Cold Weather Running Gear

I normally don’t do a “what to wear” when it get’s cold post.  So many bloggers do and I try to avoid redundancy when you can find what you need in every corner of the blogosphere.  However, Chicagoland has been blasted with cold, wind and sub zero temps for weeks now and I’ve been feeling as if I need to address it.  If you are part of the F’N Running Club or follow me on the TTF Facebook page then I glanced over it when it was 6 degrees last weekend but here is a full length version in the event that you or a friend need some additional guidance. 

Temps Drop But Running Wont Stop

Base Layers – Possibly the most important cold weather investment.  Super important.  Don’t skimp here and go to a discount retailer, I buy the real stuff from Under Armour because they “do” cold weather and they “get” the fact that we are going to be OUTSIDE doing what we love, no matter what.  I personally prefer the mock or turtle neck style to get a little coverage up on my neck.  Under Armour ColdGear Fitted Mock Neck ($49) below.   I also wear a long bra top (form fitted running tank with shelf bra), any brand.  I have a ton and buy them everywhere from Target to Kohl’s to various online retailers. I put those fitted tanks (or a tee would work) UNDER the Mock Neck when it’s super cold, like now.  

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Outer Layer – Preferably a wind jacket or heavy-duty, quality half of full zip.  My wind jacket is from Athleta, the Headwinds Jacket ($99), which I think is on clearance now ($85).  I’ve had it for probably 5 years and every time I wear it people think it’s new.  Love it and it really holds in the heat and keeps out the wind.  I’m sure other wind jackets would work, I’ve heard that New Balance has an amazing WindBlocker line but this is what I own, mine is red from who  knows which year:

image   Waterfall Glen_Black FRI_2013-me

I also own an amazing heavy duty Under Armour Base 3.0 quarter zip ($79) which really fights the cold!

Me Susan Nicole_2-3-13

Legs – This super tricky for me because I have LONG legs.  Only long tights fit me.  I’ve tried various brands but always come back to the fact that if I want every part of the tights to be where they need to be, then I have to go with long length.  Athleta is the only place that I buy long tights.  I just purchased a pair of the Polartec Power Stretch tights ($79) in long and am IN LOVE with them.  I wore them in 6 degree weather last week, as a single bottom layer, and didn’t feel cold at all.  They are super soft and cozy without feeling bulky.  In the past, I have used thinner tights like the Athleta Relay Tights ($79-$89) and then added a second layer with the Runabout Pant ($69).   Photos below:   Polartec Power Stretch Tights, Relay Tights & Runabout Pants (all from Athleta cuz they have Talls!). 

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Gloves  – Don’t forget the gloves!  I wear Manzella Sprint gloves.  I have 3 pair and just ordered my 4th pair this week cuz I wipe my nose on them and need to wash them a lot.  I love the fit, and the reflective prints on the palm of the hand for night running, plus they wick sweat fast.  I can wear them from 20 to 40 degrees without anything else on my hands.  Once it dips below 18 or so, then I add another layer of gloves or go to a heavier version.  Some people like mittens, it’s kinda about personal preference but your fingers are super sensitive so pay attention and keep them warm!!

Kankakee River State Pk_ Fence_Nov 2013  image

Don’t be afraid to add hand warmers to your gloves if you have poor circulation or just can’t keep your fingers warm.  I picked up a few at Walgreens this morning, a 2 pack is $1.

Hot Hand Warmers

Headbands & Hats – My gosh, don’t think you’re too cute for a hat or ear/headband or you might get frostbite on your ears.  This is serious business.  As you probably know, the majority of body heat is lost thru the head so COVER IT UP!   I have a couple ear/headbands, one from North Face that’s pretty heavy-duty and one from Athleta that I wear most of the time.  The pink ear/headband from North Face is on the left, the Athleta Polartec Power Stretch ear/headband is on the right.  I’m good with the thin one from Athleta most of the time til it drops down under 18ish degrees, then I go heavier and add a hat!

image    Schubert Woods_me_athleta headband_Dec 2013

When it super cold, I wear both a hat and an ear/headband, and you may even see me add a balaclava to protect my face.  Trust me if you see my face covered,  recognize that it’s cold, windy and “possibly” dangerous! 

balaclava   group_12-10-11_balaclava

Socks – Please cover those ankles!  I like to move to a crew length sock that will protect my skin and cover the gap between my shoe & tights.  Smartwool, or socks with more natural fibers do best to keep you warm.  Here is what Athleta has in Smartwool socks but you can get them just about anywhere.

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The bottom line is that you CAN run outside in the cold but you need to be smart, have good gear and also know that if you just can’t get warm after 2 miles, pack it up and go back home.  Never be afraid to call it quits if you don’t feel safe no matter how crazy everyone else may be.

Did I miss anything?  What’s your go to cold weather gear?  Please share! 

** Run Smart & Safe In The Cold ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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Favorite Things …… 2013 Edition

Every year as the holidays approach, readers start asking for a list of my favorite things.  This year I haven’t found a ton of NEW run things that I love but I do have a few favorites. 

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My favorite lifestyle tees this year are the Whooha Gear, Regret Nothing tee ($24) & the Tough Chik, I Run Because tee ($22), which is actually on my wish list!  Both of these are inexpensive items that deliver a message.  The bold, neon orange Regret Nothing tee is one of my absolute favorites that I wear constantly (and you can still use the INSPIRE discount code for 10% off).  However the “Run Because” tee holds a special spot in my heart.  Shannon from Tough Chik sent out a poll asking ladies for the reason as to why they run.  All of the quotes in the heart of that tee are from MY friends, YOUR friends, and random Tough Chiks everywhere.  We may not all run for the same reason but we will run united as Tough Chiks FOREVER!

Whooha_regret nothing    image

My favorite running items this year?  The Asics Emma Racerback ($34) & the Athleta Relay Capris.  My “Emma” is always dirty.  As soon as it comes upstairs from the wash, I pull it for a treadmill run.  The butter soft, lightweight fabric makes this baby the BEST shirt I own for a hot, sweaty workout.  They have three colors, I only own the Energy Print but would definitely buy more if I didn’t feel guilty cuz my workout wardrobe is larger than what most people own for “everyday wear”.  My go to “bottoms” are always the Athleta Relay Capri pants ($69).  You can say what you want about how costly the Athleta items are but these capris stand the test of time.  I only add one pair of capri’s to my “collection” every year and well, I’m still wearing the original black ones that I bought 4-5 years ago.  I’ve since added navy, cobalt blue, asphalt and the new sandstone inkblot ($74) to my closet.  They come in tall and standard sizes, fit perfectly, don’t move when I run and they also have a zip pocket in the back that is large enough for my iPhone.  I don’t own any other capri pants cuz these are perfect and stylish.  Total win!

Emma Racerback   veterans_me & Kasey   me_after 20 miles (march 2013)_blue lock laces 

Something that’s been on my wish list for a LONG time, is a pair of aviator sunglasses.  Why?  Cuz all the cool kids wear them and well, lots of fast runners in my area do too.  Somehow my brain now equates aviator sunglasses with cool people who run fast.  Yeah, let’s just go with it.  Since it’s no secret that it’s hard to find a pair of sunglasses to fit this oblong, skinny face, I thought I was out of luck …… until I saw that Smith Pivloc was making a “slim” version of their Serpico style.  Enter into my world the Smith Pivloc Serpico Slims ($90-$119).  According to Aby, it doesn’t matter what sunglasses I wear, I’ll never be cool, or fun and she is NOT amused.  Sorry, Aby.  Actually, no, I’m not sorry.  I will continue to embarrass you for THE.REST.OF.YOUR.LIFE.  Love you, babe!

Smith Optics_SerpicoSlim  me & Aby_nov 2013_serpico slim

Last but not least, I have to cover the feet.  My feet take me EVERYWHERE and for that reason, I don’t wear cheap shoes (or socks!).   When I’m not running, or hanging with the kiddos, then I’m probably downtown in the Windy City for the J.O.B.  It gets cold downtown fast.  And stays cold forever.  I need a boot that is comfortable, stylish and can take me thru the snow & ice then directly into the office.   My boot of choice for the 2013-2014 winter season is the Keen Bern Baby Bern Boot ($170).  Love these bad boys!  They are light and comfy, keep my feet warm but also don’t cause my feet/legs to overheat either, which is super important if your day ends up as long as most of mine.  I’ve already worn them several times this season and they are the best boots I’ve owned to date.  One day last week I put them on at 5am and wasn’t able to take them off til 7pm.  Long day but my feet felt great, no rubbing, no fatigue, just happy feet!

image   Keen_bern baby bern boots

You’re next, what are you loving this year?  Tell me, I’d love to try something new!

** These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Spooktacular 5K Review & Giveaway Winner

I have been trying to hit quite a few local 5Ks as of late.  The primary reason is to keep Aby running and having fun in her off season and secondly to try to keep myself pushing so that I can hopefully get up to speed sooner rather than later.  I almost feel as if racing each weekend is backfiring on me because I seem to be getting slower which in turn just kills my confidence. 

If I’m honest, I also have a few things working against me.  I am carrying almost 10 extra lbs from not being able to run this summer and it doesn’t seem to want to move out now that I’m back at it.  It is very difficult for me to lose weight, I have to be almost perfect with my intake and I’m not even close to perfect.  I’ve been hitting my workouts hard, plus trying to race and I’m not getting results in either area.   I just don’t feel like I can move.  It could be the extra weight.  It could be the lack of fitness and endurance.  It could be a lingering issue in my hamstrings that is literally being hammered out on a weekly basis but the bottom line is I have heavy feet/legs that I can’t lift up to run fast.  I do feel like I’m getting stronger; I’m just not seeing it materialize in the 5K results.  So I raced this weekend, I race next weekend at the Hot Chocolate 5K and then I’ll be stepping back and not racing again until Thanksgiving Day at the Running For Kicks 4 Mile Turkey Trot.  I won’t give up because I know it takes forever a long time to build back up but as always the waiting is the hardest part.

On Saturday, I was out of town and found a 5K somewhat close to my parents, the Spooktacular 5K in Warsaw, IN.  I found the race thru the Run Indiana website.   The race was hosted by the Kosciusko County YMCA.  It was small, cheap and well ran.  I rolled into the parking lot at 8:48 am for an event that started at 9.  I “normally” don’t like to cut it that close but the cross country travels from my parents house to the race site took a “little” longer than I had anticipated.  I easily found parking, ran inside, handed them $20 and my entry form,  and they handed me a bib (with chip timing!) and a shirt.  I was registered by 8:50 am.  I hit the indoor bathroom and was out the door for a very brief warm up by 8:52 am.  The race started on time at 9 am. 

Spooktackular 5K_2012_swag

I was a bit nervous standing at the start line because nobody wanted to be near the front.  I’m not familiar with the town at all, and found myself damn near in the front row as everyone kept backing away from the start.  As the race director spent a few minutes discussing the route, I busted out laughing thinking, I’ll never remember all this!  My motto is always to follow the people in front of me and the people in front of me were disappearing before the gun even went off!  So we started the race and I was still laughing, hoping that a few people would take off and of course they did and I just settled into my pathetic pace.    The cool thing about this town is that they must be very bike friendly because each side of the road had a bike lane, so between the random sidewalks and the bike lane, I never felt crowded or unsafe running on the side of an unclosed road.  The course was easy, had plenty of volunteers helping direct runners and it was thru a scenic neighborhood beside Winona Lake and then thru the lakeside parks and artisan area. 

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It was a bit of an adventure and I was looking around checking things out probably more than I was focused on the race.  I kept thinking I’d like to go back and check out the area with the family.  I really liked the course and there were some rolling hills but nothing crazy.  And I do feel like using the word “hills” is somewhat of an exaggeration.  There were a few inclines and declines but nothing too intense.

I do not think there was water on course and there were not bathrooms but this is normal for a small 5K.  There were about 60 finishers and several of those were run/walkers. 

The awards ceremony was nice.   They had the normal age group awards and gave awards 3 deep.  This was definitely a race where almost everyone walked away with an age group award.  That always makes me happy for people and I feel like they deserve something for getting up and out on a cold morning!

I took 1st in my age group with a 25:25, photo below.  I was 4th female overall.

Spooktackular 5K_2012_1st Age Group

“Run”Way Fashion for the Spooktacular:  Athleta Hurdle Top – $69 &  Athleta Relay Capris – $69.  The Hurdle Top is a new favorite of mine and I’ve worn it several times now.  It is long, so don’t order a tall unless you have a much longer torso than me or you’ll have to return it like I did.  I normally wear a tall in the  Athleta tops but not this one!  The top fits great though once I figured out the proper size.  It has a small zip pocket in the front, plus long arms with the thumb hole for these cooler fall days!  I also love the reflective accents and it has tiny stripes that I didn’t notice when I ordered it.  Several color choices.   Cute!   As for the Relay Capris, I have these in 3 colors, the black (above) which I purchased 3 seasons ago, the blue which I purchased last year and the asphalt (below) which I purchased this year.  These capris last and they are the perfect length.  They come in regular and tall (for me!) and are a little longer so they hit below the knee.  Great fit.  Great look.  Very flattering. Plus the waist comes up a bit higher to hold in my mommy tummy.  Total win!

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Did you race or just get out an enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend?  Do you have a couple pieces of clothing that are your current fall favorites?  Tell us!

The winner of the Nike+ SportBand is #5 – Julie Belka. 

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Julie, please contact  me at amanda@tootallfritz.com to claim your prize!

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Like a Ton of Bricks…..

Yesterday was a great day for running in the CHI with temps in the low 50s around lunchtime.  I wanted to head out to see if I could get a few photos of the flowers and trees which are starting to bloom.  This is an exciting time for me, possibly because I am a springtime baby, I definitely love this time of year the most!

My first stop was at Millennium Park because Hubby called my cell as I was passing by.

Soon the fountains will be turned on and you won’t be able to pass this area without hearing the squeals of laughing children playing in the water, awaiting the spitting fountain of water out of the “faces” and then the waterfall from the top of these towers.  It’s a lot of fun for young and old alike and always makes me smile when the fountains are on and alive with activity.There are always various pieces of abstract art displayed in the park.  The art pieces change periodically and add a different flavor to the environment with each new exhibit. 

Once I hit the lakefront, I ran south toward McCormick.  It’s less crowded that way, has more foliage, has a little gravel path at the side for softer surface running and also passes all the museums. 

Monroe Harbor:

Path beside Burnham Harbor:

This last photo is pretty much where the fun ended.  I turned around shortly after this because I didn’t want to run too far.  My legs are still a bit tight and fatigued from the Shamrock Shuffle so I have been trying to get in a few miles this week but not get crazy yet.  When I made the flip, I was back in this same area, running on the left side of this photo, in the crushed limestone area (off of the black top) and I tripped.  I was looking at the ground like always so was definitely focused on the task at hand.  No iPod.  No distraction.  No excuse.  I stubbed my toe on “something” and went down like a ton of bricks.   Since I was in mid stride and was running a decent pace, I was immediately airborne.  There was no catching myself, I was going down.  I put my hands out, one of which was carrying my phone, realized I was traveling to fast for this to turn into anything but a face plant so opted for a tumble roll to save face….as if that were even possible at this point.  The good news, I rolled, got up, brushed off and was unharmed other than a few grass stains on my hands and Aby’s new Fort2Base half zip which I had stolen plus a few clover leaves stuck in the case of my phone, which I did not drop.

Of course, I immediately wondered what made me trip but by the time I brushed off, removed the impacted dirt and clover leaves from my phone took off the grass stained half zip and tied it around my waist, there were people coming down the path.  At this point, I opted to just RUN so that I possibly didn’t have to talk to them about WHY I fell.  Who knows but when Ms. TooTall goes down, there aren’t any ballerina type graceful moves, its full force LIKE A TON OF BRICKS.  Thank goodness for the tumble roll.  Thank goodness I ran south instead of north so I wasn’t swimming in Lake Michigan instead of brushing off a few dirt and grass stained spots!  Thank goodness I wasn’t in a group run where I would have most likely taken out Aurelia and Susan too!  

I would also like to add that through all of these acrobatics, the damn PunkeeLove Headband did NOT move!  No joke.  I knew they were awesome and have been wearing the ones that I bought at the expo on every run but this really made me a believer.  There is your next giveaway:  PunkeeLove Headbands!  The package is in the mail, I’ll post it as soon as it arrives.  Stay tuned because you NEED a few of these headbands!  Here is a pic of my green one below.  I also have a double strand red/gold one which I wore yesterday.  I was told the double strand bands should be up on the website this week.

I also squeezed in a quick swim last night which was much less dramatic.  I just tried to focus on getting my rhythm back and using the full length of my arms to not “short” my stroke (thanks, Jackie!!).  My main swim goal for the year is bilateral breathing but I did not work on that yesterday, just focused on my stroke.  I swam 40 laps which is 1000 yards or 0.567 miles.  I normally swim 80 laps but swimming is like everything else and I need to get acclimated and build my endurance.  It will take a couple of weeks and I should be back to 80 laps per swim.  The 40 laps took me approximately 23 minutes.   The 80 should be right around 45 minutes once I’m reacclimated. 

If you want real details on swimming and proper technique, go over and check out Kelly the Culinarian’s post on her first swim lesson.  My approach to swimming is a lot like Dori from Finding Nemo:  Just Keep Swimming.

“Run & TRI”way fashion for the day:  Fort2Base half zip; Athleta Relay Capri (best capri’s EVER!), PunkeeLove Headband, SkirtSports.com  TRI Tank, Speedo Vanquisher goggles (from SwimOutlet.com), Swim Cap – Freebie from USAT.  I actually never buy swim caps because I get a free one in every race so I just keep them and use those in the pool.  I don’t have a brand preference, just use the freebies.

What did you do yesterday?  Any trouble staying on your feet lately?  Do you fall down gracefully or like a ton of bricks like me?

Happy Running & TRIing!                                                                                             Amanda – TooTallFritz

Reset on Speed…….

This week should be my 3rd week of speed sessions.  The goal is to get back to running 22 minute, or faster, 5Ks.  After the long miserable stint with Plantar Fasciitis, I lost a lot of speed.  The initial plan was to do 2 speed sessions per week in an attempt to boost performance for the Warm Your Heart Indoor 5K at McCormick Place at the end of the month.  However, it hasn’t worked out that way.

  • Week 1, 10x200m – CHECK
  • Week 2 – Session 1 – Sick baby – Didn’t happen
  • Week 2 – Session 2 – Should have been 6x800m but I couldn’t hang so I limped thru greatly modified the session to a sub par workout.
  • Week 3 – Session 1 – Didn’t happen – Late/Hard run night before and I wasn’t recovered.

So today was Week 3 – Session 2 and as I looked back over the folly I called “speed” work, I decided that I need to push the reset button and start over. 

At the beginning.  Fresh.  At a point where I had the confidence I could nail the workout and move forward. 

So back to the 10×200 I went.  I’m a sprinter at heart and that works well for me and fits well into the middle of my workday.  I can hang, no matter what.  And I did.  Great workout.  Not easy but I made it.  Success!  Now let’s see what next week will bring.

I also managed to grab a half hour on the bike today.  Not exactly what most people would call a “brick” but it’s about a close as my schedule will allow.  I also need time in the saddle to get used to riding again since I don’t ride with a chamois before spring comes and I roll her out for some real miles.  I know it’s as exciting to see me on my bike, on the trainer, in the same spot in my dining room gym as it is for me to ride there but alas, here I am:  I was very excited that my new Athleta Relay Capris came today!

I had ordered these in the fall and they were back ordered til December 15th so I canceled the order but I recently caved ordered them again, in the only color that was available for immediate shipment…..blue.  They are awesome!  They fit perfectly, are long enough (I did order the long), have a small zip pocket in the back, don’t move and feel like butter.  Nice!  I find myself with very few capri tights and will definitely order these in the other colors and wait for the backorder to ship.  Aby wants a pair too.  I can’t even tell which are my running clothes/shoes/socks/sunglasses, etc. now because she is creeping up on me in size and then she wants the same things I have so we have doubles of everything.  And it all looks the same.  And it’s not cheap buying my 10 year old clothes from Athleta & RunningSkirts.com, they should have a half price racks for kids.

“Run”Way Fashion:  The Athleta Relay Capris (above), and both workouts were in Tek Gear performance tops.  I purchased the Tek Gear at Kohl’s on a super sale, last season.  The shirts are cute, have nice material, have a small pocket in the back and I think worth the money, especially on sale.  I bought the white (above) and this green one: 

Do you buy any technical gear at bargain prices?  Any good bargain brands you can share with us?

Happy Running!                                                                                                                   Amanda – TooTallFritz

Like A Kid at Christmas…..

As I drove away from the Running For Kicks fun run last night, I was so giddy, I felt like a kid at Christmas.  The excitement lasted the entire 45 minute ride home and thru the remainder of the evening.  I was totally high off the run.  I actually wondered if the feeling was the “runners high” that people talk about but I’m quite certain I have never personally experienced.  The reason does not matter, just let it suffice to say this was the most “fun” I have had on a run in a very, very long time.  And that’s saying quite a bit because I actually like to run and find it enjoyable most of the time.

The fun run participants were so numberous, many didn’t even make the picture but here are the ones who bothered to stand still for the 2 seconds for Gail to snap the photo.  I’m in the back, just right of middle in the red shirt with the HUGE reflective log in the middle. 

Good to know that the reflectivity of my Athleta Hopkinton Top is no joke.  Don’t say that you didn’t see me coming! 

After the group photo, most of these people took off in a sprint but the F’N Running Club people were awaiting the arrival of MagMileRunner (Maggie) so this gave me an opportunity to grab a few photos.  Me & Gail….yes, I often cut myself off.  I  need a cell phone photog class.

FNRC Runners, minus MagMileRunner:  Aurelia, Kate, Running (Kell)ometers – Kelly, Get to Goal – Amanda, Joe, & Me:

Then Maggie arrived and we were off and running.  Apparently we ran thru “the hills” of Ishnala but it was dark and so much fun that I didn’t realize there were many hills.  I did notice an occasional downhill because of the downward momentum.  Not sure if we ran up those hills or not.  We might possibly have been running faster than some might consider fun and I secretly knew that I was sabotaging today’s speed workout on the dreadmill but I was having so much fun it was hard to give a damn care.  On the miles where my watch beeped and I knew we didn’t have “many” stops, we were right between 8:40 and 8:44.  Take that Ishnala!  

One might say the RFK runners invaded the Ishnala subdivision in a similar manner as to how children invade a neighborhood at Halloween.  There were runners EVERYWHERE.  Most of the runners had blinking lights and/or reflective wear.  Even though it was dark, we were very visible and you could see runners at almost every intersection.  None of us really knew the route so there was a lot of running, stopping, and jumping on the back of a passing group.  Then we would pass our “leaders” just to get to an new intersection and again stop to “discuss” the route and/or await an approaching group for direction.  It was quite an adventure and so much fun!  I’m so happy that I finally made it on time out for a RFK Fun Run!

When we returned to the store, we were greeted by the smell of chili with all the fixings and lot s of smelly runners.  The Mizuno Rep was also in the house and brought shoes for everyone to try during their fun run, then they raffled off 2 pair of shoes!  No, I didn’t win but I was hoping I would!  Here is a look at the store with everyone eating and awaiting the raffle: 

I encourage you to make it a point to get to Running For Kicks for one of these awesome group runs.  There were paces from walk, run/walk to really fast people.   Monday nights at 6pm, rain or shine!

Happy Running!                                                                                                                Amanda – TooTallFritz                                                                             amanda@tootallfritz.com

SWAG vs the Cool Clothes…..

I was preparing for a bike session last night in my dining room gym and was looking thru my closet for something to wear.  Now I know my hubby is laughing over this because my closet is full and I want to move him out of the second master closet and put his clothes in the spare room would like more space.  I am pretty set up at this point and don’t really “need” much so am able to pick and choose the new “cool” clothes that I want to buy.  Since I don’t have a “need” for workout attire I can occasionally grab a few things off internet sales which I normally wouldn’t buy due to their original price tag but once they hit the sale rack it’s fair game!  Like I’m waiting for this new piece from Athleta to hit the sale rack….and since it’s new, it will be a long wait.  This limeish, bright green is my absolute favorite color and I love the fit of their Accelerate Tee

So last night as I was browsing my closet, I was noticing the race shirts that I  have kept vs. my “cool” clothes.  I normally wear race shirts for lounging, sleeping and my dining room gym workouts.  It is highly unlikely you will see me on the trail with a race shirt.  Why?  Usually race shirts don’t fit me well.  Most of the time I won’t even keep them.  I may let them lounge in my closet for a couple of months or even a year but then they get donated.  Or Aby takes them for bedtime attire.  Or if you have run with me for a long time, I have probably showed up for a run with a bag of cast-a-ways that I offer up to whoever wants them. 

I do keep a very select few pieces of SWAG (stuff we all get) and if it’s hanging in my closet AND it gets wear time then that makes it a really great piece of SWAG.  The race shirts in my closet include those I receive from the Shamrock Shuffle, not because it’s my favorite race of the year but because they give Nike Tech shirts that are gender specific.  I also keep the Chicago Marathon shirts for the same reason.  I just pulled the tags of my 2011 Chicago Marathon shirt last night.  I love this shirt.  I haven’t worn it before now because I didn’t want it to get toddler funk on it for various reasons but it’s a cool shirt in the way it looks and it also has a good fit. 

In fact, I love this shirt so much that I bought a skirt to match it from RunningSkirts.com.  So there is a possibility you might see this one on the trail.

I have also kept one Southwest Bank 1/2 Marathon shirt that was a women’s specific Mizuno shirt.  I keep a handful of long sleeve tech shirts.  I love the new A-4 brand women’s shirts that I have just started to see come thru some low-budget races.   These A-4 shirts feel like butter and just are prefect for running when I am lucky enough to get a gender specific shirt.  I also have kept my Hot Chocolate windbreaker and have used it multiple times.  Other than those items, not much stays in the closet and if it does, then I normally wear it around the house or for cross training workouts.  I just feel awkward wearing race shirts, like it bragging.  And I like to encourage newbies to be out there on the trail WITH me, not behind me.  No need to kill their confidence by showing up in a 70.3 or marathon shirt.  If they want to talk about my races, great, I’m happy to oblige but I don’t want to intimidate them into not coming back because they think I’m more experienced or stronger or bragging about what has been.  So know that if you see me in a race shirt that I REALLY love that shirt or it would have never hit the trail with me. 

How do you feel about race SWAG?  Do you wear it proudly, donate it, keep it but push it to the back of the closet or just use it for pajamas? 

SWAG Patrol,                                                                                                                  Amanda – TooTallFritz

10 Degrees….

Ten degrees……the coldest it’s been so far in Illinois for the start of winter 2011-2012.  Wow, it was hard to get my ass out of bed  “up and out” this morn.  The thing that propelled me forward was actually the fact that I had the time, the kids and hubby were out of the house, and I really WANTED to go for a run…… regardless of the temps.  I would have gone had it been below zero.  Yes, I am  a freak weirdo like that.  It was also an added bonus to have a little accountability.  Although my running partners were quickly dropping like flies with the falling temps, there was still several who made an appearance.  Me, Suzanne, Kate, & Maggie – Run For Pi(e)

Today we were joining up with the Yankee Runners as they came south, out of  the Palos Hills, to run Old Plank for a change.  When I hit my usual parking area, which is quite desolate at this time of year, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was filled people…..not just people but RUNNERS!  I bet there were 25+ people out there for a run today!  AWESOME.  But I still was slightly tentative about leaving the warmth of my car.Wow, 10 degrees.  I can do it.  I have this new face mask….it will keep me warm!

There wasn’t any a lot of chatter or introductions, basically we just jumped out of our cars and took off running before we got frost-bitten.  However, I did see Judy F., Frogger, Mark C., Scott B., Cindy T. and a few other people I recognized from Running For Kicks functions or the Park Forest Running & Pancake Club.  Once we were moving, the photos blurred as the lens on my camera phone fogged.  But I still tried!

It was really beautiful out.  We had a dusting of snow, the sun was just coming up and did I mention it was 10 degrees?  The wind was low, we had a headwind going out but coming back in a full sweat I realized I was overdressed like always but it was just a beautiful day.  And as always, I was super glad I went out and got in a few miles with my friends.  On a random side note, I want to thank all of you who continue to come out and meet me to run.  It is sooooo much more fun trying to hang on to Suzanne & Kate’s coat-tails running in a group verses going solo.  Thank YOU!

“Run”way Fashion:  Reebok Compression base layer, long bra top, Athleta long sleeve lined with fleecy flannel which has thumb holes and fold overs for hands (they don’t make it anymore!), then I had a light running jacket on which is a generic off brand I’ve had for years.  On the bottom I had CW-X compression tights plus Athleta Run About Pants in TALL.  I was very bundled without too much bulk, everything fit close so that air didn’t get in to allow the sweat to freeze.  I also wore an ear band, hat, gloves and the new Seirus Innovation face mask (picked it up at Dick’s Sporting Goods last night but couldn’t seem to find it online to link it up here).  So I was really quite toasty after we got running!  You CAN run outside in the winter if you want dress appropriately.

10.03 miles – 1:34, a few stops for photos, a stop for fluids at the 4 mile mark, and a few road crossings but mostly kept it moving.  On days when its this cold, please keep moving so your sweat doesn’t freeze.  That would be bad for your skin.

Happy WINTER Running!                                                                                           Amanda – TooTallFritz

Positive Changes…..

Change is good, especially when done with good intentions.  There has been much debate amongst my friends at the Frankfort Running Club regarding a name change.  Some wanted a more exciting name that would separate them from the crowd, others wanted something a little more family friendly traditional.  I feel as if the “officers” have made a good compromise in arriving at their final decision.  Please meet the FNRC……from left:  Kathy H., Susan D., Brian P., Diane F., Maggie W., Suzanne K., Brian F, Jeni H., & Jessica.

This group will now be known as the Frankfort -New Lenox- Running Club.   So for those of you who wanted a hard core more exciting name, you can still say that you are going to meet the F’N Running Club.  This will allow you to still have fun and give the “officers” freedom to promote the group in the Frankfort & New Lenox areas thru the Park Districts and other family friendly organizations.  Good compromise?    What do you think?  And thanks to all of YOU who have been coming out to join the fun and help this group grow to the point where they felt the need to be more inclusive and welcoming to others!  Way to make it happen!

So the inaugural run of the FNRC brought out an awesome group for a  cold, dark Wednesday night!  I was very pleased.  There were nine people available for the photo, then myself, and two more who showed up (12 total) in time to sprint off into the darkness.  Thank you to KnuckleLights.com for lighting our way in the dark!  Many of us have them now with more people ordering them today so we illuminate the path like a train really light up the darkness.  Hope we didn’t scare anyone! 

We have been merging with an area Team in Training group for many of our runs as of late because THE MORE THE MERRIER!  That is really what I love most about this group.  They are friendly, nice people, easy to converse with and have a great attitude about running and life.  The paces and distances last night varied greatly as some people are trying to rebound from injuries.  The group ran anywhere from 2 to 6 miles as a whole and there were a few of us who added in some extra miles before hand to make it an 8 mile day.  Not bad for a Wednesday.  So proud of everyone for coming out in the cold. 

And it was F’N COLD!  It was 33 with a breeze when I started my run about 4:35pm and 29 when I finished at 6:15.  I literally had to hug a tree to stay steady enough for a photo….the shivers were taking over!

I only ran a little before everyone came and didn’t stop for many photos because you have already seen a billion photos from this trail it was dark.  I did grab one photo of the Christmas lights. 

It was a beautiful, crisp clear night.  Ms. TooTall wasn’t exactly dressed as planned but I improvised with my RunLove Compression Socks from RunningSkirts.com to cover up the extra skin.  They currently have two pair (aqua and purple) of compression socks on the  SkirtSwaggle page for $19.20!  Great deal, along with many other products that are marked way down for the Active Swaggle deal, plus they are offering free shipping with the PROMO Code:  SKIRTSCHWAG …. Not sure how long they will last so if you want some, buy soon.

“Run”way Fashion:  RunLove Compression Socks, Athleta Headwinds Jacket (wind /rain/snow DOES NOT get thru….select sizes on sale now for $49.99), the Saucony Guide 5’s with the 8 mm drop.

I had heard lots of positive things about the RunningSkirts.com RunLove compression socks, specifically them being a great product for the price.    I have a pair of the CEP compression calf sleeves and consider those to be awesome so thought it would be a big step down to move to these but I really liked them.  They are normally $32 each, which is still a great deal but the Swaggle deal is awesome at the $19.20.  I wore these socks all day at work, then ran in them, then home to the kids for dinner, laundry, etc.  I had them on for about 16 hours and didn’t even notice them.  They didn’t move, just continued to hug my calf muscles and make them feel warm and cozy.  A very light pressure, no pinching, no discomfort.  LOVE!

I also have been wearing the new Saucony Guide 5’s with the 8 mm drop.  Lots of hoopla about this shoe.  I normally wear the Saucony Guide as I need a light stability shoe due to a very high arch and overpronating.  My heel is very narrow, like possibly a AAA?  I don’t have many options that lock my foot in place without heel slippage.  As a result, I have been wearing Saucony for many years now so was NOT excited about a big change.  Then the huge ad campaign for the 8 mm drop just made me more nervous.  I am NOT a barefoot runner and I NEVER want to be one, so going closer to barefoot scares the shit out of me.  However, I must say it has been a pleasant surprise.  The shoe is noticeably lighter, the official weight difference is 1.5 ounces, which should seem like nothing but it’s noticeable.  In order to break these in a bit before just hitting the trail, I have been wearing them at night, around the house, after wearing normal trainers all day.  I could tell a difference immediately on the weight and added forefoot cushioning once I changed into these shoes.  Most of the weight came out of the back-end, around the heel and since I am a forefoot runner I don’t need/want a heavy heel cup.  This works well for me.  So thumbs on the 8 mm drop. 

8.14 miles in 1:19.   A few stops to pick up/drop off additional runners, wait at turnaround points, etc. but overall, kept moving.  

Happy Running,                                                                                                                  Amanda – TooTallFritz

Lunch Break….on the Lakefront

I love the option of hitting the lakefront path for a good run at “lunch” when I can cut the ties to my desk get out.  I  normally don’t leave for lunch so this is quite a treat when I make it happen.  I must say, there are many days that I just carry my clothes back and forth to work because I can’t MAKE IT HAPPEN so today is an awesome day!  Quick obligatory “blogger bathroom photo”. 

Then I literally hit the street running before my boss saw me leave so I didn’t change my mind.  The worst part of running in the city is getting the gps to find a signal having the patience to weave thru the pedestrians, and wait out red lights/street crossings, while heading to the lakefront.  Upon arriving at the lakefront, its smooth sailing.  Allow a brief shout out to the Chicago Parks Department for their fastidious upkeep of the Lakefront Path.  Once I hit the Lakefront path today, I was met by these babies: 

The Chicago geese are probably the most aggressive visitors you will encounter on the lakefront path; however, I have never actually seen them chase anyone.  I just have horrible flashbacks of the Bixler Lake geese, which chased us during the summers of EN CC practice so the sight of any geese while running makes me scream and run like a little girl tense with anxiety. 

If you have extra $$ and a big ass boat, you might have spent some Chicago summers here at the Columbia Yacht Club.

Great view of Navy Pier: 

Ohio Street Beach….wow, Lake Michigan is angry.  Is the snow finally coming?

In the summer you will see Chicago Lifeguards watching this strip between Ohio Street Beach and Oak Street Beach.  You will also see swim lanes for open water swimmers and triathletes who are grabbing a lunchtime swim in the lake or trying out a rented wetsuit.

Running north along the lakefront can be cold and windy as there is no protection from the wind and elements.  On a bad day, I would say run south toward McCormick or try the Riverwalk Path.  However, today was perfect at 33 degrees with a nice wind coming off the lake.  Ear band and gloves required but I was dressed for it so really enjoyed being out there!  As always, when I rounded the curve to Oak Street Beach I got a blast of wind and the waves were really splashing and leaving shit debris pretty far up on the trail. 

Memorial Day thru Labor Day, Chicago has a temporary outdoor, limited fare cafe with alcohol drinks here at Oak Street Beach.  It’s nice to sit on the beach and have a pricey lunch with cocktails. If you are shopping the Magnificent Mile, you can walk right across Michigan Avenue, after shopping Prada on Oak Street, and hit the beach for some R&R.  In this photo you can see the winter remnants of the outdoor cafe.  It’s a much different site “in season” and I encourage you to come and check it out when it gets warm!

Hey strange dude, randomly walking the lake front path without much apparent purpose……would you be so kind as to take a photo of me before the waves suck me out to the bottom of the lake?

On days like this when I am crunched for time, I run 6 miles.  The North Avenue sign is my 3 mile turn around. 

It’s just close enough to North Beach to make you want to run an extra mile or two or 10 .

But alas, I need to run back to work, so flipped and headed back toward the city.

Another great run in the CHI.  It was slow, 1:02 for 6.13 miles but that included 28 multiple photo stops, and major road crossings getting to and from the lake front path and some lollygagging.

Dress appropriately and get out there for a run!   You will be happy once you get your ass out the door.

“Run”way Fashion:  Athleta Headwinds Jacket (mine is the 2010 model), Athleta Base Miles Headband, & Manzella Sprint Glove Liners.

Manzella Sprint Glove Liners - Women's

Happy Running,                                                                                                            Amanda – TooTallFritz