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Going Full Speed Ahead: Jane McKee

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Jane McKee – living her dream in a new decade!

No one lives “age is just a number” better than waterwoman, Jane McKee. As I am wrapping up my 7th decade at 69, I look for inspiration and “go-for-it” from people like Jane who live by this truth, “Anything is possible if you believe in yourself.” (from a 2015 Elder SUP article). Now at age 60 Jane keeps doing what she loves – and keeps looking forward for more adventures and goals.

I asked Jane, “Did your motivation to do the 2018 Kaiwi Solo – Molokai OC1 World Championship originate from within yourself or from connection with a group, a club or friends/peer paddlers?”

Jane explains it like this, “My motivation for doing the Solo again came within myself, as all my races are.  I had a great race in 2010, coming in third place overall at age 52 and thought maybe I would leave it at that. But  I turned 60 this year and thought I would like to train for the race again as a celebration of my benchmark year.”

Finishing 8th out of 22 women starters was definitely a celebration!

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Fun with friends – and smiles all round

Before recapping her Kaiwi Solo experience, a full decade (or 4) older than the other women paddlers, know this: Jane is already planning her next adventure event, “I got into the M2O this year so have hung up the OC1 paddle for my Standup paddle. Really stoked to have made the start list. I’m doing a three person team with Jen Fuller and Kristin Thomas from California.”

I’d like to stay active on the water for another decade or two, so I asked, “What habits (eating training) and lifestyle contribute most to your “go get ’em” attitude at age 60?

Jane is specific, “I adopted a Keto diet last year and dropped about 25 pounds. I do ramp up the carbs before and during a long race, but then go right back to a high protein/fat regimen. I don’t drink alcohol, my guilty pleasure is a diet coke especially right after a race, I love the bubbles! I have a very simple lifestyle, up at 4:45am, at work at 7am, off at 3: 30 and either paddle or gym. I rest when I feel I need it, not according to a schedule. I find as an older athlete, you can still train hard but need more recovery time. Paddle smarter not harder. I am in bed by 8.”

I definitely find truth in her response about rest.

ES: What was your favorite moment of the race (or of preparing for it, a breakthrough or other)?

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Awards ceremony 

JM: I was understandably a little nervous about the conditions on race day. We thankfully had wind but it was very North and that made for a lot of work. After the race I posted on Facebook, “Did a Mack truck hit me? No, it was just the Channel of Bones reminding us that you never know what the Channel will dish up. Rain and variable winds gave way to a solid North wind that created a tough paddle with not much help in the way of surf. I was happy with my 8th place finish and I won my age group. Thank you to my coach, Guy Wilding, for keeping me focused in the rough moments. Congratulations to all the finishers and especially our mana wahine!”

ES: What abilities to read wind, waves, weather contributed to your successful crossing?jane-mckee-awards

JM: The solo this year was a tough one. The wind coming so much from the North resulted in a side chop/swell that made it difficult to surf much. The tide was sticky also. I always do my homework before a race so I knew what we were in for. I had to make the best of it. I think if I had taken a more northern course I would have had more of an opportunity to surf down later in the race. After talking to some other paddlers after the race, this seemed to be the strategy. I am fairly good at reading waves but this race didn’t offer up much opportunity for it.

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Way to rock! First place Women 60+

ES: What equipment did you use?

JM: I have an Ares Pro canoe and use a Makana Alii Paddle. I am thrilled with my Ares. I had great success in last year’s Olukai race when Kai Wa’a lent me one. I was in third place until I snagged a buoy rope the last 20 yards from the finish, which put me in fourth. The conditions that year were tough, we had to race twice around a rectangular course that was mostly side winds. The canoe performed amazingly in those adverse conditions. I know I can surf a canoe but its the off conditions that I need help with and the canoe was a rock star. I walked right up to Tom Bartlett after the race and said ‘I want one!’ I have used a Makana Alii paddle for 16 years and Les Look has always supported me. I love his paddles and appreciate his help all these years.

ES: What did you use for hydration/fuel during the event?

JM: I did a combination of just water and a Perpetuem mix. I have used Perpetuem for years and it works for me. Unfortunately when I packed I grabbed the wrong lid cover for my camel back so it was basically useless. I had my helper drop small bottles to me which was challenging to say the least. The first year I raced I used Power Bar pieces and Snickers bars as fuel. This year I used Gels and Snickers Bars later so I would have something solid. It worked fine.

ES: What was a roadblock or challenge during your prep for this event (or any other in your history) that was tough to overcome and how did you overcome?

JM: I really didn’t have any. My training program went well, I had a great race season, I was top three overall in every single race up until Molo Solo, so I was getting results.

ES: Any fun or funny story to share- in general – that you just want to share?

JM: I remember years ago paddling with some new girls in the six man in a race. We were getting water in the canoe after awhile When the steersman yelled ‘BAIL!” one of them jumped out. I love that story.

ES: A “word of advice” or mantra that resonates with you that might inspire others?

JM: I think it is really important that you paddle or do whatever sport you do, for the love of it. I cannot imagine not being on the ocean. It is my therapy, love, passion, lifestyle. Don’t let the pressure of racing take your joy away. I see a lot of young ‘sponsored” paddlers that put so much pressure on themselves that it becomes like a job to them. I have been paddling 26 years and I still get nervous before a race. Someone asked me once, after all these years why? I told them, because it means something to me. The day I stop getting excited before a race is the day I quit.

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Photo Credit: Jeff Chang

It is obvious that Jane is still very excited! Wishing her the best at M2O this year

We look forward to following Jane’s upcoming adventures on the ocean.

Downwind Training: The Flatwater Solution

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Sparks Lake with South Sister (Oregon)

I celebrated my 69th birthday with a day of training, contemplation, gratitude and so much beauty. The training was unusual, in a way, but some of the most valuable I have had for down wind conditions that could get gnarly. In August my Starboard Freeride 12’2″ X 30 and my KIALOA paddle will carry me the classic run from Viento to Hood River and I hope the wind is strong and the day is sunny! My first adventure in the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge was in 2013 and I was hooked. (story here) I want to be ready to enjoy every moment of the experience when I am back on the mighty Columbia.

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Early morning at Elk Lake

What follows in this article is an odd set of insights and lessons I gained from paddling 4 uniquely different Oregon alpine lakes in one day. It started out at 8 am at Elk Lake. By 10 am the wind cranks up in this volcano rimmed jewel, but it was mirror calm when I headed out to circumnavigate its 4 miles including every little bay, nook and cranny at 8 am.

In this flatwater goodness I observed two things that can improve my skills for down wind action.

  • Legs – every paddle stroke that had excellent body rotation and synchronization between the catch, pull and driving forward force of my legs gave terrific acceleration. Timing and technique
  • Eyes closed – All alone on this huge body of water I was brave enough to try 6 paddle strokes per side for 3 sets repeated dozens of times. Wow! Balance and feel for how I was moving over the water was an eye-opener (LOL, eyes were shut!) Charging down wind in wind and waves requires solid balance and feel for how the board and water interact. This was so much fun.

I grabbed a breakfast burrito then headed over to nearby Hosmer Lake for a sweet three mile exploration to gurgling waterfalls and crystal clear water. The wind had picked up some by the time I got there. On this, just the second time unloading my board from the car I did make a mental note to really use my body correctly in the awkward motion of high reach, lift and lower. After all, a 69 year old body does not respond well to injury from lifting.

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Early morning Hosmer Lake (Oregon)

The wind was hard in my face leaving the boat launch area but reading the water I saw the far shoreline was protected and calm. In my journey to get to the calm I learned something else, sound can really impact my cadence and speed.

Even though the wind was in my face, my distance tracker app told me later that I hit 6 mph while the effort was perceived as simply fun. The tick-tick-tick of choppy wind waves hitting my bow and tapping along under my board gave me energy. I paddled the 3/4 mile to the calm in what would have been a speed interval, if I had thought of it like that. Instead the sound of the water made the experience pure fun.

  • Adrenaline and a sense of play makes the effort easier. Maybe that is why the 8 mile Viento down wind run exhilarates so well

I meandered off to the right hand fork of Hosmer, climbed a volcanic rocky area to gaze on gurgling lava tubes feeding a flower-filled grotto. Heading back to the boat ramp the water grasses and lilies caught my attention, fish darting and beauty everywhere.

  • Insight – I am blissful on the water – how about you! Ocean girl at heart, all water has its compelling call.
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Devil’s Lake with snow in June – brrrr water

Loading up my board again I was off the 30 acre Devil’s Lake. I almost skipped it. There were 30 cars at the easiest launch area so I had to park where a steep bank tested my strength and balance carrying a 12’2″ board through the trees and scree. Once in the lake my feet nearly froze off from the snow-melt water. The lake is so shallow that I had to walk about 100 yards to depth enough to paddle.

  • Know you water and wear appropriate gear. My frozen feet situation was mild and quickly over, but it made me think about knowing local conditions. I had forgotten that Elk Lake was practically swim-able whereas small Devil’s Lake was icy. The day was sunny – but water has its own characteristics.

Getting out of Devil’s Lake, carrying the board about 1/4 mile to my car and loading it up again reminded me to protect back and shoulders, use legs to lift – and yes – do some weight training.

Next stop was Sparks Lake. It is about a 1 mile drive in to the launch area, on a rutted, deep holes, washboard, dusty, rocky road. Once there I saw it was packed in both the launch and the parking area. The only spot I could put my car was easily 1/2 mile away. I left my precious board alone among some trees by the launch and went to park the car and walk back. Would my board be there when I got back (yes).

sparks-2I love this lake and never tire of winding around the rocks, the deeps, the shallows and taking the same photo every time I go. Peeking through rough-carved lava and spotting South Sister and Mt Bachelor never gets old.

By this time with all the loading and unloading, more walking than I had planned on and 9 miles of paddling completed in 3 lakes in about 3 hours, I needed a strategy to make this last adventure fun.  My lower back was a little tweaky and my lats had had a good workout.

It was time to focus on engaging a body rotation and abs engagement during the paddling. Paying attention to keeping my shoulder relaxed- not hunched up toward my ears-  and shoulder blades “down on my back” Helped with getting a clean catch. Rotating with awareness and taking the blade out of the water soon enough took my attention away from fatigue.

  • Insight: When fatigue starts to set in we can focus on what part of our body is most tired and engage in a different way.
  • Something as simple as enjoying the feel of water lapping on bare toes can power us through a choppy, windy area.

Happy birthday to me! It is overwhelming to imagine that this time next year I will be 70. A new decade, and not getting any younger ever again. Except in my mind. Playful, youthful water fun is available. I commit to playing attention – and training as smart as possible. If you have any suggestions – send them my way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tampa – St Pete Gem: Urban Kai

urbankai2Nestled in a wonderful cluster of palms, mangroves and very cool waterfront dining at The Getaway Is a top-notch, full service, vacation-making SUP destination at Urban Kai. Whether you opt for Tampa or St. Petersburg locations for lessons, tours or yoga, a great experience and fun will be yours!

While the array of paddleboard options to rent or buy is excellent (with one of the best Starboard selections I have seen), the team at Urban Kai makes all the difference. You get a glimpse of the “aloha” culture alive and well on the west coast of Florida the moment you enter the front door. A hand painted sign gently reminds you to “remove your slippahs” before entering. Bare feet on wood floor – step into the retail area and join the Urban Kai ‘ohana. IMG_1577

When I was chatting with Ida, I happened to mention how cool it was that their neighbor restaurant, The Getaway, was using paper straws and compostible utensils. Ida shared,”We are very happy about that, too. We encouraged them to make the change from plastic and they switched over just a few weeks ago.”

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This is the only shark I hope to see in the Gulf while paddling/ Look at that shop!!!

That only added to my stoke – and reinforced the send of BLUE LIFE CONNECTIONS building in the SUP community.

If you plan to visit the Tampa/St Petersburg area, be sure to connect with Urban Kai. They will help you get involved in the popular, low-impact fitness phenomenon of stand up paddle boarding. Whether you’re interested in buying or renting a board, taking a SUP class, or joining them for a paddle boarding adventure, they’ve got the products and services you need for an exhilarating experience out on the water. Their friendly, experienced staff members are a fun bunch of folks dedicated to providing you with personalized service and expert product knowledge.

IMG_1572Contact them here.

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Save Our Ocean: Carolina Cup

The 13-mile Quiksilver Waterman Carolina Cup lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest races going, but this year it was hailed as even more fun than ever. A course reverse allowed for some calm flatwater and downwind bumps that added excitement.

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Zane Schweitzer book signing with NC Coastal Federation Board member, David Cignotti

A different sort of excitement was playing out at the North Carolina Coastal Federation. As the non profit and featured recipient for funds raised at the event, Catherine Snead, who has the role of development for the Federation, decided to get creative and connect with Zane Schweitzer for a unique collaboration. For each book, Beneath the Surface, sold at the Carolina Cup, $5 would go to the Federation. nccf-booky

Catherine arranged for a life sized poster of Zane to be at the booth so people could have a selfie “with Zane.” The most fun was when Zane spent time at the booth chatting with readers and doing what he does best – sharing stoke and the Zaniac way of doing things.

You can get your copy of Beneath the Surface directly from Zane or on AMAZON. (ebook or print version)

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Captain Liz Clark: Swell and Awakening

lc-1Last night (April 13, 2018) the Patagonia store in Bend, Oregon had another of many great events (shop local and talk story). It was kick-off night for the Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge at Mt Bachelor over the weekend. The BIG story was the stellar presentation by sailor, surfer, author – Liz Clark.

Listening to her stories about living life on a sailboat while traveling around the world (although there were many challenging and difficult times) gave me a flashback to the very first sailing adventure hubby Ed and I took – on our honeymoon in 1970.

Liz took on the Pacific Ocean and the world, then wrote her incredible book, SWELL.. We simply took on the amazing and unspoiled Abaco, Bahamas of the 70’s. On a chartered 25′ sloop we were adventurers – in our own minds- living off the land and sea, because we had no money to spare. It was all here in photos (and a journal) to re-live today after hearing Liz.

Liz was introduced by two of the team at Changing Tides Foundation. A powerhouse of talented and dedicated women, Changing Tides has many ways we can be “Better Together” when it comes for taking care of the Ocean. Through mentorship and outreach they are changing lives. My favorite was the become engaged with their mission starting immediately is the Plastic Swear Jar Challenge.

lc3Liz shared so many nuggets of genius and inspiration. Not the least, “Living from the heart makes everything possible.” Her message was not about herself or her incredible accomplishments. It was all about staying awake, being vulnerable and connected while living our own best life with purpose.

Yes, you can get her book and really dive in. (published by Patagonia Books)If you’re like me, her final words really hit home – “Take pride in what you do for Mother Earth – she needs you!”

 

Life Is Balance: Don’t Mind Falling In

On the back cover of the recent Spring Issue of Standup Journal there is a beautiful Starboard ad with the headline, “Life is Balance.” SUP Yoga is beautifully portrayed. I love that – but I am hungry to kick up my downwind game and hone my balance in a different way. Like Starboard and their Starboard Blue program, which balances their carbon footprint with offsets to improve the environment, standup paddling is more than what we do on the water. 

Retirement was on my mind – retirement from racing and maybe even from “work.” But I connected with Starboard “Dream Team” waterman, Zane Schweitzer a few years ago and things changed. Zane and I are neck deep in amazing projects and I love every minute. Working with Zane hit me with a huge dose of what he does best – Innovate and Inspire. zaniac arms up

During Zane’s BENEATH THE SURFACE book launch events here in Bend, OR I watched him eat his whole plant based diet, train hard with what was available and hit the snow and the water with equal enthusiasm and joy. I caught the “Zaniac” bug. Spring may be showing itself as winter here in Bend, but paddling on the rivers and lakes (when they thaw) is on my mind.

Also on my mind is a bold move – branching away from my awesome Astro Deluxe 12’6″ Touring board (at 31″ wide and stable) to the Inflatable Allstar 12’6″ X 27 with Airline Deluxe Technology – yup, just 27″ wide. I turn 69 in June – growing into the “elder” part of Elder SUP pretty quickly. Why would I move to a less stable board at this point?

starboard blueAs Zane says, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” I love to grow – and learn and practice. I know that “Life is balance,” in every meaning of the word. Balance is a characteristic skill of young athletes – and the young at heart. I am willing to learn, practice and grow.

Talk about “Life is balance,” here is a bit more about Starboard Blue and how they offset their carbon footprint. Did you know that for every Starboard Stand Up Paddle Surfing board sold, they plant a mangrove in the Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park?  Mangroves are “Miracle Trees” and are really efficient at removing massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere – 1 ton over 20 years to be exact making Starboard  “Carbon Net Positive.”

Want to learn more – visit star-board.blue

Watch this video for a comparison between inflatable and composite construction in the Allstar line. Inflatable is my construction of choice – easy to store and great to travel with.

Love Your Ocean – Treasure the Whales (and all the marine life)

judyIt is possible to standup paddle all the way from Maui to the Molokini “seems like a crater but isn’t” area off the coast, but the weather and your paddling buddy need to be spot on. So we were fortunate to get aboard the Pacific Whale Foundation’s boat, Voyager, for a snorkel trip with entertaining and so capable, Capt Doug Hunt. The day dawned sunny with barely a breeze. Whales were breaching and rolling, nursing their young and putting on a show all the way out. (Learn more here)

boatThe snorkeling was great in spite of hundreds of people in the water. Once eyes were aimed at the reef and the antics of the wide variety of tropicals it seemed like we had the area to ourselves. On board, we were served fresh fruit, breads, juices and coffee by highly experienced crew, all with degrees in some form of marine biology and environmental studies. They were personable and shared information in the most engaging manner. download

ornate-butterflyHuge mahalos to Emily, Karin, Mel, Liv, Jamie and Mariah!!! After our second dive at Turtle Arches (wow, even cooler diversity of tropical fish) we had the best cookout! Veg burgers, ballpark steaks (beef hotdogs) and grilled chicken – with sides … and there were cookies! Can’t get all that on a SUP!

The best part of the experience was the knowledge that more than 80% of our ticket price goes directly to the Pacific Whale Foundation, everything we purchased in the store and our membership dollars all support dedicated people serving the source of “every second breath we take” – the Ocean.

If you love watching the whales of Maui at play – or wish you had…. go ahead and learn more about the Pacific Whale Foundation>