photo by Steve Penland

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The "Body by Crap" Tour

Yes, you've seen a title very close to this before, here. Clearly my skating has improved more in the past two-and-a-half years than my eating habits have.

On Friday morning, Mel, Sprinter Boy and I set off for Milwaukee on what I like to refer to as the "Body by Crap" Tour.  Our goal:  to skate a 10K Saturday morning. Our fuel: pretty much any junk food we could find between Minneapolis and Milwaukee.

Unfortunately, while we were only marginally successful in the "goal" department, I must say that we performed admirably in the "fuel" area.

The wheels started to come off the 10K plan when I woke up Friday morning.  I had tweaked my lower back and left knee on Thursday and my back was pretty sore Friday.  A properly-functioning low back is critical to finishing a 10K so I was starting to rethink my race plan.  And then when I picked up Sprinter Boy he said "Do you have your iPad?"  (which has a nifty "lap board" app on it, for giving skaters their lap times).  When I affirmed that I did, he said "good, then I'll give you your lap times."

Say what?  It's awfully hard to give someone lap times when you're skating in the same race.

Turns out Sprinter Boy had come to his senses and decided to go with his strengths; he'd signed up for the 500 and 1000 instead of the 10K.  So, although I planned to wait on my decision on the 10K until I'd had a chance to skate Friday evening and see how my knee and back felt, it was looking likely that it would be up to Melissa to uphold the honor of the Minnesota Masters skaters in the 10K. Which is fine, since she's by far the fastest of us in that distance.

So we picked up Mel and headed East.  First stop: Kwik Trip for gas (and, as it turned out, 4/$1 cookies, and a donut, and I think maybe a couple other things), and then McDonald's (since I couldn't find anything I wanted for lunch at the Kwik Trip).  The journey was uneventful, the cookies were good, and the 12-pack of Brown Sugar Cinnamon PopTarts took a couple of hits.  By 4:00 we were walking into the Pettit National Ice Center, ready to turn our sugar calories into some fast "day before the race" laps.

But first, when I signed in and paid I mentioned to the woman behind the desk that I might need to change which race I was in.

"Go, go," she shrieked, "you have to go upstairs right now and tell the officials."

So much for waiting until after I skated to decide whether I wanted to do the 10K.

So I made the snap decision to switch from the 10K to the 3K--and I'm almost embarrassed to admit how much relief I felt after I made the decision.  Last year's 10K was one of the most fun things I've ever done on skates, but I'm well aware of the fact that this is not how 10K's are supposed to feel, and that this year's would likely have been a whole different ball game.

My day-before-the-race workout went fairly well, except for one tactical error: I did my warmup laps behind Sprinter Boy.  This is a problem only because he's a very smooth and controlled skater--adjectives which have never been used in conjunction with my skating--and he likes to do "gradually increase the pace" warmup laps.  I can't skate smoothly or with any semblance of my new technique at anything below about 75% effort so the slow laps were a clumsy fest for me and so I never did get a grip on my new technique and consequently felt out-of-synch for most of the workout.  Note to self: do not do your warmup laps on race day behind anyone!

Then it was off to a local skater's house for the night--the evening featured pizza at Whole Foods for dinner, and watching the Olympics opening ceremonies.  The next morning the Body by Crap tour continued with an extensive exploration of Milwuakee in search of Sprinter Boy's and my pre-race prerequisites: Starbucks for him, McDonald's for me.  Twenty consultations with Google Maps, two (legal?) U-turns, and ten miles of pre-dawn Milwaukee streets later, we arrived at the oval properly fueled and caffeinated.

My 500 was first, and my goal was simple: to skate faster than 48.0 seconds and thus qualify for the upcoming American Cup race.  Long story short (yeah, like I ever do that): my race featured no major problems like slips on the start or botched corner entries, but also featured no major ability to execute my new technique--and ultimately ended up taking .22 seconds longer than I wanted it to.  Oh, least it was my second fastest Pettit 500 ever, and just .02 seconds off my Pettit PB.

On to the 3K.  My goal here was to keep my lap times under 40 seconds as long as possible, and in this I was fairly successful:  I started with a 36, then three 38's and two 39's before finally finishing on a 40, for my second-best (third best if you count the "continuous tailwind fans are turned on" 3K I did in 2009) 3K at the Pettit.  Finally, a good race!

Sprinter Boy had skated moderately successful races except for breaking off the little plastic heel stop on one of his skates in the middle of his 500, which his pair promptly stepped on and then crashed.  That's one way to beat your opponent!  So now there was nothing left but for Mel to skate the 10K.

And it was pretty impressive.  It started with her skating a 35-second lap (yes, just .5 seconds slower than my one lap in my 500) and then holding 36's until the eleventh lap.  It ended with what looked like some mighty painful last laps, a final time of 15:58.31--and a scene reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz.  As I coasted around the corner after cheering Mel through the last lap, I saw two feet sticking out onto the ice from behind the infield pads, looking much like the Wicked Witch of the East's feet poking out from under Dorothy's lethal house (although fortunately clad in a skinsuit and skates rather than the witch's signature striped socks and red pointy shoes).  It was Mel, flat on the floor and surrounded by her family, who were offering blankets and assistance in regaining her feet.  

Damn.  I simply can't imagine being able to push myself that hard; that close to my physical limits.  A truly impressive and gutsy performance by a truly amazing skater.

The homeward leg of the trip featured Qdoba with "magical cheese sauce," another round of Kwik Trip cookies, some Mountain Dew, and a few more poptarts.   And so the Body by Crap tour ended, with some satisfying races in the bank and a whole lot of junk food wrappers in the Subaru trash bag.

What better way to spend a weekend?


  1. You have no idea how impressive you are, do you? (on both the junk food and skating fronts) : )

  2. Thanks, Sharon...and I do admit that my ability to consume junk food is somewhat legendary :-) Sadly, that will come to an end (at least for 6 weeks)--I'm doing a nutritional challenge with my CrossFit gym, starting Feb. 17. Bye bye, poptarts!