how to brutalize yourself

Wednesday I technically did a double, if weightlifting at lunchtime followed by an full surfing session in the late afternoon counts as a double. Leaving me with a brutal, full body fatigue by days end.


5 rounds x 5 burpees @ 90 sec

Chin-Ups and Dips:
Chin-Ups 3 x max reps @ 90 sec (3, 3, 2)
Ring Dips 3 x max reps @ 90 sec (3, 2 & -3, 0 & -5)
Damn, my Chin-Ups and Dips SUCK. Suck suck suck. This time last week I found myself able to manage a set of 5 on chin-ups. That was NOT happening today. I’m used to the fluctuation up and down in my capacities with these movements, but GOD I am frustrated when I get less volume in one session than another. I’m sure it can’t have anything to do with surfing for two hours yesterday, right? LOL.

Main Strength: Squat
5 x 45
5 x 155
Then, @ 5 min intervals: 3 x 205, 3 x 225, 2 x 220 & f on 3, 3 x 210, 3 x 210.

Comment: got the number I wanted, 3 x 225, but man what an ugly 3rd rep. Disappointing performance overall. “I hate squats,” is all I can think, even as I fume and scheme about wanting to get better at them. I sensed today that if I didn’t attempt my heaviest set earlier than the others, I would fail. And indeed, after getting the 225, I wasn’t getting the 220. Anyway, I was kinda pleased to get them, except for the fact that these wimpy squats, so well below where I have been in the past 7 months, make me look and feel weak. Feeling weak in the squats makes me seriously consider Zach B’s recent offer to program my strength lifting for me. But it is also confronting me with my lack of faith in myself.

1 x 12 x 70 lbs
3 x 4 x 105 lbs
Presses, on the other hand, are going great. I like my method of adding reps and repeating the same workout three times a week. It makes me think I could do something like this with 225 lb HBBS. Lay down a better foundation and drill the movement until my body really really adapts? Anyway, not going to try that right away, but it’s on my mind.


I didn’t condition today, but at about 4:15 pm, Ben W. and I set out to surf the ebbing mid-day high-low tide at Indian Beach. We spent about an hour, maybe more, in big surf. 7.5 foot NW swell, low winds, but junky surface. We went to the south end of the beach, paddling past maybe a dozen other surfers. I was often in position but had trouble setting up, and took a bunch of tumbles into the rough surf. I had several battles from inside to outside, and then got washed in to shore near submarine rock. We walked back up the beach, and I gave it one more go, surfing from outside on the north end. I did catch several night rights, and felt good about being there. I was surprisingly able to paddle well… surprising because of yesterday’s session and today’s workout.

This is how you brutalize yourself: lift weights and then surf in the same day, the day after a heavy session. And then keep going. Rest days are for when summer’s through, I guess.

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.


I left for Indian Beach with my Dad at about 5:20 am, arriving a good 20 minutes before sunrise, we were pleasantly surprised by the wave shape and size. The surface was far from clean, but the swell was breaking pretty nicely in surfable sets, that were setting up nicely because the ocean stood at mid-tide (about four hours before low tide).

We were the first in the water, and I was proud to have caught the first good rides of the day. The swell was reported at four-plus feet, WNW, 9 seconds. The breaking faces of the waves were shoulder or head high, and sometimes higher. In spite of choppy conditions I managed to put together some really decent rides. Although I did get worked a few times, and spent a number of minutes battling out through the heavier parts of the break zone, mostly, I felt a sense of ease with my board, in both paddling out and in, in standing up, and in turning, following the swell, and staying ahead of the break. A few times I had the satisfying experience of riding the shoulder in front of the break, then getting closed out, but finding my way out in front of and around the breaking water, to a re-form swell. At other times I followed the long, southbound shoulders of a wave all the way from the north end to the shore in the middle, then easily paddled back out. What a rush!

Later we were joined by four other surfers, although my dad had already retired to the beach by the time the fourth guy showed up. Mark Mekenas was again there, with a friend; they found the sweet spot in the middle, and proceeded to out-surf me by about 4 to 1. I tried to squeeze in a bit on their particular spot but found quarters to be too close on that one particular break. I didn’t want to crowd the masters.

Suddenly, things really started to change, for the worse, as the tide receded and the winds picked up. By about 8:00 am I was out of the water, and by 8:15 everybody else was too. Dad and I were home by 9:00.

This surfing session was my antepenultimate of summer 2009. Because I have only two sessions left (both, I feel certain, will be at shorties in the early morning), even before we started out, I felt good about not taking today as rest day. I know, of course, that I can’t really “improve” as a surfer in these last three days, since my body is so shredded, ripped, and torn in a thousand tiny ways that only a couple of days of rest and a couple of days of cross training could let it rebuild strength… and ward off overtraining. But truly, although tiring, it was ultimately a priceless session. So much fun. I can’t believe these surfing days of 2009 are coming to an end. Unforgettable.

A Dietary and Self-Disciplinary Side-Note

So, a couple of days ago (on Aug. 6th) I realized that I had been repeatedly and frequently cheating on my diet, eating too far too many total calories, drinking too much alcohol, and eating too much sugar. I resolved to get a handle on the problem with a new plan: if two or more of the following conditions are met — [1] I ate any sugar (or, for that matter, processed starch based) foods, [2] I drank over my limit on alcohol, [3] I ate more than 3200 calories in the day — there would be a 100 burpee penalty.

I triggered this penalty almost immediately, on the third day of “the new plan.” So, on the fourth day (yesterday), I did my penalty WOD. Ouch.

Needless to say, I did not go on to violate my dietary terms for a second day in a row. But now I’d like to report something else that just happened. It shows how this system of “100 burpee penalties” might just work for me.

Today, on the fifth day of the plan, I am almost at the end of my eating day; I’ve drunk to my limit; I’ve eaten about 3000 calories. And then, a few minutes ago, I spotted this luscious, hand-crafted dark chocolate dipped nutter-butter cookie, from Bruce’s Candy Kitchen in Cannon Beach, OR. I examined it, there in its container on the counter, and I even almost took it up in my hands. But suddenly, I realized, that I wasn’t looking at a delicious cookie. I was looking at 100 burpees. For a minute, I considered paying for the cookie (and, probably, for the binge that would follow). I decided against it.


The Lovely Lady

Spalding! The sea’s a lovely lady when you play in her. But if you play with her, she’s a bitch! Play in the sea, yes, but never play with her. You’re lucky to be here! You’re lucky to be ALIVE! — Swimming to Cambodia

The ocean, though ever changing, is always lovely and awesome. In rough seas or pacific calm; in weather hostile or welcoming, the ocean never fails to impress. And whenever I see the it, I always want to get in and play. Because of this, I will always remember the raunchy words of Athol Furgard to his friend Spalding Gray, as reported by Gray in Swimming to Cambodia (incidentally, this was one of my favorite movies from my senior year in high school).

This morning, I could tell, reading the weather data from NOAA and the Columbia River Bar buoy, that our plans for a morning session at Indian Beach were doomed. Winds were above 14 knots, and the ocean proffered a meager 1.6 foot swell, at 13 seconds, from the SW, crossed by a 2.5 foot wind wave, at 5 seconds, from the WNW. In a few words: it would be short, messy, and choppy. Plus, it was raining.

Ben Walsh, my dad, and I talked about it, and then drove up to Indian Beach to take a look with our own eyes. Yep, the reports did not lie. It was wet, short, messy and choppy. Other surfers were also there, morosely checking out the early dawn scene from their cars. I spoke briefly to one of the young women who works at Cannon Beach Surf Shop and teaches lessons for them. I’m not sure if she or her friends went out. But we sure didn’t. We took ourselves home the long way, through Cannon Beach and Tolavana. It was a rather disappointing excursion to see the great lovely lady. Nevertheless, I think Furgard’s exclamation applies: “you’re lucky to be here! you’re lucky to be alive!” Ain’t it the truth?

I thought at first I would take a rest day. Then I remembered: I owed 100 burpees.

Pipoboarding and Burpees: An Arch Cape Penalty WOD

Yesterday I broke with the two day old “plan” for restoring my eating habits to “normal,” i.e. to eating like I’m in training. I broke the plan by (a) overshooting my calorie limit, eating around 3750 calories instead of limiting myself to 3200, (b) having too much alcohol, (c) eating a bite of a chocolate dipped Nutter Butter cookie, and thus breaking the “no sugar” ban for the first time in several days.

As a result of this failure of plan, I decided to make good on my promise to myself. In the near future, any breaking with the plan will result in a 100 burpee penalty.

So, yes, today I did my 100 burpees. I combined them with sprinting, jumping, skimming on the sand, balancing, etc. As follows:

Arch Cape Penalty WOD: Pipoboarding and Burpees
10 rounds of:
Sprint/Pipoboard 400 meters
10 burpees
Complete burpee sets at maximum speed. Use the pipoboarding as recovery time.

Skimboarding (or, really, pipoboarding) is a great workout. I actually did only 9 sets, since I did 20 burpees on the last round. Most of the burpees were totally solid. In the end I did more pipoboarding than Rx’d, because I kept riding after I’d completed my burpees. For the record I also took a couple of tumbles off my board, and afterward did several full immersion dips in the water. It’s really fun to play in the ocean. Even on the thin edge of the sea, the stoke is there.


It’s going to hurt to get back to CrossFit.

An Unexpected Kayak and Surfing Session

The day took a turn for the beautiful in the afternoon. And, during Lena’s nap, right about the moment when I was contemplating a little shut-eye myself (in part to sleep off the Hamm’s I drank at lunch), my dad and sister Elizabeth started talking about surfing in Arch Cape. I was talking to them about where and when I would try to get out, when I suddenly realized that I was going to be joining them. I rode the kayak, and tried to help my sister surf. And then I got on the surfboard (we had the Doyle) and I actually got a few rides in the crazy Arch Cape slop. To be sure: it was slop. But again, I was riding. It was a legit session, but it was also just fool’s play. There was no “surfing” to be had in Arch Cape today.

Fractal Surfing

Today I waited for an opportunity to surf at high tide, so, just before Lena went down for a nap, I set out for Indian Beach, about 12:30 pm.

This morning, the buoys and NOAA were reporting a 3 foot SW swell, and low winds. Arch Cape was flat like a lake, confirming the winds, but not the swell. I knew it would be a small day, but at least, it appeared, it would be calm.

Unfortunately, by the time I had set out, the winds had kicked up. When I arrived at Indian Beach, the waves were small, but the waters were super turbulent. Even the peeling surface of the face on the breakers was faceted — everywhere the water was rippled like hammered copper. I thought to myself, these waves are like a toddler: two feet tall and messy.

Paddling out, I realized that the surface was completely choppy. The surface was beyond two dimensional. It was like a fractal design. I could tell that today, surfing on these fractured planes was either going to be completely accidental, or totally serendipitous.

As it happens, I did ride some waves. I would sit way back on my board, so that I could pivot instantly and get ready quickly when an opportunity presented itself. I would wait until the last minute to paddle into the steep but short swells, and then arch my back way up to try to keep my nose from pearling. The uneven surface presented real challenges. It made paddling out at least three times as hard. The take-off was dicey, although I only got worked a few times. I spent about an hour and a quarter in the water and did my best.

I’m a bit fatigued and wore out. If this wasn’t a vacation, if I didn’t have only six days of surfing left this summer, I’d take a few days off, get in a WOD or two, go for a run, and mix it up. Instead, I am going to keep plugging along, pushing myself until the end.

“Six feet of close choppy swell, with a side of mush, please.”

I managed to get out of the driveway by 5:40 am, was at Indian Beach just after sunrise, and in the water by 6:20 or so. I had an Elk sighting on the way in. Magnificent creatures.

I spent about an hour and three quarters battling baffling sets of unsettled waves… too close, too big, too mushy, too choppy, too steep, too flat… double peaks, multiple peaks, close outs, deep troughs, thick foam. Nothing like what I pictured when I read the Coastal Waters Forecast describing light winds, 1 foot wind wave, 5 foot NW swell. It was extremely low tide… which may have been the problem. The swells were setting up, for the most part, in waters that were not adequately sheltered by the cliffs on the north side of the beach. Lesson: avoid surfing Indian Beach at extreme low tides. That’s unfortunate, since that describes the next few mornings as well.

As far as actual surfing goes, I was out of balance and off form most of the time, and I took more tumbles than anything else. The take off was complicated by the choppy surface, and it was extremely difficult to predict where the “sweet spot” would be on a wave. My legs got stiff and sore while waiting for rideable waves… and I had trouble executing my pop-up in a way that left me in optimal position for turning.

Those waves I did ride, however, I rode as well or better than I have on almost every day this summer except for three days ago, during my epic last session with Sean.

During the session I was joined by about 4 other surfers who braved the questionable conditions and endured their own struggles with the waves. Only the most experienced of them got any rides of note. But most of them seemed to be more experienced than me, at least in that I didn’t see them get pummeled so much by falling after failed take offs.

As I got out of the water, I looked back at the terrible conditions, and all I felt was thankful. Thankful I’d been there for the session, thankful for the opportunity to surf again. I have only a few days left before I return to my normal life in the deep inland mountains of Western North Carolina. I am in mourning already.

Was That Thunder?

“Low and Slow” becomes “Lo, and No”

Yesterday (Friday the 31st), Sean and I planned to extend our four day surfing streak to a fifth day, but we were foiled. We set out early as usual, departing before 5:30 am, and decided to check out Short Sand Beach for a change. The theme of the day was supposed to be “Low and Slow,” a kind of active recovery in mellower swell than we’d been surfing at Indian Beach the prior two mornings.

Conditions could have been favorable. Winds were quiescent, and the dominant swell was forecast as Northwest, at 5 foot, with 10 second period, but, it wasn’t. Low and Slow became “Lo and No.” As I feared, the south-west facing beach at Smuggler Cove, sheltered as it is by Cape Falcon, stood in a total swell shadow. The waters were flat. We stared in disbelief. We walked the length of the beach. And declined to suit up. Our wives were pleased to see us home about an hour early. And I took a well deserved rest day.

The Thundering Surf at Indian Beach

Undaunted, we set out again today, this time feeling good about another session at Indian Beach. We left early, pretty well rested and fed, juiced up on caffeine, and happy to be on the hunt for waves. Winds were light to nonexistent. The swell was at four feet, and working at a 10 second period, again coming from the Northwest. The tide was out pretty far at Indian Beach when we arrived just before six AM. CONDITIONS WERE PERFECT. We popped out easily. The waves were setting up well.

We were, as usual, the first ones in the water. And we had it to ourselves for a while. I caught an amazing ride on a super well formed swell right off the bat, and paddled back out, stoked up like a bonfire. And this was before Sean had even paddled out for the first set. Sitting together out beyond the break, I heard a sound like thunder rolling down from the hills onto the beach. “Was that thunder?” I asked Sean. He informed me that it was the echoing sound of the breaking surf. Indeed it was. The waves were putting out an awesome pounding sound today. And those waves rolled in again and again setting me up perfectly for thunderously awesome rides.

I had the day of my life, the best surfing session I’ve ever experienced. I managed to hook into and stand up on nearly every swell I attempted to paddle into. I rode glassy shoulder after glassy shoulder, breaking left, breaking right. My pop-ups were flawless, my foot placement was ideal. I was swinging the nose of my 9′ 6″ Bruce Grant “Super Ugly” left and right, executing 45 degree, 90 degree, even 120 to 150 degree turns back and forth, finding the sweet spots in the wave, staying in the glassy swell, out of the break. On several rides, I put my hand down and let it glide over the surface of the rolling wave. I brought my board down the faces of waves, back up the faces, reversed direction, backed out before closeouts. It felt perfect. I can’t count the waves I rode… it must be upwards of fifteen… which doesn’t sound like much, perhaps, to you, but to me, represented a sort of arrival: a three to fivefold increase in power, over and beyond previous efforts. As if achieved in one day. I am a surfer.

Dietary Check-In

I’ve been eating well, within caloric limits, and feeling no pain. But I have been negligent for the past two days, when it comes to my food journal. No problem, right? I will return to it tomorrow, with strictness. I will estimate 3300 calories per day for the past two days.

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.