Hickory Creek Revisited…..

Since my running was non-existent this summer, I didn’t spend much time at Hickory Creek like I normally would.  During an injury free normal summer, I’d cruise those hills of the West Branch a couple times a month and then by fall be running them as if the area were flat.  Not the case this year.  Here is the map of the West Branch.

image It’s a very easy trail to follow.  Just stay on the main trail, which is paved.  There is only one spot where you have a choice and it won’t look like much of a choice.  You can continue on the trail, or take a side shoot into a subdivision, which can take you to the East Branch.  Stay on the trail.

Full Hickory Creek Preserve Map:

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I must say, this week, those hills felt like mountains!  For those new to the area, the Hickory Creek Junction also connects directly to Old Plank Trail.  It is in Will County and the West Branch has 2 entrances with parking.  One entrance is on Lincoln Highway (Route 30) just west of Wolf Road and the second is on Schoolhouse Road, just north of Route 30.  This trail is in the Frankfort/New Lenox, IL area.  If you run the trail both ways from trailhead to trailhead, it will be approximately 5.6 miles (2.8 miles each way).  Nice run, beautiful scenery, 2 bridges, plus bathrooms and water at each end.

I was a bit surprised this week that the fall colors are starting to pop.  Here are a few photos to show the colors and the falling leaves.   (I have taken a billion lot of photos of this area in the past, if interested, search the blog for Hickory Creek for more info & photos). 

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Beautiful run!   Pop over to your favorite trail this weekend and you too may notice a lot of changes as we transition from summer to fall!  And if you pick Hickory Creek, maybe I’ll see you there!

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

March Madness?

March Madness for many may be ball sport related but for me the Madness of March 2012 is all about the weather.  My family and I are rushing around trying to fit in as many outdoor activities as possible afraid that the weather will make an attempt to return to winter.  As of yesterday, we had 4 straight days over 80 degrees and I wonder if that is a record?  Today may “only” reach 79 degrees but time will tell.

Yesterday I met up with the F’N Running Club to enjoy a run thru the Hickory Hills extension.  It was labeled the St. Paddy’s Day run and ironically, I showed up in pink.  Don’t ask.  Kathy showed too but was in red and refused to be in the pic so she was the photog for the day.  Thanks, Kathy!  From left back:  Me, Kevin, Lisa, Brian, Jim, Kim, Susan, Nicole, Tara, & Angela.  From left front:  Jeni, Don, Julie, Diane, & Maggie.

We also saw Melissa, Wayne & Nicole F. out running the trails.  WooooHooo, F’N Runners!  It was a beautiful day with temps in the low 60s when we began. 

Since it was so nice, I took full advantage of it by stopping for several pictures.  I was having breathing issues too so it was a good break until I realized the group was waiting on me while I was lolligagging

It was a 9 mile day for me on Saturday.  Not what I like distance wise for a long run but between the hills and my breathing, it was enough for one day.

Today I set out to meet up with the Park Forest Running and Pancake Club in Schubert Woods.  I didn’t make official run plans for this morning because last night was date night and well, no need to plan something that may not happen.  But, of course, we were home and in bed by midnight and Michael gets up between 5 and 6 am no matter what, so I was up to run.  I decided to go meet up with the Pancakers since I haven’t run with them in a looooonnnnnnng time, like my last run with them was the day before I found out I was preggo with Michael in February 2009.  And the bonus is that they run at 8 am on Sunday’s and somewhat close to my house so it wasn’t a big rush.

I wasn’t really sure where I was going, which was a bit stressful, but I knew I had to head toward Sauk Trail and Western, then what??  I had the map up on Eve my gps and as soon as I got close to that intersection I saw Chestnut Street pop up to the north and that triggered a buried memory that I was supposed to head that way.  So I did, turned on Chestnut (off of Western Ave in Park Forest) and ran right into a trailhead. Yay for dumb luck!

Unfortunately, I only saw one car and nobody waiting around so I assumed that nobody was coming.  I knew this Sunday run group was really light so I thought possibly with the racing schedules today or St Paddy’s Day the long run yesterday, that nobody was going to show, so I took off running right at 8 am.  I was instantly in LOVE with the beauty of this trail and wondering why I had never been able to come before now.

The main trial is a 4 mile loop.  There were lots of access points with parking and port-o-pots, plus I even saw picnic areas.  The trail had light traffic for today and was mostly shaded.  This will be an awesome spot to run when the temps are soaring this summer!  I only had one spot where I questioned the direction, and ended up running  a short spur that lead to a road before returning to the main trail.  So if you go by yourself, just say on the loop and keep going in a circular motion.  However, my lolligagging and picture taking misdirection allowed the Pancakers to catch me!  When I came back to the main trail after that short spur, I saw Mark B, Sue & Rob H (who mostly runs with Yankee).  I picked up the pace and ran a bit with them before Sue & Rob dropped at the trailhead to return to their cars.

Mark & I ran on to hit the “The Shoot”, a set of woods across Sauk Trail for a few more miles.  And then we picked up Alexis! 

Alexis is a local chiro who I have attempted to make contact with on many occasions over the years.  However, it seems our schedule between work and kids is not very compatible so this was our first meeting and I’m super excited to have finally met her!  According to Jenny G, Ms. Alexis recently “pipped me to the pole” in a local 5K race, so it’s good to know the chick who very recently kicked my ass racing.  Now I while can keep my eyes open for her “sneaking up” on me in the future!

The “Shoot” was an older section of the trail and very shady with mature trees and mossy green on the trail.  Super sweet!  This photo was in motion, so not as clear as I’d like but still cool! 

Today was a little over 8 miles for me.  Not fast at first but a few fast miles in the middle with the group, then I had to back off toward the end because I was toasted.  But I could breathe much better today and that is a huge WIN.  I was seriously thinking I’d have to go to the doc.  Yikes!  But I’ve pocketed hubby’s inhaler and am feeling decent.  Yay!!

Have you tried any new trails lately?  Do you think all trails look the same so find yourself content to run the same place all the time or are you always up for an adventure?

Last day to enter the Aspareris Pivot Shorts Giveaway HERE.

Happy Adventuring!                                                                                                  Amanda – TooTallFritz

Courage……

You may feel like dwelling on your limits or your fears. Don’t do it. A perfect prescription for a squandered, unfulfilled life is to accommodate self-defeating feelings while undercutting your finest, most productive ones. — Marsha Sinetar

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic. — Unknown

I have been thinking a lot lately about courage.  As the F’N Running Club grows on a daily basis, I see new people out each time I show up.  This is so amazing to me because these are not people from other area clubs but instead the friends, family and acquaintances of those of us who REALLY love to run.   And you know what, a majority of these new people don’t consider themselves to be “runners”.  They don’t think they are fast enough to keep up and they don’t want to hold up any of the “real runners”.  I say, BULLSHIT come out and join us because everyone is welcome, regardless of pace.  We all had to start somewhere and I some of us started pretty far down on my their own run/walk program.

Do you remember your first group run?  Were you scared?  How long was it that you thought about joining a group before you actually showed up?  Or are you still thinking about it?  I am personally trying to think back to my first group running days to re-experience those feelings and it is hard for me to go back there because I have a crappy memory.  Honestly, I know I had to be terrified.  I know this because I get butterflies driving new places even though I now have EVE,- my in car gps to guide me.  I know these new people are terrified and give them so many props for sucking it up having the courage to come out.  So congrats to our new runners who continue to show up.   And if you have not yet been able to get up the courage join us, I encourage you to give it a try.  I can’t guarantee it will be easy, but it will be worth it.

Today was a tough one, we ran the Hickory Creek Extension off of Old Plank Trail.  Can you say hills?  Lots of rollers.  Here is our F’N Running Club group for today:  Susan, Nicole, Suzanne, Angela, April, Jeni, Jennifer E., Jenny G., Kim, & Paul.  

It was an absolutely glorious day to run.  The temp was about 24 when we started, it was daylight and we had an awesome group of runners and run/walkers.  We broke into three groups.  A 9:30 group  and a 10-10:30 group that went 5 miles, then a run/walk group that went 3 miles.  I want to give my friend Kim a HUGE shout out because by her committing to come and lead the run/walkers, we actually had three show up.  On the drive over, Kim downloaded the Nike+ Run App to her phone so she could flip the group at 1.5 miles.  Thanks, Kim.  I know this was your first group run EVER today and I’m sure you too were scared but I really appreciate your showing up and helping us out!  You did AWESOME, totally rocked the run/walk and we want to welcome you to the F’N Running Club!  Whoooooop!  Today’s Run/Walkers:  Jennifer E., Kim & April

Since today was such a glorious day,  plus it was recovery day at a slower pace, I stopped for a billion lots of photos.  Here is a pictorial account of the Hickory Creek Extension.   9:30 Group:

 10:00 Group: 

 Bridges, Hills, Water, Tom-Foolery Running:  Ladies….PLEASE stop and sit on this bench to stare into the sun with me?  Angela, Nicole, Me & SuzanneTurn Around, Angela & Suzanne  10:00 Group approaching the turnaround:  Paul & Jeni

Another great run today!  Congrats to you if this was your first group run.  I know it was hard to have the balls courage to show up, but you did.  Come back.  It will only get easier from here on out.

As for those of you who want to join us but are scared.  Please know that EVERYONE is welcome.  If you let us know before hand your pace/goals, we WILL find somebody at your level to keep you company.  You will have fun.

Happy Running,                                                                                                                 Amanda – TooTallFritz

Run Envy……

I am absolutely GREEN with envy knowing that I am not out enjoying the first run in the snow with the F’N Running Club.  Ugh!  Happens to all of us Mom’s, right?  We sacrifice what we want in order to make the family work…..or be available so Daddy can pull some OT on a Saturday.  This is why I don’t see many of you on Saturday mornings, cuz 99% of the time Daddy is working so we can make the house payment.  Obviously, him working is slightly more important than my running but it doesn’t make it any easier on Ms. TooTall!  So in an attempt to not feel sorry for myself too bad about sitting inside, I dug up a photo of one of my favorite snow runs. 

This photo is several years old…….a grassy trail that is part of the Hickory Creek Extension off of Old Plank.  I would have never ran a grassy trail had it not been frozen and snow-covered.  It was taken on Jan 13, 2009 and one of my last Saturday runs before the doc cut me off from running since I was actually preggo with Mr. Michael.  Hubby wasn’t working this day because business was slow and they were down to 4 days a week which allowed us plenty of extra time for baby making.  I showed up for a group run and I was the ONLY one who didn’t wimp out had gotten “up and out”.  Since I was there, I ran anyhow.  So glad that I did, this was a perfect day and it is a great memory.  I really do enjoy the snow.

Today is not even close to being the same.  We only have a slight dusting thus far but the snow continues to fall magically.  It would be nice to get a little accumulation so we the kids can go out and play.  Here are a few photos from the yard.  Lots of zoom action on this photo, the girls were all the way in the back of the yard, by the field….the tree line is a creek.

Across the road looking toward a different field.

If you were fortunate enough to get out this morning and happened to grab a pic of the snow dusted trails, send it to me or post it on the TooTallFritz facebook page!  What are your favorite running conditions?    Do you find the beauty in all the seasons or are you just a fair weather runner?  Tell me!

Cheers,                                                                                                                             Amanda – TooTallFritz                                                                               amanda@tootallfritz.com