Follow This Mother!

Amanda feelin' it during a half-marathon earlier this year.

Though she’s battled injury this summer, Amanda Carey is one BAMR who races often—she’s gearing up for 70.3 this fall—and is happy to be slowly returning to running and training. You might know her as TooTallFritz—she blogs here and tweets here. Read on to learn more about this Monee, Ill. 38-year-old mom of two (we love her blog tagline: “Running Toward: Health, Wellness & PEACE … Running From: Insanity, Screaming Children, Housework & a Big Ass”).

Best recent run:  I have been on the injury train since June 2 with a second degree tear to the Posterior Tibialis. Since then, I have been swim/bike/rehab heavy with zero runs. I’m just now back to running! With such few recent runs under my belt, it’s easy to pick a favorite.  [On a recent] Saturday, I hit the trail with the kiddos to run with the local running club. Aby ran beside me while I pushed Michael in the jogger. We ran 1.6 miles with the group! Not stellar mileage compared to the norm, but a definite “Baby, I’m back” moment.

Amanda (in back row wearing Chicago Marathon shirt; her daughter Aby, 10, is in the pink top; son Michael, 2, is in the jogger) on a trail run this summer with her two kids and a local running group.

We’ve all been there...: I’m not injury-prone, but the dreaded Plantar Fasciitis crept in last summer during marathon training. I didn’t take it seriously since I was initially able to run through it, but as the miles climbed, the pain increased. I was altering my gait to get through long runs. Things went downhill quickly, my hips were hurting, plus one Achilles and calf muscle began swelling. I was in a lot of pain and it was affecting my fast running. So I went to a foot surgeon for help, who gave me an anti-inflammatory and orthotics. Things improved slightly but we eventually decided on cortisone for relief and to decrease swelling. I took time off, lost some fitness, and then had to start rebuilding for the spring season. Each time it got really bad, we used more cortisone. My last cortisone injection was on June 1. My tendon popped the very next day. According to the awesome chiropractor who I now see, the cortisone weakened the tendon causing the tear. I had an undiagnosed secondary issue with a weak Posterior Tibialis, probably from my gait change in dealing with my Plantar Fasciitis, and that’s what finally gave out. Rehab includes: strengthening exercises, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, graston, massage and adjustments. It hasn’t been fun or easy but I’m finally on the right track to healthy running!

Ragnar Ladies (Amanda on the left), a.k.a. Team You Just Got Chicked.

Ragnar Relays: The only reason I decided to participate in the Ragnar Relays this summer was because I found out about an ultra, six-person, women-only team being assembled. I would not have run a regular team as I didn’t see it as a challenge. If I plan to leave home, sans kids/hubby, for a few days then it has to be for something really special. I met the ladies, we did a training run, we gathered sponsors and I anticipated an amazing experience.  Unfortunately, my tendon tore six days before Ragnar and I was unable to run. In fact, I could barely walk. I was devastated, in so many ways [read Amanda’s post about it here] but we found a replacement and they ran without me. I did some cheering and support once they got close to Chicago but they were on their own until the very end. They did awesome; I’m very proud of them but still in disbelief that I missed out on the experience and the opportunity to represent our awesome sponsors.


Lots o’ races: I like to race—I consider racing a reward for my hard work. In order to race more frequently, I focus on races which are close to home that do not require travel and extra expenses. I pick smaller, non-branded races which are a fraction of the cost of races with bands and a big, well-known name. I also take advantage of early-bird registration fees. Another trick that I use on a very frequent basis: I register for races close to my parent’s home. Grandma and Grandpa Fritz always want to spend time with the grandkids. They are happy to watch the kids while I go run/race/tri. This is a win-win situation. If I am staying local, and hubby is particularly grumpy, I have no qualms about taking the kiddos to the races with me, paying a sitter, or asking a spectator friend to hang out with them while I crush a local 5K. Lastly, I run and go home to the family, no after- party for me. The races that come after Great Illini will be ones of rebuilding: Quad Cities Half Marathon, Hot Chocolate 15K, four-mile Turkey Trot and then a New Year’s Eve 5K to round out the year. Next year, I plan to bring my speed to the roads and really knock out some fast times. Goal Race: Shamrock Shuffle 8K—this is absolutely the best race in Chicago for fun and fast running.

Amanda and Aby at a local duathlon. "We put on our Team Tough Chick gear and crushed the race in style. She tackled the two-mile run before and after my bike portion like a champ and finished strong! Proud of my 'baby' girl!"

Can’t run without: My shoes. Other than shoes, there is absolutely nothing I need to run. If I forget my watch, I’ll be irritated but I’m not going to skip a run. If I forget a ponytail holder, that is bad but I’m still going to run (hopefully into the wind!). I only need my shoes.

70.3: The Great Illini Challenge 70.3 is on September 1.  This will be my first official race back. I participated in the abbreviated swim/bike portion of Ironman 70.3 Muncie but had to DNF [“did not finish”] due to the tear in my foot. I knew I wasn’t able to run but made the journey to do what I could do at the time: swim & bike. So I look forward to Great Illini but am also leery because I know I won’t be fully ready for the 13.1 mile run. This course, however, is very spectator and participant friendly in that it’s an out- and-back loop x2. So the plan is to run the first 6.55-mile loop and then run/walk the second loop at whatever pace I can manage. Not ideal. Not the way I like to race but this is the first time that I’ve had to deal with an injury so I have to improvise. I raced this event in 2008 and finished in 6 hours 33 minutes. I had planned to best that time by quite a bit but that looks unlikely now. A finish will be the only thing in my sights on September 1.

Lessons learned: I really had to give up a lot of races this year due to the injury. It’s heartbreaking in a way that only a runner/athlete could understand. However, I’m very proud of what I have been able to accomplish and know that I will be stronger and faster as a result. This was not panning out to be “my” year. I just couldn’t get up to speed because my body was breaking down. Even when I felt OK, I was still off and never able to run fast or stay on pace.  It should have been a sign of things to come but I just kept pushing and kept waiting for things to come back around. In hindsight, I think the injury is a good thing. The injury represents a fresh start. I am rebuilding and know that I will be strong, fit and surpass even my expectations in the future. Stay strong, ladies, everything happens for a reason.

13 responses to “Follow This Mother!

  1. Thanks for sharing your story! The injury thing is a real buzz kill, and I so happy that you took the time and effort to take care of your body so you could come back and kick dat booty! 😉

  2. Congratulations on your recovery! And thank you for sharing your story. I’m reading it at the chiropractor with stim on for an Achilles injury I’ve been battling since march. I’m doing the work (rehab), not running, and trying not to lose my mind 🙂

    Good luck!

  3. Hi Amanda, nice to ‘meet’ you here.
    Sorry about the injuries you’ve been dealing with… congrats on your “baby I’m back” run! You are wise to come back slowly… our bodies can recover from most any injuries, if we listen to them and take it slow.

    Wishing you the best at the The Great Illini Challenge… BAMR!

  4. I am currently training for my first marathon Oct. 7. I have been hit with the dreaded plantar fasciitis. I was supposed to run 15 miles on Sun. but I am holding off. However, I am wondering how much should I back off on the running? I am really worried that I won’t be ready in time. Can I train for a marathon through biking, swimming and strength exercises? HELP ME!!

    1. Have you tried different shoes… I know people who have been able to overcome plantar fascilitis by wearing more of a minimalist shoe. Some even did some barefoot running and/or walked barefoot during the rest of life and that helped them heal.

      And yes cross-training will help you get ready… I cross-train a lot, because my legs were severely injured in an accident, so I have to be careful not to stress them too much. I’m not sure you can only CT and be able to do 26.2 miles… but if you try, consider doing a run/walk/run method, like Jeff Galloways. (which is what I do since my injuries)

  5. Nice to “meet” you! What a great attitude and outlook despite the injuries you’ve been battling. I look forward to following your running journey over at your blog!

  6. Great story Amanda. I too am plagued with injury (2 stress fractures in the past year with Illiotibial Band issues between them). I have Chicago and NYC on my calendar and after reading your story I have more motivation to stay fit until I heal. Like you, I will only have a month to get back to running as the doc will not likely clear me until September 1, but thank you for sharing your experience. Although I might not be fast in my last few scheduled races, the accomplishment of finishing my 4th and 5th marathons should be enough.

    1. Amanda — thanks for sharing your injury success story! Last year I kept plantar fasciitis at bay while marathon training, and completed my first full marathon. This year, I had a whole new set of goals…that were all crushed by a season ending surgery. I’d been avoiding bunion surgery for going on 20 years, but it had finally gotten so painful that I was altering my gait (favoring that toe joint), and causing too much stress on the outer bones on my feet. A few tendon/ligament strain/sprain, and stress fractures later I finally was forced to deal with the reality that I won’t be able to run right until I got my foot fixed. I had bunion surgery almost 4 weeks ago, and I haven’t had a good run since May. I’m completely benched right now — my orthopaedic surgeon won’t even allow nonimpact exercise — until after Labor Day. I’m hoping to be back running by October or November. I’m still trying to figure out the silver lining in my injury story, but it’s so encouraging to see and watch others battle back from injury, soak in the positive attitudes (mine is not always sunny when it comes to my bum foot and months of no running), and describe the sweet successes. I can’t wait to get back out there, and Fall running is my absolute favorite with the brilliant colors, crisp air, and beautiful blue skies we get at that time of year. It will be sweet…but it’s hard to bide my time and wait.

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