What are you wearing?

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This morning was a crisp 18 degrees, a little cooler with the wind chill. After loading up the car I headed to the beach to check out the waves. They were in rare form, nice size and not close outs. As I looked at the water and the surfers in the lineup I was not sure that I wanted to suit up. There was no other way to describe the weather except with words like frigid, freezing, Jack Frost’s backyard, or whoa why on earth am I outside today? While I was sitting in the car pondering I realized that much like in running, what you wear matters.

 

I’ve gone out running in some pretty brutal weather. My personal weather restrictions are lightening, ice, and wind- lots of wind. I do have a limit on air temperature, but that is subjective. My decision to run when it is cold depends most on how I feel that day.

 

Fashion is forgotten when you run in extreme weather. The goal is to put on enough clothes to stay warm while not wearing so much that you overheat. Finding the right balance is not easy especially if your running route takes you far from your start point. When find that perfect level of layering it makes running in cold weather tolerable.

 

Surfing isn’t much different. With the right equipment it isn’t so bad. So after a few minutes of debate I climbed into the back of the truck to get dressed. And layering doesn’t just work well in running, I use it in surfing too. Smartwool socks and gloves fit nicely under my wetsuit and they help to keep me toasty warm.

 

Although for me, it was a frustrating day of surfing I was really happy to be out in the water. And despite the cool temps I never really felt cold, until I got out of the water.

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Ebb and Flow

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When we moved up to Newport a few years ago Jim and I expanded our watersport activities when we bought some stand up paddleboards. We learned to surf our boards and on flat days we enjoy the water with a nice long paddle. Paddling is our recreational and leisurely activity.

 

 

Last Sunday I changed that by entering the Providence Paddle Battle. I opted for the 3-mile course along the scenic Providence skyline. There was a 9-mile course but I learned a lot from my first half marathon and decided to ease into paddle racing.

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Race day was a beautiful day in Providence. Before we started the wind was low and the temperature was cool. The start was delayed because the course needed to be set and Mother Nature decided to change the conditions. We did a paddle out and return. The way out was perfect, and easy, a little too easy.

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We paid the price on the return to the finish. The light wind turned into a constant head wind and it was low tide so we were going against the current. Not exactly ideal conditions.

 

What I discovered in running, a marathon and a half-marathon are two different beasts. I found out last Sunday a paddle race is a completely new species. After the race I discovered muscles that have never been documented in Gray’s Anatomy.

 

Paddling requires every body part. At the end of the race when I was exhausted I was ready to stop and walk but there is not walking and resting when you are paddling, especially when mother nature is pushing you away from the finish.

 

As I neared the finish and my body was spent, I had to find something to keep me going forward. My distance running instincts kicked in and I relied on sheer will power to get me to the finish. At some point I adopted a mantra and used it with each stroke. “Fuck you, fuck you.” Don’t ask me why I picked those words, but when the brain takes over because the body wants to quit you don’t argue with the one thing that motivates you to finish what you start.

 

I got smoked by most of the other racers. When you run your shoes don’t give you a major advantage or disadvantage. However, when you paddle your vessel is a major factor in how swiftly you cut through the water. I was on a board designed for surf and most everyone else was on a board designed for speed.

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It was discouraging seeing everyone’s backs but somehow I managed to keep the race in perspective. At the end of the day I say it was a success. I finished my first SUP race and even got second place in my division (there was a surfboard division.) I’m not convinced SUP racing is my thing but it was a great experience.

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See you in the water!

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I run like a girl

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I run like a girl.

 

I’ve always run like a girl.

 

When I was six years old learning to play soccer I ran like a girl.

 

When I played basketball in high school I played like a girl.

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When I was in college and practiced keeper with the men’s team, I defended the goal like a girl.

 

When I surf and charge head high waves, I surf like a girl.

 

Every marathon, half marathon, 10k, and 5k I’ve competed in, I’ve run like a girl.

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Everything I do, I do like a girl.

 

To me it’s never been a bad thing, I run like a girl because I am a girl.

 

I am proud to be a girl.

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I refuse to run like a boy, throw like a boy, surf like a boy, or do anything like a boy. In the same way I don’t think someone should try to do something like a girl.

 

Just be who you are, and if you are a girl, go out and run like one!

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Water hiking

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Unlike many other sports, surfing requires the right conditions. There are days when you might be geared up for riding some waves, but first Mother Nature has to bring the waves. This makes surfing both frustrating and magical.

 

We’ve been on a lull here in Rhode Island. The forecast predicted waves, but nature forgot to bring them. So when the waves don’t come thank goodness for paddleboards.

 

The weather has been amazing and we are finally to the point where we don’t have to wear a wetsuit in the water. Those days don’t last long in RI, so we have to take full advantage. On the calm days when the water is clear, we go exploring the waters looking for fish, starfish, jellyfish, crabs, and other sea creatures. It’s the water version of hiking and listening to birds and trying to find a squirrel.

How’s your spiritual health?

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Let’s go to the gym and get our sweat on.

 

The cool thing about working out is tangible results. If you have a goal to trim your waist, you will notice a difference when you slide into that pair of skinny jeans. If you have a goal to run faster, the time on the clock will show faster mile splits.  If you have a goal to lift more weight, when you place five more pounds on the bar and lift, you’ve done it.

 

Physical fitness is just one of the part of being a healthy person. It is also the easiest to measure.

 

When we start talking about the more fuzzy things like spiritual fitness most of us have no idea where to start. There isn’t a gym membership for spiritual health. It is also something that you can’t easily quantify. How do you measure if you spiritual health? How do you define if you have more meaning and purpose in your life?

 

Some people think of church and religion when they hear the word spirituality. For me spirituality is something that falls outside of the scope of church and religion. I’ve never been much of a churchgoer and I’ve never followed any religion, however I’ve studied several of the world’s religions. Now I try to incorporate aspects of different religions into my life.

 

In many ways I still don’t know how to “work out” to get stronger with my spiritual fitness. But I do understand what things make me feel more spiritual and connected to the world and the people around me.

 

Running, surfing, and yoga.

 

These do much more than just help me strengthen my cardio and get toned. When I run, surf, or do yoga I feel more connected to the world around me. In a pose, riding a wave, and finding my stride I have moments where I focus so intently on what I am doing, the rest of the world dissolves.

 

Those meditative moments of being rooted in the present are few and far between. But in those moments where I am in the flow, the world is perfect. In those moments I reach a state of peace and perfection. I also strengthen more than my body, I strengthen my heart, my mind, and my soul.

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Patience

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Jim is part of the seaweed analysis program with Clean Ocean Access.  Every Saturday he and a group of people head down to the beach to see how much seaweed is on the beach.  They are interested in finding out if there is something we are doing to make the seaweed grow and end up on the beach.

 

Since my injury most Saturdays I stay at home with my foot propped up on a pillow. I sit and watch television, do some reading, grade stuff, or write.  Today was beautiful.  The thermometer read over 50° so I went to the beach with Jim. Why not enjoy the ocean view while reading my book and listening to music?

 

For a while I watched the surfers.  Something occurred to me as I watched them, something I know but I had forgotten. A lot of time out in the water is spent sitting and waiting patiently. Sometimes it is waiting for your turn. Sometimes waiting for the next set. Sometimes waiting for your arms to recover so you can try paddling again.

 

Not only is there a lot of waiting, there is trial and error. There are times when you paddle and miss the wave. When you do you have to go back out and try again.

 

The sport takes a lot of patience.

 

I’ve spent months out of the water. But sitting today and watching was a great reminder. Right now I am just between sets.

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The funk is lifting

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Everyday my knee feels stronger, not completely pain free but definitely stronger. I realize I am at a point where I can either find a way to work with my pain or I sideline myself from the things I love to do.

 

To lift the funk and test the knee it is time to push my limits and try some new things.

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Since my injury I returned to yoga. My practice is solid and steady. But I wanted more. It started with picking up a book about Yoga and anatomy. Then it turned to me looking at pictures of poses thinking to myself, hey I can do that. With a little help from Youtube, I ventured into a new pose and my garage, literally. (Make sure the wall you use to support yourself when trying a headstand is not a door that opens to the garage.)

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For me Yoga is a very personal practice, I rarely do Yoga in a classroom setting, but this time I decided to do it in the mall. Athleta was offering a free Yoga class (free except for the running pants and new swimsuit bottom I picked up after the class) with Yogi Dawn Souza. I tried it and it was great breaking free from my normal routine and doing something different.

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My final funk lifting move was getting back out in the water. Not being in the water has been plaguing me for quite some time. In order to surf again I have to learn a new stance, which I am okay with. But because it is winter here in lovely Rhode Island the water is cold and learning something new means a lot of falling. Today was a mild winter day and the water was flat, so I took the SUP out for a short paddle. Yes I did fall in the water, yes I did have a tough time figuring out which foot would step back if I did catch a wave, and yes I did get a micro ride into shore.

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This isn’t big stuff, but it finally feels like I am moving forward and the funk is lifting.