More Winter Surfing with a Surprise

 

Lovely color, isn't it?

Lovely color, isn’t it?

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On Sunday 5 Jan and 6 Jan, the waves were cranking again, but I had a bit of an accident on Monday morning. Head on over to Ponceunderground to read the narrative.

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Alafia River State Park / 3 Dec. 2014

For my first ride of the year, I headed southwest to Alafia River State Park to finally check out what many consider some of the best riding in Central Florida and/or the state, and it was definitely a fun day out. One of my riding compatriots, Christian, was headin’ to the Tampa area with his family, dog included I might add, to visit his sister’s family. On the way he was meeting up with his brother-in-law, Steven, for a ride at Alafia. I was planning a ride somewhere outside my normal routine and jumped on the idea and followed them out.

Click the image for a larger view. We rode just about the whole system. Rollercoaster to Moonscape was the funnest and most challenging section. It would be a good combo to do repeats. Easy to access the car for supplies.

Click the image for a larger view. We rode just about the whole system. Rollercoaster to Moonscape was the funnest and most challenging section. It would be a good combo to do repeats. Easy to access the car for supplies.

We pretty much rode the whole park, aside from the connector trails over to the campground. Though it was quite cold, especially for an afternoon ride, the conditions were really good. The trails were packed and dry, but I did hit a few sticky places. After a short break, we rode several trails a second time. I’m not in my best shape right now, and the constant sharp but short elevation changes were definitely burning up my legs. And, of course, since it was a group ride, the pace was being pushed just about the whole time. By our second run through Rollercoaster and Moonscape, I was tapped and finished in the spin zone.

Left to Right: Eric, Christian, and Steven.

Left to Right: Eric, Christian, and Steven.

Left to Right: Christian, Steven and Mr. "F"-the-injury. Post ride "Cheers!.

Left to Right: Christian, Steven and Mr. “F”-the-injury. Post ride “Cheers!. Photo: Thanks Eric.

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My impressions of the trail are all positive, except one particular thing: the drive sucks. It really isn’t that long in mileage, but I have to pass through Orlando both ways, which just plain sucks ass. On the way over, it wasn’t too bad. There was some clustering, but we didn’t have to stop on the Interstate (did I mention this is on I-4). On the way back, I got punished and will definitely plan my timing better next time I head to Alafia. It took more than three hours to get home (it should have taken a bit over two). Even with the traffic issues, the park is definitely worth the time, and next time, I’ll have to make my way to Boyette State Park, which is right nearby and supposed to have some great riding as well. I think the combination and more time on trail will justify the drive. 

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It Ain’t in the Woods

I have something to admit: Surfing is not in the “woods of Florida” and it is not “swim, bike, run,” but it is certainly open water and immersed in the elements. But…

Does it count?

Hell yeah! It counts and counts big time.

On Sunday, 29 December, the waves really came together. See my Surf Report / Reflection at Ponceunderground. It was just one of those days when all the factors come together, when I feel an elevated state holistically, and true focus arrives as if invited.

Here is why it counts:

I surfed for over 2.5 hours; took a break and hauled ass to the store for calories (two bananas, a cliff bar and a bag of mixed nuts); and then surfed for over 3 hours. The math is simple.

Cheers!

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Happy Hollowdaze

In many ways, I want to be writing up a “week of” report or a race report or a post about some long epic outing I went on, but I’m still not truly able to train. This injury is still nagging and niggling. But that does not mean I’m sitting on the couch, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I can’t have some fun. Even with the injury, I’ve still been swimming (no legs) I’ve still been riding (not real hard, not real long), and now I can say, I been surfing (no caveat here). Surfing is, has always been, and will always be my main athletic interest. Yes. I love all that is off-road triathlon. Just being in the woods, especially this time of year, is often enough for me. My family and I have had some wonderful walks lately. But surfing is surfing, and once the hook is set, the barb is almost impossible to get out. It snags the core of the human spirit, and no matter how long away, the ocean beckons, the waves moan, and the gravitational pull finds its way into my soul; one and only one thing can satisfy such energy. Anyway, I’ll get on with it. Starting the Friday before Christmas, we had a nice four-day run of waves, and I spent over ten hours soaking up some salt and sunshine.

For a more-detailed narrative, check out my post on my surf blog, Ponceunderground:

Damn – Did It Feel Great to Get Some Waves

I’ve had the blog for quite some time now, and many of the posts are short vids I’ve made over the years. Enjoy and Cheers!

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Paisley Loop

A bit over a month ago, my wife and kids were out of town, and since I’m still injured, I’ve been trying to figure out things I can do to keep somewhat fit. I decided that I would take a cruisy, long walk in the woods, and I wanted to go somewhere I’d never been. I conducted the normal web search for trails in the surrounding area and decided Ocala was going to work best. The drive is less than an hour to several trailheads, and I could create a walk of many different distances. My choice was a ten-mile loop on the Clearwater Lake bike trail. It is the southern portion of the Paisley bike loop, which connects to another ten-mile portion accessed from Alexander Springs. At both parks, there are campgrounds and recreation areas, but you don’t have to go into the parks. At Clearwater, there is a separate parking area for the bike loop and an access point to the Florida National Scenic Trial, and you can park on the side of the road at Alexander Springs. The Florida Trail Association keeps the many sections of the hiking (mainly walking) trail in great shape, and they have a great interactive map explorer.

Anyway, back to my hike. It was a wonderful leisure walk in the woods. The only people I saw were those in the parking lot as I set off. The conditions were great, and I ended up walking the entire ten-mile loop. The trail is not necessarily easy, but it doesn’t present any obstacles or tough terrain. The only thing that makes it remotely a hike is the stretches of soft sand and the sandspurs and other debris that kept getting caught in my socks and shoelaces.

Here is a map:

Alexander Loop of Paisley

The map can be a bit misleading, so you have to pay attention to the directional marker in the top left corner. Clearwater is the southern section, and you can see where the Florida Scenic Trail is not a loop and takes a different route. For my walk, I started at the trailhead and followed the loop counterclockwise. I stopped where it connects with the northern portion for a snack and then finished the second half. There is a good trail marker at the junction, so it is easy to navigate. The whole loop is about twenty miles. For the southern portion, I consider it a mellow half day; I think it took me in the neighborhood of three hours, but I didn’t time it. Unfortunately, all the time on my feet and the uneven terrain wreaked some havoc on my hips. I was sore for several days.

A couple weeks later, we camped at Alexander Springs, and I rode the northern portion on my, now-old 26er hard tail. Riding this bike makes me truly appreciate my 29er full suspension. You can see the arrows I drew on the map. Again (not sure why) I chose the counter clockwise direction, and I’m glad I did. You will see an X on the map – just after I passed the junction. This is not an accurate mark at all, but it is about where I think I hit a long slopey downhill that was in some fairly deep sugar sand. It was the only really soft section, and I bet for those who choose clockwise, it is a time on the trail when the cursing and/or complaining begins.

The ride did not take all that long, but I was really taking my time and enjoying the beautiful day. I was, again, solo, but this time, I was certainly not alone. Standard firearm deer hunting season opened this particularly weekend, and the hunters and dogs were thick. Luckily, I remembered to bring my bright orange t-shirt, so they couldn’t bitch about my use of the trail. Though they can’t hunt on or from the trails, this system crosses over tons of backwood roads that hunters and others use to access the forest, and they certainly can’t keep their dogs off the trails. About two-thirds through the loop, I did see a small doe; she was running scared (I assume from the barking), but she stayed somewhat calm – stopping, perking her ears, and then changing direction. She crossed my path twice before springing off into some deeper scrub – hopefully to a safe hiding place, though I’m not sure she was big enough to take.

My thoughts on the Paisley loop are mixed. Though designated a mountain bike trail, the conditions seem more conducive to walking than riding. Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure I will ride the whole loop at some point, but for most mountain bikers I know, they would get bored with the lack of change in the terrain. It is mostly an in-the-saddle kind of trail. What I think I will do is return during rainy season and when it is not sandspur season. Though I didn’t flat, I think it’s likely out there when the spurs are dropping, which is in the fall / winter, depending on how long it takes them to break down.

Posted in 2013, Hiking, Mountain biking, Ride Report, Trail Report, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Movember Resistance Training

I am one of those guys who just doesn’t grow much facial hair, even if I try. But for this year’s Movember, I thought I would see what I could farm on my upper lip and chin – the other areas are completely barren, aside from an occasional errant weed group that crops up randomly.

Not a prize winner, but could it give me an edge in 2014?

Not a prize winner, but could it give me an edge in 2014?

As you can see, my fur farming produced a bit of scraggle – nothing that could remotely be called a beard.  But when I hit the pool on Wednesday of this past week, there was a remarkable amount of drag, so, even if I don’t win the Movember prize, at least I got in some bonus resistance training.

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Polarization vs. Common Ground in Health and Wellness

As I train and race each season, I am constantly learning new techniques for speed, endurance, strength, supplements, and nutrition, among others, and right now, there are so many options for learning. Athletes have personal trainers, coaches, nutritional consultants, doctors, physio therapists, chiropractors, and the list goes on and on. We are just flooded with advice that varies so much it is hard to tell who to listen to, and now, the Internet provides a giant megaphone for anyone to deliver their version of what works via social media, blogs, video, websites, and, my current go to for discussion, the podcast. And I admit, I love listening to podcasts, as I’m sure many of us do.

I was planning to list a bunch of my regular go to podcasts, but on reconsideration, many of them are already mentioned in my posts, and anyone who has experience with the current trends and conversation does not need a list. With such an open platform, many of the discussions in the health and wellness world have turned a bit sour. Instead of progressive ideas and discussion, some of the rhetoric has turned quite mean-spirited and vitriolic. Don’t get me wrong. This is not always the case, and I teach Composition and Rhetoric at the college-level, so I know how to analyze and filter out those who genuinely want to help people and those who just want to help themselves or draw attention to their sad little worlds. Unfortunately, the world of endurance athletics has not been spared from such childish behavior, but even with such caustic polarization pushing people into their various and often divisive camps – paleo, vegan, plant-based, fruitarian, sprint, endurance, crossfit, volume, Maff, zone 2, tempo, and on and on and on – I have found one thing that tends to hold most of these camps together. There is something we can agree on and can help all of us along the way to being healthier, being able to train and race harder and longer, and to recover faster, and here is my version:

Here is my 40th birthday present from my mom. This Vitamix rocks, but my old cheaper blender did the job for years.

My 40th birthday present from my mom. This Vitamix rocks, but my old cheaper blender did the job for years.

Of course, what brand and what ingredients we put into the blender will divide us back into our camps (see above list of diets), but, for the most part, this is an essential tool that can delivery the goods. In tons of different athletic categories, there is no denying that we burn some serious calories when the weight, speed and volume push us to our limits, and it is hard to argue against having a smoothie. When I’m training, I’m burning through some serious calories and nutrients, and the calorie and nutrient density of the smoothie is just an extremely efficient delivery method, and, if you know what you are doing, quite tasty too.

OMBA Fat Tire Fest 2013

OMBA Fat Tire Fest 2013 Souvenir

Santos Blue Trails

Santos Blue Trails

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    Cheers!

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Man Meets Bath

I have a confession. I do not enjoy taking a bath. Not in the slightest. I think it is rather disgusting to lie and soak in a hot brew of my own filth. When I do take a bath, it is usually followed by a shower to clean myself, which I find rather ridiculous. Why take a bath and then need a shower? But…

Pushing through the torture. Photo: Jennifer Newell

Pushing through the torture. Photo: Jennifer Newell

I have another confession. Taking a bath rules. I have no idea why I have such distaste for something so therapeutic. Change I must. I have taken strides to realize that my block is not helping me heal and recover. The tub can be a wonderful delivery system for all kinds of healing. Now, I swallow whatever masculine behavior or cultural conditioning brought upon me and just give in; I draw a nice hot tub and add magnesium, arnica and Dr. Bronner’s tea tree hemp soap. I put headphones in my ears and either groove out to some music and/or listen to a podcast. I’m not sure how often I can tolerate such a protocol, but I can’t hide, and I can’t deny that it really helps.g

Let go. Sacrifice. Soak. Tune out. Relax. Rejoice.

Posted in injury, Mountain biking, recovery, Rehab, training, Uncategorized, XTERRA | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Tip for Myofascial Release

For a funny way to get tools for self-myofascial release, all you have to do is head to your local pet store. There will be a wide variety of dog toys in various densities and sizes. Many of them work just as well as the niche products in the fitness marketplace, which, to me, are often way overpriced. Ben Greenfield and the folks at Mobility Wod have some great ideas as well that don’t cost much, and there’s a great overview on theory and techniques in the article Hurts So Good: A Beginner’s Guide Self-Myofascial/Trigger Point Release at The Art of Manliness.

I stopped by a pet store last week to get a new dog tag, and I came home with a new toy myself. My Irish Setter, Lily, is not happy that it is mine.

Yes. I am an athlete, and I play with dog toys.

Yes. I am an athlete, and I play with dog toys.

For expediting recovery and healing, I use a foam roller for larger muscle groups, golf balls for my feet, and this oversize tennis ball works well on my glutes and piriformis. These areas are super tight and knotted up; by digging into these spots, it has not only helped the areas directly but also helps relieve tension in my hips and all the way down my IT band. Lately, I’ve been using this ball while driving; I sit on it and alternate sides. It is a good way to use my 30 minute commute to and from work. My next purchase will be a few lacrosse balls; I’m going to keep one as is and tape two others together. I found this tip at Mobility Wod. It should help dig into my shins.

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Qualification for XTERRA Nationals

With my result at Whitewater, I ended up qualifying for the XTERRA National Championship.

Here is what they sent via email:

“Congratulations!

Your outstanding performance in this year’s XTERRA America Tour has qualified you to compete at the prestigious XTERRA USA Championship to be held at Snowbasin Resort, Utah on September 21, 2013.

As the grand finale of more than seventy events held across the country, XTERRA’s USA Champs is a chance to compete against top-performing athletes from each of XTERRA’s seven regions across the country, and earn the title of “XTERRA National Champion”.  There are slots to the 2013 XTERRA World Championship available as well.

The colors of Autumn are everywhere on the scenic Snowbasin course which combines a 1.5-kilometer swim at Pineview Reservoir, 28-kilometers of mountain biking, and a 10-kilometer trail run.  It’s all filmed for a one-hour television show and the fun continues after the race at the annual Harvest Moon Festival on Ogden’s Historic 25th Street.”

Though I never planed to head out to Utah, it was nice to see I could have raced. What sucks is even if I wanted to go, the injuries from training and racing this year would prevent me from racing. I doubt I will be back until next year. I had a couple other off-road races planned, but it is not looking good for those anymore either.

I’m now looking to next year and hoping that will be enough time…

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