A killer WOD in which I lifted 7,125 pounds overhead and ran 1.25 miles in 21:21. But Daniel appears to have done even more work, in fewer rounds. It’s a puzzle.

Never on a School Night

I take stock of my present situation, as I get ready to begin Fall Semester of the 2009-2010 school year, and present a plan for achieving my fitness goals going forward.

CrossFit and DOMS

Today I have the DOMS, that is, “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness”.

One thing that’s amazing about CrossFit is that, when you begin the program, for the first few weeks, the WODS all seem to produce intense full-body DOMS, but later, as you adapt to the regimen, the quantity and duration of the DOMS subsides. New CrossFitters rapidly develop increased capacity for recovery. After a few weeks, one still experiences the usual, mild and local soreness associated with various lifts or activities, but full-body DOMS goes away, and most soreness doesn’t persist very long. An experienced CrossFitter, for example, might feel some soreness in the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back after a heavy deadlift day, but it quickly dissipates.

Now I’m learning that one’s capacity for recovery may itself rapidly dissipate when you go off of your intensive training regimen for a few weeks. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I spent a few weeks this summer skipping CrossFit WODs and mainly exercising through surfing, which requires strength, endurance, balance, speed, etc., but is overall far less “intense” than CrossFit. Now that I’ve returned to doing the WODS at CrossFit Asheville, after only two days I can see that my capacity for recovery was greatly diminished. Monday’s Front Squats, combined with a WOD that included 75 “Knees to Elbows,” left me tattered and torn. I was sore all over on Tuesday. But I was ready to work out the following day. Then Wednesday’s Power Snatches, combined with a WOD that emphasized dips and pull-ups, has left me totally sore today. LIKE REALLY SORE. ALL OVER. It’s truly remarkable that yesterday’s workout, which was not too long, and not too sweaty, and really not all that “difficult,” can produce a response like this in my body. I stand in awe of CrossFit as a training regime.

And I remember: “pain is weakness leaving the body.”

Jury Service

I knew by the end of the day yesterday that “Gorilla” was going to lay me down low today. So I changed my plan (ever the Myers-Briggs “P-type” personality that I am), deciding to take today as a rest day.

I figured, it was just as well, since I had Jury Duty and didn’t know what to expect; certainly I would have been hard-pressed, in terms of time, to get properly groomed for court after the 7:00 am WOD.

I am totally sore today! It is going to take me a few weeks to get back into top fighting form for these CrossFit WODS. I look forward to every painful minute of it, every drop of sweat, every shredded muscle fiber, even the blisters. Bring it on!

BTW, I was excused from Jury Service by 1:30 pm. Hallelujah!

PDX Four by Eight

In Portland for the day, went to the MAC very early (left 5:20 am) with my dad. Did the CrossFit Mothership WOD from a few days ago.

4 x 800 meter run


Briefly: 1 minute of karaoke side stepping on a treadmill, some wrestling floor work, squats (15), push-ups (15), sit-ups (15), pull-ups, unassisted (10). Pull-ups felt very weak.

800 meter runs


What a fun WOD.

Locals Only

It’s leaving day. It was supposed to be my last surfing session of the summer.

But it’s foggy. And rainy. With wind. And chop. My dad and I went up to Indian Beach to check things out, arriving there about 6:00 am. We had coffee, looked at the waves, and talked a bit, but we didn’t go surfing. It was just not worth it. After five weeks of regular surfing, wearing myself out five or six times a week paddling and battling and riding, I didn’t feel like I needed this one last session. The part of me that “knows” said: don’t go today, while the part of me that “thinks” kept wondering whether I should brave the windy wet chop. So I went with the “knower,” and just came back to the beach house.

What happens when you realize later that, earlier you were doing something for the last time, but you didn’t realize it? Probably, your “end” was an anticlimax, almost by definition. For me, yesterday’s “penultimate” session turned out to be the “ultimate” session, but I sure wish I’d appreciated that while I was doing it. It’s kind of a disappointment… a whimpering end. I am more than just a wee bit blue about leaving and going back to my real life.

On Localism

One of the more depressing themes on my mind this morning is the thought of “localism.” I’m leaving, but “the locals” are staying. They get to keep on slogging through the seasons, and enjoying the best and worst that this area has to offer.

“Locals” get to pick and choose their surf days and times and spots. They don’t have to be disappointed when the conditions don’t line up with their availability. They just wait for the next opportunity. They also benefit from the sense of belonging, friendship, and community that comes from having a long familiarity with other locals, the region, and the available seascapes. On the other hand, they usually also have day jobs, and must work for a living. So they can sometimes resent competing for waves with all the surfing tourists who are on vacation in their territory.

Before leaving Indian Beach this morning, I spoke to one of the young woman who works at Cannon Beach Surf Shop, and who had showed up in the parking lot at Indian Beach and parked alongside our vehicle. She wasn’t sure whether she’d be riding or not, and then she almost told me that she was going “to the other side” (the Avenue U spot at Seaside), but then hesitated, saying, “it’s a local pride thing, I don’t know if you’re a local.” I’m not, I said, I’m a seasonal, and this is my last day after five weeks. She softened a bit at that, and told me about that possibility, but, frankly, I was a bit put off by the faint odor of localism. I just smiled and wished her well.

Locals are indeed blessed and cursed…

“Local pride” wants to keep a few things a secret, and wants everybody who knows to shut up about when to go and how to find the lesser known spots like Avenue U in Seaside, the Needles in Cannon Beach, the little Barview break, Arch Cape, etc. But especially those locals WHO WORK IN THE SURFING TOURISM BUSINESS ought to eschew any hint of this “localism.” After all, their very paycheck depends on them undermining “local pride” every single day. Every kook they help set up with a rented wetsuit and soft-top, or take out on a lesson, just adds one more potential addict to the exploding numbers of surfers who crowd the breaks. Localism can therefore be a kind of unpleasant hypocrisy.

Oh well. I’m not really a local… though I like to pretend that I am sometimes. I do spend significant time in the region every year, often 6 to 10 weeks, surfing regularly the whole time. My dad was raised here on the North Coast. My uncle and cousins live down here. And I’ve been coming down here seasonally for more than 30 years. I know the area pretty well. I look like a local, talk like a local, and know how to act like one. So, I really don’t think it is fair that this some young (college aged) woman, herself most likely only a seasonal resident in Cannon Beach, and quite possibly without the same Oregon roots that I have, gets to have any credibility when she throws around the slogan “local pride,” but I do not. I understand that she pays her own way, lives here full time, and pays her dues. I get it. But it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I should shut up about it, though. I really am an outsider. Pretty much nobody local round here knows me (except maybe a few guys from Arch Cape, like our neighbor Tom Merrill, or former neighbor Nick, or near neighbor Bob Cerelli, and they don’t know me well). My car (borrowed from my dad) obviously doesn’t belong here. And while I keep hoping that the locals might get used to me, I’m not an idiot. I know that to all of them I’m just a tourist. And I know they’ll probably be glad to see me go.

Anyway, enough moping about it. What can you do? Nothing. Bring the stoke with you to the waves, bring it home again. Bring your sense of aloha to your fellow surfers. Smile, be courteous, have fun. Surfing is about fun.

Aloha, Arch Cape! Mahalo, North Coast of Oregon! I love this place. May you locals continue to keep taking good care of it. I’ll see you next summer!

Analysis and Training Plan for the Next Few Days

Today will be the first real “rest day” I will have had since Aug. 3rd. I do need a rest. That’s the bright side here.

In the past 8 days, I’ve gotten in 9 surf sessions, plus one Burpee & Pipoboarding WOD. That’s a lot of work, and I am feeling a bit of over-training. Today’s rest is overdue.

Tomorrow I will go up to the Multnomah Athletic Club early in the AM, do a warm-up, then work on handstand push-ups using my resistance bands, and then do some kind of WOD (probably the Mothership WOD from Monday: four rounds of 800 meter runs). After that, I may do “100 burpees, for time” (a penalty for yesterday’s calorie binge)… or I might put that off until Sunday.

Friday will be an active rest day, as we travel back to Asheville.

Saturday, back in Asheville, I will get a haircut and take a second consecutive rest day.

Sunday I will try to go skateboarding in Asheville, weather permitting, and may do those 100 burpees.

Monday AM at 6:00 I will be back at CrossFit Asheville! Is it silly that I am currently thinking that CrossFit is the best thing about returning to my real life.

Short Timers

I had an interesting (penultimate) surfing session today. I was joined by two fellow CrossFitters: Robert Novy-Marx — one of my oldest friends, an scholar of finance and an independent CrossFitter, living in Chicago — and his brother-in-law Will Novy-Hildesley — a newer friend, and a member of CrossFit H.E.L. in Portland, OR (and Will is so warm and unassuming, it makes me rethink my assumptions about that affiliate). It was fun to have my buddies with me. These are guys who understand when I say I made myself do 100 burpees to punish myself for eating sugar. Surfing with them reminded me why I love CrossFit so much.

For the record: Will is actually the first person who ever spoke to me about CrossFit. He planted the seed, last summer. We’d been surfing together, in Arch Cape, about a year ago actually, and I noticed how fit he was. I asked him how he stayed in shape, since I knew him to be about my age (at the time, 39 years old). He then told me about CrossFit. Robert, who was also with us then, only then told me that he too had been doing CrossFit for some time. Shaking my head in disbelief, I just filed away the information until later. When I was later invited to try CrossFit in Asheville, I knew damn well that I better do it!

Anyway, we met in the upper lot of Oswald at about 5:40, which was just the start of Civil Twilight. Before we went down to the beach, I had an unfortunate incident, the sort of thing that can just ruin your day. I had three boards with me. One for me, one for Robert, and one for my dad. Only thing is, my dad didn’t come. So I tried to lock his board, the used 10′ Soft-Top, in his car. Only thing is, it didn’t fit, and as I tried to close the hatchback, it broke the front windshield. Oops. That was… drumroll please… a $1000 mistake.

What to do? Shake it off. Learn from it. Get poorer or deeper in debt if you need to. And move on.

The waves were small, but the surface was clean and the shape was interesting, although not entirely regular and predictable. I got several beautiful shoulder rides, got closed out a number of times, got worked a few times, and generally had a great time. I paddled A LOT. Two of my rides were “all-summer” rides, meaning, they belonged on the top ten list of great rides… one of these was the cleanest, “prettiest” ride I’ve yet had, in terms of style, control, precision, position on the swell, etc. Too bad the wave was only a three footer. Still, all told it was a beautiful session. Robert and Will and I did all we could to make all fellow CrossFitters proud. In this, we proved a simple truth: CrossFit will get you in shape, and it will help you do your thing better than you ever did before… but it won’t instantly turn you into an expert at some specialized sport. We’re good, but not that good. :-) CrossFitters are working to maximize their power, fitness and health so that they can excel at their specialized sports, and/or also handle a wider variety of activities both practical and plain crazy (surfing falls in the latter category as far as I am concerned). I’m in the best shape of my life, and surfing better than ever before… thanks to CrossFit!… but I’m no Kelly Slater.

I got into the water just about 6:30 am and out of the water around 8:40 am. Robert and Will stayed in the waves for perhaps 40 more minutes after this. They couldn’t get enough… like me, their remaining time at the beach is short. Unlike me, they are just beginning their time at the beach (about a week), and were eager to get in as much surfing as they could. I, on the other hand, am nearly sated, even though I know I will have terrible cravings for the surf once I am gone. I am one thankful and well-motivated short-timer.

Tomorrow is going to be great. I can feel it.

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.