RAIN Ride–160 Mile Ride Across Indiana

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The 3rd Saturday in July is traditionally the RAIN Ride which is a one day ride across the state of Indiana.  This year the event took place on July 20, 2019.  The start is at 7am in Terre Haute at St. Mary of the Woods College.  Event ends at 9pm in Richmond, IN at Earlham College.  One day.  160 miles.  Majority of the ride is along the Historic Route 40.

Packet pick up takes place on Friday at St Mary of the Woods.  Easy in and out.  SWAG includes a t-shirt and some ride glide.  Todd, Sara & I at packet pick up.  Easy in & out.  Hardest part was finding St Mary of the Woods. 

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Logistics for this point to point event are a bit of a challenge and that is one reason why I have not done it previously.  Oh yeah, and because I had to ride my bike 160 miles, in one day.  Sounds daunting, right?  Well, not as daunting as the logistics.

Options.  1)  Park your car in Richmond on Friday and take a bus to Terre Haute.  Bike rides on a truck, separate from you.  2)  Have some super awesome friends/family who love you so much that they will drive you to Terre Haute and then following you around while you ride your bicycle ALL DAY on Saturday.  I have some amazing friends and family but none that I could ask to do that.  Fortunately, Todd has better connections and a spouse that must REALLY love him.  She grabbed a friend and they became our Personal SAG Vehicle (PSV) for this event.  Meet Darla & Jen.  They said they felt like they were chasing a storm on Saturday.  So they will forever be called the Storm Chasers.  And we are now affectingly known as “Team Twister”.  A little 90s humor.  Smile

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The main concern in the weeks leading up to the event was the heat and the 160 miles.  The Midwest was having a heat wave and the ride was promising to be one of the hottest  in history. Fortunately, I’ve done a lot of endurance events and learned a bit over the years about heat, fueling, and salt/electrolyte intake.  Its never fun when the temperature climbs but it can be manageable if pace/expectation is adjusted and you are uber aware of how you are feeling and how your body is responding.

Time to ride!!!  7am start at St Mary of the Woods!  There were 6 of us and we started in the “Just Finish It” corral!  Lots of riders in front of us who might have been a bit more serious.

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And then there were 6!  From left:  Todd, Paul, Matt, Adam (back/orange), Sara & myself.  READY to ride!!  I have a lot of love for these people and have spent a lot of time with them.  Some more than others.  In fact, Matt may currently be looking for a new house since he lives on my primary ride route and I just pull into his drive and wait for him to come out and ride bikes with me.  Smile

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Off we go.  Big pack.  Police escort thru Terre Haute.  Everyone was locked in, two to three riders across.  Large packs continued all the way to the first official SAG stop at mile 39.  View of the first riders coming thru the tunnel in Terre Haute from the RAIN Facebook page.

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The official SAG stops were every 40 miles or so.  Mile 39, 63, 92 (lunch), 113 (water only) and lastly mile 131.  SAG stops had bathrooms, food, water, Gatorade, pickle juice, cookies, chips, trail mix, miscellaneous goodies, bike support techs and some had hoses or misting stations to cool the riders. Aerial view of the first aid station from the RAIN Facebook page.

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We were very fortunate to have 2 PSVs for the 6 of us.  Matt’s wife, Melissa.  Then Todd’s wife Darla and Jen.  The initial plan was for them to meet us at the official SAG stops for the initial 3 stops (miles 39, 63 & 92).  They did a lot of driving.  A lot of waiting. And a lot of managing our needs, both emotionally and physically.  Darla, Jen & Melissa ….. waiting.   Matt & I rolling into SAG stop 2.

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By the time we left SAG stop #2, things were really starting to heat up.  The packs were finally breaking up a little but there were still a lot of riders on the road around us.  We had 29-30 miles between SAG stop #2 and #3.  But it was hot.  Too hot.  We had already been relying on ice as our primary cooling agent.  We were putting it in our bottles, putting it in our cycling kits, and also using water to stay wet/cool.  We were going thru a lot more water than we normally would, since most of it was being used to cool us on the outside vs. for traditional hydrating purposes.  We were also being very cognizant of our fueling.  Any time the weather is extreme (cold or hot), the body uses additional calories (fuel) to function.  It has to have enough calories to cool the body and perform the task at hand, in this case cycling.  Things were starting to get dangerous.  Cyclists were overheating and stopping along roadsides, under shaded trees or beside tree lined fence rows.  I realized by the time we had traveled a mere 7 miles past SAG stop #2 that we would not make it to #3 without stopping.  We were also in the area around Indianapolis where our Storm Chasers had to jump on 465, to get around the city, to meet us at the 3rd SAG stop.  Our PSVs couldn’t get to us and we were riding thru a very populated area where we had to constantly stop at stop signs or traffic signals, which further slowed our progress and the time on the road between stops.  See ride route below.

RAIN Route

We stopped 2x between SAG #2 and #3.  Bought cold water & ice from a gas station first, then a CVS the second time.  Then a nice lady had a truck on route at one of the busy intersections and she was handing out ice, water & cold towels.  God always sends out  angels, be on the look out!  A few random riding pics below.

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As stated, we used additional resources 3x between the 2nd and 3rd SAG stops.  Hot. Hot. Hot.  My bike computer read a max temp of 116.6 degrees.

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Finally made it to SAG #3, which was also the lunch stop.  Indoor bathrooms.  Sandwiches.  Chips.  Lots of goodies.  We loaded up and were off again.

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After the lunch stop, the PSV route and the ride route converged.  Our Storm Chasers agreed to leapfrog us and meet us every 10 miles, or so, to make sure we had access to ice, cold water & fuel on a more frequent basis.  Sometimes, they found a parking lot in which to pull into, other times, we found them parked along the road with the trunk popped open and waiting for us.  So thankful for the extra stops!!!

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We had a few mishaps with tip overs, malfunctioning equipment, and my left cleat even lost a few screws at one point (no, I didn’t crash/tip over).   Thankfully Todd, or one of the other guys, always seemed to have a solution to the immediate problem and ultimately, we kept moving forward.

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As with all endurance events, the finish will eventually present itself, if you can just keep moving, avoid major mishap, stay fueled/hydrated, and manage your electrolytes.

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We received a key chain as a token to remember the day.  Both sides displayed below.IMG_0084  IMG_0085

Overall, RAIN was a great experience and a well ran event.  Because of the heat, I’m honestly not sure we could have finished without a PSV (or 2).  We knew from some previously HOT training rides that 20 miles is a push before refilling water/ice, and most of these stops were 30 to 40 miles apart. 

What to know if want to do RAIN in the future:

  • Be prepared for a long day.
  • Train.  Stack training by riding multiples days in a row, decent length rides without getting silly and riding super long rides, every weekend.  Its about time in the saddle as much as miles.
  • Cycling shorts over TRI shorts are recommended, due to the potential length of the day.
  • A PSV is recommended unless you are just super fast and do well in the heat.
  • Expect heat and humidity.  Its July in Indiana. 
  • Take extra electrolytes other than what’s in your fuel.  We used salt tabs/capsules, in addition to Nuun and Tailwind hydration products.  Nuun is all electrolytes, Tailwind is fuel with electrolytes.  Then we used the salt tabs, Huma gels, ate food at the aid stations, drank Coca Cola & used Sour Patch Kids & Swedish Fish candies to help keep the sugar moving into our system.
  • Talk to people.  Make new friends!
  • Appreciate your support crew.  They are hot and tired too!!

Great event and I thought most of the roads we used were in decent to good shape.  Lots of turns.  We had the option of uploading the route to our bike computers using Ride With GPS or we could have relied on the well marked route, following the RAIN drops.

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Lots of people do RAIN.  This year was no different.  1200ish registered.  1028 picked up packets.  642 finished by the 9pm cut off.  I will say that most of the issues we saw were heat and electrolyte related.  Lots of people cramping up because they just didn’t take extra electrolytes.  When you are taking in a lot of water, remember that you are flushing out electrolytes.  Managing the heat during endurance events is about so much more than staying hydrated.  My experience as a marathon runner and triathlete really came in handy for this event, even if my group was tired of hearing me nag remind them to drink/eat/take electrolytes.

Will I do it again?  I would definitely do it again.  I actually can’t even believe I just said that out loud (or put it in writing).  That being said, I don’t have a lot of people who could/would do a PSV for me, so ultimately, unless I can get in with a group who has a PSV and is willing to let me tag along, I’m not sure it would be smart.

Definitely give RAIN a try!  You’ll love it!!

Amanda – TooTallFritz

Dam to Dam Century Ride – Wabash, IN

Sunday, I rode my first Dam to Dam Century Ride in Wabash, IN.  It wasn’t only my first D2D but also my first EVER century ride.  I had zero expectations.  My plan was to show up, ride & finish.  Mission accomplished.

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Easy drive to Wabash, IN which is about 80 minutes from my house.  The start/finish & packet pickup were at the local YMCA, plenty of parking and space for the riders.  Packet pick up and breakfast was in the gym.  Well organized.  Fast.  We all received a wristband with a number to call in case we had issues with the ride, our bikes or needed help.  It was a nice touch and one that I certainly appreciated.  I’ve done several organized rides but never one where I felt confident that if I had a problem, someone would actually be able to help. 

I started with the 7:30am crew.  We hit the course early, while the main group started at 8am.  I was happy to get moving. It was cold, low 40s.  Plus, I knew that riding 100 miles would take me just short of forever.  Might as well get started!  We left the Y and started weaving thru Wabash.  I immediately noticed 3 things. 1)  Holy Hills.  We were climbing before our saddles even got warm. 2)  The course was well marked with directional arrows BEFORE the intersection where we would need to turn.  3)  I would be riding 104 miles NOT 100 miles.  Small detail but something I noticed immediately.

It was a beautiful morning.  Cool.  Foggy.  Breathtaking views.  I was happy to be out.  Happy to be riding.  Happy to be tackling something that had been on my bucket list for several years.  Even stopped for a few pictures. 

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And a selfie!  Thanks to Ron at FNA Outdoors for helping me out again this year.  Great guy.  Great bike shop.  Cool gear.  Awesome bike. 

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I rode the 104 mile route.  Aid stations were located about every 20 miles.  Closer in some spots but never further.  The aid stations reminded me of ultra running.  Food, food & more food.  Pic below of the first aid station.  Trail mix, PB&J, cookies, water, Gatorade, tomato juice, pickles, bacon, chips, etc.  Every aid station had different food items, but the food was always plentiful.  If you like ultra/trail runs because of the food, you’ll love century rides! 

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Best part of the day, in my opinion, a field of sunflowers.  So many.  Sunflowers as far as the eyes could see.  I took this while riding and am thankful it wasn’t blurry!

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We rode thru the countryside, across several bridges & dams.  Thru the Salamonie Reservoir & State Park. Red Bridge State Recreation area.  Mississinewa Reservoir.  Past the Stockdale Mill. 

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Once I hit Stockdale, mile 64, I was pretty flat.  I had 3 weeks of building for marathon training & also 3 weeks of building on the bike to be ready for the century.  I was starting to feel it.  I wasn’t exhausted but definitely tired & I had been riding solo for about 10 miles without seeing many other riders. 

After Stockdale, things went downhill fast, mentally.  I was alone.  Fighting some heavy winds.   Mentally breaking down.  I knew it was a mental thing but that didn’t help me get thru it any faster.  From Stockdale to North Manchester, it was a real slog.  As soon as I hit the city limits of North Manchester, a big pack of cyclists passed me.  Then we all hit the aid station at mile 82 together. Riders kept pouring into that aid station while I was there.  Obviously, I hadn’t been out there alone.  I sat for a few minutes, ate 2 brownies, hit the potty, texted a friend that I was on the brink of the “ugly cry”.  Then rolled out, about the same time as 10 other riders.  8 disappeared immediately.  2 were in my sights.  I was not alone.  So I tried to keep those 2 gentlemen in sight.  Helped me focus.  Rolled down the miles a lot faster just knowing someone was close.  Passed thru Largo, then back to Wabash.  We were directed onto a bike path for a short stint.  I was alone again but it was very pretty. 

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Then I made my only directional mistake of the day once I got off the path.  I misinterpreted an arrow.  I crossed the road and started a huge climb up a very ugly hill.  Then I was in a busy part of town.  Then I noticed there weren’t any more arrows.  I messed up.  Thanks to Google Maps, I found my way back to the YMCA.  107 miles total.  Just shy of 7 hours on the bike.  Wow.  Longest. Ride. Ever.

Overall, I was very impressed with D2D.  I’d definitely go back and ride it again.  I’d like to be able to do it as an annual event.  It wasn’t super close to home but manageable.  And it was just a good event from start to finish.  Great directional info, signs, and volunteers.  The aid stations were on point with lots of goodies.  I loved that they were pretty close together, especially when I started to struggle, it helped to know I only had to make it to the next aid station.  The majority of the roads were decent too, which I appreciate.  Great experience, I hope to return next year. 

** Happy Running, Riding OR Whatever YOU Enjoy ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Small Gains = Big Motivation

Training thru the winter is very different for me than training in the spring, summer & fall.   In the winter, I try to hone in on what isn’t right and fix my imbalances or bring back some training that got lost in the shuffle of the warmer months.  I don’t spend so much time “free running” where I run the dog on the trails, just to spend time outside.  Winter is different.  It’s more focused.  I try to get the most of our my workouts and keep them as efficient as possible.  This year I have big goals and well, there isn’t much time for lollygagging, even if it is the middle of winter.

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That’s what I want, to be better than I was yesterday.  Better than last year.  Better than I’ve been since I moved.  I’ve finally checked my excuses at the door.  Put my emotions on ice about the IL house and all the drama that surrounded that ordeal and the money lost.  I’m ready to roll.  I’m ready to work on me.  I’m ready to get the most out of my workouts and see where it takes me.  As a result, I’m already seeing small gains and that’s motivating me to stick with it and keep pushing. 

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One of the best things I’ve done so far this year is become more consistent.  Over the last couple years, I’ve ran so many marathons that I was never actually training, just ramping up for one, then trying to recover on the fly for the next one.  While this is fun and keeps things interesting, it also required that I kept things pretty low key. I never really pushed the pace on any of my runs.  I was always in maintenance mode.  I was trying to keep my body in check so I didn’t implode. 

Last year, in the midst of my “marathon madness”, I tossed in a 70.3 triathlon to try to get my pre-move mojo back. I was instantly reminded why I love the triathlon so much.  Its fun and requires more focus than just running.  Last summer was disastrous for many reasons but I somehow stumbled made it to the start line, even with subpar TRI fitness.   I started.  I finished.  And I loved every minute of it.  So this year, I’m tossing in more triathlons and that requires consistency and commitment.

January was all about 1) hammering out a plan and sticking to it; and, 2) Getting my butt out of bed & into the pool when it opened. The first couple weeks were kinda messed up with the double marathon weekend Jan 9 &10th but I still managed to run 142 miles.  That consists of one speed run, one tempo run, the WED night “fun run” at the Y & the Saturday long run at the Y.  While, I’m still not hitting my speed & tempo numbers, I’m getting closer.  My confidence is growing and I think I’m very close to being able to do the workouts, which I already softened up a bit for fear that my fitness wasn’t exactly where I had initially predicted.  Smile  It took a little bit to clear the fatigue from my legs and start hitting the numbers.  I finally had a good session this morning after a hard look at recovery last week.  Yay!!

I also added the bike back in this month.  I bit the bullet and bought a new trainer since I lost mine in the flood last summer.  Now I have a “smart trainer” and well, it’s way smarter than me and apparently also thinks my fitness is better than my reality.  I managed 78 miles on the bike this month, which is low but getting the trainer dialed in was a bit of an issue.  Plus so far, I’ve only been riding 2 days a week.  I’m planning to add in a 3rd day of riding this week.

And the swim.  Last but not least.  I hate getting in the water.  I don’t even swim for fun anymore.  Plus we currently only have one pool at the Y and its used for training, lap swimming & therapy.  Therapy takes precedence over everything else so the water is way too warm, usually between 82 & 84 degrees.  Not ideal for a triathlete who has to swim in open water but that’s what I currently have available. I’m checking my excuses at the door.  I’ve been showing up.  I put in 5 swim sessions in January and I’m already noticing a slight improvement in my time per 100yds.  Goal in this off season is 2 swims per week.  I’ll get them all in this month!

All of these slow but small gains in January have motivated me to keep up the work, stay committed & do even better in February.  I’m being consistent.  Not moving around workouts.  Not making excuses.

  • Monday – Off
  • Tuesday – Swim  & Speed Run
  • Wednesday – Bike & Fun Run
  • Thursday – Swim & Tempo Run
  • Friday – Bike (skipped in January in lieu of a rest day)
  • Saturday – Long Run
  • Sunday – Long Bike

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So far, so good.  I’m committed to smashing my marathon PR at the Garmin Marathon & chasing my TRI goals this year.  January down.  Let’s see what February brings.

** Keep Chasing YOUR Goals ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Hidden Treasurers …. The Spencerville Covered Bridge

I took all of 2014 off cycling due to the sudden move from IL to IN.  The stress of finding a new house while packing up the IL home.  All while working full time.  Being a full time mom with a hubby who had pretty much already moved ahead of us for work.   And let’s not even talk about how crazy long it took to complete the move itself.    I basically didn’t do much last year other than run to maintain sanity, then try not to lose my mind while I wasn’t running ….. and I didn’t even do that very well.  Regardless, since last August, I’ve been running on my country roads here in rural Indiana.   Should be boring, right?

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Wrong.  I’ve had a couple close calls where I was almost struck by unaware motorists.  One time a lady was so close to me that I could have reached into her car and touched her child who was riding passenger.   Did she see me?  Probably not.  Was the sun in her eyes?  Maybe.  Or was she trying to teach me a lesson to “get off the road”.  Possibly.

As a result, I was a bit worried about getting my bike out.  In fact, I was scared.   While running, I’m legally obligated to run facing oncoming vehicular traffic.  While cycling, I’m legally obligated to ride with vehicular traffic.  Blind to what is coming behind me.  Blind to the fact that someone may be unaware that I’m on the road.  On a bike.  Vulnerable.  At His mercy.  If it weren’t for my love of triathlon; I’d probably have left my bike on the trainer again for 2015.  But I’m signed up for Ironman 70.3 Steelhead.  And I must ride.  Outside.  On the road.  In the wind.  Up and down whatever hills I can find.  Alone.

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All of a sudden, I remember how much I love cycling.  How much I love my bike.  How great it is to fly down the hills.  How horrid it is to struggle UP the hills.  How freeing it is to be able to ride for hours on end to parts unknown.  On one of my recent rides, I went looking for something that I had read about, in a small town near my home.  A covered bridge.  Indiana is known for it’s old covered bridges (98 in all) but I had no idea that one was so close to my new home.  The Spencerville Covered Bridge was built in 1873 and it’s a mere 11 miles from my house!

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A hidden historic treasure.  Basically in my backyard.  One that not many locals think about since traffic has long been rerouted away from the bridge to protect it from overuse, modern vehicles and big massive semi trucks that have previously damaged this old girl.   Now she just sits awaiting our arrival.  While I was there multiple people pulled up and snapped pics.   One couple even lingered, looking at this piece of modern day history, walking the interior planks.  There is a small parking area on the east side of the bridge for those who want to do more than just drive by.  If you are in the area, go check it out!

I’m thankful to be back on the bike.  I’ve been trying to ride more and run less.  Easier said than done for this runner.  But I’m enjoying the journey.  Enjoying my bike and the wind in my hair.  I love finding hidden treasures like the Spencerville Covered Bridge.  I enjoy riding new roads and finding new routes, particularly if there are a couple hills on which I can practice climbing and shifting. 

** Get Out and Find YOUR Local Hidden Treasurers!  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

TRI Smart 101: Ride to Support Breast Cancer Research

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On Sunday, I awoke early to head to the TRI Smart 101 ride in New Lenox.  The ride was a supported event which featured routes for 38, 61, 77 and 101 miles.  The event was reasonably priced at $40 ($50 for last minute registrations) which included a nice hooded sweatshirt, SAG support and aid stations loaded with volunteers who had great personalities, PB&J, soft chewy cookies, bananas, water & Gatorade.  

Hoodie – Navy in color (the version below in black from the TRI Smart Facebook page)

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I initially signed up to tackle the 101 mile ride but revamped that and my 2014 plan goal after my 70.3 in Mattoon didn’t go as I had hoped.  So I showed up on Sunday planning to ride whatever distance Suzanne did the 61 or 77 mile option.  As soon as I pulled in the parking lot, I realized that my partner was sick and we would be going the 38 mile route.  I can’t say that I was happy that she was sick but I had no qualms about cutting the distance even further.  My September calendar is FULL between running races, marathon training and Aby’s Cross Country schedule so I really just wanted to be at home with the family.

Packet pick up was smooth.  They gave us our bib, hoodie and a map of our desired distance.  There were also muffins, coffee, etc. for snacking.  Then everyone left when they were ready without any production, “official” start or hoopla.  It was nice but I must admit I was a bit concerned about getting lost; however, the route was marked VERY well.  There was never a question as to if we were going the right way cuz about the time I was wondering, I would see an arrow on the road for direction.  Then as we approached a turn, the road was marked twice, once as we approached the intersection, at the intersection and as a third source of direction, there was a sign with an arrow.  I can’t imagine anyone having gotten lost unless they were just not paying attention at all.

The ride was on my home turf so I was very familiar with the roads, the wind, and the hills.  Traffic was light but for the most part we still stayed single file and just rode, taking turns at the front to break the wind for the other person.  It was good.  Fun.  And since we were riding short, we didn’t have to worry about going too fast so we pretty much pounded the entire way, short of the 20 minutes we camped at the rest stop.  Then the way back was super fast because the wind was at our back and the rain in our face.  That sped things up a lot!

38 miles done!  Next year, I would definitely like to try one of the longer distances and I even have hopes of riding a bit of the other routes this year before the weather turns too bad since the route will stay marked for quite some time.

A few of my F’N Runner friends who also did the 38 mile route, from left:  me, Julie B, Susan D, Lynn & Suzanne (my ride buddy).  Thanks for coming even though you weren’t feeling good, Suzanne!  It would have been lonely without you!!

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I highly recommend the TRI Smart 101 ride!  Low cost, amazing cause, great support, multiple distance options, low traffic roads which are very well marked and aid stations stocked with lots of yummies!  See you next year on September 14 for the 2014 installment!

** Riding For A Cause **  Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Venus de Miles (2013)

Yesterday brought the second annual Venus de Miles ride to Lake Forest, IL.   I was one of the six ambassadors for this event.  Ambassadors pictured below from left:  Jess, Erin, Alyssa, Kelly, Lauren & me.

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I also was lucky enough to participate with several F’N runners & some Team Tough Chiks members too!!!  F’N Runners – Lynn, Melanie, Susan, Suzanne & Me

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Team Tough Chik riders – Susan, me, Jess & Jenny G

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This ride is a one of a kind experience.  Ladies only please unless you want to dress in drag and be our bike support.  The focus of the ride, is not how far or how fast you can ride but rather sisterhood, togetherness, and community support for our Greenhouse Scholars charity which “provides comprehensive personal and financial support to high-performing, under-resourced college students”.   The event offers at 25 and a 61 mile event.  Both last year and this year, I opted for the 61 miler.  The course starts through the streets of Lake Forest then visits neighborhoods, forest preserves, bike paths and lots of sites along the way via the towns of  Deerfield, Riverwoods, Lincolnshire, Long Grove, Forest Lake, Mundelein, Libertyville & Mettawa. 

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The ride can be as leisurely as you like or a total hammer fest.  Up to you.  Venus provides a very well marked course, with plenty of space for all riders and 4 rest stops along the way.  Each rest area offered clean bathrooms (port-o-potties) with all the needed “sanitary” items, lots of food & fuel from brownies (my current personal choice for fueling a 60+ mile ride!!), cookies, nuts, PB, fruit, Luna bars, energy gels, shot blocks, water & electrolyte drink.

If you have a problem with your bike you can call for on course bike support or maybe one of the men in drag will stop to assist.   Plus there are lots of ladies on course who will gladly lend a hand if you need it!  However, let’s just hope your day is as amazing as the event and you won’t need any help! 

I was lucky enough to find a solid group of ladies who were moving my pace.  This Fab 5 stuck together the entire way.  We fought some cool conditions, rain, wind, hills (and a few more hills) and came away with a smile on our faces when we crossed the finish line.  Here we are leaving the last rest stop and getting ready to put the hammer down to the finish:  Jess, Helena, Jess, myself & Suzanne.  Thank you ladies for sticking with me, even when the wind and hills were kicking my ass and helping me finish strong!

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The ride was great but the food, drinks (2 free drinks each!!), vendors and JENI’s ice cream at the finish were AHmazing!  It was also nice to be able to sit down at little tables to eat and chat with friends.  Many participants also partook in free massages, mani/pedis, facials, etc.  So much fun.   And I was equally impressed with the Greenhouse Scholars who were floating around, speaking to as many participants as possible.  The Scholars were very appreciative and thanked us for being there and fundraising for them.  It was very heartfelt and personal as they told us what the charity has done for them. Nice touch.  If you didn’t have a chance to ride this year and would still like to help the Greenhouse Scholars, you can donate HERE until the end of August. 

Great event.  We had 326 riders this year, which was about a 100 less than the inaugural ride in 2012 but there was also a big century ride in town which I personally believe took some of our riders.  The course was well marked, diverse and had amazing support.  I also liked the little added touches to make the ride feminine and fun.  Keep watch for the 2014 date so that you can put it on your calendar early and join me touring Lake County, IL for the next installment of Venus de Miles (2014).  Costumes welcome!!

** See you next year  **  Amanda – TooTallFritz  **

Venus de Miles … I’m Ready to Roll!

This Sunday will bring the second annual Venus de Miles event in Lake Forest, IL.  The ride is a supported ladies only event and geared toward serious and leisurely cyclists alike offering both a 25 and 61 mile option.  SO.MUCH.FUN. 

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I rode last year and am excited to go back for the 2013 event with several friends.  We will be riding a leisurely pace and just enjoying the roads, trails and local scenery. We plan to stop at each aid station, which is about every 15 miles, and load up with all the goodies while mingling with the other riders.  We plan to have fun riding, supporting the Greenhouse Scholars charity, and just being together while bonding over a “few” miles thru Lake Forest and the surrounding areas.  Some of my friends will be undertaking their longest ride ever in order to participate and I’m excited to be there with them for the momentous occasion!

If you want to ride with us, there are still spots available.  Onsite registration will start Sunday morning at 6am at Glen Rowan House, 500 N Sheridan Rd, Lake Forest, IL.  The cost is $129 + a $75 fundraising requirement for the Greenhouse Scholars.

If you want to be part of the fun but aren’t up for the ride, Venus is still looking for volunteers, so please feel free to email me (amanda@tootallfritz.com) and I’ll get you in contact with the volunteer coordinator!

Other than the ride, the amazing aid stations and the on-course support, Venus is know best for the after ride party.  And I would like you to say that again …… PAR-TAY!

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The fun doesn’t stop when you cross the finish line. Invite your family and friends who couldn’t join in the ride and put your post-ride endorphin high to good use at our celebration at Lake Forest College.
→ blissful hOMe will be providing complimentary yoga sessions at the start of the ride. Session 1 will run from 6:10 – 6:30 am. Session 2-from 6:35 to 6:55 am. Session 3 from 7:05 to 7:25am. Session 4 from 7:30 to 7:50 am.
→ Enjoy complimentary spa services provided by Tricoci Beauty University, including mini-facials, manicures and pedicures
→ Enjoy complimentary massage services provided by NuVie Skin and Wellness
→ Test Trek Women bikes
→ Explore a vendor’s expo with unique gear and treats
→ Beer provided by Goose Island
→ Wine provided by Terlato Wines, featuring Greystone Cellars, and Glass Mountain Vineyards
→ Cocktails provided by North Shore Distillery
→ Meet several of the Greenhouse Scholars you are supporting
→ Enjoy gourmet ice cream, provided by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

It was an amazing event last year and I’m looking forward to going again and hanging out on Sunday.  Feel free to join me and don’t forget to say hello!!

** Ride Venus de Miles ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Motivation or Lack Thereof….

Despite the fact that “spring has sprung”, I’ve certainly had very low motivation since the Lansing Marathon.  The marathon didn’t go as I had hoped and it left me feeling empty, tired and “slightly” hopeless.  And then I got sick immediately thereafter.  Yes, I’m finally feeling better but I’m not as strong.  I’m not fast.  I not motivated.  I’m not feeling at all like myself. 

What to do?  Look at more  springtime photos?

Jenny G came late to the party and sent me some lovely photos from Lake Katherine that she snapped over the weekend.

Lake Katherine    Lake Katherine_blooms

And Keith G, ran one of my favorite trails, Waterfall Glen in Darien, IL over the weekend.  Yay for more beautiful photos!!

Waterfall Glen_Keith   Watergfall Glen_keith

I have been running.  And biking.  Nothing too crazy.  A few miles here and there.  I did a 20 mile “long bike” on Saturday on the trainer, then took it outside on Mother’s Day for a 10 mile “long run” last Sunday.  So I’m moving.  Just not focused on time or pace or racing. 

Know that’s it’s okay if you aren’t feeling the need to just “kill” every run.  Sometimes your body and mind need a break.  They will let you know when they do and it’s always wise to listen.  So as of right now, I’m “just” running.  At whatever pace I can manage. I’m just soaking up the sunshine and enjoying how lush our local trails have become with a little bit of rain and heat.

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** Just Keep Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

2013 …. What Lies Ahead

Since it’s been all Ragnar for quite some time, I thought I would take a break just for now and instead pin down a few 2013 goals.  Better late than never, right?

set and reach goal concept

I have a few general goals  that I will focus on for the entire year.  And remember, I roll with the K.I.S.S. principle.  Nothing too complicated, just simple but challenging goals.

  1. Run 1000 miles –  Although this seems like a no brainer, things happen, life happens and I don’t want to neglect my life in order to rack up run miles.  1000 miles is challenging, coming in at just under 20 miles a week, but also reasonable if I remain uninjured on the fitness wagon.
  2. Bike 2000 miles – Now this one may seem a little “Coo-Coo” but I biked almost 1000 miles this year and let’s just say that I didn’t give it a full effort.  I want to log miles every week of the year from here on out regardless of if TRI season is in session.
  3. Swim – Okay, I’m not ready to step in the pool yet…..still in denial here.
  4. Strength Train & Stretch – 2x per week.  This will be the first to be dropped.  I’m already worried about my schedule.  But this is the “goal”.  It won’t happen if it doesn’t even make the list, right?
  5. Drink 2 liters of water daily.
  6. Consume 5-7 servings of fruits & veggies daily.
  7. Be happy and have a positive attitude!

After the “general” goals, I then broke my training and race schedule into three parts:  Spring, Summer, Fall.  Each session having one goal race.  One focus.  Everything else will be for fun or quite possibly just not exist.  I’ve come to realize that with Aby in 3 sports per year, plus a toddler at home, our time is no longer our own.  I want Aby to be successful.  I want to support her in every way, which includes being at every race/game.  I’m not willing to sacrifice being her biggest supporter in order to once again, “log miles”.  For me, that means less racing, fewer “fun” miles, more focus oriented training.  

focus

Between each session, I will rest and recover.  For example, this week, I’m doing nothing resting and focusing on non-impact activities to freshen up from Ragnar.  The bottom line is that “most” of us can’t just keep going without some downtime or we will get hurt or burnt out.  I know that there is an exception to every rule, Susan M, but most of us mere mortals need to rest.  I also find that as I get “older”, I have to be smarter about recovery.  Maybe because I’ve been doing this for most of my life?  Yes, that’s a “reality bites” admission.  Maybe because I’m not a sprinter youngin’ anymore?  I now focus on training smarter, not harder and utilize tools like Post Workout Recovery, ice baths and massage sticks to just be able to walk recover for the next workout.

Spring Session – Goal Race – Lansing Marathon – April 21, 2013

If you haven’t heard that I’m running the Lansing Marathon, then this is the first time you’ve stumbled on this blog cuz I’ve talked about it, given away a prize pack and basically tried to recruit everyone, and anyone, who runs to join me.   Don’t feel bad if I haven’t hit you up YET cuz I’ll get you eventually.  🙂  If you would like to join me in Lansing for the full, half, marathon relay or 5K, please feel free to use the $10 off discount code CHICAGO10 and click HERE to register.  You know a girl doesn’t like to run alone and I certainly hope to see YOU there!

Summer Session – Goal Race – Ironman 70.3 Racine – July 21, 2013

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My TRI season last year didn’t go well. Ironman 70.3 Muncie was shorted due to the ridiculous heat (my report HERE) plus a tendon in my foot was torn so I couldn’t run, or finish.  I went with the intention to DNF.  I succeeded in acquiring my first DNF but it was not my favorite venue.  My second, and final, 70.3 of the year was going to be the Great Illini Challenge (my report HERE) but that race was called off due to the possibility probability of severe weather.  Completed triathlons in 2012 = Zero.  This year will be better.

Fall Session – Goal Race – TBD

I know many have their entire year planned but I’m keeping the fall schedule open.  This tends to be my fastest time of year.   I love the weather, I love the speed that my base mileage brings, I love to race.  However, the prior two sessions will dictate what Fall of 2013 will bring.  I’ve tossed around adding in another marathon but I need to see how my health is and how I am sitting mentally.  I may just sit on the couch and snuggle my baby run a half and some shorter races to take advantage of the speed.  Plus, if I’ve nailed some of my previous goal races, I’ll be cycling down rather than up.  Only time will tell.  I love a good mystery!!

Have you solidified a couple goals for 2013?  Do you have the entire year planned or are you okay with a couple question marks?

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

25 mph WNW Winds….Increasingly Windy

As I was headed home from work today, I could feel my car being blown all over the expressway.  When I got home I grabbed a handful of Easter candy checked the weather as I was putting on my bike clothes to go for a ride.  I was planning to ride a loop on my country roads, technically the plan was to loop it 3x for 25 miles but the biggest issue was getting my ass out the door.  I didn’t want to go; I’d rather be running, right?  Absolutely!  But even a run in this crazy wind would have been a challenge out here.  Since I’m in the middle of nowhere, the 25 WNW winds are even more daunting because we don’t have anything to block or break it.  I should REALLY just stay in the house and eat more candy do laundry.  But alas, if it were race day, I’d be out there no matter what so I motivated myself to try just one loop.

I know, I’m too sexy, right?  All decked out in my $5 add-on arm warmers from Running Warehouse with my cool Team Tough Chik TRI Tank!   Sorry, those are the only arm warmers I have at the moment but rumor is that Team Tough Chik is going to do matching arm warmers when they reopen registration in May.  Make sure you get on their mailing list  HERE to be notified when registration opens.

Anyhow, out the door I went and it was rough!  Thank goodness I ate a shitload some Easter candy or I’m quite certain the wind would have actually lifted my bike and tossed me a few times.  Thank goodness there were not many cars cruising our country roads or I probably would have been hit.  I don’t ride straight when I’m sober on a normal basis and well when the wind is pushing me at 25+ mph from the side, it’s impossible to ride straight, or shift.  Aero is absolutely out of the question and I’m pretty sure that’s when I’m supposed to be riding aero ………… on these windy days.  Yes?  No?   Who really knows, all I know is that I was holding on for dear life, begging to be safely delivered back to my drive before the wind picked me up and blew me on my way.  And I say 25 mph, my ass.  No flippin’ way those winds are only 25 mph….maybe 50, maybe more.  Enough to scare me into only doing one loop.  So I rode my bike an entire 8.6 miles tonight and it was a tough 8.6 miles.  Something is better than nothing, right?  I’m just happy to be back in the house!

Stay Safe,                                                                                                                Amanda – TooTallFritz