The Week of The Big Race ……

September certainly opens the door for the fall racing season but October is marathon month.  So many great races.  So little time.  This year I did NOT register for the Chicago Marathon.  Yes, I love the race.  Yes, most of my IL and IN friends are running it.  No, I didn’t cave like I always do and toss up a huge entry free for a race that I’ve ran time and time again.  This year, I’m heading to Long Beach, California for the Long Beach Marathon


I picked Long Beach cuz it was 1)  on the same day as Chicago and 2) because my friend Lara moved out to the Long Beach area at the same time my family moved to Auburn, Indiana.  I haven’t seen Lara since their move and I can’t wait to see her and her amazing family.  We’ve spent so much time over the last 5 years pounding miles on dark trails (her and/or her hubby) that I frequently think about them while I run.  I smile with thoughts of the stories we’ve told a million times and can’t wait to create new ones. 

Long Beach won’t be what I initially imagined.  Lara is a super fast runner who never complains about my slower pace.  When I signed up back in February, I had thoughts of a new marathon PR.  I envisioned myself fit and fast.  I imagined the perfect race.  But life isn’t perfect, so my vision has changed and I’m not at all sad about that.  We will have a great time running the Long Beach area, singing, dancing and laughing over the course of 26.2 miles.  It’s going to be hot.  94 according to accuweather.  But we’ll be together and we are lucky enough to have another friend, my girl Julie M., along for the fun.  And fun we will be having.  Look at this amazing course.  Lots of blue water to bring us a breeze and beautiful sites. 


Since we are facing a hot race, I’ve reviewed a couple of my old posts about the week leading up to important races/marathons.  Feel free to check out the Race Week Do(s) & Don’t(s) or the Marathon Week post for pre-race tips.  For us, we will be hydrating with electrolytes all week.  We have packed the salt caps and our favorite run visor.  We won’t be carb loading so much as eating healthy nutritious foods with complex carbs, lean proteins and healthy fats.   It’s pretty apparent that nobody will be PRing on a 94 degree day, no matter how spot on their training or how amazing their fitness.  So we have put our expectations in check and we’ll focus on the positive:  enjoying our race, making sure everyone is hydrating and keeping up with fuel/electrolytes, and having as much fun as possible being together and doing what we love.  I’m thankful for crazy friends who think that fun = running long.

crazy friends

** Wishing YOU a Great Marathon Season With Crazy Friends ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Fort4Fitness Half Marathon … 2015 Edition

It’s no secret that the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon in Fort Wayne, Indiana is my favorite.   I’ve ran about 30 half marathons so can say that with confidence.  This was my 5th Fort4Fitness half and my worst performance (2:06:49) here to date.  However, it’s also the location that holds my current half marathon PR (1:53:20).  Great race.  Great town.  Amazing experience.


I used to come from the Chicago area to run Fort4Fitness but am now local, living only 30 minutes away from the start line. Big win!!  However, this race is in the middle of Cross Country season, so I’ve missed it more than once due to motherly/spectator duties. It’s also on one of the busiest race weekends of the year.  This year F4F was competing with the Mill Race Marathon (Half & 5K) in Columbus, Indiana, the Chicago Half Marathon and the Quad Cities Marathon (Half, Relay & 5K).  Despite the busy time of year, F4F pulled 7,242 competitors to its various races on Saturday alone.  That’s not counting the kids or Seniors who completed their events on Friday night. 


What F4F does right and where other races might want to take note, is they realize that events like these use community resources.  Not only on the day of the race but in the months and weeks leading up to the big day.  So how do you keep a community happy about events that use the resources which are bought and paid for with their tax dollars?  You get as many community members involved as possible.  The F4F events are focused on community health.  Getting the community active and moving, not just on race day but all throughout the year.  They also have made necessary changes to accommodate as many people as possible.  When the race started in 2008, there was a half marathon and a 4 mile event.  Since that time the following events have been added:  kids and senior marathon, 10K, wheelchair events (half, 10K & 4 mile), and a Double Play and Triple Crown where you can participate in two or more events on race day.  If you are really daring, go for the Triple Crown and RUN.ALL.THE.RACES. (half marathon, 10K & 4 mile) for a total of 23.3 miles of fun and 4 medals!  

Participant Breakdown:

  • Half Marathon – 2,078
  • 10K – 1,887
  • 4 mi Run/Walk – 3,254
  • Wheel Chair Half – 9
  • Wheel Chair 10K – 8
  • Wheel Chair 4mi – 6
  • Double Play (4mi/Half – 30,  10K/Half – 27, 4 mi/10K – 67) – 124
  • Triple Crown (Half, 10K & 4mi) – 98

In addition to the runners, the community members really come out in mass to watch and cheer for the runners.  They line the streets with music, signs and banners.  Then the neighborhoods seem to have a competition as to which community can bring the most spirit.  Oakdale, you won this year according to my unofficial decision.  Congrats.  


One of my favorite things about this race is that there are long stretches where you can just run.  Some quiet stretches thru parks, others thru quiet neighborhoods with big fancy houses, and a lot of street time thru Ft Wayne.  It’s really a great mix for a road race, mostly flat, a few hills but nothing crazy. 

F4F provides a great race that you would expect from a big city but with the ease and convenience of small town living.  Packet pick up is easy & quick.  Parking is within a half mile of the race start.  Lots of free parking but I did pay $4 for a spot in a garage.  Potties, water & Gatorade every 1.5 miles.  Stadium finish inside Parkview Field with runners being announced before they hit the finish line.  Huge Jumbotron for spectators to watch incoming runners.  Stadium seating for spectators and plenty of room for the after party.   And concessions are open, so grab a beer and celebrate with friends after the big finish!

Gender specific shirts, designed by a local artist!


Nice medals, whether you collect 1 or all 4.  I only had time for one because I wanted to be present and spectate/cheer/scream my head off at Aby’s Cross Country meet.


I highly recommend making a plan to come to Ft Wayne next year for Fort4Fitness.  Registration is OPEN.  Race is Saturday, October 1, 2016.  Click HERE to register for any of the races, including the 4 medal Triple Crown event that is only $95 during this super early bird period.  Half Marathon is currently $45!  It’s deal time, who wants to commit?

See you next year!!

** Run The Fort ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Ironman 70.3 Steelhead Race Report

As I previously mentioned, life around the TTF household has been slightly chaotic thus the lack of a timely race report.  In fact, it’s been down right stressful!  But we keep on keeping on, right?  Yes!  So I showed up for Ironman 70.3 Steelhead overweight, undertrained but ready to tackle whatever the day tossed at me.  Remember, I do this for fun.  I run, train, TRI as a stress reliever and for a little bit of “me time” amongst the chaos.  Total bonus is when I get to spend time with friends.  Aby and Julie M were my race weekend support crew and we rolled into Saint Joseph & Benton Harbor MI with smiles on our faces!


We hit packet pick up, listened to the pre-race meeting, figured out the new swim course, racked my bike and hit the expo while Aby constantly reminded us that she just wanted to go to the beachIMG_7760

There is something final about leaving your bike in transition.  Most of us are on our second or even third or more bike.  We started at the bottom with a low level road bike and worked our way up.  We have an emotional attachment to our bike that is hard for people who do not ride to understand.   Most of my friends actually have a name for their bike, I do not.  But I still love it.  And I spend a lot of time with it.  And it never sasses me or talks back.  Smile  So I bid my bike farewell and it sits in transition, awaiting my return and trying to soak up the calm before the chaos of race day begins.

When I return it is race morning.  It’s full on chaos.  Transition is packed.  It’s still dark.  Trying to set up transition in the dark, with 2499 of our new friends, just begs for things to be forgotten at the bottom of the transition bag!  But we are finally set up and started inching our wetsuits on for the swim start.   Wendy, myself & Judy getting ready to head to the beach for our 1.2 mile swim! 


Swim waves went out in 4 minute increments.  Judy was in the first wave at 7:00 am and Wendy and I were 12 minutes behind at 7:12am.  There was a last minute change to the swim course to keep the swim start & finish close together on the beach.  The change resulted in us having to swim further out into the mammoth body of water known as Lake Michigan.  What Lake MI delivers on a given day is just a surprise so I was ready for the worst like IM 70.3 Racine in 2013 and hoped for the best.  New course:

Steelhead Swim

Water was calm at the start!  Yes!  But the course wasn’t as nice as the pretty picture above.  We were swimming at an angle and it seemed like every buoy turned us a bit and we had to reposition.  It wasn’t as easy as it appears, plus I felt VERY crowded in the water, both by the ladies in my wave, as well as the fast swimmers behind me.  It took me a good 3 buoys to get myself together and just do my own thing but then as soon as I’d get in a groove I’d have a swimmer in front of me swimming perpendicular to me.  I need to be more aggressive in the water but I’m not at this point.  Swimming is the easy part of the TRI and I don’t really rush.  When someone is swimming the wrong way in front of me, I stop and let them clear my path.  Doesn’t make for a very speedy swim but keeps me comfortable.  Something I need to work on for the future!  Anyhow, I finally navigate the swim course, it was marked well and easy to follow.  No clock when I got out of the water, which was odd, but I could make out the start line clock, that read 8:00 am real time.  That put me in the water for 48 minutes and I was happy with that considering my lack of swim training.  However, Ironman clocked me at 55 minutes via my chip so I’m not sure how I messed that up.  Or why I was in the water so long because overall the swim was decent, I wasn’t panicky, there were some rolling waves out on the back side of the course but nothing too crazy.  I kept moving but yes, I did stop numerous times to avoid “random” swimmers.  But it was a beautiful day and I kinda enjoyed the cool, crisp, clear water.


No wetsuit strippers but I managed to get unzipped and unsuited.  On to the bike!  The bike as you know, can make or break you and is the longest segment of any triathlon.  This race is a half ironman, AKA 70.3 race, where all the mileage equals 70.3 miles at the end of the day.  1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike & 13.1 mile run.  I had been having bike issues most of the season.  Issues with my shifters.  Issues with getting out for longer rides.  Too many issues.  I really had no idea what I could do on the bike so the plan here was to hold back on the first half, eat, drink and relax.  Get thru the nasty/bumpy section of bad road, then try to be somewhat “fresh” for the last half and all those uphill sections (which suck the wind and energy right out of me).  One loop course, which is my preference.  I hit the half way mark (28 miles) right at 1 hour 30 minutes and vaguely remember thinking, “wow, if you keep this pace, you might break 3 hours”.  But then I dismissed the thought immediately because I knew that there were some nasty uphill sections to come.  I really didn’t have much of a strategy.  As I’ve said, I’m super bad riding uphill, I was down into single digits so many times, 9mph was very common.  But I USED the downhill.  No matter how tired I was when I got up the hill, I was ready to rush the down.  And I did that to the best of my ability. At the end of the ride, when my butt hurt so bad I wanted to toss my bike I was tired, that’s what held me together, crushing the downhill.  Then eventually the thought that just possibly, if I kept pushing, I might, just might break 3 hours on the bike.  And I did.  2 hours 59 minutes on the bike.  HUGE triumph for me after a summer (full year really) of trials and tribulations.  Happy girl. 

IM Steelhead_bike

After a phenomenal (for me) bike, I hit the run.  I hadn’t done one brick all season and my legs had trouble spinning off the bike.  Took about 3 miles to get in my groove.  Course had two run loops.  There were 3 big hills on the first loop.  2 on the second.  I walked the entirety of each hill.  I also walked thru each of the aid stations and made sure that I got enough fluids, ice and refueled with coke and small bites of banana.  Run went well.  I wasn’t dead but not speedy.  I thought I’d run a 2:15 but at the end of the day I was at 2:21 with the walking.  It was a good day.  We had cloud cover, which was  a HUGE help (especially to those who melt in the heat, like me).  Temps were in the high 70s at the finish (78 degrees).  It was a bit sticky with humidity but manageable thanks to the clouds. 

IM Steelhead_Finish2  IMG_7773  IMG_7791

I’ve now participated in all 3 Midwest Ironman 70.3 events.  Muncie in 2012, where I took a DNF due to a torn tendon in my foot (race was also downgraded to Olympic distance due to extreme heat – 108 degrees).   Racine in 2013 where the monster waves and bumpy roads stole the show.  And now Steelhead.  There were things I liked about each of these events.  The bike course at Muncie was FUN and the hills seemed manageable.  Not too steep but big enough to produce some speed.  The run in Racine was beautiful with scenic views of Lake Michigan.  But Steelhead was different.  It felt like home.  My family goes up to Saint Joseph MI on occasion for day or weekend trips, year round.  My friends Judy & Julie M both have “cabins” within a reasonable distance of the race site.  In fact, we actually went up and I was able to ride the course once before race day.  So, yes, it’s a big fancy race, but one that felt like it was on our home turf.  And there is no denying the home field advantage.  And that’s how this race felt, like I had an advantage cuz I knew where to hold back on the bike and where to push.  I really enjoyed Steelhead.  Great race.  Great volunteers.  Plenty of aid stations on the bike (3) and on the run (5 each loop). 

In closing, I’ll address the full Ironman issue one more time.  I’m frequently asked “when” I’ll do a full ironman.  First, a full Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) just isn’t for everyone, so it’s important to realize that it’s just not what some people call fun.  But for myself, I’ve been dreaming about the full distance since my first half in 2008.  Then I was blessed with a bouncing baby boy in 2009.  Baby boy is growing, CRAZY and is becoming more self sufficient each and every day.  In fact, he started kindergarten this year and will be turning 6 in just a couple weeks!!!

Aby & Michael - First Day of School - 2015

I think we are finally at the point where I could tackle it, IF I could justify spending the money to register.  In fact, I’ve been upgrading my equipment for years so that I’ll be ready when the time finally arrives.  However, the last year has brought us a lot of change and financial strain.  We have taken steps to rectify the problem (Hello, NONPAYING IL renters, I’m talking to you.).   Then, maybe, I can tackle the full ironman.  It’s something that I think about every day.  I even think about it when I should be sleeping.  It’s definitely “on the list” but I need to make sure that its something the family can endure in terms of time commitment to my training and also the $$ commitment of the registration fee and travel expenses.  Plus, I need to find a race that will NOT interfere with Aby’s Cross Country season.  So those are a few of the reasons as to why I’m not YET an IronWOman.  But I’ll get there and it will be all the sweeter when I do because I waited for the right moment.

just because

Keep Pushing For YOUR Dreams – Amanda – TooTallFritz

Ready Or Not ….. Ironman 70.3 Steelhead

I didn’t ride my bike or swim at all in 2014.  The move (packing, finding an IN house on a tight time table, finding renters for the IL house, and actually getting all of our stuff from the old house/barn to the new one) was quite a project.  I ran when I could but that was pretty infrequent too between April & September (2014).  When spring 2015 came around, I had a real itch to get out on my bike.  However, I wasn’t real familiar with all the roads in my new area.  Drivers here had ran me off the road while running more than once.  And I knew of 2 ladies who were hit and killed while riding their bikes in IL (different areas) early in the season.  I was a bit nervous about getting out on the road.  Actually, I was scared.


I finally got my bike out after the local coffee shop, Jeremiah’s Brewed Awakenings, ran a promo for Bike Month in May.  I think the promo was that they would give a free coffee to anyone who completed 7 items on the bike month promo sheet.  I never did turn in my sheet but I did dust off my bike toward the end of the month and take it for a spin.  And I was a happy lady.  I started riding around my area.  Even found a couple good routes with a few hills.  Set my basement up for some marathon bike trainer sessions because I was  having trouble getting out the door between kids, work and Aby’s Cross Country schedule.  Signed up for Ironman 70.3 Steelhead.  And then my basement flooded with my bike trainer in it and all plans were halted.

FullSizeRender IMG_7291 IMG_7313

When there is a crisis at home, mom doesn’t leave to go ride her bike.  So all swimming and biking stopped with the basement flood.  It was emotional.  It was exhausting because we (hubby, kids & I) had to clear out and demo the basement.  Insurance didn’t help much at all.  In fact, it didn’t even help enough to pay for the replacement of our geothermal heat/air unit.  And when it rains it pours, right?  So it was at this exact same time that’s our IL renters decided they weren’t going to pay rent anymore.  Now our home is in a partial demo’d state with no heat/air.  Current basement pic below.


We’re paying for 2 houses and an eviction lawsuit to try to get the renters (can I call them that if they aren’t paying???) out of our IL house.  Lot’s going on and not much to do with training or triathlon.  But over the last three weeks I’ve tried to get my shit together mentally & physically salvage my training because the IM registration fees are pretty high and am hoping for another 70.3 finish.  

attitude is everything

I’ve only managed a couple swims but I’ve ridden numerous times, mostly 25 milers but I’ve been riding. 

IMG_7699  IMG_7698  IMG_7662

I even took a day off work to go ride the Steelhead course with a few amazing athletes.

IMG_7661  group

We took a practice swim that really sucked in Lake Michigan but at least Laura N. was able to get my wetsuit zipped  This is a real win because of course, I’m now “a bit” heavier than the specs of the suit recommend. 

IMG_7664  IMG_7665

So the good news is that I won’t drown because my wetsuit technically fits.  And I should be able to cover the 56 miles on the bike because I’ve trained for almost a full 3 weeks.  Smile  And well, I can run a half marathon.  So I guess I’m ready to do a half ironman!  Right?  Right! 

So there it is, all laid out.  Steelhead, I’m coming.  Whether I’m “Ready or Not”.  I wasn’t going to win anyhow, so I’ll just keep ticking off the miles until the finish line is in sight.

success occurs

** I TRI ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Aby’s First Half Marathon …..

I’ve always put limits on Aby.  She wanted to run her first 5K when she was so small that she called them K5s.  She’s wanted to run a half marathon for years and I told her, “not til you are 13”.  She wants to run a full marathon and I say, “not til you’re 16”.  Good or bad, that’s what I’ve done.  I see kids a lot younger than her running longer races and I don’t judge those parents but for Aby, I worry about injury and burnout.  Quite frankly I want her to be a runner and fitness enthusiast for life, not one who has accomplished everything before she can drive.  So we have limits.  

your limits

I did let her participate in the Mini Muddy Buddy when she was 5. 


Her first 5K was at age 9.  She took 2nd place in her age group.

abyme_ringinginspring_2011  aby_ringinginspring5k

In the interim between that first 5K and now, we’ve ran a lot of 5Ks, 4 milers, 8Ks, teamed up for duathlons and ran countless miles together sometimes when she would have rather ran alone

aby & I_mokenasummertimestrides5k Aby & I_du aby_fort 4 fitness aby-me_nov-2013

She’s also ran a few Cross Country seasons.  And she’s been there to support me and spectate a “few” marathons.  

  Aby  aby_spectates

Now she is 13 and has finally made it to her first half marathon.  We had planned this race for quite some time.  She picked it last year before she even turned 13.  I registered us both.  Created a training plan.  And she ran all summer, slowly building up to the 10 mile long run and race day.  The Rock and Roll Chicago Half Marathon on July 19th (2015) was her first half marathon.  We spent the weekend in the Chicago area.  Picked up her XC spikes for the upcoming Cross Country season.  Hit the expo.  Spent time with friends. 

IMG_7629 IMG_7630  

Race day arrived and it was hot.  And humid.  Temp was upper 80s with a “feels like” time of 96 degrees.  The plan was to run slow.  Very slow.  And to make sure we finished under our own power.  I’ve seen way to many people go down in hot races.  I’m always overly cautious about pace in the heat. 

IMG_7651  11745790_941404859215999_847369050857064087_n

We stuck together.  Walked thru the water stops since a lot of the volunteers hadn’t showed up since it was so hot and we had to wait in line for fluids.  Took our time.  And enjoyed ourselves.  I didn’t want her first half to be miserable even though the conditions were less than ideal.

11178360_941460542543764_1250352607325805047_n  aby & I 

At mile 11, she took off toward the finish and notched off her first half marathon finish!  Goooooo Aby!!!  She was flying!

Aby_finish  IMG_7657 

My baby girl is growing up!  She ran a smart race and had fun.  Lots of time to add speed later but her first half marathon was fun and that’s something she will always remember. 

Cheers to our friend Nicki who spent the weekend hanging out with us!  She has ran a lot of races with Aby and I over the years. The weekend wouldn’t have been complete without her there to witness Aby’s first half finish.  Thanks, Nicki!!. 


I know that I won’t always be able to run and race with Aby but I certainly cherish the times we’ve had thus far.  She’s getting older.  She has her own agenda.  But fortunately, at this point, she doesn’t have a driver’s license so she still depends on me for a ride.  Smile

** Making Run Memories, One Race At A Time ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Fitletic Hydration Belt Giveaway WINNER & Discount Code

I have a winner!!!  Is it you?!?  Today I am giving away one Fitletic Hydration Belt. 


The random number generator selected #88.


#88 is Gila Robinson! 


Gila, please contact me ASAP at so that we can get you set up with your new hydration belt.  I’m sure you have lots of miles to run this summer and we want you to be hydrated and ready to rock any distance you choose to conquer! 

For the rest of us,  we can order our Fitletic Hydration Belt HERE using the 10% discount code:  amanda10

Run Happy & Hydrated ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon–Duluth MN

As most of you know by now, I’m on a quest to run a marathon in every state.  And I’m on a budget.  As a result, I’ve pretty much given up running races that are less than the 26.2 distance.  I’ve also pretty much given up running marathons in state’s that I’ve already “checked off” unless the race is free.  I pick races based on my (and Julie’s) calendar.  I don’t stress about the course.  Or the weather.  Or the details.  It’s an adventure.  The bigger, the better.  The more the merrier.  Join me!!


We picked our Minnesota race because Julie said she wanted to knock off MN this year.  I can’t say this was my first choice for MN because, well, we are road runners!  But alas, it   fit into our weekend warrior calendar and it was super affordable at a mere $35 entry fee.  You absolutely can not beat trail races for the price, the hospitality, the fun and the level of commitment that they give to each and every runner.  The Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon wins the TTF Award for the “Best Bang for the Buck” in 2015.  I don’t even care that it’s only July.  They already won.  $35 entry fee = $1.34 per mile.  Our race took forever 7 hours & 37 minutes = $4.60 per hour.

The aid stations were stocked with coke, ginger ale, sprite, powerade (BLUE!!!!), ice, ice water, pretzels, M&Ms, candy, fig newtons, sandwich cookies, frosted oatmeal cookies, gingersnap cookies, potato chips, watermelon, bananas, salt, salt capsules, and a ton of stuff that I can’t remember.  I probably ate/drank more than the $35 entry fee.

There was also an army of volunteers who encouraged us, filled our water bottles, wiped our tears, recorded our numbers, pointed us in the right direction and handed us paper towels & wet wipes in case we needed to go to the bathroom clean up.

The race started promptly at 6am at the Lake Superior Zoo.  There was no big start banner.  No chip timing.  No pomp.  No circumstance.  But there were people making announcements to get us in the right spot and there were bathrooms. Runners came to run and everything else is left on the trail.

The first 2.5-3 miles of the race climbed the ski trails of Spirit Mountain.  Once we started hitting nice roads and fancy bridges we knew we were close to the top!

IMG_7539   IMG_7540

Then we started seeing the ski lifts and we came out of the trees for breathtaking views of Lake Superior in the early morning fog.  Absolutely amazing.

 IMG_7534         5

The trail was very well marked with orange ribbons.   I never once questioned our direction.  Organizers spent a lot of time clearing trail for us rather than just using ordinary trails already cut in the parks through which we ran.  There was a lot of planning to get us from Duluth to the finish in Carlton, MN on this point to point course.   It was a creative path.  A difficult one.  Not the most technical of all that I’ve ran but extremely hard and probably the most fun so far (and that’s saying a lot cuz we ran the Dances with Dirt Devil’s Lake WI Extreme Trail  Marathon last July).  Take a peak at the various terrain from steep trails along ridges, to roped off trails to help us navigate the terrain & not fall …..

IMG_7547  IMG_7568  IMG_7551

To hills, both up and down as far as the eyes could see.

IMG_7577  4  IMG_7579

Beautiful ferns.  Bridges.  Obstacles.

IMG_7572  IMG_7574  IMG_7575

Water crossings.  Mud.  Roots.  Rocks.

  1  2  IMG_7594

Parks.  Rivers.

IMG_7592 3

Every step of this was amazing.  And hard.  Very hard.  But we smiled and laughed almost the entire 7.5+ hours.  If you are a trail runner, the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon is a must.  If you are an ultra runner, then this race is just a warm up for the MN Voyager 50 Mile Trail Ultramarathon at the end of July.  Like what you see in these pics?  Try the Voyager and you’ll get to run it twice.

As you know from the above post, we finished.  And were happy to see the car and some clean clothes at the end of the race.  To our surprise, we also received a very unique handmade finishers medallion and a gender specific soft, tee.  Nice!


I’m forever grateful for the good friends I’ve made over the years while “on the run”.  A special thanks to Julie for running some of these crazy races with me!  I can’t wait til we tromp off into the woods for the next adventure!  IMG_7590

** Maybe We’ll See YOU On the Trail ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Fitletic Hydration Belt Review, Giveaway & Discount Code

fitletic logo

There is a new name in the fitness industry in regards to hydration belts. According to the buzz on the trail, this is the current “go to” company for  hydration needs on the run.  Those of us who have been using hydration belts for years want the low down on Fitletic.  If you are like me, then you’ve previously spent hard earned $$ on poor fitting hydration belts that slip, slide & drench you with water. 

fitletic bannner

Fitletic sent me a 12 oz belt to review.  That included two 6oz water bottles on an adjustable strap with a large pouch that fits an iPhone 6 (the 6+ would probably NOT fit into this pouch).  Inside the pouch was an interior slit type pocket for credit cards, money and an ID.  The belt also included toggles for a race bib & 2 slots for energy gels.  The gel slots were definitely designed for the most popular gel, GU brand.  But I was able to fold the top of my AdvoCare Rehydrate Gel enough to get it into the slot tightly enough to stay put.

IMG_7306         IMG_7521

Aby and I ran with this belt on two different long runs.  A 9 miler in the POURING rain.  And a 10 miler last weekend.  I wanted both of us to use the belt because we have different body types.  I have a hydration belt that I have been using for YEARS but I can’t seem to find one that fits her curvier frame.  Every belt that we buy for her slides all around and she ditches it less than a mile into the run.  The belt I wear, that also fits her, is no longer available cuz I use my stuff until it dies on the trail.  We both had success with the Fitletic belt  and liked the way that it rode and more importantly stayed put and didn’t move around.  I also let a friend try it out while we were running because she too has issues with poor fitting hydration belts.  We were 3 for 3 on this belt with big smiles and all thumbs up.  Smile  Here is a back view of myself with the belt.  I normally wear my bottles on the back.  That’s what I’m used to doing.  However, if you wanted instant access to the pouch, or you’re racing and need the bib toggles, wear it facing front. 


There are little grippers on the inside of the belt that I haven’t seen on other hydration belts.  They remind me of the grippers on the inside of bike & TRI shorts.  These little boogers really help hold the belt in place so it doesn’t move around.  Great idea!

IMG_7305  IMG_7515

The Fitletic hydration belts come in a variety of color accents, all with reflective piping.  There are two size options:  12 oz (2 – 6 oz bottles) or 16 oz (2 – 8 oz bottles).  If you are running long for marathon training or if you are a trail runner who can’t rely on a spot to refill water, then I’d recommend the 16oz belt.  The 16oz option is more compatible with traditional hydration belts.  Personally, if I go much bigger than 8 oz bottles on a belt, my experience has been that they really start to weigh me down. 

For the purpose of this giveaway, we are giving away one 12 oz Hydration Belt, a $39.95 value.


The giveaway starts NOW and runs til WED, July 15th at 11am EST.  That’s 10am for those of you in the CHI.  In order to be eligible for the giveaway you MUST make a comment below.  Tell us about your favorite way to stay hydrated on the run!  Do you already use a hydration belt that you love?  Do you drop water along the way?  Do prefer a handheld or even a hydration pack?

For extra entries, you can get one additional entries for doing the following:

  • Like Fitletic on Facebook HERE 
  • Follow Fitletic on Twitter HERE
  • Follow Fitletic on Instagram HERE

Four possible entries, make sure you let me know in your comment if you did anything additional.  Example:  “My favorite way to carry water on the run is to have my hubby drive beside me in the car and hand me my water bottle whenever I’m thirsty!  I also liked Fitletic on Facebook.” 

If you have to have one of these belts before you win the giveaway next WED, and I totally get that, then feel free to order one HERE using the 10% discount code:  amanda10

**  Happy HYDRATED Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

For the most up to date info on future giveaways, follow TooTooFritz on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Swimming to TRI … Tips on Surviving the Swim in YOUR First (or Next) Triathlon

Let’s be honest, if you’re swimming laps at your local YMCA, then it’s probably not because you are a diehard lover of the swim.  You have a triathlon on the calendar, right?  Yeah, me too!  And that’s why I’m in the lane right next to you.

lap swimming

Every time I meet a new triathlete, I hear the same story.  They fear the swim.  In today’s world, every parent I know, besides myself, has their kid signed up to be Olympic swimmers on a local swim team.  But in my day, swimming wasn’t all the rage.  Sure we went to the pool in the summer.  We swam in the lake with our friends and family.  But nobody was going to be the next Missy Franklin.  It was a different world when I grew up but it’s those “non swimmers” from my generation who are now creating the newest group of triathletes.  Why?   Cuz we are now middle aged women.  Looking for something that we can call our own.  Something outside the hubby, kids and the J.O.B.  Something just for us.

sky is not the limit

And so we sign up for our first triathlon.  We know we can run, been doing that for a few years now, right?  And we learned to ride a bike as a child.  Once you learn, you never forget, right?  The bike may be old, need a tune up or possibly new tires (since the old ones were dry rotted) but it will cover the distance for a sprint triathlon.  So you’re in and registered.  But what about the swim?  Here is everything I know about swimming a TRI.  I’ve never taken lessons but have done a few swim clinics and I always ask advice from lifeguards, swim teachers, swim coaches or high school/college swimmers when I get the chance.  If you’re a swimmer, I’ll probably ask you questions, even if you are my 10 year old niece.  Smile

Triathlon SWIM Tips:

  • Relax.  You’re not going to drown.  And if you think you might drown, please stop reading this and go find a coach!
  • Practice may not make you perfect but it will ease your nerves.  You have to swim before your TRI.  Minimum 1x a week.  More if you have the time.  The more time you spend in the water pre-race, the better.  You will get more comfortable with each swim session. 
  • Get a good swim cap and a tinted pair of goggles.  Start using them in the pool  while practicing so they won’t seem foreign on race day.  Goggles are not required during triathlon but you do want to protect your eyes from other peoples fingers, the water & even the sun (thus the reason for tinted goggles).  Swim caps will be required and provided by the race to distinguish your swim start & age group.
  • There are no rules regarding the type of swim stroke in a triathlon.  You can freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, sidestroke or even dog paddle, as long as you get in and out of the water on your own power.  So if you start to feel panicky while swimming, pull your head out of the water and do a different stroke. 
  • Keep moving in the water.  Triathlon swims normally start in waves, usually by age group.  Each wave is separated by a specified amount of time, anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.    Meaning that groups will start before you and then there will be a group immediately behind you. Keep moving because the faster swimmers from the wave behind you will be upon you (and passing you) before you know it. 
  • Mentally prepare yourself to be around people while swimming.  This won’t be like your lonely practice swims at the Y.  There will be 20-100+ people around you at any given moment. 
  • There will be lifeguards and spotters in the water with or near you.  On boats, paddle boards, wave runners, canoes, etc.  If you cramp or panic, you can hold into a boat/paddle board/buoy for support as long as the lifeguard doesn’t have to actually assist you in any way. 
  • Fastest stroke for most people is freestyle, or front crawl.  Where your face is in the water. 
  • If you tend to swim crooked, try bilateral breathing, where you breathe equally on both sides of your body.  Easier said than done for someone like me.  Bilateral breathing has been a goal of mine for 4 or 5 years and I’m just finally getting it now.  Bilateral breathing tip (from a swim coach at the YMCA of Dekalb) – Use a kick board initially.  Hold the kickboard out in front of your body with straight arms.  Just kick to propel yourself & the board forward, then put your face in the water and practice breathing.  First breath on your strong side, next one on your weak side.  Couple times down and back & you’ll be ready to rock this on your own while practicing your freestyle.  You may get a few partial mouthfuls  of water (at least I do) but it will help even out your stroke and straighten up your swim.
  • Freestyle stroke requires that you lift your head out of the water on occasion to “spot” or check your position in an open water swim.  The most efficient way to spot is to do so right before you breathe.  So lift your eyes slightly out of the water in the front, then turn your head to breathe.  You just need a quick glance to make sure you are still on path.  Example HERE with a video in section #4.
  • If you are in a slip stream of another swimmer, you can just follow along and that will require less spotting (and less energy) on your part, just don’t follow them blindly in the event that they get off course.
  • Some TRIs, have a line or rope that runs between buoys.  If you can find the line and stay on it, you will not need to site because you can just follow that rope.  Sweet!
  • Swim freestyle with a wider arm stance.  Don’t cross your arms in front of your body when you swim.  Most of us ladies, bring our arms over our head and our hand enters the water in front of our head/face.  Wrong.  That’s wasting motion, kinda like running with your arms pumping and crossing in front of your body.  It’s the same thing.  Think wider, almost awkward, swim stroke where your hand enters the water parallel to the body.  Confused?  Hold your arms straight out in front of your body, parallel to the ground.  Like a movie zombie or sleepwalker!  That’s the position of arm entry.  At the side of your ears.  Not in front of your head.

parallel stroke


  • One your hand enters the water, reach in front of you to get the full motion of the stroke, then pull back in the water with loose fingers (not a tightly cupped hand which wastes energy) toward your hip bone.  At the same time your body is rotating for efficiency and to get ready to take a breath.  When you hand gets to where your hip was, the hip should be gone because the body has tilted/rotated.  When I’m in the water, I imagine my hand almost pushing my hip up and out of the way.  Not a perfect example below.  I’d like to see his hip rotate out a bit more on the top pic but still a decent example.

body rotation


Complete diagram of full stroke.



That’s pretty much everything I know about swimming.  If you have additional tips, please share because I am far from an expert and would love to learn more!!  Know that I’m not fast but I can cover whatever distance.  I’m trying to get to the pool at least 2x a week now.  Still not a lot but better.  I just think about my bilateral breathing, wide arm stance/entry, reaching thru the stroke so as not to cheat myself, and then body rotation where my hand pushes my hip out of the way.  I still need  to work on my flutter kick.  Sometimes I forget to kick.

If you plan to wear a wetsuit in your TRI, watch the first video in this link HERE.  Judy, please watch it cuz I’ll need you to help me get my too small wetsuit on at Steelhead!!!

Other helpful TRI posts: 

** Swimming to TRI ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Hidden Treasurers …. The Spencerville Covered Bridge

I took all of 2014 off cycling due to the sudden move from IL to IN.  The stress of finding a new house while packing up the IL home.  All while working full time.  Being a full time mom with a hubby who had pretty much already moved ahead of us for work.   And let’s not even talk about how crazy long it took to complete the move itself.    I basically didn’t do much last year other than run to maintain sanity, then try not to lose my mind while I wasn’t running ….. and I didn’t even do that very well.  Regardless, since last August, I’ve been running on my country roads here in rural Indiana.   Should be boring, right?

IMG_7294  IMG_6933  IMG_7293 

Wrong.  I’ve had a couple close calls where I was almost struck by unaware motorists.  One time a lady was so close to me that I could have reached into her car and touched her child who was riding passenger.   Did she see me?  Probably not.  Was the sun in her eyes?  Maybe.  Or was she trying to teach me a lesson to “get off the road”.  Possibly.

As a result, I was a bit worried about getting my bike out.  In fact, I was scared.   While running, I’m legally obligated to run facing oncoming vehicular traffic.  While cycling, I’m legally obligated to ride with vehicular traffic.  Blind to what is coming behind me.  Blind to the fact that someone may be unaware that I’m on the road.  On a bike.  Vulnerable.  At His mercy.  If it weren’t for my love of triathlon; I’d probably have left my bike on the trainer again for 2015.  But I’m signed up for Ironman 70.3 Steelhead.  And I must ride.  Outside.  On the road.  In the wind.  Up and down whatever hills I can find.  Alone.


All of a sudden, I remember how much I love cycling.  How much I love my bike.  How great it is to fly down the hills.  How horrid it is to struggle UP the hills.  How freeing it is to be able to ride for hours on end to parts unknown.  On one of my recent rides, I went looking for something that I had read about, in a small town near my home.  A covered bridge.  Indiana is known for it’s old covered bridges (98 in all) but I had no idea that one was so close to my new home.  The Spencerville Covered Bridge was built in 1873 and it’s a mere 11 miles from my house!

IMG_7034  IMG_7041

A hidden historic treasure.  Basically in my backyard.  One that not many locals think about since traffic has long been rerouted away from the bridge to protect it from overuse, modern vehicles and big massive semi trucks that have previously damaged this old girl.   Now she just sits awaiting our arrival.  While I was there multiple people pulled up and snapped pics.   One couple even lingered, looking at this piece of modern day history, walking the interior planks.  There is a small parking area on the east side of the bridge for those who want to do more than just drive by.  If you are in the area, go check it out!

I’m thankful to be back on the bike.  I’ve been trying to ride more and run less.  Easier said than done for this runner.  But I’m enjoying the journey.  Enjoying my bike and the wind in my hair.  I love finding hidden treasures like the Spencerville Covered Bridge.  I enjoy riding new roads and finding new routes, particularly if there are a couple hills on which I can practice climbing and shifting. 

** Get Out and Find YOUR Local Hidden Treasurers!  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz