Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dropping Like Flies

Cold and flu season is certainly upon us, everyone seems to be getting sick. KiwiBird mention being afflicted. My daughter has a terrible flu, and even spent an evening in the ER getting IV fluids trying to lower her fever and hydrate her. Her college is threatening to shut down for a few days since the flu is now epidemic there. It's that time of year when I really hope that flu shot comes through for me.

With only a month left to the EC, I can't afford to be sick and weak. It's always a bit of a conundrum. Do I continue my training at it's current level, risking exertion which could lower my resistance, or do I cut back so my body can fight off whatever comes around?

Working at a University, with so many students and world travelers really puts me at risk. Generally I'm pretty healthy, picking up 1 really minor cold a year, but when a big one comes around, I'm flat on my back (payback for early years of cigarette smoking).

It's just that time of year.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's all in the Name

While Alan and Paul keep fiddling around building our sailboat (pictures and updates here), I've been working hard at thinking about a name. This is not an easy task.

Ideas coming from Paul and Alan all seem to have Star Trek themes, or worse. One name references Sponge Bob Square Pants; Krabby Paddy, I don't get it?. On Paul's short list there is even 'Dawn Patrol' and 'Looking for Dawn'.

My current favorite is Dragon Fly. The double wings of a dragon fly work well with the boats double masted cat ketch sail rig. And the name will easily allow a nice graphic logo on the boat.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Beautiful Bike Ride

Today was the perfect Carolina winter day, sunny, breezy, blue skies, high of 50F. My friend Hope and I went for a 27 mile rolling hills bike ride around the dairy farms in rural Orange County. Lucky for me, it's only a few miles of riding out of town to get there. It's really a beautiful ride along farmland and horse and cow pastures, and without much road traffic.

I was anxious to see how my bike felt. I've got a decent mid-range Cannondale that I bought about 8 years ago, and have occasionally upgraded parts as needed. I'm really happy with my beautiful red bike, except for the long drop from my seat to my handle bars, ~10cm. I'm tall, and long legged. The bike is 56 cm, which is perfect for my leg length. However my disproportionally shorter torso really means I should have a custom bike with a much shorter top tube; this will never be in my budget. Last week I finally scheduled myself for a bike fit, wanting to really optimize myself on the bike before I start getting into some real distance riding in the Spring. I had a higher handlebar stem and narrower handlebar put on the bike.

What a difference in comfort, less weight on my wrists, no shoulder pain, and now, lots of room to move down to the drops. I don't know why I hadn't taken the time to do all this earlier. Now I'm back to saving again to get a new more comfortable seat, and with the Ironman distance, I'm going to spring for some nice aerobars. I expect my arms are going to want to rest after that 2 1/2 mile swim.

At home, it's been a marathon boat building weekend. I think Alan's been a bit frustrated at how slowly things seem to be going, but, noone is slacking off. Except possibly me, there isn't anything to paint yet, so I just keep them company and supervise :)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Early Morning

Yes it was a bit cold when I started, about 27F, even a bit breezy, and quite grey and cloudy. Later in the morning, the sun occasionally popped out along with some blue sky and it warmed to 42F.

I didn't see anyone else out on the lake, but I did hear the occasional sound of gunfire from the hidden duck hunters. The sound is a bit unnerving, but I've paddled this lake long enough to know which areas to stay away from during the season. And though I can't usually see them with all their camouflage, I'm a pretty visible presence with all my orange and yellow.

I'm really glad I made it out, it was a good paddle, and a great workout.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Here Comes The Weekend

Silbs posts on the cold he's living with in Wisconsin, and then Dan's comment on my last posting has me feeling a bit like a weenie. It's not really THAT cold here in North Carolina.

I'm planning a long 20-25 mile paddle tomorrow (Saturday), then at least 25 miles on the bike on Sunday. Both days will have highs of 48, though I expect the morning will start out a bit brisk.

Thanks for the little nudge Dan. If you weren't still working on your kayak, I'd suggest you join me :)

This weekend should also be a bit exciting at home as well. We got the boat flipped back over. Need to get it off the ground and back on the cradles, then the Alan and Paul will start building the deck and cuddy cabin. I'll likely be sanding and painting again.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's Just too Cold

So yesterday I took my 'rest' day early for the week, and called the weekend a 'recovery', though I did get to the track on Sunday for some ChiRunning technique work. Unfortunately I also didn't get in any paddling this weekend. I'd originally scheduled a weekend of paddling and camping, but this cold weather cancelled those plans. I don't really like paddling when it's near or below freezing.

When this happens, I just think about the Watertribers like the Captn and Boo, and Mark, and others who live in states like Wisconsin and Michigan with frozen water. They haven't paddled for a while, and might not even get to paddle before the EC.

So I spent a good bit of the day on the computer surfing, and being lazy. Coincidentally, just as I found myself at the Kruger Canoe site, reading about the new Bushwacker Challenge, May 17-22, 150 mile paddle on the Pine and Chippewa Rivers (with portages), the UPS man came with an unexpected surprise.

My friend Brian, Capt'n of the "O" Dark 30, had sent me 2 CDs. "Never Before Never Again", the story about Verlen Kruger and Clint Waddell's 7,000 mile voyage from Montreal to the Bering Sea, following the historic fur trading canoe routes, and all in 6 months. And, "Defying the River", a documentary of three women paddling in the Texas Water Safari, considered one of the worlds toughest canoe races.

Hmm, seems more than coincidental, unfortunately, I think my calendar is pretty full :(

Friday, January 18, 2008

Scheduling Training

Earlier this week, Canadian Ckayker had a post "Live to Paddle or Paddle to Live?". His post spoke specifically to paddling, but it addresses a more general and interesting question, given that life today seems to be about the "me generation" and "excess", and 'living for the moment".

My decision to do an Ironman triathlon later this year, and also do my annual WaterTribe Everglades Challenge race, was definitely a selfish one, and will require a self-centered approach to be successful. My family and friends will be forced to make sacrifices, and I'll need to stay conscious of that. To make this all work will require flexibility (the world and I won't end if I miss a workout here and there), reminders of what is really important in life, and reminders to be thankful of the blessings I already have.

That leads me to my training schedule. Laura, my coach put together a maintenance training plan. That's the plan I'm on before I actually begin the official Ironman training, and allows some paddling training for WaterTribe. I've been challenged trying to make it all fit into my life, without giving up too much of my life. Most workouts are very early morning and during lunch, leaving me free most evenings and nights, and weekend afternoons and nights. Of course being free, and being awake are sometimes two different things :)

When it all falls apart, I just call it a recovery week. I'm having one of those right now, no long bike ride today. While Alan is off in Florida for the holiday weekend at a sailing regatta with Team Velocity, I've been helping Paul with sanding and painting, and painting, and painting. We've just finished the 5th coat on the hull, we'll sand and polish when it all cures. Only 5 weekends left, it's gonna come right down to the wire, they've still gotta build the cabin and deck, then more sanding and painting, and painting, and painting.

It's a cold and wet day today, 2-4 inches of snow predicted later this afternoon (I'll believe it when I see it). I'm supposed to paddle long tomorrow, it'll be cold, but at least it'll be pretty.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Running, Paddling, and a Bonus

Unlike KiwiBird who paddled on Saturday, my training paddle this weekend was on the colder and windier weekend day. Saturday was my ChiRunning Clinic. I paddled on Sunday and got a great surprise bonus, but I'll get to that.

The running clinic was excellent. Kari Wilkinson is both a talented and fun instructor. Being a high school chemistry teacher during the day gives her a huge edge regards public speaking, demonstrating, and teaching. That along with her personal experience as a longtime runner and triathlete, and her skills as a triathlete coach, bicycling coach, and personal trainer gave us so much more in the clinic. And keeping the clinic small, with only 5 students, we all got lots of excellent individual attention with Kari's great eye.

When Kari introduced herself and told us how she came into ChiRunning, I though she was quoting my injury history, as we've had very similar problems. I really hope and think that I might be on to something with this technique. Now of course comes the work. I completely understood the lessons, both the why and the how. And I even had some short glimpses into how it can and should feel. But, I've got some work cut out for me, primarily in learning to relax my ankles. I'm convinced the work will be worth it, and am looking forward to it, and to the follow-up clinic in about 6 weeks.

Sunday was about paddling. I'd planned another 20 miler, and got a pretty early start. It was cold, cloudy, grey and dreary on the lake. It was also quite windy and forcasted for showers throughout the day. I decided to set up the bimini as an umbrella (the drysuit would not keep me warm if it was raining). I started at Vista Point and paddled towards Farrington Point into headwinds about 8mph, brrrr cold. On the return, I popped the Pacific Action Sail (PAS) and with the bimini enjoyed a 4 mph ride without even paddling.

I bailed at 15 miles, I was cold, and thought I might finish off with a swim later this afternoon. As I was leaving the park, I saw Ken Potts and his Core Sound 17. This is the little sister of the Core Sound 2o that Alan and Paul are building for the EC. I'd not met Ken before, but he's followed the WaterTribe for a couple of years, even plans on racing in 2009. He asked if I wanted to go for a sail.

Wow, what fun. It was great to get a good feel for how our sailboat was going to sail. Alan keeps referring to it as a fast sailboat. That's all good, but I was just happy to discover that it will be a great cruising and camping boat for Paul and I as well. I even took control of the tiller for awhile. And I didn't feel the least bit guilty to be enjoying some runs on the lake while the guys were working hard at getting ours finished :)

Now I'm dreaming about retirement and lazy days spent sailing and camping on the coast. Always a paddler first, I've also been thinking I might need a small folding kayak for this sailboat.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Loving my Yoga Class

My Yoga teachers Sommer and Paul Sobin

Often a limiting factor towards the real enjoyment and comfort of paddling is a lack of flexibility. It is flexibility that helps with good rotation during the paddling stroke and many of the skills used for maneuvering and rolling. It is flexibility that even helps your hamstrings allow you to sit in the kayak for long lengths of time. It's not until you get that nice arch in your back that finally allows a good low scull and balanced brace, not to mention what it does for your roll. And so much more.

It will be flexibility gained through proper stretching that will also help me to stay relaxed and injury free during my triathlon training. Like most, I'm not very good about having a formal stretching routine, and often don't even have the time or interest after a good run or ride. But I've finally found a Yoga style that is a perfect fit for me, and I'm loving it.

Anusara Yoga, a new system of Hatha yoga, is taught with a major emphasis on the "Universal Principals of Alignment", thus instructors take the time to instruct proper alignment and positioning. It is the first Yoga I've taken where I have not created or acerbated wrist or shoulder problems with improper form. I took a 14 week series last fall, and started a new series last night. I'm really starting to understand what is meant by "it's restorative".

It's a good thing, for paddling, for triathlon, for life.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

I'm the old dog, and the new trick will be learning to run effortlessly, and hopefully injury-free. I'm trying to approach running technique the same way I have approached learning paddling skills and technique over the years; with an open mind, patience, determination, learning from the experts, and with drills and practice.

I've spent years and years battling running injuries, so much that I had given it up. I'm hoping the injuries were the result of poor running technique. Now, determined to work towards a life time goal of competing in an Ironman triathlon this year, I'm going to have to learn some new tricks and work on my running and distance walking technique. I've registered for a Chi Running clinic this Saturday, and am hoping for the best.

Not to worry, I'll be out on the water paddling on Sunday. Practice makes perfect.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Happy Birthday Alan

Introduced early to water craft and adventure, Alan is only 1 years old in the photo below, during a trip to Hawaii to visit my family. The kayak is one of the many beach toys we'd get to play with during our many visits.

Today Alan is 22 years old, and he's already been lucky enough to have had some incredible experiences as a sailor, paddler, athlete, and all around great guy.

Here's wishing you many many more. Happy Birthday Alan, I love you, Mom.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Move to the Garage?

This is not our garage!

Last night’s discussions at home were about moving the boat building shop from the basement to the garage. This is a HUGE decision with HUGE impact. Naturally the garage would need a couple space heaters, and we’d have to work out some ventilation. But, the BIGGER issue is that we would have to CLEAN the garage.

Our garage is a typical suburban 2-car garage, that doesn’t really fit a 2nd car. Since we have lots of “stuff”, it doesn’t fit any car. What may not be typical, is just how much “stuff “ we have in it.

Our garage stores 6 kayaks and all their gear (one is on a trailer), 2 windsurfers with gear and extra sails, 9 bikes and bike gear, 4 sets of rollerblades and gear, a few skateboards, a couple boogie boards, family snorkeling gear, lots of family car and kayak camping gear including tents, sleeping bags, beach and camp chairs, and various sized coolers. This stuff is hanging on walls, on ceilings, in storage containers, drawers, and trunks everywhere. Then of course it also holds all the typical garage stuff, garden tools, lawn-mower, power-washer, ladders, hand truck, and car stuff. We even have a couple car seats taken from the mini-van, so we can fit all the ‘stuff’ in the car when we take it somewhere. Oh yes, and everything else that seems should logically be stored in a garage.

Now imagine that none of this is very organized, and I freely admit to making most of the mess. Our family would much rather play then clean, and unfortunately, I’ve set the worst example of this. Monthly Paul tries to at least keep a path clean from the kitchen-garage door to the driveway, and a few times a year, we spend a weekend taking it all outside and trying to organize it all back inside, this was last done quite awhile ago. I just can’t imagine where this “stuff” will all go, not to mention that I DON’T WANT TO DO IT.

The suggestion for the shop move was Paul’s. He thinks we should move the operation out of the basement once the hull is completed which is expected later this week. Paul feels that the moving the boat will be simpler and easier before they add the cuddy cabin and all the remaining weight, though he still reassures me that even with cabin, it will fit out the small basement doorway. Hmmm, I know Paul would love to have an excuse to get me cleaning the garage.

Alan wants to stay in the basement. It’s comfortable, heated, and they’ve created a good organized workshop there. I don’t think Alan wants to see the building momentum lost with this move. He goes back to school next Tuesday night, so luckily he wouldn’t even be part of the BIG DIG. Alan has always promised he’ll recruit everyone he knows to help move the boat when it’s done. This will not be a small effort, as our basement overlooks a big downhill, and getting the boat to the front yard and driveway means climbing up a hill, and likely taking down some fencing and a gate. And it’ll weight about 650 lbs with a pretty unwieldy size.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Sticking with the Plan

It wasn't easy getting out of the house this morning, it was 7am and only 27F. Today my training plan had me paddling 20 miles. With the holidays over, and only 8 weekends left for EC training, there's not much room for slacking off. So I bundled up and got out there with my Kruger Dreamcatcher.

It was actually very pleasant. A beautiful sunny day which eventually warmed up to 52F. A slight breeze made for good training, paddling into a headwind the first 10 miles (even colder), then a little help with the PAS on the return.

Tomorrow is going to be a bit warmer, it might hit 60F. I've planned a shorter paddle in the morning, then I'll take advantage of the heat for a 20 mile bike ride. I'm hoping Alan joins me on his new bike, if I can drag him away from the boat building for awhile.

Later tomorrow afternoon I'm off to visit KiwiBird. We're going to try and work out our travel plans and car shuttle logistics for getting to Tampa Bay and then from Key Largo. It's all a bit more complicated this year with Paul and Alan racing together in our new Core Sound 20 (of course they still have to finish it in time).

Laura, my triathlon trainer will be pleased to know that I'm sticking with the plan and am on track. I took her advice seriously, and have included time for the dreaded weight training twice a week. Laura created a maintenance plan for me that basically provides great cross-training while I train for WaterTribe, then puts me right where I need to be for the 20 week training for the Louiville Ironman following the EC.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Lots of Sun, but....

A cold front moved in this morning with lots of wind and a significant drop in temperature. The lake was completely white capped, though it never quite shows up in photos. Winds were 15 mph with gusts of 25 mph. We might even have some snow flurries tonight.

It would have been a perfect day for playing had it been summer, but the few of us who actually showed for the New Years Day paddle agreed it would be cold, wet, and miserable. If it's not fun, why do it! So with promises for a near future paddle, we all left with hugs, and kisses, and wishes for a happy New Year.