Distance Divas With Amy Yoder Begley

Do you know any famous people?  Maybe an Artist, Actor, Writer, Singer, Professional Athlete or an Olympian?   Most probably do not, particularly if you come from Small Town USA, like me.  However, my high school managed to be home to two kick-ass amazing athletes while I was there and those athletes eventually landed professional contracts.   One, Brad Miller, we watched on the basketball court tearing things up until his retirement just last season, the other,  Amy Yoder Begley we watched on the track. 

As the internet grew and social media became more popular, it has been easier than ever to watch Amy develop as an athlete on the track.  I didn’t have to stalk watch her website for tidbits of info, instead her upcoming races, progress and results were always posted to Facebook or Twitter.  While watching Amy’s career, I also became interested in her coach Alberto Salazar and her training partner, Kara Goucher.   See Goucher & Begley celebrate below on the track after they both qualified in the 10,000 meters to represent Team USA for the 2008 Beijing Olympics (click on the green link for full article in Runners World).

How Amy Begley Made the 10K Team

Photograph by Victah Sailer

So while watching Amy & Kara, this led to and eventual interest in Shalane, then Desi.  I now have an interest in all things related to women’s running and I’m not sure that would be the case if it weren’t for Amy.  Thank you, Amy!

Recently, Amy has embarked on her newest endeavor and is creating a community of women runners called the Distance Divas.  When I originally heard about the Distance Divas, I was certainly intrigued but didn’t even consider it would be a group for someone like me, an injured amateur runner.  It appears that I was wrong.  The purpose of this group is to connect women runners throughout the country.  The group focus will be social with an emphasis on training tips and advice presented in a members only forum where we can ask questions and talk with one another and get input from Amy on a regular basis.  Coaching is also available for those who may be a lot more serious than me but it’s optional, not required.  Eventually there will be races.  Yes, races.  Races where we can gather as a group and meet one another.  Races which Amy will attend and host social events and group runs.  Have you ever ran with an Olympian?  This is your chance!

After reading all the cool stuff on the Distance Divas website I basically assumed that I couldn’t afford to join the members only group.  I wanted to be a Distance Diva really badly but didn’t even want to click open the “Join this Group” tab and see the cost.  Do you want to know the cost?  Is this something that would interest you too?  $50.  Yep, $50 is the cost to be part the inaugural Distance Divas.  I’m in and I hope to see some of you over in the forum too!  There aren’t many of us yet but I’m pretty sure that will change fast.  So look for me on the trail in my new Distance Diva tee, which is included with the membership!

Diva V  Diva Back

Photo Source:  BegleyTrack.com

For the record, I don’t make any $$ if you decide to be a Distance Diva; I just thought it was a cool concept and something that will really take off as the word gets out so I wanted to tell you about it.   And in my book, all of you ladies are Distance Divas.  Keep running; I’ll see YOU on the trail!  🙂

** Run Like a DIVA ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com

Rough Waters……In the Pool?

Now that summer is officially in full swing, the local indoor pools have moved toward summer hours.  This means the  pools are packed all the time when they are open with swim lessons,

Swim Lessons_kids

Master Swimmers & Triathletes,

swimmer_masters men

And then me, trying to find a spot somewhere in between.

swimming cartoon girl

I don’t consider myself to be a “swimmer”, which I’m sure many of you can understand.  How long was it that you were running before you considered yourself a “runner”?  I always say that anyone who runs is  runner regardless of distance or pace.  Therefore, I should probably consider myself a swimmer.  It just seems like such a stretch. 

I’m a triathlete, that I own.  I swim because of triathlon.  When I’m not in season, I don’t go to the pool.  When I’m pregnant, I don’t go to the pool.  When I’m injured which is a rarity, I don’t go to the pool.  I only go to the pool when I’m in season and trust me, I’ll push it off as looooooong as possibly before I haul myself in for a workout.  I don’t dislike swimming, it’s just inconvenient.  I can’t do it at home and I have to physically go somewhere, during hours which they are open, in order to participate.  Not easy.  I am heading to work when most people are meeting for an “early”  5:30 or 6am run or swim.  The pool doesn’t even open before I have to start showering and getting ready for work, so I have to steal time out of my day to make it happen. 

Yesterday, I stole time from the family, hit the pool when it reopened at 5pm and squeezed into a lane between a couple Michael Phelps looking fellows,

michael-phelps      michael-phelps_swimming

a normal looking dude swimming with a pull buoy, 4 ladies doing their exercises and about 50 kiddos who were conquering swim lessons.   Wow, was it rough in that pool.  I have swam in calmer waters during triathlon races in rain & thunderstorms.  The Phelps Brothers were tearing up the water, spitting water, kicking water and creating a current that felt slightly like an undertow.  Mr. Pull Buoy was swimming faster when he was actually swimming with is pull buoy than I can swim in a race.  He was even doing flip turns with that thing and making a good amount of commotion in his lane as well.  The noise from the coaches, the whistles, the kids was deafening.  I had water hitting my back coming from countless directions but I just kept swimming (say that again in Dory’s voice from Finding Nemo cuz that’s how I hear it in my head).  I just kept focusing on counting my laps.  And I just kept swimming and counting.  Pretty much all of the normal things I focus on like reaching, being smooth, breathing, etc. all of that was eliminated last night as it took 100% focus to just keep count and swim.  I did that for 88 laps, non-stop.  I assumed I was slower than the nice calm swim I had with Susan the other day but was surprised to see upon completion that I was actually faster.  48 minutes for 1.2 miles.  No flip turns for this non-fish, non-masters swimmer…….I just keep swimming.  And apparently, “just” swimming has its own benefits when one settles into a routine.

I’m feeling good.  I’ll never be able to keep up with the fasties in the pool but I know I can “just keep swimming” for as long as it takes to get out of the water.  At the end of the day, I’m okay with that.  If we just keep TRI-ing then we improve, its bound to happen.  Don’t get discouraged that you can’t run with the big dogs, just keep moving forward and TRI-ing.

** Keep TRI-ing ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com

Sporty Spice….

Growing up in the era of the Spice Girls, I have always considered myself a “Sporty” Spice.  I’ve never been particularly glamorous, have never been particularly outgoing, never had a ton of friends but what I do have is my sportiness and I do my best to own it.  Normally, I am perfectly happy to be a Sporty Spice.  I do have nice clothes and do dress up to go out on the rare occasion when we can secure a sitter.  However, for the most part, I am content to live and sleep in my workout/running clothes, do errands, pick up the kids and go to track meets between workouts and usually possibly before I’ve showered off the last sweat fest.

On a rare occasion, I notice get a glimpse into the other side and it always makes me go hmmmmm?  Last week I caught glimpse of a mom who looked and dressed like the skinny version of Marie Osmond with aviator shades, heels and a nice leather jacket…….cruising the bleachers at a track meet.  Hmmmmmm…..

Then today I dropped Aby off at a friend’s house and Mom was all made up, dressed to kill and walking the house in heels.  Hmmmmmm……..  Is our small town turning into home of the Stepford Wives?

Everywhere I turn women are looking hot & sexy and I’m covered in sweat, wearing dirty clothes and running shoes, hmmmmm…..

As of today, my Sporty Spice look and attitude isn’t feeling too “cool”.  I try to reassure myself with, “Hey, but YOU ran 20 miles this weekend”.  However, I didn’t get in my FRI night bike ride due to scheduling, my SAT run was a nice press but not uncomfortable and the run today was down right leisurely.  My body feels like I took the weekend off, which is not how I normally feel on a Sunday night.  Hmmmm…..

Are you a Sporty Spice, a Stepford Wife, or something totally different?  How do you label yourself?  Or are you lucky enough to live without and/or beyond labels?

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for the PersonalSavers.com pepper spray and the Woman’s Safety classes from the Safety post HERE.

Amanda – TooTallFritz

I Wear My Sunglasses……Almost Never

My biggest running “wardrobe malfunction”.  Sunglasses.  And I don’t know how to fix it.

This is the current assortment of various sunglasses that I have bought for running, and/or stolen from my children cuz I thought they “might” work for running.  This does not include the 10+ pair I have purchased over the years and returned, or the 5+ pair that I have given to random running friends, or the countless pairs that I have pitched onto the sidelines at races.  If I’m actually wearing sunglasses and you like them and/or need a pair, just follow me for a couple of miles and they can soon enough be yours!  I just can’t deal with them when the “pressure” is on and I’m attempting to running fast.

However, the problem is that I NEED them.  My eyes are very sensitive to light and burn when they are not protected.  I am frequently looking at the ground to avoid tripping too much light in my eyes.  Along with the sensitivity to light, I also have poor vision which is why I’m always looking at the ground, so the tint can’t be too high or I can’t see.  For that reason, I’m quite certain that my sunglasses spend way more time in my hair than on my face.  As soon as the sunlight disappears, the glasses have to come off.  And although, I would like to look tough in a pair like LoLo Jones, I don’t.  But I have honestly considered more than once ordering a pair of Oakley’s so that I can be JUST LIKE Lolo!  However, I’m pretty sure she would look tough & cool and sexy in anything so that probably wouldn’t translate well for me.  Plus, if I pay that much $$ for pair of glasses then all of you will be following me around at races waiting for me to pitch them, right?  But Lolo, does look tough in her Oakley’s.

And Desi always looks like a badass tough in hers too.  I think she can run faster when she has them on because it masks her level of discomfort, as if one would be uncomfortable running in the 5:15 to 5:30 range x 26.2.  Think the same would work for me? 

So basically I’m on the quest for a the perfect sunglasses that will be comfortable and make me run faster not look ridiculous. The criteria:

  1. Lightweight;
  2. Rimless on the bottom so that I can wear them on the bike too (bugs in the eyes hurt @ 20 mph);
  3. Narrow in width, I have a very narrow face thus the reason I can wear my toddler’s sunglasses;
  4. Inexpensive – preferably in the under $50 price range, but up to $100 would be okay if they are AWESOME;
  5. Light colored lenses that don’t have too much tint, multi-lens option would be even better;
  6. No crazy nose pieces that will get caught in my hair;
  7. Somewhat cool looking while not over taking my face.

Please give me some suggestions!  I have 13.1 Miami Beach in 3 weeks and I am hoping it will be sunny.  I can’t show up to run without a pair of glasses after hanging in the CHI all winter and not having seen the sun for months.

Do you wear sunglasses or just go without?  What brand?  Feel free to link up your favorites for me, as I seriously need to find something that will work.

Thanks,                                                                                                                              Amanda – TooTallFritz

5 More Days….2012 Olympic Marathon Trials

It seems like I have been awaiting the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials forever.  This is obviously not true but there are only a couple of times a year where we get to see the American Elites barreling down our streets with a tv camera in their face.  That is why I am glued to the tv or Universal Sports each and every Boston, Chicago & New York Marathon.  Our Streets, Our Athletes.  Go Team USA! 

My focus, of course, is on the women’s line up.  I think most are now fans of Desiree Davila who many including myself now refer to as “Desi”.  If you weren’t a Desi fan before the 2011 Boston Marathon, I bet you are now.  She had been on my radar previous to Boston because she had frequented the Chicago Marathon and is usually the top American female for us.  So I had “hoped” she would do well but when she re-entered the live tv stream during the 2011 Boston Marathon after pushing her way back to the front, I was on my feet in front of my computer screaming in my office.  I just couldn’t believe that she would win, or even come that close, but she sure made a believer out of me and the rest of America on that Monday morning in April 2011.   Wow.   So Desi has my hope for top spot on the 2012 US Women’s Olympic Marathon Team.  GO DESI! 

I think Desi’s biggest competition will come from America’s current distance running sweethearts:  Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher.  These women are now training together under Jerry Schumacher and are both converted track stars who have moved up to the marathon distance after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  Shalane is currently in the “best shape of her life” although I don’t think we have ever seen her in poor shape and I really think she will make the team.  She is strong mentally and physically and she is a competitor.  She hasn’t done much real racing this year as her focus has been toward the trials.  I think we are going to see an amazing fight from her.  Good luck Shalane! 

Kara Goucher is another amazing distance runner.  She took some time off after the Beijing Olympics and her marathon debut to have a bouncing baby boy.  Let me just remind all of you that I too have a bouncing baby boy and they take up a lot of time.  Kara, like many moms, went back to work immediately after the birth and has really knocked out some fast times for a strong come back…..then she got injured.  Too much, too fast?  Maybe.  Or possibly I just find that childbirth kicks the shit out of a women’s body this was related to the birth or just overtraining but it was definitely unlucky timing.  However, Kara is now back on track and will be ready to run by the Trials.  She has had a lot of changes lately between the birth, injury and a coaching change but I don’t anyone will be thinking about those things on Saturday unless the commentators keep mentioning them over and over again when she toes the line with Desi and Shalene.  The heart of every distance running mom will be pushing Kara forward on Saturday.  We LOVE Kara!

Although Desi, Shalene and Kara are sucking up some serious press time, there are several other ladies who will show up Saturday ready to fight.  This has to be the best line up ever for an Olympic Trials.  So many wildcards.  I don’t think anybody expects former 2008 Olympic Marathoner and American record holder Deena Kastor to hand over her spot without a fight.  This is another lady who took some time off for childbirth between Olympic games.  I feel like nobody really  knows what level of fitness Deena currently maintains.  I will certainly be watching her closely on Saturday and hope that she has the run of her life to fight for a spot with those youngin’s!  Go Deena! 

We also have a lot of other players in Saturday’s race.  Magdalena Lewy Boulet is probably the most well-known from the 2008 Beijing Marathon team. 

Amy Hastings

Colleen De Reuck 

Stephanie Rothstein 

Chicago’s Hometown Favorite – Tera Moody 

Clara Grandt 

Katie McGregor 

Dot McMahan

Molly Pritz 

 Janet Cherobon-Bawcom

Serena Burla 

These are some of the faces that I will be looking for on Saturday during the 2012 Olympic Trials.   Who will you be watching?  Can you pick the three who will make the team?  I just can’t narrow down to which three will be the best on Saturday.  So many random factors go into making race day perfect and I know there are hundreds of women looking for a perfect day and a spot on the team.  I wish them all lots of luck and hope that they have good health, good results and are able to walk away happy.  However, looking over this crew, there is going to be a lot of unhappy ladies walking around Houston on Saturday afternoon.   Congratulations to all the ladies who graced my list and all of those who qualified for the trials.  This is a class act which I can only join in on by watching thru the eye of the camera. 

Have you noticed that each day we have more and more amazing and inspiring women?   You know these ladies are just like you they just run faster.  Inspire somebody today.

Counting Down til the Trials,                                                                                            Amanda – TooTallFritz



KT Tape FAIL….Plantar Fasciitis – Part I

I assume those of you who will be reading this VERY FIRST post on my NEW blog TooTallFritz.com, will be friends and family.  So you already know that I have been dealing with Plantar Fasciitis all summer and it sucks hurts badly and I am very frustrated.  I have been going to a foot surgeon since beginning of September who did a series of wrapping/taping sessions on my feet to determine if orthotics would help my situation.  The padding makes it feel like I’m literally walking on clouds and makes the pain dissipate immediately…..but I can’t shower while I am wearing the padding unless I bag my feet. 

After weeks of taping and my being happy with the results both in life and in running, he decided to cast me for orthotics. 

And now I am waiting for the lab to construct the orthotics….super special ones that are a hybrid for both running and real life.  “Normal” orthotics apparently aren’t good enough since I’m in the advanced stage where my feet throb with pain even while I am sitting.  Please don’t touch my heels and I definitely don’t want to walk or run on them!

After casting for the orthotics, I was once again getting thru with the taping/padding but alas that fell off last Thursday.  I was being cheap trying to make it thru without going back for another office visit copay to have the doc reapply the tape/pads so I opted to try the KT Tape.  They have a special taping method for Plantar Fasciitis and step by step instructions on how the stupid normal person can do it themselves.  No problem!  I mean, it stayed on for Kerri Walsh thru the rigorous sand volleyball tournaments at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, so I thought I could get one run in without a problem. 

My tape job didn’t look quite as intricate or professional as that of Ms. Walsh’s….I mean, I don’t have a trainer, just Aby and I working as a team.  We followed the directions and it was “sticking” and I left for a run. 

However, it didn’t stick for long!  I was happy to be  heading out the door for a run. 

Then things quickly went down hill.  The tape felt okay and I had minimal support but the “stick” didn’t last long.  I stopped to restick it right before mile 1, then by mile 1.2, I stopped and pulled it off all together (Sorry, I didn’t have the camera for a photo of the wilted mass of green KT tape flopping around my ankle).  I ended up pulling my shoe off to get rid of the tape and cutting my run short, knowing things would only get worse in the pain department after that. 

4.05 miles – 37:08 – Never stopped my watch but had 2 stops for KT tape malfunction, one turn around, and one leap into the ditch stop for a car that wanted to hit me.  Fun times running in the country!

Plantar Fasciitis defined  HERE & Plantar Fasciitis Prevention Tips HERE.

Most importantly, my outfit – “Run”way Fashion:  RunningSkirts.com Ultra Swift Skirt, Athleta Accelerate Tank, Feetures Light No Show Socks w/ Tabs (pink!), Saucony Guide 5 shoes.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to post below or message me at amanda@tootallfritz.com

Cheers and Happy, PAIN-FREE running to all of you!                                                       Amanda – “Too Tall Fritz”