Tag Archives: Crim Festival of Races

Lessons from Half a Brick

ONE GREAT THING about my fitness activities are the things I learn while doing them. And the great thing about having a blog is that I can share what I learn, and pretend that someone out there might actually read it. (It’s a nice fantasy.)

Well, last weekend’s “brick” (bike ride and Crim race) provided several good lessons. So without further ado, here they are.

The first lesson about biking from Ann Arbor to Flint is: don’t bike from Ann Arbor to Flint. It didn’t take long after leaving home to realize that I am spoiled rotten.

Living in Ann Arbor, where new bike paths and complete streets are popping up everywhere, one can get the idea that they might also exist in the real world. (*) But in most of Michigan the roads remain the exclusive purview of motor vehicles, and lowlifes like cyclists are encouraged to stay the hell out of their way.

Google Maps - Linden Rd north of Linden

Guess I should have looked at Street View before the ride.

But Google Maps provided a bike route, and like a fool I trusted it. Whitmore Lake Road and old US-23? Yeah, they’re a bit dicey, but I hoped Linden Road would be like many other back roads I’ve biked on; decently paved with little traffic. Nope. When it wasn’t rutted dirt or beat-up pavement, it was 55 MPH with no shoulder, and every pickup truck in Michigan was taking it. I made it in one piece, but called off the return trip. I felt I’d pushed my luck enough.

The good news is that in Washtenaw County, work on the Border-to-Border Trail continues, including a new stretch on a busy road near my house. It includes a wood boardwalk over a wetland, with an observation cutout. It opened last week, and last night I ran on it for the first time. (I also watched a deer sacrifice itself to the SUV god, but I won’t go into details.)

Now this is more like it!

Now this is more like it!

Lesson 2: If you bike from Ann Arbor to Flint, and have a race the next morning, don’t stay at a budget hotel with uncomfortable pillows and noisy residents. I got about two hours of sleep. Technically it wasn’t the motel’s fault that outside my door was a popular conversation point, or that someone turned on a stereo full blast at 3:00 a.m. Bed and breakfast next time, somewhere in a nice boring suburb.

Michael and me after Crim 2015

Popsicles: my favorite post-race fruit!

Yet to my surprise, I ran a good race. The plan all along was to test my ability to run while fatigued, and I sure had a perfect setup. In the end I finished the 10 miles only two minutes off my PR. Not bad!

Lesson 3: I really do have readers! At the post-race party, one of my PR Fitness friends told me he enjoys reading my blog. Over the years (4+ to date) I continue to be pleasantly surprised by people mentioning this blog when I thought they didn’t even know I had one. So to all my readers – thanks again for reading. You keep me writing! (And you wouldn’t hurt my feelings by leaving the occasional comment.)

The big race at Run Woodstock is just over two weeks away! One final brick this weekend – a 16 mile tune-up run on the trails, followed by a bike ride to White Lake. This time, however, much of the route is actual bike trail. Sure would be a nice change to relax and enjoy the ride!

Downtown Linden

Bonus lesson: Don’t ask the locals. They didn’t know of a cafe/sandwich shop in Linden. Found out later there was one right in my sights! The black car is parked at the Bridge Cafe & Market.

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(*) You may have heard this description of Ann Arbor: Six square miles surrounded by reality.

Doing a Brick, Tastes Like a Brick, Iron Lady, Iron Legs

ALL SET FOR THE CRIM this weekend! Outfit and gear selected and packed, maps printed, and bike cleaned and lubed, checked and ready to go. Friday afternoon I ride the 60 miles or so to Flint, pick up my race packet, then head to my hotel. Saturday morning I bike to the start, run the 10-miler, then get back on the bike and head back home. (Okay, maybe a bite to eat first.)

I’ve done many “bricks” before (run & bike combinations), but this marks the first time I’ve incorporated an actual race into one. Should be an interesting experience.

Crim 2013 - PR Fitness team photo

2013 Crim PR Fitness runners. (We have fun.)

Why do this? Well, I could say it’s good training for my Run Woodstock 100K, where I expect to be on my feet for 14 hours or so, and that it’s a good test of persevering while fatigued. But the real reason is that the PR Fitness bus leaves Ann Arbor at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, and I just hate getting up that early. This way, I don’t have to get up until 6:30. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Chris - Itchi-Bon Bakery - CloseupOne part of my cunning plan won’t be happening, however. The route will take me near Durand, which I’d visited on a weekend bike trip in 2013. I’d hoped to revisit the Itchi-Bon Bakery and its sweetheart of an owner, who restored my soul on a cold, wet morning. But sad news – after over 25 years in business, she closed the bakery last year. Now where am I going to find red velvet doughnuts?

On a positive note, super kudos to my friend and fellow PR Fitness runner Tracy, who came back from an injury this year to finish Ironman Boulder, knocking two hours off her best time despite two flat tires.

Tracy and me at last year's Dances with Dirt Green Swamp. (She's the good-looking one.)

Tracy and me at last year’s Dances with Dirt Green Swamp. (She’s the good-looking one.)

Also kudos to fellow run blogger Kevin, who just finished his first-ever 50-miler on a really tough course. Check out this elevation profile!

IronLegs 50-mile elevation profile

And finally, a cautionary tale. I was browsing the obesity-inducing counter at Whole Foods – the desserts where you gain weight just looking at them. I was trying to choose between the half-pound chocolate mousse cake and its vegan equivalent when I came across this – a faux chocolate pudding made with chia seeds and almond milk. Way too healthy, but I was intrigued, so I gave it a try.

Yeah, tastes about as good as it looks.

Yeah, tastes about as good as it looks.

Frankly, it was pretty disgusting at first, but after a few bites I realized it just needed a couple of tweaks to improve it significantly:

Chia Seed Pudding - Improved

Much better!

The moral of this story: Life is short. Eat real desserts.

Super-worthy Causes, and Super Offers For My Readers

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ME – I’M FEELING GENEROUS!

One of the great things about running is its power to bring lots of people together for a good cause. Running events routinely donate at least part of their proceeds to one or more charities. Not only is money raised for people in need, the participants engage in a fun and healthy activity instead of sitting in some stuffy ballroom eating rubber chicken, or on their couches eating – well, I don’t even wanna go there.

One great cause from 2013 - the Boston Unity Run in Brighton.

One great cause from 2013 – the Boston Unity Run in Brighton. Huge turnout, lots of money raised, and tons of positive vibes.

One such event I will be part of next week is the Crim Festival of Races, where the city of Flint surrenders its downtown to thousands of runners for a day. Proceeds support the Crim Fitness Foundation, which offers programs on fitness and nutrition for kids and adults. Some of the best runners in the world come to the Crim, and the PR Fitness club fills up an entire bus and more each year.

Last year's PR Fitness team photo at the Crim.

PR Fitness at last year’s Crim.

But right now I want to do more than just tell you stuff – let’s act! I have special offers for my readers that I hope some of you will take advantage of. Without further ado, here they are.

Update: Running for Water – Rick Matz and Team World Vision

Team World Vision - 2In this guest post by fellow blogger Rick Matz, he told us of his plan to support Team World Vision by running a half marathon this fall, even though he isn’t a runner. According to the World Health Organization, over 3 million people die each year from diseases related to poor sanitation. Saving lives by providing access to clean water is what Team World Vision is all about.

Rick is trying to raise a total of $1,310 (get it?) and, frankly, he could use a boost to help him along. So here’s my offer. If any of my readers feels inspired to toss a few bucks his way, please email me after you donate (jeff@runbikethrow.net) and I will match it. Double the power! Click here for the direct link to his page.

And speaking of power…

Get Your Super On

Dress up as your favorite superhero and run!

The Super RunThe Super Run has races all over the country, and it’s coming to Ann Arbor on September 6. It’s a very reasonably priced 1K or 5K, fun for all ages. You also get a superhero cape, “I’m Super” temporary tattoo, and awareness bracelet with registration!

The Super Run supports charities like adoption and foster care, World Animal Awareness Society, and the Children’s Hospitals National Foundation. See their web page for more details.

If you’d like to be a part of this race, you can get a 2-for-1 deal! Sign up for an adult registration and email me the confirmation code, and I will send you a code for a free second registration! Supply is limited for this one, so it’s first come, first served until they’re gone.

And here is a coupon code for 20% off at www.superflykids.com where you or your kids can make your own custom superhero gear. It’s SUPERRUNFAN.

So there you go, and I hope some of you will feel inspired to support one or both of these very worthy causes. But if not, I hope you’ll keep in mind how fortunate the great majority of us in this country are, and consider supporting those who could use some help. And why not do something for yourself while you’re at it? Sign up for an event near you!  If you’re not a runner, most races offer a walking option. You’ll be amazed at how good you’ll feel.

Next up: a recap of my three-triathlon experience this summer, and a 5K romp in a vineyard. No, not a beer mile. But we’ll see what wild and crazy stuff might happen.