Chicago Running Bloggers Invade Road Runner Sports

Although I’m a loyal patron of my local running store in Palos Heights, IL, I love a good run related event!   If we add in a few Chicago Running Bloggers to a run related event then I’ll beg my hubby to let me out of the house  do my best to attend.  So I stopped by Road Runner Sports on Kingsbury in Chicago this week to run and hang out with other area bloggers.

A few of us came early for a 3 mile fun run.  From left to right:  Lauren (Lauren Runs to TRI), Erin (Eri-thon), Kelly (Running Kellometers), Me, Maggie (Mag Mile Runner) & Sierra (Posh Meets Pavement). 

CHI RunBloggers_RRS

Although running thru downtown Chicago during rush hour is less than ideal, we still had fun, plus got to demo the new Mizuno’s that the rep had on hand!

CHI RunBloggers_RRS_shoes

Most of us were in the Wave Inspire 9s, which is a stability shoe.  These are Aby’s shoe of choice and I’ve never cared for them during previous demos.  However, over the course of those 3 miles, they were light, roomy, not too tight on my piggies and my heel did not slip.  This tells me that they have changed a lot over the last couple generations.  In fact, I really liked them and I’m thinking that Aby and I will be twins soon because when I pick up her new pair, I’m getting some for momma too! She really hates it when I make her dress like me just loves it when we match.  Open-mouthed smile


After the fun run, they made us give the Mizuno’s back we got to chat up other area bloggers, enjoy pizza, beer & water, plus we received an overview of the Shoe Dog system & technology. 


Although, I didn’t need new shoes, I did take advantage of being fitted and also let them create inserts for my shoes with their super secret technology.  I have approval to move away from the “post style” orthotics from the doc and back toward normal shoe inserts.  These custom inserts from Shoe Dog & Road Runner Sports were molded directly to my feet and they are a stepping stone, a halfway point if you will, between doctor made orthotics and normal shoe inserts.  They cost $80 and will last 1500 to 2000 miles, then I will hopefully be able to run without adding anything extra to my shoes!  Yay for forward progress!

I’ve been a Road Runner Sports fan for a while even though I had not previously been inside a store.  I frequently use their online site to purchase TRI equipment, and random things that I need now that my local run store doesn’t carry.  It’s the only online running retailer that I use that isn’t brand specific.  I shop there a lot and am a VIP member.  I purchased the  “VIP” membership for $1.99 on my first purchase to secure a 10% discount (on every purchase, more if they have a special promo) and then they ship all purchases for free and very quickly.  I don’t think it’s ever taken more than 2 days.  Super cool, particularly when you can’t get to the local run store and you need something fast.  I’m a big fan and I really dislike paying shipping costs!


So all in all, I had a great night with my Chicago Running Blogger friends. I enjoyed learning about the Shoe Dog process even though Mel D. can do the same thing just by looking at us stand/walk/run & I love my new shoe inserts.  I’m definitely a Road Runner Sports fan and highly recommend them if you need something fast and you can’t get to the local run store OR if you can get to one of their real store locations and get fitted IN PERSON with the Shoe Dog software & a knowledgeable sales rep.  I personally, wouldn’t advise any type of online system that tries to “recommend” a perfect shoe for your foot without actually seeing and talking with you first.  Shoes are important, don’t skimp on the process.

** I Run To Socialize ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

The Windy City….

The only story in Chicago these days is the weather.  No, nobody cares about the election, we just don’t want to fly away as the remnants of Hurricane Sandy bear down on us.  We are currently under a Wind Advisory and a Lake Shore Flood Warning.  Shocker, the lakefront path is closed.  And yes, they are serious. In case you were contemplating going out there to “take a peak”, please be careful so you don’t get swept into the surf like last time. 

The lakefront path was last closed on September 30, 2011.  Some idiots people didn’t believe that the path could really be closed.  NBC Chicago was kind enough to capture some of those individuals on film for our viewing pleasure to help us realize the seriousness of the situation.  Please, do watch the video below:

On that day (above), the “surf” was only 10-15 foot.  Today, and for the next couple of days, they are predicting 20-30 footers on Lake Michigan, plus wind gusts around Chicago up to 60 mph.  Some idiots adventurers are out enjoying the waves.  See this crazy guy surfing at Montrose Beach.  Photo courtesy of Chopper 7HD, ABC7Chicago:


Now, I know you all expect me to go out and get you some REAL.LIFE.PHOTOS.  I want you to know that I’m not really considering it.  I have submitted a proposal to the Association of Chicago Running Bloggers to find a few brave souls to create a human chain of running bloggers to break thru security, sprint to the lakefront and take as many photos as possible before we 1) get swept away or 2) are forced asked to leave.

I almost feel guilty considering something so crazy adventurous with Gingerfoxxx out of town.  I know she is going to be so sad to have missed the theatrics fun but I’m hoping that Running Kellometers and Mag Mile Runner are up for the task at hand.  So if you see a bunch of crazy women Chicago Running Bloggers bound together in a human chain, be swept off the lakefront path and into the surf……feel guilty.  Very guilty.  Cuz we were just there trying to get YOU a few photos!  🙂

Post inspired by another crazy Chicago Running Blogger,, who is seriously wanting to go get some photos of those big waves. 

Be safe my friends!

** Happy Adventure Seeking ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Positive Community Development…….

Sometimes that little “extra” that you need in your life is not sitting right next to you.  Some of us need motivation to get off the couch workout, run and give life a TRI!  It’s just too easy to be lazy!


This is why I started the TTF blog, to meet other people who were as crazy motivated as myself and to hold myself accountable.  I am a decent self motivator but it’s always good to think that “we are in it together” and that was what I was missing, a group of like minded people with whom to share my insanity passion.  I did know a lot of people in the running community, and ran on and off with various groups but due to my hubby’s work schedule I was mostly on my own.  I got thru all of those “solo” years with on and off, training partners (Lisa E, Abby S, Kerry C & Shelly O) and the mantra, “If it’s easy, it’s not worth it”.   I pushed forward, not for any reward but solely because the desire burned inside of me to be stronger, faster and better than ever.  I raced a lot to keep from being lazy focused on the end goal:  Staying Fit!

I am certainly no longer alone in my quest.  It seems the last year or so has brought an onslaught of positive community development on various levels.  I credit social media in helping to increase the awareness of fitness groups and new area running clubs, like the Frankfort New Lenox Running Club (aka:  The F’N Runners – photo below).   Plus, the creation of websites like Chicago Running Bloggers brings together like minded people who may or may not have ever come together otherwise. 

So now, as I hit the trial, I see more and more people out there giving it their all on a Saturday morning before the sun rises.  Last week, I saw the F’N Runners, the Park Forest Running & Pancake Club, Tinley Track & Trail, Tri Smart and I knew the Looney Chics were out there somewhere too.  We continue to increase awareness of our groups and develop a massive community to support and motivate each other in life, training, & racing.  We know that regardless of where we go, there will always be a “friendly” in the crowd and for that reason we keep pushing our limits to better ourselves and each other. 

Thanks to all my virtual, real life, and on the run/trail training partners who continue to push me when I’d rather be sitting on the couch. 

Have you noticed the growth and how much more visible the fitness/running groups have become as of late both online and in real life?  Do you credit the internet and social media for getting the word out and helping our community grow?  Does the growth of our community push you to be better?

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Venus de Miles 2012 – No Redemption

VenusdeMilesIf you hear ladies talk about Venus de Miles, you will most likely hear tales of laughing, bonding, sipping cocktails, facials & mani/pedi’s way before you realize that those ladies rode 25 or 61 miles before hauling themselves into the after party where the fun was waiting.

My story is a little different because I’m lucky like that I had mechanical issues but I’ll get to that soon enough.  The day started off a little rocky with a 3:45 am wake up call.  The ride was in Lake Forest, IL which was approximately 1.5 hours from my house in absolutely perfect traffic.  Traffic was not perfect.  I allotted more than enough time but shit happens there was a really bad accident in Chicago and I was in gridlocked traffic which moved approximately 1 mile in 45 minutes.  I made it to the ride “in time” but was very rushed. 

As soon as I got to the ride site, I saw a few Chicago Running Bloggers assembling for a photo so strolled over at the last minute to meet them on the fly.  Lauren, Erin, Kelly, MacKenna & Me:

Venus 2012_Lauren Erin Kelly MacKenna MeI stole the photo from Kelly who was much more organized & “ready” than myself.  Please flip over to her blog to read her Venus recap HERE.  Kelly also made those adorable tutus for herself, MacKenna & Jenny G (not pictured).  They were a huge hit and the ladies also sported white feathered angel wings on their back!  So, awesome!

Once we hit the start line for the 61 mile ride, things slowed down a bit.  We were all a bit anxious but had to sit thru a few speeches and introductions.  Cool idea but we were ready to ride.  Kelly’s start line photo with me in the “this is what tough looks like”  Team Tough Chik jersey.

Venus 2012_Start LIne

The ride started about 7:05 am but things didn’t speed up much as we had a police escort to pull us out of town.  The escort was nice but slow, averaging between 11 and 14 mph.   The pack was thick and the ladies were getting antsy.  One lady even rode up and asked the officer to speed up.  That didn’t go over well and I certainly would not recommend anyone trying it.  Ever.  Don’t bother the police escort.  They are their to help you and keep you safe.   

Once the escort delivered us to a local bike path, we were on our own and off with the wind.  The course was well marked and the front group was averaging around 20mph.  The speed was hit and miss though because the course was unpredictable in spots.  We had lots of turns, were on/off road, sidewalks, paved bike paths, crushed gravel trails, neighborhood streets, rural roads and busy thoroughfares.  The surfaces were inordinately good for the most part but everyone had to pay attention as the course would turn in a moments notice.  A few times, we would have to double back to make a turn.  Some ladies got lost.   I did notice 2 spots where signs were either forgotten or possibly removed before we arrived but that was not the norm.


The rest areas were very frequent, initially I thought too frequent but apparently it worked out in my favor.   Rest areas were located at approximately mile 15, 31, 42, & 51.  Each location was fully stocked with water, ice, electrolyte drink that actually tasted good, Luna bars, peanut butter, cookies, brownies, pretzels, fresh fruit, and much, much more.  If fueling or hydration was an issue for anyone, then it was there own issue because I was out on that course so long I could have ridden a century for almost 7 hours and I was never once hungry or thirsty.

Overall it was a great ride which was put together very well.  I’d recommend it to anyone.  I wish it were closer to my house but the northern suburbs are much more cyclist friendly so I absolutely understand the venue choice.

Ride Report End ** My Journey Begins

As for my personal ride, it wasn’t ideal.  I seem to have a black cloud which is following me as of late.  When I get on my bike, the black cloud seems to get very active and the thunder and the lightening come fast.  At this point, I had thought almost everything on the bike had been replaced within the last 2 months but I was wrong.  The ride was awesome for the first 30 miles.  I was pounding the miles, hanging on the back of the lead group, really enjoying myself.  We were just starting to get into a few rollers and the fatigue in the legs was starting to surface.  I don’t climb well, so the group would pull away on the uphill and I would catch back up on the down.  It was good and I was having fun!  Then I hit something on an uphill around mile 30 and heard a “whoooosh” of air leave my back tire.  Flat.  I stopped, had the tools & supplies to fix the tire but was positive I couldn’t personally make it happen.  A cyclist, Cathy, stopped to help within a few minutes.  Thanks, Cathy!  Then Adam, an on course bike support rider stopped and let Cathy go on.   At that point, Cathy had almost everything done but my CO2 cartridge was giving us fits and we couldn’t get air into the tire.  So Adam worked on it, couldn’t get it, then used his own CO2, and he slowly filled the tube.  It looked good, I started putting everything back on the bike, I rolled it forward to get on and it immediately popped again.  He changed it for the second time with his own supplies because I only carry one spare, and he noticed a puncture in the tire.  Thankfully the rest area was only 1 mile away and he rode with me to deliver me to the rest area bike support tent where they had more supplies.  Greg, Trek Downers Grove, replaced my punctured tire & tube 2 more times before finally sending me on my way.  Between the roadside assistance & the tent support, I was out of the ride for a minimum of 90 minutes.

Venus 2012_Greg When I got back on course, it was not a smooth ride.  Greg told me that it was going to be bumpy but I should be able to limp it to the next bike support tent.  If I understand it correctly, my new tire needed to stretch out and it wasn’t properly seated.  Every time the tire went around it was like I hit a bump.  So I was just bumping my way along and the course sweepers, or the caboose as they called themselves, came up on me.  I was the last person on the course at mile 31.  Awesome.  So I joined the caboose and we powered thru to the next rest area and rolled directly over to Torsten, the rest stop #3 Trek specialist.

Venus 2012_Torsten & MikeTorsten, with Mike “The Sweeper”, pulled a MacGyver and used electrical tape to cover my damaged rim wheel tape to allow the tube to sit in its proper spot and then the tire somehow slipped into position.  I can’t even pretend to understand but I was told a billion times to make sure I took my bike into the shop to get this fixed properly.  He also told me that “X” bearings were shot and needed to be replaced but by then my brain was mush and I have no idea what else is wrong.  Good news, this short 15-20 minute repair got me thru the remainder of the ride.

Me at the last rest area with Mike & Elizabeth, the course sweepers.  I rode with them for a solid 20 miles and then said my thanks and departed without them as they needed to wait on a few ladies we had passed.

Venus 2012_me mike elizabethMile 51 – I’m no longer bringing up the “very” end but I was really ready to be done with the ride.  I powered thru the last 10 miles with one gear.  A hard gear.  There were rolling hills.  I passed where it was safe and continued to move up but the party was all but over by the time I got in and well, I was just grateful to be within walking distance of my car finished.  I could have partaken in the festivities but it was time to go home to the family, so I drank my two freebie beers, ate a little lunch, which was awesome & hit the road.

I have so many thanks to give:  1)  My F’N Runners, Jenny G, Lisa M, & Lynn S who waited on me to finish, even though they rode the 25 mile ride and were probably finished way before I even had problems.  I knew I could count on them to pick me up if I necessary and really appreciated them hanging around when I know they just wanted to go home.  Lynn, Lisa & Jenny (photo source – Jenny G) below: 

Venus 2012_Lynn Lisa Jenny

2)  The Chicago Running Bloggers, Lauren, Erin, Kelly, & MacKenna who were so kind and encouraging both during and after the ride.  3) The numerous people who participated in my bike support and ultimately helped me finish the ride:  Cathy, Adam, Greg, Torsten, Mike & Elizabeth.  Thank you all for everything you did!  It’s beyond obvious that I couldn’t have finished without you!

I’m just glad this was a ride, not a race.  It was well supported and well, if a girl were to have major problems, this was the ride for them to happen.  Have you ever had major issues on a ride that required assistance?

** Happy Riding ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **







Beautiful Blogger Award……

I read a lot of blogs, I mean a lot.  One of the blogs I read is CultFit.  Early this week, CultFit awarded me with the Beautiful Blogger Award.  I’ve been seeing these go around but have not yet been chosen.  I’m honored; thank you, thank you, thank you!!


The idea behind the Beautiful Blogger Award is to recognize some of the blogger we read for their hard work and inspiration. 

**Obligatory Rules**

  1. Copy the Beautiful Blogger Award logo and place it in your post.
  2. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  3. Tell 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 7 other bloggers for their own Beautiful Blogger Award, and comment on their blogs to let them know.

Since I just posted my answers for the Spotlight Runner, I can’t really imagine you care want to know more about me so I’m going to pick some very random things, then pick 7 very random bloggers I follow who you might want to know.  My goal is to try to pick people you DO NOT know so I tried to stay away from the Team Tough Chik & Chicago Running Bloggers line-up (with 2 exceptions).

1)  I’m currently loving the Michelob Ultra Cactus Lime beer.  2)  My favorite person is currently my chiro, Alexis, who is going to make me better and as a result help me run faster.  3)  If Michael had been a daughter instead of a son, I wanted to name “her” Lydia but was out voted and we were going with Katherine Jean ( I think, can barely remember that long ago), call name:  Kati.  4)  If I have anymore pets after my brood passes, it will be one small dog named Sam I Am but only if it promises to not pee or poo or vomit on anything I own.  5)  Michael leaves for college in 5915 days, unless I can get him into school a year early since he is a genius and then we have 5549 days.  6)  I SWEAR I am NOT counting the days until Michael goes to college!  7) The first thing that I’m going to do when Michael goes to college is hike the Pacific Crest TrailPCT map

All of it.  From Canada to Mexico.  No, I’m not taking my cell phone so don’t even ask.

Seven bloggers I love, to whom I would like to award the Beautiful Blogger Award and simultaneously introduce to you. 

Tough Chik – Great way to learn about new tough chik teammates & blogger babes all over the world. 

Run GINGERFOXXX Run – This chick  makes me laugh even she is trying to be serious.   Not much makes me laugh.

Manage Better Now – Things you may or may not need to know about being in the office/business world.

Bridgett’s  Beauty Blog – I know nothing about beauty and she knows everything.

It’s Just One Foot In Front of the Other – Possibly the first blog I ever read and I’m still reading.  Amazing athlete on a looooooong running streak.

Angie Blogs – Another great runner and mother & she possibly owns the one and only Saucony Recovery Suit.

Swim.Bike.Run.3durance – Currently training for an Ironman.  Way more focused and better at following a training schedule than I. 

Congrats to the new award winners of the Beautiful Blogger Award!  Please go check  them out and hopefully you will find them as motivating, inspiring, funny or as helpful as I do on a daily basis!

** Happy Reading ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** **