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...