the sickness upped it’s game and came at me full force with increased  aches & pains and a swollen sore throat.  I cried “uncle” and called the doc for meds.  They didn’t work their magic immediately and I continued to get worse.  I didn’t think I’d be running the Veterans Half Marathon because on Friday I couldn’t get out of bed until about noon.  The race was three hours away from home and I didn’t know if I could even drive that far.  I would have stayed home had the kids not been driving me crazy I not planned a fun day with my mom on Saturday.  Soooooo, I hauled it up and out of bed on FRI afternoon, drank my Spark and hit the road with my lovely angels fighting in the backseat in tow.

On Saturday, I was actually feeling decent so headed over to the Veterans Half thinking I would just run like the wind after being sick, not hydrating, and not eating for two days.  Yeah, I ran like the wind all right. 

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Before we get to the running part ….. I was able to pick up my packet on race morning.  Super cool in my world.  Even cooler, the packet pick up was in a large heated tent.  The static temp was nice at around 43 degrees on Saturday morning but the wind had been howling all night and well, it didn’t stop when the sun came up.   I was also feeling “slightly” chilled from being sick and I was shivering before I even left my car.  I found FREE parking a block away from the start, dashed from my car to the potty, then to the warm tent where I was happy to wait in line for my packet.  While in line, I also met Kasey, a fellow Team Tough Chik member who was running the full in order to qualify for the Marathon Maniacs.  She crushed the full, got a new PR and qualified to be a “maniac”.  Great job, Kasey!!!

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Then the start went off with the boom of a cannon and I took off like I was going to win.  Fortunately my brain caught on pretty quickly that my body wasn’t quite up for a hard run.  I was pretty empty on the energy front.  My legs weren’t heavy because between life, work and being sick, I hadn’t ran all week but I was just empty.  So I settled in and focused on covering the distance.  I soon realized that the distance and my lack of energy were not my only issues, but that wind came back full force as soon as we hit the country roads outside of town.   No trees or houses for windbreak, just us and the open road.  This photo is early on as we are headed out of town.  This particular road is smooth and flat, which wasn’t the case with all the roads.  However, the race director did an excellent job of marking the course so that was never any confusion as to direction or the distance ran.  Loved the all the stars on the road!!!

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I used to run a lot of miles on country roads so am very familiar with way the roads slant for water runoff, wind, hills and also those fresh country smells which accost you when you least expect.   I was ready for all of that and have ran similar country races, like the 13.1 Valpo, which is also known for high winds.  However, Veterans was just a battle for me.  I felt like I was constantly running uphill and against the wind.  I kept hoping for that same wind to eventually PUSH me but that never happened.  Thankfully, I saw a few friendly faces spectating who helped me out a lot.  My friend Adella even made a “Go Amanda” sign.  Thanks, girlie!  And she managed to capture this amazing photo of me looking angry and as if I might hurt someone like a graceful gazelle.  Smile

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I finished in 2:03 and was super thankful that I hadn’t signed up for the full version because I don’t think I had it in me.  Despite the wind and my lack of energy, It was a great race.  Very well supported with plenty of aid stations handing out gels, water & Gatorade.  Loved the hospitality that the race officials, volunteers and local law enforcement showed to all the runners.  It took so many people to put this race together and they did an amazing job.  I’d definitely consider giving it another go in the future.  It’s a small race but I was never alone.  The full marathon had 206 finishers in the double loop course and the half marathon had 257 finishers.  They also offered a 5K which brought another 168 runners to the event. 

Love good swag?  Check out this cool full zip, unisex jacket.

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I already tested it out on SUN for hill repeats with Aby.  After struggling up a few hills on Saturday at Veterans, I’ve decided that I REALLY need to work on my hills.  So Aby went with me to show me how it was done.  How does she fly up and down the hills so fast? 

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We managed 10 hill repeats, each up/down was approximately 0.25 miles.  Fun.  Okay, not really.  Even Aby was begging to stop after #3 but who gets better after 3 repeats?  LOL!

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I hope you had an awesome weekend. 

** Run With The Wind ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **