Midwinters Cruise 5K – 2013 & My Achilles Heel….

Each year in January, I look forward to a small 5K hosted by the Park Forest Running & Pancake Club,  called the Midwinters Cruise.  It’s the only race I normally do in the winter months and I run specifically to show support for my local runners.  Its no secret that I like small, local races.  It’s no secret that LOVE my local running clubs.  Its no secret that I want to meet as many runners as possible.  Its hard to show support and meet new people while sitting home cuddling my lil ones …… even if it is only 11 degrees with a negative wind-chill upon waking!

Kim, Nicki & I (in the middle) hauled it up and out to run in the cold!

Midwinters Cruise_2013_kim me nicki

Since I run this race each year, I’ve already “reviewed” it.  If you want additional info, look to last year’s review HERE.  The race has a cruise theme and a tropical vibe.  Some runners and members of the hosting run club wear grass skirts, flower leis, and funky hats during the event.  The rest of us were buttoned up to our chin trying to stay warm.  The temps did rise to about 15 degrees prior to the 10:30 am start but the wind-chill was still a factor.  No big deal, the course is a double loop so the direction changes quickly. If your cold one minute, just hang on and you will soon round a corner to find the wind at your back. 

This event offers a few unique factors beside the tropical theme.  They always offer a non-traditional SWAG item.  This year it was gloves with their logo and you got to choose between black, red, blue and grey.  I was feeling the red.

Midwinters Cruise_2013_gloves

They have pancakes, breakfast sausage, coffee & Gatorade upon finishing.  Then they present raffle prizes from local businesses and loads of age group awards so that as many people as possible walk away with something.  This year the age group awards featured a sailboat.  See Maggie from Mag Mile Runner with the award for her age group win here:

Midwinters Cruise_2013_maggie

Good race.  I’d recommend it to anyone.  And if you are shy about running in the winter, this is a good place to start because you can wait inside until the very last minute.  In fact the race officials will make a call and usher you out to the start.  No need to worry about getting outside early in fear of missing the start.  Once everyone hits the start line, the race begins promptly without much fuss. Run, then as soon as you are finished, you can head right back inside.  Chip timing, easy parking, good food, great awards.  Win, win!

This race didn’t exactly fit into my training schedule this year but I went to show my support.  I had been having some shooting pains on the inside of my right heel so was a bit nervous about running.  The pain just made its appearance on SAT and I only ran 4 of my 12 scheduled miles.  I made sure to do a little warm up to see if it would hurt while running.  It didn’t hurt so I headed to the start line.  I took it out slow.  No pain, hit the first corner and started speeding up a bit thinking I was fine but I wasn’t.  I had an episode of the shooting/stabbing pain less than a half mile into the race.  I hopped a couple steps and hit the grass to walk it off.  The funny thing is the pain leaves as quickly as it comes.  It doesn’t last, then I think I’m fine …… so I started running again ….. slowly.  No pain.  Then it hit again at the mile mark.  I must say, I’ve never been so happy to have a looped course for a race route!  I just jogged back to the start area and stepped off the course without doing my second loop.  Yep, I took a DNF in a 5K.  Not so awesome but apparently it wasn’t my day.  It has not been fun rehabbing the posterior tibialis tendon, which I tore on June 2nd (2012), and the fact that this shooting/stabbing pain is in the exact spot as where I felt the “pop” of that tendon previously made my decision easy.  I decided to err on the side of caution. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Alexis was busy tearing up the race course and ended up winning the overall female award.  Great job, Doc!  Did you enjoy the pancakes?   Can I see the trophy?  Wonderful!  Now can you look at my foot?  I mean, it’s not like it’s YOUR day off or anything, right?   And thanks, Maggie for catching the Doc in action!

Midwinters Cruise_2013_alexis & my foot

I ended up in her office first thing this morn.  It’s kinda a mystery as to what I did cuz I didn’t “do” anything.  It doesn’t hurt when I run or walk; I just get these random shooting pains that are unbelievably painful but also very brief.  My sensitivity is where the Achilles tendon attaches to the inside of my heel bone.  She did a few therapies & taped me up:

foot_black heal tape

I went to work and have been enjoying the random shooting pains all day.  Then my foot started to go numb, then my calf started to go numb & now the back and sides of my knee are in the pins & needle stages of numbness ….. what’s next?  I keep getting up, stretching, and holding the numbness at bay but I’ll be honest, I’m a “bit” nervous.  Hmmm…. how’s this one going to turn out and can we finish it soon so I can get back to my training plan?!?!?!  Pretty please?  I have a marathon to run!!!

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

Park Forest Running & Pancake Club – Turtle 10 – 2012

Turtle 10_2012 flyerWow, what a difference a year makes.  Last year I breezed through the Turtle 10, at a killer for me pace, knocking out those hills at the Hickory Creek Junction like we were old friends.  The fact that I had ran a 20 miler just 2 days prior didn’t even enter my mind as I flew on the downs and attacked the ups.  This year, I knew would be quite different but I wasn’t about to miss one of my favorite events just because I’m out of run shape.  Here I am last year heading out of Hickory Creek toward Old Plank as I  get ready to tackle the last 4 miles (photo source PFRPC).  I remember hitting that clock and seeing 46:xx something for my time and thinking, “This is a good day”.

Turtle 10_2011This year, when I hit the same spot as the above photo, I stepped off the course because I had hit my mileage limit.   I was not feeling at all serene or in control.  I struggled thru the hills and the heat, I walked quite a bit and it took me 55 minutes this year for the same distance.  Not great but I’m still glad that I went.

The Park Forest Running and Pancake Club always delivers a first class event at a very low cost, plus they usually throw in some wacky SWAG and FREE  PANCAKES to all the participants.  The fee for the non-members was a mere $5 for a 10 mile supported event on one of  the most beautiful trails in our area.  Participant numbers are normally low for this event.  I would guestimate possibly 50 or 60 people this year which works well for this trail since it remains open during the event. 

Water and Gatorade stations were located at approximately 3 miles, 6 miles & 8 miles.  The bathrooms were located at miles 0, 3 & 6.  The volunteers were very helpful, friendly and the certified course was marked well to avoid confusion.  There is no chip timing or numbers but they did present awards this year and everyone received a finishers medal.

Overall, this is probably the best bang for your buck on the racing scene.  I encourage you to join us next year at the Turtle 10 to brave the hills of Hickory Creek.  It may not be easy but it will be worth it.  The way this course it set up it is easy to do 6 miles if you are not ready for the full 10.  Myself, a couple of my fellow Frankfort New Lenox Running Club members, in addition to a few others showed up to support the PFRPC but opted to step off after 6.    This race is very informal.  So if you are intimated about the racing scene, this is a good one for you because it feels more like a group run than an actual race and many people treat it as such.  Very relaxed atmosphere! 

Frankfort New Lenox Running Club – Turtle 10 Runners

Top Left:  Jenny G, Lynn, Barb, Kim, Me, Jen L, Kevin, Susan & Speedy Kristin

Bottom:  Jill, Jen E & Sam

Turtle 10_FNRC_2012

The next race presented by the Park Forest Running & Pancake Club will be the MidWinter Cruise in Park Forest, IL on January 20, 2013.  Another great race by this awesome run club.  I’ll see you there.  If you would like a sneak peak as to what you can expect, read my 2012 MidWinters Cruise race report HERE.

Side note:  One of the Mission AthleteCare giveaway items were not claimed.  I let the Random Number Generator draw a new number and Cynde Gillispie (#28)has won a Sun Defeated Continuous Spray SPF 30.  Please shoot me an email with your address, Cynde, and I’ll ship out your sunscreen!

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

Inspiration at Every Turn

Looking for a little inspiration?  Look around you.  Some people see inspiration at every turn, be it a beautiful sunrise (photo stolen from courtesy of Chick #1 – Julie – Ragnar Relays),

Sunrise_Ragnar_Julie 

Children at play,     Michael & Aby_fireman 

Or men and women who are constantly pushing their limits.  I’d like to introduce you to one of those people,  April W.

April W

When I met April at a party in November 2011, I quickly learned that she was registered to run her very first half marathon in July 2012, the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon.  It looks like an amazing race, who wouldn’t want to run it?  Well, probably NOT April since she wasn’t a “runner”.  She wasn’t a runner but she signed up for a half marathon?  My immediate thought was, “Hmmmm…… I wonder if she knows that’s 13.1 miles?   I’m certainly not going to be the one to break it to her!”.  I figured one of her friends below: Cynthia & Jen with April….

    April_11-11

might eventually shed light on the situation and the distance since they were running too.  Maybe?

Over the course of the evening and a couple hundred vomit inducing glasses of wine, I learned that April was going to start training for her half in January.  Like after the new year?  Like everyone else who decides to start something new but can’t quite commit to starting “right now”?  Ok, sure.  I still invited her to come run with the F’N Running Club because we have all levels of runners.  We welcome everyone, fasties and run/walkers alike.  If you want to run, just show up, we are happy to have you and that’s not an exaggeration in the least!  Did I think April would ever show, not really but I’m always hopeful and I tried to be very encouraging and let her know that she would fit right in with the group.

The first week of January, I got a text message from April saying she was ready start running but didn’t know what to wear.  Apparently, I’ll give my cell # to any random wannabe runner after a few glasses of wine.  Possible character flaw?  See the F’N Runners run outside, year round to get a break from our screaming children take advantage of the fresh air.  I gave April some tips on what to wear for cold weather running and told her we just so happened to be running the very next day and she should come out.  And she SHOWED UP along with a lot of other crazy people.  This was January 8, 2012.  April is in the light blue jacket, middle back, wearing a black hat.  This is her first run of the year.

april_hickory-creek_group_1-8-11

I was so proud of her and several other newbies who had showed  up on that cold January day that they were the inspiration for my post on Courage.  I can’t even tell you how proud I was that she had the courage to show up.  I hope that I did her and the other newbies justice in the “Courage” post and I hope it gives others the courage to get out the door and try something new. 

April didn’t give up.  She didn’t lose motivation when the new year faded.  She just kept showing up and pushing her limits.  Left middle back, black hat.

april_1-11-12

She was even running solo without the group.  She was strong and had the will to Make It Happen.

april_1-13-12

And she started racing (right side, black vest, pink top, black hat), first up was the Midwinter’s Cruise 5K:

midwinter-cruise-2012_group 

Then the Shamrock Shuffle 8K (middle, black hat):

April_shamrock 2012

And the Soldier Field 10 mile!

April W_SF finish 2012

                               April W_kissing SF medal

Next up is the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon on July 15, 2012.  There is not a doubt in my mind, I know she will cover the distance with a smile on her face.

Inspiration lives around us each and every day.  Inspiration is at every turn if you just look and listen.  Take a look around and find somebody YOU know who inspires you to get out the door and keep working hard.  Nobody can do it for you.  Nobody did it for April.  But you can look at others and use them as inspiration to keep pushing. 

Let’s hope April comes back after her half and gives us an insider look into what has motivated her to keep pushing, moving, running and being an inspiration to her family, community and all of us F’N Runners.  Thanks, April!  And the big question, will April keep running after Napa to Sonoma?  I’m betting, YES!

Who inspires you to keep moving?  Remember Angela C? She is another real person who inspires me daily.  If you haven’t already, read Angela’s story HERE.

** Hoping YOU Find Inspiration ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Midwinters Cruise 5K – 2012

Today brought the annual Midwinters Cruise 5K in Park Forest, which is hosted by the Park Forest Running and Pancake Club.  This is definitely a theme race and the “Midwinters Cruise” name insinuates that you are taking a nice cruise vacation rather than preparing to run the frozen streets of Park Forest in January.  Upon entering the school for packet pick up/registration we were given a flower lei just as if you were stepping on board a cruise ship.  Nice touch.

I run the Midwinters Cruise each year for several reasons.  1)  I love the PFRPC.  They are a very friendly group and they are super welcoming to new runners.  They welcomed me on my very first group run many years ago.  2)  I was a member up until this month (renewal time) although I haven’t run with them since Mr. Michael’s appearance and 3)  Please let me out of the house for a Midwinters Cruise in January……anytime, anywhere, I’m in.

Lots of friends showed up today to run.  Lots of old friends were on site or out in the cold managing the race.   All the friendly faces makes the race even better.  Our group today:   Maggie, Me, Aurelia, Judy, Kristina, Kelly, April & Kerry

After this photo a few of us went out for a short warm up.  Then we were called to the start line with 10 minutes til start.  My favorite thing about this race is definitely the pancakes indoor waiting area and bathrooms pre-race.  However, it was cold and windy on the start.  Once we are off, it is the ever so familiar certified course with 2 flat loops then a side shot into the finish.  This year the race was chip timed and as always, they had people calling out mile splits at the 1, 1.5, 2 and 3 mile marks.  The course was well-marked, had signs for each mile marker and one water stop.  It started on time and was a great race.  The temps, which the PFRPC can’t control, were in the low 20’s, a chilly light wind, and the streets were clear except for a few snowy/icy corners.  Thanks for another great race PFRPC!  I’ll see you next year.

The F’N Running Club made a great showing.  Several PRs today for Maggie, Aurelia, Kristina, & April.  This was April’s (bottom center pick with Kerry who is just coming back from injury) VERY first 5K, so technically a guaranteed PR but she totally killed it, especially since she has only been logging miles for 2 weeks.  Yep, first race with only 2 weeks of running under her belt.  Now what was your excuse?    And the center top pic is of me and another former pancaker who has turned IronWOman.  Always great to see Mel, she is an inspiration.   Left pic is of me and Aurelia pre-race.  Love her smile, she always seems so happy.  I like that.  Then that’s Kristina & I on the right.  She likes to race almost as much as me and has just signed up for her first 10 mile race.  I can totally see the marathon in Kristina’s not so distant future.

The pic below is the F’N Running Club members who were able to grab some age group awards.   Great story, each race we have run lately, Maggie and Kelly so far have been neck & neck.  Last race, Kelly beat Maggie by 1 second and this time Maggie beat Kelly by 2 seconds.  Unfortunately, both are in the same age group.  However, this time their was award waiting for both of them…..that’s what I like to see.  Kelly – 2nd Age Group, Me – 1st Age Group, Maggie – 1st Age Group.  Thankfully, I’m much older and wiser and don’t have to compete against those youngin’s cuz they have been kicking my butt as of late.

Great race and so GREAT to get out with friends for some ME time!  Thanks to all of you ladies who braved the cold to run today!

I’m not yet back to 5K shape, ran this race 43 seconds slower than last year and didn’t run hard last year, but I refuse to let that stop me.  I will keep running them and will hopefully start showing better.  If not, I’ll keep running cuz that is what I do.  I had another lucky one in that most of the “fasties” from my age group must have decided to stay home in bed today.  I won the age group with a 24:13, just in front of IronWOman Mel.  I ran as hard as I could run for today so am very happy with the end result, a pain-free FINISH.

This is a fun race, close to home and cheap.  My kind of race.  What kind of races do you like: big/small, theme, town/country course, flat/hilly?  Tell me!

Happy Running,                                                                                                                 Amanda – TooTallFritz

Matteson Dash Into The New Year 5K (New Years Eve 2011)

New Year’s Eve 2011 began this morning by meeting a group of gal pals and participating in a local 5K.  The event was appropriately named “Dash Into The New Year” and was in Matteson, IL.    Meet Kristina, Kate S., Maggie – Run for Pi, Kate LF., Kelly – Running (Kell)ometers, Me, & Kim.Although it was a cool day to most people, it wasn’t bad when you were running, low 30s with a few ice patches on the ground.  The course was flat except for one overpass that consisted of a decent incline/decline that we were fortunate enough to run twice.

We all know that I haven’t run in almost two weeks and I have been bitching concerned since I was noticing daily the snap leave my legs.  Like, I mean climbing the stairs has been a chore.  So basically, I was awake all night and scared shitless at race time.  Kim and I trying to stretch and calm my nerves

I did try to run a little, less than a mile, before race time just to make sure I was loose and kinda ready.  I knew this was going to hurt and I was right.  I took off too fast like normal, but my first mile time was buried around 7:15….yeah, not good when that’s max effort.  It just slid down into a total comma from there.  Hi Maggie, Bye Maggie.  Hi Kelly, Bye Kelly.  Hi Kate S., Bye Kate S….OMG are we almost done?  At the point when I normally tire, I just keep telling myself to PUSH-PUSH-PUSH.  There was no pushing today, it was all about hanging on and keeping my legs moving, no push, no snap……just hang on, pretty please?  I will tell you that I thought the course was pretty good.  I didn’t mind the overpass (x2), I like a course with character, but it was just cruel that they pulled us almost all the way back to the start/finish then made us take an extra little loop to finish off before we crossed the finish line.  Great race but I was “cranky” by then and not amused by the short detour.  But it was super short and quick as far as detours are concerned.

Great music before and after the race, indoor area to stretch and wait for race time, adequate snacks, water & Gatorade but I didn’t see any on course support/water stations.  This isn’t a problem for me but I know some people like water, even during a short race.  There were lots of Matteson police to help with road closures and directions.  Good race.  I’d run it again.

I know that Maggie – Run for Pi, PR’d today.  YAY, Maggie!  Not sure how the other F’N Runners did compared to their norm but they all looked good.  However, those youngin’s stacked the Women’s 20-29 age group so deep that only Kelly – Running (Kell)ometers was able to take home an award.  Here is Kelly accepting a 2nd Place award, she was 1 second in front of Maggie – Run for Pi.  Yikes!

The age groups were deep, 10 years, and two awards were given.  Tough!  My age group was soft today so I got lucky.  I also took a 2nd but in Women’s 30-39 with a 24:30 (unofficial…no chip timing).  Me & Kelly – Running (Kell)ometers with our 2nd place medals.  Whew, I’m looking “soft” and dissheveled….that’s how I felt today too.

And lastly, myself and my girlz, Kristina & Kim.  We were just missing Nicki T. today or we would have all been present.  Kristina and Kim both had a great race, so proud of them for coming out in the cold to run and meet some of the F’N Runners!

All in all, I’m happy.  I knew I wasn’t going to be fast today but it could have been worse.  It felt worse.  The good news is that my feet don’t hurt. I have some tightness in my hips and glutes but my feet DO NOT HURT.  So I’m taking this as a positive.  I did a total of 5.3 miles today with warm up and cool down and MY FEET DON’T HURT.  So we will see what tomorrow bring.  I’m hoping to go out for a bit tomorrow and run very slowly.  It’s a nice way to start the new year if you can manage it.

Next up, the Midwinters Cruise 5K in Park Forest, IL on January 15th.  This event is hosted by the Park Forest Running and Pancake Club.  Super friendly group!  Come.  Run.  Eat Pancakes.  Yum!!  Where is your next race?

Happy New Year,                                                                                                    Amanda – TooTallFritz

Halloween Hangover

I must say that I enjoy Halloween but am happy to say good-bye to it for another year.  Each year it is a fight with the kiddos as to how much candy they can stuff into their faces before I notice convince me to let them eat.  And I must say that it is also a struggle for me in an attempt to not stuff my own face limit my consumption.  I think we did pretty well last night with the kiddos not getting too out of control and I had 3 fun size Almond Joys.  Now, we still have a GROCERY BAG of candy left in the house so we will see how it goes from here on out.

Prior to the Trick or Treat extravaganza, I made a last-ditch effort to pad my mileage close out the month properly.  I decided on a Midlothian Reservoir/Yankee Woods run that would be about 6 miles.  The Reservoir, with a connect to Yankee for 1 loop, plus return is slightly under 6  so I parked my car a bit further from the trailhead becasue I’m OCD so that I got in a few extra steps to make it a full 6.  The intent was for a quicker pace, speedy turnover type running without wearing myself out. 

Since these trails are somewhat secluded in parts, I grabbed my Wrist Saver pepper spray and I was off.  If you need a pepper spray, this one is AWESOME.  It velcros onto the wrist and doesn’t move!  I love it and also attach it to the jogging stroller and/or Aby’s bike when we are running/hiking as a family.  The watch is the Nike+ Sportwatch GPS, another great product for a very reasonable price.  I am of the opinion that all technology is somewhat disposable due to the constant updates and changes.  I refuse to pay a lot for something that will be obsolete before the end of the month.  One of my favorite things about the Nike+ watch is that they frequently update it thru the net.  You plug-in for a charge, or to upload a run, and get a message that a new upgrade is available.  I purchased the watch on the pre-order before it even hit the stores so got an “original”.   They have made SEVERAL updates via the net to add features that were requested by consumers.  I really appreciate this rather than them just putting out a newer and better model that turns my original into a dinosaur.

Midlothian Reservoir:

The Midlothian Reservoir section is pretty short, about a mile, then you need to run a path by Central Ave for about a 1/2 mile to get into Yankee.  Once you hit the Yankee sign, one loop is 3 miles and  you can fly right back to the Reservoir to your car!  Yankee  Woods:

6 miles – 52:15 –  several photo stops and a road crossing x2

“Run”way Fashion – Freebie Alert:  RunGirl shirt from Women’s Running Magazine.  Great Magazine!!  And they give a free shirt with a 2 year subscription.  I don’t wear a lot of freebies but this one fits perfectly!

CWX Compression 3/4 tights.  Yep still wearing them and love them EVEN more today but I need more pink shirts!   Frogger –  I looked and they do have 3/4 for men.  You might want to talk to Mel; I picked these up at Running for Kicks.

Cheers & TRY not to eat too much Halloween candy!                                                  Amanda – TooTallFritz