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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

SUP Balance: Body, Mind, Spirit and Ocean

tg3As my Oregon seasons change and it is finally the full on season for paddling lakes, rivers – and the west coast ocean – I am ready to work my way into my best fitness and performance. I’m paddling fast towards my 68th birthday on June 2 and am seeking a good balance of nutrition/wellness. A few Facebook posts in which I inquired, “what works for you” delivered the most passionate and informational replies, more than anything I have ever posted before. (Thank you ALL)

Until I read the book SUPERLIFE (Thanks from the bottom of my heart to Karen Wrenn), I thought the “best me” would be a thinner, leaner me. So I had sworn off beer (Yes, I live in beer-town Bend, Oregon), then I did Weight Watchers (points vs activity), dabbled in Paleo, learned the “SUPERFOODS -Top 14 Foods That Will Change Your Life.” ( an eye-opening book by Steven Pratt and Kathy Matthews). I even worked hard on following an “acid-reflux” diet when some disturbing symptoms made me worry. That led to Alejandro Junger’s CLEAN GUT and Dr. William Davis’s WHEAT BELLY.

Who knew that my biggest “crave food,” pizza, was made best with high-gluten flour. I already knew that flour products wreck havoc with my joints where arthritis (yup, inflammation) has set up a home. When I avoid all flour products I have less ache-y and swelling and more energy. That has been a fairly easy habit to maintain for the past 5 years.

Back to SUPERLIFE. Who knew that a very real, solid and do-able strategy was a simple as an alkaline body, something above a PH of 7.0. Uh Oh! Just when chemistry seemed like a long-ago thing you had to study. Of all the “diets” and eating plans/rationales I studied, SUPERLIFE made the most sense. Author, Darin Olien, is fully immersed in the work he does – and we can all benefit. Their MISSION:  We provide resources for people to make the simple lifestyle changes needed to live a healthy SuperLife. vegsuper

Balance is something we standup paddlers know alot about. And SUPERLIFE is about a balance of 5 “Life Forces.” These are: nutrition, hydration, oxygenation, alkalization and detoxification. In the most balanced and logical manner Darien took me on a fascinating journey during both the first, and second, reads of his book.

vegAnd so, finally, I discovered the rationale behind something that might seem too simple. Darin explains the five simple fixes that will make you healthy fit and (yes, this) eternally awesome. After my reading, I listed suggested foods that would add to my alkalinity – actually wrote down the ones I could eat regularly, easily.

I then made a list of things that added acidity – just to keep me focused on avoiding them. No, you don’t need to NEVER have those (sugary things, caffeine, alcohol), but you need to be aware that they create an environment in your home. Yes, in your home that is your physical body, that is more acidic. There is not enough room for me to explain the entire philosophy here.

But know this: I have taken the time to read and understand what are the “five life forces” and why they matter. What a big surprise! Hydration is right up there with nutrition, followed by the gift of a cardio workout – oxygenation.  Then along came the “life force” I never even considered: ALKALIZATION. What?

That was the biggest eye opener – and on a very strict eating and workout plan that generated the most alkaline me I discovered an energy and wellness level that I hadn’t felt in a long, long time. By the time I got to the fifth life force, detoxification, I was on the band wagon.

There are so many ways to feed your water athlete self.  If you really want to make a difference (at any age), take a close read of SUPERLIFE.  I would love your comments and the discoveries in wellness that you have made.

I am only this young (what? 67.8 years) once. I am dedicated to making the best of it.

 

 

Power of Presence: SUP and Meditation

As more and more attention is given to the practice of meditation, we come to realize where the magic begins. The power within meditation begins with breath awareness. Have you had that moment in a yoga class when you follow a breath all the way to an open heart – and that still moment at the top – then followed the exhale with full awareness? That’s just one opportunity for the power of presence.

SUP Meditation: Presence on the water

Traditional meditation practiced while seated provides a rich opportunity to calm our mind-body and bring a new mindful presence and balance to life.  For those of us who find a sense of meditative calm while on the water, a unique practice called “Power of Presence SUP” or P2SUP can allow us to meditate while enjoying our favorite pasttime. cropped-p2sup_logo_v2_vert_250-300x300

It’s easy to head out for a paddle and become scatter-brained and defocused. Thoughts of work/relationship/life problems, busy-ness and plans chatter through our mind. With P2SUP guided meditations, anyone can enjoy a mindful and present meditation practice while standup paddling – from the very first session. (Learn more here)

Have you ever started out on a paddle ready for calm and realize you’ve got a monkey-mind along for the ride? The monkey mind bounces around from one thing to another. It is as if we are on an out of control horse, heading to the nearest cliff.  Our senses and emotions become reactive, not reflective.

 

Breathing Meditation: Enjoy a P2SUP experience (give us 15 minutes)

pc201522The goal of meditation is to diminish the self into focus and mindfulness so we can be free, compassionate (with ourselves and others) and discover stress-free calm.

 

SUP has a great effect to calm the mind. Even while paddling our ability to pay attention is sometimes degraded by the fast pace of our modern world. Before a training paddle, or one that is simply being out on the water, taking time to pay attention and practice a p2SUP meditation is the key to this end. Our sport provides us with many opportunities to meditate. p2SUP can be your guide as you develop your own practice over time.

Explore More:

We invite you to Live Presence and Share Presence.

Introduction to P2SUP

The Basics of P2SUP

How Do I Begin?

Why Walk On Water?

7 Reasons to P2SUP

The Birth of P2SUP

Explore, “All SUP is Yoga.

Power Paddler: Roxane Robinson

Many of you have read my posts about the value of coaching, clinics and on-going training for technique and fitness. mental attitude is another aspect of training that is invaluable. (Click TRAINING in Categories) Over the years I have been fortunate to become acquainted with the dedication and expertise – and a huge dose of fun – that KIALOA ‘Elele Evelyn O’Doherty brings to her clients.roxane

You’ll enjoy this story of training and transformation by her client, Roxane Robinson who tackeld the daunting Chattajack this year. In Roxane’s words, “I’ve known Evelyn O’Doherty (Mind Body Excursions) for about 5 years or so.  We both began paddling about the same time, but she came to the sport after surfing.  I’ve never surfed. I paddle with Evelyn, and will be working up a plan with her for my upcoming race season (2016). She is one of the most amazing women in my world.  A great coach, amazing motivator, and she has this incredible ability to make sure you know how great you can be and are.”

We asked Roxane, “What was your favorite part of the training?”

rr-2Roxane was quick to reply, “Well, I loved the comraderie of the women that I train with.  They have become my friends.   We all seem to have this same obsession.  I really enjoy pushing myself to be better and get stronger at a sport that I truly love.”

Elder SUP: What was the biggest change you saw in yourself from the beginning to just before Chattajack?

Roxane explained, “The biggest change was being nervous about the undertaking of such a race (the distance).  There were two time cutoffs, the first 10 miles had to be done in 2 hours and 30 minutes and race had to be completed in 8 hours and 30 minutes.  I wasn’t worried about race cutoff, just the first 10 miles.  I had never paddled that distance in ven close to that time.  Only closer to 3 hours.  But there was the hope that the dam had been opened and we would have a helping current.  In reality, the dam was not opened and there was really no current.  I paddled the first 10 miles in 2 hours.  Yea!!!  After that, I was fine.

But, the Tuesday before Chattajack, while everyone else was nervous, panicky, and freaking out, I had this sense of calm lay over me like a blanket.  Comforting.  Warm.  Calm.  I was serene.  Not nervous anymore.  Not worried about the 10 miles.  Knowing, that I was strong, and there was nothing I could do that would change how I did in the race.  I was going to be fine.rr-1

My feeling before the start of the event was that I was ready.  I was going to paddle 31 (32.48) miles down the Tennessee Valley Gorge.  I was going to paddle my own race.  Look at the scenery.  Breathe it in.  Have fun.  And finish.  I was ready.”

That is all powerful stuff from Roxane. She also shared a bit of back-story.

“I had my 59th birthday  14 days after this race.  I have been paddling for about 6 years.  I am afraid of open water.  I don’t surf.  (But I did swim competitively for about 8 years.)  I was bored.  So deathly  bored.  I saw an article in the local paper about paddling geared toward women.  I made the call, had a private lesson, fell in (ick), paddled again the next day, fell in, and started dreaming about owning my own board.  It consumed me.  One of my best friends is 65.  She races and has been paddling about the same length of time as I have.  Then I met a woman in Tennessee that was doing the Chattajack 31.  She started paddling in June, no lessons, no knowledge, just thought it looked like fun so she gave it a try.  She did great in the race.  She was 65.”

We absolutely agree with Roxane on this next comment, “Age is only a number in your head.  I’m proud of my age and that I’m trying new things.  A few years ago I got a tattoo on my wrist.  ‘Be Fearless.’ My son said to me recently, I love that you’re not afraid to be bad. I asked him for a little clarification on this statement.  He said that you aren’t afraid to put yourself out there and try something new.  And you might be bad at it, but you don’t care because you’re having fun.  And he’s right.  I love to have fun.

I have finished last in more than one race.  Dead last.  And those races are some that I am most proud of.  Because  quitting is easy.  Finishing is AWESOME!!!”

We celebrate SUP athletes like Roxane. When you think you don’t have the skills – you can get them. Roxane is a busy career woman, wife and mother. She had many duties over 2015, caring for her husband with serious health issues – and we all know how draining such a responsibility can be.  We can all say, “too busy,” or we can find the support, training and way to paddle toward our passion. Way to go Roxane and Evelyn.

And Roxane continues to compete – her last race was Hamptons Paddle for the Pink! There were brutal conditions out on the bay but Roxane placed 2nd in the women’s 14′ 6 mile race. It’s YOUR life – go for it.

Pacific Paddle Games 2015: Talk Story with Cyril Burguiere

 KIALOA ‘Elele Cyril Burguiere has a passion for paddling. He’s definitely not limited to rivers and oceans in his pursuit of high end training and speed – this busy guy trains whenever and wherever the path leads.
And then there is the day job.  It’s not easy for anyone to get in shape for the dmands of an ocean SUP event. Cyril shares that he came to the 2015 inaugaral Pacific Paddle Games exhausted from a grueling work week. In his words, “I had been to Toronto Mon-Wed with many customers and late nights getting proposals completed. Then work continued late Thursday and a little into the weekend. I actually brought my laptop to the beach. Not the first time – my Payette Games experience was the same (2014). Week prior was travelling too. When I am on the road I use the Exer-Genie exercise tool in my hotel room to keep my pulling muscles working on business trips

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FAQ Equipment

We often get questions about what equipment is needed for Power of Presence SUP (P2SUP). Once you download a collection of our guided meditations for paddling you are just about ready to go.

While people are used to looking for a very stable – wide and with high volume – boards for SUP Yoga, any board will be fine for p2SUP. Since you will simply be paddling while listenbing to the recorded meditations for your mindful and present experience, no solid base for balance poses will be needed.

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We love Sweet Waterwear and our KIALOA paddles and boards

We use the KIALOA Aloha (board and paddle package) so that we can demo a high value / low expenditure option. No one has been disappointed! Ideal for beginners and sharing with family and friends, the Aloha is a perfect way to get started with the sport of stand up paddling. The 31” wide board provides great stability and makes for easy paddling. The soft top is impact resistant and provides a safe and comfortable way to enjoy the sport. An offset handle makes it easy to transport to and from the water. The four point tie down system is perfect for caring your water bottle or flip flops. Includes 10’ leash for safety and a 10” fin for good tracking. The tail bumper adds durability and is ideal for vertical storage. The package includes the family friendly Aloha Adjustable paddle.

If storage is an issue – or if you would love to check a bag (that includes your SUP board) we also use the KIALOA Napali inflatable. We can’t count the number of times people have come back from a backpack trip (with their KIALOA Napali board and an MP3 loaded with P2SUP meditations) all stoked and excited by the experience. cynswwwater1

Whatever your needs, make your decision about what board will be best, grab your paddle and MP3 player (or waterproof case protected phone) and get out on the water. You will love the experience.

You might wonder about our super-cool model. She is Cynthia LaRoche, the soul and spirit behind the meditations you will enjoy at P2SUP. If you want to learn more about all she can offer in the realm of superb yoga instruction and experience, check out Cynthia LaRoche Yoga.

We like to wear performance paddling attire that feels amazing on the skin, moves as we move, dries quickly and looks great. Our “go-to” gear comes from Sweet Waterwear. Some of the stellar characteristics are:

  • PERFECT for cooler weather paddling or just to cover up.  
  • UPF 50+ Outstanding rating in UVA & UVB sun protection
  • Silky Soft Comfort– Our special tricot knit is soft & satin smooth, no chafing
  • 4-Way Stretch – Premium Nylon/Spandex blend stretches to move with you
  • Breathes – Cool touch Tricot knit breathes to keep you cooler & not overheat
  • Quick Dry – Thin performance fabric holds less water & Dries Fast
  • Mesh Underarm Panels – Cool your core
  • No Underarm Seams – Eliminates underarm chafing
  • Relaxed Loose Fem Crew Neck – for comfort & easy on / off
  • Fab & Fun Colorways
  • Raglan Seams
  • Flatlock Stitching
  • Customizable – Blank front for your club, team or store name &/or Logo
  • Multisport / Cross Training – extra versatility, great for any sports activity
  • “Made in the USA”