Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Learning to Wait; Ultra Skate VI

No heatlamp-warmed boards here. The crew at Longboard Larry getting to work on the very Walkabout I am skating.

I don't like to wait. I'm not alone. The proof can be found everywhere: fast food, drive-thrus, free overnight shipping, next day air (hello Amazon Prime), lose weight instantly, feel better today, one-stop-shopping. We want what we want as long as it's now.

The skateboarding world always seemed the same: pick the board you want from these models and off it comes. Your Tony Hawk or Lance Mountain or Rob Roskopp or Tony Alva was shipping out just like anyone else's. Running shoes and gear are the same.

The world of longboarding, and in particular long distance pumping is a different world, with different rules and a vastly different time table. It's the difference between said drive-thru and a meal at the nicest restaurant around--you slow down and you wait.

There are a number of "guys" making great longboards ("guys" in that you are often dealing with the individual making the board--no go between, no customer service, but you correspond with the person making and shaping your board). Subsonic Skateboards, Galac, and Roe Racing are among the best out there when it comes to long distance pumping. Another "guy" and company working among the best is Longboard Larry.

Any of these companies start making your board when you order it. And you wait. It can take a couple weeks if business is slow, to a month or more if they are jamming. Landy was on the stealth mode when he ordered his first board from Subsonic, didn't tell any of our running crew until his board was about to show up.

And the wait is worth it. When I slapped trucks, risers/wedges, and wheels on my LBL Walkabout when it arrived, it all clicked. Sometimes, waiting is worth it.

This week has been a lot about waiting. Waiting for Ultra Skate VI. Staying off the board, running and working out just a little to stay loose, trying to catch up on rest. Tapering in runner's terms. Why? Starting Friday night, we'll try to see how many miles we can skate in 24 hours. We've worked on routes, on gear, we've gotten riding in. So tomorrow night, we get the show roadbound and see what happens. Look for a report after the weekend.

So how do I feel about waiting around this week for Ultra Skate? About like this...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Crossing the Island

One of many cool views along the Cross Island Trail, Kent Island, Maryland.

I'm not sure I'll ever run another 50-mile race. But I haven't ruled it out. I've always been one to test my limits in terms of endurance, rather than speed. Talking some time ago to RUR tri-guy and analyst Dan Bieber, Dan mentioned that he was working getting sprint triathlons wired as he knew he could be competitive at the shorter distances, while he built his endurance up toward the longer stuff.

For me, the question isn't generally how fast I can run a particular distance (though that can drive me, for sure), rather how far can I go? For running, my current answer was found completing the JFK 50-mile race. Not fast, but finishing.

Longboarding adds a new dimension to that line of questioning. I am now a faster longboarder than runner (which makes sense, wheels and all :). Landy, Charlie, and I can hit 15 mph on Oxford Road at a stretch. The gliding, carving, and pumping is addictive. Pavement rolls underneath and the change in surface to a glassy stretch of road is surreal and seductive. Add a small hill and the wind at your back or the windy pavement in the Easton Club in the dark, and you've got a wild ride.

So first the question of the upcoming Ultra Skate, as Landy proposed it, was to see if we could skate 100 miles in a day. As we've been hitting the roads and trails, "Dr. Longboard" is starting to sing another tune: what about 150 miles? Do you think we could go for the full 24 hours? We haven't come to a conclusion, other than to have fun, let loose, and see what happens. We're devising our route to be a combination of Easton's Rails to Trails, Oxford Road from Easton to Oxford and back, and a heavy dose of the Kent Island Cross Island Trail.

Felllow longboarders Landy, Brian Wheatley and I cruised up to the Cross Island Trail on Sunday to do some scouting. Hard to believe that less than a week before, we had a snowy Rise Up Runner jaunt through Easton. Yesterday it was shorts and t-shirt weather, climbing into the 70s.

The Cross Island Trail has a number of fans: bikers, runners, walkers, they are all out there. I didn't notice any other longboarders, and it seems there is a novelty and mild fascination for folks when they see you go past on a longboard, LDP style!

A stellar way to enjoy the trail, the day, friends, and to find a groove and move into it. I hope to bookend more weeks with an epic style run (though it needn't be snowy) and a 15-mile or longer longboarding session. The week's workouts also included an indoor treadmill day, knocking out 7:30 minute miles, or an 8 mph pace for a solid hour, covering 8 miles. I am not a hamster wheel runner, but a solo run on a windy 13 degree morning didn't sound that fun...

My weekly workouts continue to be a combination of longboarding--with eyes on Ultra Skate--and running. I have a feeling the balance part of that equation will lean differently based on upcoming race schedules, opportunities and challenges.