the last days of Surfing Safari 2012

The final days of our summer trip to Arch Cape were a whirlwind of family and friends… and daily surfing or paddling expeditions. There’s no way to summarize them except in the most cursory way.

Thursday, July 26th. Surfing in mid-AM with Ben Walsh at Indian Beach. It was semi-clean, 3-4 ft waves, WNW. Decent time for a mid-day surf.

Friday, July 27th. Surfing in early AM with Sean McEnroe and Ben Walsh at Indian Beach. A bit later than the previous day. Small, but clean. Fun. Ben took the Big Blue Flame Linden, Sean the 8′ Blue Linden, and I was back on my Super Ugly. I love that board. Later in the afternoon… what a perfect day it was, with low winds and sunny weather… super small waves and clean surface. A few of us took turns paddling out on the kayak out in front of the house. Super fun. I went in just my shorts, crocks, hat and sunglasses. I did flip the ‘yak in a wave near the rocks at Arch Cape but it was no big deal. I even managed to retrieve my hat and glasses from the waves… no problem. :-) I am over my fears about ocean kayaking. Friday afternoon was so gorgeous I ended up hanging out with the family on the beach, digging sandcastles and playing… I could not be bothered to hit my final training session of the training cycle! Barbell Gods forgive me; this was supposed to be a vacation and I took a day off training.

I can’t remember for sure if we went out on Saturday July 28th or not. As I recall it was a situation of “no waves at all” and I called it off at about 6:00 am, and went back to bed. It was a lazy day later on, with visits from the Shipleys and DK with George. Also, my folks arrived.

That Saturday was the last day of my 4 week training cycle… and on Sunday, my “play week” began. I was feeling good about how active I’d been in the last week. Something nearly every day.

Normally Sundays are rest days for me, but this was a surfing safari, so, on the first day of “play week,” on Sunday morning, July 29th, at a pretty low tide, Sean and I went out, he on the kayak, and me on the Big Blue Flame, taking off right out of Arch Cape, and paddling south around the cape into Falcon Cove. Although the swell was down to flat, there were some small rollers in Falcon Cove and we both managed to ride both kayak and board (we switched, half way through) and felt pretty badass for making the 400 meter paddle south and back to check it out.

Monday morning, July 30th, Sean and I did a repeat of the prior day’s surf adventure, this time joined by my Dad, who is 69 years old. What a trooper! He stayed on his Big Blue Flame Linden, then switched to the Kayak, which he seemed to enjoy. Sean stayed on the Super Ugly the whole time and said it did him well. There was less to ride in the way of surf than on Sunday, but it was still fun making the paddle into Falcon Cove. Monday afternoon, feeling kicked from all the activity, and overly surrounded by too many family and friends, I again skipped my planned workout. Anyway, I HAD worked out… just by paddling and surfing. I justified this to myself as an acceptable thing to do during a “play week” where I also happened to be at the beach.

Tuesday afternoon, July 31st, we took the family down for a high-tide mid-day session at Shorties. This was mediocre surfing at best (2 ft. SW swell at 19 seconds… i.e. almost flat). To make things worse, the kids and wives had a horrible time. It was one of the most beautiful days, but the North winds had kicked back up… first time in days… and they didn’t enjoy the mini sandstorms that each gust brought.

Wednesday morning, August 1st, I thought about going out alone. It was a super early morning super low tide, still no waves at all, and the prior day’s N wind had kicked up the surface into a chop. And it was gray. At about 6:30 am I looked out at the shallow waters, choppy surface, gray skies, and flat waves and decided I could deal with being done with surfing for the summer. I suppose I might have worked in a workout on Wednesday, but I didn’t… I let the prior day’s surfing session stand in for that… again justifying it as acceptable during a play week… and also in view that I had to clean up the beach house and travel. I spent all day cleaning, then drove to PDX, said goodbye to Mom and Dad, and flew out of the state.

Alas! All things, good and bad, must come to an end.

tuesday dawn patrol

Good surfing day on Tuesday, left for Indian Beach at 5:05 with Ben and we were in the water by a 5:50 sunrise. High tide was about one hour before, so there was plenty of water when we started, about 5′ or so. Mark Mekenas and crew were right behind us. Mark had his awesome new Linden chambered balsa wood longboard. I happened to have been riding his old blue flame 10′ 4″ Linden that my dad bought for himself… riding it for the first time, actually. No pressure.

The wind was down (but higher, North winds are promised all week, due to the high pressure here and the low pressure system south of us). The cove looked flat. The north end was clean, but small. A larger break beckoned in the middle and to the south end of the beach, but that was considerably junkier. Ben largely stayed north. I was the southernmost surfer (out of about 10 during the morning session). I took some time getting used to the fat blue flame. I also tried a bunch of lefts… catching several. Actually it was a fun morning. Might be even better tomorrow, though it might be smaller.

saturday surprise

Did not expect to get to go out on Saturday. Winds were down the last couple of days, and today was sunny in the afternoon, with the seas growing calmer and calmer. We planned for a visit from Megan and Tom S. and family but they cancelled and so Ben and I … Ben having just returned from Portland … took off suddenly without previous plan and surfed Indian Beach. Before we did I scrambled to prepare enchilada casserole for the family, so my absence during dinner prep time would not prevent people from eating.

The afternoon sun was gone but everything else was right from 4:30 to 6:30 at Indian Beach. Water was above a high low, and getting higher. The water was warm… maybe 62. The air was warm… maybe 75. Indian Beach had bikinis and picnics and a festival atmosphere. Swell was 5′ or so, NW. Winds remained light. It was more junky than we might have expected, but there was a smooth cleanness to the surface nevertheless. (That is not a contradiction nor a paradox, somehow). The middle wasn’t too productive. The current kept pushing us south, into the pot-boiler at the southern end of Indian. We ended up walking back up to the rocks, which was great, actually. From there I had what I hope won’t end up being my ride of the summer, a long clean right that went on and on.

It got sunny again, and the green water and warm conditions were so fun. I did not want to leave. We did have to leave.

At home we were late, and welcomed with some local panic over a missing boy, and wives with tired children, and leftovers and dinner mess to clean up. That isn’t so bad really. The boy turned up, the kids all went to bed… eventually, and I swept up the crumbs while dreaming about surfing.

mid morning surf

Had a glorious Tuesday surf at Indian Beach today. Spent about two hours in the water. I paddled to the southern end of the surf, where the NW swell gets through a bit more. Had the waves almost to myself. Another guy showed up but he was cool, and we talked a bit. It was clean, and nicely shaped. I got to work on my left. I took several left breaking shoulders and had fun. But the currents on the inside on the south end of Indian are brutal. On several occasions I had to fight hard back to the outside — even swimming in front of my board — through the chop, breakers, and currents of the south end; down just to the north of submarine rock it’s a swirling cauldron.

Took hundreds of strokes. Rode maybe a dozen waves. Took as many spills. Quite a workout.

Water temp: about 58 degrees. Swell: WNW/NW 5 feet at 8 seconds. No wind. Plenty of water in the “cove” from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, on a rising tide.

good clean fun

Tuesday morning I made my way to Indian Beach bright and early; I arrived there about 5:20, and got dressed and was in the water before 5:45. It was a rising tide, clean, small, fun. Very little wind. Two foot SW groundswell (about 13 seconds). No NW swell or wind-waves at all. I was alone for the first 20 minutes, then was joined by one other surfer… ahh the joys of dawn patrol! I took out my old board and did well with it. Actually… for me, as I caught a bunch of waves, turned into them, etc., all I could think was that nothing beats my Bruce Grant 9’6″ Super Ugly! It was nice to RIDE. So, session #3 of the summer surf safari was a success, and totally fun.

It’s difficult to quantify surfing from a “fitness” standpoint, but I can state pretty well that, at least at my level, one of the main ways that it stimulates the body is through hundreds of repetitions of an arms-only swimming motion similar to the crawl stroke. I don’t spend a whole lot of time working the core or legs in standing on waves… a tiny fraction of the effort is that part. All the burpees I’ve been doing over the past few months easily prepare me for the pop-ups, and my core and legs are strong and flexible enough now to meet the challenge of standing on a wave. It’s the paddling. My shoulders, traps, lats, and triceps were raw and complaining by the end of an hour out there.

sunday at oswald

Super early… left at 5:01 am for morning session at Shorties. Grey sky. Light wind. SW swell 2 feet at 17 seconds. Pretty high tide, but falling fast (-1.4 ft/hr) while I was out there. Sunrise at 5:35. In the water by 5:45 am. Initially I was alone. Sounds decent, right? But it was too small. The waves were soft and just ill-shaped enough to make it a tough go. It was choppy on the south end, as it always is. Maybe it was the falling tide, maybe I’m out of shape, or maybe I was just too tired on what should have been a rest day, but it was very hard to find a good spot and stay set up. In short, I sucked. But it was only my second time out this summer.

A bit later one other early riser was out there too. Better than me.

My new wetsuit is so big, thick, heavy, and tight, it takes enormous effort to put on, and even greater effort to remove. I’m starting to think of it as being made out of boa constrictors. It took me almost 20 minutes to get my act together, strip down, pack up, and get back to the car.

Sitting cold on the logs, wrestling with the constrictor, I watched a few more wave chasers take to the flat waters. From the shore they looked like a rippling sheet of black iron.

heavy day three

Wow the third day of week I of Summer Surf Safari 2012 was super active and heavy. I was dragging by the end, and ravenous. It was Friday, and Johnny C arrived. I extended by eating and drinking window by 2.5 hours to 10:30 and had a bunch of carby crap and EtOH at the end. But still a great day.

Morning Surf: left at 5:00 am for Indian Beach and got in the water for the first time this summer. There was a WNW 4.6ft at 10 seconds and light wind, but not enough water, as the tide was rapidly receding towards a 10:00 am low. Dad went with me. We didn’t accomplish much, but we tried. That’ the thing. We were, of course, alone in the water.

Morning into afternoon beach work: shoveled and pushed wheelbarrows of heavy wet sand up the hill of the berm many many many pounds, all morning and until about 12:45, until my entire body was shaking.

Then took a water break, had a bite of watermelon, a half and hour rest, and then, before lunch, worked out.

Afternoon workout: This was done according to plan, on the driveway, of course. Fun.
5 rounds x 5 burpees @ 90 sec

3 double interval rounds:
Chin-Ups 3 x max reps @ 90 sec (4, 3, 2)
Ring Dips 3 x max reps @ 90 sec (2, 1 & -2, 1 & -2)

Main Strength: Hang Power Clean

Power Clean 5 x 3 @ 3 min
5 x 95
3 x 135, 3 x 140, 3 x 145, 3 x 150, 3 x 155. Completed these as planned.

1 x 12 x 70 lbs
3 x 2 x 105 lbs

Conditioning: none

monday after monday

Got up early arrived early did a bunch of stuff that on paper doesn’t read like much. Warmed up for a few minutes on the airdyne, did just a bit of additional stretching, and then proceeded to try to go heavy. Didn’t go entirely as planned.

Most of these sets were done interspersed with one another, with long rests between sets.

Squat: 5 x 45 / 5 x 160 / 3 x 215 / 1 x 255 / 1 x 260 (was going to go for 5 and knew it couldn’t happen; decided to rack it and rest; afterwards decided to do singles, which didn’t go well) / f x 265 (bailed on this one; that was over; I went down) / 3 x 225 / 7 x 205 (PR, technically) / 10 x 185.

Bent Over Row with FatGripz: 15 x 45 / 10 x 75 / 3 x 95 / 1 x 115 / 5 x 115 / 3 x 5 x 125.

Push-Ups: 3 x 12. Face chest and thighs to the floor.

Kettlebell Presses: 3 x 10 x 35 lbs KBs

After Squats and BOR were done…

Romanian Deadlift with FatGripz: 10 x 45 / 3 x 5 x 145. This was an intense forearm blast.

In fact, between all the grip challenging exercises, my forearms were very painful afterward. But they felt better later on.

Later, in the evening, in the dark, after the kids went down, I went on a walk with Mike Peterson. About 4 miles. Haven’t done something like that in a long while. I’ll probably pay for it later.

christmas eve romp

Christmas Eve Saturday outdoor ramble with John Chun.

Down the riverfront from Overton to the Steel Bridge, with some mobility work after 5 minutes, plus jumping, scaling fences — at one point, some homeless people called out to me, while I was sitting perched on top of a chain link gate, waiting for John, who had gone the long way around, “hey Spider Man!” That was fun — scrambling on rocks, etc, then running stairs on the waterfront, west and east side, east side of river through some back lots up to the civic center, more stair sprints, box jumps, and a little la planche into some parking lot; seems like parkour heaven here; back across the broadway bridge and home to the folk’s place. As usual, this was about 45 minutes. Good sweat, good elevation of heart rate, good, intuitive HIIT.

memento mori

Saturday I got out for a 45 minute ramble through Montford, to play in the steeply sloped Montford Community Center playground, and to scramble and sprint up the hills from the bottom of the Asheville Cemetery. Heart pounding, sweat drenched, I sprinted hills, clambered over fences and walls, leaped benches, scrambled on trees, ran stairs; now walking, now running, now jogging, now sprinting, now jumping. Then stopping and standing, out of breath. There in the cemetery surrounded by the weathered stones, when I needed to remember to put in living effort, I contemplated the repose of the dead. Memento mori. That’s reason enough to work out hard right now.

Trying to play like this also confronts me with a stubborn fact: yes, compared to where I have been in the past I am now quite out of shape. True that I am stronger, but I was far more conditioned for endurance a year ago. I also weighed 20 lbs less than I do today. Hopefully, doing these more “endurance” oriented workouts once a week will begin to address my relative lack of conditioning.