The Influence of Social Media on Fitness

The influence of social media on fitness is currently huge.  I can’t log onto Facebook or Instagram without seeing sweaty gym selfies on my newsfeed.  There is a constant barrage of posts about fitness, workouts and training.  Sometimes the meaning of these fitness posts get lost on its audience and I want to take a minute to think about that.  Oh, and here is my sweaty selfie from my morning ride on the trainer.  Smile

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I see many who get annoyed and block or unfollow the posters of these sweaty selfies.  The poster may be a friend, blogger, or an acquaintance.  But some people like my husband have just had enough.

Unless You Fell off the Treadmill

Other people are inspired and want to see more.  It helps them get motivated in the mornings when they’d rather sleep in or just sit and drink coffee in their pajamas.  How about you; how do you feel?

For me, it’s about motivation, inspiration and accountability.  I don’t have a coach.  I don’t really have anyone who cares whether I work out or not.  I do it for me.  Each workout.  Each drop of sweat.  Each time I get up and get moving when I just want to sleep, it’s for me.  Those sweaty selfie posters, aren’t taking pics of themselves cuz they think they are awesome.  They are doing it to hold themselves accountable.  To document workouts over time.  To watch their own progress.  To motivate themselves to stick with it and keep pushing when nobody in their real world cares.  If it motivates others, bonus.  If not …..

Posting Workouts on FB

So please keep posting those sweaty selfies.  Keep giving me the details of your workouts.  Keep working hard cuz that’s what this is all about.  It’s not pretty.  It’s certainly not sexy.  It’s hard work and I’m proud to know so many people who are chasing their dreams and being a positive influence on social media.  It’s not bragging, it’s the way that we hold ourselves accountable.  It’s the way we connect with others who care about fitness.  It’s who we are, day in and day out.  If by chance, we possibly motivate even one person along the way, then it was worth it.  So let’s see those sweaty selfies!  Post yours to social media and tag @tootallfritz on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook!

** Cheers ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Small Gains = Big Motivation

Training thru the winter is very different for me than training in the spring, summer & fall.   In the winter, I try to hone in on what isn’t right and fix my imbalances or bring back some training that got lost in the shuffle of the warmer months.  I don’t spend so much time “free running” where I run the dog on the trails, just to spend time outside.  Winter is different.  It’s more focused.  I try to get the most of our my workouts and keep them as efficient as possible.  This year I have big goals and well, there isn’t much time for lollygagging, even if it is the middle of winter.

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That’s what I want, to be better than I was yesterday.  Better than last year.  Better than I’ve been since I moved.  I’ve finally checked my excuses at the door.  Put my emotions on ice about the IL house and all the drama that surrounded that ordeal and the money lost.  I’m ready to roll.  I’m ready to work on me.  I’m ready to get the most out of my workouts and see where it takes me.  As a result, I’m already seeing small gains and that’s motivating me to stick with it and keep pushing. 

success_day in and day out

One of the best things I’ve done so far this year is become more consistent.  Over the last couple years, I’ve ran so many marathons that I was never actually training, just ramping up for one, then trying to recover on the fly for the next one.  While this is fun and keeps things interesting, it also required that I kept things pretty low key. I never really pushed the pace on any of my runs.  I was always in maintenance mode.  I was trying to keep my body in check so I didn’t implode. 

Last year, in the midst of my “marathon madness”, I tossed in a 70.3 triathlon to try to get my pre-move mojo back. I was instantly reminded why I love the triathlon so much.  Its fun and requires more focus than just running.  Last summer was disastrous for many reasons but I somehow stumbled made it to the start line, even with subpar TRI fitness.   I started.  I finished.  And I loved every minute of it.  So this year, I’m tossing in more triathlons and that requires consistency and commitment.

January was all about 1) hammering out a plan and sticking to it; and, 2) Getting my butt out of bed & into the pool when it opened. The first couple weeks were kinda messed up with the double marathon weekend Jan 9 &10th but I still managed to run 142 miles.  That consists of one speed run, one tempo run, the WED night “fun run” at the Y & the Saturday long run at the Y.  While, I’m still not hitting my speed & tempo numbers, I’m getting closer.  My confidence is growing and I think I’m very close to being able to do the workouts, which I already softened up a bit for fear that my fitness wasn’t exactly where I had initially predicted.  Smile  It took a little bit to clear the fatigue from my legs and start hitting the numbers.  I finally had a good session this morning after a hard look at recovery last week.  Yay!!

I also added the bike back in this month.  I bit the bullet and bought a new trainer since I lost mine in the flood last summer.  Now I have a “smart trainer” and well, it’s way smarter than me and apparently also thinks my fitness is better than my reality.  I managed 78 miles on the bike this month, which is low but getting the trainer dialed in was a bit of an issue.  Plus so far, I’ve only been riding 2 days a week.  I’m planning to add in a 3rd day of riding this week.

And the swim.  Last but not least.  I hate getting in the water.  I don’t even swim for fun anymore.  Plus we currently only have one pool at the Y and its used for training, lap swimming & therapy.  Therapy takes precedence over everything else so the water is way too warm, usually between 82 & 84 degrees.  Not ideal for a triathlete who has to swim in open water but that’s what I currently have available. I’m checking my excuses at the door.  I’ve been showing up.  I put in 5 swim sessions in January and I’m already noticing a slight improvement in my time per 100yds.  Goal in this off season is 2 swims per week.  I’ll get them all in this month!

All of these slow but small gains in January have motivated me to keep up the work, stay committed & do even better in February.  I’m being consistent.  Not moving around workouts.  Not making excuses.

  • Monday – Off
  • Tuesday – Swim  & Speed Run
  • Wednesday – Bike & Fun Run
  • Thursday – Swim & Tempo Run
  • Friday – Bike (skipped in January in lieu of a rest day)
  • Saturday – Long Run
  • Sunday – Long Bike

commitment

So far, so good.  I’m committed to smashing my marathon PR at the Garmin Marathon & chasing my TRI goals this year.  January down.  Let’s see what February brings.

** Keep Chasing YOUR Goals ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Marathon Training IN THE WINTER …..

How hard is it for you to stay motivated thru the winter?  If you have a spring marathon on the calendar like the Garmin Marathon or the Flying Pig Marathon, then you don’t have many options other than to keep yourself moving.  But that doesn’t mean you have to pound out the same hard miles, in the same hard way that you would do in the spring and summer months.  Maybe change it up a bit and try something new?  Something that might get you out of the cold and onto the treadmill or indoor track when the wind chill slips below zero or the snow is flying so hard that those oncoming cars can’t even make out your reflective vest?

  Kara Roy (black jacket) and Jennifer Lee (blue jacket) run down Mountain Avenue in a snowstorm.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my snowy runs but I can’t run a quality workout when I have to worry about my footing.  So I save my easy, fun, social runs for outdoors when the snow is flying.  Then I take my hard, fast runs inside where it’s safer.  I also shorten my training cycle and lower the number of days I run each week.  I focus on power and speed and strength.   This does a few things.  1)  Helps me to avoid burnout.  2)  Makes me FOCUS on the runs that I have on the schedule each week.  3)  Allows me some free time for cross training and/or weight work.   Winter workouts are important.  This is the time to work on the areas of your fitness that need extra attention.  Strength?  I need more of this and it’s definitely something I’ll be focusing on this winter.  My goal is 2 strength workouts each week.

kettlebells-rope

Nutrition?  How is this going for you?  I was doing GREAT before the holidays.  I had lost 12#s, then I got sick, did the holidays, ran a 50K & a couple marathons, now I’ve gained 5 of those lbs back and am facing down 16#s which I need to lose before I crush the Garmin Marathon in April.  So part of my winter marathon training is focusing on my nutrition AND making sure I am getting adequate water intake each and every day.  Lean proteins.  Fruits & veggies.  Healthy fats.  Whole grains.  Water.

salad & protein  water

Rest?  You betcha!  I’ll be honest; I’m tired.  So freaking tired.  I know I’ve ran a lot of miles lately but I’m also just a poor sleeper.  And I’ve been sick.  I’m definitely run down in more than one way.  I’m good about getting my vitamin c and other vitamins that help strengthen my immune system but nothing makes up for sleep.  Maybe the winter nights are longer for a reason?  Take advantage of the darkness and get some extra shuteye.  Sleep repairs your muscles, helps build your immune system and makes you feel better!  Don’t skip the sleep or you’ll pay for it later.  This week I’m dragging.  Do I need to swim in the mornings?  Yes.  Do I need to rest more than I need to swim this week?  Yes.  So I’m sleeping in and I’ll worry about how fast (or slow) I swim next week.  Priorities. 

sleep

Marathon training is about so much more than the miles you log.  As you age, you may also notice that your body just can’t take the pounding that was once the norm.  That’s when you start to develop aches and pains that lead to injuries OR you can shuffle the deck and change the way you train.  Change can be for the better.  I’m mixing things up this winter.  I’m going to step back on my miles a bit and focus more on quality.  One long run, one tempo, one speed.  I’ve mentioned it before but I use the FIRST Run Less Run Faster app on my iPhone to plan my workouts.  It was a $2.99 download but I’ve used the program so many times that it’s paid for itself.  This certainly won’t replace a coach if you can afford one but a coach isn’t in my budget, a $2.99 app I can justify.  Smile  I’m looking forward to picking up the pace this winter.  It’s always hard for me when I start this plan.  I can never hit the numbers initially but as I build strength, speed and confidence, I’m always amazed at where it can take me. 

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

First Light Marathon Race Review – 2016

Day 2 of the Back2Back Challenge was the First Light Marathon in Mobile, AL.  I had heard of Mobile although I didn’t really know where it was located on the map.  Turns out we had a 3.25 hour drive southeast from Jackson MS to Mobile AL.  Not too bad. Then we drove into the charming town of Mobile.  What a nice surprise.   

First Light Logo

The expo was in the Mobile Government Center, maybe 2 blocks from our hotel and the Start/Finish area.  It was a small expo, even smaller than MS Blues.  But there were a few local running & TRI stores that set up booths.  One had clothing 75% off and I snagged a cute Nike tank for $8.95!!  Everyone was super friendly.  We were presented with long sleeve gender specific tech tees, plus our Back2Back Marathon Participant Award which was hand crafted by a member of L’Arche Mobile, a community of people serving those with intellectual disabilities in the area.  I was very touched by this.  I can’t imagine how long it took to make all of these canvases.  I later found out that our finisher medals were also created by the members of L’Arche, some of whom were at the finish line to greet us.  Smile  See my Back2Back partipant award below.  Each award was unique and hand crafted by a different member of L’Arche.  Lucy took the time to make this one for me, her story is below.  Thank you, Lucy!

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We were in and out of the expo in a flash, then off to dinner.  Mobile is the type of town that I love.  We parked at the hotel, walked to the expo, then walked to dinner on Dauphin Street.  We never traveled more than a 3-4 block radius from the hotel but had everything we needed.  This would be a good race to go to and stay for an extra day or two.  Plenty to do on Dauphin Street with shopping, eating and drinking establishments lining the way. 

Race Morning.  We waited in the lobby of our hotel til 5 minutes before gun time, then we walked out the front door onto the start line.  Yes, it was that easy.  The town was in Mardi Gras mode.  Mobile claims to be the birthplace of America’s Mardi Gras and the town and our hotel were decorated and ready for the upcoming season (which begins on Feb 9, 2016).  On race morning we posed by the Mardi Gras “ladies” and tree in our hotel.  Me, Julie, Laura & Judy.

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The race started on time with very little fanfare.  Very small race and it seemed that the majority of people on the start line were Marathon Maniacs who had come from MS Blues the day before, in hopes of conquering the Back2Back Challenge.  In total, there were 376 marathon finishers and 743 half marathon finishers.  There was no “crunch” at the start like the day previous.  Everyone seemed to be laughing and in good spirits even though the temps were cool for the area (low 40s).  Most of the crowd was stiff and sore from the day before so everyone started slow and with some sort of hobble in their step.  It was all very relaxed and a fun atmosphere.  To be honest, I really didn’t expect much from a race this small.  But I was quickly surprised.  The course started with a tour thru the Historic Garden District where we saw home after amazing home with Historic Landmark placards.  Many decorated full scale for the upcoming Mardi Gras season.  It was beautiful and put a smile on my face from the very first mile.  The rest of the course did not disappoint either.  It was flat (thank you, First Light) til mile 9, then we had a few rolling hills and a gradual beastly incline going up into the University of South Alabama campus.  The campus was quiet as the students were still on break but it was beautiful and I loved running thru campus.  Plus, I’m happy to report that we did not see any alligators OR snakes. 

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From the University, we moved on to the Botanical Gardens and then Spring Hill College.  A couple Spring Hill campus photos below:

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The course also had a lot of bike support.  The bike riders where constantly riding around us, talking to us, checking on us and offering support.  One bike support person even offered us a Cliff Bar when we were feeling particularly famished.  It’s REALLY hard to anticipate how many calories your body will need on Day 2 of a 2 day marathon challenge.  I was hungry.  Julie was hungry.  We kept eating.  And we were still hungry.  The aid stations here were different than most.  Normally the race officials can tell you exactly what will be on course and where you can find it.  Not at First Light.  The aid stations were all sponsored by different people, companies, and/or running clubs.  So they got to pick what they served at the aid stations.  Although there was not one gel on course, we received oranges, bananas, donuts, pretzels, potato chips, candy, pickle juice, chicken broth and I was even offered at shot of Corona, which I politely declined.  It was a great experience.  The aid stations were all well staffed and everyone thanked us for running.

In all, this is definitely one of my favorite marathons so far & this was #28 (State #17) in case anyone besides myself (and Julie) are counting.  I’d highly recommend it to anyone.  It’s scenic.  Fun.  Relaxed.  And lacks the hype and hoopla that so many races put forth.  The race fee is low.  I paid $52.15 with service fee to register in April for the January event.  They offer a gender specific tee, chip timing & a unique hand crafted finisher’s medal.  If you decide to try the Back2Back Challenge, you can hop a bus from Jackson to Mobile and First Light takes care of all the Back2Back awards/swag.  Swag below, plus a close up of the handcrafted finisher medal & a couple pics of the Back2Back medal which was a spinner.  Different on both sides. 

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Back2Back Medal:

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A note on the Back2Back Challenge.  I know its not for everyone.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend 2 marathons in 2 days in 2 different states to many but I had a lot of fun.  We took it super slow (5:09 on day 1 & 5:06 on day 2).  We walked, sang, laughed & joked our way thru the miles.  I must say it was easier than I anticipated.  I was fatigued but nothing that was insurmountable.  If you have gone for a shake out run, or a “recovery” run, the day after a long run or marathon, then you know that the first few miles you might be tight but for the most part everything loosens up and those little aches and pains work themselves out.  The hills in Jackson and the slant of the road in both towns did provide me with some aches that I normally do not get.  But thanks to my Injinji socks, I didn’t get any blisters until day 2 and then I only had 2 tiny blisters when I finished First Light.  Not bad for 52.40+ miles in 29 hours.  Smile 

If you need a winter marathon, or one in Alabama, put First Light on your list.  It’s not fancy but they give you everything you need and more, plus rice & beans, pasta salad, cookies, hot chocolate & beer at the finish.  All which can be enjoyed while listening to a local band.  Great experience.  I’d got back and do it all again if the schedule allowed. 

** Run First Light ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Mississippi Blues Marathon Race Review – 2016

Last year at this time, I could hardly walk.  The Plantar Fasciitis Devil had a firm hold on both of my feet.  I could move once I got warmed up but if I tried to run, I would tighten up after a few miles and normally be stopped in my tracks.  If I tried to “push thru”, I would be rendered useless for days.  I would tighten up when I would sit down.  Or go to bed. Or drive in the car.  Walking was nothing but excruciating to the point that my non-runner (and generally unsympathetic) hubby would walk thru the house multiple times a day to clear the floor of toys, dog bones, debris or anything on which I could accidentally step because if I stepped on anything, I would crumple to the floor in pain.  I wish I were exaggerating but if anything, I couldn’t possibly give an idea of how badly I was hurting if you have never experienced the deep grips of Plantar Fasciitis. 

For all who witnessed my pain, or if you asked my hubby or the slew of Physical Therapists, Orthopedic/Sport Med docs and Chiros that I saw when I moved to Indiana, the idea of me running “much” in the future was slim to none.  I was scheduled to run the Back 2 Back Challenge 2015 which was the Mississippi Blues Marathon & First Light Marathon double, but I could not do it.  I mean, I couldn’t walk, I certainly couldn’t run 2 marathons in 2 days.  So, I deferred my entries to 2016 with a hope and a prayer that I could get the PF under control within a year.  And I did, thanks to some amazing Chiropractors at Optimum Performance in Ft Wayne, IN.  HUGE shout out of thanks to Dr. Russell & Dr. Goins for everything they have done for me over the last year.  And for not taking the easy way out by just saying, “stop running”.  For the record, as of today, I am pain free.  Like zero pain when I walk or run or get up out of bed.  Pain free.  And I am beyond grateful.

So, the Back to Back Challenge was a GO for 2016.  The Mississippi Blues Marathon was Saturday, January 9, 2016 in Jackson, MS.  The First Light Marathon was January 10, 2016 in Mobile, AL.  Let’s talk about MS Blues today! 

MS Blues Logo

MS Blues offered a small expo at the Jackson Convention Center and easy packet pick up before the race or even on race morning, if necessary.  Parking was easy and free.  Packet Pick up was fast and painless.  We even spotted and shopped with our favorite marathon runner and expo booth, Gypsy Runner.  Thanks for hooking us up with some cool stuff, Amy!

gypsy runner  gypsy runner2

This year’s race was all about honoring BB King who passed in 2015.  They put a BB King CD in each of our race packets.  We also each received a harmonica with the date/logo of the event & a cool unisex 1/4 zip with BB King on the back.  Great swag.

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If you’ve talked to anyone about the MS Blues Marathon, you’ve probably already heard about the hills.  So let’s just get that out of the way right now.  This race is hilly.  And I don’t mean maybe.  Very hilly.  I think Judy said that we climbed over 5500 feet in elevation over the course of the race.  And descended about the same.  So many ups and downs on this course.  Pretty much non-stop.  But it was beautiful.  Great course thru stunning neighborhoods, amazing homes, great volunteers and police who were actually smiling and thanking us for coming to run their city.  Small race, with approximately 755 marathon finishers,  1871 half finishers, 307 Quarter Note finishers & 28 relay teams.  We had a lot of fun, even with the rain.  We started in the rain and finished in the rain.  In fact, there was as much rain as there were hills, maybe more.  Smile  Steamy pic of Julie, Judy & I under the lights pre-race.

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Pic of some of the course below.  Hello hill (pic 1).

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Selfie.

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Course below. 

Adobe Photoshop PDF

MS Blues really does it right and we really enjoyed ourselves.  They focus on the Blues element of this historic area.  In fact a portion of the proceeds from the race go to the local Blues Foundation.  Generally this race has a 9 different spots for live performers on the course but the weather was bad this weekend.  There were a few spots where we heard music but nothing like there would have been had it not been down pouring rain most of the day. 

We finished.  It was very slow going in the beginning because the streets just could not accommodate the number of runners.  We were really packed in tightly for several miles. Not a problem for us but if you want to race this, then plan a slow start or head to the front!  We just took it super easy and walked a lot of the hills since we were headed to Mobile AL for another marathon on Sunday.  We finished in 5:10 (factoring in way too many potty stops and a lot of hill walking) and the sun had finally came back out, minutes before we crossed the finish line.  Yay for the sun.  Judy, Julie & I at the finish.  Very cool BB King medal with a hanging guitar pick.

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There was a finisher party with food & music but the music wasn’t playing and the food was gone when we got there.  Supposedly more food was the on the way but my tummy was already upset so we waited a half hour and then left to get cleaned up and back on the road for the trip to Mobile, AL.

If you can hang out in Jackson after the race, there is a very popular Blues Crawl that takes you to some of the local music venues in Jackson post race.  There is also a Blues Trolley that does the driving in case you want to have a beverage.  We missed the fun but I heard that it’s amazing. 

** Run MS Blues Marathon ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

2016 Goals …. On Paper

I haven’t written about my goals for years.  Not because I don’t have a clear set of goals going into each new year but because I’ve been doing this for a long time and redundancy is B.O.R.I.N.G.   Plus my training is non-traditional, and my volume is sometimes ridiculous.  I don’t want anyone to think they should follow my lead.  I finally found a great chiropractor in Ft Wayne who has made a lot of money off of me this year because of my volume & race schedule.  He keeps me running even when he thinks I should go sit on the couch.  Together we have learned how to juggle races/ mileage & springboard from one set of goals to the next by sacrificing speed.  That’s right.  If my goal is volume, I sacrifice speed. I can’t have my cake and eat it too.  I  gotta pick.  So let’s see how I will choose to lay out 2016.

goals

The year 2016 will be broken up into 3 seasons.  1)  Spring Marathon Season, 2) Triathlon Season and 3)  Fall Marathon Season.

My goal race for the spring marathon season is the Garmin Marathon in Olathe, KS on April 16th. Please someone tell me that Olathe is flat and fast.  Please.  I’ve plugged the numbers into the FIRST Run Less Run Faster iOS app and if I can hang onto my treadmill this winter, I’m going to run 4:15 or faster on the streets of Olathe, in a sparkle skirt of my choosing, possibly dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.  Outfit to be determined.  Goal time, established.  4:15 or bust. 

My goal race for triathlon season will be the 70.3 at Rev3 Cedar Point on September 11th.  Although, I applied for the Rev3 team/ambassadorship, I was NOT selected.  No, I’m not mad.  I apply for a lot of things and get rejected but that doesn’t stop me from going after my goals.  I still plan to go to Cedar Point and annihilate the swim, bike & run and go under 6 hours for the first time ever.  Now this is the main goal of the entire year, my “A” goal, if you will.  I want to break 6 hours at the half iron distance and this is as much of a dream as it is a goal.  I have a lot of work to do if I even have a chance.

Big Goals

My goal race for the fall marathon season is the inaugural Fort4Fitness Marathon on October 1st.  This will be about fun and running with my friends and run club members.  My goal here is not about speed but to get as many people as possible to the start line for the 2016 Fort4Fitness races.  Marathon or not.  It’s a party for the running community in the Ft Wayne, IN area and I’m excited to be part of it.  I plan to run, walk, stroll and talk to everyone I see!  I was there for the inaugural running the the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon in 2008 and I plan to be there for the inaugural running of the their first full marathon in 2016.  Super exciting!

So what do I need to do to meet these goals?  I need to stay focused on my healthy eating & get off the last 10-13 lbs that I packed on during the move to Indiana.  I’m focused on this.  Working on it daily.  It will be gone before I hit the Kansas border in April. 

In order to meet my “big hairy” goal for the triathlon, I need to become a better, more aggressive, faster, stronger swimmer.  The term “just keep swimming” will eventually be replaced with something more aggressive and focused toward pushing the pace.  I’ve never worked on my swimming, just basically showed up and swam.  This will change.  But first I have to get reacquainted with the water.  I tore my rotator cuff in August after IM 70.3 Steelhead (race report HERE) and just went back to the pool today, for the first time.  It wasn’t bad for a starter swim.  I made it a mile in 45 minutes.  But I need to slash this time by a lot to help achieve my goal.

swimming_me_superphoto 

I also think that strength work is integral to my performance related goals.  I’m dedicating Tuesday & Thursday (before dawn) to my swimming & strength work.  I thought I had my strength all figured out but the CrossFit Endurance class has been dropped.  So I’m back on my own.  But I can do this!!

We’ll start with these goals and build, adjust accordingly.

if the plan doesn't wrok

** Time to Get to Work ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Highlight Reel …. 2015

I think the end of the year highlight reel is important, particularly for those years that go down in history as being difficult.    And if I thought 2014, and the move to our new home in Indiana was difficult, I was wrong.  2015 brought us trials and tribulations that would have broken most.  Yet we are still standing strong, just a bit weak in the knees.

Stood in the Storm

I encourage all of you to focus on the positive.  Leave behind the negative whether it be people, habits, attitudes or memories.  Grab onto the positive from each year and make your own highlight reel.  When we are old & grey, nobody wants to hear sad, woeful stories but rather the ones that inspire and bring laughter & smiles.  We get to choose the legacy that we leave behind, let it be a positive one.

Legacy

Stats – 1100 miles on foot.  900 miles on bike.

Races:

  • 5K – 1
  • 8K – 1
  • Half Marathon – 2
  • Marathon – 8
  • 1/2 Ironman – 1
  • 50K – 1

Best Run – Charleston, NC – Cooper River Bridge

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Favorite pics.  1)  Kids first day of school, 2)  Lilo – 2.5 months, 3) Aby’s First Half Marathon, 4)  Celebrating Mom’s birthday at Dierks Bently.

Aby & Michael - First Day of School - 2015 Lilo_2.5 months Aby_finish

Me Aby Mom_Dierks Bently

Favorite Race – Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon, which is a “practice” run for the Minnesota Voyager 50 mile ultra up by Lake Superior in MN.  Took Julie & I forever to run it.  So freaking hard.  But we smiled the entire time.

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Best Bridges – Pittsburg Marathon.  Really loved this race, town & all the bridges.

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Fastest Marathon – Indianapolis Monumental Marathon – 4:26

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Best Selfie – Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  Me, Erin Rose, Tamyra, Missy & Julie in the back “flying”.  Love this pic.

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Favorite Race pic – Ironman 70.3 Steelhead

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In 2015, I checked 6 new states off my list:  Missouri, Pennsylvania, Iowa, California, Minnesota & Oklahoma.  My goal to run a marathon in every state is ongoing as a long term goal.  I love the adventure and the road trips with my run friends.  But I also like to support local races, help my friends and run group members achieve their goals and run iconic races that just so happen to be in states I’ve already checked off the list.  I’ve ran 15 states thus far and the journey will continue well into the future.  One state at a time as the family & budget allows and as my run friends can fit travel & new states into their schedules. 

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As we close in on 2016, I first and foremost pray for a healthy, happy family, then a healthy body that can continue to pursue goals at whatever pace seems manageable.  I hope to color in a few new states on my marathon map and participate in a few more 70.3 triathlons.  I’m looking forward to a fresh start, new goals and the beauty of the unknown.  Cheers to 2016!  I hope it’s the best year so far for my family & yours!

** Cheers ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Winner of the Garmin Marathon FREE Entry & Still Searching for the Flying Pig Winner!

Merry Christmas, all!!  I just finished recording all the entries into the Garmin Marathon Giveaway.  I’m thrilled with the response, we had 359 entries for a small town race in Kansas.  So who wants to go run the Land of Oz?  I know, I do!!  But I’m already registered.  Smile

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Our winner was #86.  Judy Fishbaugh! 

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Judy, please email me at Amanda @ TooTallFritz.com.  I will need to verify that you are a follower of the Garmin Marathon on Twitter, so please send me your Twitter handle first!  Then we’ll get you set up with a free entry!

For the rest of us, we can register for the Oz Run, HERE.  I hope to see you in Kansas on April 16, 2016!!  If you are making the trip, definitely let me know.  I’d love to meet you!!

****Side Note – This is the LAST CALL for AshleyRStumpp who was the random winner of the Flying Pig Marathon Giveaway.  I haven’t heard from Ashley & I even sent her an email.  If you know her, have her contact me ASAP.  Otherwise, I’ll be drawing a new winner for Flying Pig. 

I hope all of you have an amazing Christmas.  Have fun, be safe & enjoy the crazy family time.

** Merry Christmas ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Progression of the Running Watch 2007-2015

We are all hyper aware of the fact that technology changes so fast that its difficult to keep up or even stay in the game. This has always been an issue for me, particularly with our beloved running watches.  While I WANT the latest & greatest run watch, I don’t want to pay for it.  And I usually don’t need all the bells and whistles that come standard on the high end models.  What to do?

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I tend to buy based on price and my budget.  I also try to keep it real.  I’m not going to spend hours looking over the data from my latest run, so it’s not necessary for me to have a watch that records everything from my heart rate to my breathing.  What do I need?  Pace and distance.   Splits.  I like to look at my splits, briefly, like in the car after I finish a run, for maybe 2 seconds.  Never on the computer.  Never.  So I usually keep things simple with my run watches.  Let’s look at the progression of my technology since 2007.  And let’s hope my hubby isn’t reading today cuz I’m also going to tell you what I’ve spent over the years on my quest for the perfect run watch.  Yikes.  Let’s get started before I lose my nerve!

It was in 2007 that I first became interested in actually tracking my runs and knowing my distance/pace while out on the road or trail.  I was training for my first marathon and it wasn’t always convenient to plan my route with the car before I ran.  We weren’t too far out from the release of the very first Garmin Global Positioning System (GPS) running watch that dropped in 2003.  Those initial watches were big and bulky, overhung the wrist of most women, but all the cool kids had one, maybe you did too?  It was a Garmin Forerunner 205.  I never bought one but I think it’s important to drop a pic to remember this oldie but goodie.  I believe the original price of this bad boy was $149 in 2003.  Stock photo.

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My very first run watch was the Polar RS200SD with Heart Rate Monitor & an S1 Foot Pod.  No GPS technology on this watch, everything was measured via the foot pod.  And EVERYONE asked me “what that thing was that was on my shoe”.  Everyone.  The watch was small enough that it actually fit my wrist.  While I have a large body, I have a dainty wrist, so this was a good option for me.  It was comfortable.  Normal watch battery so it stayed charged forever.  Foot pod had a AAA battery and would hold a charge for about 20 hours of continuous activity.  I could swim with the watch but it would only record my time.  I never used the heart rate strap and eventually lost it.  The majority of the info the watch recorded was about heart rate.  That’s what Polar does best, heart rate.  I could see my pace, distance and pull up my mile splits via the watch.  However, I if I wanted to transfer the info to the computer & connect with other Polar users, I had to do so via a special microphone that worked sporadically.  It was a pain, so I didn’t upload my data often.  Overall, this was definitely a good device at the time.  It was always ready to run while the runners with the “original” GPS watches were waiting for a signal, which they would promptly lose if we ran in the city or thru the woods.  Original Price:  $220 – with 10% discount at Running For Kicks, my cost was $198 + tax.  Mel D. even set the watch up for me and handed it to me ready to run.  Thanks, Mel.  Stock photo on the left, my package on the right as I was putting it on eBay last year sans HR Chest Strap.

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From the Polar, I moved to the Nike+ GPS Sportwatch (powered by TomTom) with shoe sensor.  Since I don’t run in Nike shoes, I always had to cut a spot out of the sole of my run shoes (under the insole) for my sensor.  There was a little pouch I could have bought to tie the sensor/pouch to my laces but after years of having a huge Foot Pod on my shoe, I didn’t want to tie the Nike+ Sensor to my laces.  Sensor was optional anyhow, not needed when GPS was available.  The watch was fun.  It popped messages if I didn’t run within a couple days. Always acknowledged new PRs.  Sent me motivational messages.  And the display numbers were HUGE.  I could always see it while I was running, even when I was running really fast.  Cuz I could run fast when I owned this watch.  But it was big, with a long face that overhung my wrist.  The face of the watch was hard and stretched across my entire wrist bone.  It slid around when I was sweaty and I never knew if I wanted to wear it atop or on the inside of my wrist.  It was either too tight or too loose and never just right.  The end of the watch band actually revealed a USB plug and would plug right into the computer.  Super easy charge, manage and upload info.  I liked this watch a lot.  It was $199 from Nike.com.  I had a $50 gift card, so my cost was $149 + tax.  Free shipping.

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From the Nike+ GPS Sportwatch, I moved to the Garmin Forerunner 10.  I really wanted a watch for triathlons but was too cheap to spend the $$.  The Forerunner 10 fit my wrist.  Holy Heck, a watch that I could run with that would sit on my wrist and not overhang.  What a concept.  It was comfortable.  Cute, came in multiple fun colors.  Focused on pace, distance & time.  I could pull my history, past workouts and/or mile splits directly from my watch.  I was IN LOVE.  Perfect watch for me.  Not too fancy.  Not too complicated.  But it didn’t link up to GP S satellites very quickly when I was in a new location (or even at a regular hang out) and the battery didn’t last long.  I was starting to run a lot of marathons and my max battery life on the Forerunner 10 was 5 to 5.5 hours.   Sometimes I run marathons slow.  Sometimes I run marathons in the woods.  Sometimes I run longer than a marathon.  My perfect watch slowly became somewhat imperfect for me.  It was easy to use, easy to charge with a USB on the computer/laptop or via the USB charger for the car or wall outlet.  Easy to link up to Garmin Connect.  Great beginner watch.  So great that I bought one for Aby.  All in all, we’ve had 3 of these Forerunner 10s (green, pink & a purple which replaced the pink after repairs from Garmin).  I bought both mine & Aby’s from REI.  I used EBates to get 5% cash back, plus I got 10% back on REI dividends at year end.  EBates referral code HERE if you want to save $$ shopping online but don’t yet have an account. Original price:  $129, my cost $109.65 + tax.  Free Shipping.

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I loved the Forerunner 10 so much that I moved over to the Forerunner 15 when it was released.  Longer battery life, plus a few more bells and whistles.  It counted steps and mileage indoors, even when the GPS wasn’t activated.  This came in super handy as I ran lap after lap on the indoor track at the YMCA when the temps and wind-chill plummeted in the winter months.  But it didn’t help me in the TRI world.  The GPS would work on the bike but not for outdoor swimming.  The watch still took a bit to sync up with a satellite & I was still  having issues with running out of battery life while running & biking.  It was advertised to have 8 hours of GPS battery life but I rarely got that.  But the watch looked good.  I love all things aqua so we’ll probably never part with this baby.  Aby is using it now.  Original retail was $169, I got this “New with Tags”, in the box, on eBay for $129, free shipping, no tax. 

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I still needed a TRI watch, are you beginning to see a theme?  I also was interested in monitoring my heart rate and possibly starting some heart rate based training.  But I didn’t want to wear the chest strap.  Very few watches monitor heart rates off of a sensor in the watch (vs a strap).  Plus if I was going to buy ANOTHER watch, then I wanted to make sure that it would measure my swim distance, if nothing else.  Enter the TomTom  Multi-Sport Cardio.  Wireless heart rate.  Counts swim laps.  Records biking.  But doesn’t do swim/bike/run all at once in a Triathlon mode like most multisport watches.  Battery life is only good for 8-10 hours.  However, this baby must be downloaded frequently because if you are out on a run and it reaches the max amount of data that it can record, it doesn’t overwrite old data/workouts, it just shuts down.  Really.  I mean, REALLY?  It also struggles to link up to a satellite.  It is hard/stiff and big due to HR sensors being in the watch. Overhung my wrist.  Moved around on my wrist and it wasn’t very comfortable.    Lots of bells and whistles with this watch.  It’s cute.  It charges easily, workouts can easily be downloaded but you must stay on top of the downloading to have space to run, bike & swim. Oh, and it does NOT record outdoor swimming, only pool laps.  Good bye, TomTom.  Original price was $249, but TomTom was offering a $40 race rebate after purchase.  My cost:  $209, free shipping, free tax.

tomtom  tomtom2

Last but definitely not least.  The Garmin Forerunner 920XT.  It’s a real TRI watch.  First, the satellite signal is so strong that it will link up as I sit at my desk, here in the house.  It records indoor & outdoor running, indoor & outdoor swimming, indoor & outdoor biking.  It links up to my phone via Bluetooth and I can review my workout via the watch, my phone or Garmin Connect on the computer.  It uploads automatically, wirelessly when I’m within range of my network.  It vibrates and notifies me of text messages, Facebook messages/notifications, Instagram notifications, events, etc. all on my wrist. I’m a little drop jawed over all this.  I never knew that a watch that wasn’t an “i-thing” could so much.  Plus it will seamlessly record all aspects of a triathlon. From swim, T1, bike, T2 & run.  One time.  Lots of splits.  Battery life with GPS is 40 hours.  Yes, 40 hours.  May I never do any activity where I need to record data for 40 hours. Please. And Thank you.  This watch is big but I strap it on my wrist and it doesn’t move.  That’s right, it does not slide around.  I wore it for almost 7 hours of running at the Huff 50K last week and it didn’t bother me in the least.  Its comfortable.  I’ve even been totally geeking out and wearing it during the day while I work.  The face is bigger than I’m used to but it is lighter and thinner than the Forerunner 15.  And smart.  So freaking smart.  I’ll probably never know everything this watch knows but I’m slowly figuring things out.  Thanks to YouTube videos.  So if you need a watch to do it all, including count your steps and your 02 intake (why do we need to know this?!?!) and your movement/non-movement and your sleep pattern, then this is your watch.  I think I’ll just use it the way that I use most fitness watches & let it record my data, which I like to review from my watch screen.  I’m so happy that I can once again see my splits from my watch.  Big win! 

While most will consider it a waste of technology if I choose not to use all those glorious bells & whistles, I do fitness for fun and stress relief.  If I take myself and my numbers too seriously, that’s not fun.  And then it produces stress trying to figure out what my watch wants to tell me.   So there you have it.  I now have a big fancy watch that does big fancy things but I’ll just be reading my text messages on it and recording normal swim, bike, run data.  Smile  This baby has a monster price tag at $449 sans HR Monitor, $499 with HR.  However, I purchased it Thanksgiving week when it was temporarily discounted to $329 (no HR).  Then I used a deal at Running Warehouse where if I purchased a $200 gift card, I got a $50 card for free.  Then I purchased a $50 gift card and got a $10 gift card for free. Complicated, right?  That was $250 spent for $310 worth of merchandise $$, then I tossed in the extra $20 to bring that $310 up to $330.  Free Shipping.  Free Tax.  Plus I had sold the TomTom above so had $100 credit toward my new device.  Bottom line, I only have $170 into this beast.  A couple pics below of my 920 XT compared to the Garmin 15 (which is Aby’s watch now).  

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If you made it this far, you’ve probably come to the realization that I would have saved $$ from the start had I just bought what I wanted verses hopping around and trying to settle for subpar devices.  Story of my life.  One that hopefully you can learn from cuz it’s too late for me.  I must say that I’m VERY happy I made the upgrade to the Garmin Forerunner 920XT.  I’ll try not to geek out and learn all the things and be THAT crazy TRI person in 2016.  Maybe.  Smile

** Run & TRI Happy, My Friends ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Huff 50K Race Report – 2015

Huff logo

My third Huff 50K is in the books!  As I mentioned on the TTF Facebook page yesterday, this is a race that just makes me proud to run.  Proud of myself for going back to a tough race year after year.  Proud of my run friends who brave the elements and trails, when they would rather be pounding pavement.  Proud of the other participants who are constantly encouraging and showing the newbies what trail running is all about.  Proud of the race organizers for delivering a great race over and over again.  The Huff 50K is a class act.  Pic below from top is the 2013, 2014 & 2015 belt buckles.  Maybe I should buy a belt?

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This event is at Chain O Lakes State Park in Albion, IN.  It offers a 50K, 50K Relay & a one loop option (10.8 miles).  Lots of choices.  The trails are well groomed, wider, not single track like many trials.  This is a great event for beginner trail runners and a great course to run side by side with a friend/partner.  Aid stations are spaced about 4 miles apart and there are bathrooms and/or port-o-potties at 4 of the 5 aid stations.  This is huge and not the case with all trail races.  I would recommend carrying your own water to manage hydration between aid stations.  Trail shoes are recommended by not required.  I like to use gaiters over my shoes to keep leaves and debris out of my shoes/socks but these are not a necessity either.  This is a very user friendly trail event.  No fancy equipment required.

There were a few changes for 2015 both at the organizational level and on the course.  I think everything went very smoothly.  My brain struggled with the new course, always trying to figure out which way we went last year, but I just followed the pink markers and it went well.  No idea if this course was easier than years past but this was our fastest year thus far at Huff (6:50 finish).  There were a lot more markers this year and even a few spots where they put up tape so that runners didn’t get off course inadvertently.  Nice touches that I really think helped the comfort level of the newer trail runners.  I never had an issue before at this event but I’m an “eyes to the ground” trail runner so that I can watch my footing and the trail markers.  The new course and markings allowed for more social running without fear of missing a turn off.  I think Huff is a social trail race.  So many people sign up because their friends are going, even if they have never ran trails before ….. and that’s why its FUN.  New course below.

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Great aid stations.  If you haven’t ran an ultra or trail marathon before, you might want to do so just for the food.  There is candy, m&ms, twizzlers, cookies, fig newtons, pb&j quarters, potato chips, pretzels, soups, boiled potatoes with salt, coke, water, gatorade, lemon bars and one spot was even grilling hamburgers.  So much food.  I didn’t bother carrying any gels and my tummy thanked me for eating real food.  Spirits were particularly high on the first loop.   Myself, Tamyra & Julie getting ready to tackle the hill in the background.  Hills, smillz.

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We ran the first loop in 3 hrs 15 minutes, which was my goal.  Then I thought we could hit the second loop in 3:30 but I was off a bit, took us 3:35, which is still good in my book.  That second loop gets really LONG.  It’s almost like you cross the mat at halfway and they add a couple bricks to each leg.  The hills suddenly seem steeper and each mile drags on a bit more.  But we just kept moving thru each mile (marked signs at EVERY mile!) and toward the next aid station.  It worked.  We didn’t rush.  This isn’t really a race for us but more of an experience.  So if someone need to walk or potty, we stopped.  We probably spent too much time at a couple aid stations but oh well.  Over all, we kept moving!   And we tried to keep it fun.  When Julie’s hubby started texting her (probably wondering if we were done yet!  Ummm, no we were not done!), I insisted we stop and take a selfie to send him.  Hi, Joe!   I was getting ready to stick out my tongue but we snapped the picture first with my crazy face.  That’s about right, I was feeling kinda crazy that far into the race.  I think we were probably around mile 28 at this point.  The craziness had definitely set in.  Tamyra, Me, Julie.

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I’m very thankful that Julie came back for her second Huff this year.  I know she didn’t love it last year.  She doesn’t love trail running at all but we still do a couple trail marathons each year.  Totally my fault. It always seems like a good idea at the time.  Smile  And this was Tamyra’s first ultra.  Her third marathon distance event (or longer) since November 7th in Indy when she ran her VERY FIRST marathon.  She took a leap of faith and followed us to Tulsa for the Rt 66 Marathon, and then to Huff.   2 marathons and 1 ultra in a 6 week span.  She’s definitely a tough chick and I’m proud to call her a friend!  Great job,Tamyra!!!

The swag.  Huff always provides good stuff.  This year we got a cotton tee, a Huff Santa Hat, a portable charger & a key chain with a thermometer.  Then here is a close up of the belt buckle that was received at the finish.  Most 50Ks don’t offer a belt buckle, but rather a finishers medal.  So it’s a nice touch for Huff to give the buckle and that’s probably why this is one of the largest 50Ks in the US.

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Huff is a great race.  I highly recommend it.  Grab some friends and run a loop OR two.  Next year, Huff will be on December 17, 2016.  Then the 2017 race will be returning to the first Saturday after Christmas. 

Side Note:  If you’re in the woods, State/National Park or not, DO NOT litter.  A general rule of hiking, backpacking and trail running is that if you pack it in, you pack it out.  I saw A LOT of litter & debris on the trails this year.  Very disappointing.  Someone has to clean that up or Huff could get fined, get belittled by other races or worse yet, lose their permit to run at Chain O Lakes.  Please respect your environment.  Don’t drop GU packs, kleenex, hand warmers, cups of noodles, or your SWEATSHIRT on the trail cuz you are tired of carrying it.  The aid stations are close enough together that it isn’t a stretch to hold onto your trash for a little bit longer and dispose of it property.  Please.  Respect your trails or they will be gone.  Help protect the trails for all of us, our kids, and our grandkids to come. Thank you!

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2013 Huff Race Report, must have neglected to write one for 2014.  Ooops.  Smile

** Happy Trails ** Amanda – TooTallFritz