Tag Archives: PR Fitness

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.

How Not to Taper

“We have to go light today,” I told Mark, my Body Specs trainer, on Thursday afternoon. “I’ve been feeling sore all week, and I have a long trail run Saturday morning.”

Monday’s workout, while not like the previous two weeks (shall we say, “Bru-tall”), had still been fairly intense, and I was not up for another one like that. Besides, I’m in the taper period before my July 25 race.

“What did you do after Monday’s session?” he asked.

Well, the usual – Aikido Monday night, then a Tuesday evening run with PR Fitness that had somehow or other turned into a tempo run. On hills. On Wednesday I’d volunteered at the Pterodactyl Triathlon, which hadn’t involved anything strenuous, but I’d been on my feet for over five hours doing this and that.

Mark looked at me. “So what you’re telling me is that you didn’t take a day off on your own taper week.” He shook his head. “I’d be sore, too!”

Guilty as charged, sir.

In my relatively short marathon and ultramarathon career, I’ve found the taper period to be, at times, more difficult than the training. Not in exertion, but the lack thereof. It takes discipline to cut back, to not run as far or as hard, before a race.

Pace too fast 2

What makes taking it easy so hard?

I know the reasons for tapering. Rest and recovery are needed to be at peak form before a race. And gains from strength training, or long running, take about three weeks to be manifested. So hard training the two weeks before a race provides zero benefit and could easily mess me up. Overworked muscles and injury, for example.

And there’s the ol’ competitive nature to deal with. Like with Tuesday’s run. I’d planned to go easy, but the group started off fast and I didn’t feel like being left in the dust. Then we hit the uphill repeats, and what was I supposed to do? Let people pass me?

Never met a hill I didn't want to charge up. (Channeling T.R.?)

Never met a hill I didn’t want to charge up. (Channeling T.R.?)

Ah, the ego. Despite ten years of Aikido it remains stubbornly unconquered. Or, as we say in my profession, “always further opportunities for improvement.”

Fortunately, I have another week to get my act together. Saturday’s 16-miler will be a dress rehearsal for the Voyageur Trail Ultra, with a fully stocked drop bag and trail backpack. I will also be trying out a revised strategy for hydration (carry more water, drink more water), electrolytes (salt tablets), and heat protection (a cap with UV blocker). Then everything short and easy next week.

And I promised myself to take it easy until Saturday morning. (With the exception of a stretching clinic yesterday evening. It was brief. And Skip from Body Specs was teaching it. How could he be mad at me for going?)

Running to Remember, and Save Lives

Happy Birthday Eli strollerLast week was Eli’s Run, an event hosted by PR Fitness coaches Marie and her husband Rob to remember and honor their son Eli, who was diagnosed with a genetic disorder in utero and unfortunately did not survive. As dedicated runners they decided on an annual race to celebrate his memory and raise funds to support lifesaving research for premature babies.

There were two events that evening at Gallup Park – a kid’s race of about a quarter mile, followed by a 5K for us bigger kids, with pizza afterward. And all the proceeds went to the March of Dimes to support their Prematurity campaign.

Here are some photos from the event. Rob and Marie may look a bit tired (for very good reasons, the best being their new baby daughter) but there were lots of happy faces. And what a great way to get kids fired up about running!

The little kids take off! Note the teddy bear race shirts.

The little kids take off! Note the teddy bear race shirts.

Charge to the finish.

Charge to the finish.

Ready to start the 5K. Marie is holding the clipboard. (She's happy. Really.)

Ready to start the 5K. Marie is holding the clipboard. (She’s happy. Really.)

Flying down the trail.

Flying down the trail.

Yep, we had all ages represented here!

Yep, we had all ages represented here!

And such professional service at the water stop.

And such professional service at the water stop.

Rob with Kacey June. (He's happy. Really.)

Rob with Kacey June. (He’s happy. Really.)

Hanging out post-race with Ironman Tracy and her family.

Hanging out post-race with Ironman Tracy (left) and her family.

Feeling Restless – At Last!

Hooray for energy!

This morning I ran seven miles with PR Fitness and went to the farmer’s market to pick out some plants for the back deck. I then spent the afternoon inside, preparing for an exam tomorrow. It was where I belonged, but I spent much time looking through the window at a beautiful day, fretting that I wasn’t out there doing something useful – like more running.

For some of you, the above will only confirm your opinion that there is no hope for me. But to me, this is a good sign.

Fired up at last year's Dances with Dirt - Hell 50K. That's the feeling I love!

Fired up at last year’s Dances with Dirt – Hell 50K. That’s the feeling I love!

The week before the April 25-26 Trail Marathon (recap coming) I also spent a good deal of time resting, hoping that by race weekend I’d be stir crazy and ready to rock. But the fatigue that bothered me all that week didn’t entirely go away, and I started Saturday’s half marathon still feeling a bit run down. But in the second part of that race my energy came back and I finished with a strong time. And Sunday’s 50K was even better, as I finished five minutes faster than last year and defended my age group title.

Now, after another week of light activity, that restless, “gotta run” feeling has returned. Today’s run felt too short and too easy, exactly as it should have. I’m grateful my energy has returned, because at next Saturday’s 50-miler at the Glacier Ridge Trail Ultra I’m gonna need every bit of it.

Coming up – I try out some new gear, including some shoes that are so exclusive, they don’t officially exist yet. But I need my rest for the exam tomorrow, so that’s all for now.