Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Running Free in the Sun

With Africa's Western Sahara behind it, the sun rises on the Atlantic bringing with it a perfect snorkeling and running day in Hopetown.

Last week simply confirmed for me that I am a warm weather runner. Not that I don’t enjoy running in the cold; there is something very enjoyable about an easy winter’s run on a still, crisp, 25-degree day. However, there is nothing like running out the door into a sunny 80-degree breeze with nothing but a pair of tri-shorts on my ass. Yes, that’s what I got to do all last week while visiting the Bahamas with my family and friends.

I enjoyed multiple runs on the 7-mile long island known as Elbow Cay (pronounce as “key”). It is here that my family has visited for the past 6 years for a week in March. The weather can be somewhat fickle this time of year bringing anything from sun and warmth to gale force winds, rain, and cool temps in the 60’s. We got a taste of everything, but for the most part we had sun and moderate breezes.

My runs took me the length of the island. Our rented house was somewhere in the middle where I’d leave “aid station” supplies for me to hit after the first part of my runs. The terrain on the first 3 miles was mostly on dirt road which drifted by quaint oceanfront Bahamian homes, docks, and lush flowery vegetation. The later 10 miles were mostly on asphalt, except for mile 5 which is on the sand beach at the southern tip of Elbow Cay. I’d run with my iPod at times, and always with a water bottle. One of the luxuries of being away with no agenda was I had time to really stretch my legs and body before and after each run. This, I believe, helped me not to feel any soreness AT ALL in my body after 5 straight days of running 50 miles total.

The Hopetown gang paying a visit on nearby Man O War Cay.

Times with our friends and my family were so much fun. We snorkeled the first two full days we were there. I have sunburn on the lower backs of my legs, just below where my wetsuit stopped. My girls call me a geek with my sock-like sunburn. We each took a night to cook dinner, with the kids making dinner on our third night. It was awesome and here’s the photo to prove it:
The meal of shrimp kabobs prepared by our 13 and 16 year-old chiefs. It was a specail meal for us all.

The reefs are in great condition now with lots of new coral growth and many fish. Hurricanes from 7 years ago did a great deal of damage to the reefs that protect and make-up this region. It has taken this many years to see the replenishment of growth. Shell collecting is one of our favorite pastimes; it’s like treasure hunting.

It was good to spend time with everyone and still have time to stretch, do my T’ai Chi practices, and run. I even discovered songs on my iPod that I didn’t even know I liked.
This is my favorite new "form" taught to me by Dell, my T'ai Chi Teacher. The movement is called "Cloud Hands" and it gives an awesome feeling of energy and strength. On fair-weather mornings I would go to the Church patio which fronts on the ocean and do my practice with the rising sun warming my body.

On our first night in Hopetown we ate at the local waterfront pub, Captain Jacks. There was a guy there with a karaoke set-up. For some reason I was inspired to sing my first time karaoke in front of my family, friends, and total strangers. The four kids got up and gave it a go, as well. I sang four very diverse songs by the likes of All American Rejects, Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, and Rob Thomas. I can’t say I was good, but I had fun, and perhaps I am glad I couldn’t hear myself.
The children singing karaoke to "Build Me Up Buttercup" by the Loving Spoonful. What fun!

In swimming news, our Talbot County YMCA Swimmers, the Mantarays have won our state championship. So, as we venture to another meet this Saturday, we will have honors bestowed upon us by the powers at be. I hope to swim my first individual Butterfly event, as well as a 200 freestyle and another 100 yard Breaststroke. Then we have April to look forward to.

Love, swim, ride, and run ~ M

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March Madness

Hanging out my window and looking over Wittman Park on the afternoon of March 2nd; madness!

March has been crazy as a March Hare. Between the snow storm of the first and second and the heat wave over the next weekend, it’s been great. It’s a wonderful thing to have activities to enjoy no matter the weather. It’s even more wonderful to have folks who share the same desires.
Joel, me, Mike, and Lori hanging out in Idlewild Park. Shaun and Sampson are taking the photo.

I drove Julius to Easton during the snow storm Monday morning to run with friends Lori, Michael, Shaun, Joel, and Joel’s dog Sampson. It was uncomfortably cold but made better by the company. Five days later I was hopping on the bike before dawn on Saturday morning to trek to swim practice. Watching the sun rise over Miles River was beautiful. When I came out of the Y after practice the warmth hit me, 70 degrees. On the way home I experienced two flat tires; a conspiracy; I'll explain:

After practice I hopped on the bike, grabbed a bagel at the B. Bakery, then headed home. By the time I got to Carrol’s Market I had my first flat on the back wheel. By the grace of God, the second flat didn’t set in until Pot Pie Road, though I could hear the debris stuck in the tire hitting the frame for the prior 3 miles. I learned a few weeks ago that if there is debris in the tire to leave it and try to get as far as you can. Last time I heard something in the tire, I stopped, found the staple stuck in the tire, and pulled it out. Then the tire deflated, duh, I pulled the plug.

I know this is a long story, but there is reasoning behind it. Upon inspection of the first flat while sitting in the warm sunshine at a picnic table at Carrol’s Market, I found the source of the flat. It was a metal sliver stuck in the tire. This sliver, upon closer examination, could only come from one source, an over pumped longboard. It seems there is a major defect in the ball bearings of the wheels on these boards. When the boards are over pumped slivers of metal peel off the bearings and are ejected from the bearing guides like BBOS and left on the shoulders of our “bike” ways in the county. It is a shame.

Then upon inspection of the second flat, I found a carbon fiber sliver. Yes, again the source came from these reckless “long boarders” who are taking over our natural vistas, shoulders, by-ways, pools, and blog sites. It seems, that when one of these, so called athletes, “carves a noogy”, they scrape a portion of the carbon fiber strength from their precious boards. Carbon fiber splinters are worse than wood splinters because of their unprecedented strength. The fiber in my new tire would have sunk a Coast Guard rigid inflatable. Shocking, I’d say!

So, what are we to do? I simply cannot put into words my disappointment. I’m afraid to go on the roads and train. I’m going crazy with worry. Dan and I only have 97 days left to train for Eagleman. What will happen?

My initial thought would be to do a post to the RUR website, but LOW AND BEHOLD, it seems the blog site has been taken over with the longboard crap. I was disgusted. Thank goodness I can voice my displeasure here, at least.

So, beware on the roads, my friends, you have been warned. The longboarders don’t seem to have an ounce of decency when it comes to littering our byways with splinters, slivers, shards, and chads. Who knows how this will affect our running shoes (I’d double sock it, if I were you). Tuckahoe seems to be the only safe place to bike and run in the tri-county area; at least for now, until the LB’s go Hummer on us.

If you are confused, I don’t blame you. There is a contingent of our running group that is also Long Distance Pumping (LDP) on long board skate boards. We like to give them hell.

Phinn loving the snow!

My buddy Phinn and I have been on several runs now, and the future looks bright for our young lab. He will enjoy many miles of unleashed glee when running with me; as long as he behaves.

Friday we’re heading to the Bahamas where “training-wise” in intend to up my weekly running mileage by 400 percent. I also hope to get several open-water swims in the ocean. See you in the spring…love, swim, ride, and run…Michael