Sunday, February 22, 2009

30-Mile Weekend

The sunrise over wetlands along Oxford Road, as seen on a longboard Saturday morning.

I got lucky. I don't normally take to the roads both mornings of a weekend. So racking up a conservative 30 miles, likely 50K, over the course of two days was a treat.

Saturday morning was cold. The Weather Channel warned something like 20 degrees, colder with wind chill. But it doesn't take long to learn that cold is not nearly so debilitating as wind on a longboard. And since the wind slept in, Charlie, Landy and I opted to head out. The plan was to meet in Easton behind Coffee East at 5 a.m.

Running early, I've often thought there's not much cooler than running to an ipod infused soundtrack to a sleeping town. The pre-sunrise morning offers the sublime to those who will go find it. But pumping and cruising up Washington Street listening to Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix, the trek on a longboard surpassed the "coolness" of a morning run.

We donned headlamps and vests and had the town to ourselves, aiming up Oxford Road. Prior to sun up, you can pretty well own the road, not relegated to only the bike lane. It makes it easy to get into a groove and hone in long distance pumping technique.

We've been running in the mornings long enough now that motorists may have become accustomed to high beams hitting reflective vests on their way to town. I can tell you, they are not accustomed to grown men on skateboards coming at them. I can guess that we have become the subject of confused cell phone discussions or what seemed a lack of caffeine-induced hallucination.

I loaded my backpack with a couple bottles of Propel, which make for tasty slushies, a Balance bar, which was too frozen to eat, and thankfully a camera for the trip. Catching a sunrise during a long trek with friends is one of the key reasons to run or skate early.

After a good out-and-back route on Oxford Road, we returned to hit a bit of Easton, ending up on Rails to Trails, a stretch unencumbered by cars, except for street crossings. Both routes (Oxford Road and Rails to Trails) will likely be incorporated into our upcoming Ultra Skate on March 21.

Landy and Charlie nearing the North Easton Sports Complex at the northern end of Rails to Trails.

The end of our trek found me at 18.5 miles, based on Landy's GPS, which marks my longest longboard session to date.

Longboarding, a cold a couple weeks ago, swimming and cross training have cut into my running time, so I was determined to get a 10 to 12-mile run in on Sunday. Rain was likely and did in fact join us for our run. I slept in, slugged back some coffee, waited for the ladies of the house to get up and get straight and ran up to the YMCA to meet RUR peeps Joel Shilliday, Dominic Szwaja, and Dan Bieber. The goal was to explore the trails of the Cooke's Hope development and see where the trails led once across the foot bridge over Peachblossom Creek.

The rain took a backseat to conversation, exploration, and taking in the newer development along Llandaff Road. Dan and Dominic are notoriously speedy, so it kept the pace honest, especially given my lack of running. Dan peeled off at the Y, Joel at his crib, and Dominic joined me for a stretch of Rails to Trails. In the end, I logged about 12.5 miles or so at roughly an average of 8:3o pace.

30+ miles in two days, on longboard and on foot, enjoying the mornings and my Rise Up Runner friends. It sets the tone for the rest of the day. It helps me test myself. And the by-product is that it gets me closer to being ready for Ultra Skate and the Trail Dawgs in March and April.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On Deck...

The "Walkabout" from Longboard Larry. A good name, concept, and metaphor for what I dig about running and longboarding. Pilgrimages don't just come around at Thanksgiving.

Between 4 and 6 a.m., it is now not uncommon to catch a few longboards covering some of our running routes. If you don't see anyone out running on a Tuesday morning, it is likely there is a pool full of Rise Up Runners at the Talbot County Y.M.C.A. With cold comes cross training.

But that's not exactly what happened with me this winter. I got shown the way back to skateboarding. Not my old ollie, rail slide skateboarding, but long distance longboarding. 20 years ago, my free time was spent doing some combination of running, skateboarding and writing. That sounds much like the last couple weeks :)

I wouldn't have thought to combine distance running with longboarding. But having gone out for 16 miles, 13 miles, 9 miles, it is a great synthesis of things that are life affirming for me.

When I run I don't care if I never see pavement. So much the better. But now I'm in the habit of scoping around for smooth stretches of road or parking lots. I enjoy the variation. And I enjoy the possibities and adventures that distance longboarding has opened up. We have several great paved rail trails on Kent Island, around Annapolis, D.C., and leading into Baltimore. You'll be reading about our treks to various places--both online and in print.

In 2009, readers of The 4-1-Run will get their fill of trail running and running; fastpacking and multi-sport events; the antics of the Rise Up Runners, and adventures in longboarding. It's a current in RUR that's caught a few of us--Landy, Charlie and shortly Derek at the outset. If you want to get an idea of what is possible and what people are doing on longboards, check out James Peters's Pavedwave website and forum. A clearinghouse for long distance pumping and skateboarding. And if you think runners have the market and media corned for being nutty, you can check out Adam Colton and the crew embarking on Long Treks on Skate Decks--skating through South America.

As my race calendar develops for 2009, you'll notice the first event on it is a brainchild of Peters and the Pavedwave: Ultra Skate 2009. We'll be shooting for 100 miles and then decide if we'll keep going to try to make 24 hours. Yep, this is right up our alley :)