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!!! 

collage

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!

Finish

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!). 

FNRC

Myself, Mike & Michelle after the finish:

me mike michelle_done

The swag:

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 **

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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.

group

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 **

Race Around the World Duathlon 2013 Report & Strike Out ALS 5K winner

Sunday brought us the annual Race Around the World Duathlon in Tinley Park, IL.  This is absolutely one of my favorite events of the year and consists of a 2 mile run, 11 mile bike, followed by another 2 mile run.  Duathlon is always “run, bike, run”.   It’s the multisport event that “some” scoff at for not having a swim but one that is much loved by those of us who don’t want to mess up our hair with a swim cap.  Duathlon is my personal favorite multisport activity and I am considering making it my main focus next year because it really is THAT.MUCH.FUN. 

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The 2013 event was my 4th appearance, the first of which was in 2006 when I randomly signed up the day of the event with my trusty Walmart Special mountain bike.  It was a rough ride but brought me a 1 hour 17 minute finish.  Then in 2007, I arrived with a bit more of a plan in place AND a road bike.  This delivered me a 1 hour 10 minute finish.    Then I took some time to TRI, have a baby, and focus on the run only to make a return in 2012 with my F’N Running Club.  As history denotes, I showed up in 2012 with a torn tendon in my foot and a little girl who wanted to “run for her mom” so that I could still participate.    We took 5th in the women’s relay division, report HERE, and decided to come back for 2013 to move up in the standings.   The sole purpose of yesterday’s race was to go as hard as we could and try to take 3rd in our division.  Our team motto was to “run/race for the bling”.  True story.  We have no shame.

I’ve previously reported this to be a great event, good for both beginners & competitive athletes alike.  The event is short enough to not be intimidating but long enough to push the limits on fitness.   The course is nice, user friendly, has loads of volunteer and safety support, plus there aren’t too many turns.  The TP Fire Department brings fire trucks with “showers” for cooling off post race.  The finish is welcoming with cold drinks, the showers and plenty of  post race snacks.  Well organized event.  I love it and suggest that you DU Tinley in 2014.  Oh, and the  shirt is cool too!  Black A4 tech shirt with unique design.

Tinley Park_DU_13_shirt

Now let’s compare our 2012 race to the 2013 event.    2012 was good, we took 5th in our division & we loved the team dynamic.  What changed between 2012 and 2013?  Both Aby and I are stronger and more determined.  We always focus on fun but we wanted to push and  try to move Team 2 Tough Chiks up in the standings but knew that the competition was super tough last year and we had no idea who would “show up” this year.

2012 vs 2013

The F’N Running Club brought more people this year, some repeats, some new. 

Tinley Park_DU_12    Tinley Park_DU_13_group

Aby has grown.

tinleydu_12_aby2    Tinley Park_DU_13_Aby

We were faster pace wise, despite the 2012 bike course being 1 mile short due to road construction and 2013 having a hellacious headwind thru half the course.

Run #1 – 2 miles 18:54 (9:27 pace) 17:13 (8:37 pace)
T1 47.8 49.5
Bike 30:49 (19.1 mph) 34:00 (19.4 mph)
T2 43.6 42.6
Run #2 – 2 miles 19:04 (9:32 pace) 17:42 (8:51 pace)
Finish 1:10:19  ** Short 1:10:28

We brought home some bling, placing 2nd in the Women’s Relay division out of a field of 20.  We were super excited!!

Tinley Park_DU_13_Me&Aby medals

We are proud to push together, as a team, in an event that is fun and family friendly.  Also, please note that our 2012 bibs were 601, and the 2013 bibs were 602.  Is it too early to “request” that our 2014 bib assignment be 603? 

tinleydu_12_meaby   Tinley Park_DU_13_Me&Aby bike

So we’ll be back next year looking to steal that first place finish from fellow F’N Runner Deb & her IronSis (Team Twisted Sisters).  The IronSis beat me down on the bike and I’m gonna work on that for next year!!  Love that I now have a new goal for next year!!

See you in Tinley on June 22, 2014!!

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The winner of the Strike  Out ALS 5K is #18 – @jmonst – please contact me at amanda@tootallfritz.com to collect your free registration!!

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** DU Tinley Park in 2014 ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Short Run Long Day 5K – 2013

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I am not one to run evening races.  I have the kids.  I have “things” that need to be done.  I have fatigue from a long day at work, plus my commute.  I don’t go out for just anything and it’s kind of a big deal if I get in a nighttime event or workout.   However, for the second year in a row, I attended the Frankfort Park District’s Short Run Long Day 5K event which is always at night, on or around the longest day of the year.  Why do I go?  Because of these people:

FNRC_ShortRunLongDay_2013

The Frankfort New Lenox Running Club.  These people (plus about 500 more from our FB page) are my friends, my run “family” and reason why I keep showing up.  The Short Run Long Day 5K is on our home turf and one of the races with the best turnout for our club members.  We had runners who ran 18 minute 5Ks then spaced all the way down to the end with our run/walk crew.  So proud of all of these people for continuing to show up and keep working on their fitness regardless of their ultimate goals.

The Short Run Long Day event brings out all the local run clubs too with a large contingency of Yankee Runners and Tinley Track & Trail fasties.  This “short run” is competitive and fast with a course that is flat and mostly shaded.  But the race is growing fast and “the word” is that next year, we will be running the course in reverse to accommodate the increasing field and to relieve congestion in that first mile.  Win, Win!!

The race is a family event with pizza, family games and activities.  Runners, walkers and families with strollers are all welcome here.  The event is chip timed but with a “gun” start so that first mile is a bit congested as everyone tries to jostle for the best position due to the gun start.  Half of the course is ran on Old Plank Trail while the other half is on the streets of Frankfort.  One water stop.  Bathrooms at the start/finish and at the Grainery area on Old Plank Trail.  Course is mostly shaded.  Lots of volunteers.  Nice goodie bag with a cute cotton tee, a $10 off coupon from Running Excels, coupon for a free ice cream cone at the Creamery, chapstick, pen & toothbrush:

Short Run Long Day_goodie bag

Great race.  Great crowd.  Great event for the competitive age grouper as well as mom/grandma who may need to push a stroller in order to participate.  I’m super pleased with this race and the growing popularity.  We had 420 finishers this year for a small town 5K on a Wednesday night.  Yay!

Join Aby and I and our F’N friends next year in the 14th Annual Short Run Long Day 5K in Frankfort!  

     Short Run Long Day_Aby_2013          Short Run Long Day_me_2013       

2012 Race Review HERE.

** Come Run With Us ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

National Running Day …..

National Running Day?  Say what?  Is this our version of a “Hallmark Holiday”?  If so, hubby forgot to get me that new running skirt that I’ve been eyeing!  Hmph!  Anyhow, I was fortunate enough that this National Day of Running fell on a Wednesday so I was already penciled in with the run club for a few miles.  John, Susan, Me & Ken:

FNRC_6-5-13

These 3 are my solid WED night crew.  They show up when it’s cold, rainy & even when it’s hot!  Last night was overcast and threatening rain so I think that scared a “few” people away.  Ironically, we didn’t talk much about running on this “holiday”.  Total Run Nerd fail.  What was our main topic of conversation?  Bikes.

It seems summer  has brought all of us a bit of “bike fever”.  We dream of hammering riding down the trail with the wind at our backs and just enjoying some cross training to give our run legs a break.  Bike fever has several member of the F’N Running Club shopping for new bikes.  Super exciting!  As a result, we will be starting a group cycle.  So if you see us coming your way on a Friday morning, maybe just get out of the way.  Most of us have new bikes.  We are learning how to clip in and out of pedals.  Some of us are triathletes who “road bikers” find notoriously inexperienced and unsafe.  So yeah, if you see us coming, protect yourself because it’s all fun and games for us.  WhooooHoooooo!  And if you’re looking for some fun then bring your bike out on a Friday morning.  We’ll try not to knock you over as we domino to the ground trying to stop at the next stop sign!  Smile

dominos

** Beware!  Runners Take To The Bike ** 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?

FNRC_TUE_5-14

“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.

FNRC_THUR_5-16-13

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 **

Calling ALL Turtles!

This is a shout out to all the slower runners!  The runners who sometimes describe themselves as “turtles”.  The runners who are sometimes too nervous to come to a group run for fear of not being able to keep up.

turtle

We need you “turtles”!  We need you to be brave and to show up!  We need you to add diversity to our group runs, our running clubs, and our running communities.  We know you’re out there, now come join us! 

I’m currently part of an amazing group of runners, The Frankfort New Lenox Running Club, and I can honestly say that we have runners of all shapes, sizes and abilities. 

ShortRunLongDay_FNRC

However, the core of our group is in the 8:30 to 10:30 pace range.  We NEED more runners to fill in the slots from 11:00 to Run/Walk.  This helps our group accommodate new runners.  Although we welcome runners of all paces and distances, apparently, we don’t have enough turtles.  We have had complaints that more turtles are needed!

Are you a turtle?  Do you live in the south suburbs of Chicago and need people with whom to run?  If so, we NEED you!  We have people in your pace range, we just need to develop that aspect of a group a bit more so that we have turtles at EVERY run we offer.  And we run a lot.  We run on MON, TUE, WED & THUR evenings and SAT & SUN mornings.  One of those days can surely fit into your schedule, right?  So come out and introduce yourself or feel free to email the F’N Running Club for more info at fnrunningclub@gmail.com.

Help us out.  Please!

**  Always Looking For MORE Runners  **  amanda@tootallfritz.com  **

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.

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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.

JingleBell_2012_group

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.

image

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.

JingleBell_2012_swag

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! 

FNRC_11-28-12

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 ** amanda@tootallfritz.com

Monster Dash 5K Race Review

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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