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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Pre-Race Jitters

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It’s been almost a year since I participated in a race. It’s been so long I’ve forgotten a lot of the things that go into race preparation. I’ve even forgotten about about the pre-race jitters.

 

Over the years my pre-race anxiety has subsided considerably. I figured out what to wear to a race, what to bring to a race, how to pre-hydrate, what time to show, how to hydrate during the race, and when to go to the bathroom before the gun signaled the start of the race. Tomorrow I’m doing my first Stand Up Paddle (SUP) race.

 

A race on water is much different from one on land. To begin, it takes a lot longer to paddle a mile than it does to run a mile. So that means my 3 mile race will take about as long as it does to run a 10k.

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Some of the logistics concern me. What if I have to make an emergency number 2 stop during the race. I really doubt there will be floating port o johns along the course.

 

Then there is the matter of water stops. I imagine volunteers swimming around in the water handing out cups. I doubt it

 

And hydration during the race? Will there be volunteers swimming around in the water handing out cups of water? I really doubt it.

 

How do you dress for a SUP race? Will it be to hot for a rash guard? Will I burn if I wear just a swimsuit?

 

So many questions. I guess I’ll just pack more than I need and stick with nutrition and hydration that I know works for a distance run. Aside from that, I’ll just be flexible and see how things go.

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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.

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.

4-6 Weeks

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After some poking, prodding, and twisting, Doc says all the symptoms are consistent with a torn meniscus. Fun! That means 4-6 weeks of physical therapy along with 4-6 weeks of no running, jumping, or twisting my knee. Which translates to no running, no surfing, no SUPing, no volleyball……

DCIM101GOPRO    Amica

This injury strips me of my usual repertoire of healthy activities. Not only are these the things I do to stay physically fit but they also help me stay sane.

 

This means I need a new workout. So this week I tried something new.

 

For weeks I have been hearing tales of this amazing work out called crossfit. Rob and Chris from work share stories of bruises, bangs, and big lifts. For the past few weeks I’ve been considering checking it out. I just needed a catalyst to really motivate me. Who knew a knee injury would do the trick?

 

I know what your probably thinking, how can you do crossfit if you can’t do any impact or twisting? Easy, just modify exercises so it is low impact and you don’t twist.

 

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Force Newport Crossfit (http://www.forcenewportcrossfit.com/CrossFit/) let’s you try a workout before you commit. The night I went we did box jumps (modified of course), kettle bell swings, squats, and slam balls. It was a solid workout called “three minutes of fun”.

 

In addition to conditioning the body, the workout forced me to be present. And that is what I need for my mental conditioning.

 

I have yet to commit and become an official crossfitter. But it got me thinking about other workouts I can try, like getting the dust of my yoga mat.

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