Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tuckahoe Biathlon

Reilly, Mike B, Dan, Lori, Cole, James, and Wood Frog after our run, bike, and plunge at Tuckahoe State Park on Sunday.

Among the Rise Up Runner Sunday Tuckahoe crew were a couple of teenage boys on mountain bikes. Cole and Reilly got introduced to the 10 mile loop and the log crossing leading up to Little Florida Trail. RUR members included Michael B, Dan, James, Lori, and Wood Frog. Despite the intense heavy rainfall a few days ago, the trails were dry with easy footing.

There were two main features of today’s run. The first was when Cole got a flat tire 5 miles into the trail. The boys were cycling ahead of us runners for the most part, but we’d occasionally catch up to them on hills and when they were simply waiting for us. On the outer reach of the Tuckahoe Valley trail we passed the cyclists and never saw them again. The four of us (Lori hiked the 5 mile loop; resting her nearly heeled side injury) waited at the intersection of Creek side Cliff, Turkey Hill, and Tuckahoe Valley trails, but the boys never posted.

A plan was made to split up, having Mike and Dan go Creek side and WF and James go Tuckahoe Valley. We found the boys a little more than a mile up Tuckahoe Valley finishing up a tire repair. A good Samaritan aided them who had a spare tube and inflator. The boys had struggled with a repair by stuffing leaves and moss into the tire; very resourceful. Luckily, the other rider came along to help.
New Tuckahoe 10 Milers Reilly and Cole.

Now, the gang was looking at a 13ish mile run if we continued on the planned course, which we did. Everyone crossed on the log. I wish I had a camera of Dan shimmying across the log on his crotch (we heckled him). Cole and Rielly carried their bikes across the log without a problem.

The second feature of the run was the speed. My speed record is toast. I truly missed Valliant’s presence this morning on our outset. Mike generally sets an easy pace in the beginning, but these guys, today, went out with gusto. I noticed no one carried any water or fuel. I had a mini Clif and a bottle of water/Gatorade mixture. I don’t mind sharing my stuff, but I didn’t have a lot to share today. With the added mileage, I was worried about the other guys getting leg cramps or fuel problems. The group faired better than I thought, even though Dan had some pretty good cramps with 1.5 miles to go.

I was a spent-puppy trying to keep pace with these guys. There was no rest for the weary. When we all got back to the finishing bridge, Lori was waiting for us. Everyone did their own version of cleanup and cooling down in and around the dam. Mike waded into the water to his naval. Wood Frog stayed on top of the dam and cooled his knees and washed his shoes and socks in the 3 inches of flowing water. Our cycling guests brought their bikes out onto the dam and washed them off, and Woody jumped in the water completely; a polar bear plunge.
James after his polar bear plunge into Tuckahoe Lake. Notice the beads of water still on his skin; brrrrr.

It was a beautiful day there. I don’t think I’ve ever run there this time of year at that time of day. With the shadows so long and the sun dim it seemed like it was 4 in the afternoon the entire time we were there. Strange.

I will be retiring my Salamon trail shoes after today. These friends have carried me through a year and a half of adventures: the White Mountains, Vermont, Tuckahoe, and other adventures. They have served me well.

Saturday, Landy, the team, and I venture to Baltimore County for the Maryland Masters Swim meet #3. We all should swim in 5 events (3 individuals, and 2 relays). It will be a blast.

I hope all are warming up in the Christmas spirit. Love, swim, bike, and run.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Noble November

Rise Up Runners at Rehoboth: Laura, James, Dominic, Wood Frog, Lori, Joel, and Michael. photo by Liz

Surprisingly, November provided an incredible array of training and racing for my friends and me. I don’t generally think of November as a big month for racing, but with turning triathlete this year it’s now hard not to have some sort of race or adventure in every month. In addition to racing in my first swim meet this month (see previous blog entry), I ran a half marathon and a 10K. During Thanksgiving break (Wednesday through Sunday) I swam 3 times, biked 45 miles, and ran a 10K race. All except the bike ride include good times with friends. But, first, let’s back up a week:

The Rehoboth Beach Seashore Marathon is surely to become a yearly event for the Rise Up Runner crew. It was our first extended/overnight adventure as a team. Dominic rented a house for us in Rehoboth so we could relax Friday night, get a good night sleep, be at the race early, and have a place to shower and relax after the racing. In short we had 2 relay teams and 3 full marathon runners (7 runners in all). All were successful in achieving personal goals in the frigid weather we had on race day. Friday night saw a light dusting of snow (and near white-out driving conditions). I am most proud of my teammate, Joel, for running his first ½ marathon in well under 2 hours, and of Michael for running his first sub-four hour marathon and behaving afterwards like it was just another day in the office. There is a complete write up of our Rehoboth experience on the RUR blog.

My addition to the Rehoboth story is the deer hunter tale. While Laura and I were waiting on the bus at the ½ marathon transition station at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes and among the runners wrapped tightly in their neat running tights, shorts, and technical clothing, came a deer hunter in fluorescent orange and camouflage dragging a dead deer he’d just shot. He announced to those of us at his arrival that “his” was a real marathon of having to drag a deer ½ mile through the woods,” and that, “the runners need to be wearing orange, as well, because the woods were full of hunters”. I announced to the bus load of runners that our added challenge for our race was to “not get shot”. It was a mixing of two very different sporting worlds, of which I’ve been a part of both. To have them come together on a race day was very weird for me. The hunter was the “anti-athlete” as I was prepared to do CPR on him if he collapsed from his exertion. I would have much rather drag the 200 pound deer instead of him (250+).
"You have been warned, runners!" Photo taken on Joel's camera by WF

My run at Rehoboth was motivating. It actually has me thinking about running another full marathon, again. It is probably the first race of length that I ran negative splits. My last mile was in the 7:10 pace range which is fast for this old guy.

After the half marathon I had less than a week to be ready for the annual Run for Hospice 10K at the YMCA. The real treat for me was that my daughter and my niece both ran their first 10K with me on Friday. We were standing in front of the Y when the starting signal went off. I wanted to hang with them but they shouted for me to “RUN, we want to see you get the big W!” I didn’t have the heart to tell them I wasn’t going to win this race but I did kick it into gear after the first ¼ mile. I passed my last person in front of Waverly, and there I maintained 7th place for the rest of the race. I thought I was being challenged while in Oaklands, and I was, by a few fellows, but I was able to stretch it out and preserve my position.

Ahead of me were Mike Bickford (a solid 5th with a sub 42 minute run) and Noah Wood who snatched 3rd place at around 40 minutes. Mike ran 2 miles from his house to the start (that’s how Dean Karnases started out) that morning. Noah is always a happy face to see at the races. I’m glad he comes to the Eastern Shore to show us what its like to run fast. He introduced me to the winner, Ward, who ran the 6.2 miles in 37 minutes and change. Lori (one of the RUR’s) ran a strong 3rd place race ahead of my girls even though she had a tissue injury. Laura (our newest RUR) won the women’s division with a time around 47 minutes. My girls finished in 55ish minutes with a strong run to the clock.

Added features to this year’s record 300+ crowd race were a small running exposition with vendors in the gym, limited tee shirts (they ran out by the time we arrived, which is fine by me), and traffic police who stopped the cars and not the runners. It was a well run event with limited prizes (fine again by me) and the hope that they made a bundle for the good Hospice people.

Thanksgiving Day provided me opportunity to take a long ride on the bike while the family was sleeping in and having a lazy day before we headed to friends for dinner. Julius could be seen parked alone at the Cambridge South Dorchester High School parking lot while I was plying the back roads that snake through the marshes of Blackwater. It was an inspiring ride (I took it easy; 17mph average for 45 miles) with bright sunshine, light winds, much wildlife, and time to think. Though I can enjoy a solo ride, I hope to have company there for my next trip back to Dorchester.

Saturday morning saw 6 of us in the pool, including Landy, for a long strenuous workout designed by Glenn and Rachel, our coaches. We did forty – 2 minute intervals of 75’s, 100’s, 150’s, or in Glenn’s case, 200’s. Ten of these intervals included push-ups after 25 yards of butterfly stroke. Landy has a very strong butterfly and was racing Rachel (assistant swim coach at UM) who is killer underwater. Landy was king on the surface though.

I am finding my swimming is getting stronger and somewhat faster. More importantly, I am really enjoying it. I like the aspect of having friends in the pool and doing intervals with the team. The competition aspect keeps me focused and makes the time fly by. No matter what my speed is, there is always someone to race, some aspect of my form to concentrate upon, or some time to just feel the water, as the coach likes us to do. Landy is a great addition to our team, and I look forward to more good workouts with him and learning from him.

It's been a great succession of racing/training days. On the agenda: get back to Blackwater as soon as possible with some friends, December 20 swim meet in Catonsville, and Christmas parties. Love, swim, bike, and run...

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Trail is WET

Some of the Team TCY Masters posing during our Salisbury Meet on November 15th. From yellow towel: Coach Emily, Rebecca, Ona, Kristina, and Bill. I'm lurking on the far left. Photo was taken by Deena.

2008 has brought me many adventurous “firsts”: my first triathlon, my first cycling competition, my first open water swim, my first Ironman event, and our crew’s first time winning High Point on the Lark. While four of our newest Rise Up Runners were taking to their first Tuckahoe 10-mile loop this weekend on the trials, I was losing my virginity in a Salisbury pool. Yes, I competed in my first swim meet with the TCY Masters against, among many, the dirty Dogfish of Salisbury.

A common thread all these adventures have had for me is that they all involve connection with some wonderful people. Saturday in Salisbury was no exception. During our team practices there is little time to get to know the other swimmers, especially with the demanding workouts given by coaches Glenn and Emily. Saturday, not only, provided the perfect opportunity to get to know my teammates, but it also provided opportunity for our team to come together and support one another. As I was swimming my first event (which, by the way, was the very first heat, first event of the meet), both ends of lane 5 were filled with MY teammates (left goggle tearing up) yelling support for me. They also were there to tell me to stop swimming in that 200 yard breaststroke event; I had lost my length-count and started to swim an additional length after I had finished. Yeah, I know, I am very wet behind the gills.

I soon learned what it meant to cheer on a teammate. I loved being there. The event was well run and all the people were friendly. I felt a real cohesiveness to our team; of course, we were flanked in our team jackets. However, we may have been annoying during the Annual Meeting for the Maryland Masters. The meeting was held half way through the meet in order to have a captive audience. (By the way, if you ever want to hold a “short” meeting, make sure everyone at the meeting is wet and wearing next to nothing). The only business to attend was the election of the officers. Our very own Mark was up for election as Registrar. Every time his name was mentioned our team would start to cheer, like,… well,.. idiots. It was great. I think Mark may have been embarrassed.

These swimming-types don’t waste any time in starting an event. You need to know where to be and at what time to be on the blocks. They say, “Swimmers, step up, take your mark, go!” There is no 10 minute starting sequence like you have with sailing. Coach Emily made sure all of us were warmed up for each of our events and ready to take to the blocks on time.

Here are the events I swam:

200 yard Breaststroke 3:08
100 yard IM 1:24:40
50 yard Free 30.95
200 yard Relay Free 30.51
The relay was fun and different; a chance to really work as a team. Frank set the pace with his 50 free, followed by me, Bill, then Mark. We finished in under 2 minutes. Unfortunately, we were unchallenged by another men's relay team. The women's relay teams agreed to swim with us, and I believe, helped keep the pressure on us.

I felt strong and prepared for each of my events. The confidence I had came from the good coaching I/we’ve been getting from Glenn and Emily. It has made a tremendous difference for me. Though I cannot be compared to any of the top swimmers, I do aspire to be one. I am very happy with the progress I’ve achieved in the past year. The support of the team is a gift; so is the organizational effort many have put into making meets and teams happen.

I will spare everyone the gritty details of my thoughts during each of my events, like, “how am I going to swim this Individual Medley (IM) with my right goggle full of water?” or “How am I going to swim this 50 Freestyle with my left goggle full of water? Or “I have no idea how many lengths I have swum, much less which end of the pool this is?” or “I really wish I had swum another two feet before I did that flip-turn” or “did the lane-judge just see me make a one-handed touch on that breaststroke turn?” So, instead I will share some of the mayhem occurring in the back of the car on the way home.

But first, we must consider the car ride “to” the meet. My co-pilot and “navigator” was Patti, backed up by Bill and Lynda’s husband. Kristina, Deena, and Ona were organizing our next social event while Lynda and her husband were enjoying not having to drive, for once! As we were circling the Salisbury Zoo (we weren’t lost, we knew exactly where we were, duh!) Ona got on the phone to call Mark, our team captain, who was waiting anxiously for our timely arrival, “Yes, Mark, we’ve fixed the flat, and the zoo is beautiful in this late afternoon light, and we’ll be there eventually…”. Patti was saying, “Mike, I told you to turn at the Hardees, not the Burger King”. Another sighed, “Shouldn’t we have turned right back there?” If I wasn’t nervous enough about swimming, I was even more nervous that this Julius (my car’s name) load of teammates was in danger of never making it to the meet at all.

Cool heads prevailed and Julius got us to the Salisbury YMCA in time to wait for the warm-up session to begin. After the meet and the buffet dinner (great spread, by the way; those Dogfish can cook) someone found Jena’s wallet on the table where she’d been sitting. Jena had long ago left with her two boys (who were perfect young men during the meet). The wallet made its way to Julius where a discussion was in progress among the eight of us as to what to do. Meanwhile, I was trying to unravel our trail out of Salisbury in rain, “Isn’t that a sign for Route 50? Shouldn’t we have turned back there?” For all I know, they were passing the wallet around the two backseats like a hot potato.

Once again, Ona got on her phone. Somehow (I’m not sure of the facts here) we got hold of someone in our homeland with a SSPP School directory (where Jena’s boys attend), got her home phone, called her husband, some “splainin’ occurred, we got Jena’s cell phone number, and the call of relief was made just in time before Jena was about to slash the upholstery in her car in search of her wallet. She was parked outside the JC Penny at the Salisbury Mall. Just as I was about to turn onto the Route 50 on-ramp word came to the cockpit to change course for the Mall. Julius lurched across 3 lanes of traffic, nearly sending Lynda’s oversized luggage (it had wheels) through the side of Julius as we made our way to the rescue. Jena and her young boys were waiting at Pennys’ front door when the “team” rolled up in Julius. I think 16 hands came out the windows as a very thankful Jena graciously received her wallet.

Though there was talk about hitting some nasty bar in Cambridge (Bill seemed to know all about it) we made our way back to Talbot County in a relatively sober, yet giddy, mood; too much chlorine.

Congratulations to team TCY on a successful, well attended meet. Mark has us way ahead of any team at the meet on a per swimmer average basis. Thanks to Kristina’s bantering of the Dogfish, we may have come out on top. But, more importantly, thank you for making me feel like “one of the team”. Love swim ride and run…

Thursday, November 6, 2008

November Is Here

Mike Bickford, Wood Frog, and James at the conclusion of the St. Michaels 5K which benefits the St. Michaels Sports Boosters. Photo by Noah Wood @ 2008

As much as I have been trying to simplfy life, time still flies by too quickly. It is November already and I have catch-up to do for October. On the 25th I ran the St. Michaels 5K in wet conditions. The course takes us through the back streets of historic town, and is guided by local high school athletes, for whom the race benefits. James (aka Woody) met me at the St. Michaels Perk for fruit and cider before we drove together to the race. In the pre-race crowd we met up with Noah Wood, who was completing his ambitious goal at this 5K of running in every county of Maryland within a six month period. We've seen Noah at other races in Talbot and truly appreciate his enthusiasm for our sport. He has great speed and won this year's St. Michaels 5K in just over 18 minutes, including the time he made a wrong turn on the course. He often wins his age group in races and was the Oxford Day 10K winner last year. There is a feature article on Noah in Thursday's "Eastern Shore Today" section of the Star Democrat.
Early in the race Mike Bickford and I started pacing each other. Though we'd never met before, I asked him to help me try to break 20 minutes for the 5K. That was his goal, as well, and he proceeded to pace us through town. It was difficult to stay with Mike, but he definitely helped me maintain a faster pace. At the 2nd to last turn of the race, about 1/2 mile from the finish, Mike picked up to a pace faster than I could maintain, and I let him slip away from me. He finished first in our age-group at 20:05 with me 2nd at 20:28. That is my best 5K time. Later we figured out that Mike ran with the Rise Up Runners once on the Trans Tred Avon Challenge this past spring.

With Noah, Mike, and me finished, we applauded as James came across the finish line fourth overall and first in his age-group. There were many stories at this 5K: Noah's was announced to the crowd at the start and we all congratulated him. An 80ish year old woman ran the course. And, a friend of mine, who easily weighed close to 300 pounds a few years ago, completed the course in under 30 minutes. Nancy Toby, our local triathlete guru, ran a great race at a respectable pace. My only disappointment was that there were not more Rise Up Runners at this benefit. There is next year.

On Sunday I met up with Landy, Dan, and Cory Duncan and joined them on part of their 60 mile bike ride through the Bay Hundred. I cut out after 30 miles to meet Joel, Kat, and James for a run. I appreciate them waiting 15 minutes for me to show. We had a great run back Railroad Avenue and the Mt. Misery area. The highlight was a comment made by Kat concerning our group's name, Rise Up Runners. Some how she always thought it came from this group's sense of outrage, not what time we started running. What followed was various outbursts and contortions. I guess you had to be there with a runner's high in gear.

Tuesday saw James join Kat and me at the track for a 5:30 start. With the time change and enough cloud cover the track was lit so we could see our footing. We all did six 800's at sprint pace with a 400 or 600 between each 800 at long distance race pace. Woody and I maintained 3:18's through 800 number five. On the sixth one Woody kicked it in and ran a 2:57. Kat and I egged him on to do a seventh, with us pacing him in the straight-a-ways. Woody ran his seventh 800 at 2:52. We celebrated his accomplishment and declared that the Bay Hundred Rise Up Runners were awesome!
Seven Rise Up Runners will venture to the Rehobeth Beach Marathon on the 22nd. Valliant, Dominic, and Lori will each run the whole marathon. Kat and Woody pair up to be the RUR Coed Relay Team, and Joel and I will pair up to be the All Male RUR Relay Team. There should be plenty of material for the blogs after that trip.

On the 15th I will participate in my first Master's Swim Meet in Salisbury. I will likely enter the 200 Breaststroke, 50 Free, and 50 Fly as my events. I am really excited and nervous about the competition.

I am overjoyed with Obama's success as our next president. To me the world just got a big shot of HOPE. Yes, we can!...
Phin asleep while I am composing this posting. He is 11 weeks old.

Phinn, aka Spaz, is coming into his own. His personality is developing well. He has boundless energy (when awake) and now follows me happily everywhere. I no longer need to coax him on our walks out the the 2nd telephone pole. He loves his family, food, sleep, and his platypus.
Love, swim, bike, and run...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

PHINN

Phinn

Meet my newest training partner, Phinn. He's a 9 week old Black Labrador Retreiver, born on August 15th. It's been a little over a year since our best buddy, Luke, died, suddenly, while on vacation in Maine. It was time for us to delve into having another dog.
Luke and my daughter in the spring of 2007.

Phinn likes to sleep and follow me where ever I go. To gnaw upon he has his own block of wood in the shop, a pig's ear, tennis balls, and whatever else he finds interesting. Luckily for us, he seems to like people. He's been in the arms of every player of both my daughters' field hockey teams. It's no wonder he prefers to be carried on our walks (we're working on that).

The little bugger is smart. He's already learned to walk without tripping me. He even seems to sit at appropriate times. He's been sleeping through most nights and he know how to "hold it" until I take him outside. He's a real joy.
Phinn having his first serious thought about life.

I look forward to our first run together sometime next spring when he's old enough. I, also, look forward to our spring swimming with the girls in Eastern Bay and Harris Creek. He's already brought new perspective to our lives. I can't wait for the Rise Up Runners to meet our newest member.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Vermont 50 Miler

Kate and I under the Ibex tent at the Vermont 50 Miler packet pick-up. It's her fault that the six of us went to Vermont this past weekend.

The Vermont 50 seed was planted back in February when I was emailing with the Ibex product developer, Kate Porter, about triathlon clothing I was seeking. In my very long winded manner I described my experience with Ibex's wool shirts that I wear religiously; how they work for me in my adventures and on a daily basis. In one of her replies she decribed her participation in the VT 50 as a relay participant. The seed was planted. Valliant and I eventually became Kate's "favorite customers" with our banter back and forth to her, her reading of our blogs, and our tireless championing of Ibex wear.

So, eight months later I sit here about to write of my experience in running part to the VT 50. Katherine, Michael, and I had our plan: Katherine would run the first leg of 12.3 miles, I would run the 2nd of 17.9 miles, and Valliant would run the last of 19.8 miles. We brought our spouses/support crew and stayed in a very "unique" Vermont inn called the Hartness House.

Our inn was 30 minutes from the race start at the Ascutney Mountain Resort. Governor Hartness built the brick mansion in 1904. He was the wealthiest man in Vermont, an inventor, and an excentric. His private log cabin in the woods behind his home did not satisfy his study requirements, so he had built an eight room apartment...underground connected to the house via a system of underground tunnels. The tunnels would eventually lead to his observatory where the telescope he designed still sits, and down into town. The tunnels are not widely known and hold a myriad of mystery to the place. We were lucky enough to get a private tour of the underground treasures. Hartness House fed us well, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The staff was simply stellar! We will look for reasons to stay there again.
Katherine heading down one of the many tunnels under the Hartness House property. It seemed we would send Katherine first many times, including the race.

There were reasons for me to feel some anxiety in leading up to the race: the weather forecast was wet, the hills, and my lack of running-specific training. However, all that left when I hugged Katherine as she finished her leg in 2:22, and I started on my own 18 mile leg. The hill climbing began immediately, but with being so "fresh" I ran all the hills in the first 5 miles of my course. The weather was cloudy and warm, but no rain. The sun shone at times ahead of me. I would try to catch the sunny spots, but they would disappear before I reached them. My course travelled dirt roads, snowmachine trails, open green pastures, and single track.

I quickly realized the advantages to running a relay. I never got passed by another runner all day. Those I passed I would often qualify my speed by telling them I was in the relay (because many of them were running the entire 50). However, when I told that to man I was passing around mile 9, his reply was that he was in a team relay too. Opps. Though there were plenty of hills, a few that I had to walk, along with everyone else, they didn't seem to wear me down too much. I carried a handheld water bottle and 2 gels. The spacing of the aid stations were 7.5, 6.0, and 4.5 miles. I took a gel around 3 miles and refueled at the first aid station. There they had Heed (like Gatorade), fruit, sandwiches, M&M's, etc. I got so lost in the buffet, that before I knew it, 4 minutes passed. I was restocked, water bottle topped off, and onward I trodded. My last aid station stop at mile13.5 had to be quick. I was on a 10 minute/mile pace (good for me on hills) and I had a chance of finishing in less than 3 hours (my initial estimate was somewhere around 3.5 hours).

Strangley, I was passing not only runners, but cyclists as well. The 700 cyclists started ahead of the runners, but many were having trouble with the wet terrain and the hills. Even if I had to walk a hill, my pace was faster than the cyclists who had to walk their bikes up the hill. One cyclist was so tentative on the downhills that I passed him. It was my first experience to see mountain biking in action. I interviewed a tantem cycling team before the race. They said that they would be hitting upwards to 40mph on some of the downhills. They would take turns steering their rig (the handlebars looked like an airplane cockpit with all the guages and levers). I came across a blind cyclist who was on the back of a tandem; very inspirational.

I talked to many along the way. One fellow was a 1998 Naval Academy graduate who was running the entire 50. He was a tough one to pass, and we hung with eachother for a long time. We exchanged race-stories and discovered we had run some of the same events together. He finished the race in under 9.5 hours, which was awesome for that challenging course.

My body was holding up well, though I was starting to feel my calves spasm in my final 5 miles. But, that is all they did; they twitched, like the feeling of a charliehorse coming on, but it never got that bad. I consciously relaxed my feet and legs, drank more water, and never stopped running. By the end of the run, my calves were fine. I guess it was just something working through my body.
Me coming into my finish, and Michael preparing to have his arm ripped off.

My favorite part of the course were the open fields of green. The runners would scuttle along the edges of the fields allowing us to soak in the Vermont countryside. At one point two older ladies sat on either side of the road. They were dressed festively; one blowing bubbles, the other rattling a cowbell. Their smiles and supportive hollers were well appreciated. At times the forest floor would be maple red or Sunkist orange with fallen leaves. By the end of my stint my body was saying enough, but my will was not finished. Michael was not quite ready for me to show when I came around the corner. He was still adjusting his race number. He attempted a congratulatory hug, but I was moving too fast, pumped with adrendline and the "runners high", and I feared I hurt his shoulder as he tried to stop me. All I was thinking was that he needed to get going and try to track down Kate Porter who was already ahead of Mike. I had been trying to chase Kate's teammate, Carey, but she evidentally increased her lead on our team by 3 minutes during my leg. My finish time was around 2:57:55.

Michael went on to catch and pass Kate. But, Mike ran into some leg trouble near the end and Kate got him by a few minutes. Nonetheless, Valliant closed the gap considerably on his 20 mile leg. The 5 of us were excited as we watched Valliant finish the race into the crowd of spectators. The post race party was festive, as well, with a full tented buffet of homemade food, a band, vendors, and IPA. The sun shone for a while before rain showers and rainbows dominated the rest of the afternoon. It was a real down-to-earth afternoon.
The Rise Up Runners' Vermont Crew: Robin, Michael, Katherine, Rob, me, and Carita.

Our whole trip went well; we didn't even mind the traffic on the way home. Our spouses: Carita, Robin, and Rob were champions for all they did to make the race go smoothly for us. Race director, Michael Silverman, did a fantastic job of putting this whole thing together. I really enjoyed his up to date emails. I'm very apprectiative of Kate for suggesting we participate this year in the VT 50. Kate was working the Ibex tent at packet pick-up on Saturday (she sold me biking shorts and leg warmers). She welcomed us like old friends with warm hugs and her infectious smile, even though that was our first meeting. We found the whole atmosphere of the race to be uplifting. Ibex wool, a major sponsor of the race, once again, did me well with my shorts and shirt I wore in the race. Next year, perhaps, we may attempt to beat Kate's team across the finish line again. Or, maybe I'll try to run the whole 50 myself? Who knows, we're not fortune tellars...we're "runners on trails".

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vermont Rise Up Runners

Carey, Lange, and Kate, aka "The Beetches" as they call themselves, celebrating post-run of the Vermont 50Mile Trail Run.
The Rise Up Runners, Vermont Crew: Robin, Michael, Katherine, Rob (Jellybean), Michael, and Carita pose for a post event smile.

It was an awesome time in Vermont for the Rise Up Runners crew. Katherine and the two Michaels formed the RUR relay team. We completed the hilly course in just under 9 hours. More to follow. Sorry about my foul camera lens. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Team Players

Most of the 2008 crew of the 1901 log canoe, Island Lark holding various perpetual trophies at the Miles River Yacht Club on September 14th. This is the Lark's first time to win High Point in at least 90 years, if ever.

As the sailing season comes to a close the running season seems to be just cranking up. Two weekends ago saw a successful log canoe season culminate in Island Lark winning the Wilson High Point trophy for the season. With over 20 races counted it came down to a close tie with our toughest competition, the Island Blossom. But, even though we were to be in the throws of heavy sailing competition, that Sunday I dragged myself out of bed at 4:30 and went for a 16 mile training run before the culminating races on the Miles River.

I am training ffor one leg of a 50 mile mountain trail race on September 28th in New England. The Vermont 50 Mile Trail Race caught my eye last spring as a good event that Mike Valliant and I could do. Since neither of us was interested in running another 50 miler solo this year, all we had to do was find another runner and enter as a relay team. Katherine Binder came to the rescue as (1) a woman who would put us in the co-ed relay team category, (2) a professional who has a incredible wealth of knowledge about the body, running form, and health, and (3) someone (along with her husband Rob) whom I had met only a few times, but whom I simply connected with on such topics as sailing, running, and health. So, before I knew it, we had a relay team; at least digitally.

Then news came last weekend that the distances for the relay have changed. I now am running an 18 mile portion; 2 more miles than trained for. I know it doesn't seem like a big deal, and hopefully, it won't, but I truly did only train for 16. Now, I have to add 2 more miles plus the inclines. One of the ways to compensate for no hills to train on around the Bay Hundred is to do speed work. So, for the past 4 weeks I've been meeting team mate, Katherine, at the St. Michaels track for a series of 800 repeats. This past Thursday we were treated to an appearance by Pierre Bernasse, a running friend from last year. Pierre ran the Baltimore Marathon last October with Mike Valliant, Jim Richardson, and myself. This year Pierre is training for the NCT (Northern Central Trail) Marathon in November.
Rise Up Runners (standing) Derek, Pierre, Dominic, Joel, (kneeling) Katherine, Wood Frog, and Tuckerman posing for the geese on the "Dam" at Tuckahoe on Sunday, September 21st. Photo by Charlie Bandura.

This past Sunday we had a bumper crop of Rise Up Runners gather for a 10 mile Tuckahoe loop. It was a gorgeously cool morning as the 7 of us started shuffling up the Tuckahoe Valley Trail. The runners included Michael Valliant, Derek Hills, Dominic Szwaja, Joel Shilliday, Pierre, Katherine, and myself. Everyone got to run their own pace at times. We'd always gather/condense at the trail changes, and everyone got to spend a little time with each person. At the end of our run we gathered at the dam where we seduced a wildlife photographer into taking our group photo. Charlie Bandura took, what might be, the most complimentary Rise Up Runner photo to date.

It was a kick running with everyone. So, in summary, I have spent the past two weekends with two different groups of people doing really cool stuff. Next weekend in Vermont will be the same, with yet, another group; Mike and Robin Valliant, Rob and Katherine, and Carita and me. I feel blessed to have opportunity to get to know friends whether on a log canoe, on the trail, or during a race/vacation weekend. It's these occasions that stitch a little more into the fabric of our lives. Next report will be from the Vermont 50 Trail Race. Cheers!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cape Henlopen Swim and Bike

The Bike Course for the Cape Henlopen Triathlon which Dan Bieber will do on September 28th.

What started out as a late-going (noon departure), overcast day turned into a brilliant day at the beach in Cape Henlopen State Park for Dan Bieber and me. We weren't on the beach a minute when we had a heavily pierced lady ask us about our form fitting tri shorts. She thought them to be some sort of warmth protection. She couldn't understand why we were wearing them under our wetsuits. I explained that we wear them for an entire triathlon, and normally wouldn't wear anything under our wetsuits, but because of the 100's of people on the beach we had to be decent. She seemed satisfied with the explaination. I think she just wanted to talk to Dan.


Donned in our wetsuits and wading through the throngs of beach families (my bad for not having a photo of us at this point) we entered the water and swam south along the shore, just outside of the break. Dan tended to pull right, taking him into the break at times, but that didn't matter for him as his speed and comfort-level has greatly increased since his Tri-debut last year.


Dan is training to "rock" this year's Cape Henlopen Sprint Triathlon, and this was our chance to help him get familiarized with the course and attain a certain level of comfort in the water, especially the ocean. The park is on a sand dune at the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay. Riddled with asphalt trails, pines, World War II embattlements, bunkers, and towers, the park spanned several hundred acres and seemed to be a popular peaceful destination for vacationers, cyclists, and runners. The ocean was calmish, but the water was pretty cool. Our wetsuits proved to be perfect for the conditions.
Wild dolphin, like the ones who were trying to attack me yesterday. Bad, Flipper, bad.

On our last round (we did 3 southerly laps of about 1/4 mile each) I unitentionally swam out to sea too far. When I looked for Dan, he was standing on the beach. So, I headed for shore. As I exited the water and turned around to look, there we about 50 dolphin swimming out near where I had just been. That could have been my closest dolphin encounter in the wild for both of us, man and beast. They stayed for a long time, sometimes jumping high out of the water, but mostly rolling as they were feeding on the evening baitfish.


Dan and I did the longest transition ever into our bike garb, then first hit the bike trails at the park, then out into to wilds of Lewes following the 15 mile race course Dan will do in 4 weeks. Dan's got good legs for the bike and hopes to improve his placement in the overall standings by 20 spots. He feels greatly more prepared than last year and a good bit faster on the bike and in the water.



After clean up and a change we hit town and had dinner (it was 6pm by now) and ice cream, got gas, and turned Dan's Jeep toward home. It was a great day, great adventuring, and great gains in training.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hiking, running, boat builders, and letting go

The Keene and Meyerfoff gang atop Mt. Washington on August 11th.



Eight of us conquered Mt. Washington in variable weather of sun and rain over the weekend of August 9th and 10th. My two daughters, my wife, and our four friends hiked Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Lakes of the Clouds Hut in the White Mountains. The next day we summitted Mt. Washington in the driving rain and descended via the Lion Head trail and Tuckerman.


We had oodles of GORP, many breaks (or photo opps, as we called them), and a ton of laughs along the way. All did extremely well on the Tuckerman trail, the most traversed trail to the summit, and one of the most challenging. In bunk room 3 the 8 of us did impersonations from movies during the rain and thunderstorms Sunday night.


We found the "CROO" of Lakes Hut to be in rare form complete with a Star Wars themed skit for us after breakfast. Lets just say that Princess Leigha needed a shave, and she/he was a little too fond of young Luke's light saber. The skit taught us all to fold our blankets, fluff our pillows, pick up our trash, and, of course, tip the CROO.

My girls ahead of me on the Lion Head Trail descent from Mt. Washinton in the rain.


My two daughters and I were on our own for the descent. It was 3 and a half hours of rain and pure joy as we scibbled down the wet trails. I'm convinced that either of them could run a guiding service on their own in the White Mountains. They are quite accomplished hikers.





Later that evening my family and I found Karl Meltzer's RV at a trail head in Maine about an hour from the Whites. I ran up trail, found Karl and his friend, Matt Hart, and ran the last mile of his day with him. Karl is an ultra runner who is attempting to break the Appalachian Trail speed record of 47 days. I met up with him on his 7th day of his quest. It was quite something to meet him. I have an entry on my encounter with him on the RUR blog here: http://riseuprunners.blogspot.com/2008/08/wheres-karl.html .

Karl Meltzer and I after coming off the trail; he 30 plus miles, me only one mile.


The first week we were home from the North, sad news came when word that boatbuilder Maynard Lowery was killed in an automobile accident. I've since been to his funeral and have seen or talked to all of my customers who own his boats. My heart is full of joy with hearing from these people who knew Maynard through his boats. If you had a boat build by Maynard, you came to love the man. He will be missed immensely, but his life will live on in the boats he created. Here's a piece I did on his last boat: http://runnersontrails.blogspot.com/2008/05/marathon-maynard.html


Moondance and Spray in all their glory this summer on the Chester River.


Lastly, I must say goodbye to a boat. We've found a wonderful new buyer for our family boat, Moondance. Moondance first came into my life when my father bought her in 1979 (I was 14). I was standing on the dock at Rumbley, Maryland when I first saw "My Desire" drift up to the wharf with my father at the helm. She spent several years with us until my father sold her in the mid 80's. I later re-purchased her in 1995, restored her and relaunched in 1998, and raised my girls aboard during our various adventures around the Bay. I received an email from my daughter's best friend yesterday. It reads like this:



HOW DARITH THOU SELL THY MOONDANCE
this means no more:
flank steak on Moondance
watching the fireworks on Moondance
first jump of the year into the Bay
no fun on Moondance
I am Excrushatingly disapointed in you Smichael!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
u cut me deep you cut me real deep
Masssive amounts of ears flat I GROWL in your general dirrection
MADLY,
oft
): GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
I need to go cry all by my self in my room before I start foaming at the mouth



Carita and I renamed her Moondance after our Van Morrison wedding first dance song. She'll be missed and it's a bit hard to let go.

Monday, August 4, 2008

LUCKY reunion tour

Starboats at the start of one of Sunday's races during the contest for the coveted John Charles Thomas Trophy. Will Murdoch's LUCKY is sail number 7102 in the center of the photo. Photo by Bowie Rose 2008


Friday afternoon an old sailing partner called me and asked if I wanted to crew for him on his starboat, LUCKY, for the Miles River Regatta Saturday and Sunday. Will Murdoch's crew, Carl, hurt his shoulder and was unable to sail. I told Will I could give him Saturday, but probably not Sunday because we were having 2 parties at the house that day. He said that was fine with him; he really just wanted to "show" to be supportive of the club and the fleet.


Will and I are good friends and good competitors...against each other. Not only do we compete against each other in our own starboats, but Will is the jib tender in our arch-rival log canoe, Island Blossom! Ten years ago Will called me one winter evening and said, "Mike, I've bought a starboat. Would you like to be my crew and we'll learn to sail it together?" I accepted and together Will and I learned to race starboats over the course of the next 4 years. It was then that a boat was offered to me from Don Elliott. Will and I had an amical divorce and became good competitors agianst each other.
LUCKY finishing the race on Sunday. Not a good sign that no one is around us, because there weren't many behind us. Photo by Bowie Rose 2008

Saturday morning rolled in with a threat of thunderstorms. After a storm scare, the fleet returned to the river for the first race. Will and I went on to win the first race. I jokingly said, "if we keep this up, we're going to have to sail tomorrow's races as well." We then went on to win the 2nd race. I knew I was in trouble then. We finished the day with a 4th place finish, landing us as "top dogs" for the day and first place in the regatta going into the final 2 races of Sunday. I went right home, cut the entire lawn, trimmed, and baked a cake. I was hoping this would give me license to go sailing for a while on Sunday, despite the parties in the evening. My wife, Carita, is so supportive of the things I do. She was gracious enough to more than support me to finish the regatta with Will and to do our best to try to cling onto first place.


Sunday blew in with 15 knots of northwest breeze; not favorable conditions for 2 lightweight starsailors. But we held a respectable 4th in the 4th race, but tanked the 5th race. We ended up 2nd for the regatta under veteran sailor, Elliot Oldak, and his crew, Chris Harding, from Annapolis. We did win first place for our local fleet; Best of the MES Fleet.
Will Murdoch and I accepting the prizes we earned during our "Reunion Tour" aboard starboat, LUCKY. Photo by Bowie Rose 2008

Though its been six years since we raced together on his boat, things fell right into place for us as a team. Will is an excellent sailor, helmsman, and tactician. It was a great opportunity to do something different and crew for an old friend.
An aside note: The last few sailing blogs have been of successes made on the local rivers. Though things have been going well for me, my crews, and my sport; I will be sure to write when things aren't as successful as of late; just making "hay" while I can.


In trail news, Karl Meltzer, of Sandy, Utah, will attempt to run the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia starting tomorrow, Tuesday, August 5th. What's exciting is that I might "I said might" get a chance to see him, or maybe, if I'm really really lucky, get to run with him while we're up north in New Hampshire. He is attempting to run all 2174 miles in 47 days, which will set a new record. He is ambitious to plan for 50-mile days in the White Mountains. I cannot imagine covering 50 miles a day on the trails in the White Mountains. He plans on being at Crawford Notch on next Tuesday night after running 47 miles to get there that day. Michael Valliant, can you imagine? Our 14 mile-day last year from Mizpah to Madison Huts was a killer. Try tripling that!! Watch Karl's progress at http://www.whereskarl.com/. Good luck Karl.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Governor's Cup for Lark

Here's (most of) our crew of the "Island Lark" accepting the coveted Governor's Cup on Sunday, July 27th. Skipper Tad duPont is standing behind the cup. Co-owner and brother Ebby duPont is standing with sunglasses around his neck. The two brothers have been racing Island Lark for 30 seasons; Tad in the stern with the tiller and Ebby in the bow with the jib. The first race they ever won was the Governor's Cup, back in 1979.

There was no swimming for me this weekend on the Miles River as we sailed 3 races in the Annual Miles River Yacht Club Governor's Cup Weekend. The Lark was moving fast enough to get 3 bullets (first boat to finish gets a shotgun shot off from the committee boat) and correct to 2 seconds for the Covington and Duke Trophies and a first for the Governor's Cup. Other folks did not fair so well in the swimming department.

Island Bird on her side with one of her chase boats Metropolitan giving assistence. Lark's chaseboat, Brougham, waiting in the wings.

Judge John C. North's "Island Bird" took a dip Saturday morning in the Miles River. Every canoe experiences such fates on a regualar basis, some more than others. "Bird" went on to complete the Governor's Cup Race on Sunday. Judge North has sailed "Bird" for over 50 years.

The women of Jay Dee swim in the Miles River Saturday morning; pink shirts and all.

Judge North's son, Dan, has built two wonderful base crews for his canoe "Jay Dee"; the regular crew and the women's crew. The boat was given to the women's crew for the day Saturday as the men of the regular crew helped set up and watched the women attempt the heavy air that awaited us all. Unfortunately, in an effort to fix a gear problem, attention was shifted and down Jay Dee went before the official start of the morning race. Adorned in pink shirts with the female symbol on the back, the crowd of veteran women sailors fought with the 74 year old canoe and seanettles to get "Jay Dee" back on top for the second race (the men were gentlemanly enough to lend a hand...I think Bob Flower even helped).

Lark sails the Oliver Duke Race with a bone in her teeth.

For fear of jinxing our crew, I don't often comment on how well things go aboard Lark. But, for all the wind we had Saturday, I'd must say, we didn't have any close calls while racing. Loligagging around before the starts is another story. Attention to keeping the canoes upright is spread thin when we are manuveuring before the starting sequences. Four canoes capsized before the start of the first race on Saturday.

For the entire weekend Island Lark and Island Blossom were neck and neck while racing. The close competition between the two boats has made us both better competitors and FASTER canoes! Though we finished first ahead of Blossom each race, because of the 12 second per mile handicap we give to her, we lost the first two races by 12 and 39 seconds, respectively. However, the final race, which was for the 1927 Govenors's Cup we beat Blossom with enough time to hold onto first place. The "Silver Heel", owned by Bob Hewes since 1960, was third.

On other adventure fronts, our friends and my family will be heading up to the summit of Mt. Washington during Oxford Regatta weekend. We will be overnighting in the Lakes of the Clouds Hut in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. You can read about one of my trips there last year with adventure partner, Michael "Tuckerman" Valliant, on his blog: http://the4onerun.blogspot.com/2007/08/adventures-of-tuckerman-and-wood-frog.html

Training partner Dan Bieber is trying to get me to do a Sprint Triathlon on August 17th in Delaware. It looks like a good chance I'll make it. My next entry should be one from the trail. Happy training and sailing everyone!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Maryland Swim for Life




Swimming in brackish water in the middle of the summer is a foreign concept for me. Usually, there are too many seanettles to do such a feat. However, yesterday the District of Columbia Aquatics Club (DCAC) http://www.swimdcac.org/Swim4Life.html held their 17th Annual Maryland Swim for Life on the seanettle-free Chester River. With the option of swimming 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 miles, there was a course for every swimmer. I rode up to Rolphs Wharf in a new Mercedes driven by 72 year old Ted Gregory, whom I met at the St. Michaels Pool last week.

Ted is a remarkable fellow who swam the Bay Swim this year and has swum all over the world in different venues. We both were aiming to swim the 2 or 3 mile swims. He opted for the 2 miler because of a raucus cocktail party he hosted the night before. I opted for the 3 miler, having never swum that distance ever anywhere.

It was a low key event with around 150 swimmers. There was no entry fee, but each entraint had to bring at least $100 in collections for the different charities DCAC supports. The weather was perfect. The course followed the shoreline and was an "out and back" with buoys every 1/2 mile. My 3 mile course had me turning at the 3rd maker (1.5 mile mark). Between the .5 and 1.0 buoys we had to swim over/through a fishtrap (that was interesting) allowing the top of the net to scrape across my belly as I swam over it. The current was against us on the way out, but with us on the return.

One of the mysteries of open water swimming, to me, is how does one fuel and hydrate? Though I did not see many swimmers take advantage of the availability of kayakers stocked with goods, I decided before the start that I would take water and fuel every half hour, which for me, would be every mile. And that's what I did, hailing a kayaker named Robin on both my stops. I carried a Clif Shot gel and downed that on my first stop with water, and gobbled half a bannana on my second stop. I figured I lost at least a total of 5 minutes with my stops. But, my goal was to leave the water feeling good, having accomplished the distance, and have enough energy for the rest of the day, which included sailing in heavy air aboard log canoe Jay Dee with skipper and friend Dan North.

There was a group of like-yellow capped swimmers that would pass me everytime I fueled. I would catch up to them each time, including the finish. My time was 1:43 for the 3 miles, which if you take away my fueling time of 5 minutes, finds my pace to be better than ever. I really felt good in the water, fast (for me), and comfortable and fearless. There was a time when coming upon somthing as daunting as a fishtrap would have freaked me out. I was, however, one of the last of the yellow-cappers to finish. Events like this, I surmised, attract a different class of athlete than the local 10K running events. I was swimming against verteran seasoned swimmers who know how to kick butt. I'll get there someday, one kick at a time.

A rare photo of Island Lark at the moment of impact with the Cliff City shoal. The boardsmen are being carried forward with the momentum of the boat. The bow of Lark is lower in the water as the rudder is hard aground. That's me on the front board on my way to the water.

In other news, Island Lark, had a stellar weekend of sailing last week on the Chester River, posting a 1st and a 2nd to win the regatta and other prizes. The third race, which was later thrown out by the Race Committee (RC), was the most challenging for our crew. The 10 mile course found us with a healthy lead on the 10 boat fleet. As we rounded the leeward mark, which we noticed was a little too close to shore, we ran hard aground....we're talking centerboard all the way up and rudder firmly planted in the mud. Evidentally, the mark was placed in 15 feet of water, right next to a shelf which went up to 4 feet. As we went 2 boat lenghts past the mark we hit, stopping us like a brick wall, catapulting me forward from my front board into the water. 5 of us pushed Lark through the wind, pivoting on the rudder, and off the bar. By the time we were free we had been caught by 2 boats, of which we beat one over the finish line and would have held a 2nd if the race counted. Many other boats hit the same spot with Mystery capsizing on top of Silver Heel. It was a mess.

The Canoes are racing in the Rockhall regatta this weekend. As our boat did not make it to the races for this regatta, Victor, Greg, Greg's son Graham, my girls, and I found ourselves on the Chester yesterday in time for the afternoon race. Jay Dee took me aboard (an ungraceful entry as I had to jump into the water from Victor's boat, grabbing the hand grips on the back of Jay Dee) and I sailed the race with them. Jay Dee is the largest of the canoes and was most comfortable. She's got a true old time feel to her, and she's fast and powerful. Danny's great uncle built Jay Dee in Tilghman on Devil's Island in 1934. The crew welcomed me, and by the time the race was over (we took 2nd) I felt like a regular crew member. Danny invited me to steer JD home to the Corsica River, which I did, nearly capsizing her at one point and running her aground, also. Sorry, Danny, I'll sand the bottom of the centerboard this week, if you want me to). It is very impressive to keep an old racing yacht in competition and Danny, his crew, and his family do it right. The canoes race on the Miles River this coming weekend, July 26/27th, for various trophies including the coveted Governor Richie Cup, which has been raced for since 1925.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

4th of July Log Canoe Series

Log canoe Island Blossom leading Island Lark at the 2006 Heritage Regatta Sunday race in Oxford. Look closely at this photo and you'll see our "Lark" canoe and crew amongst the Blossom crew. The 2nd mast is Lark's. That's me in the reddish/pink hat. Blossom went on to win that race, with us taking a 2nd and winning the regatta. Photo by Don Biresch @2006.

A different kind of racing held my fancy this past weekend in the form of Chesapeake Bay Sailing Log Canoes. This was the start of my 27th season (23rd on the Island Lark) racing these antique ladies around courses set in the local rivers. From the look of it, this season will prove to be another very competitive season. But first, here's a little history:

The log canoes were the work-horses of the Chesapeake Bay, numbering in the thousands at the end of the 19th century. If you lived on the water, you had one, just like everyone has a car today. It was easier to get around in those days before the automobile via the waterways than on land. Informal racing developed when oyster laden canoes would race to shore at the end of the day in an effort to get the best price. Eventially, some canoes were built specifically for racing. Organized races were held before 1900.

About the boats: They are called "log canoes" because to construct one, several logs were laid parallel to each other, pinned, then shaped into the traditional canoe shape that we know. Most canoes left today are made of 5 logs, but some are of 3. The bilges were completely free from obstructions and frames which lent them well suited for running a shovel down the interior to scoop out the oysters.

Today's canoes are preserved with some modern materials, such as fiberglass coverings, but retain the original integrity and logs they were built with a 100 years ago. The masts are much taller then in the old days. Today's rigs make the boats very unstable, so the crews use hiking boards to press the boat down "on her feet" so she will be propelled forward. Racing canoes are over canvassed and are not ballasted with fixed weight, like modern sailboats. Because of these factors log canoes frequently capsize, ending the race and beginning 3 hours work to be race-ready again.Island Lark rounding the 2nd mark of the 2nd race Sunday, June 29, 2008. Lark continued to round all marks first and win the race and regatta. Photo by C. Bowie Rose @2008

This weekend saw 10 boats compete. There were many capsizes as well as equipment failures. Our boat, the Island Lark (#16), faired better than the rest and took two 1st's and one 2nd to win the 4th of July Series. Our skipper hit the starts very well and kept us in the race at all times. The Island Blossom (#9), our closest competitor, sailed to a 2nd place finish in the series. We had some scarey jibes and a few close calls during mark roundings where we came close to capsizing. My daughter Eleanora bailed for three solid races as we shipped water over the sides, constantly. The winds were strong enough for us to never need the light air "kite" at all over the weekend. On Sunday the winds were stronger yet, and we opted to fly the #2 jib (a smaller jib than the #1) which gave us more speed to windward and some stability off the wind during the gusts. In the lighter spots we suffered with the small jib, allowing Blossom to beat us in race #2.
My daughter, Eleanora and I sharing a post-race moment on Sunday afternoon. Eleanora held the teenage position aboard Lark which sailed this weekend with 6 different decades of ages and 3 generations. @ 2008 C. Bowie Rose

To give you an idea of the historical sense of these few boats that are left racing, I will quickly give you some facts. Island Lark was built in 1901 as a racing canoe. She raced a few seasons, got abandoned in a hurricane, then went on to be worked as a crab/oyster boat for 50 years, complete with engine and cabin. In the 1970's she was converted to a sailboat again and later assumed her rightful character in what she is today. Island Blossom was built in 1892 as a racing canoe and is probably the most famous canoe due to her continuous racing history. Island Bird was built in 1884 and is the smallest on the race course. For more check out: http://www.logcanoes.com/ . There is so much more to tell; Magic, Spirit, Persistence, Noddy, Heel, Patricia, Jay Dee, Gift, Billie P, Sandy, Faith, Mystery, Edmee, and Cloud. Maybe another time.

Island Lark with cabin and motor as she was found in the late 1960's.

Chase boat "Brougham". Photo by C. Bowie Rose @ 2008

We are lucky to have abundant crew aboard the Lark and a great chase-boat owned by Victor duPont. Anyone not needed during one of the races gets to hang out on "Brougham" which is complete with a sofa on the roof and palm tree. Music, brownies, libation, and entertainment accompany the race viewing. This weekend saw at least 30 people participate in one form or another to make the "Lark" syndicate happen. It takes a village to race a canoe. I am blessed to be a part of such an awesome program and to have association with these wonderful people. It is awesome to have the opportunity to pass this love of wood, boats, and racing to my girls as they mature. It is the Land of Pleasant Living!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Post Eagleman

Espen Kataraas in the 2007 Eagleman 70.3. He's a successful triathlete who manages his career, family, and sport to the MAX.

In a very real way I have had resistance to posting another blog. It would mean my Eagleman race report would be "paged" down to the rarely read or searched archives of this blog. However, unlike my blog, my training habits have and will not be relegated to the archives. To have trained six months specifically for EM is not to be taken lightly. EM training and race have impacted my life. Though without a specific race on the agenda, I have been continuing my training as if EM has never happened. This is a good thing. I like the divided attention the three disciplines give me; there's always something different to look forward to and creative workouts to prevent any monotony.
The timing of EM coincided with the end of the school year for my girls. This has allowed me to turn to more early morning workouts, one of which has become the backbone of the summer training, so far. This involves biking to the St. Michaels Pool for a swim workout and returning home. Twice now I've been able to throw in an extra 20 miles on the bike by riding out and back to Neavitt, either before or after swimming. Friday saw a first when Dan Bieber and Dave McKendrick were at the pool when I got there. The three of us then biked to Neavitt, creating my first "paceline" where we pushed the upper limits of our speed. Michael Valliant and Landy Cook hopped in the YMCA pool Monday morning this week and began, what I hope, is a passion for swimming.
After a pleasant ride to Neavitt Sunday morning with Motoko, I met up with Dan Bieber and Becky Weisley to try an open water swim in Harris Creek. With Becky in the kayak keeping an eye on us, Dan and I braved the few seanettles we saw from the dock. Unfortunately, the seanettles won out as we swam into many, covering our arms and legs with the acid-like tentacles. We had to abandon our swim and probably call off creek swimming until fall. Bummer!

Since Eagleman I have had several medium mileage runs that have restored my shakey confidence in my running, despite my poor performance in the run at EM (I'm hung up on that, and probably won't let it go until proven otherwise in another Ironman event). My lastest run was a 10 plus miler yesterday morning around the Pot Pie area. From various points around Wittman you can see 4 different counties. Our peninsula is surrounded by water and there are lots of fields and very little traffic. I maintained an easy pace playing with stride-length and cadence, as well as, intensity. It was a good run, as I finished in 5 minutes slower than my official PR of 1:21.

This brings me to Espen Kataraas, a triathlete who has been a help to me this spring in preparing for EM. Through another friend, Mark Sommers, I was led to Espen and his wealth of knowledge in the sport. Between his website and email, Espen helped calm my nerves by guideing me toward the right wetsuit, tri-clothes, and bike parts for EM. Then, on Father's Day weekend I got to meet Espen in person here in Wittman. Espen is often an age-group winner in tris, and often places in the top tear at most events. Check out his website: http://www.espenusa.com/ to see more. Much like when Valliant and I met ultrarunner Dean Karnasas during the 50/50 Endurance Run, meeting Espen was like reacquainting with an old friend. He is an unassuming fellow, eager to help, and a very easy gentle person (of course I met him after he'd just done a time-trial on the Eagleman course, so maybe he was just exhausted). Espen won his age group at the Columbia Triathlon this spring and finished the Eagleman in 2007 in 4 hours 16 minutes. His run was his weakest link in Eagleman with a time of 1:26 for the half marathon , 54 minutes faster than mine, Wow!

In any case, Wittman is becoming a meca for multisport. We actually have 3 triathlete residents, a few tri-wannabes, and several cyclists including Mark who is an Elite age grouper. I saw my first out-of-town couple arrive in Wittman Park, set up their bikes, then go for an all day ride. We have athletes like Espen visiting here on a regular basis. We had Joanna Zeigler, the overall women's 2008 Eagleman Ironman 70.3 winner, stay in Wittman over that weekend (100 feet from my house). The RUR's have been known to show up here in Wittman on an occasional Sunday morning (you're due again). And, we regularly have age-group placement triathlete, Dan Bieber, come join me for various multisport activities. It's a freakin meca!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Eagleman IRONMAN 70.3

My wave's start at 07:24 Sunday. I'm exaclty in front of the closer white starting buoy. My 40 - 44 age wave was the largest of the Eagleman at 300+ men.

The 2008 Eagleman was a wonderful experience for me. Despite heat indexes of over 100 degrees, I managed to finish the 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run under my upper time limit of 6 hours (5:58:14). Combine the satisfaction of reaching a goal with the more soul-nourishing aspects of this event, and you get one happy "Iron Frog", as Mike Valliant termed me (see Michael's race report at http://the4onerun.blogspot.com/ ). The people make an event, and this was no exception.

Having family and friends spectating was an awesome feeling. Carita and I left the house at 4:45, and she hung with me during the pre-race set-up. She, also, spotted where on the starting line I should start the swim, giving me optimal conditions to get a good start. At the first turning mark of the swim I spotted my friend Jack in his kayak as I managed a shout to him. It is very difficult to find someone you know among 350 red caps. My daughter, Eleanora, and friends Chloe and Cole were in a canoe near the finish. Coming out of the water I first heard Michael yell something "Frogish" to me, then saw Jill and Carita. Upon finishing the bike portion my mother, sister, niece, and Michael were there to cheer me on. At the 2nd Aid Station of the run both Carita and Eleanora were working hard supplying everyone with drinks and ice. Carita also gave me a whopping kiss (I wonder if she was giving everyone a kiss?) It was also, great to finish the 70.3 into the arms (literally) of friends and family.
Me getting hosed off by a fireman after my finish; it felt awesome!!


This is the Transition Area, restricted to only the athletes. I am dead center of photo with my back to the camera leaning over toward my right side.

The competitors were swell; helpful, generous, and fun. A fellow racked next to me in Transition (that's the area only the triathletes are allowed where the bikes are racked and the gear is stowed in a very confined area under the bikes) offered for me to take water and gatorade out of his cooler anytime I needed during the race. We all helped each other pump tires. A little tip one mate gave me, probably saved my race; that was to put ice in my shorts during the run.

My small segment of Transition real estate.

The volunteers were awesome, providing us with endless aid, supplies, and direction. I'm sure most volunteers, including my wife and daughter, were equally at risk of heatstroke in the hot sun . Eagleman would not happen without these people.
Catholic School mates Yvonne Laucherman and Ruth Yoash-Gantz surrounding me at the post race celebration. Yvonne placed 2nd in her AquaVelo age group. Ruth, who is a cancer survivor, completed her second Eagleman. She also survived a hard blow to her head at the start of the swim this year, as well as, a bee sting on her head while on the bike.

I cannnot go on without explaining to you who were most influential to me in getting me to do triathlons in the first place:there are several. Last year's Eagleman found me as a spectator because Ruth Yoash-Gantz, a classmate, friend, and roommate of my sister Kim, was participating. I arrived at the beach last year in time to catch Ruth as she was putting on her swimcap and entering the water. I was so inspired by her, that as things came together over this past year, I soon found myself registered for this year's EM, with little fear for what I was getting into. Friends, Mark and Motoko, gave me a bike last October; a really really nice bike. This gave me no excuse to say "no" last December to Dave McKendrick when he told me I could register for EM, if I wanted.

I'll start my race report with saying that I am already looking for my next triathlon. My swim went great. My time of 37:42 was right on target, more than 2 minutes under my 40 minute upper goal. More importantly, I came out of the water with energy and ready for what lay ahead. I did experience some nausea coming out of the water. That was either lack of fuel (no time to fuel/drink during the swim) over the previous hour or I was a little sea sick. In either case, by the time I had 4 or 5 miles under the bike and I had eaten and drunk something, I was feeling great again.

Me exiting the water and peeling off the wetsuit. I didn't notice how hot I was until I left the water and hit the hot air.

The 2:52:39 hours that the bikeride took seemed like 30 minutes. It was a truly enjoyable, scenic ride through lower Dorchester County. The ride took us through my ancestral homelands of the Golden Hill area, past Upper and Lower Keene Broads, as well as the Applegarth homestead and graveyards filled with distant Tubman, Keene, Travis, and Applegarth cousins. The wind was negligible and the heat at bay. Aid stations were in 10 mile increments stocked with water and Gatorade Endurance Formula. I had a refillable bottle mounted between my Aerobars (handlebars) and 2 other bottle brackets in the V of the bike frame for hydration. My 3 back shirt pockets were packed with a 6 ounce tube of Clif gel, Electrolyte Capsules, chapstick, 2 Clif Bars, and a bag of oranges. I, also, had a turkey and avacado sandwich aboard, of which I ate half. Coming into Transition 2 to the cheering crowd of friends and family was a great feeling. I was pumped with adrenaline and pleased to be well under my 3 hours goal for the ride.

I knew I had to be well hydrated and fueled for the run portion of this Ironman 70.3. So, I restocked my 3 back pockets and off I went. Before I got out of Transition half of my supplies had bounced out of my pockets. I was left with my gel and electrolyes along with my handheld water bottle. In the end, that was all I needed. After the first 2 miles and a comfort station stop I was having trouble. I realized I was hot and my energy was spent. I started to walk in the 3rd of 13 miles. I didn't know what I was going to do. Time was slipping away and dreams of doing this race in 5:30 quickly vanished. By mile four I had things figured out. At each aid station, which were at every mile, I would stop, get ice in my handheld bottle, hat, shirt, and shorts, hose down front and back, and drink Gatorade and water. That sequence I repeated at each mile for the next 9 miles of the race. That enabled me to actually "run" the whole distance between aid stations. As near as I can tell, my core temperature would go too high, cause my heartrate to heighten, and cause me to lose energy. Cooling my core with ice and water would get me running again.

Some portions of the course were on fresh blacktop. The heat was intense. Certainly, none of us had any business running on a day like Sunday. The best comment I heard was that the run was just "plain hateful", mumbled by a competitor as he went by. My attitude toward the run changed to survival mode in the initial miles. Concern for my health in the heat became my focus. I was no longer in race mode. I question whether my decision was a wimpy one. Did I allow the pain to overcome my desire to be competitive? Should I have hung on to a tougher mental attitude? These questions were in my head soon after the race. But, as the days have passed since my first Ironman event, I have no regrets about any of my decisions before or during Eagleman. I know myself even better now, and trust in the messages sent from the ole bod.

I ran the run without a watch. Running into the finish crowd and hearing my name yelled was icing on the cake to when I looked at the race clock over my head indicating that I was finishing in under 6 hours. My run took me 2:20:44, twenty minutes longer than I dreamed possible for me. Strangly, compared to my competition, my second strongest event for the day was my run. My strongest event was my swim, of which I am well pleased, given that is where most of my efforts have been directed over the last 6 months.

My recovery from Eagleman has been easy. I have only slight muscle aching throughout my entire body. Triathlons definitely work all the muscles. As we all endure the heat of this last day of 2008's first heatwave, I will always remember my first Ironman 70.3 whenever the heat gets this intense again. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to acheive such an accomplishment, but more so, to have a supportive network of family and friends. You are my "Iron People"!!!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Numbers

In 24 hours and 27 minutes I will begin the 2008 Eagleman IRONMAN 70.3. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to give this a try. My gratitude for the opportunity to train and compete is overwhelming. This point was never so poignant then when I drove to "packet pick-up" in Cambridge yesterday afternoon. Along the way I drove past the helicopter, emergency vehicles, police cruisers, and media that were surrounding the little yellow house outside Trappe where a man, only hours before, had killed his wife and himself. A multitude of questions rang through my head, but mostly, "how could this man become so distressed/angry/desperate as to do such a thing?"

How did we allow this man to slip through the cracks in our community? This horrific event gives so much meaning to what I am about to do tomorrow. I will go forth at 7:24am Sunday as a product (however fast or slow) of everyone in my life: my wife, daughters, parents, sisters, family, friends, and mentors. With your love, support, and encouragement I will tackle the challenges in the race tomorrow, much the same way I have lived my life for the past 43 years. It is with confidence that I will come out of tomorrow, either fallen or victorious, into the arms of my life that is all of you (that includes You, God). Everyone alive should be able to make that last statement. Why did a man in Trappe not feel that way yesterday?

I began titling this post as "Numbers" because of the multitude of them running around my head: my times, splits, schedules, pace, velocity, mileage, etc. I got off on the above tangent, but I'm not sorry. These numbers have been my focus leading up to the race to give me an idea of where I will be tomorrow, and what I can expect. Now, that the time is near (exactly 24 hours from this moment, as I type) my focus is changing to having fun with all this. I will do tomorrow what my body, mind, spirit, and conditions will allow. So, though the numbers will still be there to compute, I am slowly removing them from my focus.

There is one number, however, that is not leaving, and that's my race number of "995". I will sport 995 on my shoulders, legs, helmet, bike, and front. Mike Valliant knows my "thing" about race numbers, and I think he'd agree that I have a good one. Talk to you in a few days. Thank you, all, for making the fabric of my life.




Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Utah

Me atop a cliff at around 7500 feet on the Bear Canyon Trail on the side of 11,200 foot Lone Peak in the Wasatch Mountain Range. The suburbs of Salt Lake City are in the background below.

Utah cross country youth coach Michael Durman and his 12 year old son Cameron, together on our way to the snow line on the Bear Canyon Trail.

This is a true "Runners on Trails" entry following my 4 day trip to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend my niece's high school graduation. I arrived to my sister Judy's house in Utah Thursday night, joining my other sister Kim, my parents, and Judy's in-laws. It was the first time in 30 years (since childhood) that the 5 of us had slept under the same roof. We had a great time visiting with each other, playing cards, going for walks, and eating. We all attended my neice, Jamie's, graduation on Saturday morning.

The view from my sister's front yard of 11,200' Lone Peak. Some day I shall conquer!

In and around all the family activities I would sneak outside for an adventure, either with my brother-in-law, Jim, or by myself. Judy and Jim live next to a several hundred acre walking/hiking/equestrian trail system called the Dimple Dell which is located on a mid-west shelf of the Wasatch Mountain Range. On those trails with killer 100 foot gains and falls I did 8 and 5 mile runs. The trail surface is packed dirt/sand and loose mulch, by far, the best surface I have ever run upon. I did back to back running days (which I never do) and felt great. While running in the neighborhood park, one cannot help notice there are these intimidating, mesmerizing mountains looming to the near east, about a mile away. Eleven thousand foot Lone Peak is the highest peak within 20 miles and soon became my obsession, "Jim, I want to hike THERE!" I'd point. "We'll go Sunday, but it is impossible to go all the way because there is too much snow. We'll go as far as we can." Cool beans!!

Camron running at 7,500 feet on the Bear Canyon Trail, Utah.

I slept lightly on Saturday night in anticipation of the big hike up the side of Lone Peak. In the morning we were joined by Jim's buddy from work, Michael Durman, and his son, Camron. Michael is a cross country coach for Cam's team, along with Mark Oftedal, who is a several time finisher of the Wasatch 100 (he was 2nd in 1995 with 23:07 hours). Camron is twelve and one of the coolest young men I have ever met; his interests span greatly from lacrosse (this is his first year and he's scored in every game, so far) to ultra running. He has a 5K time of 20:43. Cam seemed able to go on forever on the trails. He ran the 6 miles down the mountain on our way home. His father and I traded places keeping up with him. We talked all day about lacrosse, running, and adventuring. When I told Cam about my dream of entering as a two-man team for the Gore-tex Transalpine 8-Day Stage Race, he said he wanted to be my partner. Believe me, if it was race legal, I'd take him. He had no fear. I look forward to visiting him on future trips to Utah to see his progress in the sport of running and his growth as a young man.

We had a lot of talk about the rattlesnakes. Though we never saw one, we had several heart stopping scares when Cam would put on the brakes and run behind me saying, "There's a snake; I know it is!" All were false alarms as they turned out to be either chipmunks or lizards. The trails were easy to traverse and were much less technical than the White Mountain trials. One was able to look around at the scenery without having to keep a constant eye on where your next step was going to land.

Me with my brother-in-law Jim Greene and his son Gary on the B0nneville Shoreline Trail.

I have always said that running/hiking with friends makes the time disappear, and so it was Sunday. Our group consisted of Jim, Gary (Jim's 35 year old son), Michael and Cam Durman, and me. Jim and Gary hung together and were a bit slower than Mike, Cam, and me. Though slower, Jim has endurance to no end, and if he wouldn't get in trouble from my sister, he'd still be hiking the trail with his wooden walking stick. Three hours disappeared in what seemed like no time. At that point we decided to turn back. We had made it to about 8,200 feet, according to someone's altimeter. We hit patchy snow with some patches several feet deep. The trail was becoming difficult to follow, so we decided to turn around. I had my overweight packback brimming with snacks and drink, which all scoffed at in the beginning. Let me tell you that I had no food left by the time we got back to the trail head. We lucked out with the weather and didn't need any of the extra clothes I brought.

Mike and Cam Durman starting the descent at 8,000 feet.

Salt Lake City lies in the ancient lake bed of the now vanished Lake Bonneville. The ancient lake went from Yellowstone National Park to Las Vegas. The only remnants of the lake are the Great Salt Lake and a few other small lakes. The Bonneville Shoreline trail runs along a shelf of the Wasatch Mountains. Until someone explained it to me, I was quite puzzled at the name "shoreline" for this trail. I now know it is in reference to the ancient Lake Bonneville.

What I found unique about our hike were the constantly changing ecosystems and flora types we traveled through on our ascent. Unlike the East, as we got higher in elevation the taller the trees got. We'd go through sections of one foot high vegitation and wildflowers, only to go back into the trees 300 feet further up. What we don't have in the East (yet) are desert-like conditions, which Utah has at times. This type of weather, I believe, is linked to the strange flora patterns on the mountain sides. Living on the flat land of the Eastern Shore, it would seem so wild to look at mountains in the distance, and even wilder to have them a few miles away.

Yours truly with fresh snow in the background.

There were so many trails to choose from, I'm glad I wasn't the one in charge Sunday. There is greatness in Utah. The accomplishments of the athletes who tackle the mountains out there are tremendous. Utah resident, Karl Meltzer, has won the Wasatch 100 Trail Race 6 times and came in second 2 times. I got the feeling there were individuals all around who had taken the opportunity to explore the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City. I was, also, amazed that the trails were not packed. 1.8 million people were milling about below us and we only passed one hiker in the higher elevations. This solo hiker we came upon took a look at me and immediately asked if I'd ever run the Wasatch 100. He had just finished climbing all the 14,000 foot peaks in the US with his wife. I was flattered by his question, to say the least, and it has started me thinking about a 100 miler. That is a dangerous thing. The Wasatch is a grueling 100 mile race with a 36 hour time limit. Less challenging 100 milers have a 24 hour time limit. I would love to try something like that, but I don't know my body, or mind, well enough, yet, to give it a go. We'll see what the future brings.

In the meantime, there is little over a week left before my Eagleman Half Ironman. I am so excited that I wish I had a mountain to burn some energy on. I feel I have prepared well in the three diciplines of swim, bike, and run. Yet, I don't feel I have been able to give 100 percent to my training. Of course, if I did, my wife and children would probably not be speaking to me. I hope to have a finish time under 6 hours, and if it goes really well, 5 1/2 hours. Regardlessly, I plan to have a great time and take it all in as a learning experience. Actually, that's a lie; I'm tired of learning, I just want to have fun.

I am very grateful for all the opportunities I've had in the last few years to push, measure, and test my limits. But, more important have been the friends that I've made. Even though I am exploring the world of Triathlons, it is with Michael Valliant's running passion and friendship that started me on this journey. Now, with Rise Up Runners, there is a whole "Google" of friendships waiting to be tapped. This is an exciting time of my life....