Channeling My Inner Karen Wrenn

The countdown to many of our spring and summer races and down-winders is moving from triple digits to double digits. Can you believe it is just 67 days until the Olukai Ho’olaule’a? The Carolina Cup is just around the corner and across the globe there seems to be an event every weekend from March through the summer. It’s time to step up the training!

Today in Central Oregon dawned sunny with 7 am temps approaching 40 degrees – rare and special after seemingly weeks of fog and cold, wet weather. As the temperature rises, so does the wind speed – bummer! Before I head down to grab my 5 ml surf booties, farmer john wetsuit (oh, please do not let me fall in), wool baselayer and a warm hat I need a dose of pure inspiration.

There’s probably nothing better than a pep talk from three Pacific Northwest paddlers who brave the elements in any condition most days of the week: Karen Wrenn, Cyril Burguiere and Beau Whitehead. Fortunately, KIALOA Paddles created a short and powerful film featuring these bold paddlers.

If you’re having trouble getting out on the water when conditions are less than ideal – super charge your motivation with this video.

 

SUP Professionals: Amazing Leaders

For Immediate Release

September 7, 2013

SUP water athletes are pioneers in a young sport that’s growing exponentially each year. Almost anyone of any ability level or age can find success and SUP adventure on almost any body of water.  Over the past decade standup paddling, surfing, exploring and racing has grown from unknown to a sport followed by millions. Leading the culture, training, story and growth of the sport are a handful of elite athletes.  Some of these men and women have been nominated for the 2013 SUP Awards. The categories you can vote for between now and September 11 are:  Top 3 Male Paddlers, Top 3 Female Paddlers, Movie of the Year, Top Philanthropic Effort and Top Expedition.

Connor Baxter #1 SUP Male Athlete 2012

Connor Baxter #1 SUP Male Athlete 2012

Candice Appleby #1 Female SUP Athlete 2012

Candice Appleby #1 Female SUP Athlete 2012

Take a look at the nominees and explore the bio of each – SUP is fortunate to have a field of leaders this deep and diverse.  Examples of leadership include addressing issues around racing, professional compensation and equality in the sport. Take a look at the discussion and insights from one group of female athletes that took place during the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge in Hood River, OR.

Over the years Elder SUP has showcased a number of the nominated athletes.  After you check out the field at SUPthemag.com you may want to learn more by checking out the articles.

Connor Baxter and his inspiring slogan, “Always have fun and never give up.” Connor Baxter was awarded #1 Male SUP Athlete in 2012 (video here)
Candice Appleby – Candice Appleby was awarded #1 Female SUP Athlete in 2012 (video here)

Karen Wrenn
Suzie Cooney
Chuck Patterson
Jenn J. Lee

The list is above is just the tip of the iceberg – do yourself a favor and read the online bios of the athletes leading our sport. Then take the time to let your voice be part of the decision.

SPONSORS of the 2013 SUP Awards

SUP: 53 Degrees in the Summer

This KIALOA Paddles ad with Karen Wrenn inspired my that 56 degree morning in July

This KIALOA Paddles ad with Karen Wrenn inspired my that 56 degree morning in July

Flip through any of the many (thank goodness) SUP, paddling and surfing magazines and you’ll be dazzled by photos of surf, sun, bikinis, waves and warm water.  One ad catches me every time because it’s the polar (sometimes literally) opposite. It’s KIALOA Paddle’s ad showing Karen Wrenn psyching herself up for a training paddle in cold, wet, blustery weather that is so common in the Pacific Northwest. Do you know that kind of weather?

In preparation for the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge in a few short weeks, my plan is to add to my weekly mileage. Between work and other obligations, early morning is the best time to grab the hours needed to bag 5-8 miles up and down current in the Deschutes River. Ahhh, summer. 85-95 degree days have warmed both water and air making paddling a pure joy. Except for last Wednesday.

I was fooled by the blue sky and sunshine as I loaded my board. For some reason a northerly wind had funneled in along with lower temperatures. I got to the river still warm and cozy in my car. The first alarm bell rang when i saw the flags rippling straight out as the wind blew in the face in the UPSTREAM direction. That is never good. I stepped out of the car to unload my board and stepped into – COLD! Seriously?

Getting tuned up and ready for my first Gorge Paddle Challenge course race - inspired by KIALOA 'Eleles Karen Wrenn and Brit Oliphant

Getting tuned up and ready for my first Gorge Paddle Challenge course race – inspired by KIALOA ‘Eleles Karen Wrenn and Brit Oliphant

I had neglected to do a temperature check back at the house. What was it? I turned on my car only to discover the outside temperature reading was 53! How did I miss that? Now, it’s true that in the winter, a sunny 53 degree day no matter what the wind chill is will seem like a “warm” day.  In the winter we are prepared for chill – booties, fleece and the right mind-set.

WE bundle up for cold paddles in the winter!

WE bundle up for cold paddles in the winter!

On the late July day, back in the car I sat huddled. I wanted warm, tropical breezy warm! It was time to channel my “inner Karen Wrenn” – please!  I managed to talk myself into getting onto the river and completing the planned distance.

Weirdly, after the first mile (brrrrr) I got sweaty, steady and in synch with wind, water, paddle technique and the beautiful morning.

Today, a mere 5 days after that challenging mental discipline of chilly last week I set off to 6 am yoga (wonderful) and went straight to the river for another 5 mile training paddle.

It was 55 today, wind brisk  in the face up current again. I hesitated, but just for a moment. I had the image of last week’s paddle set in mind.  It wasn’t raining, it wasn’t snowing and the river was almost empty.  If we want to have the best experience at the many SUP events available in almost every home town we need to prepare.  Sometimes we need not to over-think how it’s gonna be and just let our training session BE. Again today, it was delicious!

Sometimes WIND IS YOUR FRIEND – read more here

SUP Jazzed: Mighty Columbia River Gorge

A short 10 months ago I hopped on my 11’3″ surfboard (too scared to use the Naish 14′ Glide recommended by cool Steve Gates) and launched into 30+ mph winds and screaming river waves.  It was my first foray into the Columbia River and my first real down winder. Jazzed is an understatement, hooked on the stoke became the reality.

Judy and Ed loving life on a down-current glassy Columbia Gorge paddle

Judy and Ed loving life on a down-current glassy Columbia Gorge paddle

If I knew then what I know now, I would have totally paddled the Naish 14′ Glide – holy cow what a ride!

We recently survived one of the strangest down-wind Maliko runs (no wind, huge swell and confused chop) at the Olukai Ho’olaulea. The glides we got were awesome fun and only got us more hooked. We were in Hood River, Oregon for a clinic by Jeremy Riggs hosted by Steve Gates at BigWinds. Saturday dawned glassy so we did the “cocktail cruise” from Mosier to the Hood River event center. We took the BigWinds shuttle and had an absolute party for the sense as we cruised the 8 mile section.  In anticipation for the huge wind predicted for Sunday, we practiced some tail turns (splash!!!) and bracing. (anticipating Sunday’s clinic with Jeremy Riggs)

The Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge of 2012 was an amazing gathering or elite watermen and women, well-coached youth paddlers and every sort of talent in-between.  Clinics were provided, experts were available and safety crews on jet skis created a terrific event from start to finish.  There were well-attended clinics by Naish team rider, Karen Wrenn and great support and fun for all! The grom clinic given by Kai Lenny was one example of the positive attitude and easy manner of teaching while sharing expertise that Kai enjoys. (Be sure to catch the new GQ trailer featuring Naish team rider, Kai Lenny – well done!)

Hood River - be there and look for Elder SUP - can't wait to meet you

Hood River – be there and look for Elder SUP – can’t wait to meet you

There’s no question where we’ll be the weekend of August 17-18, 2013. We’ll be at Hood River with hundreds of others all praying for wind.  When you think of the Columbia River Gorge you probably picture trees bending and whitecaps boiling from the consistent winds generated by conditions at the river’s mouth near Astoria, OR.  For paddlers of all skill levels, there is something for everyone. You might just come upon the Gorge on one of its quieter days.

If you do, simply head over to BigWinds, talk to Jason or Steve and get yourself a Naish Glide. Windy or glassy, you are in for a sensory celebration.

SUP Endurance: Karen Wrenn Rocks

In a few short weeks SUP endurance athletes will gather for a cause at the 100 Mile Paddle, the ultimate adventure paddle & race for teams and elite paddlers.

100mile3This two day adventure paddle will start 75 miles north of NYC and follow the Hudson River to a breathtaking loop around Manhattan. It’s not surprising that KIALOA Paddles team rider, Karen Wrenn will be there paddling strong and raising funds for causes she cares about. The goal of the event is to raise awareness and funding for Autism Charities and Clean Water Initiatives.

As cool as the event sounds, it is not for the un-prepared.  Training for an endurance event of this sort is almost as grueling as training to, let’s see, climb Mt Everest.  The point is that the athletes able to solo a 100-mile paddle have demonstrated discipline, commitment and focus in their training.  So, what about us mere mortals who might want to do a crossing, paddle 30-40 miles or simply prep for race season?

Karen Wrenn training with friends

Karen Wrenn training with friends

If you take a page out of Karen’s book you’ll add a key ingredient – have fun training.  If you follow Karen’s blog or LIKE her on Facebook you’ll discover how she keeps the stoke going.  You’ll see her on one of her quiver of NAISH SUP boards almost every day.  All work and no play is definitely not her style. A busy mom, Karen adds family fun to time on the water for a terrific win-win experience. wrenn-100

Whether on the flatwaters of an Oregon lake, the often gnarly surf on the Pacific coast or fighting upstream currents (and dodging freighters) on the Columbia River, Karen is putting her time in to prepare well for the 100 Mile Paddle.

Another NAISH SUP team rider, Suzie Cooney, CPT, has shared some endurance training ideas that any of us can use.  She is excellent at breaking down each aspect of strength and endurance required for your best SUP experience. According to Suzie, “You already know that balance is a huge part of being a good paddler but so is leg strength.  It’s much easier to train the larger muscle groups such as the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calve muscles, but what about the tine supportive muscles around the ankle joint, knees and hips?  They are often under trained and overlooked.”

I couldn’t agree more. I read Suzie’s article and have added her suggestions to my weekly training routine – with surprising results. I look forward to hearing your comments.

wrenn-naishboard1Maybe we won’t charge the Maliko run like Suzie Cooney or raise funds for great causes via a 100 mile endurance race like Karen Wrenn – but we can grab our best endurance ability with gusto – and a grin!

You can follow Karen Wrenn on Twitter.

SUP Perspective: Memorial Day

Today you might hear the occasional “Happy Memorial Day” but this is a solemn day. Today we remember the service, sacrifice, and commitment of those who were willing to give the last full measure of devotion in order for us to enjoy the blessings of liberty, freedom, and democracy. Before you head to the water, or fire up the grill, take your children and grandchildren to a national cemetery. Let them know there were men and women who made it possible for them to have their summer fun. Capture the moment in reflection or a photo. Our future generation’s freedom has inspired every sacrifice recognized today.

Today as I read through the posts from SUP paddlers across the nation, read the posts about events scheduled for today there is a consistent thread of recognition that today’s perspective includes remembering, being with friends and family and an attitude of gratitude. Simply Google “memorial day SUP event” and you’ll see what I mean. Wherever you live you can get out on the water and celebrate our freedom to enjoy this day. So many of the events include opportunities for families to get on the water together.

Robby Naish sharing the stroke with his daughter - family fun is a solid part of SUP Perspective

Robby Naish sharing the stroke with his daughter – family fun is a solid part of SUP Perspective (photo by Riley Cooney)

Not so long ago I came across a two-year old photo taken by Riley Cooney  (used here with his permission). Not so far from the USS Missouri Memorial and the many glassy breaks of Hawaii millions celebrate the ocean life from the SUP perspective. This photo of Robby Naish and his daughter captures the essence of sharing what we love with our family on the water. As spring turns to summer and we head for every sort of water fun there will be millions of these “family moments” captured in pictures, video and cherished memories. A treasure for sure.

Karen Wrenn (@supkaren) and her enthusiastic sidekick are ready to seize the day via a down-wind run

Karen Wrenn (@supkaren) and her enthusiastic sidekick are ready to seize the day via a down-wind run

Lakes, bays, rivers, oceans – wherever your water is grab a kid, a dad, an auntie or a cousin.  Flatwater, buoy racing, surfing double overheads or shorebreak mush – grab your paddle and go!

We are so fortunate in the SUP community to have “first generation” leaders in the re-invented modern version of SUP who inspire us by their purpose, dedication to sharing expertise across generations and consistent training.

Today I woke up to gray skies, wind and colder than comfortable temperatures. Bummer, paddling today? Not sure.

Then I grabbed some coffee and took a look at Facebook, and found plenty to stop and reflect on. Posts honoring what Memorial Day is all about delivered a spirit of gratitude and reflection.  Our collective perspective is a powerful inspiration.

On the SUP side of motivation, posts by Suzie Cooney provided a great training video for “get going and get training” spark. Posts by Karen Wrenn inspired a commitment to healthy eating, training and prep for the upcoming summer fun. Coincidentally, these leaders are part of Naish SUP (Naish International, Naish Surfing) and are part of the collective culture of the Naish family.  As Robby Naish recently shared, “Naish works hard to be more than a brand. Naish has a passion they try to instill into their products and the lifestyle they represent.” Attitude, it’s not easy to measure but it’s awesome to experience.

memdaySocial media and an easy vehicle to “talk story” can create a wide sense of community – across the globe. What’s your story today? We look forward to hearing from you via e-mail, or Facebook, or by a link on your YouTube channel.

Thanks for reflecting with me today.

 

SUP Training: Observations

Waking up to a big dawn, orange full moon in my face and a sudden “ouch” at the first moves of the day.  Upper back, ribs, and upper abs screamed resistance at my walk to the kitchen for morning coffee. And guess what – I am one HAPPY person.

Karen Wrenn SlideAfter getting more knee and low back fatigue during longer and stronger paddles over the years I reached out for some advice on technique. Fortunately, Karen Wrenn (super inspiring) shared some insights (you can follow her on Twitter) and with some practice I am creating a more effective technique.  I found this artistically beautiful video on the HangerFox Youtube channel that allows us to observe the technique that creates that highly effective paddle stroke that serves Karen so well.

With Vimeo, YouTube, blogs by pros and all sorts of social media links, we can “meet up” with SUP professionals we admire. SKYPE is another way we can get great training tips from our favorite pros. Suzie Cooney, CPT of SuzieTrainsMaui encourages SKYPE training and has had great success with that medium.

Robby Naish (happy birthday this week) and Kai Lenny in Alaska

Robby Naish (happy birthday this week) and Kai Lenny in Alaska

Recently I watched a short video of Kai Lenny and Robby Naish paddling around icebergs and basically “chilling” in Alaska. It’s good to study their stance, paddle placement, reach, posture and recovery during racing sequences as well as more recreational paddling.  Sometimes it’s tough to assimilate exactly what is making their performance so efficient and powerful.

dave-safebackThis very short video by Dave Kalama posted on the Distressed Mullet YouTube channel gives direct and easy to implement advice on how to protect your lower back. Hinging rather than bending is a habit that is not too difficult to hone – give the video a few, or maybe a couple of views then try the movement on your next paddle.

Dave Kalama provides a more advice in his blog article I found to be easy to put into practice. “Don’t rush.”

He explains that even if your technique is effective, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are utilizing it properly. If you rush through all the phases of your stroke and don’t take the time to execute each phase correctly, then you are not using your level of technique in an efficient way.

For me, one of the pieces I took away was to take the time to really drive the paddle down into the water. Create a complete stretch of your reach. According to Dave, ” it only costs you a little patience and time to completely extend your arm forward. Also, rushing through the recovery phase will break the flow of a smooth rhythm, which is where real efficiency resides. If you rush into getting your hips all the way back under you to the neutral position, then you miss out on all the potential momentum you can generate through the hips. dave-technique

During yesterday’s training that resulted in muscle fatigue and “good workout” soreness, it might have been that fully extended reach, getting my hips back to neutral and rotating the upper body appropriately that made all the difference.  There’s nothing like practice, exploration and observation to add even more fun to this sport we love so much!

We’d love to hear from you – what blogs, videos or images have been useful as you improve your technique?