Taking Back My Favorite Rural Route…

For those of you who have lived in the middle of nowhere country forever, you may remember the time before we had house numbers like the city folk.  Instead of a house number, we had a Rural Route number that was somewhat vague.  Basically the only person who knew how to find us was the mail lady carrier who we knew by name.  Once 911 was invented became more prevalent and people were calling on authorities rather than their neighbors for help, then things had to get more official and we were issued a house number.  I remember the day, it was a major event and I also remember asking “why, our address was going to change?”.  I was told, “so the fire department can find us if we need help”. 

Prior to the change, the local fire department, which was staffed by volunteers, was having trouble finding our homes when a call came thru for assistance.  This was before GPS, smart phones, internet and well, apparently the mail lady wasn’t a volunteer fire fighter.   All our roads looked barren and untraveled like these:

   

Not much has changed for me other than my location.  I now live on a different rural route but still have “the same” barren country roads and a number to go on my mail box.  It may not be for everyone but I like it.  However, one thing that I do not like is that not everyone is a responsible pet owner and I have, in the past, had frequent problems with mean dog encounters.  After getting bit 3 times within less than 4 months, I altered my running route, a lot. 

         11/24/10                               12/24/10                      3/26/11     

Over the last 18 months, I have just been circling between my house and my friend Nicki’s house in case I have a problem.  I also now carry my cell phone when I run, which sucks doesn’t leave me as “unplugged” as I would like and I carry a Wrist Saver Pepper Spray.  Today, I was determined to take back my favorite rural run route so I strapped on the Wrist Saver because I was nervous to be safe.

WristSaver_pink_me

I also like that it is reflective, which is good since I frequently run in the dark.

WristSaver_pink_reflective

As you may have guessed, I had abandoned my favorite route because one of the roads in route is where all three biting dogs lived.  Amazing that with the distances I run, all three dogs just happened to live on the same road within a mile of my home.  Awesome.  So I eliminated the road in question from my running routes, which was inconvenient to say the least.  I felt as if I had been warned and I felt the need to heed the warning but now, I’m taking my rural run route back!

I actually think that all three dogs are now “gone” but that didn’t make me feel better as I headed out the door this morning.  What did make me feel good is that I was back on familiar territory, just planning to run around “the section” and it is a perfect 4 mile loop with varied terrain.  I love that I get a few small hills/inclines in the run and they are hardly even noticeable in the dark!

I made it without anything exciting to report and that’s GOOD news!  A rooster crowed and scared took me off guard, the coyotes were howling, and a blanket of thin fog hung in the air to make it a particularly dark run.  The temps were 48 degrees and I was in my glory.  Perfect running weather on my perfect rural run route.  I’m a happy gal today!

4.11 miles – 9:05 pace

Do you have any running routes, which you love, that you had to give up for a period of time?  Why?

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

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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

Running Alone In The Dark….

I haven’t had the pleasure of running in the morning for quite some time.  Shortly after the marathon last year, we moved Mr. Michael into a “big boy” bed.  The idea was that I had been spending a lot of time in the rocker sitting beside his toddler bed and I was EXHAUSTED.  So we moved the lil man into a full size bed, which we put on the floor cuz he was so tiny and I feared he would fall out and get hurt.  During the bed swap I prayed that he would have the space he needed to stretch, turn & flip throughout the night without waking but apparently that wasn’t the real problem.  He really just wants his momma with him all the time.

So for the last 6 months, I have been floating between beds, half asleep, confused,  and not sure where I am when I awake.  I just follow the screams for “momma”.  This has left zero very little time for morning runs.  Frequently, hubby has to wake me up because I’m still sleeping in Michael’s bed when he leaves for work.  Not good!  But things have been changing over the last month or so.  My lil man is sleeping til about 5:00 or 5:30 am before he bullets out of bed to start his day.  And most importantly, he is sleeping for longer stretches at a time.  Good, Great, AWESOME!  So I decided to try to start adding the morning runs back into my routine. 

How do you feel when you haul your ass butt out of bed to run alone in the dark?  Are you scared?  I am!  I never used to be but dang, with each year of age, I think I develop a bigger pile of nerves.  Thankfully I live in the middle of nowhere so traffic isn’t an issue.  We don’t have any a lot of creepy people roaming our country roads, so basically it’s just me, the coyotes and any unleashed dogs that decide to give chase.  Ugh!  I’ll take the coyotes before those biting dogs any day! 

There weren’t many stars out this morning but everything was clear and still frozen.   Thankfully I had the light of the moon since I couldn’t find my knucklelights.  The road was actually well-lit with this lopsided moon. 

I tried not to focus too much on the moon since I didn’t want to fall into a hole, or off the side of road, while obsessing looking toward the sky.  So I just tried to focus on running an even pace in the middle of the road.  I have a default pace when I’m tired, grumpy, can’t see, scared or it’s dark:  9:30.  I’m pretty sure that my pace for 4 miles this morning was a 9:28ish.  That’s my pace.  My comfort zone.  The spot I go back to when everything else is uncertain.  Running in the dark is very uncertain.  So many things can happen.  I wouldn’t recommend it.  However, if you are trying to get more time out of your day and need to run in the dark, here are a few tips:

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Don’t use an ipod and if you do because you too hate hearing coyotes kill other creatures of the night, then only use on ear bud and keep the volume low.
  • Run against traffic so that you can see the drunken madman swerving all over the road and be prepared to dive into the ditch.
  • ALWAYS assume the vehicular traffic CAN NOT see you.
  • Wave to cars like a happy idiot as they pass you.  This will foster a sense of community between you, the runner, and them, the driver.  They will start watching for that “idiot runner” when they are driving to work.
  • Take your cell phone.
  • Tell somebody your intended route or leave a map by hubby’s coffee pot.
  • Avoid routes with unleashed  aggressive dogs/pets.
  • Always trust your gut feeling, if it feels wrong it is wrong.  This FREQUENTLY changes my route. 
  • Carry pepper spray or something with which you are comfortable using if you need to defend yourself.  I like the Wrist Saver from Personal Savers, they have a pink one now!  Here is a pic of mine:

Check out the link HERE on how to defend yourself with pepper spray!

  • Wear reflective clothing, multiple items.  I don’t even buy clothing without reflective accents.
  • Use a headlamp or KnuckleLights.
  • Be ready for anything.

Ideally, it is always safest to run during the daylight hours and with a friend if possible but as a mother, wife, full-time employee, runner & triathlete, that’s not always possible for me.

Do you any have any running in the dark tips?  Anything I missed?  Help me out!

Happy SAFE Running!                                                                                                 Amanda – TooTallFritz

Is Winter REALLY Coming?

I feel as if the entire winter we, here in the midwest, have just been banking our miles, saying our thanks for good weather and waiting.  We know the snow is coming.  We know this means slippery or impassable trails that will slow and/or hamper our runs.  We know that road running is in our VERY near future.  The weather people say that winter is coming tomorrow, in the form of snow.  Supposedly, we will be getting real snow in the form of 1 to 10 inches.  Way to narrow it down, thanks, I’ll just schedule my snow day now NOT.

In preparation for the possible 10 inches of snow, hubby gassed up the snowmobiles and made sure that they would start easily for Ms. TooTall.  My personal preparations were to make sure I got groceries in a good run.  I certainly don’t want to be snowed in wondering when I’ll get to run next, so while all of you were duking it out at Jewel, I hit the trail.  I wanted my first 4 miles to be 8:30-8:45 so needed to get to the trail early to ensure that could happen.  And once again, it was daylight.  This makes me super happy!  I actually grabbed my music today too, which is very unusual for me but I wanted to push and thought it would be a good distraction.  Sorry about the ear buds coming out of my bra.

Then I hit the trail for some fastish miles with photos squeezed in between, and 2 phone calls, and some txt messages.  So my mile splits were all over the place due to the above:  Mile 1:  8:35, Mile 2:  9:19, Mile 3:  9:07, and Mile 4:  8:51.  I know this looks like a pacing fail but the following pics were taken, in addition to the phone calls, etc. 

As you can see the light is diminishing, which means it is almost time to meet my F’N Running Club!  Whooooop!  So I busted it back to Frankfort with my ipod blaring camera tucked away.

We had another AWESOME group show up for a Wednesday night run because they too were afraid of the impending snow storm.  The F’N Running Club Ladies, Top:  Maggie, Dawn, April, Michelle, Kathy, Aurelia, Susan, & Cathie.  Middle:  Kate LF, Megan, Jeni.  Bottom:  Me & Diane.We had one guy tonight, and here is the proof.  Brian F. posed with us in the front and I bet he can’t wait til Brian P. is fixed up and ready to run again

In light of recent events, on a different trail far away, we took a few seconds to remind everyone to be safe, be aware of their surroundings, run with a partner, or pepper spray, etc.  My favorite pepper spray comes from personalsavers.com, I like the wrist saverI know I have posted about this before but I like it cuz it fits right next to my watch and is very accessible, not tucked away in a pocket somewhere.  Please be AWARE and SAFE!

And then we were off to run.  As you saw, we had a great sized group tonight!  The group ranged from run/walkers at 3 miles to 9:00 min milers at the 4-6 mile mark.  Lots of in between too!  It was so nice seeing so many of our group on the trail, supporting each other.  Lots of fun and we are really becoming more of a team, trying to help and push each other, rather than just a group who shows up to run.  Nice, I’m proud of all of you!

In total, I had 10 miles in 1:32 today.  Good Wednesday Pre-Snow run!

What do you do before a “possible” snow storm? Do you run, get groceries, gas up the snowmobiles, or put the plow on the truck?  For the record, I did stop on the way home to gas up my car, just in case the snow really does come.

Cheers!                                                                                                                            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

Dogged Endurance

In order to fit everything into today that I wanted/needed, I had to get rolling in the middle of the night pretty early.  I was “slightly” tired since I haven’t slept since I got knocked up with Mr. Michael and the obligatory bathroom-blogger photo showed as much.

A few run essentials, if you are also running in the dark, are pictured below.  The Knuckle Lights are a great product which I highly recommend!  They really light up the night and the roads, so much better than a headlamp.  I am also loving the SPI-Belt since it even holds my humongous DROID phone.   

It was soooooo dark.  The older I get the more terrified  cautious I am in regard to the dark and the road conditions.  Today I was at my parents so had to run on a busy road to hit the less traveled country roads.  Once I hit the first country road I breathed a sigh of relief thinking I was in safer territory.  However, that feeling didn’t last long as I was barely into mile 2 when I heard a rustling in the corn field and “something” jumped out at me and freaked me out started running beside me!  I immediately went for my pepper spray since I had been bitten by 3 dogs in less than 4 months at the beginning of the year was being cautious but this LilWhiteDog was not out for blood but apparently just wanted to run.  I can appreciate that. 

I didn’t anticipate my friend to go too far, usually a friendly dog may run a 1/2 or full mile with me but never more than that before they turn back toward home or get distracted onto a new adventure.  However this LilWhiteDog was in it for the long haul.  I must say that it stressed me out slowed my progress as I was afraid it was going to get hit by a car or that it was running too far for its lil legs, or that it needed water, etc.  I greatly enjoyed the company and he certainly took my mind off the task at hand but I wanted the LilWhiteDog to go home where it would be safe and be loved and be able to rest!  I hit my turn-around at mile 5 and he also made the u-turn.  At this point, I was relieved thinking when we got back to where he initially joined me that he would go back home.  So I ran on thinking that he would be safe soon enough.  I did notice the LilWhiteDog to be unusually savy about life on the road.  He always ran into a ditch when a car was coming, he stopped and listened intently when a “mean dog” sounded its bark, and he just was incredibly intelligent and worldly for such a lil thing.  I was impressed. 

We get back to the road where my friend LilWhiteDog joined me and he kept running beside me.  We hit the busy road and I took my turn and prayed that he would stay but he followed.  I almost cried thinking he would never make it the length of BusyRoad without being hit by a car but he did.  And then he took the turn into the lakeside subdivision with me.  And then he turned into the driveway with me.  And then I closed the door to the house and prayed he would FINALLY go home.  But he didn’t.  LilWhiteDog jumped up on the door and started barking/whining.  Did I mention that the Parents just tore down the lakeside shack and built a NICE new house remodeled the cottage?  Did I mention that the Parents HATE don’t like dogs?   LilWhiteDog found the patio doors/windows to look into the great room.

LilWhiteDog wasn’t leaving.

A couple of hours later we left to go trick or treating and LilWhiteDog chased my car down the road, then stopped and walked back to my parents.

Several hour later we came home and didn’t see LilWhiteDog but then a lady power walking came down the street with a mysterious partner……LilWhiteDog.  I encouraged her to take him home and she laughed.  I was packing up the car and guess who came back.

Auntie Sara was strong-armed decided to take LilWhiteDog home back to Ft Wayne to see if she can pawn him off on one of her friends find him a home, otherwise he will be going to the Allen Co Animal Shelter tomorrow or Monday.  Aby and I are hoping Uncle David falls in love with him she finds him a good home.

Good-Bye and Good Luck my friend LilWhiteDog.

10.04 miles – 1:43:46 – This is super slow for me but I stopped many times to try to get photos in the dark with my flash which was a TOTAL FAIL didn’t work out, then I had to get off the road multiple times for either my safety of that of my running partner, plus I walked in the 7th mile for a little bit because  I felt like it my hips were tight.

“Run”way Fashion:  It was under 40 degrees so I needed long sleeves and went with my Nike Chicago 2016 Candidate City shirt which I still wear even though I’m the only one who wanted to the Olympics in Chicago we lost the bid.

And I tried out the new CW-X compression 3/4 quarter tights, which I really liked! 

Women’s 3/4 Stabilyx Tight – Black/Raspberry

The Stabilyx tights provide optimum targeted support to the core and knees. They’re ideal for activities with lateral motion such as skiing and snowboarding and for athletes seeking our best form of knee support. The patented CW-X Support Web™ bands together the muscles and ligaments of the lower leg to stabilize the knee and reduce vibration for increased efficiency. The CW-X Support Web™ also harnesses the midsection, supporting the lower abdominals, hips and back to channel power through the core. Variable compression facilitates circulation during and after activity, minimizing lactic acid build-up so that you can be active longer and recover faster.

I have been having issues with my hips and knees and just general lower leg aches/pain since the Plantar Fasciitis has reached the advanced stages.  Apparently, I am running funny my form is deteriorating.  I could definitely feel the added support, particularly in my hips and probably the part that I LOVED the most was that I didn’t have to pull them up one time!  That alone was worth the price!!!  I don’t know yet about the recovering faster part, I didn’t have time to lounge in them so don’t know if it really counts.   Photo below is “me” not a “stock” photo.

I definitely look forward to wearing them more in the future, now just wish I had more pink shirts cuz I am really picky like to match.

Cheers,                                                                                                                         Amanda – TooTallFritz