Chicago Half Marathon – 2013

Where to start?  I’ve ran the Chicago Half Marathon three times now & the Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K once.  My first appearance at the half was 2007, 100ish degrees or so it seemed, full sun and MISERABLE.  This was my first half marathon and I think I crawled the last half of the race on my hands and knees then called my friend Lisa on the way home and told her that I was going to give my running shoes to the first homeless person I saw cuz I just wouldn’t be needing them anymore!  Yeah, not my finest hour. 

My second appearance was in 2008, 8 days after my first 70.3 triathlon.  It poured rain the entire time.  I don’t mean it rained either, I’m being legit by saying that it POURED rain.  Organizers even had to reroute the course due to flooding.  However, I loved the race.  Had a blast.  Loved splashing thru the puddles for the entire 13.1 miles.  I just kept pulling my hat in tighter, kept trucking along and managed to negative split, which is super rare for me. 

My third appearance at this event was for the 5K, last year, shortly after I returned to running after rehabbing my foot.  The 5K was good but left me feeling as if I was missing out by not running the half.  That brings us to this year, my fourth appearance at the event and my 3rd Chicago Half.  This year was all about being social.  I’m not race ready.  My legs are very, very, very fatigued.  I never fully recovered from the 70.3 which I did in the 101 degree temps last weekend but I went to see friends from the area and out-of-towners who came in to run.  I was hoping to have enough in my legs to run with my friend Jess and to be able to finish with a smile on my face. 

Jess & I in our neon yellow/pink outfits which we put together as an excuse to buy around the Pro Compression sock of the month!

Chicago Half_2013_jess me    Chicago Half_2013_socks-shoes

Unfortunately, I screwed up on parking and missed seeing a lot of people pre-race but instead hustled to the start line in an very un-TTF like fashion.  The start was crowded.  They had 3 corrals but I’m not really sure who made the cut to get into those corrals.  Jess and I were back with the masses and let me just say that it’s been a while since I’ve started a race without a corral and it’s just not fun.  My apologies to all of you who do it each and every race.  Wow, such a mess. 

This half had around 14,000 people so not a big race by Chicago standards.  The key to running these type of races is to either get out early, hit it hard and run away from the crowds, or settle in and just go with the flow.  We were in the “go with the flow” mode as both of us were feeling less than perfect.  I really only had one goal for this race and that was to hang close to Jess for as long as possible.  I didn’t know if I would be able to with as bad as I felt but that was the goal.  Have to have at least one goal, right?

I was super happy when we finally made our way out of Jackson Park  and onto Lake Shore Drive (around mile 3.5) because I knew the road was wider and the crowds would thin a bit. 

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I snapped a few photos early on and ironically, someone snapped a photo of me in the process.  I always like seeing what’s on the “other side” of the camera so here is an example.  I’m attempting to take a photo of the lakefront while running.  Derek, a fellow F’N runner (gold shirt), somehow managed to spot me in my neon outfit the crowd and simultaneously snapped a photo of me!  Love this!  Thank you, Derek!

Chicago Half_2013_me taking photo Chicago Half_2013_water photo

The crowds did start to thin and I was temporarily distracted watching for my fast friends heading toward the finish as we cruised thru the miles.  Jess and I were “together” but not really together.  There wasn’t any chatter or cheering each other on, we were putting all of our energy into the run and both of us were struggling.  I was trying to pay attention to where she was in an effort to try to keep our neon outfits in the same zip code a decent pace rather than just falling off to a walk.  My legs were shot and that’s not being pessimistic, just fact.  I was also trying to focus on the positive aspects of the weather:  a nice breeze and cloud cover.  However, the humidity started taking its toll early and I was hitting every aid station for drinking water PLUS dumping water on my head and chest.  I was completely soaked by mile 5 or 6.  And still hot.  And still thirsty.  I was also slightly alarmed by how badly the runners on the other side of “The Drive” looked.  The runners who were fast and almost finished.   They looked like death and not the smooth fast machines which I normally see at this race.  That certainly was a call to me to pay attention to my hydration since I would be out there much longer than those fasties who were already headed toward the finish.

Once I hit the turnaround, I tried to briefly pick it up but that lasted all of a 1/2 mile before I wilted even further and just settled into whatever pace I could manage.  I just kept focusing on the finish and kept myself moving with the mantra, “pump your arms and your legs will follow”.  I said that over and over and over to myself between miles 9 and 12.  Once I hit 12, I refocused on finding Jess so that we could run in together.  Not sure that she cared but I wanted to be with my neon run twin her at the finish.  I was chuckling internally as we cruised thru that last mile, weaving around person after person.  Even the short 1/4 mile shoot to the finish was crowded and it was somewhat difficult to stay “together”.  However, we did manage to finish together, side by side, and even had the exact same finish time so it was a successful mission in my book! 

The completion of the 2013 Chicago Half in conjunction with my finish at the earlier 13.1 Chicago qualified me for the Windy City Challenge medal!

Chicago Half_2013_medals Chicago Half_2013 medal   Windy City Challenge

This is really a great race.  Yes, it’s big.  Yes, it’s crowded.  However, the view of the lake, the city and being able to see the rest of the runners both in front and behind you, is really cool.  The support from aid stations is incredible.  The volunteers are lively, call out your name, encourage you, and have endless supplies of water & gatorade.  Lots of potties too!  Lots of medical support.  Lots of spectators.  Some on course entertainment.  Pizza, beer & a band at the finish. 

If you are into swag, the shirt was super cool this year.  It was the ever popular Helium brand, gender specific in a bright orange color with the Chicago Half logo. Bonus – it actually fits &  I’m wearing it right now.  LOVE it and am dreaming of cooler temps where I can actually wear long sleeves for running!

Chicago Half_2013_swag

See you next year!

** Run Chicago ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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CrossFit Day 13 – Handstand Push-Ups!

Great quote on the white board this morning.

“Even if you are dead last every single WOD, remember that you finished the same WOD as the person who finished first.  Yell “TIME” loud and proud, you did it!”

Love that.  CrossFit, and any fitness activity, is about improving oneself.  Push hard and compete against you. Try to do better than yesterday and move forward with a good attitude, being confident that the person you see in the mirror tomorrow will be stronger and tougher than the one you see today.  This is all about you, don’t worry about what anyone else is doing or how quick they may be doing it.  It doesn’t matter if your activity is walking, running, biking, swimming or maybe CrossFit.  Do it for you.  Compete against you.

Today’s workout began with two new moves.  Handstand Push-ups and Kettlebell Swings.  Yay!  I’ve wanted to work my way up to handstands since I first saw my friends and fellow F’N Runners in this photo below (April 2013).  From left:  Jeni H, Amy C & Tina B.

Handstands_CF NL

I saw this photo via Facebook months before I started CrossFit.  I was green with envy.  These ladies are normal people.  They aren’t big and muscly and nobody would probably pick them out of the crowd as being overly “strong”.  They are moms who run.   Ladies I know.  Regular people like you and I.  If these ladies can do it, so can I.  So can you.  But as with everything, we have to put in the work.  These ladies obviously did that.  Wow.  This photo is what convinced me that CrossFit was something I needed to add to my life.  I’m not saying that I’ll ever be coordinated and/or strong enough to replicate this move but I’ll never know if I don’t try.  I learned a long time ago, never say never.

Handstand Push-ups – They are just as they sound.  Kick up into a handstand, then dip down to do a push-up.  Took me a few times to be confident enough to actually kick up with enough force to actually stay up but it was something that became more comfortable with each attempt.  The goal was to do the handstand, then 10 push-ups, then kick down.  Here I am below.  Yes, I always wear my Aspaeris Pivot Compression Shorts and Pro Compression or SLSTRI  Compression Socks to class.

Handstand Pushup  Handstand Pushup 2  Handstand Pushup 3

I couldn’t dip down very far for the push-up but it’s a start.  I also wasn’t able to complete all 10 before I lost my balance and had to kick out.  I did make 9 on one attempt though!  Super excited!! 

Kettlebell Swings are super fun too!!!  Demo below.  I added the last photo too because the range of motion isn’t complete until the kettlebell is above the head.  Sequence from Todo Entrenamientos and then the lady in blue is from South Coast CrossFit.

kettlebell-swings    kettlebell swing_vertical_South Coast Crossfit

After the new moves, we did a quick “2 minute AMRAP” (as many rounds as possible) workout of:  Box Jumps (12” box), Abmat Sit-ups, Squats & Ring Rows.  2 minutes on each activity, doing as many as possible in the 2 minute timeframe. 

Done.

Anything you are excited to tackle in your upcoming workouts?  Maybe your first 20 miler of marathon training?  Handstands in CrossFit?   It’s a beautiful things to watch the progress of a good training cycle.  Be proud!!

** Getting Stronger ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Pro Compression Trainer Low Socks Winner

 

Pro Compression _logo

I’m still wearing the awesome Pro Compression Trainer Low socks and am happy to be able to share them with someone else!   Over the last couple of weeks, since I first tried the Trainer Low socks, I’ve accumulated quite a few.  I now have 4 pair of the white, 4 pair of the purple and 2 pair of the pink.  Today, I am sporting the pink trainer low’s while I live life, work, sit at my desk and commute back and forth to the city.  At least my feet are happy, even if it’s snowing AGAIN.

Pro Compression Trainer Lows_pink

I was asked by several people in last week’s comments about these socks.  They are slightly thicker than the Pro Compression Marathon (tall) socks.  The foot bed, particularly the grey area, has a bit of padding that makes them softer.  They have a cushioned feel that my Marathon socks do not possess.  In fact, when I put the Marathon socks on with my trainers, I need to adjust the laces because they are thinner than my normal running sock.  However, I don’t have to make adjustments when I wear the Trainer Low socks.  Although they do not feel thick, they are thicker than the Marathon socks.  This is good in my world but I wanted to point it out for those of you who asked since I know we all have different preferences. 

NOW  …… The winner of a free pack of Pro Compression Trainer Low socks is #69, SeeMommyRace!

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Congrats, Melanie!  Please email me at amanda@tootallfritz.com with your color/size preference and your mailing address. You can reference the size chart below to get the proper fit.

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The rest of us can use the $5 off & free shipping discount code to purchase more of the Trainer Low socks.  The $5 discount brings each 2 pack of the Trainer Low’s to $20.  The code is:  TTF   Shop HERE.

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Pro Compression Trainer Low Socks Review & Giveaway

I’m a bit of a sock snob.  I only have a few brands in my drawer and I don’t go outside my favorites because it ends up being a waste of money.  In fact, Aby has a drawer full of running socks that are “Momma’s rejects”.  Some socks are just too small for my giant feet, others don’t fit properly, some slip, some I just don’t like but for no particular reason.

Therefore, when initially discussing Pro Compression’s Trainer Low socks, I wasn’t excited.  In fact, I wasn’t interested.  However, as my long runs progressed in distance and the trail became snowy and uneven, this created additional stress on my already damaged feet.  I reconsidered the Trainer Low.  I figured if I could get more support for my feet and in particular, the tendon that I’m rehabbing, it would be a good thing.  Less foot pain is always a good thing, right? 

Enter the Pro Compression Trainer Low.

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My first impression when they arrived in the mail was, “Hmmmm, they aren’t No Show socks”.

Brooks Adrenaline 13_green

My second impression was, “Wow, these things feel pretty good!”  And I basically haven’t taken them off since.  In fact, I had to order more because I was wearing dirty socks.  Dirty socks to work.  Dirty socks to workout.  Dirty socks.  Yuck.

These would be the only socks in my arsenal that are NOT “No Show”.  If I’m not wearing full compression socks, then I wear No Show socks.  No Show socks with a tab so they don’t slip.  No exception.  Until now.

These socks hug the foot in true compression fashion but are not tight.  They have slight padding at the ball of the foot and in the heel.  They are thin but not so thin that I need to fear a short life span.  They are super comfy and just make my feet feel good.  The official description from Pro Compression:

The ideal under-ankle compression sock for running, walking and other activities. Lightweight construction and stabilizer zone increase comfort and provide support you can feel. A great sock for training, racing and everyday wear.

Features

  • Built-in “Stabilizer Zone” promotes balance from the ground up
  • Non-slip design, even after hours on your feet
  • Lightweight construction for incredible feel
  • Blended materials provide maximum comfort and support
  • Moisture control, keeping you dry…even during your biggest efforts
  • Made in USA

An additional benefit to having a little material on the ankle in the winter time?  It covers the gap between my shoes and my tights.  Bonus!  I’m super excited to clean out my sock drawer add the Trainer Lows into my rotation for both running/workouts & every day wear.  Okay, who am I kidding?  I’m totally clearing out my sock drawer to make more room for Trainer Lows.  I’m hooked!

It just so happens that Pro Compression is offering one of you a 2 pack of their Trainer Low socks in the color of your choice (white, baby blue, black, lime, orange, pink or purple).  This is a $25 value.  Each order of Trainer Low socks comes in a 2 pack.  If you are interested in winning, please comment below and tell me your favorite running sock and what it is about them that you love.  For a bonus entry, go “like” Pro Compression on Facebook HERE and then leave a separate comment below stating that you did so and include your FB name so that I can verify.  I will draw a random winner on Monday, March 4th at 9am.  Good luck!!

For those of you who want to buy the Trainer Low socks now, they have offered a $5 off discount code, plus free shipping.  That will bring the 2 pack of socks down to $20!  The discount code is:  TTF    

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** Keep It Tight ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Pro Compression Calf Sleeve Winner

The winner of the super cool Pro Compression Calf Sleeves is #17 – Ali-Lopez.com

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Ali, please email me at amanda@tootallfritz.com and let me know which color & size calf sleeves you would like.  It looks like the current color options are:  black, lime green, pink & white (not pictured below). 

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Please reference the size chart so that you get the appropriate size:

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For the rest of us, it appears the calf sleeves are currently on sale for $30.  We also have a coupon code for 40% off regular priced marathon socks & sleeves, plus free shipping using discount code: FIT40.  So if you miss this sale (or would like to try a pair of the Pro Compression marathon compression socks), then feel free to use the discount code.

Enjoy!  These are really great socks/sleeves!!

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

#Orange_Up

One thing I love about the million blogs I follow are the random contests!  Last week Run With Jess posted a fun contest for the ING NYC Marathon and a charity known as the Orange Laces Nation – ING Run For Something Better.  This charity tackles the fight against childhood obesity.  According to the Run For Something Better website: 

Changing Children’s Lives Through Fitness

Imagine if childhood obesity didn’t threaten the health of so many children across America. Imagine if we could give our nation’s children a way to get moving and a reason to get excited about physical activity …

We can and we are! ING Run For Something Better is helping kids learn that exercise is fun and rewarding. Through our free school-based running fitness programs, ING Run For Something Better challenges children to get active, set goals and start a lifetime habit of physical activity. Each program is capped off with a fun running event involving the school or even the larger community.

Since I am a firm believer that kids need to be active to be healthy, I wanted to support Jess and the Orange Laces Nation in Orange Up Week!

It was an easy task to complete, Jess just asked that we go running in something orange.  Since I had a new pair of Pro Compression socks in ORANGE that I had yet to try out, I was excited!  Plus this week was Halloween.  Plus it’s hunting season.  It’s never a bad idea in my opinion to run the trails in bright orange in October & November!

The hardest part was getting a photo of my ensemble while running alone, in the woods, on Halloween.  This is the best I could do:

Orange Up_TooTallFritz

“Run”Way Fashion:  Orange 2010 Chicago Marathon Nike 1/2 Zip,  Orange Pro Compression socks, Red/White/Gold Saucony Guide 5s which were just released but now on sale in the Last Chance Sale Section at Saucony.com  for $82 because they dropped the Guide 6s.   You can also get an additional 20% off the last chance prices with the coupon code:  20LCNOV 

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It was a beautiful day to be out on the trails so I was happy to have the extra incentive to #MakeItHappen.  I even tried a new (to me) trail spur in Yankee Woods and was pretty happy to be so BRIGHT with all the coyotes wildlife I saw and managed to scare off.

         Bremen Woods_10-31-12    Bremen Woods 2_10-31-12

Do you like, and participate, in the random challenges and contests that bloggers create?  I do because I love having a bit of extra motivation to #MakeItHappen!

** #Orange_UP ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com

Deal Days….

I think it’s safe to assume that everyone loves a good deal.   I recently snagged some good ones and wanted share with you savvy shoppers.  Please note that if you purchase anything that I like, I don’t get compensated, I just tell you about them so that you can be as informed as possible when you are shopping around.

First, due to my schedule with the kids, work and running life, I don’t have a lot of time to shop.  So I rely heavily on the net for most of my shopping.  If I stumble onto a deal at a store, it’s mostly likely because I had to stop in for something for one of the kids.  I got lucky on Friday when I had to hit Old Navy for Michael.  I have tried several of the Old Navy active wear pieces and really like them for running and lounging.  On Friday, they had a deal on their sport bras and GoDry shirts for $10.  I have a couple of an older model, panel sport bra from Old Navy and I love those but have resisted purchasing the new model due to adjustable straps which have plastic pieces.  I was concerned the adjustable pieces would chafe. However between the $10 price tag and the GREEN color, which is my favorite, I couldn’t resist.  Huge thumbs up for this product.  It didn’t chafe with the adjustable pieces or anywhere else.  It fit like a glove but wasn’t too tight.  It also separates “the girls”, which isn’t an issue for me but I know that others have problems with their “girls” when they aren’t separated.  Win!  I even wore it to bed one night and still loved it in the morning.

The GoDry Tee was also a win in my opinion.  It fit well, runs true to size, is seemless, soft and comfortable.  Although, I normally don’t run in tees, this will be a good lounge top for me.  In fact, I wore it most of the weekend when I wasn’t running.

I also recently picked up a bargain thru the  Active Swaggle.  If you aren’t familiar with Active Swaggle and are an athlete, go to that link above in green and sign up NOW!  The Active Swaggle is a deal system which emails you a group of deals on almost a daily basis.  This includes everything from VERY discounted races, to super sales on sport/running/TRI clothes and gear.  This is the “Groupon” for active people.  Join.  There is currently an active deal for the Wisconsin Dells Half Marathon for $40.  A couple weeks ago, I took advantage of the deal on Pro Compression socks for $25 a pair (50% discount – now expired).  I have tried a couple of brands of compression socks, the CEP Sleeves, which I love for running, the RunLove RunningSkirts.com socks which I bought off a Swaggle around Christmas and now these. 

These socks work really well for me.  They are unisex so come in different sizes but I followed the size chart and ordered accordingly.  They are longer than the other compression socks that I have and come all the way up to my knees, plus they have a roomier foot bed so my toes don’t get crunched.  LOVE these!  I purchased the yellow above so I could possibly wear them with my RMHC (Ronald McDonald House Charity still has a marathon spot available for YOU) shirt & red Aspaeris Pivot Shorts (use my 25% discount code:  PC2012)  for the 2012 Chicago Marathon.  I also purchased…..wait for it…..the GREEN!  I ran in these yesterday and they are really nice compression socks.  They are not too tight, I never even notice them while running or lounging.  I am hoping they will put them on the Swaggle again!

I have picked up RunningSkirts.com merchandise on super discount off the Swaggle, Mission Skin Care products, and various race entries. The Swaggle sign-up is free and definitley one of the best deals around to be “in the know” in regards to deals across the country. 

I still think the best deal on the web is the Tough Chik irun tank.  All Tough Chik products are handmade by a local seamstress in California.  The fit is perfect for those of us who have a six-pack UNDER the layer of mommy flab and it is soft, silky and super cute. For $30, you don’t need a sale to grab one of these.  In fact, you can grab the green and the pink and still be under what you would pay for a normal performance top.  And don’t worry, if you have a real six-pack, you’ll still look like a goddess in this top!

Last but not least, if you are a chick, you should also sign up for the email updates from  SkirtSports.com.  They have killer deals that they only publicize thru Facebook and those email updates.  I normally don’t order anything unless it hits the sale rack and I have gotten several shirts on temporary discount for $12-$15.  I have also picked up some of the pricier items for 50% off, like the Happy Hour V-Neck tops that I have worn all winter.   I grabbed a pink & black for $26 each off of one of those email specials around Thanksgiving, see pic below.

Try hard not to impulse buy but instead make good choices for good products based upon the price.  There are deals to be had but not if you want them now at whichever store your shopping.  You have to wait for the deals to come to you then spread the word and share with the rest of us!!

Happy Running,                                                                                                            Amanda – TooTallFritz