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

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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

How Far Would You Go To Make It Happen?

I always give props to EVERYONE who makes it a priority to come out and run with the F’N Running Club on a Wednesday night.  I mean, it’s a “school” night, it’s not easy.  I know that it doesn’t fit into everyone’s schedule and am just pleased that people show up.  However, I really have to give it to my friend Kristina who drove all the way from St. John, IN to Frankfort (45 minutes in good traffic) to run with us F’N Runners tonight .  I would like to give Kristina the non-existent “Traveler” award for traveling the farthest, so far, to come run with us.  Thank you, Kristina!  Are you planning to take Kristina’s award from her?  We meet on WEDs at 5pm and usually early SAT and/or SUN morn!  Join us!

We had a great group tonight.  Some of our main players are injured or out-of-town but we had some new faces to replace them for today.  Dark Photo alert….sorry!    Top:  Maggie, Kristina, Michelle, Susan, Kathy, Jeni, Laura.  Bottom:  Kate & Diane

Before these lovely ladies arrived, I was able to squeak in a few miles in the DAYLIGHT.  That’s right, the Winter Solstice passed and Mother Nature is taking us back to Spring, one day at a time! 

Many of us like Old Plank Trail because it is close to home pretty flat.  Here is our only hill, which is an overpass for Rt 45.  It may not be much but still seems daunting when the legs are tired.

I know everything is dead and boring right now but it still looks beautiful to me!  Didn’t make it far before the sun was setting and I had to head back to meet up with those F’N Runners!

The goal for me tonight was to put in some easy, slow miles.  I have had a rough summer/fall and start to winter.  Some fitness has been lost but I am actually pain-free.  I am sore this week, which is unusual but good, right?  I have been busy this week focusing on both running and cross training.  Tomorrow is going to be a rest day cuz my legs feel like bricks, then FRI cross training/weights.  I know I will get stronger and really want to focus on that.  I am so tentatively happy to not be hurting that I’m just really scared the pain will return if I am not careful enjoying being out and on the run again.  So one day at a time, if the pain returns then I will have to pull back again.  I am just enjoying the soreness now and hoping it’s a sign of strength to come!

3 miles taking pics solo, 4 miles with the club & Kristina, 1 extra mile with my girlz Susan & Maggie, multiple stops, no watch pauses – Total = 8.03 miles -1:22:48.

Thanks to you F’N Runners for another great Wednesday Night Run.  Thanks again, Kristina for making the drive!

Happy Running,                                                                                                        Amanda -TooTallFritz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year,                                                                                                    Amanda – TooTallFritz

Winter Solstice 2011

Winter Solstice begins tonight at 11:30 pm.  So what did we do to celebrate?  We ran.  What is my favorite way to celebrate any occasion?  Running and drinking.  I ran with the F’N Running Club then they went to the bar and drank.  At least it was 50/50 success ratio for me and the “celebration”.

Tonight/Tomorrow marks the climb up OUT OF THE DARKNESS toward daylight and spring.  The shortest day of 2011 will soon be in the done column and I’m happy about it.  Although it has yet to get cold and nasty in the CHI, and we have not had any snow, the darkness just lingers.  In fact, according to the numbers we currently have 6 hours and 6 minutes LESS daylight than during the Summer Solstice in June.  It certainly is nice to think about June right now but the current reality is darkness.  Most of us get up, go to work and come home in darkness.  Unless you are retired, or a SAHM with an awesome friend/family member to help out with the kiddos, most of your runs have been in the dark.  I hope you broke down and bought the KnuckleLights or goaded someone into buying them for you for Christmas!

Most of the F’N Running Club does have KnuckleLights, head-lamps, flashers/blinkers, etc. now for safety so we were back at it tonight for our usual Wednesday Night Run.  We tried to make it a Christmas Run but not everyone had festive attire.  That’s okay, 8 people showed up to run in the dark……  Me, Susan, Jeni, Brian P., Kathy, Vera & Maggie

I picked up those festive socks for $5 at Target. Lots of different styles!

Brian F., Jeni, Susan, Brian P., Kathy, & Vera

The group ran between 3 and 5 miles and then headed to the bar at varying paces.  We really enjoyed our visitor from Boston, Vera, who is a long time friend of Maggie‘s.  Had to get a pic of them together.  Those long-lasting friendships tear me up really rock!  Love the hat too, Vera!

4.0 miles – 34:51 for  me, no stops other than for traffic at road crossings.  This will be my last run until the NYE 5K in Matteson.  I have decided that it’s in my best interest to give my right foot a rest.  Although the orthotics and cortisone shot have done wonders in eliminating the heel pain, I have noticed now that the heel pain is gone I also have some other issues.  The outer bone on my right foot is shooting pain when I walk or run.  Although it probably didn’t help that I fell down the stairs with Michael in the dark on FRI this is a set back, I need some time off to evaluate if this is just an aggravation in conjunction with Plantar Fasciitis or if it is something independent.  So, no running til NYE, then we will see how the foot fairs after a fast 5K…..at least I hope it’s kinda fast.

Think happy thoughts for me and my bum foot!  I shall return.  Big things for 2012 and I want to be healthy.

Cheers!                                                                                                                             Amanda – TooTallFritz

10 Degrees….

Ten degrees……the coldest it’s been so far in Illinois for the start of winter 2011-2012.  Wow, it was hard to get my ass out of bed  “up and out” this morn.  The thing that propelled me forward was actually the fact that I had the time, the kids and hubby were out of the house, and I really WANTED to go for a run…… regardless of the temps.  I would have gone had it been below zero.  Yes, I am  a freak weirdo like that.  It was also an added bonus to have a little accountability.  Although my running partners were quickly dropping like flies with the falling temps, there was still several who made an appearance.  Me, Suzanne, Kate, & Maggie – Run For Pi(e)

Today we were joining up with the Yankee Runners as they came south, out of  the Palos Hills, to run Old Plank for a change.  When I hit my usual parking area, which is quite desolate at this time of year, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was filled people…..not just people but RUNNERS!  I bet there were 25+ people out there for a run today!  AWESOME.  But I still was slightly tentative about leaving the warmth of my car.Wow, 10 degrees.  I can do it.  I have this new face mask….it will keep me warm!

There wasn’t any a lot of chatter or introductions, basically we just jumped out of our cars and took off running before we got frost-bitten.  However, I did see Judy F., Frogger, Mark C., Scott B., Cindy T. and a few other people I recognized from Running For Kicks functions or the Park Forest Running & Pancake Club.  Once we were moving, the photos blurred as the lens on my camera phone fogged.  But I still tried!

It was really beautiful out.  We had a dusting of snow, the sun was just coming up and did I mention it was 10 degrees?  The wind was low, we had a headwind going out but coming back in a full sweat I realized I was overdressed like always but it was just a beautiful day.  And as always, I was super glad I went out and got in a few miles with my friends.  On a random side note, I want to thank all of you who continue to come out and meet me to run.  It is sooooo much more fun trying to hang on to Suzanne & Kate’s coat-tails running in a group verses going solo.  Thank YOU!

“Run”way Fashion:  Reebok Compression base layer, long bra top, Athleta long sleeve lined with fleecy flannel which has thumb holes and fold overs for hands (they don’t make it anymore!), then I had a light running jacket on which is a generic off brand I’ve had for years.  On the bottom I had CW-X compression tights plus Athleta Run About Pants in TALL.  I was very bundled without too much bulk, everything fit close so that air didn’t get in to allow the sweat to freeze.  I also wore an ear band, hat, gloves and the new Seirus Innovation face mask (picked it up at Dick’s Sporting Goods last night but couldn’t seem to find it online to link it up here).  So I was really quite toasty after we got running!  You CAN run outside in the winter if you want dress appropriately.

10.03 miles – 1:34, a few stops for photos, a stop for fluids at the 4 mile mark, and a few road crossings but mostly kept it moving.  On days when its this cold, please keep moving so your sweat doesn’t freeze.  That would be bad for your skin.

Happy WINTER Running!                                                                                           Amanda – TooTallFritz

Positive Changes…..

Change is good, especially when done with good intentions.  There has been much debate amongst my friends at the Frankfort Running Club regarding a name change.  Some wanted a more exciting name that would separate them from the crowd, others wanted something a little more family friendly traditional.  I feel as if the “officers” have made a good compromise in arriving at their final decision.  Please meet the FNRC……from left:  Kathy H., Susan D., Brian P., Diane F., Maggie W., Suzanne K., Brian F, Jeni H., & Jessica.

This group will now be known as the Frankfort -New Lenox- Running Club.   So for those of you who wanted a hard core more exciting name, you can still say that you are going to meet the F’N Running Club.  This will allow you to still have fun and give the “officers” freedom to promote the group in the Frankfort & New Lenox areas thru the Park Districts and other family friendly organizations.  Good compromise?    What do you think?  And thanks to all of YOU who have been coming out to join the fun and help this group grow to the point where they felt the need to be more inclusive and welcoming to others!  Way to make it happen!

So the inaugural run of the FNRC brought out an awesome group for a  cold, dark Wednesday night!  I was very pleased.  There were nine people available for the photo, then myself, and two more who showed up (12 total) in time to sprint off into the darkness.  Thank you to KnuckleLights.com for lighting our way in the dark!  Many of us have them now with more people ordering them today so we illuminate the path like a train really light up the darkness.  Hope we didn’t scare anyone! 

We have been merging with an area Team in Training group for many of our runs as of late because THE MORE THE MERRIER!  That is really what I love most about this group.  They are friendly, nice people, easy to converse with and have a great attitude about running and life.  The paces and distances last night varied greatly as some people are trying to rebound from injuries.  The group ran anywhere from 2 to 6 miles as a whole and there were a few of us who added in some extra miles before hand to make it an 8 mile day.  Not bad for a Wednesday.  So proud of everyone for coming out in the cold. 

And it was F’N COLD!  It was 33 with a breeze when I started my run about 4:35pm and 29 when I finished at 6:15.  I literally had to hug a tree to stay steady enough for a photo….the shivers were taking over!

I only ran a little before everyone came and didn’t stop for many photos because you have already seen a billion photos from this trail it was dark.  I did grab one photo of the Christmas lights. 

It was a beautiful, crisp clear night.  Ms. TooTall wasn’t exactly dressed as planned but I improvised with my RunLove Compression Socks from RunningSkirts.com to cover up the extra skin.  They currently have two pair (aqua and purple) of compression socks on the  SkirtSwaggle page for $19.20!  Great deal, along with many other products that are marked way down for the Active Swaggle deal, plus they are offering free shipping with the PROMO Code:  SKIRTSCHWAG …. Not sure how long they will last so if you want some, buy soon.

“Run”way Fashion:  RunLove Compression Socks, Athleta Headwinds Jacket (wind /rain/snow DOES NOT get thru….select sizes on sale now for $49.99), the Saucony Guide 5’s with the 8 mm drop.

I had heard lots of positive things about the RunningSkirts.com RunLove compression socks, specifically them being a great product for the price.    I have a pair of the CEP compression calf sleeves and consider those to be awesome so thought it would be a big step down to move to these but I really liked them.  They are normally $32 each, which is still a great deal but the Swaggle deal is awesome at the $19.20.  I wore these socks all day at work, then ran in them, then home to the kids for dinner, laundry, etc.  I had them on for about 16 hours and didn’t even notice them.  They didn’t move, just continued to hug my calf muscles and make them feel warm and cozy.  A very light pressure, no pinching, no discomfort.  LOVE!

I also have been wearing the new Saucony Guide 5’s with the 8 mm drop.  Lots of hoopla about this shoe.  I normally wear the Saucony Guide as I need a light stability shoe due to a very high arch and overpronating.  My heel is very narrow, like possibly a AAA?  I don’t have many options that lock my foot in place without heel slippage.  As a result, I have been wearing Saucony for many years now so was NOT excited about a big change.  Then the huge ad campaign for the 8 mm drop just made me more nervous.  I am NOT a barefoot runner and I NEVER want to be one, so going closer to barefoot scares the shit out of me.  However, I must say it has been a pleasant surprise.  The shoe is noticeably lighter, the official weight difference is 1.5 ounces, which should seem like nothing but it’s noticeable.  In order to break these in a bit before just hitting the trail, I have been wearing them at night, around the house, after wearing normal trainers all day.  I could tell a difference immediately on the weight and added forefoot cushioning once I changed into these shoes.  Most of the weight came out of the back-end, around the heel and since I am a forefoot runner I don’t need/want a heavy heel cup.  This works well for me.  So thumbs on the 8 mm drop. 

8.14 miles in 1:19.   A few stops to pick up/drop off additional runners, wait at turnaround points, etc. but overall, kept moving.  

Happy Running,                                                                                                                  Amanda – TooTallFritz