Duo Mareado

Sean and I surfed Indian Beach again this morning, leaving pre-dawn, before 5:30, and getting home about three hours later. Too much goodness to go into detail. Waves were well-formed, about five foot swell from the northwest, light or no winds. It was a battle to get out, but we rode well. At one point, Sean and I rode the same excellent wave in tandem, whooping and hollering our way south on the front of a respectably sized, slowly crumbling swell.

I am tired beyond the point of blogging. Damn fatigued. I am wore out and shredded after four days in a row of ninety minute plus sessions, three at Indian Beach on decent sized surf. Surfing makes you sleepy, high, filled with a dizzy, floating, “oceanic sensation,” doubtless caused by motions in the inner ear. Sean and I are both feeling it right now.

Two more sessions are planned before a rest day. Sean and I are planning to go to Shorties tomorrow morning. Maybe it will be mellower.

Health and Nutrition Check In

Food was a mixed bag today. I went big, and had a lot of protein, with plenty of paleo friendly veggies and fruits… but I also had some alcohol, sugar, and a bit of dairy, and a bite of wheat. I feel full but I also feel like eating. I’ve been stuffing myself for days, but the scale shows very little unacceptable or irreversible weight gain. I still weigh below 180.

I’ve been surfing nearly every day… which is success in my view. But I miss hardcore Met-Con workouts. I’m too tired to get in additional workouts. This wasn’t the plan. I’ll be back to CrossFit in three weeks. I’m not going to stress over this, but I’m taking notice of it.

Surfing with the Elks

As Sean, Steve and I left from Arch Cape at 5:30 this morning, we were startled to see three adult and one juvenile Elk in the empty lot by the fire station. We marveled a bit at these massive and elegant creatures, and then continued on our way to Indian Beach. It seemed like a really good omen, and I guess it was.

Indian Beach was just what we’d hoped it would be. It was a bit foggy, but comparatively clear. We arrived on the sand before sunrise, and there was this beautiful light that only grew in power. When the sun came up over the eastern hills, glorious fans of light filled mist spread out through the trees. What a gorgeous setting.

Surfing wise, conditions were good. Two days ago, during our Indian Beach morning session, we had some trouble stalking the waves in the chaos of 7′ swell at 8 seconds, with seemingly multiple points of origin. Today was easier. There were very minor winds, so the surface was pretty clean, and there was only a little chaos caused by inconsistent swell direction and “wind waves.” We had a pretty consistent NW swell of 5′ or so on a period of about 10 seconds. The waters were moving up and in, towards a medium sized high tide that would be peaking near 8:00 am. I could feel a minor southward current beyond the break zone. At Indian Beach, I think that this line up of conditions are just nearly perfect. It was just slightly difficult to get out through the beach break, but it was still manageable for anyone with experience or enough fight in them. Unfortunately, Steve was not able to get out; so he retired to the beach, changed, and took some pictures. (I don’t think he got any of us surfing; we were too far out, and the light was too dim).

We were joined after a while by three other surfers, one of whom was again Mark Mekanas, the owner of Cannon Beach Surf Shop — as he had on Monday, he was out there showing us what you can do on a longboard at Indian Beach. I feel like, if I keep ending up in the same sessions as Mark, I must be doing something right. Speaking of Mark and his store, this morning I rode my favorite board: a hand-shaped 9 foot 6 inch Bruce Grant “Super Ugly” that Mark sold me in 2007. It was made special for sale at Cannon Beach Surf Shop. The “Super Ugly” is a beautiful board, with tremendous glide and cruising power. My compliments to Bruce, and to Mark for stocking the board. Here’s my plug: Go to Cannon Beach Surf Shop. The bottom line is: if you are near the town of Cannon Beach, OR, and need surf gear for sale or rent, or you need to get lessons, this shop is the real deal.

During the length of our nearly two hour session, I stood up on only a handful of waves, but one of those was the kind of ride that makes your whole day, or maybe even makes your whole season. A number of times I managed to paddle into big waves — the breaking waves were over head height for me, maybe 7′ high below the initial show of whitewater — and get to my feet on their glassy, steep, breaking faces, only to fall off and get tumbled. One of those take-offs was absolutely perfect… except for my footing and balance. If I had somehow held on and ridden out all three or four of those waves, this would have been my “all time best day surfing.” So, even that, that’s pretty good for me. I’m still a kook, but I feel like I am improving.

One other thing… for some reason, today my energy level was really good… I’d had a decent amount of calories yesterday, and didn’t abuse myself… I’d had a reasonable sleep… and a good one block breakfast… I’d had some strong coffee… and [[comment removed as T.M.I.]]. I only tell you that because it seems relevant to my performance today. So, given all this, I felt ready to take on the world. I wish I could have that feeling going into every session. We left the beach before 8:20 am and were home about 8:40. An awesome outing.

On Clear Waters

The surfing isn’t too bad. But the eating is very good. Every so often a Flexible-Paleo-Zone diet has to give way to British Style Meat Pies. And corn chips. Etc.

Piss in Boots and Sunny Haze

One of my better attempts at a freestand handstand, as captured by Yael.

One of my better attempts at a freestand handstand, as captured by Yael.

Sean and I left for Indian Beach at 5:30 am; we were the first to arrive and were on the beach just after sunrise at about five ’til six. Conditions: patchy fog, fifty seven degree seas, light north winds, uneven seven foot swell, uneven, pretty short period. We made our way out by the cliffs on the north side and floated for a while, observing the scene. We tried to surf some, and mostly fell. About six thirty as the sun was breaking onto the waters beyond the break zone a few other surfers came in the water. They took their longboards out beyond us just as some larger waves started breaking further out. Sean disappeared to the inside, and I made my way out. I had one really interesting ride and also rode some slop and fell a lot. I battled my way back through the surf a few times, but also sat around in the deep water long enough without surfing to get cold. Spare you the poetry, just a few glimpses: seaweed on my board; needing to piss; pissing; putting on my hood; falling flat on my face at the end of one partial ride; Mark (?) the owner of Canon Beach Surf on his flamed-up longboard; surfing on to shore from the sunny morning into twilight shadows; watching the dude on the red longboard shred quite a few big waves out there at the end. The key to surfing Indian Beach is to use the cliffs on the north side as a shield to get out past the beach break to the south. We left the parking lot at 8:15 and were home at about 8:35.

I felt shredded and beat-up after that session but I can’t wait for tomorrow.

Best sunset of the summer... so far.

Best sunset of the summer... so far.

Other than that I mostly hung out with my family today; it was a special day of fun. I practiced handstands of the beach. Yael got a photo of that. We had sun, and heat. The beach was blazing with a salty haze in the afternoon. Then we had an incredible sunset, after which, a half moon passed from the top of the cape towards the water.

I practiced, intermittently throughout the day: Handstands, Surfer Get-ups, Burpees, Pull-Ups, and Ring-Dips. I also probably got a sunburn.

Foggy Notion

This morning I went surfing again with Ben Walsh, one of my oldest and dearest friends. I’ve known Ben since my 8th grade year (I guess that must have been 1983) when we were just a couple of semi-punk kids. He’s a very strong and competent athlete, a consummate gentleman, and a responsible husband, father, and citizen. A stand up guy; the absolute salt of the earth. So, if Ben and I decide together to leave out of Arch Cape for Short Sand beach before the official start of Civil Twilight, you know it must be for very good reasons. For instance, consider this reason: “the eternally worthy goal of continuing to live as bad asses even after completing four decades on this saltwater covered rock drifting in endless space.”

Such was our foggy notion. No, make that: “foggy ocean.”

Before we left Arch Cape, we knew that weather would not cooperate. The seas, and roads, were shrouded in fog.

We arrived at the beach with all our gear at 5:27 am, and made it into the water before 6:00. But not before giving it some serious second thoughts. A cloud filled the cove, and Short Sand was under total white-out conditions. Visibility was less than 100′. The ocean was completely obscured from shore. The high cliffs and befirred hillsides of Smuggler Cove were completely obscured from the water. In a condition resembling blindness, we walked until we reached what we imagined was the approximate middle of the beach. Approaching the break, we could not see beyond the first two layers of whitewater, and what we saw was discouraging, to say the least. Waves breaking right. Waves breaking left. Waves breaking in five directions at once. Waves on top of one another, with no measurable period or pattern. Water temperature 54 degrees. The only things favorable about the conditions were that we had the waves to ourselves and that the wind was negligible. The NOAA coastal waters forecast suggested we were dealing with an 8′ swell from the NW… not that we could see any such thing from shore… and a 12 second period… which didn’t seem possible as we began to wade out into a relentlessly pounding surf.

Short Sand beach faces SW, the shoreline running in a NW-SE angle about 3/4 of a mile. The chaotic seas had to be caused by the NW swell wrapping around the end of Cape Falcon on the north end, and then reverberating off of the shore and southern cape that defines the cove. But usually there’s a soft middle to the madness at Short Sand, and today was no exception.

We actually found our way through the pounding white water, in spite of our long boards. And so we found ourselves floating beyond the break, in a very gray place. I thought the scene resembled purgatory, or the land of the dead, but better, because clearly there was surfing to be done here. If only the denizens of the land of the dead were so lucky! Still, we had to be careful, since we had nothing but the direction of the swell, the sounds of the breaking surf, and the very subtle gradations in the colors and brightnesses of the clouds to indicate the direction of shore and safety. Out beyond the break zone, we could maneuver around the 8′ swells easily enough, as long as we kept moving further out. On the way, I saw numerous breaking faces that topped 10′, and many potentially rideable shoulders.

I knew that the trouble for me would be threefold. (1) It was difficult to predict exactly where the next rideable shoulder would form, and so, dangerous to stalk them, for when I found myself too far in, and directly in front of a breaking 7′-10′ swell, I was going to get tossed around — and of course this happened more than once today; (2) if I did find myself near enough one of the waves to contemplate riding it, in three out of four cases I was just too close to the breaking face and not far enough out on the shoulder, which meant I would have to drop into a near vertical slope with a 9’6″ board… technically so difficult that it’s far beyond my current capacities — of course I did catch some waves like this and I took the resulting frigid pounding and accompanying cold-headache like a man; (3) if I did catch a wave, and I ultimately did catch several, then the ride so quickly dissolved into chaos that I either lost balance and fell, or worse, wound up back inside the chaos of the break zone, only to have to spend 5 minutes battling back out through the foam into the mist-shrouded green waters again. And that is the story of the morning.

Ben soldiered through all this with very few complaints, doing exceptionally well given the less than favorable conditions. He rode a little less than me but fought the barrels and walls of raging white ocean spray no less valiantly. I found that, conditioning wise, I had all the strength I needed to fight my way through the surf, to keep paddling out even when getting walloped from every side. On the other hand, during the several times I was — for various reasons — being pounded down by the curling over waters of the crashing breakers, I ingested enough cold salt water that I had to fight off the gag reflex on my walk back to our gear.

Together we both affirmed, in spite of everything, that surfing in these waters this fine morning was an exceptional experience very much worth the efforts and pains involved. And we still made it back by 7:36 am to be daddies, etc., at home. “Go earlier, get more.” It’s a way of life.

Just About Perfect

I woke up this morning feeling a lot better. I am still troubled in the intestines — and no more details about that are needed — but feel fully recovered in body. Yesterday, whatever bug is in me had sapped and depleted my entire energy system. It left me me weak and achy. None of that today. I could feel my muscles pulsing with energy again, and I felt ready to get in the water.

So, after a small breakfast, some coffee, and some morning time with our families, Ben Walsh and I went to Oswald West at about 8:40 am. We returned by 10:35, dutiful (and extremely lucky) husbands and fathers both of us.

The surfing conditions at Oswald today were just about perfect: clear blue skies, sun on our faces, second category winds (NOAA says, 10 to 15 knots), a seven foot swell, with a longish 13 second period, and a relatively small crowd. Every swell had a steep face and a lot of energy and looked quite rideable. A few of those waves were even piling up perfectly, with open breaks heading left, or right, or in double barrels. Most of them, however, were closing out completely after only a few seconds, making it just slightly challenging to get out or to catch a wave. A few waves built up high… I saw at least one breaking face — i.e. a wave that was about to peel over and break — standing at least 11 feet above the surface below. It crushed the shortboarders who were waiting for options closer in. That wave, and others, caused Ben to struggle a bit when he got caught in the break zone for about 15 minutes.

In any case, the swells were just about perfect, and I rode them. Not as much as I’d have liked, of course. I caught only about 5 waves in our short, 45 minute session, and I spent some time trying to help Ben get out past the break. But it doesn’t matter at all.

At least one of my rides was a personal record (PR) for size. I dropped in from the top of about a 7 foot face, rode it down, turned sideways to the right a bit, then avoided the crashing break that was closing out the wave from that direction and pulled ahead of the whitewater, then eased out of the slop by standing back on my board… all this was done in balance and control. That’s real surfing, and that ride left me whooping and hollering. Also, on each one of the other rides I caught today I felt stronger, stabler, and more in balance than I remember feeling in recent sessions, or maybe ever. So this was a landmark, almost perfect day. I don’t know if it was the “day of rest,” or what, but I felt a sense of calm and restored strength that I want to hang on to next time I’m in the water (maybe this evening).

CrossFit encourages us to think about fitness in terms of quantifiable numbers. And there’s no way to quantify surfing except in crude and meaningless terms: amount of time spent in the water, number of waves attempted, number ridden, number of paddle strokes taken, that kind of thing. So, at least at first, surfing might not seem to be a “CrossFit” kind of sport. But today, when I successfully rode a wave bigger than any I’d ever managed to stand up on, the first thing I thought was: that’s improvement, that’s a PR, and that’s the ultimate point of fitness. I’m 40 years old and growing and improving at a sport that I love, while riding a different kind of wave in my life: health. I can’t fully quantify it but I don’t have to. I was there.

Must be something I ate…

OOOF… was it the lovely dinner of fresh Dungeness crab chowder, or the bread and butter, or the homemade Ginger Ice cream, or was it the cabbage and beef ribs? or was it the remnants of the package of cultured Cottage Cheese from two weeks ago that I found in my fridge and then ate during one of my usual unconscious late night snack binges? I’d bet it’s the Cottage Cheese.

Whatever it was it turned my planned rest day into a sick day. I’ve been unable to eat, stomach totally shut down with pressure and gas and belching and nausea… and I won’t discuss further the evil flow below. TMI I know but this is my training blog and there ain’t no training or proper recovery when you feel like this. One microscopic little bacterial colony or virus, and my strong healthy body is turned into a useless, lumbering and weak structure of pain. Hopefully I’ll be back in action tomorrow, though, if it’s a virus, it may linger a bit longer.

Go Earlier, Get More

I had a crazy deep sleep filled with strange dreams. It was interrupted once by Lena who seems to have had a nightmare (she spent the remainder of the night in our bed). I got rudely awakened at about 5:15 by Sean and Ben — there they were! just like we had planned — and stumbled my way into another surfing adventure. If I’m going to continue with these early sessions I’ve got to cut back on the sauce that’s for sure. Ooohf.

So, today’s slogan was “go earlier, get more,” but we actually left a bit later than yesterday. We still got more, cause no one had to flee early. We picked up Steve, loaded up the car In the water by 6:30, out of the water by 7:45.

It was a strange strange morning. The tide was WAY out (negative 1.9 foot low tide at 7:35 this am), and the cove was filled with thick white fog. Strangely, overhead, there were patches of blue sky, but visibility was limited to about 100 feet. There was NO wind. The surface of the water was a bit strange: glassy at times, and at other times rolling with a couple of different directions to the swell, which was between about 6 feet according to NOAA, and coming at us with a too-close-for-comfort 8 second period.

So, surfing conditions were difficult. But they were not impossible. We got outside the break easily enough, having to fight through the break zone only a few times. Some took a pummeling more than others! My strength training and metabolic condition has really helped me in this regard, as I am now able to paddle strongly and swiftly, and then can quickly recover and paddle some more. The four of us, Ben, Sean, Steve, and myself, chased waves through the south and middle of the cove. Steve retired early. For me, the swell was perfectly shaped to ride, but just a bit too big and just a bit too chaotic. I got very few decent rides, and I fell, rather embarrassingly, more than I would have liked. I didn’t feel in the flow.

It has become clear to me that I have some seriously bad habits I need to overcome before I can confidently tackle the 6 foot waves. I need more practice springing up quickly and decisively to my feet. I need more balance and better posture on the wave when I do. And I need to overcome my fear that, in failing to do these things well, I will fall and be brutalized. It’s not that bad, especially on the nice sandy bottoms of Short Sand beach.

On the other hand, was my disappointing showing perhaps due not to lack of skill but to over-training? I am tired, and I do have a twinge of pain in both my shoulders, sore triceps, sore lats, etc. After all, here’s the breakdown of the last week, Tuesday to Tuesday: Tuesday 7/14: WOD; Wednesday 7/15: warm-up and day 35 of PUC; Thursday 7/16: climbed a mountain; Friday 7/17: Kayaking and a WOD; Saturday 7/18: double surfing sessions; Sunday 7/19: surfing; Monday 7/20: WOD; Tuesday 7/21: surfing; Wednesday: surfing. And that’s just the past 8 days. This means that my warm-up and PUC day last Wednesday was the closest I got to a rest-day in the past week!

I’m dying to continue improving at this Surfing thing, but let’s face it: tomorrow is a rest day. The grandparents are coming in and they can play with Lena. It’s time for some R&R.

The Green and the Black

I got up at about 5:10 am, to help Lena, and stayed up. Sean was already awake, lying with eyes closed under an afghan in the living room. Little Casey had woken him and Mo up at 4:30 am. The winds were utterly still, the tide was very low (about -1.9 feet), and the twilit sea was covered in fog. Visibility was perhaps 100 feet outside.

I got some of the coffee we had brilliantly programmed to brew before 5:00 am, and had a 1 block breakfast. Then Ben came over, announced his intention to join us (after a bit of friendly persuasion) and we all rendezvoused in the car by 5:35, and managed to be carrying our boards down the trail to Short Sand beach by 5:45 am.

There were, as usual, two early bird combers on the beach, but other than that, the three of us were utterly alone in the waters of Smuggler Cove. We had a long long walk across the sand to get to the shore. Once there, our eyes adjusted to the heavy fog, and we saw the lightly rolling but smoothly dark green surface of the sea. There was a bit of chaos in the breakers, but we could see many well formed swells. While there was no wind, nevertheless the swell was complex… perhaps there was a two point origin for the waves (NW and W), combined with reflected counter waves from the north shore of the cove (i.e. a canceling NE reform? this is just a hypothesis). Nevertheless we paddled out easily and began to stalk waves. The water was extremely cold today, and my hands quickly froze. Swell was coming in above 3 feet, piling up, and breaking above 5 feet. The dense fog made the whole scene mysterious and dark. The swells stood up like slow and deep green walls above the black waters of the ocean. We were surfing in a cold and damp heaven.

There were a lot of fun rides. Ben left before Sean and I, to go back to Portland. We got out of the water by about 7:20 am; the session was just over an hour long. Plenty of fun. Back home by 8:00 am, ready for a good day.

Old Iron Balls

A “rest day,” with respect to surfing (which basically means my wife asked me to stay home today and help with Lena), nevertheless I got in a killer WOD, based on two recent CrossFit Asheville WODS, from today (Monday, July 20th, 2009) and from Saturday (July 18th).


Old Iron Balls: yes, this is the approximately 75-80 lb weight bar I've been using here in Arch Cape

Jump Rope (x20), Push-Ups (10), Jump-Rope (x40), Sit-Ups (10), Jump-Rope (x80), Squats (10), Jump-Rope (x160), Pull-Ups (10 w/ small resistance band); Mountain Climbers (10 per side), Burpees (5), Kipping Swings (5), Knees to Elbows (5), Surfer Get-Ups (5 per side), Ring-Dips (5).

Skill Work

Practiced Handstand, Headstand, and Handstand Push-Ups using a resistance band harness. Practiced a pull-up-bar muscle-up with a large resistance band (this is technically challenging; I did get one, however).

Strength WOD: Mini-Manson

This WOD is based on today’s CrossFit Asheville WOD, “manson.” I did it with Old Iron Balls, my too-weird-to-believe it found object weight-bar, which is either a 75 or 80 pound bar.

1-2-3-4, Deadlifts and Hang Power Cleans; 4-3-2-1, Front-Squats and Push-Presses

Results: 3 minutes 20 seconds.

Metcon WOD: Short Cindy

This one goes out to X-fit Asheville’s Saturday “Ladies’ Choice” WOD. In retrospect I could have managed a full Cindy, but I stuck to plan and did only a 15 minute “short Cindy.”

Short Cindy: AMRAP in 15 minutes of: 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 squats.

Results: 8 full rounds in 15 minutes 32 seconds.

Yes I went over the time limit in order to do 8 full rounds. If that’s not ok with the CrossFit gods perhaps I can atone later in some way.

For those of you who are counting that is: 40 pull-ups, 80 push-ups, and 120 squats. YES I DID THE PULL-UPS on this WOD without RESISTANCE BANDS … so there! (This is only the second time I have done a CrossFit WOD without band-assists on the pull-ups. My kipping pull-ups remain pretty basic, pretty shitty really, but they were there and that’s how I did 40 unassisted pull ups in a 15 minute span.

I previously did the full length Cindy two months ago on May 15th. Then: I used resistance bands for the pull-ups and did only 11 rounds in 20 minutes. Now: I did 8 rounds in 15.5 minutes (implying 10 or more rounds total) and did not use bands. I’d call that improvement.

Afterworkout: More Surfer Get-Ups

Relax… just 10 more for good measure. Hitting the waves again tomorrow AM! Yes!