Self Defense Class ……

After the last lady was attacked on our local trail, I personally asked a local martial arts guru (Dennis Wright Martial Arts) to set up a ladies self defense class.    Yesterday was the day and Aby & I, plus Michael, went out to the event at a local park.  I can’t say anyone besides Michael was excited to go.  Aby had a rough track & field schedule last week and I have been sick since last Tuesday (am still sick, getting an antibiotic today!!).  We were all tired but you can’t bail on an event when you ask someone to put it on for you!

I’m not sure what I expected.  I’m not sure what other events are like.  However, this was a very interactive event with instruction, demonstration and lots of drills.  We hit, we kicked, we kneed, we poked eyes, slapped ears and kicked the “poor” attackers (demonstrators) in the balls more times than they probably want to admit. Photos below from Women of Caliber (not our actual class) & Kravchicks.

image   image   image

We did two different types of choke hold rolls & learned how to get out of a hold if pinned to the ground by an attacker.  Lots of repetition.  Lots of pounding.  Lots of kicking, kneeing & twisting out of wrist holds.  I’m definitely bruised today on my knees, lower arm & wrists.

battered knees   image

What I learned:  1)  Don’t grab onto Aby cuz she can’t wait to kick you in the balls or pound her knuckles on you.  2)  Kids learn more quickly than adults and aren’t afraid of hurting the demonstrators.  Sorry demonstrators!    3)  These types of classes need to be repeated, multiple times.  There is no way to absorb everything all in one session.  4)  Good time & money investment to take a few classes.   YOU are worth it!!  5)  Always hope that you never have to use self defense but can actually defer a situation by yelling STOP and scaring the crap out of someone who didn’t expect you to be on top of the situation.  6)  Don’t fight, just do what you need to do to put enough distance between you and an attacker to get away. 

Have you taken a self defense class?  How many classes do you think it takes to actually “sink in”? 

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

How to Pick the Right Run Club….

If you’re lucky, running clubs in your area are a dime a dozen and ONE SIZE certainly does not fit all.  You need to find one that caters to your needs, your ability level and one that is accommodating to your family’s schedule. 

There is no such thing as a “real” running club.  If the club runs, then they are a running club.  No question.   No exception.  However, each club normally has a specific focus.

Let’s look at my local run clubs in south suburban Chicago and breakdown their specialties so you can pick one that fits your needs.

Tinley Track & Trail – Probably the fastest club in our area.  See the description below from their blog.  “Premier Running Club”.  If you are fast and want to get faster, contact Rich.  He’ll help you fasties get even faster, rack up age group awards at every event you enter and you will finally have a group of equals with which you can run and workout.  If your slow, don’t go.  You might cry at the first workout; I know I would.  Speed work on WED night, long (fast) runs on SAT morn. 


Park Forest Running and Pancake Club –  Probably the longest established group in our area.  The PFRPC was established in 1978 and I think some of their original members still run with the group today.  They have a great crew, very welcoming.  They accept fasties and slow pokes alike.  They generally run on SAT & SUN, locations vary with intermittent Full Moon Runs throughout the year.  Love their motto:  “Start Slowly and Taper Off”.


Frankfort-New Lenox Running Club – One of the newest clubs in the area.  I think they had about 30 members 1.5 years ago and now they have over 475 members on their Facebook page.  This group offers low key group runs every day of the week except Friday.  Locations vary from Manhattan, New Lenox to Frankfort.  All paces & distances welcome.  Large contingent of run/walkers, lots of cyclists & triathletes.  Lots of racing, Lots of cheering, Lots of “cheerleading” to encourage newbies.  No membership fee.


Kankakee River Running Club – Large contingent of far Southside runners.  This group is very eclectic with ultra runners, trail runners, road racers and marathoners.  They work speed on a local track in Kankakee on TUE & THUR evenings, and usually hit some sort of wooded trail over the weekend.  Lots of variety in this club.  Lots of welcoming friendly faces.  Lots of racing locally and throughout this US.   $15 membership gets you a discount to A LOT of local races. 

Swallow Cliff Trail Runners – This group is true to it’s name.  They run Swallow Cliff and the surrounding trails.  They even hit the stairs before or after their runs to make it legit!   Runs are normally on SUN mornings or specifically scheduled thru their Facebook page. 


Yankee Runners –   If you have qualified for Boston and are living in the south suburbs, you will most likely eventually find you way to the Yankee Runners.  During the summer, they pound out miles with CARA in Yankee Woods.  During the winter, they pound out long training runs in the hills of Palos Heights.  This is a warm and welcoming group as long as you don’t mind running their hills.  Most runs on Saturday mornings.  Actual coaching, training plans and prep for half marathon and marathon distance events.


CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) –    This group has the largest membership of any run club in our area with over 10,000 members.  They run Chicago and the surrounding burbs.  They have a subgroup within a 30 min drive of most areas but almost all runs (except Montrose Harbor) happen on Saturday mornings.  If you are looking for a training plan to run a race, or if you need group runs with actual pace leaders then this is the group for you.  Membership fees and training plans are not cheap but include a lot of extras in each package.  They deliver what is promised, as long as you show up and do the work.


Channahon-Minooka Running Club – A newer club, the CMRC frequently runs the I&M Canal trail and local parks in Lemont, Channahon & Minooka. Good friendly group.  Lots of running, racing & cheerleading.  Get on their Facebook page to hook up with runners in this area.


The above list consists of local clubs that are close to me and when I say “close”, I mean within a 30-45 minute drive.  There will never probably be anything in my backyard since I live in the middle of nowhere but I do like to travel around, try new trails and meet new people.  I also like to utilize the various clubs for their strong points whether that be a nice group run with lots of varied paces or a good speed workout.  Sometimes I decide where to go depending on what I can fit into our hectic family schedule.   I will always be FNRC proud but it is important that I maximize the opportunities in my area and meet as many local runners as possible.

Please peruse this list if you are a  Chicago south suburban runner.  Find a club, or two, or three that fits your needs!   If you are not in my area then look for run clubs in your area on one of the following sites:  Running in the USA, CARA (Chicago area only), Road Runners of America (only chartered run clubs are listed), US Run Clubs, Cool Running or RunningPage.

Any local clubs that I have missed?  Add them into the comments below!

** Happy Running ** Amanda – **

How to Recover from a Marathon, The 7 Day Plan

I’ll preface this post by stating again that I’m not a coach, nor do I pretend to be, and recovery is different for everyone. This is the TTF version.

Immediately following the marathon – Drink a Recovery Drink, Ice, Roll, Compress & Pray

Day 1 – Eat Pizza and Drink Beer (water is good too!)
Day 2 – Light stretching, yoga if you dare. More water.


Day 3 – Water, Stretching, Light walk with the kiddos, swim if you have access to a pool because it will help with any latent swelling.
Day 4 – Water, Stretching, See your Chiro or go get a massage to milk those muscles and give your body some TLC! You’re probably ready to run by now if you’re not injured but I caution holding off another couple days unless you are Superwoman. If you must, try the elliptical and see how your legs and joints feel after some non-imact type “running”.
Day 5 – Spin! Biking using a stationary bike or just getting out on the road will stretch out your muscles and give your quads a good workout. Don’t be surprised if they are still tired!
Day 6 – Don’t shoot me, Frogger! I would definitely run by Saturday if I hadn’t already and I was feeling good. Keep it short and sweet. Nothing fast. Nothing exciting. Don’t try to keep up with local run club, no matter how tempting.
Day 7 – As The Lord says, it’s a rest day. Particularly after a marathon the previous weekend. Take this time to let your body refresh and heal. Please don’t go into another intense training plan right away. If your mortal, you will need some downtime. That means downtime for the body. And the mind. Rest, Relax, Rehab. It’s important so that your body repairs properly.

Most take the first two weeks after a marathon easy. I know I do. Of course, every BODY is different and you need to do what’s best for you but a couple weeks to a month completely off is going to do more good than harm. Better safe than sorry, right?

Marathon, train, compete in cycles. Every up cycle needs a down swing. For me, I will follow up this marathon cycle with triathlon training. I’ll still be busy but I’ll be focusing more on the swim and bike and less on the run. It will allow my body to heal and hopefully come back to 100% before I try this “thing” called marathon again. But I’ll be out for blood in October at Chicago so watch out. Marathon, you have not beaten me but I respect you and my body enough to take a break and down cycle in order to go after it good in the summer/fall. Watch out.

** Don’t Forget to Recover ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Emerging Leaders……

I’m to the point in my life where I’ve mostly surrounded myself by GOOD people.  I’ve cut the crap.  Don’t have time for the bullshit.  And spend time, for the most part, with people I like.  People who do good things.  People who want good things for others.  People who treat one another with respect.


As as result, I notice really great things happening to a lot of different individuals.  The individuals who I met initially who were just at the beginning of a journey and I have had the pleasure of watching them grow, progress and develop.  People who didn’t necessarily have a lot of confidence 12 or 18 months ago but who have blossomed into another person as they started checking off goals and racking up accomplishments.  These people have gained a level of confidence never known to them previously.  These people are now leaders in our community in some way shape or form.


So remember to treat one another with respect.  Encourage your friend and neighbor alike because that “mouse” or wallflower will eventually blossom and who knows how they will influence your life, or that of others, thereafter. 

We are surrounded by emerging leaders, but sometimes they come in disguise.  Do your part to help them blossom, to emerge, to lead.

** Come Forth Emerging Leaders; We Are Waiting For You!! ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Lansing Marathon Race Review & Personal Experience

First, let me start by saying that marathons are NOT easy for me.  In fact, they are damn super hard.  You won’t catch me signing up for Marathon Maniacs anytime in this century.  However, if you are a member of a “I hate marathons but run them anyway” group, then let me know cuz I’m sure I’d qualify for that one!

Why do I run marathons?  Not sure.  Let’s come back to that next week, ok?  After the swelling has subsided and Alexis has worked out my hip “issue” and the blisters on my toes have fully drained and I can walk without a hobble. Next week.  We’ll talk next week.

For now, let’s break down the 2013 Lansing Marathon, the only way that I know how via “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” method.  Smile

The Good

  • Nice, scenic downtown venue with restaurants and entertainment within walking distance of hotel.  

                                                                                             Lansing Marthon_capital

  • Free parking for expo and race.
  • Amazing Volunteers
  • Lively spectators.
  • Fully stocked aid stations with water, electrolyte drink, various snacks (oranges, m&m’s, pretzels)
  • Bathrooms scattered throughout the course
  • Start & Finish location next to the Lansing Center which allowed us to wait inside until just minutes before the start.
  • Well marked course, mile marker signs, police & volunteers to direct & protect runners.
  • Variety of race distances:  5K, Half Marathon, Marathon Relay & Full Marathon
  • Smaller race, good for PRs.  363 full finishers, 1187 half finishers.
  • Officials left the course open for as long as it took for everyone to finish all events.
  • Race Officials & National Guard (or some type of military crew), lined the finish shoot and gave the very last runner a standing ovation.  Nice touch.

Lansing Marthon_last finisher 

  • Great friends, F’N Runners & a nice Chicago crew were on location to run Lansing!  F’N Runners left, most of the Chicago crew right.

Lansing Marathon_ group

Lansing Marathon_chicago crew

The Bad

  • Original course had flooded so they had to reroute the course at the last minute.  Therefore, the scenic river trail running was mostly cut out and we were shuffled thru town, along highways, across train tracks & thru residential neighborhoods.  Not real exciting.
  • Broken up roads from winter weather, had to watch footing.
  • Hills.  Nothing insane but it wasn’t flat.  Lots of up and down rollers.  One long climb that wasn’t steep, just longish.
  • Expo was very light.  Not a lot of vendors, more of a packet pickup.
  • Race shirts were unisex and oversized.  Nice color, design and logo, just too big for most of us.

Lansing Marathon_shirt

  • Double loop course (due to it being rerouted).  Rough seeing the mile marker signs for the second half while hitting that first loop.  Rough knowing the first loop was tough and we had to tackle it again.
  • Train.  Many of us were stopped by a train; however, race officials have offered to adjust times accordingly.  If you were stopped, check the Lansing Marathon Facebook page HERE for details as to how you might get your time adjusted.

The Ugly

  • My race.  Hips started burning/hurting at Mile 8 and they still hurt 2 days post race.
  • Passing the finish line party as the half way mark of my already “ugly” race.
  • Knowing my friends were waiting on me for a long time.
  • Having to resort to run/walk to just keep moving.
  • Getting to Mile 20 slower than in any other of my previous 4 marathons.

Lansing Marathon_mile 20

  • Lonely second half of the race at the back of the pack.
  • Had to send an SOS message to my F’N Runners and have them come back to help/distract me.
  • Having a bad race on a perfect weather day.  Sad smile
  • Blistered feet/toes & bruised ego.

But none of that really mattered when I finally crossed the finish line.

Lansing Marthon_me finish   Lansing Marthon_me & sue  Lansing Marathon_medal

Official time is currently 4:48:59.  However, there is speculation that the time will be adjusted for the train that stopped the majority of us runners. If that is the case, and if they take off the 4 minutes that we waited, then my time will be 4:44, which ironically is also my bib number for the race.  Poetic.

Lansing Marthon_bib medal

Weather the time is adjusted or not, I really don’t care either way.  It won’t affect my real life in any way shape or form.  I do this for fun …..  even if I have yet to have a “fun” marathon.  I like the training.  I like that it pushes my limits.  I like that it takes me beyond my comfort zone.  And I like most of all, that it gives me a foundation for which I can work from moving forward.  I’m not at all deterred that I had a rough race, just more determined to make the next one better.

All in all, I’d definitely recommend the Lansing Marathon.  It’s a great race and ran very well.  Most of the items listed in the “bad” section were either out of control of race officials  (hello, flooding!!!)  or things which they are attempting to rectify.  Good race.  Good management.  Good people who care about you and your race experience.  I’d go back.

Lastly, let me shout out to my F’N Runners who ran so very, very well in Lansing.  Susan M won her age group and qualified for Boston (after running her first 50 miler just 2 weeks previous)!!!  Joe D hit a big PR for the half & took 5th in his age group, then came back to run almost all of us into the finish.  He may have registered for the half but he ran over 18 miles before it was all said and done by helping us.   April W smashed her previous half marathon PR by over 17 minutes!!  Kim B ran an amazing race and rallied the troops to come back to help me when I sent the SOS!  Keith G runs a marathon almost every weekend and he still managed to go sub 3:45!    Amazing runners.  Amazing people.  I am so happy to have shared the Lansing journey with all of them!

And thanks to all of you for your well wishes, happy thoughts and words of encouragement.  Good times.  Good friends. 

** Keep Running, At Whatever Pace YOU Can Manage ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Moving on ….. The Lansing Marathon

As we watch the morning news and see that progress is definitely being made toward apprehending the Boston Bombers, I have no choice but to suck it up move on and refocus on MY running.  The Lansing Marathon is this weekend.  Sunday.  Time to get my head together.  Time to run.

What is my goal?  To finish.  What is my plan?  To show up on time.  What will I do when it starts to hurt?  Cry. What’s my mantra?  Don’t hyperventilate.  What am I wearing?  NOW we have something to talk about!

Along the line of my Blackout for Boston this week, the tragedy, and in respect for the Boston Marathon and it’s amazing history, I’m going all black.  Black with a few blue/yellow accents for respect.

Athleta Swagger Skort with Aspaeris Pivot Shorts

image    image

Champion Cardio Tank (I didn’t have a black tank!!), Saucony DryLete Arm Warmers (Last Chance sale section) & Zensah Compression Calf Sleeves.

image   image   image

Depending on the weather, I’ll add either running sunglasses or a visor.
ShamrockShuffle_2013_Pete's pic    FNRC visor

Blue/Yellow Accents – DIY decorative scrunchie & messy yellow nails with blue mosaic madness top coat.

blue yellow scrunchi  blue yellow nails

Now, I’m ready to run!!!  I may not be fast but I probably won’t be last.  I may not be smooth but I’ll keep moving.  I may not have lost that extra 5 lbs but I’ll be thankful my legs are healthy and able to carry me the 26.2 miles from start to finish.  Thankfulness, that’s what will keep me moving.  Thankful for the ability to run.  Thankful for the desire to run.  Thankful for my family members who are safe and healthy.  Thankful for friends I’ve made along the way.  Thankful to live in a place where most of the time, we live safely, free from the intrusion of crazies who want to destroy our spirit.  Thankful.  That’s what will propel me thru this 26.2 miles of hell fun in Lansing, Michigan.

If you see me, please say hello.  I’d love to meet YOU!!

**  Moving On & Ready to Run ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Boston Run To Remember….

Boston Run To Remember_bib

Too sad to do much else other than run, the kiddos and I joined a local group, the Kankakee River Running Club for a Boston Run To Remember.

52 Adults and children participated.

Boston Run To Remember_group

Boston Run To Remember

Aby, Michael and I were content to just run and hang toward the back of the pack.  The response from the community, the local businesses, and the cars passing by was overwhelming as people cheered, honked their horn and showed support in any way they were able.

Boston Run To Remember_me-michael-aby bring up rear

We were happy to participate.  We were happy to show our support.  We were happy to do SOMETHING other than feel overwhelmed and powerless.

Boston Run To Remember_kids     Boston Run To Remember_me-michael-aby

I’m still sad.  I’m still overwhelmed.  I’m still not going to “say” anything about the tragedy.  However, I’m a runner.  I run.  That’s how I process things and this too will eventually be processed, even if impossible to ever understand.

** Run On ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Blackout ….. In Respect for the Boston Marathon Tragedy

I’m blacking out.
In respect for the Boston Marathon tragedy.
I’m devastated.
I’m horrified.
I’m going off line.
As a mother, wife, runner, I anguish over the terror that not only the runners felt but PARTICULARLY for the spectators.
For the families.
For the children.
For everyone involved.
God bless everyone involved.
May God grant you peace, comfort and as always wrap you in His loving arms.

2nd Annual ENHS Alumni Fun Run

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

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

ENHS_2013 fun run_group

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


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

ENHS_2013 fun run_hill  

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

me_bixler trail_3-31-12

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

ENHS_2013 fun run_stream

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

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

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

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

Boston Mania & Why I’ll Never Qualify

Boston Mania is in the air!  We are excited.  We are ready.  Yet, most of us aren’t even running! 


The 117th running of the Boston Marathon will occur Monday morning at 9:30 am Eastern or 8:30 am Central Time (Chicago area).  Most of us will be glued to our computers working as the elites and our fast friends take to the the streets of Boston.  For many, the Boston Marathon is the race of all races.  The one that runners dream about for years.   The one for which most will never be able to run due to the fast qualifying standards.  The one that has become tradition for so many of the “faster” marathon runners.

It’s a race that holds me on the edge of my seat for approximately 2.5 hours each Patriot’s Day.  I love watching the race.  I love rooting for our American elites, hoping that this will be the year that one of them can hit the finish line first and win the Boston title for themselves and all of the rest of us who love this race so much.

Regardless of how much I love this race, I have no illusion as to toeing the line anytime within this decade.  My current age group requires me to run a 3:40 (actually a 3:45 since I will turn 40 before the 118th Boston Marathon but that’s still an 8:35 min/mi pace).  The standards are HERE if you need to look.   However, the thought of running that fast for that long makes me want to cry. 

The ladies from our area who have been busting their ass training all winter for Boston have really been going after it.  This is no joke.  Although, I do believe talent plays a major role in those who are able to BQ, it also requires a lot of work.  Focused training.  The overwhelming desire to hit the times, paces and tempos where most of us would just wuss out  walk away.  I am amazed by their efforts.  I am amazed by their dedication.  I am amazed by their push.

Seeing these women train has cemented the fact for me that at this point in my life, I do NOT have what it takes to BQ.  I don’t have the desire or the push.  If I want to walk, I will.  If I want to run slow, I will.  I just want to run without any time or pace requirements attached.  I’m not really even following a training plan for the Lansing Marathon, which is a mere 8 days away.  I ran the long runs on the schedule but didn’t do the speed or tempo work.  I ran more than I was supposed to on many days, did zero cross training and ran less than I was supposed to on other days.  I’ve heard people say, “Fail to plan, plan to fail” but I don’t believe that.  I just think that at this point in my life, managing work/family/life is more important to me that nailing a training plan.  Maybe I’m lazy.  Maybe I’m tired.  Maybe I just want there to be one aspect of my life which doesn’t require a “plan”. 

So my  lackadaisical approach to running will be the reason why I won’t be hitting that BQ any time soon.  Of course, I can always hope that after Susan M finishes the Lansing Marathon, that she will come back for me and carry me those last 6 miles.  Then I might have a chance.  Smile  Or maybe not.

How about you?  Are you killing your runs and workouts?  Are you aiming for the coveted BQ?  Or are you like me, just content to run relaxed and watch the Boston Marathon streaming on your computer?

**  Too Tired to Check The Training Plan **  Amanda – TooTallFritz **