Favorite Things …. New Edition

I haven’t done a favorite things post in a while!  That’s because I’ve been busying using what I Iove and not deviating from the box.  I’ve dropped a few brands because some of my preferences have changed but if you must know I’m still wearing Athleta & Saucony EVERYTHING, I’ve tossed in a couple pair of 7” Nike Pros, some Gypsy Runner & I don’t run without my Injinji Socks.  Enough said on the “normal”.  Let’s talk about what’s NEW!  And for the record, I’m not an ambassador or affiliate for any of these brands, I don’t have a discount code but if you find one send it to me, and I don’t have free product to give you.  Lame, huh?  Sorry, I’ll try to do better next time.

Tailwind

Tailwind Nutrition – How many of you have this sitting in your fuel drawer but haven’t yet tried it?  I had a few packets sitting for months, like 6+ months.  I didn’t try it til I had enough with my tummy issues.  Tailwind politely calls our tummy issues “gut bombs”.  So appropriate. 

Tailwind is a liquid nutrition that is wheat, gluten, diary & soy free.  It’s 100% natural.  It was designed for people running ultra distance like 50 & 100 mile races but I’m proof that it works great for marathons too!  This product hydrates, fuels & gives the electrolytes needed to race for as long as I like.  Easy to mix, clear since it doesn’t have artificial additives for color & flavor, comes in 7 flavors (one of which is unflavored) and with or without caffeine.  It has the consistency of water and has a light refreshing taste.  Plus it has glucose/sucrose which helps fast delivery of energy to the muscles.  I’ve been low on sugar before while racing and it’s not pretty.  Sometimes the miles & time on our feet get away from us.  Sometimes the heat & humidity take more out of the body than we can possibly understand until it’s too late.  With the constant stream of tailwind going into my system, I feel good, all the time.  Even when those around me are getting sick, crashing & heading for the med tent.  For more info, checkout the tailwind website.  They have more info that I can possibly share, I just know it has worked wonders for me and I’m confident that I’ll finally get that PR that I’ve been chasing. 

FlipBelt Hydration Bottles – Have you seen these yet?  You now know that I’m in love with Tailwind.  The reason it took me so long to try it was because I didn’t want to CARRY IT.  I despise hydration belts with all my being.  I don’t even care if they are good ones that don’t move or bounce.  I avoid them like the plague.  I also dislike handhelds.   And I haven’t had the desire to try a hydration vest.  So when FlipBelt came out with their new hydration bottles, I ordered one before the ink was dry on the website. 

flipbelt bottles

I use my FlipBelt ALL the time.  I load it up for runs & races and go, go, go.  I was hoping it was be just as awesome with the hydration bottles.  It worked great & did NOT bounce.  I was so happy!  I use the 11oz bottle & mix in my Tailwind.  Tip:  If I’m using the scoop out of the Tailwind bag, I also use a baby formula dispenser to get my Tailwind in the FlipBelt bottles.  The opening on the bottle is small, which is good cuz its easy for drinking and carrying, not so good for adding fuel to the bottle!  The bottles are curved to fit snuggly to our body.  I can only carry one 11 oz bottle at a time or I’m not comfortable.  But the Tailwind mixes so nicely, that I put 4 scoops into ONE 11oz bottle for marathons.  That’s 400 calories and I make sure I drink that by the 20 mile mark.  Then I use water on course for extra hydration.  These FlipBelt bottles are a great option for hydration on the go!  Tip:  FlipBelt usually is running some sort of special discount code on their Facebook Page.  Go find them on FB if you are looking for a discount!

IMG_0182 IMG_0183 

Eagle Creek Pack It Sport Bags.  I had never heard of Eagle Creek until a couple weeks ago when they sent the RockNBloggers some free stuff.  It was right before I left for my double marathon weekend & I tweeted out a pic real quick, packed up the bags to go & I left.  I had zero idea how helpful they would be for that race weekend. 

IMG_0032 

They sent me a large Foot Locker that fit shoes up to size 11.  I always have more than one pair of run shoes for these big weekends but the plan is to race in one shoe unless there is a problem.  I was able to put my main pair of shoes in the locker, plus I added my watch, fuel, socks, calf sleeves and FlipBelt to the foot locker.  Super easy. I pulled it out on race morning and had everything I needed for the run other than my clothes.  VERY nice having everything in one place!  Quick pics below before I stuffed the rest of the goodies into the shoe locker.  Lots of room.  Sealed up the shoes and the smell (if that’s an issue). 

IMG_0033 IMG_0034

The real gem of this collection was something I didn’t use initially when I packed up.  It was the large Fitness Locker.  I took this with me for my dirty run clothes.  It’s water proof & antimicrobial.  I was thinking it would be prefect for my wet, nasty marathon clothes.  Little did I know how much I would need it.  There was non-stop rain at the Kentucky Derby Marathon.  Upon finishing the race, I had a wet singlet, bra, shorts, compression sleeves, socks, flip belt & visor.  Normally, I would have been thieving the bag in our hotel room that’s reserved for dry cleaning, but not this time.  I threw ALL those clothes & the visor into the Fitness Locker and zipped it up.  Done.  No wetness.  No smell.  Then I threw the Fitness Locker in my gym bag with all my other CLEAN clothes & zipped everything up. 

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Then we headed over to Cincinnati, where I did it all again.  Got done with the Flying Pig Marathon the next day.  No rain but this time we had heat, humidity, sprinklers & water hoses.  Same scenario when I got back to the hotel.  I was drenched, my clothes were drenched.  So I grabbed the Fitness Locker, which didn’t smell at all from the Derby race, and unzipped it to add the clothes from Flying Pig:  wet singlet, bra, shorts, compression sleeves, socks, flip belt & visor.  The bag was now full with 2 full sets of wet clothes but it easily zipped & I tossed it into my regular bag with the remaining clean clothes.  Easiest travel I’ve ever had with wet, gross, dirty clothes. I’m very happy to add these Eagle Creek Pack It Sport bags to my travel collection.  Check out their website if you need help organizing your fitness clothes & gear or need to transport wet/gross clothes to and from the gym or while traveling.  Prices are very reasonable and that is the best part!

Okay, that’s the latest edition of my “Favorite Things” list.  I think these are all relatively new products that are noteworthy.  I hope they help you as much as they have helped me.

Do you have any new products that you’re loving?  If so, let us know in the comments below!

** Happy Running & TRIing ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

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Winner–ShowerPill Wipes!

I’ve been a busy bee so am just now pulling winners to the ShowerPill giveaway!

I drew 2 winners via a random # generator.  Winners are #8 & #14.

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#8 is Whitney from Racing The States!

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#14 is Lisa (verdon1124)

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Congrats, ladies!!  Please email (amanda@tootallfritz.com) your mailing address so we can get the ShowerPill wipes sent out to you!

For everyone else, we can order ShowerPills for ourselves OR maybe our favorite runner using the 10% off Discount Code:  runner10.  Order HERE.

Happy Holidays – Amanda – TooTallFritz

Ragnar Chicago–Part II–Recap

I gave you a taste of the Chicago Ragnar Relays last week HERE.   It was a great experience and one where I can say that both myself and my teammates walked away with a new understandings of ourselves, our level of determination, and a certain respect for what each person was willing to sacrifice in order to finish this event.  I absolutely admire and adore each of these women because they chose NOT to give up but rather to stay and run each and every mile of the event from Madison, WI to Chicago, IL.  We started as 6 Ultra Badass Babes.

Start

We finished as 5.

Ragnar CHI_finish_official

Runner/Babe #5 started her 12+ mile leg in the middle of FRI afternoon.  Ran well.  Ran happy.  We supported her.  We offered & she accepted cold water.  We offered encouragement and forced her to drink and dose herself with water to protect her from the 83 degree heat and full sun.  But it wasn’t enough.  Babe #5 finished her run with a smile but soon thereafter succumbed to the horrible symptoms of heat stroke and dehydration.  Babe #5 was admitted to the hospital where she could recover in a safe environment.   We were sad to see her go.  We were sad to “leave” her behind but we had a runner out on the trail in “somewhere” Wisconsin and it was impossible to be everywhere at once with one van and only 5 babes left to run the remaining 137 miles.  Goodbye Babe #5.

Christy

I’ll admit, it was a little bit of a party in the beginning.  A celebration of sorts that we were actually running Ragnar after all the talking, planning, and training.  However, things turned serious after Babe #5 left.   No more marking “killz” on the van window.  No more checking off runs.  No more counting down to the finish.  Much like a marathon, we took it one mile at a time.  We were also hyper aware that if we lost one more person that it was over.  Like really over.  I’m not sure any of us really believed that we would be able to finish with the remaining 5 but we were all experienced runners.  We were all moms.  We knew that if we breathed a word of doubt that it would take life and wreak havoc.  The mind is a powerful thing and keeping it in check is sometimes the hardest part.

So we ran.  Mile to mile.  Exchange to Exchange.  Ragnar sign to Ragnar sign. 

one mile to go   right

And we kept passing off that damn bracelet.  (Stock photo, I neglected to get a pic of our bracelet AGAIN).

ragnar-bracelet

Our original plan was for each babe to run 2 Ragnar legs at one time, so that each person only ran 3 times.   Yes, only 3 runs but double the mileage.  This was our first mistake.   While it looked good on paper, it was just too many miles during the heat of the day.   So the babes who were running late morning and into the late afternoon really bared the brunt of the heat wave and it was not a good thing.  Each of those babes came off their runs in poor shape.  Hot.  Miserable.  Bitchy.  Dehydrated despite all attempts to keep them fueled and hydrated.  Each one suffered mild signs of dehydration & heat stroke & we had a bunch of really MUSHY tummies.   Because of their experience, most of them were able to force themselves to eat, drink and get themselves back on track quickly.  Not a fun game but we played it.  Over.  And over again.  And we just kept running.

Needless to say, our brains eventually activated once they cooled off and we threw our predestinated scripts run mileage charts aside.   Each babe got out of the van when it was her turn and ran what she could.  We didn’t care if she ran 3 miles or 10 miles.  We just focused on moving toward that finish line.  We didn’t want any one babe to run more than she could handle because as was previously stated, if we lost one more babe, we would have been done.  So we just kept moving  Kept supporting each other.  Kept checking on one another.  Kept running, walking, crawling toward the finish. 

The nighttime hours were hard.  They are hard in any relay race.  However, we had a van full of middle aged moms and well, we don’t stay up at night.  We go to bed with the kids.  So once 9pm rolled around it got hard.  11pm was bad.  1am sucked ass.  I got out of the van to run at 2 or 2:30am to run 7 miles and it was basically a WTF moment.  WTF was I thinking.  WTF made me think we could do this with 5 babes.  WTF was going to make my body RUN in the pitch black night thru the middle of Wisconsin.  WTF was going to make my blistered plantar fasciitis feet move it for 7 miles.   I was tired.  Discouraged.  Hurting.

But as with everything, it all worked itself out and eventually the sun came up.  The sun always comes up if we can wait long enough, right?  Well, it came up.  And while it was dark we figured out the answer to riddle.  Just run.  No expectations on anyone.  Just run.  No judgment.  Just run.  No mileage requirements.  Just run.  Just run.  Just run.  And look badass while walking running.  Smile

Ragnar CHI_2014

Once the sun came up, it’s a bit of a blur.  We were all exhausted.  We had picked up a bit of a routine.  Once a babe finished running, she would hydrate, fuel, stretch, relax, and eat real food.  Then she would try to rest.  After resting, she would drive or navigate.  One babe was always running.  One babe was always “on deck” with running shoes on and fuel belt filled, ready to jump in at any moment when Runner Babe called it quits.  It worked.  And we kept moving toward the finish.  One mile at a time.  Then I saw it. 

seeing chicago

I saw Chicago, across the beach and beyond the tress.  And I knew we’d make it.  I admit, I started crying.  That was the first realization that we were going to finish.  I knew we’d make it.  Pure relief.  And soon enough we were Ragnar FINISHERS.  A mere 5 of us babes.  I understand that other teams may have done it with fewer but this was a real accomplishment for us.  Finishers.

Ragnar Finisher

We had some help a long the way.  We had three generous BADASS sponsors. 

Bondi Band – Compression Socks 

bondi band socks_badass2Start  bondi band socks_badass 

Family Fan Club – Custom Design Shirts & Van Decals

Ragnar Start Selfie   shirts-decals 

Relax Reflect – BADASS reflective tights & gear.  Buy your badass tights HERE!  Super cool!  Men & Women’s styles.

badass tights  badass tights2 

Huge thanks to everyone who made this Ragnar Chicago experience possible.  From our sponsors, to our volunteers (Colleen, Nancy & Tammy), to our husbands and/or family/friends who helped with the kids, helped to shuttle us around and helped by sending well wishes and prayers, we thank you ALL. 

Ragnar Chicago is in the books.  It’s was an amazing accomplishment by 5 amazing women.  Not one of us could have done it alone.  And I’d like to thank Babe #5 for taking this journey with us and offering her continued support even after she left the relay. 

** Experience Ragnar ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Ragnar Chicago–Part I–What I Learned

Ragnar Chicago was my second foray into the Ragnar Relay Series.  If you recall, I did the Florida Keys event in January 2013 and it was hot as hell.  FL Keys was a 12 person team.  Chicago was a 6 person team.  Through these two events, I’ve learned a couple things and I’d feel remiss if I didn’t share. 

1.  The most fun you’ll have at Ragnar is probably going to be decorating the van.

van  van2

2.  The most exciting part is probably going to be the start line.

Ragnar Start Selfie    Start 

3.  The team you start with will most likely not be the same as the one that crosses the finish line.

4.  Make sure you have a solid team.  I would suggest the following teammates:

     a)  one runner who could probably run the entire distance herself, if necessary. 

Ragnar CHI_Julie

     b)  a super experienced runner who has done the course before and knows where to find the smores.

Ragnar CHI_Judy

     c) a rock of a person.  Solid as can be, one who won’t get agitated easily and if she does, she’ll manage to fake it stay calm until the panic passes.

Ragnar CHI_Lisa

     d)  a jokester, preferably one with ADD because apparently people with ADD don’t need to sleep.

Ragnar CHI_Kelly

     e) a captain, cuz they need to zap someone’s credit card when the flags get lost.

Ragnar CHI_2014_2

5)  Ragnar is a LONG event.  You will get tired.  It doesn’t matter if you are running 3 legs or 8 legs, exhaustion will set in and so will the bitchiness.

6)  Sleeping in a van is impossible, no matter how tired you may be or how well intentioned your teammates are about making you rest.

7)  Sometimes you will refuse to get out of the van, even if someone needs water, even if there are free smores, even if there are naked men flaunting themselves, even if …..

8)  No matter how many miles you run, no matter how many times you say  you will “never run again”, no matter how tired you get …. all those negative memories fade when you cross the finish and have that free beer in your hand.

Ragnar CHI_finish_official     finisher medal

** Ragnar – Part I – What I learned ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Knuckle Lights Review & Giveaway

I was super excited to see a package on my doorstep from Knuckle Lights this week.  I’ve talked about these many, many times before because they are very high up on my favorite things list.  If you run in the dark, then get ready to be introduced to the MVP of illuminated running.  Knuckle Lights:

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KnuckleLights

My first “in the dark” runs were a really long time ago with my friend Lisa E, while I was in college.  She was a teacher at a local high school which required her to be up and moving WAY before me.  She would hit the pavement before the sun came up in order to knock out her run before starting the mom, wife, teacher duties.  I’m not really sure why a young college student would get up early in the morning to run but it seemed like a good idea at the time and I obviously REALLY liked Lisa so that made it so much more sane.  I would meet her at 5 am, we would stretch/run, then hit the gym when it opened at 6am to get in some StairMaster work before everyone else woke up.  Then I would return to the dorm, shower and go back to bed.  🙂

Thinking back to those runs, I have fond memories.   Friendship.  Running.  Stars.  Fitness.  Laughter.  It’s no wonder that I don’t mind running in the dark now because I can just pretend I’m running with Lisa and look up at our favorite star for great memories.  However, times have changed.  My body has changed.  I’m more fragile and my roads are darker than our illuminated college campus and the small college town where we ran.  I also have developed a knack for stepping “off the road” or into potholes.  I’ve rolled my ankle countless times. These Knuckle Lights have been a game changer for me.  I am in love.  I’ve been in love since my first pair, which I purchased several years ago.  They are bright.  They light the way.  They take me anywhere I want to go regardless of the lighting conditions.  They BRING the light.

KnuckleLights_on hand  KnuckleLights_on hand2  KnuckleLights_on hand3

The first pair that I purchased were the originals.  Version 1, if you will.  I bought them in yellow as a gender neutral color that the entire family could use.  Definitely one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

Run_Essentials

I use them for running & hiking and the family uses them outside at night for various reasons (mostly dog related).  The kids frequently try to steal them to “play”.  It is safe to say that they are a family item that I try to hide away in my running bag.  The yellow lights have taken me many places and recently made the trip to Ragnar FL Keys.  No wimpy headlamp for me, I’ve got Knuckle Lights!  Yes, they are approved for Ragnar nighttime running.  In fact, here I am coming down a dark street in Miami with one of my lights. 

KnuckleLights_Ragnar

Although the Knuckle Lights come as a pair, I frequently only take one light with me so that I have the other hand free.  I don’t run with music and tend to be very cautious.  I like a free hand to break a fall or be able to grab my pepper spray if necessary.  One light provides a lot of light and I’m very comfortable running that way but everyone else I know uses both lights, all the time, for the full 90 Lumens of light (45 lumens for each light).

The lights slide over an open hand easily and they are very comfortable.  There is an adjustable strap to snug up the fit if it isn’t initially perfect.

KnuckleLights_on hand4

The second version of lights (in blue above) have a few upgrades.  1)  There are now three light options:  High, Low, & Blinking.  Version 1 only had one setting, which is equivalent to the “low” on this new version.  Yes, these newbies are actually brighter.  I tested them out this morn taking both a new one and an old one for my morning run.  There was a noticeable difference.  2) The strap is now a soft silicone verses the more rigid rubber from the first version.  I remember them updating version one after some issues with the straps breaking.  I’ve never had a problem with my strap at all but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the soft silicone they use now.  It just melted into my hand and I totally forgot about it.  Great update!  Worth upgrading!

I’m so happy to have found Knuckle Lights.  They have been a game changer for me and have made my morning runs so much safer.  I also use them on the trail for group runs at night.  I love that they come in a pair so that I can share with other runners who don’t have lights!

If you would like an opportunity to win a pair of Knuckle Lights, please comment below and tell me how you light up your nighttime runs.  You can also get one bonus entry for going to the Knuckle Lights Facebook page HERE and liking them.  Please leave a separate comment below stating that you liked Knuckle Lights on Facebook and provide your facebook name for verification purposes.   I will draw one winner for a set of BLUE Knuckle Lights ($39.99 value) via a random number generator on Monday, February 18th at noon.  Good luck!

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** Be Safe – Illuminate YOUR Run **  Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Ragnar FL Keys …… In Photos

2013 Ragnar – Florida Keys – Part III – END

This will be my last Ragnar FL Keys post.  I stalled a bit, waiting for everyone to upload their photos, plus work & life, then the stomach flu.  Good times.  But the last things I wanted to leave with you about Ragnar were some of the images.  The good times, tough times, and the beauty all wrapped up on one final post

The Course Map – Miami, FL to the southernmost tip of the US, Keywest, FLRagnar FL Keys_course map

The Start:

Ragnar Keys_Me Reflective   Ragnar Keys_ start   Ragnar Keys_me reflective2

So much of the race was cloaked in darkeness and pics were difficult.  Or if we did get pics, the photo just shows reflective gear. 

Ragnar Keys _reflective gear

The times we weren’t cloaked in darkness, we were riding or waiting in the van.  Oh wait, it’s still dark in this one too!  Teammate and fellow Team Tough Chik member, Toni & myself.

Ragnar Keys_minivan

But there were stolen moments of peace and tranquility just steps away.

Ragnar Keys_tranquility pond

New “In Real Life” friendships forged with fellow Team Tough Chik members that are spread throughout the US and world.   Photo on the right has 4 Tough Chiks:  Myself in my team gear, Kristi (in green), Kim (bottom in yellow) and Toni (in grey).

Ragnar Keys_ me ragnar sign - water          Ragnar Keys_ TTC

Lots of bridges, water & palms swaying in the gentle breeze.

 Ragnar Keys_ in route to finish   Ragnar Keys_palms

One shot of me running in the daylight.  Please notice my red Aspaeris Pivot Shorts peaking out from my skirt. 

Ragnar Keys_ me hand off

And finally, the finish.  By the beach.  200 miles ran.  Whatever pace we could manage.  Done.

Ragnar Keys_finish shoot

Ragnar Keys_ group

My girl Angela & I at the finish.  She’s the reason I went all the way to FL for this adventure.  Love you,  Ang!

Ragnar Keys_me & ang

Thanks to our amazing sponsors!  

Aspaeris Pivot Shorts – I heard a million times that the team didn’t think they could have done it without you.  Almost everyone acknowledge that you held us together when we didn’t have a lot left in the tank.  We ran hard, ran extra miles, gave everything we had and you held us together.  Thank you!

Ragnar Keys_me finish- aspaeris shorts

ShowerPill – What to say?  I have never been so gross and nasty for such a long period in my entire life.  After each run, I used a ShowerPill wipe immediately upon finishing to try to wipe away some of the nastiness.  Each time, I was happy and soooooo very thankful that you came on board with us.  I’ll spare you the nasty photos of the wipes in use cuz they are really nasty but leave you with the knowledge that everyone on the team was thankful for your product!   Dear readers, I leave you with a not so subliminal notion that you probably want to go get some of these, right now.  Shop HERE:  

image         shower-pill6

Family  Fan Club – I’m a major fan!  They totally hooked us up with shirts and window decals.  They made our job so much easier because we only needed to add a few things to our windows and we were ready to run.  Lots of vans had fancy art work, etc. that was all washed off during a down pour.  Not us.  Our decals never moved.  They were super easy to apply and then they peeled off easy & clean!  Plus my favorite part is that they didn’t obstruct our vision from inside the van.  Win, Win!!!

     

Ragnar Keys_van_sponsor decals-magnets    image

This is the end of my Ragnar FL Keys “saga”.  It was an amazing journey with an amazing team! 

I look forward to hearing YOUR Ragnar stories in the future.

** Happy Relay Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Ragnar Florida Keys…..Thru My Eyes

2013 Ragnar – Florida Keys – Part II

When I signed on to join a 12 person team for the Ragnar Florida Keys race, I knew that I was signing on for a “train wreck”, so to speak.  I knew that everyone was expecting fun, fun, fun but I also knew that a different type of “fun” would be the reality.  If you aren’t a person who can kinda “roll with the punches” then this may not be an event for you.  The team members and the personalities of the team can either make or break the event.  A good group of team members will get you to the finish as smoothly as possible.  A bad group, well…. I don’t even want to think of how that would go down.  As I said, I had a good team and we made it to the finish.

Ragnar Keys_team at finish

We started with 12 team members and were quickly down to 10.   The ability of this team to “roll with the  punches” meant that it was an inconvenience losing a couple people, but no big thing in reality.  We divided up the remaining miles and just planned to do what we came to do …… run.  We moved toward the finish, as efficiently as possible, one leg at a time.  No big thing, we came to run.

Running a long distance relay, with 9 other people means that you hurry up and wait.  We were either waiting to run, waiting for another runner to get ready, waiting for another runner to come in, waiting to check on & offer support to another runner, waiting for the other van to move thru their legs, waiting in traffic, waiting to get some food, waiting to get some sleep……… waiting.  Hurry up and wait.  No big thing, we came to run.

When you do get to run, it’s not like a traditional race where you are surrounded by 500 to 40,000 of your very best friends but rather similar to a training run where you are out there, quite often all alone, slugging out the miles.

Ragnar Keys _bridge awaiting runners

It’s solitary.  Sometimes along a lonely stretch of highway.  Sometimes along a beautiful bridge. Sometimes picking your way along a gravel road beside a canal with gators. Sometimes in town, in the dark, trekking sidewalks, fighting off a pimp and his ho pedestrian traffic.  Sometimes on a desolate trail or path thru migrant worker fields where they shoot fireworks at you “for fun”.  No big thing, we came to run.

The SWAG for this event was average and included some fueling options (cliff shot blocks and a few other options that I didn’t really look at cuz I brought my own Rehydrate Gel), a Leslie Jordan tech tee & a Ragnar tattoo.  No big thing, we came to run.

Ragnar Keys_swag

At the finish line we received a Ragnar 2013 sticker  and our medal, which happens to be a handy bottle opener.  I have already used it to open a “few” Corona Lights.  Cool but nothing too exciting.  No big thing, we came to run.  

Side note……the bottle opener medal is actually a VERY cool thing to me.  I don’t display or hang my medals and this is actually something I will use on a frequent basis.  However, others might not get the same type of “use” out of it that I will and therefore may not get as excited over it as me.  Personally, I’d run another 200 miles just for this medal/church key to have a friend which I could throw in the boat.  🙂

Ragnar Keys_medal - sticker  image Ragnar Keys_medal-bottle opener

There was a finish line party.  We all received a free beer.  There were a few vendors and a place to purchase food & beer.  The party was on the beach.  Cool but nothing too exciting.  No big thing, we came to run.

Ragnar Keys_finsh panaramic

Ragnar Keys_finish - water- hotel

Ragnar is a runner’s race.  Its a self supported event where you (and your vanmates) need to take care of everything from start to finish.  If you expect a party and a lot of hoopla, you might be disappointed.  If you come to run, then you will be thrilled and elated at the finish to have completed an amazing adventure. 

Ragnar Keys_ me finish - water

  ** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Ragnar Florida Keys….. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly….

2013 Ragnar – Florida Keys – Part I

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This first Ragnar post is going to be a highlight of the good, the bad & the ugly aspects of our Ragnar adventure.  As I always say, “respect the distance”.  If you consider a particular race or event “easy”, then run harder.  It’s totally up to you to make each and every outing your own and get out of it as much as possible.  I also encourage you to respect your fellow runners and understand that something that may be easy for one, may be an epic adventure for another.  Respect the distance.  Respect your comrades in adventure.  Respect the adventure itself and that is when you will walk away with the fullest experience.

2013 Ragnar – Florida Keys – Team 2 Bros & 10 Does – THE GOOD

  • Amazing team – I got so lucky.  I  only knew a few members of the team going in and I totally lucked out.  All the members of the team were great.  The team worked together to support one another.  We took the “divide & conquer” approach and worked our way to the finish line, TOGETHER.
  • No pain.  I am happy to say that although I’m a bit “sore”, I had zero foot pain during, or after, the event.  The terrain was rough or slanted in many parts and I just carefully picked my way thru the bad spots, to avoid additional stress on my foot.  It worked. 
  • The maps, signs, directions were very accurate.  We didn’t have any problems getting where we were going.  This was a very point to point route.  Super easy. 
  • No Gator or Snake attacks.  Although we saw a few gators staring at our crazy adventure as we picked our way along a canal in the Everglades, I’m pretty sure they were scared of us cuz we were so bad ass tough.
  • Glow Sticks.  A team member brought us all Glow bracelets which we laced into our shoes.  Awesome.  Made my day.
  • Amazing sponsors!  Our shirts and decals from Family Fan Club were awesome!  Everyone loved the window decals.  They were attractive, easy to use, stayed on and peeled back off with ease.  Super cool!  The shirts were light and airy in the nasty heat & humidity.  The Aspaeris Pivot Shorts literally HELD US TOGETHER thru our legs.  Everyone loved the compression for both running and recovery.  I had a pair on non-stop for the last 30 hours of our adventure.  And God Bless, ShowerPill.  I can’t even possibly begin to say how much the ShowerPill athletic wipes saved us.  I have never been so hot, sweaty, disgusting after a run and not had access to a shower.  I used  a  ShowePill wipe after each leg (4x), and each time felt refreshed and clean.  I would never have made it thru without these and the other team members LOVED them too.               Ragnar Keys_van_sponsor decals-magnets
  • We finished.  All of our miles.  No leapfrogging.  We made to the finish, all by ourselves by helping each other.                            Ragnar Keys_finish shoot

 2013 Ragnar – Florida Keys – Team 2 Bros & 10 Does – THE BAD

  • Little to NO sleep.  The majority of  the time we were either running, supporting a runner, or driving to the next exchange.  When our van had some down time, while the other van was running, we had to leapfrog them to get to the major exchange where we would pick back up.  The major exchanges would have a few vendors, food, indoor bathrooms and public showers.  Some slept outside in the heat just to get a little rest.            Ragnar Keys_sleeping peopleThose of us unwilling to sleep on the ground in the heat, walked around, or hung out in the vans.  The van space was very limited so not much chance to stretch out.  We slept for short intervals but nothing restful or mentionable.  Pretty much as soon as anyone fell asleep someone would get into or out of the van or something would happen to awaken them. 
  • Little to NO real food.  With this being a long distance running event, we had to be very careful about food intake.  I tried to just focus on foods that would keep me fueled and hydrated without overeating.  So I mostly ate:  bananas, Nutrigrain bars, pickles, peanut butter, almonds & pretzels.  I did have a few protein bars, one chicken breast, a Skor candy bar & a glazed donut.  Had to keep the sugar, carb and salt intake up to avoid a crash.  I also used a Post Workout Recovery drink after each run leg, plus a Rehydrate Gel (or two) on each leg.  I Sparked for energy and drank Rehydrate.  It worked.
  • The darkness.  Wow, does it get dark.  It seemed like over half the event took place in the dark.  I’m used to running in the dark but I also run the same roads or trails, in the same area, every time.  I know the holes and rough areas of the road before I get to them.  I have the roads memorized. Not the case for Ragnar.  Headlamps and Knuckle Lights lit the way but the glow only went so far.  We ran by feel as much as by sight, constantly pushing forward at whatever pace we could manage.

2013 Ragnar – Florida Keys – Team 2 Bros & 10 Does – THE UGLY

  • Runner 2 – Leg 1 – Accosted by a man and a women in a poor area of Miami.  Scared the crap out of her.  The women was tugging at our runner.  Another runner came up from behind and helped get her away.  Was it dangerous?  Who knows but it was scary and it was the very beginning of our adventure.
  • Van 2 had a dead batter at the first major exchange, where they began running.  We helped jump their car battery & then fire rescue came to help.  Ragnar Keys_van issues
  • Runner 12 – Leg 1 – Spiral Fracture to the Tibia (shin bone).  She went to the ER with 2 of our other runners to help her.  One runner came back to finish the relay.  Runner 12 was set up for surgery before the FL hospital realized they weren’t capable of handling it.  The hospital then casted her entire leg from foot to upper thigh and sent her home for consult with an orthopedic surgeon.  Let’s all send our well wishes and cheers for speedy recovery to Runner 12!!  This situation left us with 10 runners.
  • Runner 1 – ME – Leg 2 – I was running a deserted trail between farm fields and someone shot a firework at me.  There was no question that “someone” was aiming for me cuz it only missed me by about a foot and was in the area of my mid back.  It did NOT come from the air.  Being from Chicago, when there is trouble, you don’t look around and ask WTF, you put your head down and run faster.   That’s exactly what I did.  No time for questions, I just kept moving.  I was all the way back to the exchange and someone noticed that I actually had black soot on my arm.  Good times. 
  • The heat & humidity.  No one is responsible for the weather.  You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.  It wasn’t pleasant.  It made the adventures so much harder but we once again, put our head down and ran and tried not to complain too much.  We focused on hydration, made sure our teammates were hydrating & fueling and just moving toward the finish.  Most of the time the runners on the side of the road running, looked very bad.  There were lots of emergencies from heat related matters.  Our van had a physician’s assistant and a nurse so we helped several people along the way.  Two that they helped had to be taken by ambulance, one they got going again until he could make it back to his van.  Crazy weather, leads to crazy, erratic running.

Over all, an amazing experience.  I personally covered 21 miles at an average pace of 9:14 min/mile.  That pace is NOT at all indicative of effort.  Myself, in addition to every runner on the team, ran our hearts out.  It was an all out battle of the heart to the finish.  Each and every runner did what they had to do to move us close to the finish.  We didn’t go fast, we just kept moving.  Some had to pick up an extra leg to cover the runners we lost.  No complaints.  We just focused on the finish.  An absolute adventure that I’m proud to have shared with my team.

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Twas the Night Before Ragnar Keys….

Twas the night before Ragnar Keys, and all thru the hotel,

Vanmates were laughing and scurrying about,

Backpacks and duffels were stuffed to the brim,

In hopes that nothing important fell dim.

****

With a 3am wake up, and a 5am start

All know that sleep will be scarce.

TTF sleeps in her run clothes to save some time

and dream of the chaos that is soon to be alive.

****

Six runners per van, two vans per team,

All with 200 miles to be ran.

No sleep or showers , or real food for fuel.

May lead to a stench and crankiness too.

****

All this for fun and a bit of adventure,

To up the ante for this new year’s tenure.

So think happy thoughts and enjoy the run,

Because soon the tales will start to be spun.

I’ll be back soon…..off to run this little relay from Maimi to the FL Keys!  Whooooop!!!!!

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Run YOUR Way….

I leave for Ragnar FL Keys in 7 days!!!  One of our sponsors, Family Fan Club has created way more than 7 things for me in the last year. 

Family Fan Club

I first became familiar with them thru their sponsorship of our Ragnar Chicago ultra team, You Just Got Chicked.  My teammate & friend, Run with Jess designed a kickaxx shirt and Family Fan Club did everything else. 

Shirts:

               Chick 3

Headbands

 You Just Got Chicked_headband

Decals for our van.  Shirts for a friend’s Ragnar Chicago Team.  The experience was so good, I decided to let them do a quote for our running club.  We wanted something that would “pop”, make us recognizable since we were new but growing at an alarming fast rate.  We wanted to create a brand that everyone would identify as our running club.  So we stuck with the gold because you can see it a mile away it pops.  The FNRC brand was born with the help of Jeni H’s awesome designs skills and Family Fan Club chasing down anything and everything GOLD, which is really not an easy task.

Shirts (long sleeve, sleeveless, short sleeve, gender specific, hoodies):

FNRC_shirts

Hats & Visors:

FNRC_shirt hat visor

Christmas Ornaments:

image

         image

    iPhone Case:

image

I can only hope that the FNRC did Family Fan Club proud this year.  We wore our colors and FNRC gear everywhere and collected a “few” awards too.

        

I also utilized them for shirts a few friends wanted made with the “Go Live” theme.  It reminds me of the “go big or go home” slogan.  Go Live …. if you are going to show up, then be ready to play, run or do WHATEVER at your best.

QuadCities_2012 girls

And last but not least, Family Fan Club is hooking up my newest Ragnar team with shirts, designed by the fabulous Jeni H and decals for our Ragnar vans.

2 Bros 10 Does_shirts

2 Bros 10 Does_me_outfit

If you want to run YOUR way, whatever way that is, in whatever design you can create, then call Family Fan Club and they can hook you up.  This is definitely a “you dream it” …… they can make it type company.  Prices are good too.  Reasonable and they will work with large groups to get you the best price available.  I’m a big “fan” of Family Fan Club!

Thanks for all the support this year, Family Fan Club!

** Run YOUR Way**  Amanda – TooTallFritz **