I almost missed this challenge because I didn't bother to read the challenge very well. I read, "For the first time in our Social Distancing Race you will have partners to help you race." Skating alone almost exclusively, and not having a big crew of distance skaters to pull from I didn't think I'd have a team. If I would have read a little further I would have learned that it was a relay with "unknown teammates."
Luckily, while having a DM conversation with someone from The IDSA, it was pointed out to me that I didn't need to pick my partners, my partners would be randomly picked for me. I learned that late in the month so I didn't have much time to get mentally prepared for a distance skate. If I'm honest, I have been a little nervous about distance skating since June's 100 mile challenge. I let myself get far too dehydrated during that challenge, and I have been freestyle skating in 90+ degree weather every afternoon making it difficult to stay hydrated. An hour of skating in this heat and the sweat will literally fly off my body doing a 360. When I end my session and bend over to pick up my bottle of water, the sweat flows off the bill of my hat as if water were being poured from a jug. I had to remind myself that this is ONLY 25 kilometres each and that is only about 15 miles. 15 miles isn't much after you've skated over 50 miles. Still, I was nervous as I turned on the Endomondo app and started pushing.
Switching from miles to kilometres was interesting. The automated voice comes much sooner which, honestly, gave me a little false security. I had to keep reminding myself this was a 15 mile skate which is, despite having skating over 60 in one go last month, longer than my usual distance ride.
Mile one is almost always my slowest mile. On a really long ride I use my first mile (er, kilometre) as a warm up. I go slow and get my body warmed up, easing into the skate. In all honesty, my fastest and my slowest aren't too much different. For the first 12k I listened to an audiobook, but switched over to music after and skating to music, carving, and pumping in between pushing was a lot of fun. My freestyle trucks are very tight. I have taken to purple khiro bushings and they are very stable, very hard to turn bushings...great for freestyle, but turning, flowing is still important in freestyler otherwise you end up being robotic from trick to trick. Anyway, enough freestyle. This is, after all, a distance skate post.
It was a comfortable skate. I had to slow down a bit toward the end because of an older woman with a walker getting a few laps in (I lapped her many times each time foot breaking and smiling as I passed), and I am relatively happy with my time. It was a little slower than I had hoped. I wanted to get 20k done in the first hour but was about 3k short.
I'm eagerly awaiting the results for this month's challenge and looking forward to what challenge August will bring. Since it will only be hotter in August I'm hoping for a fairly short ride (sub 20 miles) with a longer challenge when temps start cooling down.
My run for the World Round Up Online Showdown has been filmed and uploaded. I have paid my entry fee. It is all over but the judging in July. Strangely enough, tons of people are sharing their runs on Facebook. I'm really surprised. I didn't want to share mine until it was being judged or being run on the Braille channel's live feed in July. The kind of cool thing is that I'm getting to see the "competition" as they do their runs. I feel like, despite riding a longboard and doing a very simple run, I fit in nicely with the videos I've seen so far. That is a relief. When I heard Braille was doing a live feed of the Round-Up I was a little surprised. I thought I was skating for a couple hundred other people that were entering the contest. Instead, it is going to be broadcast on a channel with over 4 million subscribers! It is like thinking you're playing a gig in a club but finding out you are really doing a stadium show.
As far as preparing for the round up, I was so ready for it to be over, and ready to not do the same few tricks over and over. Now (of course), I miss working on the run. Insert a big sigh right here.
So, what am I to do next?! That's the real dilemma. Do I do the cyber slalom challenge this weekend? Do I finish my 100 miles for the month? Do I start working on new freestyle and dance tricks?
I took the week to work on dance stuff, like true dance stuff, riding a board with no kicks so I wasn't tempted to move into classic freestyle or ollie based tricks. My Peter Pans and cross-stepping needed work so I worked on those, and added walking the plank to my slowly growing dance list. On Friday I took my freestyle set up back out and integrated walk the dogs with a backwards cross-step. Two walk the dogs followed by what looks to be a turn in, but while the board is rolling backwards I do a cross-step into more walk the dogs. It is simple, but walking one direction while the board rolls another direction is more difficult than it sounds. I have to distribute my weight slightly backward and that feels odd.
Really, I just want to do more freestyle so I'm looking at what's next freestyle trick wise, and seeing what longboard dance stuff I can add to my skating.
I walked out of my house at 5:45 a.m. on Friday June 5th and noticed that it was already warmer outside than inside my house. It made me nervous because I had watched the weather forecast for the day grow hotter and hotter over the last two weeks. When the date was chosen the forecast said it would be mild outside, in the lower 80s with some nice cloud cover. Now the forecast was for 90 degree temps and sunny.
By 6:00 a.m. I was taking my first laps as I sipped on my morning coffee. It felt great. In fact, the first 20 miles felt great. It felt so great that I kept going, and skipped my planned 20 mile break. I was wearing my new IDSA hydration vest so I was able to drink water as I skated into mile 33 when I finally pulled off to my aid station and took my first time out.
Seated in the aid station (really just the only shady tree at the park that I could put a chair and cooler under, I changed my socks for the first time and applied some petroleum jelly to my feet. I knew that trick from running and hoped it would translate to distance skating to help keep blisters from popping up on my feet. I changed shirts, and a fresh, dry t-shirt felt wonderful. I reapplied sunscreen, drank some sports drink, and ate some salty chips before taking off toward my goal.
By now the sun was fully up and it was hot. Very hot. I spotted a snake sunning itself on my path. I stopped, took a picture of him and started riding again. A couple laps later and he was gone, but I saw another, very tiny, snake sunning itself. On my next lap around, I saved the guy's life. I noticed he was coiled up as if he were ready to strike. I also noticed a bird, fluttering above him (about my head height). The bird was getting ready to time a pounce on the snake, but when it saw me, the bird flew away. After watching a deer die on my last over 10 mile ride (read here), it was a nice that the animal lived this time.
It wasn't much longer and I decided another break was in order. The heat was getting to me, and I was disappointed that I had to pull back off of the course again already. I had hoped to be at 50 miles by the time I pulled off again. I drank some more liquids and ate a banana before heading back onto the course. At this point, I also switched from the audiobook I had been playing through my headphones to some music.
The music was a good choice. The combination of tunes and the food I had consumed helped give me a boost for a little bit. I skated a few more miles before putting on the breaks again. More food. More liquids. I changed hydration bladders in my vest. I pondered changing shirts again, but wanted to save my last shirt until mile 66.
At 5 hours and 42 minutes I finished my 50th mile and sat down again for another break. The heat was stifling. I wasn't sure exactly the temperature, but it was hot. I sent my wife a screenshot of my current Endomondo and she replied that she was worried about the heat.
Truthfully, I was too. At mile 50 I realized that I may not make it in one go. I might have to go home, rest through the heat of the day and come back when it begins cooling down. the problem with that was that there are no lights on my course. If I come back I'm skating in the dark. If I can't skate in the dark then I'm never going to make it. I decided to push forward, but take break even more often.
I'd ride a few miles then take a break. I'd ride a mile or two more then take a break.
At mile 58 I got a cramp in my right quad. I hopped off my board at the aid station and drank a bottle of pickle juice and ate my third (and last) banana. I finished my 48 ounce of sports drink and drank down some more stock I had brought (for the liquid/sodium). Luckily, the beverages seemed to work and the cramp faded away as I skated into my 60th mile.
Another short break. I put my third, and final, bladder into my hydration vest before pushing on to mile 61. It was just after mile 61 that I knew I was done. I realized that I had not urinated since I left the house at 5:45 this morning. That really scared me. Despite all of these liquids I've drank I hadn't had the need or urge to use the restroom. Just how hot was it today?!
At the end of mile 62 I loaded my gear up and hopped into my car. According to Endomondo, I had burnt over 3,500 calories (I have no idea the truth on that), and I thought it was time to get some mass calories and fluids into me so I could at least need to urinate. I went through a drive through, skarfed a couple burgers and drank a large coca cola on my way home. Once at home I filled my 48 ounce bottle with water drank water as I took a cool shower (it felt amazing).
I finally had the need to urinate after drinking a ton of liquids. It was dark, nearly brown and I knew I wasn't headed back out tonight. It turns out the temperature had climbed to 93 degrees outside today, just two degrees away from tying the record high of 95 degrees.
Instead of heading back out I drank water and snacked into the evening, and opted to watch a movie with my wife instead of looping the track. Since I have to go back to getting ready for the Online Showdown, I won't be attempting the 100 in 24 hours again this month (and since it will only get hotter as June pushes on), but I will do a few more rides to get me over 100 for the month so I'll still fulfill one of the IDSA challenges. And I'm happy that I made 62 miles. The longest ride I've ever done was a 26.2 ride so I've more than doubled my distance, and that is something I can be proud of.
A couple weeks ago I posted about joining the IDSA, and completing the 1 km sprint challenge. I finished the 1 km ride in just under 3 minutes, and that time made me pretty excited to try the 1 mile sprint challenge which was next on the list. It would be my third challenge completed, but my first to submit to the organization as it would be my first challenge completed as a member.
As I've mentioned before, the online challenges are the reason I finally joined the IDSA, and I've been really excited about distance skating since joining. On the other hand, I am much more dedicated time-wise to freestyle and dancing. So, a monthly (or shorter bi-weekly) challenge is perfect. In fact, it has inspired me to both put my running shoes back on and get back on my bicycles. I enjoy both cycling and running, but I've been so focused on trick skating that I hated to take time away from it. Now I'm getting my longboard dance sessions in and often finishing them off with a short distance skate, run or bike ride (more on my end of day short distance sessions in another post).
I had intended to find a new, straighter path to complete the 1 mile challenge, but I didn't. I stuck with my looping section which, of course, doesn't lend itself to sprinting. In fact, in my clockwise mile, I had to foot break twice per loop. You can't footbreak and sprint at the same time, of course, but I am very happy with my times. I ran the course both clockwise and counterclockwise and the good folks and the IDSA average the two rides out.
My average time was 4:37.5 per mile which is the fastest mile I have ever skated. I know there are some sub 4 minute miles out there, but looking back at all the distance rides I've done on Endomondo, the fastest miles I can find are about 4:40 miles so I'm very happy with my time.
The challenge for June is a big one. You can either choose to do 100 miles in the month or 100 miles in 24 hours. I'm going for the 100 miles in 24 hours. It is something I've wanted to do for a long time, but have never taken the time to do.
tAccording to the weather forecast, this week was going to be a total bust, but just the opposite happened. It turned out to be a pretty great week to skate, and the sun was plentiful. So plentiful that I got the worst sunburn I've had in years mid-week. I've never had a sunburn take down my activity level like it did this week. My energy felt off and I can't think of anything besides the sunburn that could be the cause. It is stupid really. I carry sunscreen in the side pocket of my bag every single day. For once it just slipped my mind.
Anyway, about the skateboarding. I completed my 1 mile sprints for the IDSA, logged a new PR for a mile, and got that sunburn in the process on Thursday, but the rest of the week was spent doing freedance and getting ready for the Online Showdown in a few weeks (more about my 1 mile ride in another post).
So, I completely redid the opening 20 seconds of my run. I've been starting the run with longboard dancing, but decided to make the run freestyle-centric with some spin shove-its, walk the dogs, and a tailstop fingerflip before going into some dance moves.
I've also been working on a carving 360 wheelie. It is more difficult than it sounds. The first 200 or so degrees is pretty easy but getting to exactly 360 is a little tougher. You have to try and find the centrifugal force to keep the turn going, but it can be hard to find the balance. That said, I've upped my workouts to include ankle mobility issues.
I came to the realization last week that I've had issues with 360s and spacewalks because of my right (rear) ankle. I broke it about 17 years ago, and while the break healed well, one of the ligaments in my ankle was ripped in two. I elected not to have it surgically reattached. The doctor had told me it would be very painful and that the other ligaments in my ankle would most likely strengthen so much that I wouldn't notice a difference. He was correct except that I am a skateboarder and my ankles are very important for the act of skating.
So, here I am 17 years later, starting some PT to strengthen the other ligaments in my ankle to help my freestyle and dance skateboarding.
I'm afraid I spent most of this week either wishing the rain would stop or wishing the kids playing basketball would finish their game so I could have the court. Neither happened much this week. One day I was able to complete the latest IDSA skate challenge (more on that in the next post), and one day I was able to do a long dance session around the same track I used on the skate challenge, but the rest of the week was spent practicing 360s and spacewalks under the pavilion at the park.
By the end of the week I had a short combo that used both the 360s and spacewalks (start off with some stationary 360s, go the other direction with a quick spin shove-it, and finish with some spacewalks). I haven't, however, gotten it good enough to video.
I din't call this a training week for the Showdown because neither 360s nor spacewalks are in my run so it doesn't feel like I've really trained for the showdown at all. Luckily, things change next week. After Sunday there is no rain in the forcast for the next seven days. I'm glad as next week is the end of the sign up period, and I'll probably need to get my run on video by the end of the week (or the next). It will be sad to see that end. Wanting to do well has forced me to improve my skating. In fact, it has given me incentive to continue improving in the ways that I want to improve. I'm becoming a better skater/longboader and I really feel like the sky is the limit to my skating. It all comes down to skating the way we want to skate and working on the things we want to do rather than letting our skating being dictated by others.
It is hard to believe that this completes my sixth week of training for the World Round-Up Online Showdown (my first freestyle contest). it really feels like it has just been a couple weeks (maybe a few) since I started this journey. I can tell, however, that my skating is much improved over this month and a half. I can now, very easily, get through a full 1 1/2 minute run, and I've added some new dance tricks (or should I call them moves) that won't become part of a freestyle run.
I'm sticking to my guns of making this as freestyle oriented as possible while showcasing dance, skogging, and pumping. Luckily, tricks like toe spins (called pirouettes in longboarding), g-turns, pivots, 360s etcetera were freestyle tricks long before longboard dance.
I've also been searching for and watching as much 70s freestyle as possible. For instance, I have watched Stacy Peralta and Russ Howell in the documentary Skateboard Kings from the late 70s several times. The thing that is noticeable about their skating, in that particular documentary, is that their boards turn. In fact, their boards turn a lot. Modern freestyler's boards tend to turn when they pivot on them. I'm not saying all freestyler skaters have boards that don't turn at all. I'm saying they don't accentuate the turn. They damper it. Carving is not part of the beauty of modern freestyle.
I've decided that I want my board to turn more freely and, more importantly, to rebound better. I've ordered new bushings for my setup. I'm going with a barrel setup both board and roadside for better rebound.
I'm also removing some grip tape from the board to make toe spins and walking trick easier. Hopefully this will improve both cross-stepping moves and walk the dogs.
Interestingly enough, I feel as if I'm finally, after nearly 40 years of skating, fully developing my own unique way of riding a skateboard. For so many years I borrowed those things from my favorite skaters that I wanted to do. I did tricks as a kid based on pictures of Bill Danforth and Duane Peters. I imitated Natas video parts. I started learning the obligatory freestyle tricks. Hmmm...
....let me go back in time to the mid 80s when I knew nothing of pro skateboarding, but only that I loved rolling around on a skateboard. Ah, the memories of putting my "ghetto blaster" on and skating in the quiet rural neighborhood streets to whatever music was on the cassette player. No real "tricks" just turning, tictacking, spinning. That was all I needed. I feel like I've gone back to that place with a wealth of knowledge. A flat patch of concrete and a skateboard. It really is all I need.
Since I've been concentrating on the dance/freestyle aspects of my skating, I've not been doing much (meaning: any) distance skating. I've been tempted to hit the Razorback Greenway a few times, but the sheer amount of people on the trail lately has kept me away. In fact, I've been completly unable to run my favorite off-road trails since the pandemic closures shut down businesses and people decided to hit the trails for something to do.
So, because I've not been distance skating, I have also quit checking on the Distance skate groups on Facebook. Honestly, I find Facebook to be a necessary evil. I long for the days when forums were active. I see half thought out political posts by people that I tend to respect and it puts me off Facebook more and more. ANYWAY, I found out a day or two late that there was a 10k challenge last month, but after checking out the times this morning, I decided to skate a 10k at my local paved "trail."
I put trail in quotation marks because this trail is just over .25 of a mile. It is almost a track, but it has a couple extra turns and isn't completely flat. In fact, it has one flat section, two slightly uphill sections and one slight downhill with a couple turn in it. Well, I say that but the course would, of course, be just the opposite were I skating clockwise. For some reason I always skate this thing counterclockwise. I have no idea why.
So, I skated just ever so slightly over 10k this morning:
Judging from the times of the racers that actually competed in the challenge, I need to work on my distance skating. In my age group I would have placed 20th out of 30 and overall I would have been 85th out of 138. Not great, but I'm not upset about it. I've not skated distance in a couple months and the courses turns really slow me down. I think I could do a little better on the Memphis Greenline.
I hope they keep these challenges up. I probably won't enter the actual virtual race, but competing against their times is a fun challenge and a nice change of pace from freestyle/dance skating.
The two pictures above are tricks that I have no intentions of doing in the contest. However, they're tricks that I needed to do this week. While I'm still working on and improving my run (I have approximately two thirds of the run dialed in), I need some changes of pace. Some kicklips, 360 tailspins, and ghost ride shove-its have been the trick to change things up.
I've also added some pumping and carving to my run. I call it the 1975 Del Mar Nationals part of my run. As I've said before, I want to dance, freestyle, skog, and carve/pump in this run. Finding the right times to carve, dance etc...is the tough part. I'm filming the run each day so I can see how it looks. I'm not a great judge of things in the moment, but I think I'm getting better at that. Over the next week I'm hoping to get the final 30 seconds of my run planned so I can feel better prepared.
What looked to be a week of rain turned into a beautiful spring week full of sunshine. I've added some new tricks to my bag, but most of them aren't appropriate for a freestyle run. While I don't hold the "foot down doesn't count" statement as freestyle gospel, I wouldn't do a ghost ride trick in a freestyle contest. I've been doing ghost ride kickflips and ghost ride shove-its quite a bit lately. They're fun, very easy, and I think they look good on a longboard. The one "foot down" trick that I will do in a run is a 360 push. Basically, it is a skog to rolling backwards then a second push back to forward. Barely a trick, I think it fits in fine for a freestyle run.
I've been trying to get a little more analytical about the run. While I new that I wanted it to convey a certain feeling, I wasn't sure how I should attack the run. It struck me that the run is all about circles. Whether I'm carving in a circle, turning my board 360 degrees, or turning a circle on my board, the run is about 360 degree turns.
I've started thinking about the turns I'm making in the run. In truth, I haven't figured it all out yet. And constantly turning does make things more difficult. It is easier to do footwork in a straight line. However, the arcs made carving make the slower motions of the longboard more interesting. So much of current freestyle and longboard dance is about doing tricks as fast as possible. You watch videos of people moving so quickly you can't exactly tell what is going on. For this run, I want to move slowly, deliberately. I want each step to count.