Lakefront 50K Race Report ……

Saturday, brought us a beautiful day in the CHI and my 2nd ultra in the form of the Lakefront 50K.  This was not a trail ultra but a nice flat event on Chicago’s Lakefront Trail.  Great ultra for first timers or those worried about covering the distance because you are not isolated on some crazy trail out in the woods but constantly surrounded by other people, in a populated area.  Plus there are three loops, so you actually pass by your car 3x.  This could be viewed as a positive or a negative depending on how you look at it!  Smile  But on the up side, you get to pass your friends over and over again, whether they are in front or behind you and that’s a BIG win in my book!

2nd loop

The reason I signed up for this race was because my friends’ Mike (Run Nerd’s Rock) and Michelle (This Momma Runs – green shorts above) were running the event.  I figured, “why not?” so I signed up!  Then I later found out that several of the ladies from my running club (Frankfort New Lenox Running Club) were also signed up.  This added to my excitement, despite my low mileage throughout March.  And the bonus to running with Mike, when he is fast enough to literally run circles around the rest of us, is that we made let him take all the pics and we just focused on the run.  So pretty much every pic in this post was taken by Mike.  Thanks, Mike!!! 


The springtime Lakefront 50K is 3 loops.  It’s on the north side of the city, starts at Foster Avenue Beach in Lincoln Park and weaves south to the North Beach boathouse (then back).   The start line was steps away from the lake; however, the Lakefront Trail ends on the north side of the city, just past Montrose Harbor.  Therefore, it was necessary to weave thru a few parks on crushed limestone trails before hitting the actual paved Lakefront Trail which has made Chicago so popular.   The route was marked VERY well with orange painted arrows.   There was never a question about the course and I was super impressed by the meticulous attention to detail because I have been dropped from a CARA pace group lost in this area in the past.   

Aid stations were about every 2.5 miles.  One at the start/finish.  One at the midpoint of the loop.  One at the turnaround.  At each turnaround location, we had to check in and give them our bib number to ensure that we had ran the entire 3 loops.  The aid stations were stocked with:  water, gatorade, coke, sweet pickles, giant olives, twizzlers, yogurt covered raisins, m&m’s (with and without peanuts), goldfish crackers, potato chips, shoe string snacks, and bananas.  I’m sure I’ve missed something but there was a lot of different options.  Bathrooms at each aid station too.  Plus we had a drop bag at the start/finish on a tarp which we could access each time we passed.  Super simple.  Super organized.  Very well ran event.  Plus we had the added bonus of breathtaking views of the city and Lake Michigan!

lakefront heading south

This was  a fun run.  Not a race for me.  Just a run in the park with my friends.  That’s how I approached it mentally and I tried to stay slow throughout so that I could finish strong.  I won’t say the 3 loops weren’t daunting, especially at the beginning but by the time that third loop rolled around I was ready to be done and it was nice knowing that we “only” had 5 miles out, then back, to put it in the done column.  I even had a little bit left at the end, which is nice when I can finish strong.  I definitely feel as if I’m becoming a stronger runner, mentally as much as physically.  Thanks to Marty & Jill who were waiting at the finish for the F’N Runners and caught this pic of me running to the finishing!


Some of the FNRC ladies after the event.  From left:  Melanie (See Mommy Race  – ran her first 50K!!), Julie M, Judy F, Jill Y (Jilly Runs – ran her 20 mile training run THEN came down to see her girls finish the ultra!), Me & Amanda W (Get to Goal who supported us throughout the day!). 


Myself, Mike & Michelle after the finish:

me mike michelle_done

The swag:


I think I paid  $55 for this race when I registered.  Big bang for the buck.  However, the event comes with a race “course” that is filled with extras.  Everyone shares the trail with the local runners, bikers and walkers.  Kinda cool but if you are in it to race it, then it might be annoying.  And the bikers are fast and certainly irritated by the extra traffic on the trial.  Other than the bikers, everyone was super supportive and it really was a great day! 

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

F’N 20 Miler ….

Every marathoner gets to the point in “the plan” where they are facing down a 20 mile run.  For some it’s just another day, another run.  For others it’s a daunting undertaking which stirs up a lot of nerves.  I personally have used training plans in the past which schedule anywhere from one to five 20 mile runs throughout the entire program.  I can honestly say I have yet to feel a benefit by cramming several 20 milers into a training plan.  Marathons are hard for me.   At some point during the race, it’s gonna hurt.  Some people are going to process “the hurt” better than others and have a better experience.  The reason most training plans go all the way up to the magic “20 miler” is to help us get a bit of an idea of how to process those longer miles.  How to manage “the hurt”, if you will.  The 20 miler is on the plan to boost YOUR confidence level and help you to realize that you will be crossing that finish line in the very near future.  It’s really as much of mental exercise as a physical one because let’s be honest, if you can run 16 or 18 miles {and your healthy} then there is nothing that will stop you on race day from completing the full 26.2.  You have had the ability to run and finish the marathon long before the 20 mile training run but it’s that “magic 20” that brings the confidence, the knowledge that you CAN and WILL run a marathon.

I can I will

Now that running is “cool” we have lots of options for a 20 miler.  I’ve done 20 mile training runs a lot of different ways (alone, with someone riding a bike, on the treadmill, with friends, at a large organized event) but for me, it’s easiest to do it on my normal trail with my normal run friends and just knock it out.  I don’t want to go too far for a training run.  I certainly don’t want to pay $$ for a training run.  I don’t need a t-shirt or medal commemorating something I’ve already done at least 25x a couple times.  I just want to knock it out and then go home and take nap with Mr. Michael

I’m lucky because I now have a local run club that likes to keep things simple.  Thank you Frankfort-New Lenox Running Club (FNRC or F’N Running Club)!  No fee to join.  No hoopla.  Just show up and run or don’t.  Our 20 miler was much of the same but we invited others who wanted a no frills training run too.  We had about 70 runners who came out in the dark to join us for a 6am start.  Great turnout because many of our club members were marathoning in other parts of the state.


We were fortunate enough to have a two generous sponsors to support us during the run.  Huge shout out of thanks to Berkots Super Foods and Running For Kicks for supplying apples, bananas, oranges, water, Gatorade, and GU gel!!  We also had a crew of AHHHHMAZING volunteers to cycle the route with us and staff 3 aid stations along our 10.25 mile out and back route.  

Aid Station #1 – Mile 2.89 & 17.61

Bluestone_aid station2

Aid Station #2 – Mile 6.25 & 14.25

Grainery_aid station

Aid Station #3 – Mile 9.25 & 11.25

Harlem_aid station

Finish Line Aid Station

Finish_aid station

I personally had a great time at our 20 miler although I “might” be biased.  Smile  I loved seeing all people who came to run with us!  I tried to talk to as many groups as I could and really just enjoy the day.  We had perfect 45 degree weather that held on during most of the run.  I loved the out and back route on Old Plank Trail that allowed me to cheer on our fasties and those behind me too.  It was just a great day that came together perfectly thanks to the generosity of so many who donated goods and/or time.  We even had a local CERT team out patrolling the trail and helping with road crossings.  A lot of people got out of bed early to make sure that we had a safe & supported 20 mile training run.  I’m so proud to be a part of this run club and community.  I have met so many amazing people thru running and for that I am super thankful!

I was also thankful to finish up my weekend double (Women Rock Chicago Half on SAT & the F’N 20 Miler on SUN).  Good times.   Me, Aby (who worked aid station #3) & John B at the finish.  Thanks Aby & John for waiting for me and running me in!  

Finish_me Aby John

I’d also like to send a huge shout out of thanks to my girl Lara (see her behind me in the grass in a blue top?) and her hubby Nels who I’m sure will never see this always get out of bed before dawn to help me with my really long miles.  Sunday was no different.  Nels showed up at the start and ran the first half (and then some) and Lara showed up mid run to help me thru the last 11.25 miles.   Like I said, I’ve met some amazing people thru the running community and I am not only grateful but feel very blessed.  Love you all!!

** 20 Miles Is No Big Deal When Surrounded By Friends **  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.

Venus 2013_ambassadors

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

Venus 2013_Lynn & Melanie  Venus 2013_susan-suzanne-me

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

Venus 2013_Team Tough Chik

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. 


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!

Venus 2013_5

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  **

A Family Affair ….

As a wife and mother who is employed full time with a lengthy commute, exercise is sometimes a luxury rather than a necessity.  I frequently cram it, exercise that is, into the day when it really doesn’t fit.  Like,  I should do that massive pile of laundry BUT I’m going to take Michael and go run with the jog stroller instead.  That  pretty much defines this week.  We crammed a lot into a little time.  Aby’s done with track so it was “make-up” week where we tried to get our life back and still take care of business.

Dentist & Group run.  I’ll spare you the bloody photo of them pulling Aby’s tooth.  However, we followed up the dental visit with a Tuesday run with the F’N Running  Club.  Gotta balance the bad with the good, right?


“Big People” Appointment & Zoo.  Quality time with the kiddos has been mostly in the car as of late.  One parent present at a time.  Probably won’t win us parent’s of the year but I think they dropped our application years ago, so no worries!  Anyhow, we needed a day off for “big people” stuff and then decided to take the kiddos and hit the zoo for some good ole family fun.  The Dinosaur’s Alive exhibit at Brookfield Zoo was a big hit with us!

Zoo_May 2013    Zoo_May 2013_giraffes     Zoo_May 2013_dino_kids  Zoo_May 2013_dino_color  Zoo_May 2013_dino

Then we hit another FNRC run last night as a family (you can barely see Michael peaking out of the jogger beside Aby in the middle) after I promised Aby ice cream if she could manage to slug a few miles out with Michael and I.


So we’ve had a busy week but still managed to have some fun.  All my run miles have been slow, back of the pack runs with Michael in the jogger and my shoulders burning because the jogger and I aren’t friends..  I’ve biked on the trainer a few times and tried my best to get the house back in order.  NOW, I’m looking forward to the weekend. 

No family affair this weekend.  I’m heading to Peoria, IL to spend some time with a few of my favorite Team Tough Chik members (Jess, Shannon – The Original Tough Chik, Carmen & Nicki T) as we show Run River City how to put together one TOUGH relay team.  Go Toughies!!!!

If you are headed to Peoria to Run River City, look for our Team Tough Chik relay.  Or the amazing sign that Jess made which I’m sure will pop up around the marathon course. 

Team Tough Chik sign_Jess

** Get Out and Run, With Or Without the Family ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Jingle Bell 5K Run – Kankakee, IL

There were a lot of reasons that I originally registered for the Jingle Bell Run but this weekend things changed.  As I’ve said before, time changes “almost” everything.


I was sick at the beginning of the week and by yesterday, Mr. Michael came down with a raging fever while I was out running.  Our fun-filled Christmas themed weekend, the one that I have looked forward to more than any other this entire year, bar the Shamrock Shuffle Weekend, disintegrated before my eyes. 

So yesterday, I came straight home from my run and held Michael pretty much the entire day, while hubby proceeded to come down with the creeping crude as well.  Awesome.  So at 4am this morn, I was laying awake holding my feverish baby seriously considering bagging my first race ever.  I didn’t want to go, everyone was sick.  I felt guilty about leaving but was giving one person a ride to the race and meeting many more on site.  Would it have mattered if I didn’t go?  Not really but I felt a bit of obligation.  I went. We had a large group of FNRC Runners.


We picked up the packets flawlessly.  Met the director of the Arthritis Foundation.  Met the Race Director.  Pinned our bibs to our shirts.  Waited around and socialized in the warm gymnasium and then returned to the car to do final preparations.  At this point, it was pouring rain and about 37 degrees.  My guilt was running high from leaving hubby and Michael home sick, Aby was feeling crappy and begging to go home.  Nicki didn’t want to run in the pouring, freezing rain mind returning home.  I literally put my head on my steering wheel trying to figure out the right answer.  Stay?  Go?  Time was ticking and the race was upon us and for whatever reason, I decided to stay and run even though I knew we all wanted to just go back home.

During my moment(s) of indecision, we about missed the start, and were standing in the grass when the gun went off.  Myself, Aby & Nicki are below on our way to the start.  Thanks Kim M. for all the F’N photos in this post.  If not for you, we would only see words on a page.  I appreciate your constant, unwavering support of all of us!  JingleBell_2012_me aby nicki

The gun went off, it took me a second to realize that the race was actually starting and we stepped onto the road to run.  It was then that I realized we were quite a ways from the start line.  Normally the poor positioning wouldn’t be a big deal because most chip timed races also have a timing mat at the start line but this one did not.  So we were on gun time but it wasn’t too big of an issue for us cuz we all felt like crap, were there primarily to be festive and run in our awesome Team Sparkle skirts, and support out friends and the the Arthritis Foundation.  No big deal, but a bit of an error on my part. 

Amazingly enough, the rain pretty much stopped at the beginning of the race and we were able to run without getting too wet.  The roads were wet but not unsafe.  We had to run thru dodge some puddles.  The route was on campus at the Shapiro Development Center so on closed roads that did not have vehicular traffic.  It was well marked, had 2 waters stops and diverse terrain.  We even went off road shortly and ran a non-technical trail thru a wooded area.  Kinda cool.  Definitely different.  I liked it a lot.


Plus, there were so many F’N Runners & Kankakee River Running Club members running, spectating and helping, that it was nice to see so many friendlies.  I run to run.  I show up on a lot of days knowing that I don’t have much to give but I go (and stayed today) because of all YOU who also got out there to support a good cause and take a small break from “real life”.  I went (and stayed) to support all of you, my amazing running family, in the only way that I could.  I ran.

And when it came time for awards, I was even more F’N proud seeing all my friends collect some bling.   From left:  Kate S (1st in age group), Maggie W (1st in age group), Susan M aka “Julie” (first overall female), Nicole F (2nd in age group), & Me (1st in age group). 

JingleBell_2012_award winners

And yes, we came home with some cool swag too.  A long sleeve cotton tee, a jingle bell, and a few other cool things.


The post race food options were amazing with everything from hot chocolate, cream of chicken rice soup to pizza.  A costume contest was held, a raffle, and they gave awards 3 deep in all the normal age groups.  It was a good turn out with with well over 400 people finishing the race and a great race in general.  If all goes well, I  hope to go back and actually race the Jingle Bell next year.  I love a well run, festive event where I see lots of friends.  Great job, Jingle Bell Run! 

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

By the Light of the Moon….

It’s no secret the Wednesday nights are my favorite because I get to run with the F’N Running Club.  It is frequently the only club run I can work into the family schedule so I look forward to it each and every week.  It’s also no secret that I LOVE to run outdoors regardless of the weather.  What could make a WED night outdoor run even better?  Christmas Lights & a Full Moon! 


My favorite WED night, photo spot is back in operation!  The Frankfort Station pavilion beside the Grainery.  Christmas Lights are up, check!  Runners are in place (above) with a smile, check!   Left Back:  Ken, Dawn, April, Lynn, Susan & Nicki.  Left Front:  Diane, Betsy & Aby.

Christmas Lights_grainery_11-28-12

Plus the temps were mild and the Full Moon was breathtaking even though my photog skills leave a bit to be desired

Full Moon_11-28-12

I was so enthralled by the full moon that I went back out this morning to get a short run in before work.

Full Moon_11-29-12

No KnuckleLights needed this morning.  The moon lit the way perfectly.  A few twinkling stars added to the fun and it was a great start to my morning.

What makes a great run, just a bit more “perfect” for you?

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Thanksgiving Traditions…..

I’ve lived in Illinois now for way too long 14 years.  It doesn’t really seem like that long but on the same hand it feels like forever.  It’s not where my heart is but I’ve learned to develop some traditions for me in an attempt to stay sane without my family down the road for back up/support.  In 2006, I ran a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.   That first year, I just went where a friend went and had to drive forever, then showed up and found out it was an untimed “fun” run.  Hmmmm…… not my thing but it was fun.   Plus it made me realize that was how I wanted to start my Thanksgiving  mornings for as many years into the future as possible.  The following year (2007), I ran the Running For Kicks 4 mile Turkey Trot in Palos Hills and I’ve done the same each year thereafter, except for the year I had Michael.  The route is not easy but its close to home and it definitely makes me feel as if I earned my Thanksgiving Dinner!image

I looked back at my times today for a giggle, thinking about each year and how I handled the hilly route on that particular year.  I had anticipated 2012 being my worse year but I was better than that first year where the course filled with hills was a total shock surprise.

  • 2007 – 34:21 – Holy Hills
  • 2008 – 32:33
  • 2009 – Mr. Michael arrived
  • 2010 – 31:53
  • 2011 – 31:55
  • 2012 – 33:58 (6 months post injury)

So the Turkey Trot is a wonderful tradition which I’ve had on the schedule for many years now and its absolutely one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving holiday.  It’s short, fast and not too painful a great start to the day.  I normally take as many people from my neighborhood as I can strong-arm into running fit in my car.  Plus, I’m now part of an amazing group of runners, the Frankfort New Lenox Running Club (AKA – The F’N Runners) and I can always count on a few members to show up to enjoy the fun. 


The additional friendly faces make the race that much more fun!  Then I go home to a turkey already cooking in the roaster, courtesy of hubby and Mr. Michael, and I cook & clean for an IL family dinner which includes anyone and everyone who would like to come.  YUMMMMM….

A new tradition, which I just started last year, is hosting a run at a local trail on Black Friday.  I don’t recall ever having gone Black Friday shopping and I have zero interest to do it now.  It happens to be a day that many of my run friends have off, so the idea was to start an “all inclusive” run that would include as many people from different running groups as possible.  Last year was a success so despite my recent return to running, I decided to set it up again.  Here is the 2nd Annual Black Friday Runners at Waterfall Glen in Darien, IL!

Waterfall Glen_11-23-12

Please note that despite the fact that these lovely people could have been shopping Black Friday sales, it would have been perfectly understandable if they had just wanted to stay in bed.  The temp was barely 30 degrees and the wind was CRAZY.  It was very cold.  We didn’t do much lollygagging but just made short introductions, took the photo and ran!  We had people in this group from as far south as Monee/Peotone, as far north as Addison, as far west as Manhattan & as far east as Lansing, IN!  Very diverse group of people from all over.  I was super proud that they all came out and I know these specialty Friday runs will continue to grow!  Next Waterfall Glen Run – Good Friday (2013).

I love the idea of traditions and keeping a little bit of routine in our crazy lives but I also love the idea of spending time with as many different people as possible.  There are sooooo many amazing runners in our area and I’d honestly like to know them all by name!  So I float around a lot, running new trails and meeting new people.  Making memories and doing what I love…….RUNNING.  Therefore, many of my traditions are running related. 


Do you have any Running Traditions? 

** Making Memories thru Tradition ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Monster Dash 5K Race Review


When I signed up for the Monster Dash, it was really on a whim.  I honestly hadn’t heard many positive things about Team Ortho’s event management skills or the Chicago Monster Dash.   But the jacket was cool. Reflective skulls on one sleeve, and a reflective Monster Dash Finisher logo on the back.  Here is Amy C  below modeling hers with her son Quinn, and Mr. Michael.  Yes, Michael photo bombed their adorable photo!  He just couldn’t imagine anyone would want their photo taken without his presence.

Monster Dash_2012_Michael PhotoBomber

   Kids Hoodie:

    Monster Dash_2012_Kids Hoodie

Once I was signed up and not necessarily expecting a great race, I figured we better make our own fun and dress up.  Well what fun is it to dress up solo when you can get a group of  F’N Runners to do the same?  So we had 18 Brides of Frankenstein (photo below on the left) and lots of others who participated by wearing a costume.  F’N Running Club photo below on the right. 

Monster Dash_2012_Brides of Frankenstein

 Monster Dash_2012_group

Run with Jess from Peoria even caught wind of our plan and decided to join us!  Jess & I below (her photo, which I stole):

Monster Dash_2012_Jess & Me

As for the race, it was everything I expected and more.  Yes, the race was crowded at the start, on the Grant Park broken and cracked sidewalks, and on the lake front path.  Yes, the run/walkers refused to line up in the proper pace group.  Yes, people were handing out candy and I was constantly tripping over candy or someone trying to grab candy. Yes, Aby beat me again.  Yes, it was disorganized and lacked direction at some very key points, like near the finish line where the front running 5K runners (like Aby) were stumbling up onto the back of the 5K field and nobody was there to give proper direction.  However, it was very festive and the atmosphere was charged with energy & excitement.   We also had a ton of F’N support came out to hold our bags, cheer for us and take photos.  Here are Aby and I (left below) about a half mile into the race.  I tried to pass her about 30 seconds prior to this photo and she kicked it into overdrive and left me in the dust.  And you can see that she is still floating while running UP THE HILL into the finish! 

Monster Dash_2012_Aby &Me beginning   Monster Dash_2012_Aby finish

I’m looking a little crazed happy in my on course photo (photo credit to Chicago Monster), and you can definitely see that I’m NOT floating up the hill to the finish but totally representing the underpronated foot strike which I have been trying to correct.

Monster Dash_2012_Me big    Monster Dash_2012_Me finish

All in all, I basically decided that the fun of the event outweighed the poor management, the fact that they didn’t have half of our sizes in the guaranteed SWAG, the fact that this type of event draws non-runners who don’t respect the fact that its important to line up by pace newbies who don’t race much, or the fact that the 5K race was considered a “fun run” and wasn’t chip timed.   The day spent with my friends, my kids and my F’N Runners made it another glorious race day in the CHI.  And it was a glorious day to race.

I even enjoyed hanging out for a few minutes listening to the band at the post-race party in Grant Park.  Plus, those medals that I normally don’t pay much attention too……well, these are pretty cool.

Monster Dash_2012_Michael & Aby medals Monster Dash_2012_Medal & Bib

If time and scheduling permits, I would run the Monster Dash again in the future.   The venue was great for this event.  If everyone lined up properly by pace at the start, I think it would take off much smoother and the course wouldn’t initially seem so narrow and crowded because it did thin out once you ran away from the idiots. I also have hopes they will get a little bit more serious about the 5K portion of the event and decide to throw us a chip in the future.  I need to run this distance when the family is in tow and although I always “run for fun”, it is a serious distance to me and I’d like to knowhow fast Aby ran it to get a little respect.  I also hope they work things out a little better in the SWAG department and get people the proper sizes.  I know Team Ortho is taking on a lot right now and growing fast so I’ll give them some slack but they’ve gotta get it together if they want the want to continue to grow and be successful in the CHI.   Good start but needs work.

So what’s your 2012 Halloween running costume?

**  Happy Running & Racing! ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Progress in the Making!

Although running is not getting any easier, I am seeing small signs of progress indicating that my running fitness in on the return.  I won’t be knocking out any fast runs in the near future but they are on the horizon.  It has been a long time coming while taking lots of little baby steps but progress is in the making!  I know it’s sometimes hard but I encourage all of you to keep moving forward, each and every day, even when you can’t actually see the improvements. Part of the process of growth, development and improvement is the plateau where we yes, it happens to all of us sit at the same spot for an undetermined amount of time without much visible progression.  This is the most important time frame to be patient, keep on doing what is necessary and have faith.  Focus on small steps/goals, which are attainable and allow progress to be identified, no matter how minute.  Try to think of a BIG goal as a completed puzzle.  How much time, patience and how many tiny, tiny pieces go into a beautiful completed puzzle?  Lots.  Stay focused and move forward slowly.  It will be worth it!



I’m currently running low mileage.  I’m averaging 15 miles a week, which includes 3 runs.  Not the norm, or what was the norm, but its safe and keeps me in the game moving forward towards my goal of running a super sonic 2013 Shamrock Shuffle 8K.  Why is the Shamrock Shuffle my next goal race?  Simple.  BEST.RACE.EVER.  It may be the only time you can legitimately chase green men and be considered sane while doing it.  Need I say more?

Nicole-Me- Green Men_Maggie_Kelly

In order to be fast by the Shamrock, I’ll need to keep pushing and testing myself along the way.  I’ll need to get used to running more short distance races rather than pounding out the longer, slower fun miles in my comfort zone with my F’N Runners

In order to test the current level of progression, I went out in the dark this morning and tried to push the pace a bit to see where I am fitness wise.  I certainly wasn’t at race pace with it being dark and my being undertrained but I averaged an 8:39 pace over 3 miles.  This is my starting spot.  I’m at 8:39 and just need to focus on getting stronger and faster while continuing to mend my injuries and maintain health on all other fronts.  I’ll be foam rolling, stretching, icing, cross training and watching my food intake to try to stay as healthy as possible.

I’m also thinking happy, positive thoughts.  I’m still very focused on recovery and rehab, but am just now able to take it up a notch to start working a new set of small steps/goals to get to my BIG goal.  It won’t be easy but if it were easy then it wouldn’t be worth it, right? 

Do you also try to break down the BIG goal into smaller pieces to make it more manageable?  Want to share your current BIG goal?

** 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 **