Sunday, April 27, 2008

Just Like Home

It's been a busy week. Paul's been working a bit on the boat, getting it ready for the small boat gathering at Cedar Key in Florida next weekend. I've been swimming, running, and biking (training log).

But what a great Sunday today. Both kids were home at the same time. Tana came in last night, wanting to do some cleaning in her room to take back some furniture for her new apartment. Alan stopped over to say hi to everyone.

I'd planned a paddle today, but with everyone home, I just didn't want to go.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Paddling Exercises

The Wednesday night fitness paddle on the lake has started back up. Last week there were 3, this week 5, come summer we will have 20+ paddlers out there for a 6 mile workout.

April's Seakayaker Magazine had an article called "Building Balance The Path to Power without Pain", by Tommi Paavola. It showed some great stretches for pre and post paddle'. The Paavola says:

A five-minute pre-kayaking warm-up routine can make a huge difference in your kayaking performance. Would you believe that by activating the right muscle groups right before paddling your strength and power could increase by up to 20%".
I'm planning to take a laminated sheet of these exercises to the lake with me from now on. In fact, I went to the magazine website and found they had links to videos showing these exercises:

Pre-paddling stretches:

Post-paddling stretches

Speaking of exercises, last week started my official 20 week Ironman training. My training log is posted on the sidebar of this blog, I'll keep it updated weekly. It's going to get a bit crazy as I still hope to get in enough paddling for the Blackburn Challenge in July. And I'll have to be careful with my shoulders.

Other tidbits:
It was great having KiwiBird and Canadian Ckayaker over for dinner last Saturday night. I was nursing a pulled back muscle and couldn't paddle with them Sunday. KiwiBird's posting sounds like I really missed a great and exciting paddle. I really need to figure out a visit North to paddle with Michael sometime.

There's a great discussion/debate on the WaterTribe forum about the possibility of the new boat class allowing the use the solar/electric power. This does not just impact the sailors, even this solar powered kayak could be legal in this new class.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Will this be Next?

A message went out today on the WaterTribe forum announcing that registration is open for the 2009 season for the Everglades Challenge and Ultimate Florida Challenge. The message said:

"Notice there are some new classes. Class 4 is for monohulls, the new class 5 is for multihulls, and the new class 6 is for human and wind power combined with solar/electric. These new classes are provisional and are pending approval by the full board of directors. Go ahead and use them if they apply to you."
This was all news to me, and I'm a member of this Board of Directors. I'm also one who prefers we keep the Challenges based on more simple themes, though I expect if Alan could do the EC next year he would be all over this.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Saying Goodbye

Sunday afternoon we celebrated John Desiderio's life. Some of his close friends and many paddling partners met at the Lake for a potluck lunch of of John's favorites, deep fried turkey, deep fried hot-dogs, and kielbasi and sauerkraut, just to name a few.

After lunch we got in our kayaks and paddled out, wishing John well, knowing he's paddling the clouds above us. We left John's ashes scattered in the waters he visited often, saluting him with our paddles. He will be missed by many.

When I returned home, I looked back through some old photo's and found this series of shots taken of John being his playful self. I loved his beautiful smile and laugh.

Friday, April 11, 2008

First Things First

I've got the Louisville Ironman Triathlon scheduled in late August. Now I've got to get serious about training. Alan (also in this race) came over Sunday afternoon, the weather, and other chores and errands had us doing a long trainer workout rather than riding outside.

Perfect training each week for a triathlete racer would look something like the following (note: I've also added my weekly paddling, I refuse to give this up completely):

I'll never meet these standards, it's exhausting just looking at it, and it's even missing yoga and stretching.

Instead, I've decided to approach this race less like a triathlete, and more like it's an adventure and challenge, looking to finish, and hoping to enjoy the process. I understand challenge, and believe I know what will be needed to be successful. It'll still be a lot of work.

Biking will be the critical piece for me in finishing. It's moderately hilly around here, and hopefully similar to the bike course in Louisville. Usually I just do whatever it takes to just get up the hills without rolling backwards, then I relax and coast down catching my breath. This morning, I biked one of my regular 15 mile loops, but told myself to do the uphills slow, comfortably, and in as low a gear as I wanted, as long as I worked it on the downhills, no coasting. I finished with an average speed that was 1.5 mph faster. That helps. Now if I can do that for 112 miles, this just might work.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Why was KiwiBird Faster?

Most ask me cautiously, and with some sensitivity and diplomacy. KiwiBird and I only live about 15 miles apart, and often paddle together or see each other paddling on the lake. It's not unrealistic to expect a certain competitiveness between us, though I don't believe that to be true. Even my Mom asked "How come KiwiBird was so much faster than you?"

I've got lots of great excuses :)

  • "I never said I was racing, in fact, I said I was not racing".

  • "I was on vacation and wanted to spend as much time as possible on the water, not in a motel in Key Largo".

  • "I like paddling with others, a racer has to paddle solo".

  • "Her Sisson kayak with double blade is faster than my Kruger canoe with single blade".
All are true. In WaterTribe it is enough of an accomplishment to just finish an Everglades Challenge. Most years as many as 30% drop out within the 1st day or two, this past year was no different. Many do not race it.

Regardless, there is no denying that she is quite simply a faster paddler than I. It's not that I'm so slow, I'm just not as fast.

Now KiwiBird and I are making plans to team up to "race" the new 2009 Yukon 1000 canoe and kayak race. We've both agreed this will be a "race" and we will plan and train accordingly. We'll make a formidable team, both bringing great experiences and skills to the table.

I'll be the one working on speed :)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

EC Day 7 - Finished

SandyBottom (left) and Capt'n and Boo (right) sailing/flying into Key Largo

I woke up a couple of times during the night, making sure the boat was still there, and hoping the weather reports were changed. A large thunderstorm passed overhead just at daybreak. When the rain slowed I peaked my head out and realized I didn’t feel any wind. Not because it had disappeared, but it had finally changed directions. It was decision time. I really wanted to be at that awards ceremony to see Paul (DancesWithSandyBottom) get his first WaterTribe shark tooth necklace.

So I started packing up. I figured if the winds were too bad, I’d just find another mangrove island or key, though I knew none of them would have the same accommodations as the Joe Kemp Key I was camped on now.

Once on the water, I noticed more dark clouds building up behind me, so I decided to sail over to Palm Key and see if the rest of my party was still there waiting for me (though I still was not sure this was where they holed up) . I could also wait out the next storm there.

No one was there, the storm stayed inland, and the sun started to come out. The wind and Bay was kicking, it would be a fast sail to Key Largo. I was fully reefed, and finally decided to just go and get the job done.

Within an hour or so, I could spot the sails on ManitouCruiser’s and RiverJohn’s cat-ed SeaWinds, and the Capt'n and Boo’s Kruger Cruiser. Another 30 minutes and I had caught up with them. Both looked at me and asked if I’d returned to Flamingo the night before. Grrrrrr. I did tell them I was a bit worried about my rig with the bent strut taking a lot of pressure with the NE winds, and would appreciate it if this time we really did cross the Bay together.

And cross the Bay we did. We flew. I haven't had time to check the GPS tracks, but that day was about 40 miles, and it took a little over 4 hours. Only once when we had to paddle up into the wind to stay on channel did we face the same difficulties as the night before, though everyone patiently waited for me to finally round the corner about 5 minutes after them. I think it was DaveOnCudgue who told me he just got out of his boat and pulled it through here.

I called Alan about 30 minutes out to tell them we were coming in, and our route. They went out on the new sailboat, newly named ‘Dawn Patrol’ to meet us, but missed us when we shortcut at Swash Keys. But the dock was full when we arrived to the sound of cheers and applause from those who had finished before us. It was quite an exciting arrival, as this completed the successful challenge for Boo, the youngest ever WaterTribe Challenger.

Capt'n and Boo arriving at the finish in Key Largo

SandyBottom Finishing (above)

ManitouCruiser and RiverJohn coming into the finish (above)

Lunch and the awards ceremony followed quickly after. There was lots of celebration, laughter, stories, and adventures shared. Afterwards, many started their journey back home with lots of promises to see everyone again next year. Some of us stayed and had another ceremony for Trader and TroutHeart who did made it in that evening at 7:15, (7 days, 12 hours, and 15 minutes) in their canoe.

SharkChow a very well known veteran of previous WaterTribe ECs, and the 1st place finisher of the 2006 WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge was there to greet all. He was not a challenger this year, but like many watched the race from the sidelines following the WaterTribe forum and various websites. He posted a nice recap of the challenge here. .

He finished with a personal note that I’ve reprinted below:

"Although I did not participate in the EC08, I did follow it as closely as possible on the web. But nothing compared to actually being there in Key Largo on Saturday when dabiscuit (Captn) and Boo arrived at the finish line. Boo is 11 years old. She weighs maybe 75 pounds. Early that morning they were in Florida Bay when a violent squall raced through. The sky went dark and the wind howled at 25 with gusts to 35. Green water went white as foam and spray. The rain came in sideways like gunfire. They used a mangrove island for protection. And they weren't alone. Manitou Cruiser and RiverJohn were with them, and Sandy Bottom wasn't far away.

When they arrived at the finish, Boo just smiled like she'd done it 100 times before. I've finished the EC a few times myself, and I know the EC08 was an ordeal. And so what struck me watching them complete their journey was how much courage it must have taken for dabiscuit (Captn) and Manitou Cruiser (who stayed with them the entire 300 miles) to give young Boo such an adventure. Courage. And love.

It reminded me of why I'm a member of this tribe. It made me smile. And I know that somewhere Verlen Kruger is smiling too. "

Now, as happens every year, I'm already looking forward to next years adventure and challenge.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

EC Day 6 and Not Finished

While Paul and Alan are enjoying themselves in Key Largo with other WaterTribe finishers waiting to greet other's as they arrive, I'm still paddling and working my way over.

RiverJohn and I woke up at day break on the South Joe River Chickee, to the howling of the wind, again. Not feeling in too much of hurry, we packed up and got on the water. We had only 11 miles to Flaming, but the weather reports weren’t sounding very promising. We hugged the shore line as much as possible, tough it didn’t seem to make much difference to the wind, there just wasn’t any way of hiding.

It was a hard paddle into the wide expanse of the south end of Joe River and then across Tarpon Bay to Flamingo. We’d pretty much decided we wouldn’t attempt the Florida Bay crossing until the next day when the winds switched around. But the weather was predicting thunderstorms with the new front in the morning and 20-30kt winds through Sunday. We would just get there and decide what to do then. We arrived at midday.

ManitouCruiser, Captn and Boo were already in having come in non-stop from Chokoloskee taking the shorter outside route (the Wilderness Waterway adds 30 miles), Trader and TroutHeart had decided after their rest yesterday afternoon on the WW that they would paddle straight in, they arrived at 2:30 in the morning. We heard KneadingWater had left for Key Largo that morning, as had PaddleMaker and SavannahDan. There was still one other double still out there who dropped when they got in late that night.

Trader and TroutHeart were scavenging parts for their sails in the dumpsters, and getting ready to leave late afternoon. ManitouCruiser offered to catamaran with RiverJohn (who did not have a sail), and we would all leave and paddle together, paddle as far as we could, rest up at some key, and wait for the winds to change for sailing. Once we had a plan, I really stopped thinking about how strong the winds were. And I was glad not to be making the crossing alone, as I was very worried about my bent strut and sailing with such high winds. I borrowed a phone and called Paul to give him the plan, my Verizon cell has no service in Flamingo.

We had to set our sail rigs up, masts out, aka’s and outriggers on, and tie the sails down, but ready to rig, as we were likely not going to have solid ground to set up once out there. Trader and TroutHeart got a head start, and after eating lots of cheesburger, ice cream bars, and everything else the little store in Flamingo had, we too got dressed and ready to go.

Once out into the channel, we were hit with the wind. It was probably the hardest paddling I’d done in the Kruger. The winds were such that I had to paddle on one side only. Every time I’d try and switch sides, I’d lose my rudder control and the boat would turn away from the wind. I did this for X hours, with my arm cramping like crazy. I also dragging my ama (outrigger) in the water because of the bent strut, which with the mast and aka was really slowing me down. As I paddled, I found I was getting further and further behind the group. As hard as I tried, I could not keep up with them. Each with 2 paddlers were likely not having the problems I was having as they could each paddle and switch, they were making much better time than I.

It started to get dark, and I found I could not longer see them in front of me. I had only paddled 3 miles in X hours, and figured they were at least a mile ahead. So much for agreeing to stay together. I had thought that just before I lost sight of them that it appeared they were getting off the channel towards Palm Key. I too decided I could not continue and paddled over to Joe Kemp Key for the night. As I got closer I saw a very small small cove and what appeared to be a small sandy camping area on the key.

Looking over at Palm Key I could see what I thought was a boat light, and so I put my lights on, even lifted up my sail and put my spotlight on it, so the others would know I was there and safe. I also spent 30 frustrating minutes trying to hail them on the VHF radio. They later told me their radios no longer worked. Since my little cove was directly into the wind, there was much debris that had blown on the beach, which actually allowed me to get across the mud and onto the solid land. And it would let me know when the wind direction changed. I tied up the boat, put up my tent, kept my VHF on alternating listening to the rescue channel and the weather.

Weather reports were promising large thunderstorms crossing the area in the morning, then North East winds 20-30 kts with 35 kt gusts through Sunday. I decided not to go back to Flamingo (which would have been easy at the time) because I know that would mean the end my challenge.

My choices which seemed fine at the time were to camp till Monday when the winds died down, or if feeling brave, attempt to sail on after the front and storms moved in the next morning, I had till Sunday morning to legally finish the race (though I knew Paul would be worrying about me when he realized I was no longer with the group). I fell asleep worrying a bit about Trader and Troutheart in their canoe, but figured the other’s were well tucked into a mangrove somewhere, and not as comfortable as I.