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

Positive Community Development…….

Sometimes that little “extra” that you need in your life is not sitting right next to you.  Some of us need motivation to get off the couch workout, run and give life a TRI!  It’s just too easy to be lazy!

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This is why I started the TTF blog, to meet other people who were as crazy motivated as myself and to hold myself accountable.  I am a decent self motivator but it’s always good to think that “we are in it together” and that was what I was missing, a group of like minded people with whom to share my insanity passion.  I did know a lot of people in the running community, and ran on and off with various groups but due to my hubby’s work schedule I was mostly on my own.  I got thru all of those “solo” years with on and off, training partners (Lisa E, Abby S, Kerry C & Shelly O) and the mantra, “If it’s easy, it’s not worth it”.   I pushed forward, not for any reward but solely because the desire burned inside of me to be stronger, faster and better than ever.  I raced a lot to keep from being lazy focused on the end goal:  Staying Fit!

I am certainly no longer alone in my quest.  It seems the last year or so has brought an onslaught of positive community development on various levels.  I credit social media in helping to increase the awareness of fitness groups and new area running clubs, like the Frankfort New Lenox Running Club (aka:  The F’N Runners – photo below).   Plus, the creation of websites like Chicago Running Bloggers brings together like minded people who may or may not have ever come together otherwise. 

So now, as I hit the trial, I see more and more people out there giving it their all on a Saturday morning before the sun rises.  Last week, I saw the F’N Runners, the Park Forest Running & Pancake Club, Tinley Track & Trail, Tri Smart and I knew the Looney Chics were out there somewhere too.  We continue to increase awareness of our groups and develop a massive community to support and motivate each other in life, training, & racing.  We know that regardless of where we go, there will always be a “friendly” in the crowd and for that reason we keep pushing our limits to better ourselves and each other. 

Thanks to all my virtual, real life, and on the run/trail training partners who continue to push me when I’d rather be sitting on the couch. 

Have you noticed the growth and how much more visible the fitness/running groups have become as of late both online and in real life?  Do you credit the internet and social media for getting the word out and helping our community grow?  Does the growth of our community push you to be better?

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

Ryder Shot Eyewear Review

I was a lucky girl and put in some nice miles this weekend while still managing to have lots of fun!  The weekend kicked off mid afternoon Friday with a 29 mile bike ride.  This was an important ride because I just had my bike readjusted and needed the miles was testing a new pair of sunglasses, the Ryder Shot Photochromic, which had already passed the run test x10.  I’ve been running in these glasses for almost a month and we all know from the I Wear My Sunglasses Almost Never post, sunglasses and I normally do not get along.  I want to wear them, need them to protect my eyes but usually pitch them due to poor fit, lighting, or the irritation factor.

I have quite the collection of those which remain but never get worn:

sunglasses

Therefore, I didn’t want to be hasty on writing up a review on the Ryder Shot’s prior to really wearing them, thinking about the fit, coverage, functionality, and using them on both the run and the bike.  As a triathlete, the sunglasses are one of the most important pieces of gear on the transition mat.  They can make or break the bike/run legs if you don’t own a good pair that fit, perform well and protect your eyes.

First, how do they look?  The most important aspect, right?  Okay, not really but….

Ryder glasses-Team Tough Chik bike jersey3 

The above photo is not the best, it’s a direct result of Aby’s photo session at the bike shop on Thursday night, but it gave me giggles after a quick WTF moment of seeing the color “splashes”.  The before/after photos below are a bit better.  I’m a “little” disheveled “after” but still smiling!  Yes, that is the Team Tough Chik bike jersey if you were wondering.

Ryder glasses-Team Tough Chik bike jersey  Ryder glasses-Team Tough Chik bike jersey2

The Ryder Shot’s that I received are the photochromic type which retail for $69.  I’m wearing the silver frame with light grey lenses.  I probably wouldn’t have picked a silver frame myself, not that I don’t like it, I’m just very boring and tend to stick in the black/brown family.  However, these look good and more importantly fit really well.  They are not tight on my face but they hug and do NOT move. 

The Ryder Shot Photochromic incorporates the photochromic technology that automatically lightens and darkens the tint of the lenses according to the weather and lighting conditions.  For somebody like me, who is blind doesn’t see well, this is a huge selling factor because I can’t change my lenses while I’m on the road.  I need the glasses to accommodate whatever the weather throws at me.

Ryder Shots

The Shot’s come in various colors and styles.  The non-photochromic & non-polarized models start at $39, that’s a steal!

Ryder Shots_colors

I also love the nose piece which is soft and rubbery but doesn’t get stuck in my hair.  If I’m talking with someone or taking a photo, I tend to put the glasses in my hair.  The nose piece can be a big issue if the rubber piece get stuck in my hair.  That’s an immediate fail in my opinion but not an issue with the Ryder Shot’s.   You can see in these photos from yesterday’s run at Schubert Woods with Cindy & the Pancakers that I have my glasses in my hair and it’s a win.  It’s a win that they fit nicely on my face when I run, and a win that they don’t stick to my hair when they are resting for a photo op.  🙂

Me&Cindy_SchubertWoods_5-13-12 Me_Schubert Woods_bridge_5-13-12

Initially, upon receipt of these glasses, I was planning to do a list of pros & cons.  However, I have put this review off for this long because I can’t find any cons.  I wanted to make sure that I was really behind these glasses for the long term before I actually recommend something.  I didn’t buy these, that’s a first, so didn’t want to just get all crazy excited over some freebies before I really knew what I thought.  I actually like them, really like them, and you will see me wearing them exclusively on the bike and run this season and for many more to come.  Thanks, Ryder!

According to the Ryder website, these are one of our smallest, most lightweight models. A favorite amongst runners for its minimalist designI absolutely agree that they are light and certainly not only “a” favorite of mine but the only pair I have used for the last month.  They offer UV protection and are shatter proof.  As a triathlete and cyclist, the shatter proof quality is a necessity because things happen and we crash.  Although I have never crashed badly enough to crack my glasses, I have seen others who weren’t as lucky.  Protective eyewear is not a luxury but a necessity.

Please find something to protect your eyes from the UV rays, rain/sleet, bugs and debris.  I was wearing these on the bike on Friday and was amazed at the clarity.  It was absolutely crystal clear that a yellow jacket would have flown into my right eye had it not bounced off my right lens instead.  Scary.  Protect your eyes!

If you are interested in Ryder products, check out the website HERE. The prices are very reasonable in comparison to other sport brands so enjoy the savings!

Happy Running, Riding and TRIing!  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz  ** 

Safety 1st, 2nd & 3rd….Plus Giveaways

Just call me the “fact finder”.  I think that’s an actual paid position for some publications but as a blog writer, the fact-finding job comes down to me, myself & I. 

The fact-finding mission for today was to determine the validity of a message circling our local Facebook running club pages regarding the attack of a woman on the LaPorte Road access trail in Mokena.  Status of the attack = TRUE.  The woman had an incident where a man , whom she had previously seen riding a bike in dark sunglasses & a hoodie, approached her on foot/running and attempted to push/pull/drag her to the ground.  She screamed and shoved him and he ran off.  She was uninjured.  The man was in his late teens/early 20s and has not been found.

The Will County Forest Preserve Police have jurisdiction over most of our trails, including this one.  I have been assured that they have increased patrols and police presence on the trail and they are visible and alert.  In response to the initial emergency call, they had 10-15 officers canvasing the trail the day of the attack; however, never managed to find the attacker.  I was also assured by Mokena PD that although the trail is not their jurisdiction that they are more than willing to back up the Forest Preserve Police for assistance at any time.

If you have an emergency on the trail, please call 911 or the Will County Dispatch so they can dispatch the Forest Preserve Police.  The Will Co Dispatch #:  815.727.6191, program that number in your cell now (pretty please?).  If you have information regarding a situation on the trail that is non emergency, please call:  815.727.8700.

Although I hate to be redundant, I will once again address safety.  If you need additional info or a full-fledged refresher, go to my original posts on safety:  Tips on Running Safety HERE and Tips on Running in the Dark HERE.

Please be vigilant while running and make eye contact with everyone you encounter.  Only use one ear bud with music so that you can hear what is going on around you/possibly coming up behind you.  Run with a friend or a group, if possible. 

Local Group Runs

If it’s not possible to run with a friend or group, then decide how you plan to best protect yourself if necessary.  Think about what you would do if somebody approaches you and tries to knock you down for an assault.  This is not supposed to scare you but help you THINK about what action you plan to take.  For me, I have limited knowledge in self-defense and I have made the choice to carry pepper spray but above all, I am always “watching and listening” to what is going on around me.  For pepper spray, I have chosen the Wrist Saver from PersonalSavers.com.

I know that pepper spray is not for everyone, I’m not saying its the right choice for you but I feel confident in my ability to use it correctly and be able to flee from an attacker with its aid.  Look HERE for the proper ways to use/spray pepper spray so that you will know how to use it, and not lose it to your attacker.

PersonalSavers.com has generously donated a PINK Wrist Saver and a PINK Personal Saver for me to giveaway.  The Wrist Saver attaches to your wrist via velcro (see the pic of mine above), bike handle, or stroller handle for easy access & use.  It also has reflective accents, an id card and a small light.

The Personal Saver has both a key ring and a clip to attach to your waistband, hydration or Spi-Belt. 

If you would like to order from PersonalSavers.com now, use the discount code:  TTF for a $1.50 off your purchase and a free Personal Savers microfiber towel.

Another way that a person (YOU) might be proactive about safety is to take a personal safety/self-defense course.  Dennis Wright Martial Arts of Midlothian has generously offered two slots in his next Self-Defense Seminar to giveaway.  The class is on May 19, 2012 from 12pm to 2:30pm.  If you want to be entered in the giveaway for this seminar, please be local or willing to travel.  🙂  Mr. Wright offers classes in a variety of genres from boxing, martial arts to self-defense.  He also frequently offers self-defense and/or runner safety seminars to area locals for a low price. 

If you know of other locations which offer these type of short seminars, please feel free to share with us!  I would love to start a list of places to call for self-defense training. Let’s work together and be knowledgeable about our options for safety and self-defense!

That was long, I know.  As a reward for getting this far, all you need to do to be entered in the giveaway for the Personal Saver & Wrist Saver (2 items to be given to 2 separate individuals) is make a comment below.  Bonus entry, go “like” Personal Savers on Facebook HERE.  If you want to be entered for the Dennis Wright Marital Arts Self Defense Seminar (2 slots for May 19th at Noon) please do so indicate an interest since this is a “local” perk.  One comment per person, I’ll sort it out.  Giveaway goes from now until Wednesday, April 25th at 9am.

Comment Example:  I would like to be entered in the personal saver giveaway, I “liked” them on Facebook, and I would also love to be entered in the giveaway for the self-defense seminar.

Happy “Safe” Running & Good Luck on the Giveaways,                                                  Amanda – TooTallFritz

Schubert & Sauk Trail Woods Group Run

This morning as I got up to thunder and lightening terrifying my dogs lil man, I was thinking, “Wow, nobody is going to show!” However, the rains soon stopped and we had a nice group show to run Schubert Woods. We parked at the Chestnut Street entrance and invaded the Park Forest Running & Pancake Club’s turf. Fortunately, I used to be a Pancaker and know many of them and they are all very cool and welcoming. I knew they would be happy to have more people “running their turf” rather than feel violated like we were taking over. Today’s Schubert Crew from left: Kim, Lori, Aby (my 10 year old), Aurelia, Brian, Kevin, Matt, Wayne & Mark B (also a former Pancaker who was gracious enough to come and run hard with our F’N men).

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As I have mentioned before, I am really excited about this trail, just shocked that it is so underutilized. It is easily one of the most beautiful trails we have in the area and I feel “qualified” to make that statement as I have been running on the Southside of Chicago since circa 2004 and have covered a “few” miles in that time. My favorite things about this trail include: the foliage that shades you from the sun and gives houses a variety of visible creatures, the constant turns and small rolling hills, and the fact that the trail is newly resurfaced and without ruts or holes which some of the more popular trails have due to so much use. This trail also has a nice sized lake, which you can see at several points, and a few old bridges which I really love.

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All in all, if you can make the trip to Park Forest to run Schubert & Sauk Trail Woods, it’s worth the trip. You won’t be sorry and you will probably see me and a few Pancakers on the trail if you go on a Sunday morning around 8am. Today, Pancaker Alexis joined us, but was too quick to catch on film, plus we saw Ray & Margaret on the trail. I’m sure others, who we missed, were also floating around in the woods. It was nice to see the trail was alive and bustling with activity…….just as it should be.

See YOU on the Trail,
Amanda – TooTallFritz

Taking Back Schubert & Sauk Trail Woods

I know that the Schubert & Sauk Trail woods have a poor reputation due to circumstances beyond their control.  But I have now ran the area 2x and I am telling you it is not only a safe area but also one of the best trails we have in this area.  I was amazed today with the beauty and old world feel of this trail.  There are old bridges made of stone and railings of iron that we just don’t see on our normal trail runs.  This trail is one to be seen and enjoyed by the public.

I have started both times at the spur that begins on Chestnut Street, off of Western Ave just north of Sauk Trail, since that is where the Pancakers begin on Sunday mornings.

I love that I get to conquer a nice hill as soon as I get out of the car!

Each time out, although I fail to arrive on time, I have seen a few Pancakers on the trail and my new friend Alexis.  I saw her in the distance today and had to run a few tangents, and speed up to a pace much faster than I “wanted” to run to get close enough to shout her name.  But it was worth it, we talked and ran a short bit together before she had to turn off toward home.  She did kindly oblige my photo request before we parted.  Thanks, Alexis!  Good to see you again!

After Alexis dropped me headed for home,  I slowed down to a more leisurely pace and grabbed some photos that I didn’t have the opportunity to take last time.   These are all from “The Shoot”, the spur that crosses Sauk Trail at Ashland, runs southwest for 1.5 miles, then makes a u-turn at Steger Road & Western for a return to the loop.

Love the moss on the trail!

The noisiest creature on the trail.

Second noisiest creature.

Back on the main loop, which is 4 miles in distance, I saw lots of runners & walkers out enjoying the day!  Here is a pic of Sauk Trail Lake from the trail.

Cute little stone bridge over a stream.

Today was a very peaceful run and I really enjoyed it.  Although, I enjoy these quiet trails with low traffic, I really feel as if this trail is under utilized due to its reputation.  The trail is safe.  It’s beautiful.  It’s the perfect length with both a 7 and/or 4 mile option.  Let’s run this trail together!  I’m going to set up an event thru Facebook for next Sunday, April 15th, 7:45 am to run Schubert & Sauk Trail Woods as a group.  Let’s take this trail back and enjoy some of our tax dollars!  If you don’t get a FB invite (because we aren’t friends), then please feel free to show up at the Chestnut entrance to the Thorn Creek Bicycle Trail (south), in Park Forest at 7:45 to join us for a run.  If you can’t run, then bring a bike, it’s worth the trip!

See you next Sunday!

Happy Running,                                                                                                      Amanda – TooTallFritz

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

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

Baby, I’m Back…..Or At Least I Can Hope!

Wow, was that a great run today, or what?  First, I just can’t get over this weather.  I have been running in the winter for many years now and this the most mild winter that I can remember.  We have had virtually ZERO snow and it’s been warm this year with average temps in the 40’s til this month (January), and now we are hovering around 30 degrees.  A true gift if you are a runner.  Thank you to our Lord and Savior for this glorious winter so far.  I do fear we will pay for it later with a shitload of snow and freezing temps but feel the need to be paying my thanks now.  Secondly, I felt GOOD today for the first time in…..well, I can’t remember the last time I felt good while running. I am super excited but just trying to remember to focus on building, and strength, and have faith that my speed WILL return.  WhoooooHoooooooo!

Met up with Susan this morn for a couple miles before the club showed.  I was apprently shaking while attmepting to take the photo.  It was early that’s my story and I’m sticking too it.  Since Susan isn’t blury, I consider this a  photo sucess:  We pounded a couple of fast miles then met up with the group.  Love this group.  We had all paces this morning from run/walk (12:40 ish pace) to a solid 9:00 min/mi group with lots of in between.  The distances also varied from 3 miles up to 10.  Proud of you F’N Runners. Today’s Group from back left:  Susan, Maggie, Amy, Nicole, Julie, Don.  Front:  Genevieve (AKA Gennie cuz it’s easier for me to spell!), Diane, & Jeni.

We also took a solitary one of me so that Don could work some photoshop magic.  Awkward.  I’ll post the magic when CrazyBoy has time to work it out. 

After lots of talking, laughing and sizing the sample Team Sparkle Skirt which we are planning to wear for the Shamrock Shuffle but in green we were off to run but not before I was able to capture Don trying on the skirt.  HeHeHeHeHeHe!  Thanks, Don!  And for the record, Don will not be sporting a Green Sparkle Skirt for the Shamrock but is instead wearing a kilt.  Go Don!

We were running from New Lenox to Frankfort today to meet up with some TNT runners.  I was also hoping to get a glimpse of some Pancakers from the Park Forest Running and Pancake Club but I saw them running east toward Harlem when we stopped for the TNT runners so we never did cross paths with those Pancakers.   Group photo in Frankfort after dropping part of our group and gaining some TNT runners.  Since I only know about 3/4 of this group, we were so busy talking I forgot to ask names, I will avoid names so I don’t leave anyone out.  I am hoping Suzanne or Kate can help me out and I can come back and add names later.  Then we took off like a train to make the push back to New Lenox.  Lots of power in this group.  I like the mixing of the groups a lot.  The more the merrier!

And push back to New Lenox we did cuz we were headed to Starbucks for coffee afterwards!  That Skinny Peppermint Mocha was calling my name!  Whoooop!  I was feeling very happy that Grandma Fritz was in town to watch my little ones.  “Grammie” Fritz not only LOVES her grandchildren to no end but also enjoys spending time with them.  So I always know when Grandma is in town it is no problem that I go for an early morning run.  When I saw the crew was headed to SB aftewards, I asked if she would mind if I stopped and she said “why would you even ask, of course I don’t mind!”.  Well, “Grammie”, I just apprecaite you watching my little man, and I know he isn’t “easy” so I just wanted to be courteous but THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!!  And I love you!

For Susan & I today, we had 10 miles in and managed to squeak under that 1:30 mark.  It was barely but we made it in 1:29:52.  So good to be feeling normal again.  I can’t wait to be fully back and running fast and hope that it translates to some fast times this spring and summer.  Now is the time to build a strong base, get strong and blow up those old PRs come spring.  Let’s DO IT!  Things should be fun right now while you are building strength so get out and enjoy this weather and the commaradarie of group running!

Cheers,                                                                                                                             Amanda – TooTallFritz