Team Tough Chik – The Kit Arrived!!!

This week has been hellish busy but good because my Team Tough Chik kit arrived!  If you have familiar with our “Toughies” you have probably seen pics blasted all over the net over the last couple weeks of Tough Chiks in their new team wear.  Opening the kit was a nice surprise as it not only included our team apparel but also a Tough Chik sticker!! goodies from our sponsors, which ranged from a vacation resort, swim shampoo, bike lube,  Anti Chafing Cream, snack bars, hydration, and a lot of other fun things, some of which I never knew existed! 

Although free stuff is beyond awesome, what we were all awaiting was the team apparel!    I purchased running singlets for both Aby and I.  On occasion, when I beg, she will actually run or race with me in a matching outfit.  This is super fun for me, somewhat embarrassing for her, but always GOOD because as I am running back to find her in a race, people identify me as “THE” mom and tell me how cute she is or that she is running really well, or that she is right behind them.  It works great on many levels.

Here we are below, preparing for a photo after a long, hot run for me.  I wasn’t feeling great, the heat is bad for me and I was drained!  I certainly wasn’t feeling a photo but we were dressed for it, if I could just get her to hold still long enough to get those blonde locks in place!  And what is she doing?  Is that an adapted “SuperStar” pose?  She is always a clown just like her father.

I know I look like hell and that’s how I felt too but let’s focus on the Team Tough Chik apparel. 

This is a large running singlet for me (xs for Aby) and fits perfectly.  Bonus that it feels and looks great too!  this singlet is very similar to the green & pink “i run” tanks from Tough Chik and as you may already know, I REALLY love the style and fit of these tanks.

Here is the green i run tank on South Beach when I was there to run 13.1 Miami Beach!  If you would like to run 13.1 Chicago for FREE, don’t forget to enter my giveaway HERE.

Pink i run tank:

Don’t be shocked but I also ordered a TRI tank.  I can easily say that I have never owned a more attractive TRI top. 

You can possibly see that there is a large pocket (the graphic with the chik) on the back for your gels, phone, etc.  This is huge if you have a TRI bike because once you transition from road to TRI bike, say goodbye to that nifty little under the seat bag that keeps all of your belongings.  Not that you would stop to access it during a TRI anyhow so this large pocket is both handy and very necessary! 

This is a large top and I should have gone XL.  Half of my TRI tops are L and the other half are XL.  TRI tops tend to run small, I should have known better.   When they reopen registration in May, I will order an XL.  That’s right you heard me, they are reopening registration for Team Tough Chik!  If you would like to be notified when they reopen, please click HERE and fill out the form. 

While we are talking about TRIs.  I have gotten a lot of questions as of late on TRI apparel.  Specifically TRI Suit vs TRI kit.  As always, this is really about personal opinion.  I am so tall that I wouldn’t even think to do a TRI Suit.  I also like to mix up my “outfits” so the thought of wearing one suit for every race doesn’t make me think happy thoughts.  However, they are convenient and do well for many people. 

In the past, I have had the best success with SkirtSports for TRI tops.  I wear a large in this brand, the tops are not skin-tight and I am comfortable racing in this top without worry that my mommy tummy is hanging out.  It’s long enough but not too long.  However, since it isn’t skin-tight, if you swim in the pool or have an open water swim which is not wetsuit legal then know that your top will be “floating” when you stop or are turning. 

I’ve also had success with TYR and Speedo (in large).  However, it seems that Craft has made its way onto the TRI scene in a big way while I was on Mr. Michael baby hiatus.  I have heard very good things about Craft but have not yet owned any of their apparel. And I’m currently coveting this Sugoi top but have never owned any of their products either.

I personally have not had good luck with 2XU tops.  I have an XL that is so tight that I can’t even wear it.  If you are tiny, then you will be fine but it you are a bigger lady then I wouldn’t recommend it. 

For the bottom, I always use the Skirt Sports Race Belt Skirt to slide up over my briefs after the swim.  I normally don’t use TRI shorts.  If I do opt for shorts, then I use Peal Izumi TRI shorts.  Since length is always an issue for me, most TRI shorts are too short so I favor the skirt. 

Do you have a favorite TRI brand?  Tri Suit or TRI Kit?  Or more importantly, are you doing to sign up to be notified when Team Tough Chik reopens registration? 

Get out and enjoy this beautiful weather, it’s amazing!

Cheers,                                                                                                                        Amanda – TooTallFritz

Gone Shopping……

It’s Cyber Monday and I have “Gone Shopping”.  I’ll be out for the remainder of the day.  So far I have taken advantage of sales for myself from the following retailers:

Athleta – 30% off using the coupon code:  HUGECYBER

SkirtSports – savings on selected merchandise, click here to view.

RunningSkirts – pretty much everything is on sale and I have been waiting to try their compression socks and a “few” other things.  REALLY hoping Mom still need Christmas presents for me.

I didn’t buy this but if you need a running watch – Amazon has the Garmin 405 for $139!

Walmart also has the Garmin 405 for $139, which is a really good deal!

I hope that you too have a Mom who needs Christmas gift “ideas”!

Happy Shopping!                                                                                                                      Amanda – TooTallFritz.com

Another windy run…..

It’s another windy day in the country.   We are having  25+ mph winds with gusts up to 40 mph……or so weatherbug says.  I’m a “big” girl and was blown all over the road today.  It won’t be getting better for a long time so I need to stop being a wuss buckle down a bit as I’m apparently too soft from running the trails all summer with the protection of the trees.  And since I was running my roads today there won’t be lots of beautiful pics but I did stop and take some anyhow. 

The beginning of the run heads south and the wind was coming almost full on from the south so I only made it about three miles before bailing on to my friend Nicki’s road just in case I needed a ride blew away. 

Then I looped around Nicki’s house again in case I changed my mind for safety reasons.

Due to our location which is out in the middle of NOWHERE very rural but also accessible to some major roads, we have a lot of blind bridges, turns and overpasses.  This makes running any amount of distance almost impossible without eventually approaching one of these dangerous intersections.  Of course, I could always run in a circle around a 4 or 6 mile “section” but basically, I can’t run past my house (or my car) more than one time or I  whimp out go inside and cut the run short.

So I manged to get it in today but it wasn’t easy.  I used some time management skills that backfired.  Hate it when a good plan goes bad.  How do you manage to get it all in…..kids, house, life, work, and “hobby”?  Let me know cuz some days I struggle!

10.2 miles – 1:39.49 – Do I get a wind handicap?  Multiple stops for photos, stepped off road 1x for two large pieces of farm equipment that took up entire road, stopped 2x for busy road crossings, and stopped 1x on busy road to get further off edge as I thought I was going to die get hit.

“Run”way Fashion – last year’s Athleta Hopkinton Top, Hot Choc WIND BREAKER, and Skirt Sport tights.

Run Happy…..You never know what kind of shit will hit the fan when you step back into the house reality.

Amanda – TooTallFritz

Step Outside the Box

As the sun sank from the sky last night, I was just arriving at the Grainery in Frankfort to meet up with friends for a run.  Fortunately, I was a few minutes early so was able to run around like an idiot and grab a few photos.  The first was looking west on Old Plank toward the Grainery  thru the power lines.

Then I ran east on the trail to grab a few photos within a short distance of the parking lot as the sunlight was fading. 

The life around the pond seems to be dying with the autumn.  I think winter is heading our way, like it or not.

I was really amazed at how differently everything looked in low light.  I normally run in the dark or as the sun is coming up and this was a nice change.  I look forward to comparing similar photos in the winter, spring and summer.   I must say one of my favorite things so far about blogging is that I am now making a better effort to document my surroundings by photographing some of the beautiful sites that I take for granted on a daily basis.  God is good.

At this point, the light was fading fast and I jogged back to await the arrival of a few Frankfort Running Club ladies.  Note to the earring wearing crowd, don’t wear french wires while running in low 30 degree temps……ears get cold from the inside out. 

Susan D. and Maggie W. soon arrived and I quickly ushered them into the bathroom light for a quick photo.

After the ladies so kindly obliged my abnoxious photo request, we ran off into the dark.  I just recovered from the stomach flu so the plan was to be short and slow.  I must say this was a perfect run.  I really enjoyed the added dynamic which Maggie brought and I hope that she comes back!  Work & life are crazy, the holidays are coming, then the flu and not that you care but it’s total pandemonium which is on Aby’s spelling list this week  at home with a male, second born, toddler/child in the house.  Chaos reigns.  This run was a great stress reliever that was much-needed and I was thankful to have been along for the “ride”.  In all aspects it was easy, fun, brought about a new friendship and was filled with conversation about living life, making goals, accountability, future endeavors and stepping outside the box of your personal comfort zone.  

I challenge you to try something new……join a running group, train for a triathlon, hike the Grand Canyon, learn to snow ski, register for a road race, just pick something different and MAKE IT HAPPEN.  Muster the confidence to attempt something that a younger, more immature you would have never had the guts courage to try.  Time is of the essence.  Where do you plan to go next?  

Nike+ GPS Stats – 3.96 miles – 36:46 (9:18 pace)                                                                 Garmin GPS Stats – 4.00 miles – 36:46 (9:09 pace) 

“Run”way Fashion – I got a super “one day deal” from SkirtSports on this Happy Hour V-Neck long sleeve.  LOVE.  Can I wear this every day?  Go to the SkirtSports page to sign up for their email deals or check them out on Facebook!

Step outside of “your” box……soon,                                                                                Amanda – TooTallFritz                                                                                 amanda@tootallfritz.com

Hot Chocolate 15K (2011) – Race Review

I find it difficult to take a race seriously which is focused on promoting chocolate or beer, or music for that fact.  However, the RAM racing series made a real effort this year to make this a serious race.  The updates for this year included a new course thru the city streets and a corral system to put the faster runners in a better position to well, run fast.  If you want to run fast then you don’t want to be on an overcrowded lake front path with 500 other people who are all attempting to squeeze thru two water-stop tables “together”.  As soon as I saw the updated course map, I knew this would be a great race for me and a few friends because 1) it would be serious enough for me and  2) it would be fun enough for them.  This was a win/win situation in my opinion:  chocolate, fun and good racing!

The pre-race is all about getting a few photos into position so that you can check your gear and get into the corrals on time.  Most races I run are very formal and I’ve learned the hard lesson that if you aren’t there early, you may be starting at the back!  Here are the ladies who were available for the pre-race group photo….Me, Gail R., Michelle N., Marti, Trisha D., and Nicki T.

After the group photo, we separated and dashed over to Grant Park.   I was immediately impressed with the number of volunteers standing around asking runners if they needed help.  In fact, one of these nice people pointed us toward gear check.  I had two 5K runners with me and their gear check was in a different location than the 15K but they also started the race before me so it wasn’t a problem to get their gear checked and get them to the start before I even had to think about my race.  My only complaint for the pre-race has nothing to do with RAM Racing or the Hot Chocolate Race itself but the poor conditions of Grant Park, which is still recovering from the destruction caused during the Lollapalooza Festival in early August.  Many areas of the park have been closed off since Lollapalooza but it appears they are trying to reopen it.  I would bet my ass hazard a guess that this was the first event, in this area of Grant Park since Lollapalooza.  The grassy areas were very SATURATED with water and mud.  There was “some” grass but definitely more mud and water.  In fact, people kept asking if it had rained the previous night.  RAM Racing did  attempt to combat the problem by putting down plywood to walk to/from 5K gear check but short of covering the entire field, it was useless.  I have gotten less muddy on soggy trail runs than I did just getting these ladies thru the 5K gear check.  Oh well, not the fault of race officials.  So we are off to the 5K start!  Photo Op for Nicki T. and I at the drop off. 

Gear check and the start were in close proximity, there were loads of volunteers to direct us, the port-o-pots where plentiful and things were seemingly organized and running on schedule.  However, due to unforseen circumstances, the race start had to be delayed due to a semi truck getting stuck under one of the overpasses on the race route.  The delay was approximately 15-20 minutes while emergency personnel attempted to clear the situation.  When they did start the 5K runners it was with a revised route to avoid the problem area and that also elongated their race.  In my opinion, there aren’t many good reasons to delay the start of a race while I am out there freezing my ass off on the start line but this was beyond their control.

The 15K gear check was not nearly as muddy, I dropped my gear and left to figure out where I needed to be for my corral.   The volunteers were a little confused at this point as to where I should be going since the 5K was still in staging, and they sent me in a general direction to search out a green sign.   I apparently messed it up but instead found my way close to the start and a “green sign” with my corral letter.  Then I saw the 15K runners start to move up and realized I wasn’t in the correct spot but fortunately, since it was loosely organized at this point, I was able to just jump in with the “B” corral, or what was supposed to be the “B” corral.  I noticed that we had a few extras as I saw several “O” people, a few “A”s, and lots of “C”s.    I was told by other runners that things were confusing and nobody really knew where they were supposed to be, so some just jumped in line like I did when they saw the runners start to move into staging.  I wasn’t real concerned at this point though as I was so close to the start, I knew it wasn’t going to make much of a difference. 

Once the gun went off, we all had to squeeze thru the start banner to cross the timing mat, which only covered half of the street.  I initially thought oh, crap! it would be a problem but it went smoothly and we were off and running very quickly.  Even though I saw walkers as soon as I passed the start line, they never really interfered with the majority of runners and everyone around me seemed to be running a good pace, regardless of the letter on their bib.  It wasn’t overcrowed and I really was able to run as fast as I wanted without too much traffic interference for most of the race.  Of course, it was busy thru the aid stations and on turns but other than that it went well.  Although I didn’t use any of the aid stations, it appeared that there was both water and Gatorade on both sides of the street in multiple places throughout the course.  I saw several spots for port-o-pots but was fortunate enough not to need one!  I did hear the potty lines were long but other than the marathon, I have always had an issue with lines at the on course potty locations.  All in all, I think it was a good race!  I think they did a good job with the updated course and am sure they will continue to improve the race in future years.  My impossible goal was to run 1:15 and I was on target all the way thru, even toward the end until I hit the Roosevelt Bridge, which EVERY race in Chicago runs so I was expecting it.  Well, I basically clawed my way up that bridge on my hands and knees…..it wasn’t pretty….can’t wait for those photos!  So the bridge took me out.  Congratulations Roosevelt Bridge, you claimed another victim.  I finished in 1:16:40 but was happy with the effort although angry with the bridge.

Post-Race, big thumbs up to the Ghirardelli Chocolate!  Very tasty!  They gave us hot chocolate and a chocolate fondue plate with a 1/2 banana, pretzel rod, 3 apple slices, 1 medium marshmallow and I may be missing something but not much.  It was very good but thankfully I had already ingested my AdvoCare Post Workout Recovery drink and a bagel that I had brought from home or I would have been starved and probably getting the shakes from not taking in enough calories.  I always bring what I need for my own recovery because I don’t want to be shaking and vomiting trust anyone to have what I need to recover properly.  After a hard run/workout  you need a  4:1 carb to protein ratio to properly recover and since I don’t like to count calories or numbers at all, I always do the Advocare Post Workout Recovery drink so I am sure to get what I need without worrying about how to make it happen.  I strongly encourage you to always take what you need to a race in terms of your own fuel and recovery products.  Don’t count on the race to have it for you.  You need to get in the recovery product within one hour of when you finish, faster if you can, then you can have some fun……which is exactly what Nicki T, myself and Kristina H. did after the race!

Note to self……avoid the port-o-pot back drop for the next photo.

Blue Moon!

I’d definitely run this race again.  It was fun, I thought the course was good, the corrals worked for me and I think it will just keep getting better.  And any day that I can get away from the kids out of the house and spend some time with my girls, plus run a good race is a WIN for me.  So I guess I’m in and I WILL RUN FOR CHOCOLATE!

“Run”way Fashion….let’s just say I had a whole lot of wardrobe malfunction going on during the race….Brooks Glycerin Diva Running Jacket was super cute and I’ve worn it for non-running purposes multiple times and love it but it kept riding up while I was running!  I also had on my Alo TooTallFritz.com shirt that RaceExpressions.com did for me and the jacket basically kept  grabbing the shirt and pulling that up too!  Then on the bottom, I stupidly opted out of wearing the CW-X Compression 3/4 tights because they were dirty and instead chose the SkirtSports Under the Skirt Capri Pants because they are soft, awesome feeling, and have pockets but apparently I need to downsize because they kept slipping and felt like they were falling down until I was about half way  thru the race and apparently my sweat kicked in to hold them in place.  These are really awesome pants, just don’t think I will race in them again unless I get a smaller size.

Did you race this weekend?  How was it?  Would you run a theme race like the Hot Chocolate, the Monster, or the Rock N Roll races, or do you avoid them like the plague for being too commercial?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Running,                                                                                                            Amanda – TooTallFritz.com

Did I Leave It on the Trail?

Ever heard anyone say not to leave your best run on the trail/road?  Well after a hardish run on Monday, then another  harder than I would have liked  run last night, I now have  the perfect excuse concern that I will not be fully recovered by the Hot Chocolate Race on Saturday.  Let me introduce you to my fast friend, Susan D. from the Frankfort Running Club.  Yes, this is the same Susan D. who did the guest post on the Monster Dash yesterday.  Let’s hope she doesn’t block me as spammer  isn’t tired of me after so much interaction in one week! 

Sometimes  your partner is feeling good and well, you aren’t.  The “plan” was for a slow, easy pace but Susan was ready to RUN!  I tried to inconsipuously drop some rocks in her shoes to weigh her down remind her of the pace.  I also tried to throw a harness around her shoulders and let her drag me a hint by running a couple of steps behind her…… but alas, when a girl has fast feet, it is time to fly!  I just hope some of that speed and bounce rubbed off on me as I prepare for race day!  If not, then  I will TOTALLY blame her know to go at it easier before the next race!

We ran west on Old Plank Trail.  This is by far the trail that I run the most so I am very familiar with it.  I love this trail because it is very long, straight and flat.  If you are a non-ultra runner, then you mostly likely won’t run out of trail over the course of one run.  If you are a biker/triathlete then this is a good trail for you up to about the 1/2 Iron distance (round trip), then after that you will need to make some laps or maybe just go home cuz you’re crazy.  Even though its flat, it is still beautiful and generally has decent tree cover from the sun on those warm weather days.  Here are a few photos of our journey.

Thanks Susan for getting out there with me and making it happen.  Now please excuse me while I tend to my recovery.

5.05 miles – 47:14 – several stops for photos, road/car crossing stop x2

“Run”way Fashion – RunningSkirts.com RunLove Fleurs Triathlon Skirt – photo below is of the RunLove Fleurs print but my skirt doesn’t have the capri pants underneath. Image 12011 Sunburst Races (Notre Dame) 1/2 Marathon A4 shirt – I’ve received several A4 shirts this year and the ones that are women’s specific fit and feel really nice!  “Under the Skirt”, cuz you’re dying to know, is the  SkirtSports.com Hipster Briefs.  As for my recovery, Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale & CEP Compression calf sleeves.  LOVE the CEP sleeves!  I haven’t tried the full socks due to the Plantar Fasciitis issues and not wanting my heels compressed but I really love the sleeves.  I wear them around the house, sleep in them, wear them to work, etc.  Great product and since they aren’t “socks” I don’t worry about constantly washing them.  After the success I’ve had with the compression calf sleeves and the compression 3/4 tights, I would probably consider investing in a full length pair of compression tights for year round continuous, non-stop wear winter.

P.S…..after a night of sleeping in the CEP sleeves, I’m feeling good!  So let’s race! 

Who’s racing this weekend?  Where?

Cheers,                                                                                                                               Amanda – TooTallFritz