Monday, May 5, 2008

Backyard Adventures

The trail along with the White Clay Creek outside Newark, DE. Trails are always my preferred running terrain, but are they the end all? Photo by Joel Shilliday.

Last weekend we were running trails in Delaware, where I pounded my legs on hills and got in two light recovery runs this past week, each of about 40 minutes. Yesterday would have been the perfect day for a light 10-miler out at Tuckahoe or a run to St. Michaels, and we were debating which option to choose. And then I posted the Trans Tred Avon Challenge on the Rise Up Runners blog.

The goal was to do something cool for a long run, and get people thinking about when we could fit it in during the next month. Then a funny thing happened: we left the Diving Dog parking lot at 7:30 a.m., with 7 runners, to take the challenge, 48 hours after it was posted. For the full story on that run, check the RUR blog for photos, thoughts, etc.

What I thought I'd use as a point of departure here comes from a comment that Mike Keene (congratulations to the Wood Frog, by the way, for rocking his first triathlon! Read his report on his blog) made on Friday. To wit, trail running represents the kind of challenges, being in nature, pushing yourself over difficult terrain, that he wants out of his running and racing, and he would be just as happy not to run on roads at all.

Of course, I agree with him. However, I live in Easton, and the only "trail" we've got in town is actually paved. I run three times per week. On any given week, at least two out of those three are on roads. And unless we move to a house with trails in reasonably running proximity from the front door, that will remain the case.

So I'm a road runner too. What to do? The Trans Tred Avon Challenge, and other runs like it are part of my own answer. Make the runs different. Add an adventure factor. Create and tackle challenges with running friends. Yesterday's 20-21-mile run was one of the most enjoyable long distance runs I've ever done--based on how my legs felt, how nutrition went (no leg cramps, stomach issues, etc.), the perfect weather, and the fantastic company.

Our Rise Up Runs present another adventure avenue: running in the dark, earlier than most people get up. I'm not sure what the next "challenge" to be issued will be. I do know that there will be many more Trans Tred Avon runs, with ferry crossings, from various starting points--loops, point-to-points, and pool parties afterward.

The TTAC is a run I had been thinking about for a while. And all it took was 48 hours for a bunch of game-faced runners to step up and start it. What's the next Eastern Shore challenge out there? We know one is Joel Shilliday's Tuckahoe Creek Scramble. What else? Point-to-point from Easton to Tilghman? Kayak crossing of the Tred Avon, mid-run? There are so many backyard adventures, road or trail, I can't wait to see what the next run holds.


landy said...

Well said, Mike. Sunday's run was a blast, and it amazes me how throwing a little ferry crossing into the mix makes for a more interesting run.

I too believe I am a trail runner at heart, but you run on what you've got or you end up clocking a lot of miles in the car to get to your running destinations.

I think we can cook up many more interesting variations on the typical long slow run to include more unique challenges. True the road will never transform into a trail, but you can add interest to any road run with enough creativity.

Anonymous said...

Anyone game for Easton to Tilghman and back? I've been thinking about that one for a while. It may degrade from a long slow run to a gallo-walking festival.

landy said...

I could work up to it. I'd love a point to point to start though...How far is it each way?

Michael Valliant said...

All you comment readers out there, get ready. Prepare yourself for an upcoming challenge of ultra proportions..."33 on 33!"