Black Friday at Waterfall Glen {2013}

In the spirit of holiday traditions, each year I host a run at Waterfall Glen in Darien, IL on the morning of Black Friday and Good Friday.  The run is scheduled at 8am and EVERYONE in the local running community is invited, and encouraged to bring friends.  Each year the run gets a little bigger.  The 2013 Black Friday Run brought us almost 40 runners despite the very cold temps and a “bit” of a wind-chill. 

2013 Black Friday Runners:

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I arrived a little early for some photos a few extra miles and also met a few members of a local run club, Run to Eat.  It was super fun running with them and meeting a few new people!!

The Waterfall Glen trail is a 9.5 mile loop and “most” of the time, it’s well marked.  There are a few spots that could possibly be confusing but if you run the wrong way, you will quickly end up at a parking lot or a road where the trail will end.  For the most part, I just run counterclockwise in a loop fashion.  It’s pretty easy to follow, and most intersections have an obvious direction.

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I love the scenery.  Thru the trees.  Up and down.

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I love the serenity, especially on days where everything is frozen.

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I love the trail.  The wildlife.  The varying terrain.  I also love that the trail is usually smooth and trail shoes aren’t needed although I did wear mine to try to break them in a bit more for Huff.  I love that there are people who are brave enough to come run with me!

Waterfall Glen_Black FRI_2013  Waterfall Glen_Black FRI_2013-me

This is one of those trails that I wish were just a little bit closer to my house.  I only go twice a year now but if it were closer, I would be out there all the time.  It’s the perfect length for me.  I love a good 10 mile run!  And I KNOW those hills will  make me strong eventually!  Great trail.  Great location off of I-55 & Cass Avenue.  Multiple parking options.  A couple port-o-potties, usually near parking.  Well kept trail.  If you are running long, take your own fluids.  Dress for the elements because there are wooded areas as well as long open stretches where you will be more exposed to whatever Mother Nature is delivering.  Smile

** See You on the Trails ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Long Weekend ….. Long Miles ….. Long Hike …..

We packed so much into the weekend that I should probably still be home recovering!  Good Friday started early as I hauled it up and out before the sun came up to go to Waterfall Glen in Darien, IL.  It’s not too far away but not necessarily close enough to hit too frequently.  I host a run there every Good Friday and Black Friday as an excuse to get the various running communities together and also have a few friendly faces with whom I can run the trail.  Beautiful location.  Beautiful Trails.  Beautiful weather.  Perfect 9.5 mile loop that is challenging for most of us, but still doable.

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The temps were good, high 20s when I got there at 6:30 am and near 50 when I left at 10:30.  This was the day of my last 20 miler for this marathon cycle (Lansing Marathon on 4/21/13) and I made almost 18 miles on the rolling hills before I needed to go home to the kiddos (and subsequently finish those last 2 miles on the treadmill later in the day).

The trail was mostly clear of snow and ice despite our erratic weather this year. And we were blessed with sunshine all day long.  Win!

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2013 Waterfall Glen Good Friday Runners:023

We also had a lot of runners who weren’t able to make the 8am start time (and above photo).  I saw many friendlies on the trail early, who came out to run a few miles or even the entire loop before heading off to work.  Great turnout with lots of new (and old) faces.  Thanks for coming, everyone!  I’ll see you on Black Friday, same time, same spot!!

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This is the first nice weekend we have had this year that was remotely warm without rain.  So I took full advantage of it by hitting another “somewhat” local trial on Saturday, not to run, but instead to let the kiddos burn off some steam hike.  Matthiessen Sate Park is in Utica, IL about a mile past a much more popular hiking arena, Starved Rock State Park.  While Starved Rock gets all the hype and is definitely more commercial and user friendly, Matthiessen is a hidden gem.  Less traffic.  Better hiking.  Amazing sites.  Plus the kids like to get dirty so it’s a total WIN for us!  Thanks to Aby’s friend, Kara for making the trip with us and “helping” out with the little man!!

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The best part about Matthiessen, in my opinion, is the waterfalls.   Some are easy to find, some are slightly hidden.  We even caught a few in a semi frozen state!

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The second best thing about Matthiessen, is the stairs.  Lots of stairs, inclines & bridges. 

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I love this place and try to bring the kids a couple times a year.  Depending on the season and the precipitation levels, the water may be free flowing like it was on Saturday or it can be totally dry like it was on our trip last summer.  Although the trails don’t change, the sites area always different.  Fun times.  The kids love it.  I love it.  We get to spend time outside together.  Win!

Did you do or see anything exciting this weekend?

** Run, Walk, Hike, MOVE ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Good Friday Waterfall Glen Run {2012}

What a beautiful day to hit the trail and meet some new people.  In fact, we had so many newbies show, I can’t even remember everyone’s name!  That is a huge success in my book.  Thanks to everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to come run with us this morning!  It is much appreciated and I hope to see all of you again!  The morning crew, courtesy of Maggie – MagMileRunner, from back left:  Kathy, Wayne, Joe, Christy, Fredric, Mark, Eric, Jim, Brian, Lonna, Cathie & Amanda W.  Front left:  Maggie, Me, Kim, Susan, Keith, Missing a few names:  girl in blue, girl in black, girl in pink, Angela.

I apologize on the missing names, if anyone can fill in the blanks, I will make the edit.  Sorry!!!

In addition to the sunshine, we also had temps in the 40s, and the woods were alive with springtime noises, scents and active critters although I didn’t actually see anything of significance.  Here are a “few” photos of the day.

I think we all had a great run.  Our paces were far and wide but we all made it back in with a smile on our faces.  I really love this trail.  It’s not too technical but is a nice jaunt thru the woods.  There are a few hills but nothing too taxing and the scenery is totally worth the short drive.

Thanks again to everyone who made the trip. Next “official” Waterfall Glen trip will be on Black Friday.  Plenty of time to plan for that one, right?

Enjoy your race season, folks.  I’ll see you on the trail or on the road.  Get after it this year, who knows what next year will bring!

Happy Running,                                                                                                              Amanda – TooTallFritz

Black Friday Waterfall Glen Run {2011}

Today was as close to perfect as I could have gotten without sitting on a beach, under an umbrella, in the tropics sipping on poison.   Somehow a run with one partner turned into a run of nine AWESOME women who spent hard-earned calories running rather than $$ shopping in the Black Friday madness.   Meet our Waterfall Glen Black Friday Crew from Top Left:  Me, Jen, Judy, Susan, Maggie;  Bottom Left:  Laura, Angela, Kelly & Suzanne. 

These women hauled their asses out of bed came this morning to run in the name of health, wellness, fitness and friendship.  A 9.5 mile run thru the rolling hills of Waterfall Glen’s Forest Preserve isn’t exactly how many women would like to spend the largest shopping day of the year but that is what runners do, we run.  We run on our birthdays, on holidays, on breaks at work, and in the snow, sleet and rain……WE RUN. 

If I had to hazard a guess, there are probably a few ladies Susan & Jen who came today who don’t consider themselves runners.  Let me break it to you gently Susan & Jen, if you showed up today for a 9.5 mile run in the woods on Black Friday…..YOU. ARE. A. RUNNER.  

A pictorial account of what we saw while running on this glorious day!

I promised I wouldn’t take any photos of anyone’s ass but I lied that was hard since I was bringing up the rear.   The guarantee today was that NOBODY would get left behind and I welcomed the opportunity to run the back since I am exhausted and love to take lots of pics I needed a break but still wanted to be part of the fun.

 Hey Jen, can you stop running and sit on this bench for a photo?

Hey Jen, can you stop running AGAIN to take a photo of me?

Almost done, we WILL make it…….And where the HELL was Big Bertha?  I think we totally missed it while talking, stopping for a billion photos and just enjoying the view and being out in the beautiful weather!

Thanks to these fast dudes who I believe lapped us a couple of times were kind enough to take a few photos of our entire group once we all made it back.  Thanks, Brian & Rick!

All in all a wonderful run.  I hope “the crew” members had a recovery drink in their car!  I use the AdvoCare Post Workout Recovery drink so that I can go back out tomorrow or hopefully Sunday with the FRC if hubby doesn’t kill me for another morning run during our mini vacay and do it all again, and so that I can get up and down the stairs, and so that I can pig out on Thanksgiving leftovers when I get home since I already had the necessary recovery nutrients. I need the ease and convenience of a recovery drink because it requires less thinking and counting my nutrients…..sometimes my brain doesn’t want to work too well after a good run.

Perfect day:  Morning Run in PERFECT WEATHER (40 degrees + sun) with friends, Thanksgiving Leftovers, 3 hour nap with the kiddos, then chores and cuddling with my little man.  Some days, life is better than others.  Thanks again to the Waterfall Glen Black Friday Crew and my wonderful hubby who didn’t even bitch watched the lil ones this morning for me.

How did Black Friday work out for you?  What is your perfect day?

We head out to Indiana tomorrow for Thanksgiving #2 with the Fritz Clan, so enjoy your weekend and I’ll catch up with all of you later cuz I’ll be eating more awesome food and hanging out with my loved ones! 

Many Blessings,                                                                                                                       Amanda – TooTallFritz