Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Here we go again...but you MUST buy this watch!

Unless you are a useless lazy slob who has no desire to better themselves you must buy the Vestal Brig watch. Run out of your home or office right now screaming, with your hands raised in the air and buy this watch. Or go to Amazon and buy it there where it is a little cheaper than full retail and keeps you from looking like a crazy person...

Now I know a great review was already done by the Mullet family over on the Distressed Mullet website and I am only repeating what they said but the value of this watch to your training program is undeniable. The Mullet review made me buy the watch 5 minutes later. I hope you will buy this watch five minutes after reading this. In fact, here is the link to do so now to keep you from reading the same old thing again and shaking your head at my grammatical errors: BUY ME NOW

There are far less watches available on Amazon than there were a month or so ago so you better hurry up! And the prices are a little higher but the watch is well worth the purchase. Here's why:

This morning I did not feel like training again. My body and my pride still hurt from doing dipsy-doos off my board in the race on Sunday. I am bruised like a peach and rug burned like a you-know-what from having to claw my way back onto my board a hundred million times. Also, I knew I needed to run to get some of that vacation weight off (thanks a lot Mom for keeping peach ice cream around...) and I had about as much desire to run today as I did to finish Sunday's race. Despite my lacking motivation, I put on some shorts and a compression top and decided to hit the beach anyway. I also grabbed my Vestal Brig.

On my walk to the beach I realized I had the TRAIN feature readily available for use. I set the SUFFER period for 15 minutes and the RECOVERY period for 1 minute and 30 seconds with the plan being to reverse them and warm up then do some quick sprints between the long aerobic work. At the bottom of the beach entranceway I clicked the start button and heard my first beep. There is just something about that beep that helped me put my first foot forward. Fifteen minutes later I heard another beep and picked up the pace. As I ran at just under an all-out sprint I began to wonder if I had set the watch properly then came the second beep letting me know it was cool to slow down again. Then BAM...all of the sudden I felt good. I felt ready to do more than I had planned on! As I ran and started to feel the busted-ass feelings from the other day slip off my shoulders I realized 15 minutes was too long to wait to sprint so I was able to re-set the SUFFER and RECOVERY times, while maintaining an aerobic pace, in the TRAIN mode to 5 minutes and 1 minute. BAM...I was back to full-on-training focus. Five minutes of aerobic work then 1 minute of a good sprint. It felt so dang good! People on the beach were looking at me like - "what is this guy doing?" So what. I was Forrest Gump running and feeling good to be doing so. I felt so good I started to change directions when I heard the beep and added a little lagniappe to the program. What a way to shake off the ick!

 I must have Pavlovian traits because I obeyed the beeps and let them direct me toward a mind, body, and soul cleansing. My head needed to focus elsewhere besides what is now in the past, my body needed a little hard work for the waistline, and my soul needed a whole lot of new oxygen brought into the system. Today, I honestly don't know how just a plain old jog could have accomplished what I absolutely needed. I desperately needed that little push to get me going toward a better place and the Vestal Brig provided that for me. I had not done sprints since high school lacrosse practice!

This watch is the best piece of gear I have bought this year and because it has done so much for me I really wanted to share this testimony to others who are over 40 and sometimes need that extra push to go beyond the norm when it comes to training. Do yourself a favor and don't go out to dinner one night this weekend and get yourself a good watch that is handsome and useful. There are several color schemes to choose from if the model you want is sold out. You won't be sorry buying this!

And thanks again to the Distressed Mullet family for letting me know about this watch so I could reap some much needed benefits in my own training program. Check out TONS of other cool stuff on the DM website:


Shake off the ick and get a Brig!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Art of Falling

All summer long I have been telling myself..."you need to practice falling off your board, getting back on, and paddling to try and maintain momentum."

I heard about Danny Ching at the Orange Bowl back in January who when he fell looked like he hit a springboard underwater as he hopped back on his board so fast it didn't look like he missed a stroke. Mother Nature can be your best friend on the water or she can completely humble you. To compete at an Elite level you have to be ready to paddle in all conditions. I was feeling a little too confident on the MHL yesterday...

I have been in a few races that crushed my spirit due to the number of times I fell in (Surf to Sound 2012 and Miami Orange Bowl 2013) and knew that with a narrower board this would become an even bigger issue. Who wants to practice falling in and crawling back on their board? I certainly don't but I certainly should have leading up to the Skyline SUP Series event in Chicago yesterday. I had gone three races in some chop and not fallen off the MHL so I thought I was ready and wasn't worried about the fact that I had not practiced what I told myself I needed to practice...OOPS!

During my warm-ups I was having a blast out in the conditions!! There was a steady 2 foot chop and the occasional 3 foot boat wakes coming through and although I was falling in I was feeling good! The water was so refreshing that I would even say I felt great! This was a race in downtown Chicago to take place in front of family and friends and the course was super cool, close to North Avenue Beach with plenty of buoy turns so people could actually watch the action. With buoy turns there usually is plenty of action. The Rec race was super fun to watch and was the hardest Rec race I have seen anybody ever paddle in! Big congrats to those folks!

The Elite Race started off okay. I fell at the start but managed to stay with the lead guys for a short while...then came the falls...lots of them. At first I didn't care because there were 6 grueling laps so there was plenty of time to make up for mistakes. I wasn't huffing and out of breath like usual after a start; I was in a pretty good place...then came the falls...lots of them.

I fell a ridiculous amount of times! I'm saying close to 50 falls and I fell in every which way and in every direction. I even did a one-handed handspring off the nose of my board! After one fall my sunglasses were off to the side, my paddle was off to the other side and my board was way out in front of me. You cannot make up time while you are trying to gather accoutrements off the surface of the water all around you! By the end of the race my PFD was hanging off my butt and my sunglasses were bent completely out of shape. My will was being crushed with a steel-toed boot.

It stopped being a race for me on lap 3; it became a practice session then a battle of the mind. For the first time ever I thought about quitting a SUP race. I look back on yesterday and I really don't think I would have been upset with myself for a DNF. On lap 4 I could not get back on my board to stand up after almost 5 attempts in a row. It was a battle not only physically but mentally. I would have quit but Rob Patton offered words of encouragement early on and watching him persevere helped me persevere. Crossing the finish line was humiliating and I can only blame myself. One friend asked if it was the board. I wish! Yesterday was 100% operator error!!

I was angry after the race. Today, I'm still angry. I'm angry at myself for racing poorly. If you want to achieve good results you have to be able to stand on your board in ANY and ALL conditions. I like traveling around to races all over the east coast and I would like to be able to keep up with the Florida folks and the California folks. I'm not upset about getting lapped yesterday or being far off the podium; I'm upset about not being able to perform to the standards I have been working so hard to try and achieve. Those guys that made the podium deserve it because they were awesome out there in really really REALLY tough conditions. I have nothing but respect and admiration for Ross, Kevin Joseph, and Matt Lennert who kicked ass in the 12-6 division and took the spots on the podium!! Westy had a great race and won 1st overall and I was with Westy in Miami for the Orange Bowl and let me just say...he looks like a brand new paddler and kicked that course's butt! Dimitry raced the rec course then hopped on a 14 and did the Elite course and placed 2nd! Awesome job! Rob Patton took off on the last lap and grabbed the 3rd spot on the podium to round out the winners. They all deserve high accolades for doing well yesterday, as does Windward Board Shop in Chicago for putting on a great event and setting up a really cool course!

Today I would go out on the lake and practice falling off and hopping back on but my body is so sore I can't even drive to the store to get a six pack of beer to help drown my sorrows! Today is about accepting a poor performance and learning how to properly respond to it! I am going to do some mental work first then I am going to get out on the lake and fall in love with my beautiful narrow MHL all over again! At least I hope I do!

Remember that review I wrote on the Starboard 12-6 Touring board??? That board won the 12-6 class yesterday and came in 2nd overall! I told you it was a good board...should have kept the one I had :)!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Got Ka-rushed This Morning

In last week's race I was not feeling it. It being that excitement and adrenaline rushing through the body right before a race and during the race. Last week was all about survival and getting through a long course full of more boat wakes and confused seas than I had been in since...the weekend before. Anyway, I was not feeling in top form and my buoy turns on the narrow 12-6 have sent me swimming many more times than I would like to admit so I re-evaluated my training program.

No more than 1 cross training program involving weights a week during the heavy race season. This summer I had been trying to sneak in 2 while trying to keep weight off and I think my body told me: "FU, jerk. I need better nourishment if you are going to put me through this." Westy, from Chicago Paddle Company and YOLO Board told me that his trainer demanded he eat more if he was going to train the way he does for the race season. The body needs at least the amount of calories you are losing if you want to get enough energy to compete at a top level, which makes sense when you think about it. To compete at a top level one has to up his or her training load as much as the body will allow and still be able to maintain strength, speed, and endurance when called upon depending on the situation. This weekend my body told me that I wasn't doing it right. So I said bring on the potatoes and Coronas!

This week I did a >5mile run on Sunday morning and a full body workout with TRX in the afternoon and ate PLENTY of food throughout the day. Monday was a double dose of paddling. Doing the trash pick up in the morning involved about 100 step ups getting on and off the board to grab trash off the lake bottom so I needed a stretchy fun paddle in the afternoon to try and work the kinks out. That second workout of the day, if you choose to do it, doesn't need to be anything more than getting your feet on the board and working on feeling even more comfortable on your SUP than you already are. I went narrow on my custom MHL and I am having to work a lot harder than I expected or really wanted to this summer, which brings me to today's workout post.

Buoy turns are crushing my spirit this summer. They have always been one of my favorite aspects of racing since I first got into SUP but now, on a narrow 12-6, they are dunking me. Last week during a training session I went out to do 20 buoy turns and fell on at least 16 of them. The Lake Max Challenge was a lot of buoy turns and I was hesitant and lacked confidence at almost every one over the course of 4 laps. Today I decided to work on buoy turns, but not just buoy turns I wanted to work on buoy turns with my whole body feeling like jelly as if I was in a race. In order to feel like jelly what is the best element to add to a training session??? BEAR CRAWLS and SANDY HILL RUNS!

I decided to incorporate bear crawls after remembering a phone conversation Westy and I had about training over the winter. He called to tell me he enjoyed reading my blog and suggested I get into doing bear crawls because of the effect they have on the whole body. Of course I waited until now to start doing them because they are so HARD! I should have been doing them all year long and maybe I wouldn't be feeling so lackluster, at times, now!

My goal was to alternate between paddle w/ right buoy turn followed by 20 yard bear crawls then paddle w/ left buoy turn followed by sandy hill run totaling 10 bear crawls and 10 sandy hill runs and 20 buoy turns. I did 4-4-8 and took a 20 crunch rest between 3 and 4. At 3 I couldn't even remember whether I was to do a left or right buoy turn! I tried to do 5 but felt I had already worked my body close to failure as it was so I went for a half mile run after then a cool down swim and more ab work. I got crushed but there is plenty of time to recover before this Saturday's East of Maui race in downtown Annapolis. The best thing I took away from the workout was staying focused on stroke technique during the paddles. I was very aware of the mechanics I was executing while in motion, even if it was very slow at times!

The workout, I think, has started to give me the confidence I need to improve the weakest aspect of my paddling. I feel pretty good right now after a quart of Gatorade. I did not feel good about an hour ago but that is the point isn't it? I went way past my comfort zone in attempts to improve as a paddler. My same old routine was not getting me where I had hoped to be by July 4th! Because I am not where I had hoped to be I also think it is time to get back to what I know works...heart rate training. I need to build up my aerobic base. Too much anaerobic effort feels like it is starting to take a toll. Good thing I am going to Maryland to try and dig that thing out of a closet and my mom's.

Bear crawls off set with long slow paddles. Let's see what they do! Oh, and buoy turn suicides as well!

Monday, July 8, 2013

I absolutely love the Starboard 12-6 x 30 touring board!

This board is Tony the Tiger grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat for those days when you just don't feel like standing on a narrow race board and working all the time to maintain balance. Today was trash pick up day so I needed to stay upright and keep my eyes on the lake floor in order to pick up any trash I could find in the shallows. Obviously I didn't want to use my MHL because I didn't want to keep spilling all the trash back into the lake I had just picked up so I brought out the Starboard Touring model for the morning expedition. It was a wise choice.

Obviously from the picture you can see that the board is ready to carry a good amount of gear. I haven't even put in a bungee system on the stern because anything I need to carry can be stored on the bow. For any type of distance paddle I would use this board because it has the capacity to carry any amount of gear you would need for a day expedition or even an overnight journey. (On the way home from the trash pick up I had a full trash bag and a pool side umbrella stowed on the bow and plenty of room to move around the board and switch sides paddling.)

The board is very stable. I went out on Lake Michigan just before a storm rolled in so there was a tiny bit of chop forming on the surface of the water. I was able to concentrate on my garbage collecting, looking straight down into the water, without having to worry about tipping over, even with small ankle high rollers trying to form in the shallows. The bottom has some concave to it so there are a few catch points to aid in stability. Overall the board did amazingly well in keeping me afloat, even in the shallow water.

I was quite surprised at how shallow a depth I could navigate through, and I am on the heavy side of this boards capacity. At 276 liters this board can float a very heavy person. I bet this board can float a 185 pounder and a lab-sized dog no problem. I squeaked through mere inches of water by putting my weight more toward the bow and paddling with very little of my paddle blade in the water. I would say I went through ankle deep water with very little adjustment.

This board retails for just UNDER $1300. You cannot beat that price for a board you can do everything on. I bought one of these for Even Keel SUP FIT's demo fleet because I strongly feel that this is the best type of board for Lake Michigan. I am also a fan of this board for the Eastern Shore of Maryland. You can spend the day exploring, ride downwinders, take a yoga or fitness class and even race competitively on this board. The displacement bow moves quite nicely through the water and picks up a nice bit of speed. It tracks well even with the stock fin. I bet you get better tracking with a Larry Allison or FCS fin of your preference. I can see this board doing well on an Oxford to Cambridge expedition or being able to handle exploring both coastlines on Assateague Island. For Lake Michigan you are covered paddling in any type of conditions.  

I have paddled the Wood versions and the AST White and I favor the AST White because not only is it more pocketbook friendly; it is much lighter than the Wood. The Wood version is a bit better looking but the advantages of the lighter weight and lighter price tag for the AST White far outweigh the looks of the Wood. I did have to add a pad for the deck of the AST White because doing any kind of distance without one hurt the bottom of my feet.

This is the go-to board in my demo fleet and I highly recommend one to anyone looking to buy a new board or add a board to their quiver. This board could be a one-board quiver no problem. The Starboard Touring board is ready for anything. I am able to offer these Starboard Touring boards for sale. Contact me for details.

You can try this board for free on any Monday you would like to pitch in and help with Even Keel SUP FIT's trash pick up on Lake Michigan. Next Monday Even Keel SUP FIT will be in Oxford, Maryland looking to help maintain one of the beautiful coastlines on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The board will be on the east coast available for a demo if anyone is interested.

By the way, a milk crate makes for a great portable trash can!  Set one up on your on board today and help keep our waterways healthy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Spicy Cross Training Workout

What does jumping rope have to do with SUP? Hell if I know but jumping rope can't be bad for you...

Last week I had no desire to go running on yet another day that the lake was closed due to contamination. I still have not ridden a bike since Leon's Triathlon nor do I want to. Feeling the need to do cardio I was wandering around the house thinking of things to do when I saw my jump rope hidden behind some coats on the coat rack. BINGO, I thought. I don't have to go far, do too much and I will still get a good workout.

Wow, I underestimated the power of the jump rope...I did the following workout on Tuesday and my calves were the source of excruciating pain for three days. During the race on Lake Max I felt them tightening up, which made me realize how important calf strength is for balance. Want to know more about the need for calf strength check this article out:


The workout is based on some old training sessions I did under former welterweight champ Lonnie Smith as I was contemplating entering the Daily News Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament in New York City way back in 1993...whole other fun story there!

I tweaked the "in between rounds" exercises to try and hit the muscles that might make me paddle faster!

This workout is to be done in constant motion with no stops at all!

Round One: 3 minutes jump rope alternating between single toe taps and double toe taps
Rest Period: 1 minute of Dumbbell Shoulder presses (use weights that you can press with speed for one minute)

Round Two: 3 minutes jump rope
Rest Period: 1 minute of medicine ball push ups (place each hand flat on a medicine ball and prop your toes up on a solid surface so your feet are higher than your chin)

Round Three: 3 minutes jump rope doing as much high speed single toe taps as your body can take
Rest Period: 1 minute of tricep presses (hold a single dumbbell behind the head with both hands and press)

Round Four: 3 minutes jump rope, last minute at high speed
Rest Period: 1 minute Dumbbell all-arounders (dumbbells on the ground: grab and deadlift then clean and press then lower dumbbells to shoulder level and squat then overhead press and lower back to ground for one rep - wrists should point behind you for deadlifts then stay pointing straight out in front of you for all parts after the deadlift until the dumbbells are placed gently on the ground)

Round Five: 3 minute jump rope at as nice and consistent a pace that you can do
Rest Period: 1 minute Dumbbell curls alternating arms

Get some electrolytes after this one!

I did this workout last week and got crushed then did it yesterday and was able to add another round of jump rope (after drinking electrolytes upon completion of Rest Period 5) and added balance work on medicine balls doing woodchoppers with a 15lb kettleball. So after the 5 rounds I switched to:

Round Six: 3 minute jump rope
Rest Period: 1 stand on medicine balls and alternate sides doing wood choppers with kettleball (I stood on 6lb medicine balls and tried to lift 15lb kettleball from left ankle (using right hand) to over right shoulder 5 times in a row with out stepping off then would alternate sides from right ankle (using left hand) to over left shoulder - most times I would get only 2 before having to step off!)

------------------3 minute rest for more water---------------------

Round Seven: 3 minute medicine ball woodchoppers with kettleball
Rest Period: 1 minute jump rope

Round Eight: 3 minute medicine ball woodchoppers with kettleball
Rest Period: 1 minute jump rope

Nap Time after this workout!!

I hope you dig this one! I feel it really helps with strength and endurance and have felt and noticed some benefits in a very short amount of time. My goal is to get in 10 complete rounds of good work before August!

What's one of your training goals?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Compare and Adjust Accordingly or Become Like Stale Gross White Bread

How are your results from this year's races compared to last year or last month or last week?

Do you see faster times than last year? What were the conditions like?

Is your training bringing about what you hoped for? If not, what is the problem?

This season has been awfully frantic for me so I have not felt very confident in my training. The weather took FOREVER to break out of an icy spring and allow summer to take hold, therefore warming up the lake enough to lose the full wetsuit. As stated before I was not the toughest guy able to suck it up enough to paddle in the chilly weather. I opted for much more cross training than maybe I should have. I wondered how this would affect my paddling.

When I did finally get my new board off the Fed Ex truck and finally had access to the lake I decided not to train with a GPS. I was scared; too scared to find out that I spent too much money going narrower and realizing that staying on a 12-6 might not have been the best idea I've ever had in life. (I'll re-address that whole issue later!) My mom has always said to me, "just get out there and paddle." That is exactly what I decided to do.

Last Saturday was a 7 mile race at Lake Max. The MHL felt pretty good under my feet even with a lot of jet ski and wakeboard boat chop sending confused seas over the outer half of the race course. I did fall once and that was at the calmest part of the race course near the shore doing a sloppy buoy turn. Pretty much a chopper move it was but the rest of the race felt fine...not great, just fine. The late starting time really messed up my routine so I had no idea how well I performed if I performed well at all. Here, performance has nothing to do with the podium; it has everything to do with how I did on the MHL compared to how I did on the DEAN. The DEAN was a fun board to paddle. The shape was so stable that 100% stroke power felt amazing every time. I could adjust my body to put every muscle proper stroke technique demanded into action and barely wobble. On the MHL I have to think about every nuance involved in twisting, rotating, setting the blade, pulling the hips to the paddle shaft, transferring weight from side to side, stepping back bending the knees, maintaining a triangle while trying to turn the board, and a bunch of other stuff. On the DEAN it was GO GO GO, on the MHL it is more of a detailed process that requires me to be more engaged in what I am doing at every moment and more focused as well. This weekend I decided to compare some notes to evaluate how my training has progressed, if at all.

Lake Max was 7 miles; the Cold Stroke Classic was 7 miles. During recovery day on Sunday I compared the conditions of both races over and over in my head checking the RESULTS page online every 5 seconds to see what my time was. When I looked at my watch after Lake Max I figured the times were close and I was okay with that because the conditions at Lake Max were much choppier than the Cold Stroke Classic. When the Lake Max times were finally posted I was a happy man.
Cold Stroke Classic: 1:23:25 - Lake Max Challenge 1:19:04 (Both were advertised as 7 mile races but I am sure there are some factors and variables that keep the races from being exactly similar but there is probably enough to work with for some sort of accurate assessment.) {Lake Max was much choppier compared to the flat glass, even with various currents at times, of the Cold Stroke so I am not worried about any distance discrepancy. Also, same paddle for both, different boards though and one extra layer for Cold Stroke.}

What makes me very happy is the fact that I have stepped up my workouts in the last two weeks. I am paddling more but I am also adding several other routines to get stronger and leaner. There have been some great TRX workouts I have mixed with uphill sprints, medicine ball circuits, and a great jump rope circuit that is absolutely kicking my butt. Varying my routine seems to be paying off. Just paddling is NOT going to help me improve. Of course I need to paddle; I need to paddle a whole lot but to greatly improve I need to do more than just paddle. I don't want the 14s to disappear so far into the horizon. I don't want to be so far down on the results list at the big races when competing against the boys from sunnier climates that people never see my name because they get tired of turning the pages over. I have adjusted in order to improve. Now I just have to maintain the right balance so there is no over training and my body has time to recover and rebuild.

Twitter has been very handy in checking out what some other paddlers are doing. Slater Trout is very kind to tweet tidbits from his cross training sessions. The manchild gets after it pretty good doing hikes, beach sprints, stair runs, and Paddle Fit sessions and the dividends seem to be paying off according to some results I've seen.

Check yourself and compare notes from various races and see what you can maybe do to improve endurance and strength. At Lake Max I set my watch to interval times to try and see if I could keep a frenetic pace throughout and I failed. I could not keep up with the plan so I went to Plan B which was: "just paddle." It worked because my training is helping me improve I just need to stay consistent and adjust so I can, hopefully, continue to improve.

I will start posting some cross training workouts and results from races that follow for evaluation. Feel free to join in!!