Friday, November 20, 2009

The Tribe

Lori, Laura, Keene, Shizaun, Mike B., Mike V., Brenan, Dominic, and Kathy represented the RUR tribe at a recent Easton 5K. Landy was running laps with his kids for the fun run while this photo was taken. Joel's little piggies got none.

27 degrees. 25 mph winds. A weekend beach house at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Seven Rise Up Runners running full or half-marathons, and family rolling down. That's the answer to the question: what were the RUR's up to this weekend LAST year.

The race itself was a blast and marked some firsts and/or personal bests for a number of us. But the race was only part of it. It was as much, or more, being part of the tribe that rolled down there together. That has been one of the coolest things about any number of the races where multiple RURs have gone down together. It's the vibe from the tribe.

This year, there are no repeat offenders for Rehoboth, though there had been talk. But Keene and Joel (or so Joel claims ;) cooked up something cooler for the group this year: The Washington DC Monument Run. Per Keene, it is essentially a run from monument-to-monument, throughout the city, covering roughly 10 miles. We're leaving Easton in the dark of Sunday morning.

Funny thing. Once it was put out there, thrown as a challenge, the drums started rolling. Likely participants inlcude Keene, Joel, Landy, Andrew, Lori, Katherine, Dominic, Brenan, Shaun, and Valliant. Take out the race itself, and the tribe stays primal.

And running as a group qualifies as pretty primal. Granted, we're not running prey down to cook (Andrew does that on other days) for subsistence, but running as a group goes back at least as far. I've been amazed at how this group steps up to challenges, to do something fun, to get together, to make a mark, to share an experience and kick some endorphins.

Look for photos and a write-up from the Rise Up Runner DC Monument Run to be posted soon. Can't wait to get out there. To do something different. To kick it with the tribe.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thru-Riding the C&O Canal Towpath

The RUR Stevensville Correspondent, Stephen Bardsley, has been at it again. Readers of the Rise Up Runners blog may remember Stephen's Tour de Shore guest blog of a year ago. The Tour de Shore was a more-or-less impromptu adventure, as the rain washed out Stephen's attempt to thru-ride the C&O Canal Towpath. A year later, and better weather, Stephen gave his adventure another shot...

"Let the wild rumpus begin!"

I have to tell you that as far as the scenery, this ride can not be topped. Most of it follows the Potomac river. I wish prior to the ride i had learned more of the history of the canal, and its use. It was hard not to stop every five minutes and take a picture of the rock formations, aqueducts, river, and wildlife.

Sunday morning I left Cumberland, Md., it was clear, but brisk. I took the family pictures at the 184.5 mile marker which marks the end of the canal towpath. I stopped at the 30.0 miles and took some pictures at the Paw Paw tunnel. Across the river from Paw Paw WV., the river winds around at this point, and when the canal was being built, the crew saved themselves 6.5 miles of canal construction by going right through the middle of the mountain. The tunnel itself is .6 of a mile. Pitch black inside.

Bardsley at Paw Paw Tunnel.

I had lunch at 44.6 miles for the day at "famous" Bills Place. This restaurant and general store is frequented by bikers, hikers, fisherman and hunters. I had decided long before the ride, that this stop would be my big meal for the day. The Ravens game was on, and i got a belly full of open faced roast beef and gravy fries.

Feeling good, and the bike working perfectly, my next stop was at one of the primitive camp sites along the river. I was at 65.8 miles for the day, and this seemed like a good resting spot. I set up the one man tent and THIN sleeping bag that were loaded on the bike. I put on every piece of Under Armour clothing that I had with me. It was getting dark by this time, and I was a long way from anything or anyone. Things went down hill quickly for me. The temperature plummeted, and it quickly became evident that with the temps in the low 40's, I had brought the wrong sleeping bag, and was in trouble. By three in the morning, I was extremely cold, and everything was wet being so close the the river.

The morning of day two was rough. I broke camp shivering, and got back on the bike. I rode 22.6 miles before I reached Williamsport. I called my father, and had a bit of a mental breakdown. I hadn't slept, I hadn't eaten since the afternoon of the previous day, my legs didn't have any snap, and my pace was extremely slow. My fear now was that with not being able to make any kind of pace, I would not make it to Harpers Ferry by night fall. I was not going to sleep outside by the river again! I got a belly full of pizza, and got back on the bike. Talking with my father was a boost as was the food. My pace quickened, I crossed the river for a food stop in West Virginia at mile 53.1 for the day. I got some food in Shepardstown. At this point I knew I could make Harpers Ferry by night fall, and my father had since talked to a travelers hostel located there. I crossed back into Maryland and rode the final twelve miles to Harper Ferry. they were expecting me at the hostel when I got there, the girl on duty gave me the house tour. I picked my bunk, got clean linens and settle in. 71.0 miles for day two.

A dry, warm night's sleep at the Harper's Ferry Hostel.

The hostel is a member of Hostelling International. The bedding was clean, the shower was hot, and most of all, I was inside for the night.($18 for the night). I had bought a can of ravioli in Shepardstown and put it in my bike panier. Let it be know that I don't eat canned ravioli, but after three minutes in the microwave, it might be the best meal that I ever ate! I was in by bunk at the Hostel at 7pm. 7:30am the next morning I pulled myself out of the bunk, and made the "you cook" pancake breakfast provided for the travelers that were there.

Stephen marking the Monacacy Aqueduct.

The morning ride was cold, but I took a break at the 17.9 mile mark. I was at the Monacacy Aqueduct, a beautiful spot where the rivers meet. I took a lunch break at Pooles general store in Seneca Md.(mile 39.7 for the day) From this point on I was in the home stretch and the trail was familiar. Because this stretch is so close to Washington, and bikers frequent this part of the trail, it is the most groomed stretch. my legs and shoulders were really sore by this point. Frequent stops were made to apply flex-all, and take an S Cap. I took lots of pictures in the final twenty miles.

Among the views at Great Falls.

Great Falls is spectacular, and there is a restored canal boat in that section of the canal. From here on in, the canal is full of water. Unlike most of the canal which had long been drained and forested over, as you (Valliant and Keene) both know from the 27 mile section of the JFK 50 miler. (I thought of both of you as I rode that section). My seventy-two year old father was waiting for me with two miles to go on the ride. We finished together, and took pictures at the Mile 0 marker in Georgetown. My odometer read 200.9 miles for the three days. Total time in the saddle was 17 hours and 11 minutes. (just over 12 mph pace) All in all this was a great ride!

Two Bardsley's at Mile Marker 0, trip complete. Well done, Stephen!

The bike was flawless, and the tires I chose were perfect. Most of the trail, even the un-groomed sections were dry and easily rideable. I had researched the ride well, and the information downloaded for was incredibly detailed, and accurate. My only problem was not having the right sleeping bag on the first night. I don't know if I would ever ride the whole canal again, but plan on doing sections of it again for sure. I would like to do the Georgetown to Harpers Ferry 60 mile section next year with 11 year old Joshua (3 days x20 miles). The park service does a great job upkeeping the primitive camp sites that are located every 5-6 miles, with clean porta-pots, potable water well pumps, and most sites even have firewood left at the fire rings by the park service. The scenery is stunning, and the history of this canal is pretty interesting.

In hind sight, I don't know if any one day was marathon or ultra marathon hard, but there is something about the multiple day stage rides that make them just as difficult. Motivating the mind and muscles for the second or third days is a challenge, and finishing a solo and unsupported undertaking like this is very rewarding. I am proud of this ride, and it now ranks up there for me with the JFK 50, and my Tour de Shore, as one of my Epic life adventures!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Point to Point

Shaun, Katherine, Andrew, Bickford, and Valliant after a Sunday run from Easton to Oxford. Photo by Dominic, who got in an early run and then provided shuttle services.

Fall. School. Dark earlier. OctoberFest beer. Cooler runs. Racing season. Fall has always been my favorite time of year. As the last week's runs will attest to, weather-wise, we ain't there yet. She's still "close" out in the mornings. But motivation is kicking up. Runs that start in the dark are starting to cool a bit. The trail running circuit will be on point soon.

This past Tuesday, we were back to 5 runners meeting at 5 a.m. Dominic, Lori, Andrew, Shaun, and Valliant. The first time we achieved that distinction (5 at 5) was spring 2008 and the runners were Dominic, Joel, Landy, Valliant, and Don Marvel. That's been one of the interesting things as the group has grown--meeting new people, mixing things up, and getting a charge when different people make it out.

Sunday, we kicked in a run from Easton to Oxford, saw the return of Dominic, post fractured foot, and got to catch up with Mike Bickford and Katherine Binder, who have each been logging the miles and increasing their speed. It will be fun to see what races folks pick as a focus for their running fitness. Katherine is focused on the Rehoboth Beach Marathon; Bickford, like me, hasn't signed up for any fall races, though it seems just a matter of time.

This past week has also seen an RUR return to the track for some speed work. I think we have Shaun to "thank" for that ;)

Though we've got until September 21 to claim it's summer, there's a change going on. Kids and teachers have returned to school. Long runs are getting longer. Fall is the season, for some of the best running. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

RUR Road Trips/A Rise Up Kick in the Pants

Andrew, Valliant, Katherine, Shaun, and Keene on San Domingo Creek after a Tuesday morning Bay Hundred jaunt. Where the hell is Joel?

Running seems to have attrition and burn-out built in to it. Attrition comes in the form of injuries (no one should play tennis and run ;) or a new goal, like say, swimming across the Bay. And burn-out hangs out in the same night club--you've set a target race, you've trained, you accomplish your goal, now what?

And let's face it, getting up in the 4:oo's to run around the same streets can become routine, monotonous. That's why I am glad that we've had a couple things happen of late that have allowed our weekday morning runs to break free of the commonplace.

The first involves welcoming a new Rise Up Runner. I've known Andrew Southworth for about 19 years now--since he was a freshman in high school. He's not someone I would have guessed would end up digging running. He's another "clydesdale" in the RUR ranks--former football and lacrosse rock star. Andrew and his wife Katie got serious about running around their neighborhood to get ready for a spring 5K in Denton, which they both did great in. I said something to Andrew about the Chestertown 10-miler in May, and Andrew trained and ran his first 10-miler. Awesome.

The newest RUR Andrew Southworth outruns a garbage truck to finish up a run around St. Michaels.

Funny thing about Andrew as a weekday morning runner. He lives in Cordova, not in Easton where most of our weekday runners stumble out of their doors into the dark. So meeting him takes some forethought. His first morning run with us, Joel, Shaun, Andrew, and Valliant went out to Tuckahoe State Park for a 5-mile loop and a dip in the lake. Andrew's next run, we cruised down to the Strand in Oxford and ran 6.5 miles in the rain. And yesterday, we chugged down to St. Michaels and connected different parts of the town and ran into Bay Hundred area RURs Keene and Katherine. Our normal weekday runs have turned into road trip adventures. A Tour de Shore.

"Paddle Boy," Joel Shilliday in action on San Domingo Creek.

And tied into that formula for adventure is Joel's new-found hobby: stand-up paddleboarding. Going to Oxford and to San Domingo Creek in St. Michaels, was also precipitated by the fact that Joel needed water access to drop his SUP board in the drink. So the rest of us run while Joel gets a paddle in. I look forward to seeing where we will go next!

So new faces, new energy, new terrain, new adventures. It's been just the Rise Up kick-in-the-pants that I've needed!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bittersweet: My Race As I See It, Oops, I Mean Saw It

Heir Bieber, Valliant, Charlie Cauffman, and Keene mack some grub post-Eagleman.

The last few races I’ve participated in, I had the pleasure of starting with a friend or two. The Eagleman left me alone with my nervous energy which can be a healthy adversary, or a day ending enemy. I began to talk to those around me to settle any pre-race jitters. It worked and I met some very nice people, as well as one loony woman from Pennsylvania.

I was starting in wave 6, the largest wave of the morning, at 7:27. We had five minutes between waves to get into the water and warm up. The queue to get into the water ate up most of that time which may have worked in my favor. I had little time to think about much at all. By the time I made it into the water they were calling out, “10 seconds” and I had to scamper to the start buoy on the left, as instructed by Mr. Keene. I reached the front of the line with about two seconds to spare and prepared myself for the wild wrestling match that encompasses the start of most triathlons. But it was not to come. In the past I’ve been kicked, dunked, punched, had the goggles smacked off my face, groped, and forced to swallow water. However, the start to this race was pleasant. There was some mild bumping that almost resembled a warm hug. Maybe the racers at the head of the swim are better swimmers and therefore less violent in a frenzy. By the first turn I was in a small pack that forced me to break stride only once and by the second turn I almost felt alone. I settled into a nice rhythm and realized I would definitely survive the swim. The final leg of the swim had us swimming into the wind and in a healthy chop. It was the only time I knew I was in open water. As I approached the shore I noticed that some of the women (in pink caps) from the group that started behind me had made up the five minutes between our groups. I never considered myself a swimmer so I should have expected the top women to catch me, but I never thought about it. However, I did pass a few of the slower people from the group before me. My swim time was 37:06 and I was thrilled with the result.

I got into transition, out of my swim gear, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and was on the bike in 2:49. It was the longest transition I’ve ever had, but I’ve never needed to load up with so much food. Because there were 2000 participants, it was the largest transition area I’ve been in and the greatest distance between timing mats I have ever seen.

Finally, the bike….this is what I’ve been waiting for. I trained the better part of a year to get my bike where I have it. I usually average about 22 mph over about 20-25 miles in a sprint tri. My goal for the Eagleman was to maintain an average above 20 mph over the 56 mile course. For as friendly as triathletes are before the race and during the run portion, they are eerily quiet on the bike leg. One of the only comments you will hear is, “ON YOUR LEFT” bellowed as a rider zips past. As a generalization, triathletes are nervously humble at the swim start (because most of us are poor swimmers), carry uber-egos with them on the ride, and are extremely encouraging on the run. This is when you just try to focus on form and nutrition. However, it is also when all the high dollar “bling” shows up. It is hard not to notice when $15,000 rides by, or when you glide by $15,000 worth of gear. For anyone who has not experienced this you can hear the gentle “whir” of a $2500 pair of Zipp wheels or a $2200 disc wheel (yes, singular) coming long before they pass you. It is bittersweet.

For the first three quarters of the ride I stuck to my nutritional plan. I also kept glancing at the speedometer which seemed to constantly have a two in the tens place. My view was obscured by the areo water bottle resting between my aerobars. Either way, when you ride enough you get a feel for your speed and I knew I had the 20 plus mph average in the bag. There was a section of newly paved road that stretched for about 12 miles where I was cruising comfortably between 24-25mph, yet still getting passed occasionally.

Unfortunately, it was the last quarter of the ride that burst my little bubble. The last 20 miles was mainly open space, either farm fields or water. It simply funneled the increasing morning winds directly into our faces. Each pedal stroke quickly became twice the workload. I could sense the speedometer dropping between 14 and 17 mph. To make matters worse, I could not stand the thought of anymore gel. Just thinking about another swig led to the scent of vanilla in my mind that made my stomach quiver violently. It seemed as if time was flying by but I was riding on a treadmill, working hard yet going nowhere. It was so depressing, it was almost funny. I kept peeking at my mileage and it seemed stuck on fifty something. Over the last five miles my legs started to cramp, especially the outside of my quad (abductors or adductors?). I still can’t figure out if it was nutrition, or if I pushed the bike too hard. Keene seems to think the later. I got back to transition in 2:54:01, an average of 19.5 mph. I was really hoping for 2:45, but that was in perfect conditions.

My second transition should have taken all of one minute. In a sprint race it takes me about thirty seconds. My bike to run transition was a disappointing 5:46. I had to stretch and massage my legs. For a second I thought about stopping altogether. I decided to run nice and easy to see if they would loosen up. Oh yeah, I also popped anything that closely resembled a salt/electrolyte tablet.

I think I slowly jogged the first 4 miles. Then I decided to walk a little. The support from the other racers helped remind me why I enjoy these events so much. I had not taken more than three steps before a fellow runner shouted, “It is waaaay too early to be walking. Come on, pick up the pace.” This got another mile out of me. I kept thinking, “just get to mile 6 before Valliant catches you.” My legs were killing me. One stride, I felt like I knew I would make it and the next I thought my legs might give out. For the rest of the race I ran a little only to walk and stretch. A little jingle from the band Cake seemed to capture the moment, Bowel shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse, assail him, impale him, with monster truck force As I was stretching around mile nine another stranger stated, “come on blue (my shirt color) run a pole, walk a pole” (referring to the telephone poles on the road). This sort of exchange occurred all over throughout the run. It was heartwarming. Mike Valliant finally caught me around mile ten. He offered to run with me like the nice guy that he is and I told him not to hold back. We later found out that our little exchange may have cost him second place.

Somewhere between mile ten and eleven runners could hear a faint, rhythmic pounding in the distance. Before long the smooth sounds of Michael Jackson filled your ears from two blocks away. The enthusiastic party that we saw on the way out at mile three had grown into full blown mayhem for the return run. The party was huge and even had an MC. He was pretty good too. Surprisingly, his comments were all positive because there was not a sober person among them. As I approached and they realized I was the next racer to pass the property, they encouraged me to hit the slip-N-slide they had placed mostly in the yard, but a little too close to the curb. My mind said, “OH YEAH”, while my body screamed, “HELL NO”. I had a kind of fleeting “snapshot premonition”. I saw myself gliding down the cool, wet mat in a second of relief and release only to completely cramp and drown in four inches of watery beer sludge and possible urine. I could see them notifying my wife of my immense stupidity and offering their sympathy. In a moment of clarity I declined the invitation that I hope to hell will be there next year. However, no sooner did I decline before the heaviest drinker of the day approached to offer his latest beer as he took a few steps with me. I only had a few seconds to make my choice because this guy somehow defied the laws of physics and began to lose momentum almost before he started to run with me. And to be clear this was not because he did not want to leave the party, he truly wanted me to have the beer, he was just in that bad of shape. I flipped through the possible outcomes at light speed. Could I be disqualified? Damn, the beer is full, and therefore he probably did not take a sip yet. Would it cause me to cramp and not finish? I could almost feel how cold it was from a foot away. I made the right choice in the end. I could always pay someone to drive me back there after the race, punch that dude, drink 13 beers (one for every mile) and sleep in the slip-N-slide. That little scenario entertained me for at least another mile.

At last, I finished the race with a kid I met in the transition area at the start of the race. Our bikes were about three spaces apart. He drove up from Virginia to better his time from last year by almost an hour. My run should have taken 1:30-1:40. Instead I ran 13.1 miles in 2:28:15 and although it disgusts me to type that, I did finish. I ended with an overall time of 6:07:55. An old friend, Mark Williams, placed a medal around my neck and gave me a hug. Neither of us knew the other would be at the race. It was a nice way to end a long day. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything for six hours, except sleep. Damn I’m good at sleeping, but I hear Keene has me beat there too.

A month ago I would have told you I was gunning for a 5:30 or better, but at the start of the race with my recent running problems I was hoping to break six hours, and as I headed out on the run I was praying just to finish. It is funny how goals are always changing based on new data. On a side note, on the way out for my run Desiree Flicker, my second favorite female triathlete, was coming into the finish and I got to give her a high five. She finished third.

In the end, the thrill of finishing such an event, having my family there to share the moment, enjoying time after the race with friends (new and old), and soaking up every bit of the whole race “vibe” was precious. The entry fee was a rip off, as in I ripped them off.

In the words of Abraham Lincoln: "If I had eight hours to chop down a tree; I'd spend six of them sharpening the axe." I will sign up for next year’s race the day it opens, I will use what I learned Sunday to “sharpen my axe” into a gleaming razor for next year, and I will be under 5:20.

--(Heir) Dan Bieber

Thursday, April 23, 2009

RUR Roots Race

This weekend marks a roots race of sorts for the Rise Up Runners. Trail Dawgs in 2008 was the first race for our fledgling running group. Joel, Landy, Keene, and Valliant rolled over to Newark, ran various races, and met the RUR ultra guru Derek. A recap of the day can be found in the RUR blog archives, here.

In my mind, the Trail Dawgs course boasts one of the premier 13 mile loops around. If you poke around the triple crown photos on the blog here or on the TD site, you'll find scenic single track, a sweet creek crossing, a grassy finish (positioned at the end of a pretty mean climb, especially if you are making it for the second time to finish the full marathon!).

Since this time last year, the Rise Up Runners have grown exponentially per number of runners. We've gone as far north as Vermont as a relay team for the Vermont 50-miler. We've headed to Killens Pond to complete a 50K. We've taken Rehoboth Beach by storm for the inaugural marathon there. And RUR's rocked the podium most recently in Denton for a local 5K.

Anyone who runs with us will tell you, this is not a running group about racing. But man is it fun to head to a race with a pack of folks, push yourselves, inspire each other, and enjoy the day and being outside and running. On Saturday RUR's Lori, Keene, Shaun, Bieber, Joel, and Valliant head to Newark. Lori and Keene go after the Triple Crown (half-marathon, stop, 10K, stop, 5K, running the gauntlet), while the rest of us look to rock the half-marathon. AND, an RUR first, Liz Shilliday and Robin Valliant will come out and have at the 10K.

Weather looks warm and sunny. Should be a blast. We'll look for what the next group race might be. We've covered some miles over the past year plus. But it occurs to me that one thing remains the same: we've yet to kidnap Charlie and get him out to a race...;)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Run in the Snow

You can't beat a snow day. Not flurries, but enough snow to slow or stop work and/or life around town as we know it. We had one of those snows this past Sunday/Monday. And most things around Easton and Talbot County took heed and stayed indoors. Most things.

One of the things I have enjoyed the most about the Rise Up Runners crew is that just about everyone is a gamer. Not a videot (vidiot) kind of gamer stuck on the couch or in front of a screen, but the kind of gamer who likes to bring their "A" Game to adverse terrain, weather conditions, or bizarre kind of challenges :)

For the Rise Up Runners, Monday morning was a call to action to run in the snow. Mike "Snow Frog" Keene ventured up to Easton from Wittman, while Joel Shilliday, Shaun Hunter, Lori Callahan, and Valliant ran to Lori's to meet and see where we could run. We explored the town with the help of Joel's black lab Sampson.

There was some serious high-stepping involved at times. There was some mean wind and snow whipping if you ran against it. But it was surreal and a blast and a perfect way to kick off a week with friends and an expedition. I find I am as prone, or more so, to wanting to go play in the snow at age 36 as I was when I was 6. Glad to see I am not alone on that!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

By Foot or By Board

Some things are the same, whether you get up early to run or to hop on a longboard. One, you still have to get up early. Two, you should probably still bring something to drink. Three, with this morning as an example, it is still cold. And four, most importantly, when the weather is right, you still catch a sweet sunrise. Coming back up Oxford Road this morning with Charlie and Landy, I was glad to stop and bust out the camera to catch a couple photos. My bulky gloves didn't do any favors with trying to take anything worth keeping, but it's something.

This morning was 18.5 miles or so--my longest ride to date, with much more long distance pumping than pushing. One key difference between running and longboarding though: later in the morning, I was quick to jump back on the longboard to hit Rails to Trails with our Golden Retriever Ivan. I felt fairly spent after the morning's long ride, but still good. I can't say I've ever gone back out to run later the same morning of an 18-mile run :)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rise Up Longboarders?

Our oldest son, Will (6) on my Subsonic Pulse 40.
It's all Derek's fault really. I mean this in the nicest way. It all started when he sent us a link about this guy named Barefoot Ted, who is an ultrarunner who recently started skateboarding very long distances through a technique known as long distance pumping or LDP.

At first, I sort of chuckled and thought "That's just the sort of crazy thing Derek would be into". But then I thought about it some more and came around to the idea that is could really be challenging and fun.

I always wanted to skateboard when I was growing up, but it just never happened for me. I tried out a friend's board here and there but never really felt coordinated with it. The board felt too tiny, the wheels didn't seem to roll enough. Who knows? I even tried again on a small street board when my son wanted a skateboard a couple years ago, and nothing had changed- I still stunk. But now, things are a lot different with longboards. The boards are bigger, sometimes much bigger. The wheels are bigger too and actually roll nicely. Balance is more comfortable at first, and this long distance pumping idea seemed more like exercise, more like a long run, and more like a challenge that was less pounding on the body than a marathon but no less intense. If you have a few minutes, I highly recommend checking out James Peters' excellent site on LDP here. There are also a few videos filed under how to pump which demonstrate pumping better than I ever can in words.

Before I knew it, I had ordered a LDP board called the Pulse 40 from Subsonic Skateboards. I waited a few weeks for it to be made (very cool to have something made for you in this day and age), and then gave it a try soon after it arrived.

When I first got on the board, I was struck by two things. One, balance was way easier on this than any street/smaller skateboard I had tried before. Two, the board really likes to turn on the front trunk. It felt twitchy at low speeds or when trying to push off and go straight, but it turned so easily when I wanted it to that it inspired confidence early on. I really had no clue how to pump at first. I watched the videos several times and read the descriptions, and I soon managed a feeble wiggle on the front trunk that extended the glide of the board only a little. It wasn't really pumping, more like pumping light.

But I stuck with it. The first mile was exhausting. I felt muscles in my legs I didn't know I had. Every time I tried to push off the ground with one foot, I almost fell off. I felt wobbly. I fell a few times. But I was smiling most of the time. I felt like a kid again. After a few sessions, I began to feel an actual pump happening as I could feel the board accelerate during a quick turn. I could hit slightly higher speeds. One mile became two, and then three, and then five. I worked up to fifteen miles last Thursday and today I am hoping for twenty-five.

Soon, I was pumping to the Y to get to my other workouts in the early morning. I joined fellow RURs on my board alongside their morning run on a Tuesday, and I could keep up. I even joked the next time that I needed to find some faster running friends! All I can really say is that pumping is addicting, and that it feels sort of like a combination of other sports that I like. It has been described by others as surfing an endless concrete wave. I would say that it has the smooth feeling of rolling along just like cycling, with the steady rhythm and upper body movement of running. Add to that the improvisation and fun of dancing with the fluid, wavelike feeling of (pick your watersport). That is the best I can do to sum it up. Of yeah, I forgot to add to that a little bit of the feeling that LDP is weird, different, and, depending on where you live and skate, illegal, and you've got a pretty compelling package.

I'd love to share more, but I'd rather skate than type, and I have some training to do. Ultraskate VI is coming up in March, and I have to get ready for it!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

RUR Cross Training

The participants of the 2009 New Year's Day Stupidathon: Shaun, Lori, Landy, Brenan, Dominic and Valliant.

Despite the lack of posts, 2009 is off to a spirited start for the Rise Up Runners. We've got two incredibly active and mentally unstable new members: Brenan Roser and Shaun Hunter. Brenan came out for his first run on a 30 degree Sunday, full sleet, and slugged through a 5-mile Tuckahoe run. He and Shaun then joined us at 4:35 a.m. in front of the YMCA a couple days later, and each have made most runs since. Thus far, there hasn't been many challenges these two haven't stepped right up to do.

A case in point: The New Year's Day Stupidathon. Cooked up by Dominic and run with by Landy, this was conceived as a "healthy??" way to kick-0ff the new year in style. A 30 degree day with gusting winds greeted the six of us pictured above for our 16-mile bike, 4-mile run, and polar plunge into the Tred Avon River. A special thanks to Joel Shilliday, who was on the disabled list that day and Megan Cook who followed our crew around and took pictures throughout the adventure!

The biking leg of the Stupidathon took us out to Tunis Mills and back to Easton. For some reason, winter biking is MUCH colder than winter running! :)

The Stupidathon is indicative of a new trend in the RUR camp this year: cross training. Specifically, this winter, swimming. "Coach Keene" has faithfully led a group of RUR "swimmers" through a grueling swim workout every Tuesday morning at the YMCA. Not to be completely out of character, our group generally meets at 4:35 a.m. and gets in a 3+ mile run prior to swimming, then takes over the 25-meter pool at 5:15 a.m. or so. It's not uncommon for us to have seven people swimming and yesterday we had six folks for the run. Seems our escapades are getting earlier...hhhmmm....(not Derek early, but earlier ;)

And, in normal mud fashion, we've made our treks to Tuckahoe, with Shaun Hunter being the latest to complete the Tuckahoe 10-mile loop. We won't get into Valliant losing his shoe in the creek crossing and having to fish around for it in the frigid waters...

Our friend Joel has declared 2009 the year of the RUR "Tri." With swimming going strong and biking waiting for spring, there seems to be some momentum to that end. Yet, that isn't the only new take on endurance sports for the Rise Up Runners. Spurred on by Landy, we now also have some practitioners of long distance longboarding. But that is another post...