Tag Archives: Border-to-Border Trail

Between the Deep Blue Sea and the Devil

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you’re healthy today, take a moment to be actively grateful.

Hey, this lake has no lines painted on the bottom!

Okay, Kent Lake isn’t exactly deep and salty, but I needed a headline. Work with me here.

I’m nearing the end of one of my longer periods between races – in this case, my recently completed first triathlon and the upcoming Dances with Dirt 50K at Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin.

In one sense, it turned out to be fortuitous timing. My wife contracted a nasty bug that knocked her flat and put her in the hospital for a week with intravenous antibiotics. The good news is that she responded well to treatment and will be discharged on Tuesday.

Sign on Wall - Healing in ProgressThis hospital works hard to put the focus on healing rather than suffering. They use warm colors and lots of wall decorations, visiting hours are not restricted, the food is good, and the doctors and nurses are friendly and polite. But even so, when I walk through those doors and to her room, it doesn’t take long for me to actively appreciate being healthy and fit. There isn’t much in this life that’s more important.


And of course an on-site coffee shop is essential.

And of course an on-site coffee shop is essential.

Some other random bits from this interlude…

On Sunday I swam for the first time since the triathlon. The time off didn’t make me any faster. (I can dream.) But I completed an 1,800 meter workout, including an 800, without much trouble, even after the 12/20 run & bike “brick” I did on Saturday. Given that the Pterodactyl Triathlon is only four days after Devil’s Lake, this was very encouraging.

B2B trail - St Joseph Mercy Hospital areaWith perfect weather all weekend, I was itching to get out on the bike, so I rode to the Saturday morning run, and from there to visit my wife. Along the way I discovered another part of Washtenaw County’s Border-to-Border Trail, which includes its own car-free bridge across the US 23 freeway. It’s so nice not to have to worry about entrance and exit ramps!

My run included two sets of 3-mile progressions: one mile at a 7:30 pace, the next at 7:15, and the third at 7:00. Our route wound through Barton Hills, where let’s just say Grand Canyon burros would feel right at home. So after setting my initial pace on the lone stretch of level ground, I ignored the watch and ran by feel.

“This will be hard!” my coach warned in her email. She was right – but it was entirely my fault. I’d come across an Active.com article on improving half marathon performance, and forwarded it to her. “What do you think about these workouts?” I’d asked.

“These are great, Jeff,” she wrote back, and promptly began assigning them to me. Apparently just reading about the workouts doesn’t improve performance nearly as much as actually doing them.

Next up: DWD Devil’s Lake! Given the elevation changes I see on the route map, Barton Hills will likely be a fond memory. I think the pre-race meal is mountain goat parmigiana.

DWD Devils Lake-50K elevation profile

Getting Loaded

It’s actually a good thing to GAIN a little weight before the race.

Last time I wrote about how my plan for Saturday’s 50-mile race is different from running shorter races (up to and including standard marathons). But what about the week before – the final taper, rest, and fueling for the race?

My training this week has been light – only six miles running and ten miles on the bike. As a result I’ve been feeling restless, compounded by the incredibly beautiful weather I’ve had to look at out my office window. How restless? Bad enough that I’ve given up caffeine until Sunday, which means none of my favorite coffee, and those who know me well appreciate what kind of sacrifice that is. Friday night’s fun 5K will likely save me from bouncing off the walls. That, and the 4 a.m. wakeup call Saturday morning.

My diet is also very different this week. Normally, I eat lots of leafy stuff, whole-grain bread, and lean protein, balanced out with healthy doses of dark chocolate and ice cream. But pre-race is all about loading up the muscles and liver with glycogen, the main fuel used in running – and that requires carbs. Lots of carbs.

I had the feeling that gaining a little weight just before the race would be helpful, and this article here bears that out. In fact, proper carbo-loading also results in more water stored in the body, another helpful thing for a long distance run. And fiber is out, since it can lead to certain biological issues during the race.

So how do I get there? Bagels with marmalade, bananas, cookies, and juice are on the menu – even white bread (gasp!) is okay. Too easy, right? Actually, no. I’m trying my best, but this extra eating to gain weight isn’t easy for me. I feel a bit bloated rather than satiated, and don’t really enjoy the food. (When I get this distilled into a pill, I will be happy to share it with the world for a reasonable price.)

I’m also trying to get in more rest to soften the blow of having to get up before any civilized creature should have to, especially on a Saturday. This means getting to bed earlier than usual – which is, actually, about now. Gotta go.

P.S. I know this post didn’t include any photos – really couldn’t think of any relevant subjects. So here’s a few from tonight’s bike ride, where I checked out the latest with the Border-to-Border trail running through Dexter.

New extension heading north out of Dexter. Hope it opens soon!

New extension heading north out of Dexter. Looks great. Hope it opens soon!

Wildflowers along the existing portion of the trail.

Wildflowers along the existing portion of the trail.

Beautiful terrain south of Dexter. Hoping the trail goes here next.

Beautiful terrain south of Dexter. Hoping the trail goes here next.