Chicago Half Marathon in Photos ….

I’m finally starting to feel better, the soreness in my quads is dissipating and I’m starting to feel fresh again.  I’ll try not to ruin that with speed work tonight!  In the mean time, here are some additional photos from Sunday’s Chicago Half Marathon.

Chicago Running Blogger Meetup – the LATE edition, most had already left by the time I arrived cuz I missed my super secret parking area and had to park with the masses.

Sara, Eric, Jennifer, Me, Jess

Chicago Half_2013_chicago run bloggers

Jess & I looking fresh pre-race.  Yes, she might be standing on a curb to try to be tall like me.  No, I have no idea why my shirt is flipped up and looking crazy. 

Chicago Half 2013_jess & i

The crowd waiting to start the race.  If you look REALLY close, you will see TWO start banners.  This was  bit confusing, we crossed the 5K start banner first (and timing mat), some people started running, some people were confused, and a few of us knew that we still had a ways to go before our real race began.  Jess and I were standing close to the 2 hour pacer but felt like we were all the way at the back.  It took us 6 minutes to get to that far away start banner.

Chicago Half_2013_start

The crowd thinned considerably when we hit Lake Shore Drive.  As one blogger previously mentioned, the “out” part of this race is fun, lively and you can see the fasties coming back at you on this mostly out and back course; however, by the time YOU hit the other side, it seems like the “back” is FOREVER long.  It’s boring.  And everyone is hot, tired and just wants to be done.

Chicago Half_2013_LSD

Views are amazing!  Photo credit – Derek Taylor (F’N Runner!!!!)

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Then things just got hot and ugly on the way back to the finish.  Derek managed to catch this keeper on film.  No, I didn’t even have enough energy to lift my eyebrow to acknowledge him.  Dead on my feet. 

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Last quarter mile, finishing with Jess.  At least she had a smile for the camera!  Source – MarathonFoto

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Finally, done; Jess and I wrung out our skirts headed to meet up with some run bloggers in the VIP tent.  Lindsay, Maggie, Jess, Me & Emily.Chicago Half 2013_vip bloggers

Then over to the CARA tent for one more blogger meet up.  Karen, Penny, Jeannette, Mike, Melissa (Mike’s wife & my HS gal pal), Me & Jess

Chicago Half_2013_bloggers

II was so happy to meet so many people.  I always look forward to this event because it really draws a lot of amazing runners and bloggers.  Can’t wait til next year!

One last set of photos, my Chicago Half history via MarathoFoto:  2007, 2008, 2012 (5K) & 2013.  I think we can agree that I just don’t photograph well during a race.  I’m not in pain in any of these photos, this just must be how I look when I run. 

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Running is rarely pretty, no matter how cute the outfit.  Smile

Amanda – TooTallFritz

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Chicago Half Marathon – 2013

Where to start?  I’ve ran the Chicago Half Marathon three times now & the Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K once.  My first appearance at the half was 2007, 100ish degrees or so it seemed, full sun and MISERABLE.  This was my first half marathon and I think I crawled the last half of the race on my hands and knees then called my friend Lisa on the way home and told her that I was going to give my running shoes to the first homeless person I saw cuz I just wouldn’t be needing them anymore!  Yeah, not my finest hour. 

My second appearance was in 2008, 8 days after my first 70.3 triathlon.  It poured rain the entire time.  I don’t mean it rained either, I’m being legit by saying that it POURED rain.  Organizers even had to reroute the course due to flooding.  However, I loved the race.  Had a blast.  Loved splashing thru the puddles for the entire 13.1 miles.  I just kept pulling my hat in tighter, kept trucking along and managed to negative split, which is super rare for me. 

My third appearance at this event was for the 5K, last year, shortly after I returned to running after rehabbing my foot.  The 5K was good but left me feeling as if I was missing out by not running the half.  That brings us to this year, my fourth appearance at the event and my 3rd Chicago Half.  This year was all about being social.  I’m not race ready.  My legs are very, very, very fatigued.  I never fully recovered from the 70.3 which I did in the 101 degree temps last weekend but I went to see friends from the area and out-of-towners who came in to run.  I was hoping to have enough in my legs to run with my friend Jess and to be able to finish with a smile on my face. 

Jess & I in our neon yellow/pink outfits which we put together as an excuse to buy around the Pro Compression sock of the month!

Chicago Half_2013_jess me    Chicago Half_2013_socks-shoes

Unfortunately, I screwed up on parking and missed seeing a lot of people pre-race but instead hustled to the start line in an very un-TTF like fashion.  The start was crowded.  They had 3 corrals but I’m not really sure who made the cut to get into those corrals.  Jess and I were back with the masses and let me just say that it’s been a while since I’ve started a race without a corral and it’s just not fun.  My apologies to all of you who do it each and every race.  Wow, such a mess. 

This half had around 14,000 people so not a big race by Chicago standards.  The key to running these type of races is to either get out early, hit it hard and run away from the crowds, or settle in and just go with the flow.  We were in the “go with the flow” mode as both of us were feeling less than perfect.  I really only had one goal for this race and that was to hang close to Jess for as long as possible.  I didn’t know if I would be able to with as bad as I felt but that was the goal.  Have to have at least one goal, right?

I was super happy when we finally made our way out of Jackson Park  and onto Lake Shore Drive (around mile 3.5) because I knew the road was wider and the crowds would thin a bit. 

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I snapped a few photos early on and ironically, someone snapped a photo of me in the process.  I always like seeing what’s on the “other side” of the camera so here is an example.  I’m attempting to take a photo of the lakefront while running.  Derek, a fellow F’N runner (gold shirt), somehow managed to spot me in my neon outfit the crowd and simultaneously snapped a photo of me!  Love this!  Thank you, Derek!

Chicago Half_2013_me taking photo Chicago Half_2013_water photo

The crowds did start to thin and I was temporarily distracted watching for my fast friends heading toward the finish as we cruised thru the miles.  Jess and I were “together” but not really together.  There wasn’t any chatter or cheering each other on, we were putting all of our energy into the run and both of us were struggling.  I was trying to pay attention to where she was in an effort to try to keep our neon outfits in the same zip code a decent pace rather than just falling off to a walk.  My legs were shot and that’s not being pessimistic, just fact.  I was also trying to focus on the positive aspects of the weather:  a nice breeze and cloud cover.  However, the humidity started taking its toll early and I was hitting every aid station for drinking water PLUS dumping water on my head and chest.  I was completely soaked by mile 5 or 6.  And still hot.  And still thirsty.  I was also slightly alarmed by how badly the runners on the other side of “The Drive” looked.  The runners who were fast and almost finished.   They looked like death and not the smooth fast machines which I normally see at this race.  That certainly was a call to me to pay attention to my hydration since I would be out there much longer than those fasties who were already headed toward the finish.

Once I hit the turnaround, I tried to briefly pick it up but that lasted all of a 1/2 mile before I wilted even further and just settled into whatever pace I could manage.  I just kept focusing on the finish and kept myself moving with the mantra, “pump your arms and your legs will follow”.  I said that over and over and over to myself between miles 9 and 12.  Once I hit 12, I refocused on finding Jess so that we could run in together.  Not sure that she cared but I wanted to be with my neon run twin her at the finish.  I was chuckling internally as we cruised thru that last mile, weaving around person after person.  Even the short 1/4 mile shoot to the finish was crowded and it was somewhat difficult to stay “together”.  However, we did manage to finish together, side by side, and even had the exact same finish time so it was a successful mission in my book! 

The completion of the 2013 Chicago Half in conjunction with my finish at the earlier 13.1 Chicago qualified me for the Windy City Challenge medal!

Chicago Half_2013_medals Chicago Half_2013 medal   Windy City Challenge

This is really a great race.  Yes, it’s big.  Yes, it’s crowded.  However, the view of the lake, the city and being able to see the rest of the runners both in front and behind you, is really cool.  The support from aid stations is incredible.  The volunteers are lively, call out your name, encourage you, and have endless supplies of water & gatorade.  Lots of potties too!  Lots of medical support.  Lots of spectators.  Some on course entertainment.  Pizza, beer & a band at the finish. 

If you are into swag, the shirt was super cool this year.  It was the ever popular Helium brand, gender specific in a bright orange color with the Chicago Half logo. Bonus – it actually fits &  I’m wearing it right now.  LOVE it and am dreaming of cooler temps where I can actually wear long sleeves for running!

Chicago Half_2013_swag

See you next year!

** Run Chicago ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Winner of the Chicago Half Marathon FREE Entry

I always love the days where I get to give someone something for free!    But it makes me nervous too.  Why?  I have no idea but I want everyone to win and I know that some people who have entered will only be running IF they win so I feel some pressure, get nervous, have butterflies!  Silly, I know but that’s always how I feel when I go to the random number generator to put in the info.  Soooo glad that I don’t have to make the decision myself!

Today, I randomly drew a  number for a free entry to the 2013 Chicago Half Marathon on September 8th.

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I’m a numbers person so always wonder what number will come up.  Today, the “late bird” got the worm and someone who just entered the giveaway at the very last minute will be running with me for free!  It’s someone I know.  It’s someone you “might”  know.  Who is #42? 

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Run With Jess:

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Congrats, Jess!  Email me at amanda@tootallfritz.com for info on how to get registered!

For those of you who didn’t win and want to register, go HERE and sign up today.   Cost of the half is currently $90.  Great race.  Great course.  Great location.  I’ll be there and so will Jess!  Join us!!

** Run Chicago ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Chicago Half Marathon FREE ENTRY Giveaway

While most runners in Chicago are now firmly focused on marathon training, I’ve been focused on TRI training.  My life is swim, bike, run, repeat.  Swim, bike, run, repeat.  This means I have actually been running less than “normal”.  My miles are down.  In a sense, I’ve been in cross training mode, very unworried about how far or how often I’m running.  However, even I have now downloaded a training plan, ran my first workout, and am beginning to think about the fall running & racing season.  One thing is for certain, long hard miles in the summer bring fast times in the fall.  Where do I want to run fast?  The Chicago Half Marathon on September 8, 2013. 

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While half marathons are now popping up everywhere, we still have a solid few that survive on reputation alone …. not gimmick, or hype, or a promise of a “good time” but rather a solid race that offers a fast & flat road race that brings the serious competitor and first timer alike.  One such race, is the Chicago Half Marathon, in Jackson Park, in Chicago.  It’s always the second Sunday in September.  It’s always the best race Chicago offers in September.  It’s always the premier half of the entire fall season for Chicagoland.

The Chicago Half was my first ever half marathon and one which I continue to return to year after year.  This will be my goal half marathon for 2013 and the one where I won’t run safe and smart but with my heart on my sleeve, pushing with everything I have in my tank on that given day.  Plus it’s a Southside race and although I’m not born & bred Chicago, I am a Southsider now and love any race that doesn’t force me to travel all the way downtown.

Course map (from 2012 because the website is currently having technical issues from the storms, but it’s always the same) shows a run thru Jackson Park then a balls out fast race on Lake Shore Drive where you can see your fast friends and those behind you too! 

ChicagoHalf_map

    View from Lake Shore Drive       Chicago Half_stock

 

If you’re in it for the bling, here is a sneak peak at the medals for the 5K and the Half, plus the Windy City Challenge medal for those who plan to double up and run both the 13.1 Chicago event (which occurred on June 8th) and the Chicago Half on September 8th.

Chicago Half_medals_2013   Windy City Challenge_medal_2013

Now, I know you want to run but I also know that race entry fees stack up fast so US Road Sports is offering a free entry to one reader.  To enter this giveaway, comment below and tell me which is your favorite Chicago area half marathon.  I’m going to be super picky next year and select only a few quality races, so I need to know which one is your favorite so I can narrow down my choices!

Giveaway is live NOW and will run til Monday, July 1st at 9am when I will select one winner via a random number generator.  Good luck!

** Run the Chicago Half Marathon ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Zooma Chicago Ambassadorship & Discount Code!!

I could spend a bit to time today bitching complaining about the weather but I think we all feel the same way.  I’m cold.  You’re cold.  BRING ON SPRING!!  Let the crocus bloom!!

I had a very bitter start last night to my Jelly Bean Virtual Race Series as I was bundled up from head to toe and couldn’t help but reminisce about the start of last year’s series when I ran in a tank top.  I know last year was unseasonably warm in March but I’m looking for a slight warm up!

                              Jelly Bean Virtual Race Start

                               2012                                        2013

Me&Susan_Jelly Bean_4-4-12      Jelly Bean_2013

But that’s right, I’m not complaining so let’s move on to something fun!! 

I was recently selected as an Ambassador for the Zooma Women’s Race Series event in Chicago!  Last year the Midwest event was located in Wisconsin and I “may” or may not have been green with envy as all my friends traveled up north for the race.  However, this year, they moved the Midwest event to Chicago so I’m IN!!!  I get to race and I was lucky enough to be accepted as one of their 2013 ambassadors.

Zooma_CHI

Zooma is a ladies event and they offer a Half Marathon and 10K distance along the north shore of  Chicago at Montrose Harbor.  I always love running up at Montrose and I’m excited to go back for the Zooma Chicago race on August 10th!!  Although I will, no doubt, be begging for the return of cold weather by August, I’m currently in love with the idea of basking in the sun with my friends at this amazing event.  There are so many great offerings for Zooma that I’m going to bring the description directly from the website so that I don’t miss anything!

Zooma Chicago promises:

  • Entry into an unforgettable, professionally-managed and timed half marathon or 10K race
  • Access to a full weekend of yoga, sponsored cocktail hour, and a Fitness Expo
  • ZOOMA Signature Swag Bag, including a cute tech tee, yoga mat, reusable bag, and stainless steel water bottle (over $50 value)
  • Water and Cytomax Sports Performance drink on the course
  • Water, Cytomax Sports Performance drink, Muscle Milk Light and food at the finish line
  • GU Energy Gel station along the course
  • Wine from Barefoot Wine & Bubbly at the After-Party Expo
  • Necklace designed exclusively by Satya Jewelry for ZOOMA for all finishers
  • Post-race massage, shopping and live music at the ZOOMA After-Party Expo

ChicagoSkyline

I’ll be honest, this race isn’t cheap.  It’s pricy.  It’s women only.  It’s the only race my friends and I signed up for the first day it was available.  We are in.  We were in before I was accepted as an ambassador.  We are in for the fun, the friendship, the camaraderie, the necklace, the bubbly, the post-race massage.  We are ALL in.  We won’t be missing a thing.  In fact, I “booked” my mom babysitter for the weekend over a month ago.  I’m super excited!!

If you want to join the fun at Zooma Chicago on August 10th, here is a 10% discount code that you are welcome to use and share with your friends.  Discount/Promo code is:  CHIAMB6

The half marathon is currently $105 and the 10K is $75.  You can register HERE.  And if you want to get really crazy and take full advantage of this girls “fit weekend”, including the FRI night activities, then go ahead and book a room at the host hotel, Landgam Chicago.   I’ll be there with my girls and we will be having a blast without our lil ones relaxing.

If you are feeling lucky,  Zooma is giving away an entire weekend package for two, plus many other goodies in the Zooma 2013 Run the CHI-TOWN Sweepstakes.  Please enter HERE to win and tell all your girlfriends to do the same!  Good luck to you!!

ZOOMA-CHI13-sweeps-header

  Hope to see you at Montrose Harbor on August 10th!

** Run. Laugh. Celebrate.  **  Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5k Race Review – 2012

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Each year, the Chicago Half Marathon also offers a 5K option.  Since I’m slowly coming off the injury train, this was the option I chose for 2012.  It was the first time that I’ve ever participated in the 5K and it was a great experience.  I would highly recommend it for anyone who is going down to watch the half marathon or those who are looking for a nice fast 5K course.

First, I was very happy that the half marathoners started 45 minutes before the start of the 5K.  This allowed me plenty of time to watch everyone cross the start, plus snap a few blurry photos of my friends as they passed.  Once the Half Marathoners cleared the start, I then dropped my bag and had time to run a very slow 1 mile warm-up, stretch my unbelievably tight hamstrings and hit the start line with a few minutes to spare. 

Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K_2012

The timing was perfect in my opinion!  What wasn’t so perfect was my decision to not press a little closer to the start line for the 5K.   I knew my fitness wasn’t up to par and I knew I wouldn’t be running real fast; therefore, I didn’t want to get too close to the start and interrupt anyone who was planning to go out hard and race for real.  That being said, I need to realize that my “not so fast” pace is still faster than many others, particularly those who are planning to walk the entire 5K.  It was definitely amateur hour at the start of the 5K.  Nothing wrong with that, I just didn’t have the endurance extra energy to weave around so many people.  My first mile split beeped before I could even see the 1 mile clock due to all my weaving and bopping around the walkers and slower runners.  Totally my fault and since I was in no shape to race, it wasn’t a problem but definitely something I’ll remember for the next 5K I run downtown. 

The 5K course was through the Jackson Park area, former site of the 1890 World’s Fair, in Hyde Park.

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There were long straights with very few turns, lots of shade and plenty of space to run after you found your rightful spot in the pack rhythm.  There was one water station around mile 2 and then the finish was in the same location as the half marathon, which I thought was a nice touch, helping the 5K runners feel part of the entire event.  The 5K finishers then received a medal for their accomplishment and loads of snacks/drinks to refuel.  See the 5K SWAG pic below, which includes the cotton tee (half marathoners received a long sleeve tech shirt):

Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K_2012_SWAG

The Chicago Half & Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5k also gave a virtual goodie bag.  I know the jury is still out on the idea of virtual race bags but I like them.  I tend to throw out 99% of the literature in the race bag so love the idea of just being able to download the coupons/literature that I want out of the bag and not worry about the rest. 

This race also features a huge area for gear check so the lines didn’t ever appear to be bad.  There were just under 30 charities represented in Charity Village and there were a ton of bathrooms.  Plus beer & pizza at the finish.

The Chicago Half is the original half marathon in Chicago and while we now have many more options to run the half distance in and around Chicago, it still dominates the other races with its unique & historic location, a few shaded miles thru Jackson Park, and 9.5 breathtaking miles on Lake Shore Drive.  The great SWAG and rockin’ finish line party are just icing on the cake for the original half marathon.  This is a runner’s race for beginner and experienced runners alike.  Registration for the 2013 Chicago Half Marathon & 5K opens tomorrow, September 11, 2012 at 7am.  Sign up!  You won’t regret it!  And bring all your friends, I will! 

Photos below:  Left –  Marathon Mike & Me, Middle – Chicago Running Bloggers:  Sara (& Waffles), Lauren, Me, Maggie, Kim, Erin, EmilyRight – Me & Melissa S

Chicago Half_Mike Chicago Half_Bloggers Chicago Half_Melissa

** Happy Running **  Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com

Creating Last Minute Race Strategy….

Sometimes we end up racing on the fly without much notice.  In a normal state of health, this is not a big deal and its easy to just go with the flow and enjoy the moment.  However, if you have been injured and aren’t quite up to par”  then you need to think about a strategy before you hit the start line. 

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To create a successful strategy, you must first be honest with yourself.  What is your current level of fitness?  To what degree are you healed and “ready to run”?  What is your current pace?  If you just ran an 8:39 average over 3 miles (sound familiar?), then don’t expect to go out and knock that pace down to 7 minute miles during the race.   It doesn’t really matter that you were a 7 minute miler prior to the injury, your body needs to build back up to the previous level of health and  fitness in order to start resembling its former self. 

Trust Yourself Source

After you are honest with yourself and consider your current level of health and fitness, then you can come up with a reasonable strategy for race day.  Possibly create more than one strategy, one for optimal conditions and then a back up plan for real life race day conditions (90 degrees with 95% humidity – AKA – Summertime in Chicago!)

In my  opinion, when one is returning to racing after injury, the most important thing is to be patient and listen to what your body is saying.  So when I hit the start line on Sunday at the Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K at the Chicago Half Marathon, I plan to start conservatively and listen to my body. 

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Who knows what the clock will say when I finish but I’m focused and looking forward.  Looking forward to a future of healthy running.  Looking forward to increasing my level of fitness.  Looking forward to the speed that I know will come as I get stronger.  Bottom line, my race strategy is to not mess anything up, which means that I will not run harder or faster than my current level of fitness will allow. 

Are you racing this weekend?  Is it a goal race or are you also in the building process?

If you are running the Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K at the Chicago Half Marathon stop by the VIP tent at the finish line and say hello!

** Happy  Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com

The Heel to Toe Drop Debate……

I’m not very adventurous in my running shoes purchases for the sole reason that not a lot of shoes fit my foot.  I have a very narrow heel so my heel slips out of the heel cup of most shoes.  For years, I have trained in Saucony and raced short distances in Nike for this very reason.   Over the last couple of years, the minimalist shoes have made an appearance and while not all runners have jumped on the band wagon, the minimalist movement has affected most of us.  I’m not interested in entering the debate as to which is better, traditional or minimalist running shoes, however you can go HERE or HERE if you would like more information.

I’m all about funky colors and cool looking shoes but I first and foremost, choose shoes based on fit and feel.  I like a shoe with some guts and a little cushion. Yes, I basically want to walk on clouds.  If I feel a stone thru the bottom of my shoe while running, I won’t wear them again which is why I shop at Running for Kicks because they will take my shoes back after I run/race in them if for WHATEVER reason I do not like them. 

This spring, the minimalist movement affected my running shoe, the Saucony Guide 5.  Saucony moved their entire collection from the traditional 12 mm heel to toe drop to an 8 mm drop.    Saucony Guide 5 pictured below.

Sauc Guide 5       Sauc Guide 5a

To say the least I was nervous. Although I was excited about them being 1.5 oz lighter, I was nervous about the change in the heel to toe drop.  In actuality, I never really noticed a difference in the drop but loved the new fit, lightness and style cushion.   Click on the green link, if you are interested in a full review and comparison of the Saucony Guide 4 vs 5.

 Me_Schubert Woods_bridge_5-13-12      Saucony Guide 5_pink_ocean                 

For people like me who forefoot strike, the lower drop is ideal.  We have less shoe that we weren’t using anyhow to haul around.  This never was an issue when I didn’t have other options know any better but last night, I went to purchase a new pair of lightweight shoes for 5K races and we went thru the entire fit process again and I tried on a large variety of shoes.  Although, I like to have a pair of shoes specifically for shorter races, I can’t go to “race flats” because I’m not fast enough my current state of injury/recovery is not conducive to shoes without cushion and support.  

You may wonder why I need a pair of “racing” shoes since I’m not really that fast and that would be a great question.  For me, “race” shoes are like a frame of mind.  You slip them on when you want to run fast and only when you want to run fast.    It’s more mental in my opinion than physical.  It’s a break from the normal training regime, a special day and it requires a fast pair of shoes.  Yes, shoes CAN make you run faster but only if you BELIEVE.   🙂   Retired racing shoes, Nike Lunar Flys.

So last night as I was going thru the lightweight shoes that would work for me, one of the shoes I tried was a lightweight trainer which still had the 12 mm drop.  While the shoe looked really cool is a very popular brand, I felt like I was going to fall on my face.  The heel was noticeably higher than the forefoot and all the cushion was in the heel without any much under the ball of the foot.  It didn’t feel good to stand in those shoes and running was worse.  I was a bit surprised the larger drop was so noticeable.  I wonder if it was just a difference between my normal brand and that one, or if a minute 4 mm difference is really that noticeable to my feet?  Or did my injury play a role?  I could actually feel the tear site pull from heel to toe imbalance when I was running in those shoes.  Not good for my tender foot.

The next two pair I tried had a 4 mm drop and I was instantly nervous about those thinking this was TOO close to minimalist for my body type.  I was concerned less drop equaled less protection/cushion.  I was wrong.  Both shoes were adequately cushioned in the forefoot where I strike, they both fit like a glove and were light on my feet.   They made me FEEL light and fast, like I was ready to run with the wind!  So my new 5K race shoes are….

Brooks Pure Cadence 

Brooks Pure Cadence, a lightweight shoe with cushioning and light stability.  And…..my heel doesn’t slip!  I’ve never ran in Brooks before but I’m loving the fit and feel of this shoe.  They will make their run debut at the Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K at the Chicago Half Marathon on Sunday, September 9th.  More on the race day feel/fit later! 

I encourage you to go to a local running store that will take the time to talk with you about your needs, concerns, injury history and then fit you accordingly.  Find a store that encourages you to run in all the shoes they have in your size/foot type either on a treadmill or the sidewalk outside the store.  Don’t be shy to run in the shoes during the fit session because you need something that feels good on the run, not in the store.  A good running shoe store will also allow you to return shoes that you do not like, even after you have ran in them.  If you buy your shoes at a store where you and your kids do not feel comfortable, talk to the local run clubs and find out where their runners buy shoes, you will probably even find a club discount floating around.  Running shoes are an integral part of your health and training and a good store wants to help you.   

Are you a minimalist runner?  Can you tell the difference in the heel toe drop just by trying on a shoe?  Do you have specific shoes for racing?

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com

Winner of Chicago Half Marathon Giveaway

A huge thank you to all of you who participated in the giveaway!  If you didn’t win this time, don’t be discourage, try again!  More goodies to come soon!

Chicago Half Giveaway

Congrats to  #3 – Annabelle W. for winning the free entry to the Chicago Half Marathon on September 9th.  Annabelle said that the race fees where bankrupting her and I think we all know how that feels!

Please email me at amanda@tootallfritz.com for further details.

If you haven’t signed up for this race yet, consider doing it soon.  It’s a great race!  Plus, if you ran the 13.1 Chicago and also complete this race then you will receive a special Windy City Challenge medal for your awesome efforts!

Windy City Challenge:image

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Giveaway for Chicago Half Marathon

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You may have seen one or two bloggers giving away entries to the Chicago Half Marathon on September 9, 2012.  If you haven’t yet won, then here is YOUR shot!  This race is actually filling up faster than ever before so time to either win a freebie or register so you can be on the start line September 9th!

I have fond memories of this race.  First, I love racing in September because the height of both marathon training and TRI season is in the done column.  The September, October and November races fly.  Or more importantly YOU will fly from killing it during summer training and racing.  All the hard work pays off in the fall.  I always run my fastest races of the year at that point and really just love the sport of running and racing so I am thrilled to be able to giveaway an entry to one of my favorite races.

The best part of this Chicago Half is the lengthy amount of time you spend on Lake Shore Drive.  The good, you get to see the elites and fasties barreling back at you on the opposite side of The Drive while you are just settling in and getting started.  The best, the views from The Drive of Lake Michigan and its amazing surroundings. 

Here are a few notes from the race I did in 2008, yes, even back then I was full  of tips and stories…….lots & lots of stories!

The Chicago ½ Marathon (9/14/08)……. Yes, it was raining. Yes, it rained the entire way. Yes, it just kept raining harder. Yes, we were dodging puddles (if you want to call them that) and officials even had to reroute the course due to flooding.

That being said it was a great race. The harder it rained, the further I pulled my hat down to keep my eyes shielded from the pelting rain. I just focused on running rather than the conditions. I don’t mind the rain, actually I prefer it to the heat.  Last year (2007) was so hot that I thought I wouldn’t finish, once I did finish I didn’t feel any better (actually felt really horrible) and wanted to give my running shoes to the first homeless person I saw because I was confident that I wouldn’t be needing them anymore. So bring on the cool rain any day!!

Race tips:
1) Don’t worry that the first several miles of a large race are so slow because of traffic, it will thin out and you will be better prepared to cope with the later miles because of the slow warm up.
2) Figure out some sort of race plan and try to stick to it.
3) Don’t let your friends pull you along at a faster pace than you want to run. I heard a guy trying to talk his friends into speeding up before we even got to Lake Shore Drive (LSD) around mile 4. Well, there are at least 3 miles, if not more, on LSD going north then a turn around to go back south to the finish. LSD is full sun/wind or whatever condition are available for the day.

image If you aren’t familiar with the course then try to keep it relaxed until after the half way mark, then evaluate your situation and speed up if you can. Running a faster 2nd half is always better than running fast out of the gate and dying.
4) Try to enjoy yourself! Race = Reward.

I have wonderful memories of this race, I hope you run this year and make your own!

In order to enter this giveaway for a FREE entry into the Chicago Half Marathon on September 9, 2012 ($85 value), make a comment below (+1).  If you opt to share this giveaway via Twitter (+1), Facebook (+1) or your Blog (+2) let me know when you comment.    Go, Share, Win!

Good luck all!  Giveaway ends and a winner will be chosen via a random number generator on Thursday, July 19th at 9am! 

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com