Sunday, April 20, 2008

Horse Country




The best way to train for a trail race is to run trails. A truism, it would seem. So among the RUR "walking wounded" this weekend, Joel Shilliday and I took the last men standing award and went to Tuckahoe to do the abridged loop, to the tune of about 7.5 - 8 miles.

We fully expected to be running in the rain this morning, but the water gods slept in, and gave us a muggy 70 degree romp through dry trails. The horse gods, however, were in full effect. During the course of our loop, we passed between 15-20 folks on horseback, for whom you need to slow down and walk, lest you spook a horse, and make a bad situation for all involved. All were friendly, and it was fine sharing the trail today, with the equestrians, the fishermen, and one muddy borderline psychotic, who warned us of a water snake early in the run, and who we thought may have left a body in his wake behind him. If he did, it must have gone the way of the water snake, because we didn't find either.

Today was the first beat-the-heat day for us; it wasn't hard to break a sweat, and by the time we made it to the bottom of Turkey Hill for the famous creek/stream crossing, the cool water was like an ice-cold beer after cutting the grass. Multimedia Joel again busted out video, so look for a posting with as many as two crossings caught on film. And for our friend Wood Frog: there are no lily pads out there. She's every bit of waist deep. For those who enjoy the log crossing, scamper while you can. The boisterous Mr. Keene has guffaw'ed a threat that we might find a way to relocate the log, so there may, or may not, be a stealth, or noisy, extraction mission down Turkey Hill Trail, and said log may or may not reside at the Wood Frog's personal lily pad in Wittman before long :)


After the fun with cameras segment, and the cooling properties of waist-deep April water, we were fully recharged and mucked through the bog, zig-zagged through Little Florida, and then watched a bald eagle fly out ahead of us as made our way down Pee Wees Trail. I've been running back in Tuckahoe for a few years now, and that is the first bald eagle in flight I can recall seeing. A rare treat in a special place. If you haven't gone running back there, or mountain biking or hiking, I'd get back there before high tick and poison ivy season, which is just around the corner.

Joel treated himself to new kicks this week, and after a road run, creek crossing, bog stomping and single track stepping, I think he's got them ready to roll for Delaware. At the end of the run, coming down to cross the bridge, Joel kicked the after burners on and stepped up the pace, a full 7.5 miles (at least) after running hills. I think he is set to rock the Delaware Trail Dawgs 10K on Saturday. And with the gills Wood Frog is developing, as well as the scorching pace he blazed on the full loop last week, he will likely have a heavy-breathing, lactic acid-loaded triple crown on his noggin by day's end. As for the rest of us? Stay tuned. One way or another, my prediction will be something like: everyone getting muddy, everyone having fun. There's probably supposed to be a line about Wang Chung in there somewhere as well, but that just doesn't make good trail running theme music ;) video

9 comments:

stephen bardsley said...

Mike and Joel, sounds like a great run! As one who runs Tuckahoe solo, with an Ipod in my Nathans hydration belt, and trains hard there in Jan and Feb for March marathons, i say keep the log! :-) I have seen a bald eagle circling the marsh above the lake. He had literally hundreds of ducks scattering in the skies. They are the best waterfowl hunters on the eastern shore. Look forward to running there with you guys soon! later, stephen

Runners on Trails said...

Ha! Well said, Bardsley...KEEP THE LOG! Plus, it sounds like there has yet to be a fast wade across the creek because we seem to have to take pictures and video everytime. No one has ever filmed a log crossing. Hmmm. Wood Frog

Michael Valliant said...

For the record, log brothers, the first creek crossing, a la Landy, was much faster than Joel and I crossing on the log. The creek crossing ads a new element of fun to the run. I will concur with Bardsley, Keene and I have both logged plenty of December through February miles back there, at which time the log becomes a great friend. HOWEVER, it is never good form to call out someone on the lack of gumption to gitterdun. If the log goes, the Frog has only himself to ribbit to ;)

landy said...

Ha, I love the log comments as always. I say if it's "too cold" to run through the creek then the creek must be frozen over. Then you can run/skate across. Otherwise, plow right through. It's not like we're living in a place with an especially cold winter. Then again, maybe there is a reason I am fighting the flu :)

Now, perhaps an added element such a rope swing would add a different variable to the equation...

Michael Valliant said...

Two words: zip line!

Lest anyone misinterpret - log or no log is all in good fun, I do appreciate the log in the winter, and was thrilled to have first "discovered" it a few years ago, the first time I connected Turkey Hill and Little FLA. I have come full bore into the crossing camp, for the added element of fun on the run. We will have to find an interesting way to come at the log/no log challenge!

Rise Up Runners said...

The video of the crossing is only meant to inspire new runners to take the Tuckahoe Challenge!

landy said...

Now that's what I'm talkin' about! Can we get a video on a good log scramble to compare.

stephen bardsley said...

guys, you could probably get a good video of Keene and I crossing the log, but those with the cameras are usually arriving long after Keene and i have scrambled across! Man, did i really just go there! All in good fun though, and i am neck deep if need be next time i am there. seriously though, from a strictly speed standpoint, i dont think if i was challenging Keene for the Tuck10challenge, i dont think i want the added water weight of saturated shoes for the remainder of the run. Later guys, you know my cocky banter is in fun, and not typically like me! stephen

Michael Valliant said...

Stephen - an unstated, but now stated rule, of course all banter is in good fun, and talk away. Trail shoes generally drain quickly, and I have found I don't notice wet shoes on the remaining part of the run. I am going to go out on a limb...ahem...or not, and say that the ultimate record holder for the challenge, will be a creek crosser, rather than a log scrambler. If we have an actual race day, I think the winner of the day will get there the same way. Now, if the creek crossers had to race the log scramblers, I think the strategy would be for me and Joel to try to dunk you, Keene, and Charlie in the creek, while we send our speed sorti on ahead to bring home the gold ;) Trail running meets rugby...